Sometimes it felt wrong to touch her like this. In such an intimate way.
He loved her and he knew she loved him but he often felt unworthy of this love. He couldn’t give to her everything she wanted and everything she deserved. He was reaching the point where he wanted to relax in bed more than he wanted to screw around in it, and she had just arrived at the point where her itch for him was stronger than ever.
He still found her to be beautiful and sexy but it affected him differently than it used to. It was what her character offered to him now that continued to increase in priority compared to what her body offered.
He was still thirsty for her. He still felt a lust for her. But he was thirsty for her company, lustful for the comfort she provided him. A night spent lying next to her with her hands running slowly through hair as she called him “darling” and “my love,” murmuring tender words to settle his racing mind: it held more power over him than the shape of her lips or the soft curves of her breasts or the rose between her thighs. There were nights he still desired to make love with her and on those nights he would. He gave her every opportunity he could.
However, he discovered himself enjoying more and more the nights spent simply relaxing within all that love they had created together. More often he wanted to share affectionate words with her rather than heart rushing sensations. His battle was draining him of everything. His heart was exhausted. He needed her to soothe and repair it rather than run it at full speed some more.
In truth, he had never felt more naked with her than he had begun to now. Giving her access to everything that screamed and burned inside him was an entirely different experience than giving her access to his body.
Or, almost everything.
Sometimes it felt wrong to touch her like this because also living within that truth was the verity his hands were unclean. His hands had been destined to take many lives in the process of reconstructing the world. It was a dirty assignment that required blood be spilt. A lot of it.
The world had to get blacker before it could reclaim its place within the light. And fate had decided he would be the one to cast the shadows.
He feared he would one day wake up to find he had accidentally smeared that blood across her cheeks, or he had coated her eyes with those shadows, permanently staining and distorting the way she saw him. He wanted to remain the unblemished hero of her story and he knew this would be impossible if she knew what was going on behind the curtain; if she knew how deeply hatred had touched him; if she knew just how long it had stood beside him.
Hatred had become his family and his friend when no one else in this world had.
Hatred had been there when he’d been alone; and it had remained fiercely loyal.
But now, so had she. He wasn’t alone in the world anymore. She had become more than simply a lover. She had become his family and she had become his best friend.
It was her voice he heard before he fell asleep, either through the phone, through words on a page, or only through his memories. It was her girlish pout he saw in the leaves when he traveled through the forests and it was her eyes in the grass that begged him to dance with her when they passed through the fields. It was her laugh he heard while sitting in the silence of his study, wondering what she was currently up to and picturing her out on the terrace of their home clad in traditional Bavarian dress.
Every part of him knew it was far more likely she’d be out skiing or swimming or doing some other risky sport but he didn’t like to think about those things. Whenever he did he saw her breaking her leg or her face eternally disappearing beneath the black surface of the lake.
It would result in him pacing back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, an occasional glace out the window; his boots going from carpet to wood, carpet to wood, carpet to wood, the noise ricocheting off the monstrous walls….
This rhythm would go uninterrupted until one of his secretaries was finally able to get a hold of her and he could hear that she was safe; and with a small smile, he could listen to her tell him he was being silly and that it wasn’t good for his health that he worry so much; and that this was a sign it was time he return home to her.
And usually, he would. He knew she would be standing at her bedroom window as his car pulled up to the house and he would feel her eyes on him as he made his way up the steps flanked by five or six other men. He would enter from the terrace and he would remove any outer layers he might be wearing. He would look up and there she would be standing, at the top of the stairs, waiting for him.
She was always there. Waiting in that spot when he came in through the door, always ready and excited to welcome him home. Sometimes he forgot he kept her waiting too.
Their gazes would meet. Nothing substantial or prolonged, only two seconds in duration. A swift sweep of the eyes. No perceptible change in either of their expressions.
But that subtle moment, going unseen by anyone else, was a moment of great significance.
It was the beginning of their sacred ritual, artists resurrecting a masterpiece with invisible strokes applied with delicate precision. He would arrive home and she would be standing there, in her usual place. But she wouldn’t stand there for very long; long enough to receive and translate the message he would send to her through his eyes. Then she would silently disappear into the wing of the house that contained their rooms.
Not much time would pass before he excused himself from whatever company may have gathered at his return and made his departure for his study. No one would follow. Nothing had to be said, everyone simply knew. There would be no bothering Der Führer that afternoon.
