AUTHOR 1 SCENE 1:
The full length mirror I’m staring at is just as unforgiving as every other at my age. Luckily, it’s at least the slimming kind. You know, one of those trickster mirrors that practically every clothing chain feels the need to stash in their dressing rooms. They get people feeling all beautiful in their ‘unique line of shit’ only to go home, slip on the same outfit in front of their own truthful mirrors, and then want to puke up their dinner. I put one of these mirrors in my own home, just to avoid such catastrophes. Either way, I need this lie of a reflection today, now more than ever. It doesn’t really matter if I know it’s a slimming trick, I could still use the confidence booster.
I take a long hard look. The dress is nice, it’s black satin, bunched nicely around the hips to accentuate my curves. They need accentuating. My figure has deflated plenty from that of my curvy youth. My hips are boney and my ass cheeks have been pulled downward by the fifty six years of gravity they’ve been forced to endure. My breasts have also been reduced to shrivel and sag. When I’m naked I think of myself as a breakfast plate. Boobs like flat pancakes topped with tiny little round dots of a dark colored syrup, and the skin of my belly is as wrinkled as bacon. The built-in breast booster of this dress accompanied by the princess neckline is helpful. For the first time in years I actually feel somewhat sexy. I need that.
I glance over to see my daughter Tiffany leaning casually against the doorframe of my closet. Her arms are folded across her chest, one foot leans over the other and rests on one toe, and her head tilts to the side. I have no idea how long she’s been standing there. She’s staring at me with a goofy little smirk of satisfaction, and there’s a cute measure of content admiration in her sparkling eyes.
“Mom, you look to die for.” She grins, wholly proud of herself for picking out the dress.
“I can’t believe I’m actually going through with this.”
“I can’t believe you haven’t done it sooner.” She retorts.
Tonight I’ll be meeting up with a man that I haven’t seen in almost thirty years. His name is Joshua and we spent some unbelievably blissful time together in 1961. I was actually seeing the soon-to-be father of my children at the time, and he is who I ultimately chose over Joshua. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way my life turned out. The marriage to my one and only husband was a strong one, and I wouldn’t change a minute of the life we built nor the time we shared together. He passed away five years ago from a sudden heart attack. My three grown children have been trying to talk me into dating for a couple of years, but obviously I’ve declined. Until now.
“It’s your fault, you know?” I’m quick to point the finger at my ever so proud daughter.
“What is?” She asks with a chuckle.
“If it wasn’t for you and that damn internet, I wouldn’t be going on this date.”
“It’s called Facebook Mom, and if you’d pull up your own news feeds once in awhile you might actually like to see some familiar faces.”
“I’m too old for that shit. And, I’m too old for this date too by the way.”
“Love knows no age, Mom. Those were your own words once, remember?”
“Yeah but, Jesus Tiff, I’m almost sixty.” I sulk, as I look in the mirror with disappointment at my aging body.
“Whatever Mom, you’re a healthy old bird, and you’re hotter than ninety percent of the other women around in their sixties. You’ve been a swimmer your whole life. You still do laps. You’re legs are stronger than mine for hell’s sake. I don’t know what you’re so worried about.”
“Did you just call me an old bird?”
I raise a questioning yet playful brow in her direction. She’s right, I’m definitely a healthy woman, especially for my age. That doesn’t stop me from picking myself apart though. I suppose that’s just a natural part of humanity. Tiffany offers only a giggle at my question and then makes her way to my side. As she unfolds her arms, I notice a small velvet rectangular box clutched in her fingers. My stomach sinks at the sight of it. I know the box well, as I personally buried it in the bottom of my cedar chest years before she was even born. I can’t believe she remembered me telling her about it, and for her to have pulled it out of what I assumed to be it’s final resting place comes as a shock. I hold my breath as the most sentimental one of my children picks up my hand, and places the box in my palm. She flashes me a loving closed mouth grin.
“I love you Mom.” She says before turning a heel to leave.
