The Fire Burns

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She can’t see herself in my eyes, doesn’t see what I see and wonders why I feel as I do about her. She looks in the mirror and remembers the girl she used to be but has a hard time not seeing what time has done to the girl. The changes are cataloged and detailed individually and though she knows time has been kinder than to her than some other women she still doesn’t get it.

With each stroke of the brush she tries understand how he can love her so damn much because it still doesn’t make sense but much of what he does is almost incomprehensible to her. Sometimes she wonders if it is all based upon sex for him. Men can put it anywhere and as long as she lets him put it where he wants he’ll keep calling.

Or that is how it used to be all those years ago. That is how easy it used to be to get a boy. If you wanted him to hang around, wanted his attention you could always use sex to get it and keep it. It wasn’t what she wanted or how she was now but there had been a time where she and the other girls had used their sexuality to get what they wanted.

She had quickly grown out of it as had most of her friends but there were a few who never did. That just made her shake her head. It was impossible to respect a grown woman whose self esteem was so wrapped up in having men pursue them. She liked men and always had but she didn’t need a man to make her feel good about herself.

****

Sometimes it makes me crazy to feel these flames burning inside my belly and to know it is because of her. I am not the kind of person who lets my guard down easily, not the person who just lets strangers walk around inside my head.

But I gave her the key years ago and unless I actively work on keeping her out she strolls through whenever she feels like it.

Sometimes I think about it all and try to figure out how we arrived at this place because I figure that I if I understand it I can gain better control of it. The thought makes me snort and I wonder when I became such a control freak and what I am afraid of.

I can hear her tell me we can be friends and that I shouldn’t spend my time trying to “bonk her.” I remember nodding my head and her eyes focusing on mine. I don’t think she believes I won’t try but I don’t tell her that I am sure she wants me to. It is that push/pull thing that happens between men and women.

When she hugs me goodbye that day I swear she presses up against me with her whole body and tries to figure out just how happy I am to see her.

We hold on to each other for a moment and then I go to kiss her cheek but catch part of her lip. It is awkward and I really don’t know how it happened. Can’t tell you if we did it intentionally but it affects instantly and she notices. She smiles at me and starts to walk away but I grab her and pull her back.

My arms are wrapped around her from behind and I feel her shift her body. We have done this dance before and there is no way to hide the obvious from her.

“I guess I am happy to see you.”

It doesn’t sound cool or sophisticated to me but I am praying she doesn’t care.

She doesn’t say anything but she doesn’t move away when I press up against her so I put one hand on her hip and the other grabs a handful of hair.

It is clear to me now I have permission to keep going and part of me wonders if this hadn’t been part of her plan all along. It would make perfect sense for her to have decided before she saw me whether she wanted this but I am not going to waste time thinking about it and I am not going to ask.

But later on I will put my head against her chest to listen to her heart pound because it turns me on and because I want to confirm she enjoyed it as much as I hope she did.

****

She wonders if he feels her pulling away. Things don’t feel right to her but she doesn’t want to hurt him, especially when he looks so happy to see her.

When he kisses her hello she kisses him back and decides today will be it. She tells him that she has lots to do and apologizes for not having much time and then takes him into the bedroom.

‘Let’s do it.”

He watches her climb into bed, sees her slip off her pants and watches her pull the sheet over her lower body. It turns him on to watch her but this time he senses she is not all there. So he walks over to her side of the bed, pulls off his pants and stands there staring at her.

“I want your mouth.”

She leans forward, closes her eyes and takes him but he doesn’t close his. He is watching now because he wants to see if she is doing it because he asked or because she wants to. They have been together for long enough for him to know the difference.

When he doesn’t wrap his fingers in her hair or grab her head she stops to ask if he likes it and he smiles at her.

It feels good, always feels good but he is too aware of her not being present and decides he needs to do something about it. He doesn’t want to say anything because he is worried that given the circumstances anything he says will come out sounding much worse than he intends.

So he pulls the covers down and when she invites him in he smiles and climbs on top of  her.

“We don’t have much time.”

Those words ping pong around his head. They have had done it a million times and every which way possible but this time he doesn’t hear “I want you.” Instead it comes out inside his head as “I don’t have any interest but I can’t figure out how to get out of it.”

