Thursday, 28 February 2019

Just like yesterday

There’s always someone who your head says “no way, uh huh; this spells trouble” but your heart just trips over for. It sends an itch that just can not be scratched and it’s not just a desire born of a physical relief but a deep seated yearning.
Dean had never thought of himself as incomplete but after seeing Eve for the first time realised exactly what that meant, and how completely empty his life had been up. But, to be fair, he was only 8 at the time.
When it happened to him again at 16 there was one big complication. He had been brought up to respect  -up to a point- other people religious and cultural beliefs. He had none himself; like his mother and father, he felt unencumbered by the weight of puritanical dogma or sullied by secular sin. They saw life as it was, not through hellfire tinged glasses; so falling in love with someone like Eve was totally doomed, ridiculous in the extreme.
Eve was not only Christian but from a very distinct branch that somewhere along the line had snapped off completely and now bordered on being known as a cult. The Reverend Gerry King had a devout following, mostly from devout young women, most of whom frequented the various youth groups of the area, and the school where Dean went.
When Dean had moved to the area as a child he had gone to the “Sunday School” that the Rev. ran for a few weeks and it was there that he’d first met Eve, and was totally smitten in the way that only young boys can be. This was not arousal but something more akin to a Spiritual knowing, a genuine flow of pure emotion, which Eve seemed to share.
Dean had been offered a chance to be indoctrinated into the scholarship programme that Rev. King offered; to become closer to God, but by that time Dean’s parents had heard more stories about King and forbade him to go. Worse, he could no longer see Eve at all.
Eve was not allowed to go to school at that age –she was deemed far too vulnerable to brainwashing or so the Rev. thought- and so Dean did his best to forget all about her.

Years passed, as they do. Though there had been other girlfriends none seemed to hold a candle to the feeling he had for Eve. Being nearly an adult complicated matters with sex rearing its ugly head. He was no fool, he understood about what was happening to his body, the hormones now raging, but understanding and living it were two completely different things. He was both liberated and intimidated by his new found freedom. He was not blessed with good looks but knew how to hold himself, how to speak to women and make them feel at ease and special.
It should have been easy for him to reap a bountiful harvest and it wasn’t for a lack of offers; women found Dean desirable; but he found that he could not go through with the consummation. It felt wrong to manipulate them with such ease; the women seemed too pliable, too willing for debasement. In a way he saw his ability to manipulate the women being similar to Rev. King. Dean often wondered whether King had seen some of the quality in him that he wanted to mould and call his own.

Ten years later – a balmy day; first class on a Wednesday morning.  The door to the English class opens unexpectedly and Dean’s world gets blown apart. Ten years passed by but it might well have been yesterday when Eve walked into the classroom again; and back into his life. Just like yesterday.
The classroom paled into insignificance as he saw her. She stood at the front of the class as the headmistress spoke to Mrs Slough, the English teacher. Eve seemed aloof, so disconnected to everything else; the world still had not touched her.
Her hair was still long; pure lines of silk, a burnt coffee colour and seemed to contrast to her pale complexion; salt & pepper freckles, a light dusting. She was still quite thin but was now clearly a woman. He felt himself blush as she surveyed the classroom and for the briefest of moments their eyes met. She seemed not to notice him, looked beyond him, even, to the world outside.
Heart sinking, he cursed himself for being a fool; ten years had passed, after all, and she had moved away; built a new life for herself. But what had made them come back? And did this mean that her whole family had moved back?

