We sat on our favorite stone not far from the water spot. The river flowed peacefully before us, reflecting light from the setting sun. Looking at it you wouldn’t know just a few days past it had burst its banks and almost swept the village away. It was dusk, and but for one dog, everyone else was gone. Our feet dangled loosely in the water and the air between us was thick and heavy. The anticipation was so high I thought I could hear her beating heart over the gurgle of the river. This would be our first time and neither of us knew how to go about it. We had talked about it yesterday, we said it would just be practice for we were soon to be wed. It was just so that we would know what to do on our wedding night.
All night I tossed and turned in my mat wondering, would she be as soft to the touch as she seemed? Her skin was supple, a shiny ebony that shone in the light even though it was as dark as night. I wanted so much to touch her body, to feel the muscles beneath her skin, to knead here and there a bit. Then maybe touch the places her clothing covered. I didn’t tell her all this yesterday though. How would she take it? Would she shy away and reject me or would she ache her back in an act of supplication, and it would be our little sacred secret never to be known to the world.
Just for practice, I told myself over and over.
Fingers barely touching we hesitated. It didn’t escape us that the repercussions of our touch if caught would be dire. Of many we have heard who were rumored to be, have been found dead badly mutilated, others publicly lynched. Parents have been shamed and shunned for not teaching their children right. Was that the reason we hesitated to what we needed so bad? Was it because it was abhorred, illegal, even feared, maybe…
Sitting on this slowly cooling stone, our fingers barely touching, she suddenly says she has funny feelings for me. I looked into her brown eyes sparkling in the twilight. “How will I live without our daily walks to the river talking about everything and nothing?” she asked. I looked away suddenly feeling shy. Drawing close she whispered about how she has been having these feelings whenever she looked at me at the river by the bathing stones. How she hid and watched as I scrubbed my body from head to toe knowing in her gut that it must be wrong. Her favorite time, she said eyes closed, was when I lay in the sun to dry. The many times she wanted to come over and cover me in areas she felt should be hears alone to see and touch. I gasped and closed my eyes.
In another time and place maybe these words wouldn’t cut through me like dry ice. My tears fell to my fingers before rolling slowly to hers. This was an illicit love, an illicit affair that would get us either killed or worse.
We sat for what seemed like eternity in pregnant silence. I did not see her move, felt only her lips enclose mine. As our tongues intertwined, I knew the feelings between us were true. Inside we had chosen each other even though we knew that what was happening here was a kin to suicide.
We walked hand in hand home, steadily balancing our pots on the head. For those twenty minutes, everything was fine and we basked in the glow of our kiss. No one bothered with us maybe a friendly wave here and there. Two girls holding hands coming from the river was not out of the ordinary. As we parted ways to our various homesteads we both knew this would be the last time we saw each other. We stood there lingering in the moment for a while. She let go first and started walking away, hips swaying in the dying embers of the evening sun. She always balanced her pot so perfectly. I turned away as tears clouded my vision.
Tomorrow we get married and move to our homes in faraway villages. We will then be safe, maybe happy.
The painting: Artist – Unknown
Looking forward to some constructive feedback on the writing. Thanks.