—-This story was written for Scribophile and was one that was well received. I hope you enjoy it as we start out the new year.
I don’t know how we came to be together. I was skinny, but only because I was really too tall for my young age. Not strong enough to play sports and too ungainly because of my awkward dimensions, I was an invisible, unknown person. Except to her.
We’ve driven down past Lee Hall Rd. At the end, it becomes a dirt road that past winds past rolling Virginia cornfields. The humidity of the Tidewater summer, has driven us out. It’s the perfect opportunity to drive fast with the ragtop roof of my beat up 1960 Impala pulled down. It was as unlovely as me, with just primer on the hood, the fin-tailed beast was the only car I could afford. As we pass through the corn field road, dust blows up behind us into the dulled light of dusk, I look next to me and see her long straight black hair billowing back. She released it from the conventional hair band that she had on while spending the day with her grandmother. Though her features were serious, she had the look of one just freed from prison. I suddenly realize that while my car was no longer renown, it had a purpose and she joined me in the emancipation it provides.
Her brown eyes were so dark that it was difficult to discern the pupils especially when she gazed with the sleepy look she gave me. We moved from the corn fields to the forest roads of Gloucester where the woods were so thick as to provide a wealth of privacy. From the moment she climbed into the front seat, she morphed from the sweet Virginia southern belle that her Grandparents loved bringing to their beautiful York River shore home in Clay Bank, into the audacious and uninhibited 18 year old she wanted to be.Like Grace Slick on my recent record purchase, she exuded provocation and non conformity.
I was just bored: bored with my life, bored with being an outcast, bored with the eyes that wondered why I wasn’t enlisted, bored with the casualty counts that Walter Cronkite reticently reported every night. She was bored with her own life and the expectations that were apparently saddled onto a Virginia debutante. By the time we were into the woods, she had gotten her brassiere off, hair loosed, and shed her jeans and deck shoes, so that she could recline and hang her bare feet outside the car. I tried to focus on the road, though my attention was turned to her nearly perfect breasts that, freed from the bra’s confines, nonetheless still jutted firm and upward. Her bikini underwear seemed to disappear into the curvy folds of her thighs, which looked more voluptuous in that position.
Clay Bank was no more than a scattering of houses that pressed up against the north bank of the York River with a grand total of 40 or 50 people in residence there, swelling to 60 or 70 in the summer as the riverside rentals filled. I had seen her past summers and when we finally struck up conversation, there seemed to be gravity in every word we spoke though we never really knew each other. It was a mystery as to what even brought us together. We became friendly out of necessity.
When she prompted me to take her for the drive to our destination, I should have been surprised to be in her sensual company. The casual ease that she asked never made me feel like she was out of my league. I didn’t have to come up with a campaign for wooing her. There were no awkward moments mounting her in the spacious back seat, the request she made before we left, still sweetly resonating on my memory.
“Will you take me some place and fuck me?”
Our lives that summer were reduced to the lowest common denominator: our orgasms and our quest to achieve them. It was like we were convinced that if we could come better than the previous time, we could ascend a summit of pleasure so rarefied that we might die from falling off that last precipice.
At the drive in, she would straddle me, wearing the polyester mini skirt she had shopped with her grandmother in, filling the car with her repeated exclamation that fogged the window. “Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck!”
She reciprocated with her mouth often and with impromptu; driving around, ducking behind a tree next to the road, public restrooms. I was never sure when the delight of the next lightning strike of pleasure would come.
It became our nightly ritual. Her grandparents were convinced that I was a good, harmless boy. They had known of me for a while so I seemed safe to them. The woods and the drive-in were frequent destinations. However, as our urgency increased, we would resort to much more high risk locations to fuck. A couple of times we found an alley in Gloucester that was fairly reliable for its infrequency of traffic, though a barfly from the building we were fucking behind, stumbled out and paused for a moment to watch. Occasionally, we stole away into a backroom at the local library but only on the nights that it was open late. Every night, was a new pursuit of the lightning.
What we had was not love. It was more immediate and demanding, and we used each other’s body as implements to achieve our single-minded goal. Because of our insatiable sexual heat, neither of us was put off by the obvious selfish motives we both came to our couplings with. Paradoxically, what we did seemed a supreme act of selfless generosity since both of us knew that only in fully giving ourselves over were we going to find the thunder that followed the lightning.
My wife only shifted slightly but the distant sound of a storm brewing woke me, the rumbling arching through the house as if we lived under a bowling alley. There was a distant flash of lightning. One one thousand; two one thousand; three one thousand. There was another cacophony of thunder, sounding distant and then seeming to move closer. Three miles away. I only woke when the thunder caused the storm windows to shudder. I got up and went into the kitchen, never completely over my childhood fear of lightning strikes and the sudden claps of thunder it produced. I hummed the song that I always did every time a storm comes on. In my head, the Four Seasons’ Sherry was in perfect pitch.
She had told me one night in the back seat as we were watching a summer squall build up, that it was her favorite song because it had her name in it. She couldn’t tell everyone that she liked it though because it wasn’t hip or cool that summer. That was an uncommon, dark summer and the music was angry, psychedelic, and dystopian. Sherry was a chaste song in comparison. It was an irony that we smiled at between bouts of fucking.
Like me, she was married now. Ironically, she wound up marrying a Naval officer, a hero of the Vietnam War, and a pastor. Before moving back to my bed, I stood at the bedroom’s threshold and stared at my wife sleeping.
I was working two jobs and our kids needed orthodontics. My wife and I were well intentioned but quarreled often. That part of life, the struggle to provide, to love, to lead, seemed never ending. Everything could be lost if I didn’t fulfill the role I’d assumed to have drawn.
It was funny; those nights in the woods, naked in the backseat with Sherry, seemed to be over before they began. I came out of that summer irrevocably changed. However, if asked to elaborate, the elements of that transition would escape me. I lay back down and, with bittersweet fondness, wish that I could feel the lightning again. But the lightning comes in the heat of the summer. Now Autumn was upon me and my sweet wife. It was a dry season with more temperate weather, not conducive to the violent nature of lightning. The lightning is gone from my life and from Sherry’s. The only thing left was the echo of the thunder long since resounded.