The questions were answered later that evening. Dean had not been able to meet Eve at all during the day; circumstances always seemed to get in the way. At the end of every class Eve would hurry away, not wanted to spend time with anyone or trying to make friends. She saw it as a futile exercise, and was probably right. The gossip mill had already gone into overdrive, but Dean wanted no part of it, so he was surprised when Eve was the subject of the dinner table.
“We heard that Eve King is back at your school, Dean. Is she in any of your classes?” Dean’s mother asked.
“Yes, English. How’d you know?”
“The whole clan, the whole Family have moved in, strangely enough, back into their old place. It’s stayed derelict for all these years.”
“Maybe they own it?”
“That would make sense…” Dean’s father replied. “But you’re going to stay away from her though, aren’t you?” This was the first time his parents had laid down the law like this.
“Well; I was going to re-introduce myself if the chance came; but why should that be a problem? What have you against her anyway?”
“It’s nothing against her, per se. Well; you were too young when they moved away the first time… but there were always rumours that Rev. King wasn’t a Rev. at all; just a leader of a cult. Worse still, there were even rumours that he’d molested several children in his ‘parish’; maybe even his own. You can imagine how horrified we were found this out; and you can see why we stopped you going to the Sunday school!”
“When you’re a child then you see things that way…” His mother interjected. “There’s no thought of anything but the purest of reasons. Words such as ulterior motives or grooming have no meaning…”
Dean felt sickened to the stomach. He wanted to go back to those times. It wasn’t that he was ignorant of this news; everyone had been talking about it at school; but to hear his own parents worry that he might have become a victim.. and worse still, that Eve could still be… well, it was almost too much for him.
He excused himself from the table and went upstairs to his room. Lying on his bed he thought of the angel he had known all those years ago and wept knowing that it was no longer so.

The next day he tried blanking it all from his mind. His parents were right, it wasn’t a good idea to get involved. It was obvious that she was too mired into the fundamentalist Christian lifestyle. The Rev. had taken a new ‘hands-on’ approach to the religion, standing on street corners, shouting his message of hate to anyone who could hear it; with the rest of his family by his side.
The message was far more extreme. Love was there but only if you fit certain criteria. The homosexuals, the coloureds and even the Brexiteers were condemned to hell. God loved all the others and all could be saved, even those of colour, if they sacrificed.
That was the term he used –it meant turning your back on everything you had known before and becoming part of the family of Christ.
Eve could be seen every weekend, with her father, arm in arm; passion flooding her face; whilst at school she kept herself alone and cut off, nothing showing. She only spoke when she addressed the teachers; and if anyone dared make fun of her then she would retaliate, her voice drowning out the laughs until they retreated, intimidated by the frenzy and fervour coming from her. It wasn’t long before they all left her alone.
And so did Dean for the most part. He couldn’t reconcile what his parents had told him with  what he saw on a daily basis. It broke his heart to see her, he wanted so much to take her in his arms, make her snap out of the religious stupor she was in. She was hurting so much, but just couldn’t see it. Oh, how he wanted to be the one to save her.
He knew how ridiculous it sounded; knew of his tendency to rescue first and ask questions later. Equally he knew that no good could come of any relationship with her, no matter what his heart (or cock) said otherwise; so he kept away.
And all went well for another three weeks until one Friday afternoon.
“It is you, isn’t it, Dean?” The voice from behind took him by surprise. He was sitting in the library during his last free period of the day. (he never understood why he wasn’t allowed home early; he could just as easily read or study at home and proved just how ridiculous college treated the students. “We talk to you as adults” said their prospectus, but treated them as children, Dean wished that he’d never gone to college; he just got suckered by their promotional campaign. No one at his school offered any other alternative; it was either go to college or you’re on your own…) He was so lost in thought he never realised that she was standing behind him.
“I was sure that you didn’t recognise me.” He replied, turning to face her. She was far more beautiful than he ever remembered her.
“I didn’t realise it was you until someone pointed to you in conversation.”
“I hope it was something nice.”
“Oh; of course! It’s only me that gets bad press; though I can’t imagine why.” That stumped Dean, he didn’t want to say anything that would be offensive to her; equally he didn’t want to say anything stupid. She laughed at this, actually laughed out loud, good naturedly, at his indecisiveness. “You ARE sweet; after all these years, Dean. Still thinking of others, not wanting to hurt their feelings. No doubt you know all about my family.” Dean just nodded once. “And you still talk to me?”
“Well… that’s just your family…”
“And me… but it shouldn’t get in the way of us though. I just wanted to say that to you, Dean. I just wanted to say hi, and you still hold a place for me…I haven’t forgotten you.”
She walked away then, leaving him baffled. Other people were still staring at him as she left. This was unheard of; the religious nut actually having a conversation with someone. Dean had to walk out himself, the stares were too off putting.
That night: Dean said nothing to his parents. He wasn’t sure what happened himself. Eve’s words were obscure and seemed contradictory to how she was perceived. His feelings for her were now reignited, stronger than ever. Being that close to her was intoxicating and things were about to go up a notch.
A sharp retort of “Welcome To The Jungle” woke him up that evening –his mobile was ringing. No one knew he ever had a phone, let alone rang it (it was for emergencies only!). It took a few seconds to find it before he could answer it.
It was Eve.
“Can we meet?”
“Yeah… sure; I guess… where?”
“The old place.”