I swallow the lump in my throat, and sniff back the moisture that’s suddenly forced its way from my nasal cavity to the base of my tear ducts. I told Tiffany all about Joshua once when she was in her late teens. Some dickhead boyfriend of hers had just broken her heart, and she was completely devastated. I told her all about the love I once had, and the way I was able to find the inner strength to move on.
My relationship with Joshua was quickly formed. It was a very overwhelming type of love. The kind that sweeps you off your feet and leaves you forever changed. I’d told her how Joshua made me promise him that I wouldn’t wait. He wanted me to move on with my life, make a family. Joshua knew that his odds of returning home at all where slim. He also knew that if he did make it back to me, then he’d likely never be the same man he once was. He wanted me to live a full happy life, so he forced me to make the promise.
I squeeze the box for a second and stare at it, rubbing my thumb across its soft velvet casing. I close my eyes tightly and recall the look in Joshua’s eyes when he handed me this very box.
“I want you to have this, my love. It was my mother’s.” He told me, in a soft deep voice. “It’s the only thing I have left of hers, and I want you to know how much I care for you.”
I tried to protest and give it back, but he insisted.
“If I wasn’t leaving tomorrow then I would stay with you forever. I’d marry you and spend my entire life by your side. I want you to have this part of me. The good part. Before the damn Army rips away every bit of me that’s wholesome and worth a damn.”
Joshua held me close, our foreheads touching lightly, and his arms draped heavily around my waist. I remember the heat of his body, and pulling in his scent. I’d inhaled our last moments together like it was the last time I’d ever really breathe.
“Promise me, Sarah, I need to hear it.”
I shook my head in refusal. I couldn’t bare it.
“Do it, my love. I need to hear that you’ll move on. You won’t wait to live your life. Promise me or I’ll die now, before I even leave.”
I whispered my, “promise,” into his mouth as I gave him one last passionate kiss.
Now, as I look down at my aged hands clutching that same box, my heart races. I’ve kept it in a safe place all these years, but have refused to open it. I kept my promise to Joshua, I was strong. I married Brian and made a family. The love I shared with my husband was real, but it never held the same passion. The love I had for the father of my children was safe, it was comfortable. All-the-while that fire that burned inside of me for Joshua never fully faded away. It left my body and followed him, like a shadow as he turned his back on me. I would have waited an eternity for him. But I didn’t, I held my promise and let myself love another.
Then there is Tiffany. My romantic little girl, so full of spirit and promise. She found him, God bless her. One full year ago, she had remembered our story and asked me to tell her all over again about the love I once had with the man named Joshua. Then that busy little mind of hers wouldn’t give it a rest until he was found. After the loss of my husband, reliving my memories of Joshua struck a deep chord. Apparently Tiffany sensed that spark. She did the unthinkable and she actually found the man who held my heart so many years ago.
I slowly crack open the velvet box, it’s tiny hinges rusted. Inside is the most stunning necklace I’ve ever seen. The chain of it is gold and delicate. Dangling in its center is a turquoise heart, laced around the edges with sparkling diamonds. I brush the slow dripping tear from my cheek and slip the chain around my neck, clasping its clip shut. I take a deep breath and then turn for the door. To my date.
The restaurant is a very elegant place. Tiffany set it up, of course, she made the reservations weeks ago. She even prepaid, bless her little heart. Apparently Joshua has been sharing the same state as us for the last twenty years. He’s been alive and well all this time, ageing with grace a mere two hours from me. The news came as a slap in the face. How surreal could this entire thing actually get? He committed to making the drive, and as I stand here waiting for assistance in parking I spot him. He moves with confidence, with roses in his hand. Even after thirty years, I still recognize his stature. The shape of his still broad shoulders, and the swing of his arms in stride are as familiar to me as the back of my own hand. I smile to myself at the notion, and then hand over the keys of my car to the Valet parker.
By the time I waltz in Joshua has already been seated. Soft classical music floats softly throughout the dimly lit twists and turns of each perfectly secluded corner. Our table is stunning, covered with thick, silky, cream tinted linen and the center decorated with a perfect bouquet of red and burnt orange colored daisies. A vanilla musk floats upward from the burning candles, and a small classy chandelier hangs overhead. There are large windows off to the side overlooking a very stunning rose garden.
