Here is a new section from my WIP novel tentatively titled, The Rocky Orchard. Enjoy!
I lie awake for a long time. It is the first time I have ever slept in the big bed – my aunt’s bed.
We climbed the stairs hand in hand, after everyone left: Woo, and my parents, and the little cousins grown tall and round but no less like fairies than always. We wanted this night, our first night as married lovers, all to ourselves. I lie here like a child on Christmas Eve, wanting to fall asleep so the morning will come faster. And being completely unable to fall asleep because I am too excited. I listen for your first light snores. I listen for them every night, as you always fall asleep before I do. Even when you tell me in the morning that you tossed and turned for countless time before you could fall asleep, I know better. I hear the snores. They thrill me. They comfort me. They make me feel like I am safe, like I am trusted.
You shift your head and nuzzle into your pillow. You clear your throat. One half of one snore escapes your mouth, and your eyes open wide as you say, “Oh my God, a whip-or-will!”
I laugh out loud. You are a collector of bird songs. I am used to this. You stubbornly remain in bed each morning until you hear at least one good, clear unusual bird song. Not “trash birds” as you so adorably refer to the rowdy collection of sparrows, starlings, wrens and even robins that inhabit western Pennsylvania. Many a morning have I opened my eyes to you saying, “Not a damn thing but trash birds this morning. I’m staying put until something better comes along. Even a cardinal. Might even settle for a mourning dove.”
“Did you hear it?” you ask me. “I mean, it could be a mockingbird. Could always be a mockingbird who’s imitating a whip-or-will, but I’m counting it as a whip-or-will.”
I laugh again and trace my finger down the center of your face. A fire comes into your eye. You reach your hand around the back of my head and you pull me to you. We make love, again. Not like the first time tonight, not while we were still at the stop of the stairs, tearing at each other’s clothes, dropping to our knees on the raw oak floor.
We take our time. Even in the dark of the country night, we see one another. Our bodies are not nearly as naked as we are, in so many ways, on the night of our wedding.
I am the luckiest person in the world.
Painting by Kazimir Malevich