He had never been with a woman before; he had never felt the need. He didn’t care much for their voices and he certainly didn’t trust their intentions. Some men thought the wiles of women were what gave meaning to life. He didn’t.
She was red headed, freckled and had green eyes. Most men shuddered when they walked by her. What struck him was that she was tall, straight, had large hands for a woman, and her figure, though thin, was well proportioned. So he shrugged at other men’s judgment. What he didn’t confess to, until late at night, in his own bunk, was that he thought her the most beautiful creature he had ever laid eyes upon.
When he discovered that she didn’t have a rough patch of skin, smelled like spring-time rain, and that falling into her was something between physical bliss and realizing he had been half a person all of his life, he became sullen and angry afterward. He didn’t understand why.
He forgot about his anger when she woke up, when she wrapped her legs around his waist and pulled him in as easily as a man pulls in a sack of potatoes to hoist to his shoulders. Again he became aware of who he was, how brief his life would be, how strange it was to feel himself surge into her and remain.
He never questioned why he took so long to find her, but why he never thought of searching for her at the beginning of his life, to complete what seemed to him now a sort of destiny.
He dreamed in her arms that he had returned to the forest. He saw everything in pairs; the birds, the fish, the deer, the elk, the mountain lion, the bear. Two. He didn’t miss her or mourn her presence, he was simply aware of a second idea, a second sound, a second scent, a second tread upon the earth.
He was aware that she didn’t want to keep him, wasn’t interested in his ability to provide for her and was sure that she had used him.
Other men longed to be taken up the pea patch, to complain loudly at the bar that his wife was demanding, exacting and insatiable in her drive for things, he sensed that her ambition had nothing to do with conquest or avarice just need and in turn her need was his.
When he heard her door close behind him, the shivering, knife’s edge feeling that went up his back and across his shoulders told him not to turn around. He stood for a moment, looking at the sun rising, the leaves of the trees translucent, in their spring-time green.
Don’t turn around man, don’t be a fool.
He took a step forward and felt a loosening around his waist and the idea that he might survive his night. He turned without so much as a thought, or even with the conscious idea that he had turned about upon his heel.
Her web encased him in frigid threads and his voice was the first thing she drain from him, the last was his dread.