Joshua looks up, his sharp brown eyes meet mine and my knees nearly buckle. His face has leathered some with age, and the wrinkles branching from the corners of his eyes and mouth instantly tell me his life has been full of joy and laughter. The memory of his laugh fills me, and I melt from the inside out. There is a familiarity swirling around us as he stands to his feet and I’m at ease. The nerves that had nearly consumed me only hours before now floats from my shoulders.
My name escapes him, and it sounds the exact same as it once had. After a long heartfelt hug, he holds me back at arm’s length to take a look at me.
“Wow, my love. You look as stunning as ever.”
The sound of his pet name for me pulls at a tear to the corner of my eye, and my lungs threaten to stop pulling air.
“Thank you.” I smile, completely beside myself. “As do you, babe.”
After a full sweep over of his aged but still very attractive and wanting gaze, he notices. Joshua has recognized his mother’s necklace and all formalities are out the window. His mouth opens slightly in shock and his eyes pull together at the middle.
“Oh my God, Sarah, is that?” He pauses.
I watch his eyes fill up with moisture, and I draw in a deep breath and nod.
“You kept it. All these years, you still have it?”
Again I can only manage a nod. The shock in his face is honest and genuine. We have so much to catch up on, and all I want to do is pull him in and tell him how I’ve never forgotten. His eyes are the same and the energy of his body so close to mine makes my chest scream out. If only I could turn back time…. If only, I think.
Joshua pulls my chair from around the table, so that it’s right next to his. We sit side by side, close to the window, and the waiter fills our glasses with the most perfect red wine. Softly, his hands rest on my exposed knees, his fingers wrapping around to the sensitive skin behind them. For a moment it feels as if my spirit lifts, my heart free.
I close my eyes and allow myself to be emotionally transported to a different place in time. I breathe in his scent. The hands on my legs no longer feel rough and calloused with aged. They’re young, strong, and smooth. I remember the heat of his body against mine, young and pulsating. When his hands ran up my thighs I instantly reminisce the feelings of our first night together. The night that I gave myself to this man. I gave him every part of me. Heart body and soul I gave it all. Joshua, my soldier. The man who left, but I’ve carried inside myself for thirty years.
It was a beautiful summer day in 1961.
AUTHOR 2, SCENE 2:
World War ll was in full swing, he was called up toward the end of it in 1944 to serve the British Army, that’s when we first crossed paths. The day we finally met face to face didn’t come until June 1961. After seventeen years of writing letters in secret, back and forth across the Atlantic. I set up a private mailbox account once I was engaged to Brian to receive my letters. I knew my he wouldn’t approve. Yes I loved Brian dearly, but I considered Joshua a friend, a very dear friend. Even though we were already in love. I ended up marrying Brian as Joshua had made me promise to “live life”, but I never lost the flame of desire that burns within me for him. We lost contact shortly after we met in 1961. My heart was broken. I put him in a box and moved him to the back of my mind, and tried to move forward in life.
I remember the day all those years ago towards the end of the war, an advert in the San Francisco Times caught my eye. Soldiers were looking for companions to accompany them while at war. I showed it to my girlfriends none of them thought it was worth a shot. Wasting money on oversea postage when money was tight, and rations were needed back then.
I wrote a simple letter introducing myself and hoped that he wouldn’t mind an American companion, would he pass me over for a European pen friend? I sent a photo of me and waited patiently. I attached an international stamp and kissed my letter goodbye, as I dropped it in the mailbox to make its way to the London address, shown in the advert. Weeks later, I heard news from Joshua. My letter arrived just as he was about to leave the UK. When he wrote to me he was stationed over in Germany at the time, ready to battle on the front line. He enclosed a photo and my heart skipped a beat. Straight away I wrote back to him in Germany. I checked my mail box everyday for a response. The feeling of seeing his familiar handwriting on an Airmail envelope, made even the darkest days feel like a walk in the park on a hot summer’s day.
Our letters flew back and forth. A few went undelivered but we always caught up with each other, while Joshua was in the Army and I was in San Francisco.