He would silently open the door and she would know he was there. She would gracefully turn, a dark silhouette against the white backdrop of the gossamer covered, ceiling-to-floor windows. He would walk towards her and she would tuck a lock of hair behind her ear; and then she’d do this cute little hop before she’d quickly go at the few steps that were left between them; and then he would halt and she would throw her petite body up against him like this was their first reunion.
And then he would have his arms around her, the scent of her hair releasing all the tension that had accumulated within him. He always started off gentle, holding her close and tenderly. But then her warm hands were on his face and her fingers were trailing down his neck to his collar, and they would move to his tie and begin to loosen it. She would pull it up over his head, mussing up the back of his hair in the process, and she’d let it fall to the floor before going on to release only the very top buttons of his shirt.
In her eyes would be the raw combination of painful desperation and euphoric relief, and he’d notice her twinkling eyelashes. He’d kiss her. And he’d kiss her again; and again, giving her short, frenetic kisses. He’d kiss her so the skin just above her lip started to feel a bit funny from the relentless brushing of his mustache.
He would kiss her with the passion and the fear and the emotional release of a soldier returning from war, back to his wife.
And when he’d made her breathless, he’d fully take her face within his unyielding hold and he’d seal her mouth with his, his thumbs sweeping over her cheekbones. He’d literally breathe life back into that young and carefree spirit that lived within her; that always took a beating when he was away from her.
Her hands would be re-exploring his hair, paying specific attention to where it abruptly changed from the longer, thicker locks to the short buzz there was beneath because that was her favorite spot. She’d run her fingers against the soft grain because she’d told him she liked how it made her fingertips feel a little tingly; and he’d give her a low groan because that was a sensation that was strictly unique to these moments with her and his body recognized that.
They would have to break the kiss for air and her hands would gently comb his hair back, white fingers striped with black. He would gingerly, playfully tug at the hair that framed her face as he whispered her name which tasted sugary against his tongue and was addicting for his sweet tooth.
His fingers would delicately trace the ridges of her collarbone and the curves of her shoulders. The artist within him was obsessed with the lines that made up her body and the colors of the shapes they created. He loved how easily he could manipulate those colors. He loved making her blush and he loved pressing that pink hue further into red when he made her hot. He loved spotting her skin with rose petal love-bites, and occasionally, when they had thrown away too much self-control, he would–without realizing it–spatter her skin with dark blue and violet colored coins.
He’d be lying if he didn’t admit he experienced a thrilling satisfaction out of seeing her walk around the next day harboring his marks upon her body. They were symbols of what she shared only with him, symbols that said she belonged to him.
And he’d be lying if he didn’t admit he felt the heat of happiness when he would discover she had left a mark of her own upon him. He was thankful for shirts with high collars. They masked the hickies, affectionate nips and all-out passionate bite marks that would sometimes appear on his neck the following morning, though they weren’t necessarily always located in such potentially conspicuous territory.
No one ever saw the prickling red lines that periodically raced down his back.
Her hands would then move to his shoulders in response and she would press her fingers into his tight muscles, releasing a sigh that had been wanting to escape his lungs for two weeks. He’d rest his forehead against hers and his shoulders would fall heavily after weeks of holding themselves up with no rest.
She would coax him over to the desk where he would lean back against it, his palms resting on its surface with his fingers curled around the edge. She would sit herself behind him on the desk, her bare legs on either side of his waist as she applied pleasing amounts of pressure to all the right places on his back. She’d massage the sides of his neck and she’d softly run her fingernails through his hair along his scalp. His eyes would be closed and he’d be giving her small appreciative noises that told her he was extremely grateful for her presence within his life and everything she did for him, everything she sacrificed for him.
She would then tightly wrap her arms around his midsection and rest her head against his back, and she would listen to the steady and comforting sound of his breathing and the strong, reassuring beat of his heart: the soundtrack to her life. He would reach up and grip her arms with his hands, moving his thumbs back and forth over her smooth skin as he tried to slow down time within his mind.
They’d remain in this position as he described to her the dreams he’d had that she’d sneaked her way into and she’d laugh, saying she refused to apologize and he’d tell her it’d be rude of him if he didn’t thank her for it. He’d tell her how much he’d missed her, and that he was regretful he couldn’t be home all the time. He’d tell her how genuinely tired he was.
