Question and answer time.
They relaxed after that, their heads close together, both of them out of breath, cherishing the fact that they were together again and holding each other close, after being so long apart.
They needed to be able to hold each other like this, stare each other in the eyes and know exactly what they were able to see there.
She could feel the warmth of the fire on her back; his hard body in front of her, and that even harder part of his, inside of her.
“I always wondered why I got no letters from you, Steve, but I moved around from one school to another until I found the right one, so I knew it would be difficult at first, but it seemed to continue, year after year. I didn't understand it.”
He knew the feeling of frustration, but let her continue.
“I worried myself almost sick. I was concerned that you were ignoring them. My other letters to my mother and my brothers got through.
"I feared you had found someone else and didn't want to tell me.” Her voice caught in her throat.
He kissed her. “Impossible, my love. There would be no one else for me but you, though I was struggling with the same fears for a while until I looked again at all of those photos and remembered what we had.”
“Thank you. I think I knew that for myself, so why…?” She stroked the hair back from his brow. He was perspiring, after making up for lost time with her, but they would never be able to make up for those lost years.
“We’ll get to that. Not getting your letters, and with you clearly not getting mine, my fear was like yours, always afraid that you would find someone else.”
“Also, impossible.” She knew that now. “The school rules were very strict. We were not allowed to use laptops or cell phones, so I couldn’t search for you or find some other way to contact you. It was like I was being locked away.” She was sobbing, crying with both happiness, and frustration over those lost years. “After that, once I was better settled, I kept writing and looking for you, but there was nothing; never a response. I couldn’t understand it.”
He kissed her.
“It was the same for me, my love. I did get your first note, posted from town giving me the address of your initial school. I wrote a letter each week. Then they began to come back at me. 'No student here with that name at this time’, though when I was able to call that school, one secretary admitted that you had been there, briefly, but that you’d gone, and she didn’t know where, but she gave me a couple of addresses to try. Nothing there either, when I wrote.”
She sniffed. “They wouldn’t have helped you. They were probably mad at me for leaving those first schools, even just days after beginning them, and my father cancelling the checks he’d written, as we moved on to another choice. I did leave each of them a forwarding address a few days later, when I did finally get settled in a school I could identify with, but they weren’t going to do me any favors after they’d seen their extortionate fees ripped out of their hands again. At least my mother seemed to understand, and she stayed close by me until I got settled and found that right fit. She was never very far from me after that. Dad didn’t mind. At least she was aware of how I felt and now unhappy I was."
“Speaking of right... fits…” She kissed him, moving suggestively on his lap. Thank you. It feels so good at last... even as good as it did that night we were on the beach… maybe even better.”
He thought so too, but he wasn’t going to interrupt her, just liking to touch and hold her breasts as she talked, and they kissed.
“I wrote to you at your home address and told you everything about where I was, as though we were school friends.”
She sighed heavily. “I kept my language and sentiments neutral, in case someone else saw my letters, but oh, how I itched to break loose and shout everything out from the rooftops. I even wrote to your parents, but that letter was not responded to either, so I suspected there was something going on to stop them getting there.”
There had been, and Steve would soon be able to tell her.
“There should have been no hold ups with mail after that, but I still didn’t hear. I thought I’d be home by that first Christmas and would correct it, but I never got home. Not then, nor for any other break. Everything conspired against me... against us.”
Steve was happy just to listen, letting her unload all of her frustrations and feelings for the last ten years. It was almost the same story for him.
“Winters were always spent with my mother. Until now. I wrote one letter each month after that, and wrote other messages to you in my journals, spilling all of my feelings, disappointments, heartaches, desperation, anger. Not anger at you, mind you; but anger at how I could so easily get lost in this unfriendly adult world. I kept a journal too.
“Thank god I had those photographs, and I could fall back on them when it got bad for me, but they were a poor substitute for you.”
She was crying.
He kissed her tears away. He could maybe tell her what he knew now.
“Fortunately, I had those photographs too. They were wonderful and kept me alive.” And, oh, how they had kept him alive! He'd also heard the briefest of snippets of news about her that kept him going.
“We are together now, Steve. There is no need for us to be parted again. Ever. I will be starting a job in the town hospital, in a few days. I want us to get married properly, live together…I want to get pregnant... if I am not moving too fast for you.”
“You are not moving too fast. I want all of that too. I wanted it years ago, but... that was too soon.”
She waited to hear what else he would tell her.
“Your story is almost the same as mine. I wrote every week at first, just as you did, but I didn’t know where you were. I was a barely-fourteen-year-old kid, so I couldn’t ask your parents for your address, and I couldn’t ask my brothers to contact your brothers to find out. There would have been too many questions and an inquisition, even if our families were close.”
They went back and forth to flesh out the story of their separation.
“My brothers couldn’t have told you anything either, Steve. I didn’t write to them. They’d left home anyway. I was so angry with everyone I didn’t even tell my father where I was, but my mother probably did, and by then, with an empty house, and winter coming, mom moved to Arizona to be close to me. She knew what I was feeling. She came back here every spring to be with my father, but it wasn’t the same for her without the boys or me here, and this house was too big for her to be stuck up here, almost alone for most of the winter.
“My brothers had their own lives to lead. Then I moved again. University came along, and I went to Edinburgh, into the medical school there. That took up almost six years of all of my time, trying to bury myself there until I could get back home and look for you." She rested her head on his shoulder. She was even crying with happiness.
“I never gave up hope, and I continued to write, even up to as recently as last month. Then, out of the blue, a job came up in this town at the local hospital. I was saved. It was my chance to find you again, and to see if we still… had something. I never lost hope. My life depended upon it.”
It had taken all of about two minutes, listening to him talk to her as he'd seen to her in the bath, to learn that they’d lost nothing. It was easier to think in terms of them needing those years apart to sort their own lives out.
“I know, at last, why I never got your letters, and why you didn’t get mine. It all came to a head just a short time ago.”
She was interested.