The Way Things Had Been

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He caught his breath at her sheer beauty as she ran down the sloping bank. She turned and the laughing seduction of her voice ­matched the mischief in her face.

“Come on, slow coach. Time is flying.”

But, when you are young, you have so much time ahead of you. ­So much time to accomplish all the miracles of achievement that ­lie ahead. He laughed aloud and then ran after her as she ducked­ under the low hanging trees along the bank of the river. He followed her as she pushed through some bushes and then threw­ herself down on the grassy enclosed area that lay beyond.

He collapsed beside her and taking her hand, pressed her­ fingers to his lips. She smiled, a bewitching curl of her lips ­that excited him. She came forward and gave him a quick kiss on ­the nose and then fell back with a near wanton stretch of her ­body.

“Consider yourself privileged in being allowed to come here. ­This is my realm. Here I am queen and rule undisputed. Those who ­come here must consider themselves my subjects. Bound by my wishes ­and authority.”

“Does that include me?” he asked. He was a bit puzzled by­ her. She was a little - strange.

The full lips curled again in that smile. “Oh yes, it ­applies to you. Very much so. Why do you think I brought you here? Here, in this my realm, you must serve me. You must be submitted to me and my will.”

He shrugged his shoulders, then looked around. “Not a very­ large kingdom, your majesty,” he said, trying to enter into the ­fantasy she had conjured up. “Not even as large as the back yard­ at my home.”

She gave her head an impetuous shake. “That, my gentle knight, is because you see it with the eyes of the body. If you ­were to see it with the eyes of the soul, with the eyes of the mind, you would see that it extended far beyond the reaches of­ the furthest star.”

He moved a little uneasily. `“As big as that, is it? And the ­people?”

She sat up. “Don’t you understand? Close your eyes.”

He hesitated and looked at her in puzzlement.

“Go on,” she demanded. “Close your eyes.”

He closed his eyes - a little hesitantly. Then opened them hurriedly to look at her again. Found her watching him and so he ­closed his eyes again. Restraining the need to open, at least one­ eye, to keep a watch on her.

“Now, with the eyes of your body closed, open the eyes of­ your mind. Look around you.”

“Hold on now!” He opened his eyes and faced her. “What are ­you playing...”

“Be silent. Be still. Close your eyes. You are in my realm ­and subject to my wishes. Do it.”

A little fearfully, he closed his eyes again.

“Look about you. Do you not see the wide marble halls of­ this, my palace? Go to a window and look outside. See the ­wonderful city that is here. The city that houses my government, ­the people of my capital. There are thousands of them - but only ­when they are needed. At other times there is no one. Only me and ­the one I love. Do you not see it all?”

He nodded his head a little doubtfully. “Yes sure, if you­ say so. Can I open my eyes now?”

She lay back on the grass again and waved a languid hand.­ “If you wish. I am surprised that the beauty that surrounds you ­holds so little attraction. Perhaps I made a mistake in bringing­ you here.”

He opened his eyes quickly. “Oh no. I really thought that it­ was great. It is just that this is the first time I have been­ here and seen it - with you. It is all a little strange.”

There was a deep glint within the depths of her green eyes. ­She pulled a blade of grass and put it between her teeth. “Do you ­have no realm like this of your own? No place where you are king?”

His head came up, proudly. “I am king of the road. When I am­ on it with my bike, there is no one to touch me. You know, you ­have been there with me.”

Her rich red lips curved in a smile. “Yes, I have been with­ you on your steed, my knight. I have ridden the stretches of your ­kingdom. That is why I decided to show you mine.”

He looked around the small glade. “Tell me, how many of your ­people are around you now?”

“There are none at the moment. Yet, at my call, there could ­be hundreds.”

He had eye-lashes as long as any woman’s, and he peered,­ almost shyly, from under them at her. “Do you intend calling on­ them at any time?”

"Only if you are disobedient and do not obey my wishes," she­ said loftily. She put her hands beneath her head and looked at ­the canopy of trees above her. Her breasts thrusting at the white­ blouse that hid them from him.

