Not all who wander are lost
On Sunday afternoon rain is lashing against the lounge window. The morning sunshine has been replaced by dark thundering clouds and a sea mist that obliterates my view of the church spire across the Lough dashing any hope of riding the Harley across winding roads with wild irresponsible speed.
The fire is roaring and Sunday papers are strewn over the floor.
I pace restlessly as I have paced since Maria left on Friday night. Our conversation has been replayed over and over inside my head, tumbling and mixing so quickly I do not remember the truth of our conversation only the shape of her jaw, the laughter in her voice, and her brown speckled eyes, and the way she self consciously flattened her short hair, tilted her head and gazed at me.
Had she been flirting with me?
I am sure of it.
The storm rages outside and I stand spread-eagled, pressing the palms of my hands against the floor to ceiling window.
I am hot, cold, energised and exhausted. I lean in supplication of the powerful electrical surge that seems to ripple though my body as cracking thunder splits the billowing black sky and driving wind rattles the pane beneath my fingers.
I rest my forehead against the coldness of the glass until the storm subsides and the clouds break apart and I pull away from my trance-like state.
I am pacing again like a caged tiger - backwards and forwards - staring across the Lough for a glimpse of Jordanstown through the mist when the doorbell rings.
I move with quick tiger paces; my body taught and lithe.
Maria stands on the step. Her hair is wet from the rain.
“Can I come in?”
I stand aside.
She walks wordlessly past me, into the lounge and she stands at the window.
“Are you OK?” I ask.
“Looking across the Lough is like looking at life from a different perspective. From here everything seems so easy and uncomplicated. I have just stood on the other side looking over here. Living on this side, I could be selfish and independent. Yet when I am on the other side looking over here I am confused and claustrophobic.”
Wordlessly I go to the bathroom, return with a towel and stand beside her at the window.
“I had to get out.” She rubs her hair. A tang of Chanel from her wrists reaches my nose and I inhale deeply resisting the urge to reach out.
Her voice is soft and thoughtful. “Looking across the Lough you never know what people’s lives are like on the other side. How different we all are. All the things we hide. The feelings we try not to have. The yearnings we suppress…”
Her warm breath leaves a cloudy mist on the window where I stood stretched against the glass in the storm only a few minutes ago.
“Where do we draw the line between what we want and our responsibilities? Is my life over because I can’t stand up and say I want something more exciting, or because I want to feel more in my life? Am I a bad mother because I crave to feel excitement, or passion or lust? Is that really so shameful?” Her voice is a whisper but she continues staring across the Lough.
“I wouldn’t say all this if I was a happily married Catholic woman, would I?” She turns and her eyes burn into mine. The towel hangs limply at her side.
“You can’t help your feelings, Maria. You can’t help who you are.”
Our faces are inches apart.
Her brown eyes are speckled; dark velvet. The tang of her perfume invades my senses enveloping me in a misty cloud. There is a small tic near her left eye and when her head moves toward me, it tilts gently like a sunflower turning toward the heated rays of the sun.
When our lips meet I am surprised by the softness of her full mouth and her probing tongue that explores tentatively and gently; my lips, my tongue, my teeth.
I cannot suppress a small groan.
Eventually I pull away.
My breath is rapid. My chest shaking. My senses reeling. My skin is covered in goosebumps and I lay the palm of my hand against the softness of her cheek.
She is trembling. Her eyelashes are half-closed. She reaches up and releases the ribbon holding my hair and lets it drop to the floor.
She pulls me to her, caressing the back of my neck and tenderly she traces her finger against the outline of my cheek, trailing her nail across my skin to the inky star tattoo under my ear. She is looking at me closely with infinite scrutiny. Our foreheads are pressed together. Our noses are touching, and we begin smiling. A warm feeling spreads through my veins and I seem to glow from within. I am filled with happiness.
“Make love to me, Elly,” she whispers. “I need to feel you and besides, I want to know if you have any more body art you haven’t told me about.”