Over time Caleb’s spirit had worn down,
With the loss of his wife little joy could be found,
He was filled with conflicts, filled with doubt,
He felt his heart and soul getting ripped out,
He could forget the promises he said he’d keep,
Yet in the evenings he was drinking long and deep,
Only the ocean gave him reasons to try,
While his memories continued to make him cry.
Caleb and the two women drank and talked, exchanging names, dreams, and their stories. The women, Mary and Linda, were long time friends who had met and bonded in high school. They lived next door and shared life together. They scheduled their workouts at the same gym, worked at the same bank, and were always there for each other in times of stress or emotional trauma.
Both were single, but not by choice. Mary was divorced and Linda was widowed. Both had lost a man to the sea. Mary’s husband had sailed off four years ago and had never returned. She waited a couple of years and then quietly got a divorce. Linda had invited her into her home as a guest, the least she could do for her friend. Three months later their roles were reversed and Mary was doing the comforting. Linda’s husband died when an ocean swell, a rogue wave, flipped his fishing boat and he drowned before rescuers could get to him. As Linda mourned and Mary comforted her, their bonds intensified.
The women ignored rumors that they were more than friends. They needed each other for emotional support as well as financial support. Night after night they had cried in each other’s arms, and often went out to dinner or to the movies. This night was different. They were tired of being home, repeating the same routines. They ventured out on an impulse, just for a drink or two, and promised each other they’d return before it was too late.
Caleb shared his story about heading to the flatlands, falling in love, and then losing his wife. He explained how he had to get back to the ocean before he went crazy. After a while Caleb insisted it was time for him to leave, not because he was tired, but because he was afraid he would break promises he had made to himself.
“Linda, Mary, it’s been a real pleasure sharing this table. I think it’s time for me to go.”
Linda raised her glass and said, “One round for the road.” Then Mary added, “One round to salute your wife’s memory.”
Caleb thought both toasts were reasonable and well deserved. The night blurred and faded and with the help of Linda and Mary he stumbled out into the darkness. He had forgotten his promises. He was past the point of caring. He was with two beautiful women who were his friends. They had been the only ones he had allowed himself to share memories of his wife and his attraction for the sea. They walked him back to their house and told him he could sleep on the couch. He didn’t remember getting undressed. What he did remember was the tide coming in, the relentless pounding of the surf, the acceptance of the sand, and the excited murmurs of the ocean breeze that continued throughout the night.
Caleb woke with a start. His mouth was dry and his head was pounding. Sunlight streamed through the windows. A leg was over his, an arm across his chest. He shifted slightly and then struggled to sit up. He was confused and disoriented. Where was he? What time was it? Was he dreaming? Was he back at the flatlands with his wife? “I’m dreaming,” he thought. “I can feel her next to me just like before.” The thought was rather pleasant and he slowly sank back into his pillow, content and ready to dream for awhile.
Reacting to his movements Mary snuggled against his chest and sighed contentedly. The warmth of her body brought back all the memories of his wife and the flatlands. His hands and lips caressed her face, her neck, and her breasts. He didn’t dare open his eyes for fear that this dream would end. After his wife died she often appeared in his dreams but he didn’t remember her ever feeling this real. They made love slowly at first, then passionately.
He rolled onto his side and opened his eyes. For the second time he was confused. The curtains, windows, and walls looked real. His clothes were neatly folded on a chair next to another set of clothes. His mind was suddenly alert. “Women’s clothes!” This was real! It was not his imagination!
Just as he was starting to push himself up, a woman lay down beside him, pinning him against a body on his other side. “I was going to make breakfast for us but I think it can wait.”
She looked familiar but his mind had already played tricks on him. Caleb’s mind whirred and he remembered meeting her. This woman was Linda. She was with Mary. Linda and Mary. They had drinks with him and he vaguely remembered walking with them to their house. Now everything was coming into focus.
Linda was pressing against him, moving her hips suggestively. He started to protest but already he was responding, moving in an age old rhythm. When their lovemaking was over, he collapsed, spent and exhausted. He studied Linda carefully and then turned to Mary, who was sleeping. He looked back at Linda, his eyes filled with questions.
Before he could ask anything Linda said admiringly, “O.k., cowboy, how long has it been since you were with your wife? You were sure needy last night. You weren’t shy with either of us.”
Caleb reddened. “You’re embarrassing me. I didn’t mean for this to happen. I apologize for my behavior.”
“Don’t apologize. You were what I needed. No, Mary needed you, too. It’s just been the two of us. We’ve kept each other company and we thought we didn’t need a man. I think we were wrong. We’ve been shut up too long, away from friends and family. You’re like a breath of fresh air and we’re glad you’re here.”
“I’m not sure how long I can stay. I’ll be looking for a job tomorrow and the next day and keep looking until I find one.”
Hearing Caleb’s voice, Mary’s eyes fluttered open. “Oh, my! You weren’t what I expected at all. I’ll give you five stars. Your wife was a lucky woman.” She paused and corrected herself. “Oh, I meant with you.”
(To be continued)