She’d say all the words necessary to fill and reseal any cracks that may have appeared within the concrete of his resolve; but she’d also tell him how much she had missed him, and she would share with him her own dreams that he had sneaked his way into.
And he’d smile and say he refused to apologize.
He would then wonder: would she still give him those same words if she knew of everything he was doing? Would he remain a part of her dreams? Would she still receive satisfaction out of the little things like simply loosening his tie at the end of the day? Would she still be standing, waiting at the top of those stairs?
He didn’t think so.
He was sure she would look at him and see a blood thirsty monster. She would see the Devil; she would see Death. He’d no longer be a part of her dreams, he’d be a part of her nightmares, a part of her regrets.
Her love would be gone. Forever. He’d never get it back if she found out.
And he would feel empty. Utterly empty, like someone had gone at his insides with an ice scooper, scraping away even the tiniest bits that may have remained behind.
His future, his happily ever after, would be no more. A good portion of the picture would be erased, a very integral and important part: the part that gave it color and vibrancy and the motivation to achieve and capture it.
He wanted to be worthy of this love but he knew in reality he never would. So the next best thing available was to pretend.
He would lie to himself while he was on leave, returning to his depth-less skies and his waving meadows and his whispering lakes and his München girl. His painkiller. During these times he would live in a numbing haze and try to stifle any thoughts of what was going on beyond the yawning, snow capped mountains.
It was an odd and frustrating situation: that he required her in order to deceive himself of his worthiness for her.
So yes, sometimes it felt wrong to be touching her like this but touch her he did because he needed to. He desired and required that intimacy with her, it was what kept him grounded during the hours he tried so desperately to fall asleep but struggled to do so. If he managed to only think about her-her eyes, her voice, her words, her loyalty and her love–long enough, her and nothing else, he’d succeed in falling into unconsciousness, where he would usually find her waiting.
And she’d run to him like she always did in actuality and throw herself into his arms, the smell of her hair lingering in his nose after the dream broke and he opened his eyes to see the walls of his concrete bedroom and hear the distant sounds of war.
But now he’d open his eyes to white painted walls decorated with photos and accents, and the sounds of hangers scraping against wooden racks as she combed through her clothing. Sometimes would follow the muffled sound of boxes being casually opened and closed, then slid back onto a shelf before the song repeated.
And the smell of her hair would still linger in his nose but now it would stem from the pillow case beneath his head rather than his memories. The duvet he would be lying beneath was thick and puffy and if he moved one of his legs over to the other side of the bed, he’d find the sheets to still be warm; and he’d sigh so deeply because it was just another reminder of her companionship.
He wasn’t alone when he was awake and he wasn’t alone when he was asleep. Not when he was here; not when he came home.
And he wasn’t alone when he touched her like this. That’s why he wouldn’t stop touching her like this, why he simply couldn’t stop touching her like this no matter what black projects he took on. She was his home and he was never alone when he returned to her. As long as she remained within his love, return to her he always would, all his demons and all his hatred in tow.
Every time he returned, he hoped for a remedy and every time he returned, he feared her corruption.
Every time he returned, his shadow was darker, and she would stand beside him; his hands were bloodier, and she would let him touch her; his heart was colder, and she would love him.
Every time he returned he was more hopeless.
But she would always be there, waiting at the top of the stairs, and he would swear she saw only the man beneath the chaotic mess time had scarred onto him.
Instead, she saw him sitting with a paintbrush between his fingers and a canvas in his lap. She saw him sitting in an armchair, the newspaper in his hands and a gold band around his finger. She saw a small girl leading him through a bright, flowered field as he looked down upon her with delight. She saw him on one knee as he scolded a small boy for pulling at his sister’s braids. She saw him with two small hands held in his, those same children tugging at him because their father wasn’t moving fast enough for them. She saw him calmly teaching them how to be kind to nature and her inhabitants as they watched him feed a wild fawn, enraptured.
He wasn’t only a faithful lover to her; he was the devoted husband and the dedicated father he would never have the opportunity to be.
She saw the way life was supposed to have gone for them. But it hadn’t. So he touched her like this and she allowed him to do so while touching him like this back so they could temporarily live within the lie that everything was as it was supposed to have been.
© 2015 Elizabeth Klarke
I like it when I end up writing ones like these. They tend to feel the deepest (in my opinion) and I don’t always know how that happens.