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Simple touch

July 1, 2008

The pallor had set in. The nutrients necessary for hair follicles to maintain health were no longer being delivered, and my head was covered by a thatch of dry, whitening straw. Having become subtly taut and powdery, my skin bore witness to the march of the disease, ever onward, conquering all of the body’s systems. Frequent unexplained weariness, and simple colds that just hung on became the norm. Mucus like day-glo snails and coughing fits, day after day.

 Simply waking up and getting moving took twice as long and four times the Coffee. Lots of sugar, thanks. A couple of errands and back to bed for a 3 hour nap. In the evening I took food out of habit. Nothing tasted good. Nothing tasted like anything. This was the bulk of what my life had become. 

There was an old insurance policy that I cashed out. After many years of contributions, it had grown fat and the children didn’t need it, or so I decided, and it provided a surfeit of funds for the trip my son and I had agreed to take. Enough to book you along on the same flights, into the same hotels. I had not wanted to meet you when I did, however, fate deigned it, and who was I to disagree?  It was not too late for me to have a happy life. The boy didn’t know of you. The secrecy was a relish, heavily laden on a late-arriving and deeply craved delicacy.

Istanbul was uplifting, and Sam, my boy, searching band-width, and obsessively trying to play an on-line video game, only payed attention to what he saw when it was forced upon him. He did enjoy all he saw and has since mentioned how he enjoyed Turkey, but one would never know it from the his attitude when we were there. He therefore took no notice when my afternoon walks took longer each day. 

 I had begun on the long and terminal trudge to the ending all things share. Many times I wished to die, but this was when I was strong and young and had the world by the ass. Now I was older and weaker and in a secret place I would not admit existed, there was a wish to live. I played off the doctors’ concerns and the sincerity of my few friends as if I was not worried and felt that everyone had to go sometime, so now it was my turn. I did feel this way, but knowing that death was ordained, I secretly wanted to live. Ain’t that the way? I would not live, of course, and this made your appearance particularly fortuitous.

 You had made this trudge before with another. Rather than being soured up and embittered, or selfish and self-protective, you behaved lovingly and understandingly to one just engaging in the downhill march. I mused wether you had a convoluted martyr complex, were inexplicably desperate for love to the point of taking another hostage, and had bloated the feminine nurture instinct into some benign monster. An ” I’ll love you to death” fetish. After going through all these mental gymnastics within the first few days of our meeting, I concluded that it did not matter. It was what it was, and that was it. I needed companionship and attention and needed also to give it, to prove that my dying would matter, that I could do something outside myself and get a fair payoff. Do something good after all the years of selfishness.

 Never having had children, your body had not been forced into the anthropological distortions so often required of the woman of our species. Skin smooth, hips narrow, breasts still flaccid, stomach bearing some belly, but not nearly approaching my own. We never asked each other our ages. Odd in America. I learned from you what I had been missing for all those years since divorcing. The simple touch of another person. Not the licking, thrusting, sweating, rubbing or deep kissing, though all those were certainly longed for. I was just the simple loving touch, the miracle of communication that comes from plain skin-on-skin.   

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