by Steven Jakobi

‘Make love to me,’ she whispers. I stare ahead into the abyss of a bottomless black night. My old Ford’s heater wheezes and groans as it fights a losing battle against the cold January wind. Even though I can’t see it, I know from experience that ice is building up on the inside of the windshield. We’ve spent many a cold night making love here because her parents’ trailer has very thin walls.

‘Make love to me,’ she says more loudly. A thousand-year-long minute goes by. ‘Make love to me. Please. Now,’ she demands. I don’t move. I’m a man of steel and I resolve not to twitch a muscle. She begins to cry, gently at first, then in heaving sobs. I control my breathing. I’m a statue. I’m a rock. My eyes bore into the blackness ahead.

There is a field of corn stubble out there in the flat, glacier-scoured Ohio landscape but of course I can’t see it now. During the summer we played hide-and-seek in the towering corn stalks and when I caught her, I took her right there, standing up, as we clung to each other for balance, for love, for the ecstasy of feeling each other’s bodies. Two youngsters full of life and lust. Those were happy times. They seem so long ago now, long before I found out about her fiancé earlier today. The one she’ll marry when he comes home from the army.

Her crying slows, then stops. Her breathing gradually returns to normal. I stay silent. What could I possibly say to her? ‘OK, then,’ she says and suddenly, in one quick motion, she grabs her purse, yanks the door handle and is gone. She vanishes into the cold dark night and I know that I will never see her again. I light a cigarette, inhale the acrid, sulphury smell of the match and the tobacco smoke deep into my lungs, and I wish things had turned out different.

Steven Jakobi is a retired biology professor. He and his wife live in rural Allegany County, New York, with three dogs, two cats, and a mess of chickens. 

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