When he woke, tiny fingers of light were just beginning to wander through the curtains. These fingers moved playfully... teasingly? across the room, shifting, disappearing and jumping back into the room as the leaves of the trees outside of the window danced in the gentle morning breeze. He looked at the lights, watching as though they were created for his sole entertainment.

He felt her stir next to him and he turned his eyes to her, away from the light, playing carelessly on the ceiling and walls. She was still asleep, still lost in the dark, wispy world of dreams where life and death are so often mingled.

He watched her face, so lovely, so perfect. Distant. Unreachable.

He knew her skin would be soft under his fingers, but now, in the fingers of laughing, mocking light, to touch her was unthinkable.

His thoughts went back to the night before, to the heat, the passion. Why did it all seem so unreal to him now?

It was all so vivid in his mind: her warm, soft body yielding, those unforgettable eyes of intense grey, the long, flowing strands of brown hair, the crisp, forced sound of her breathing.

He frowned. What had she said was the cause of that? Some childhood illness, he concluded with a careless shrug.

Her breathing was much easier now he realized -- still deep and forced, but without the stressed need of the night. He listened to the sound of her breath coming and going, without thought, without conscious awareness. Wonderingly, he marveled to himself, that something done with such importance, and, in her case, with such difficulty, could be so easily controlled and regulated.

He turned back to the fingers of light but her breathing seemed to fill the room, expanding and contracting it with every effort-filled lungful of air. It was as if she were breathing life into the room, allowing the room to become part of her.

Why not me? he asked himself angrily. He felt like shouting the question to her as the fingers moved mockingly on his face. She had come willingly enough, hadnt she? But behind her touches, her breathless whispers, there was nothing. Her heart was ice and not even passion could melt it. He felt cold inside, like a man whose home had been robbed.

He shook himself. What had he been looking for after all? Love? No, he had that. He thought guiltlessly of his wife and the baby. Theyd always love him.

But he had been looking for something.

Understanding? Sympathy? Passion?

What was she looking for? Nothing, it seemed.

Then why? Why did she say yes? Why was she with him? She was so young, so tempting.

But she didnt love him. He was doubting now whether or not she had really even wanted him. Was it just a chance to let someone share her cold world, that icy hell she lived in?

How long had he known her? A year ... or was it a hundred? Or had he never met her before? Did he know her? He had thought so.

Fool! He told himself sharply. He felt used, almost abused and resented the chill he felt slipping into his soul. Damn her!

A single finger of soft golden light rested on her face, warming the sculpted cheek. The light seemed to be softly stroking her as it jabbed icily at him, so taunting, so mocking.

Even the sun is on her side, he thought angrily. It warms her and cares for her as no one else can. As he couldnt.

Hate crept into his heart and he looked at her with contempt. You may have the sun, he thought, but I have love.

As her grey eyes opened, the sun slid stealthfully behind a cloud, drawing back its fingers, and allowing the room to slip back into the darkness of early morning.


copyright 1983 HL Beckman