This was proof that she did remember the childhood days indeed! The old place… he’d almost forgotten himself!
His Grandfather had been the school caretaker and knew the grounds better than anyone and even knew of this little oasis. No one else knew it existed.
There was a small stream that ran alongside the school for a bit, most inaccessible, except at this one little spot. Eve and Dean spent hours there as children, just talking; and now they were going to meet there again after all this time. It didn’t feel weird at all….

Eve was there already, waiting for him; lying on the sloping bank, barely discernible in the dark. He felt his heart race at the knowledge that she was there for him. She patted the ground next to her and he lie there by her side, not daring to look at her.
If he closed his eyes then it would’ve been like none of the surrounding years had happened, they were still at that wonderful, innocent age; very much in love. That was why he kept them open, staring out at the sky.
He suddenly realised just how precarious a situation he was in.
“I didn’t know whether you’d come.” She said, breaking the ice; whispering the same way she’d done as a child; but she was anything but now.
“Of course I would.. but you knew that.. How did you find my number though?”
“The family has its ways…” A chill slithered down his spine. “Don’t worry; no one else knows that I’ve contacted you. They think I’m at the cinema.”
“Really?” This sounded quite preposterous considering what Dean knew of the Rev.’s views.
“Don’t sound so surprised! We keep up to date on current films for our own ends. Not only to satirize and deride them, but we can also use the knowledge to tempt people into our church. Father is wanting for the church to expand here again, find a new flock.”
“Is that why you’ve contact me?” The penny dropped.
“Hardly…” And missed… “what.. you thought I was going to use my feminine whiles to entice you into the church?” She started to laugh, much to Dean’s dismay. He was very confused now. “Wait..” She continued, “you still came though. Ha!! You must have it bad, Dean.. you poor boy!”
“How can you tell them about the film if you haven’t seen it then?” He said to change the subject fast.
“You really are naïve, aren’t you? YouTube? Wikipedia? IMDB? I can swat up before I talk to them!” It was obvious really, he thought..
“What did you want to see me about then?” He asked finally.
“Do I need a reason?” She replied. “I just wanted to see if there was still the connection there. We always used to have one.. and it’s something that I miss.. kind of. Someone who I can just be myself with –whoever that might be. Would that be ok? We don’t have to really talk about anything, if you don’t want to. I won’t try to convert you, but if we can meet up a couple of times a week it would be aces. It would mean a lot to me, Dean.”
She found his hand in the dark and squeezed it gently, sending waves of electricity through him. “Of course.. I’d like that.” He replied, barely able to get his words out.
“Thank you.” She looked at her watch and placed her hand on his to push herself off the ground. As she stepped over him he smelt her perfume: lavender, just as she always used to wear. “God speed my sweet friend.” She said and was gone in the night. Even though the air still had a chill to it, his hand felt warm. Yes, he did have it bad…

All during school she ignored him; he was just another face in the crowd, which puzzled him at first, but the more he thought about it the more it made sense. By seeing him in the evenings she was going against the family; the whole church! She was living a secret by seeing him so she couldn’t risk acknowledging him whilst at College. He smiled to himself; he was her guilty secret! (and to a certain degree she was his too) He doubted that anyone else would understand the dichotomy in her, they would see her and just see the fundamentalist, but was that who she really was? Why had she chosen him to be the one that saw the other side of her? Was she her ‘real’ self when they were together? He had to find out.

