Monday, August 08, 2011
In those August weeks, he shed the worries of work and disappeared to where the roads were long and the only color, green. He put away the phone without messages and ignored the dwindling email streams. His friends would not think to miss him. They figured he'd be back soon enough, but part of him wondered if that would be true. The heat enveloped him, and farmland rolled over sharp hills. He thought of what it was like to be a teenager, without plans and without somewhere else to be, and found that part of himself still surprisingly close, despite the pile of years. In the sky, the crows flew too high to be heard. They would not roost until the red and yellow Earth faltered and the sun lost the strength to fight away the cold.
He walked the fences during those days. The ones that brushed the woods while horses grazed out in bright pastures. Their tails swished at invisible flies as high summer buzzed loudly in the trees. He forgot to care about the counting of days. He forgot their names. He also forgot to think in the words, and plans, and lists where one thing led to another. Now, a thing was there, or not there. Each expansive experience hit him all at once. Nothing more was needed to do or say.
It was on one nameless afternoon, after he had dived deep, when he was walking a forest trail. He turned a bend in the underbrush and stopped at the sight of shimmery black fur. A horse nipped at a patch of blackberries. Its muscled shoulders turned and flexed as it regarded him with large, dark eyes. It wasn't until a footstep drew his attention over to the woman nearby. Leather riding boots brushed the ferns as she returned to the horse, which nuzzled for a scratch between its ears.
He'd apologized for the interruption, and she smiled. He was taken with her long hair and how, like him, she looked both aged and young at the same time. Her eyes didn't drift from him very often as they spoke. A few polite words grew into more. Even when the horse stomped impatiently, and her firm hands steadied it, she watch him. She moved with the same fluid, animal strength that the horse did. She could have stepped out of a painting, he thought. She was that beautiful. But something else fueled the ease of his conversation. She told him her name and the history of the nearby farm. She told him how much she enjoyed the forest paths they were standing on. He asked her about what she saw and how much time she chose to spend there. Something about the way she moved drew him. He had strange thoughts, like laying a hand on her shoulder just to feel the workings of everything happening within.
She told him that he should visit the barn, and he accepted. He watched her mount and command the horse. He saw her pause in the field and look back. That night, he felt no need to the watch the fireflies. He slept because he was eager to be part of the rising sun.
The next day he met her under the shade of the barn eaves. She introduced him to the horses, and he touched each one. She watched his hands when he did. He found himself close to her, just as he wished, just as gravity wanted to move him. They talked, and she touched him when she laughed. She didn't seem to mind when he glimpsed at the feminine lines of her neck. He wanted so much to breathe in the skin where it disappeared beneath her shirt. If she read these thoughts too, she didn't seem to mind. Sometimes she stared at his mouth when he talked, and when they sat side by side and looked out over the fields, she pressed against him, from her shoulders down to where her ankles met his hiking shoes.
They didn't need to talk about how they would cross the last boundary between them. That is one important difference between adults and teenagers. The days evolved, as did the things they spoke to one another. Never did they need to stumble and test. It was midday when they finally made love. The loft in the barn hung rich with the fragrance of hay and large presence of the animals below. She shed that shirt, and he buried his face while her arms encircled him. Their joining was not obscured or tentative. It wasn't hidden under the veil of night. He kissed her nakedness in full light, and his hands touched earth and heat and the pounding pulse of life. Every movement she made since that first meeting, every turn and stride alongside him seemed now to circle toward the darkness between her legs. She drew the length of him against her animal heat, and she sighed, lips parting with a whispered groan. But their artistry was no abstraction. Not some academic composition of metaphor and forgotten geometry. When his muscles clenched with hers and their bodies undulated, the horses neighed and thumped into the sides of the stalls. The cicadas throbbed with their building motion, until their pace grew wild and mindless, to a final, panting gallop.
When she laid on his chest and cast a shadow in the slanting sun, his fingers trailed through her hair, and the day also took its own repose.
They remembered what it was like to be teenagers without plans, but unlike then, they knew there was no other place they would choose to be.