It frustrates him so he tries to figure out how to get her more involved. “Honey, I want you to be on top.”

She tells him no and tells him to “go for it.”

In other circumstances that would have made him smile and he would have gone for it but now he can’t. Still he figures there is a chance he is wrong about it all and he tries to make sure she enjoys it

“I am going to manhandle you.”

“Ok, go ahead.”

That sets him off because long ago she had told him he didn’t have to always be so gentle and that she wanted to feel his strength. “I want you to manhandle me. Throw me around, pound me!”

She hadn’t been kidding either. When he started to let go she pushed him harder and if she thought he was holding back she told him it was ok to go harder and they did.

His eyes narrow but she doesn’t react or recognize he is irritated by her response or lack thereof. Her distance is aggravating him because he feels the wall that she has put up and senses they are in a precarious place.

It takes him a moment to realize that he really is pounding her and that neither of them are pleased by it. He knows she is not upset because he is being rougher but is angry with her and himself.

Angry because he recognizes he is trying to use his physical strength to knock down a wall that doesn’t exist in the physical world. So he finishes, rolls over and heads straight to the bathroom.

It is the first time in his memory with her that intimacy has left him feeling anything but great. It frustrates him even more because the hallmark of their relationship is how well they communicate.

She has always told him that is one of the things she treasures and he has always told her he does too. He has explained many times that very few of the women from the past would describe his communication skills as she does because he didn’t talk to them like he did with her.

When she leaves his place he says little but his body language makes it clear he is unhappy. Mostly he is silent because he is waiting for her to share what is bothering her and when she does he explodes.

They argue about what could have and should have been and then focus on what is. He tells her if she wants to walk to go ahead and then says he thinks she would be quite foolish to do so.

****

Hours later they are past the argument and they have worked through most of the issues. Some still exist and until they are willing to commit larger changes they always will.

But for the moment they are content with the agreement and they promise to love each other always and swear they will continue to figure to work it out because the pain of being apart hurts more than the irritation of the few remaining issues.

He asks her if she is still his girl and he smiles and promises to be his forever. He smiles and wraps her up in his arms and whispers in her ear that he has never stopped loving her and never will.

She smiles at him and tells him if makeup sex is always this good she plans on fighting more. He laughs and tells her they don’t fight that much and she disagrees.

But when they talk through it they agree that compatible isn’t the right word to describe them because it is not strong enough. She says she doesn’t know if she believes in soul mates any more and he says it doesn’t matter.

When she asks why he just smiles and she asks him to explain but he refuses. She doesn’t like when he holds back and tells him so. So he laughs some more and reminds her that he is the boss and she says no way.

Later she’ll tell him that sometimes that kind of talk irritates her and he’ll laugh. When she yells at him for laughing he says he is laughing with her.

No would really describe us as he and she, they would always refer to us as a couple. But a big part of our strength is our ability to live without each other.

When she tells him that doesn’t make any sense he explains to her they are two people that share one heart and that it is a huge muscle that is strong enough to let them go about their separate ways until the time when they can be together.

She smiles and tells him that she loves when he is romantic and kisses him. He kisses her back and tells her he has never kissed sweeter lips.

They fall asleep on the couch still holding hands.

*****

She has pulled away from me again and put up the wall but it is not as high nor as thick as it once was. Or maybe what has changed is now I see the handholds she left in it and the cracks she put out so that I can find a way to climb over it.

I know her better than she thinks and I see things differently than before. She still doesn’t see her reflection in my eyes or understand things as I do but that is part of the attraction and part of how we complement each other.

When she tells me to go away, to let go and give up I don’t listen because what I read between the lines. She won’t ask me to do more than I have done because she thinks it is too much and when I offer she declines.

But I don’t worry because there is a connection I can’t explain that never goes away. We don’t stay angry with each other. We don’t get tired of each other.

That is different. It is unique and it is special because it doesn’t apply to others, just to us.

The fire that burns never goes out. I stopped asking why. Stopped trying to figure it out and just accepted that it did and it does.

Once I did that things changed and good things happened.

Don’t ask me to tell you about the future. I know what I think but I am unlikely to tell you what it is. Just know that I am built to take what is thrown at me, to endure what I must and to adapt and adjust.

Some walls come down via demolition and some come down through more intellectual methods. I know how to handle both.

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