“Are you asking me if I’m schizophrenic for Christ?” She laughed quietly, aware that there were peoples back gardens less than 20 feet away.
“Not exactly.” Dean replied.
“You’re asking me, then, whether I’m still a religious nut or by seeing you, am I showing signs of branching out on my own?”
“Kind of… I guess…”
“You’ve not really thought this through, have you?” He shrugged. He thought he had, but Eve had a way of turning arguments inside out. She probably got that from her father.
“I don’t see that I’m doing anything wrong, Dean. We’re not committing a grievous sin by talking… Dad might get a little upset, but everything’s a sin with him! But that’s how I ended up here, if you think about it! There’s his way and then the way that others should follow… Sometimes..”
Dean looked at her. “What?”
“Nothing.. I don’t need to be dredging that stuff up, there’s no need. You’re good, y’know that? You’re good with getting people to open up. I feel that I could just talk to you.”
“Then why don’t you?”
“Not yet… everything comes to those who wait, Dean.”
“No… it really doesn’t.” Damn, he hadn’t meant to say that. She was quick to pick up on his subtext.
“Why, I didn’t know that you still thought of me that way. Still, I thought it was just a childish crush.” Dean turned away.
“Yeah; well.. so did I. Now I find myself lying on the banks of a stream, holding hands with you beneath the stars.”
“Romantic, isn’t it?”
“Don’t, Eve. I’m as confused enough as it is. It’s easier for me to think of us as just friends… most of the time.”
“So you don’t want to kiss me then?”
He turned to her in astonishment. The streaming light sparkled on her skin, making her look ethereal and more beautiful than ever.
“I…” He started to speak but she moved closer, turned herself over to him and looked into his eyes. She moved to kiss him softly but deeply. He felt lost in her tenderness; all time synchronised with her heartbeat. All that existed for him was the feel of her skin against his, her tongue passionately probing his own; their souls becoming one; the scent of her hair. He was intoxicated with her.
It was over far too quickly. As soon as she withdrew she kissed him lightly on the forehead before getting up and leaving. Touching his cheek he realised it was slightly damp, putting it to his lips it tasted slightly salty as if she’d been crying.

It was another week before she contacted him again. In a way he was glad, it gave him a chance to sort his feeling out. He knew that this could only end in more tears, probably his; and she would never leave the church. He wasn’t even sure he could ask that much of her.
He had to be careful around her now. The kiss had woken all sorts of feelings, made him feel truly alive and stoked up a passion he’d never felt before. He was afraid of it.
The text was only two words: Tonight – 8ish.

She was already lying by the bank again when he got there. She didn’t even look at him when he sat down next to her. This time there was more of a distance between them and the silence was overpowering. There was so much that he wanted to say to her but he didn’t know where to start, so he just sat there.
He turned to look at her and initially thought she was shivering with the cold but then realised she was crying again.
“What’s wrong?” He asked her.
“You must think I’m a tramp.”
“What??” Was all he could think to reply.
“Kissing you like that. I’m nothing but a hypocritical tramp.”
“Christ no.”
“Is an interesting choice of words, Dean.”
“You know what I mean.”
“I don’t think I understand any of this. None of it makes sense, just what I felt when we kissed… but I’ve been told that’s wrong.”
“But it felt so right… I do know what you mean, but I don’t think badly of you at all.”
“I doubt myself… I scourged myself after seeing you; vowed I’d never see you again because of the thoughts I had.”
“But here I am again. I just want you to hold me. Would you?”
He turned and laid next to her; felt the pressure of her hands on his back and her kiss was more yearning, searching for something he didn’t know whether he could give.
Nothing more was said until she left. Words made it real, confused things more. When she turned to leave she said two words. “Thank you.”
For weeks they met, kissed by the stream and whilst they were together nothing else mattered, but when they were apart Dean felt confused, unsure of what was going on. Was this actually a relationship or just a friendship? What was he to her?