In 1961 Joshua was granted leave, and he flew over to San Francisco to meet me. One hot summer’s day we met on the Golden Gate bridge and the romance erupted like a volcano. It was the swinging sixties, my girlfriends all teased me about my mystery man, as they knew that I was still trying to decide on how to proceed in a relationship with Brian. They could see the spark in my eyes when it came to Joshua, and they knew that’s what I lacked with Brian. They helped me backcomb my flame red hair into the biggest beehive, and apply my thick liquid liner and paint my nails. I wore my tiny black and white striped A-line dress, and white knee high patent boots. Amy Winehouse the British soul singer reminds me of myself back then, everytime I hear Tiffany blasting out Back to Black at full volume.
When we met he took my hand and blessed me with the most handsome smile. I had butterflies in my tummy at the sight of him, in his brown flares and sleek skinny tie. I took in all six-foot-two of his height as a buried myself in his strong arms.
We had lunch in a beautiful seafood restaurant, just a stone’s throw from the bridge. Joshua sipped his Jack Daniels and Coke while I drank my red wine, and tried not to get too tipsy. I was tipsy all right, not on alcohol, but what felt like love. Seventeen whole years of it via personal handwritten letters. I had shared some of my most intimate moments with Joshua. He knew me well, maybe even better than Brian. It was almost like I held something back from Brian, especially for Joshua.
Once lunch was over we explored San Francisco. I showed Joshua all the sights to see. He was thrilled with excitement, the English gentlemen that he is had never as yet set foot in the USA.
When all was said and done, we walked hand in hand by a makeshift river. We found a spot where we could sit out and watch the sun set by the water. It was getting late the evening was drawing to a close. We never wanted to leave each other after such a beautiful day.
Then it happened, the passion stepped up a notch, Joshua leaned in and kissed me full on the lips. Not the kind of kiss he gave me when we met on the Golden Gate bridge, this was full of passion but tender. As he kissed me his hand slowly made it’s way up to the hem of my dress. He took his time, he never rushed, inside I was urging him to make his move. I was a virgin, but I knew it was him I wanted for my first time. When he ran his hand up my thigh, I lost my mind, as his fingers danced over my skin. Slowly his right hand parted my thighs. His fingers and found their way farther up my thigh. He ran his fingers over my intimate area, pulling away from our kiss to check my reaction, he slowly moved my panties to one side. I closed my eyes begging to be touched like that. I heard my girlfriends tell me how it felt I wanted to experience it too. He entered me gently at first with one finger and slowly slipped in two.
I was young and inexperienced, I only ever saw lovemaking in the movies. I had no idea what it felt like when an older more experienced man explores a woman’s body. I found out that night. On the edge of the river bank, masked behind a few bushes Joshua slowly undressed me and I allowed him. When he entered me and we connected, a small sound escaped me, my voice was unrecognizable to even myself. We joined hands as I wrapped my thighs around him, and allowed him to break me in gently and softly. I’ll never forget it. On that riverbank with a beautiful sunset and the birds singing sweetly Joshua was my first sexual experience. It was everything I hoped for and more, his way with me was so romantic and loving. In our letters that followed we spoke about that night, and I’d always tell him how alive he made me feel.
Joshua breaks my daydream with his clipped crisp British accent.
“Sarah, it’s been so many years! Too many to count. I’ve missed you and our letters.”
I look up into his brown eyes, and take in his full head of hair now sliver grey. My last memory of Joshua, he had silky brunette hair. Styled with the iconic side parting of that era.
“I’ve missed you too, I still have everyone of your letters.”
He smiles and rubs my thigh again under the dinner table. Just like all those years ago on that riverbank in San Francisco, when he ran his hand up my thigh, I melt again thirty years later. I thank God for the invention of the internet or Facebook as Tiffany calls it. In my day it was good old school snail mail or telegram that was our “instant mail.” All these years later with the advancement of technology my first love has been found, and I have no intention of letting him go this time. Like fine wine Joshua looks better with age. I smile at him again like a giggly school girl.
“Joshua, I never stopped loving you. It’s always been you.”
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