"And I was the answer to your prayer?" she said and smiled. "You prayed, and suddenly there I was. How romantic! A gift from heaven."
"No you weren't a gift. You were a miracle that happened, Anton. But it was a long time coming. The miracle started one afternoon in autumn. I was driving home across the Appalachian Mountains using the back roads. In a village both sides of the street were lined with what seemed like a miracle. The trees were brilliant in their fall colors, from a brilliant yellow to dark orange. They were a aglow in the sunshine. One looked like a huge explosion of yellow leafs, a mountain of glowing color interspersed with branches reaching for the sky. As I saw this, the thought came that this is how all love should unfold, brilliant, overwhelming with an explosion of joy, filling the whole scene with light, reaching for the sky. And the scene was constantly changing. Some trees had their branches stretched out horizontally in ever-widening tiers of orange. One tree had already shed most of its leafs with only a hint of its previous splendor remaining in patches of dark red and dark ochre. I slowed to a crawl to enjoy to the full this amazing symphony of color. That what love should be, a symphony of color, shouldn't it? But as I said, the miracle was slow in its unfolding. Nothing happened that day along this line, or the next day, or week, or month. Nothing happened for another year and some months. The miracle happened in winter in the coldest city on the planet in the middle of a snowstorm. When we got off the plane in Moscow for the peace conference, there you were."
"Yes, like the Snow Queen wrapped up in a parka," said Anton.
"That's not how I remember you," I said with a hug. "I remember you as the sunshine that turned Moscow in winter into a tropical paradise."
"Now you're getting silly," she said. "I hope you didn't get sunburned," she said and laughed.
"I think I did. Maybe we both did. It's hard no to get burned with so much sunshine around. It's a challenge not to get burned when one isn't prepared for it and comes out of the cold."
"Sunburns are never fatal," said Anton and smiled. "I fact, they add to the tan that reminds us that we've been in the sun, and some people nurture their tan."
"Yes, some do so in silence for years," I added and laughed. "I wonder why we had waited for all those years until we got back together again in Caracas."
"Maybe we were afraid that we would get sunburned again," said Anton with a kiss. "But that's all history now," she added. "We have learned to stay in the sunshine all day and relish it. That's what we've learned in Caracas, and later in Queensland, haven't we?"
As expected, there was no official reception arranged for us for us when we arrived in Novosibirsk in late afternoon. It was already dark at four PM. No one was there to meet us, nor was there anyone around that we needed to worry about. Anton and I blended in with the crowd. Like in any big American city, no one took note of anyone else. There was a certain intimacy in this isolation. I would have hired a taxi to get to the hotel, but Anton suggested that the bus would be more suitable. And so it was. We felt closer to each other in this public isolation, as close as we had felt in Caracas when dancing. Time was not an issue now. We had almost and entire day layover to connect with the flight north that was coming through Novosibirsk at three PM every day. Obviously, neither of us minded they layover.
The first thing we did at the hotel, was to go to sleep for a few hours. We had two single beds. The hotel was old, but warm and quiet. We slept right past the hotel's dinner hours, so we ordered some sandwiches from room service. We ate them sitting on our bed by the window and looked out into the dark. Below us were the lights of the airport, matched by as many stars in the cloudless, icy sky.
Still, the talk didn't last long. After we ate, we became more and more silent. Her nightgown was like the gown with the golden belt that I had seen in my dream, except the top of the gown was left unbuttoned. I could see her familiar breasts. The few words that we spoke now became more like a stutter than a flow of ideas. Eventually, I found myself taking her nightgown off, and mine. From then on we embraced each other in an endless embrace as we had done so quite often in the gentle warmth of Caracas, which now seemed so infinitely far away.
Her touch was as gentle as it had always been, and her genitals hot and sweet. For a brief moment I felt like a traitor towards Nicolai. I rejected the thought. I knew this could not be. Nothing had happened that hadn't happened in Caracas many times before, and the door to each other had remained as wide open as it had been, then. So I dismissed the reservations. After all, their wedding hadn't been announced yet.
We spoke not a word during those intimate times, nor were words needed. Our language was stronger than words. It was carried by the voice of the soul that no ear could ever hear. When this voice, too, fell silent, we lay content in each other's arms until we slept again.
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