Summer was now almost upon them and it was warmer now in the evenings. He’d noticed that whilst she was around him her clothes were looser, less buttons on her blouse were done up, showing him more than what was healthy for his imagination.
When they kissed she would often lie on top of him now, her hair flowing over him, her breasts pressing on his chest and it was impossible for her not to notice his erection against her.
Finally it became too much for him; he had to understand what he meant to her. He pushed her off and sat up.
“I’m sorry… I need to know, Eve, what’s going on between us?”
“How do you mean?”
“Cut the crap, Eve… please; just tell me.”
“What do you think, Dean? What do you want it to be?”
“Those are two completely different questions and you know it.”
“Do you think I’m being unfair?”
“More than a little. You know how I feel for you.”
“I can, every time I lie on top of you. It’s nice.”
“I don’t get you.”
“Can’t I enjoy how I make you feel?”
“Is that all it is? Is this just a tease? Do you enjoy turning me on? Knowing I can’t do anything about it?”
“Who says you can’t do anything about it?” Don’t you want me?” She licked her lips suggestively, sending shivers through his body. It took every ounce of his will power to turn away. She laughed and then placed a hand on his shoulder. “It’s because I know you won’t take it too far that I enjoy spending time with you. I get a chance to be me in a way I can’t with anyone else.”
“Then that, to me, IS being hypocritical.”
“If that’s what you think…” She got up and left him. He didn’t try to stop her. Why was he even bothering with this? It was torture –tease and denial, yet he was as guilty as she was. It was like some childish game they were still playing but there were no rules and more was at stake.

One week passed and then two. On the third week Dean was almost relieved; he felt a little guilty about that, but his head felt free from confusion. Without temptation he could live his life normally. By the end of the third week he barely thought about Eve at all. And then she texted him and like a fool dog on heat he dropped everything and went to her.
She wore a very demure white blouse, a long pleated skirt and looked as if she’d just come back from church.
He sat next to her and said nothing and for ten minutes neither of them spoke a word. Then she leaned over to him and kissed him lightly on the lips, then ran her tongue lightly over them, knowing that was a sensitive spot to him. He gasped and she used that moment to slide her tongue further in. It was a kiss to lose himself in and Dean felt exactly that; he felt lost to her. She moved to his neck and he could feel her breath in his ear.
“I’m getting married.” She whispered.
He pushed her away, shocked by this confession. “What? Why?”
“It’s Father’s wish. It’s why we moved back here.”
“It’s what? You’ve known about it all this time? So why go through this.. all of this with me? Just what have I been for you? A diversion?”
“My saviour. One I hoped would deliver me from this if I pushed your buttons enough, but you’ve been more puritanical than my own family! I wanted you to want me, Dean, but you haven’t.”
“How can you say that? Don’t you know what you do to me? How I feel towards you?”
“So you’ve repeatedly said, but unlike Father you’re just words. You’re not a man of action. I mean, can you imagine anything beyond this? What we’re doing now? It’s still just a childhood fantasy come to life for you. I doubt you’d actually fight for me, should it come to it, and it probably would have… so what are you going to do about it now, Dean? Rail and thunder against the inhumanity; about how badly I’ve treated you? What have you done for me? You’ve never tried to talk to me, just let me make the first move the whole time…
“And now I tell you that I’m getting married but you don’t try to stop me but think about how it’s going to affect you!”
Dean just stared at her, not knowing what to do or say. She was right; he had been so confused about his own feelings that he’d just been passive the whole time.
“I almost thought you were the one to save me from this. I entertained the thought of going all the way with you and telling Father about it. He would have beaten me and excommunicated me but I would have done it for you if I knew that you’d stand by me and look after me. But I know that’s an impossibility. It’s asking too much of you; I can see that now. My time to break free will come, but not now and not with you.
“I’m sorry about that, I truly am, but it’s down to you. I won’t be seeing you again.”
She didn’t even kiss him good-bye, she was just gone. For a few minutes he pondered what she said. Part of him was sorry about what had happened; she was right after all. He sighed and looked to the stars.
Suddenly he smiled to himself: she was right after all… All sorts of shit would have hit the fan if they had gone all the way… Phew, he thought… dodged a bullet there then!

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