"You have not told me of any of your wishes as yet," he said­ a little hoarsely. His eyes held by the soft rise and fall of the­ blouse.

From narrowed eyes she watched him. "I intend expressing one­ now," she murmured. "Kiss me."

With an almost inarticulate moan, he threw himself at her.­ His mouth on hers. His hands...

...were seized by hers. "I said kiss me. Nothing else."

"Sorry," he mumbled. "It is just that you are so very­ lovely. There is no other girl as..."

"I am a woman - not a girl. Remember that."

"I’ll remember."

`"Go on - tell me how beautiful I am."

He licked dry lips. "I need a drink of water," he muttered.­ Then he moved over to the side of the river. Bent down and put­ his face into the cold water and drank. He felt her move beside him. Her hand stroked his head.

For a moment he froze in fright. She was in such a strange­ mood. She might even push his head under the water. But she just­ continued to stroke his hair gently.

He pulled his head out of the water and sat up next to her.­ She moved forward and gently licked the drops of water on his­ face. Her breath cool between her lips, on his wet skin. She sat­ back.

"From here, sir knight, my ships sail out over the seven­ seas of the earth and the seventeen seas of the mind. They range­ far and wide - seeking the treasures of the earth, of man, of the places between. And when they return they bring to me the­ tributes of my empire. The gifts of my people."

She placed her cupped hand into the water and raised it.­ watching the flow of water going back into the river. "My realm­ and I are one. Whether it be of the earth or the water - we are­ one."

He felt a little deep-felt irritation at her strangeness.­ "If you have all these riches why is it that you have to work in­ an office - as you said?"

A little frown marked the marble of her brow. "Do not­ confuse the walk of the flesh with the kingdoms of the mind. We­ may be subjected to the tyranny of our earthly existence. But that does not mean that we are bound by it. For in our minds we­ must be free to live as we wish. To be as we need to be to be to­ justify our other existence."

"You never talked like this - when we first met."

"No. It was only when I heard you quoting poetry that I­ thought you might be a fellow traveller in the kingdoms."

"Poetry? Oh, that was just something I read - and liked. I­ don’t read it very much."

"But it is a start. Perhaps there is more there. Do you know­ any more ?"

He considered and then brightened. "Yes. Maybe one that you­ will like."

"Good. Come back up the bank and tell it to me."

They moved back up the grassy slope. She reached up and­ pulled at her hair. Freeing it from its tidy arrangement and­ letting it cascade down her back. She lay back on the grass.­ "Speak, sir knight. Tell me the poem."

He nervously licked his lips.

"Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate :"

With his brow furrowed he strove to remember the lines of­ the sonnet that once he had to learn in class punishment. When he­ finished he looked at her - but her face betrayed nothing of ­pleasure or disappointment.

"Very good, sir knight. But those are the words of another­ man to another woman. Now tell me your words to this woman. Am I­ as beautiful as she?"

His mouth was dry again. "You are magnificent. Your hair is­ a pool of night about your head. Your skin is the milk white of­ white rose petals when first it opens to the gaze of day." He­ could not believe that the words were coming from his lips. This­ was not the line that he normally put over.

She curled her body in pleasure. "Tell me more, sir knight.­ What of my breasts, sir knight, what of my breasts?"

He looked at the swelling mounds beneath the white blouse.­ "I cannot tell of what I have not seen," he said hoarsely.

"Then you shall have to look and see," she murmured and gave­ herself into his hands as he fumblingly opened the blouse. Undid­ her bra.

"Well, sir knight, what have you to say now?"

He shook his head dumbly and could only bury his face within­ her breasts. It could not stop there - not at that time. And,­ before the day aged much more they had mated in the passion demanded of their incited bodies.

Till spent by their physical efforts , they lay upon the­ cool grass and stared up at the trees for many minutes.

At last he moved - half rising upon his elbow. Looked down on her­ sheer perfection.

"We have to go back to the church picnic. Your parents will­ be leaving soon and looking for you."

She nodded. Looking up at him. She let her hands move over­ his broad chest - up to his hair. Gently caressing. A thought­ struck her.

"Tell me, what is your name?"

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