OUR STORY (short version)

E-mail to author: Yelena Tunkel
April Ė September, 2001



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Contents:



Special thanks

     I wanted to express my great
appreciation of my husband who inspired
me to start writing this short novel. He
always believed in me, no matter how
difficult the task at hand was. He gave 
me a thousand ideas and good pointers at 
how to improve and continue this story. 
He has been a constant source of
encouragement through out this whole 
process.
     Not being a professional literary
critic, he took a lot of time and effort to
help me develop my writing skills. He is a
man of enormous heart, energy and hard
working abilities, as well as a multi-
talented and well-rounded personality.
     His love for me has carried me through 
the thick and thins of our relationship, 
and my love for him has been giving me the
strength to go on with this project.



Our story, the beginning
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   She was walking towards him, in her girl-like springy walk. She was
wearing a totally age inappropriate polka dot dress, her hair a pile
of auburn curls. The smile she managed to produce was the one of a
confident woman of the nineties, yet surprisingly childish at the 
same time. A nervous dryness in her throat, inside her the beat up 
soul of a very tired disappointed woman. "Another blind date, another
totally useless experience" was the anticipation starting in her stomach
and echoing into her brain. Not even an active feeling, more like an
electric impulse with a very weak signal in it.

He was standing at the corner in a pair of gray non-descriptive shorts and a T-shirt, plastic smile on his face. On his eyes he had a weird concoction of sunglasses on top his prescription glasses, even though it was getting dark. He decided he needed the dark glasses for awhile, to hide his first minute disappointment. He was ready for an uneventful evening with one more non-feminine, non-attractive creature. "Another totally pointless blind date, anyway better than staying home and staring at my computer. At least I get to eat in what could be a pleasant woman's company". That was the feeling that brought him there, more sadness than hope in it.

They met, the names and standard words exchanged in introduction: Vicky-Jonathan-nice to meet you. Then suddenly he suggested going to the city which made her sigh with relief. Nice to know that somebody wants to take charge, has actually made a plan for the next two hours. Some difference from her other blind dates, Vicky thought as she made a mental note of it.

They walked to his car where Jonathan had flowers waiting for her on the back seat. Funny feeling: someone bought flowers for just a woman, any woman Vicky could turn out to be. Something surreal in it, just like their exchange of personal ads and syber photographs so much in style with modern times.

Jonathan drove fast through the city streets, somewhat aggressive and impatient. Vicky made another mental note to herself: remembering someone's words about driving being like handwriting, both characteristic of one's personality. They started having a small talk in the car trying to fill up the awkward silence between them.

Then, all of a sudden: a sharp turn of the road, the tires hit the slippery stretch, the brakes made a screeching noise. Jonathan's face got so tense she could feel the static in the air, then Vicky just closed her eyes. The next thing she remembered: Jonathan looking at her and trying to bring her back into conversation. He must have avoided the accident in the very last second, and was apologizing to Vicky now, for scaring her so much.

She managed to mumble "I'm OK", thinking all the time that it was really not Jonathan's fault, to the contrary: they are intact because of his perfect driver's reaction and self-control. Small talk stopped altogether, two people just having gone through a shaky moment, "Oh, the evening is definitely ruined now."

Few minutes later, Jonathan and Vicky left the car in the garage and stumbled out, both unsteady on their feet. They were walking next to each other, and their silence seemed more obvious. When was it that the first human reaction warmed up the air between them, and he finally took off his sunglasses?

Vicky started getting chilly at some point, probably from having gone through that dreadful experience in the car. She felt like putting on a sweater and of course she had none to wear, because of the last minute rush before the date. Her idea was to stop at one of the stores at the tourist-filled mall and buy one. Jonathan looked surprised at that crazy suggestion: maybe in his mind it was an unusual thing to do on a first date. Vicky bought a funny looking impractical cardigan, the color of it not matching anything else she was wearing, and he noted it as another strange thing.

Jonathan was waiting outside, just like an old friend or a lover caught in a casual moment. His smile was more real this time; a tiny invisible bond started to build between them. Then another thing happened bringing the two of them yet a little closer: they started trying to figure out how to get to the restaurant, and disagreed; in fact they actually argued over how to get there. Just to think of it: a way to a restaurant they weren't even sure they wanted to go to!

But their argument was real, and they solved this problem together, like two friends, even joking about it at the same time. The place itself was unremarkable, but that was where she got to see his eyes for the first time and they had a warm and personal conversation. Vicky was thinking "interesting date, I wonder what it would be like to kiss him?" Dinner was over, Jonathan paid and they left, the time going by more quickly as it was getting to the end of the date. As they walked back to his car, he happened to take Vicki's hand at one of the crossings. That gesture made her feel protected like a little girl and grateful to him for that.

At that moment something unreal happened: they were standing at the corner of some street and talking. It was nothing romantic, nothing man-woman related, and nothing important at all. Suddenly Jonathan bent down and kissed her on the lips, just like that. In the middle of what she was saying, in the thick of a city crowd, two hours into their first date. Vicky was startled to the point where she couldn't even say and do anything. Somehow she knew that whatever she did could ruin the beauty of the moment.

That minute Jonathan turned into a different man, maybe because he liked the taste of her in that kiss. Or he felt Vicky liking the way he kissed her, or maybe it was what they call "chemistry", the word they thought had lost its meaning these days. Not that they had a chance to analyze any of it right then, because the next thing that happened was Jonathan asking, "would you like to go dancing?"

He blurted it out without much hope, since it was past midnight, and he thought Vicky was too tired to agree. But she felt hypnotized by his words and his presence, and she didn't want that evening to end, so she said yes. Jonathan took her to a cocktail lounge on the top floor of one of the downtown skyscrapers. This place had a panoramic view of the whole city, and of the big fat airplanes landing slowly over the ocean.

Frank Sinatraís music was playing sleepily, with just a few couples dancing to it at this late hour. But Vicky didn't see anything; the only thing she saw was Jonathan's face in front of her. And his eyes being so close to hers that they seemed like four glistening sea world beings separate from their human beings. And his strong arms guiding her through the dance floor, too fast for her to have a moment for her old inhibitions. Vicky wasn't much of a dancer, and always remembered a quote from an erotic book she read once: dancing is like making love, don't think of how you look, just concentrate on how you feel.

It was getting really late by then, and the place was closing, so they had to part. The rest of it was a blurred memory to Vicky: walking back and shivering, Jonathan dropping her off at her car, the two of them kissing again. This time it was a goodnight kiss: more passionate and less unexpected. He didn't say anything about their next date, any of the traditional "thanks for the good time, may I call you again" kind of things. And they got in their separate cars and drove off to their separate homes, to go to sleep and see their separate dreams.

But one thing they both sensed: something about this night felt true and special and they just had to follow their intuition.



Vicky, the girl
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She was a shy child, freckled pale face, skinny and awkward in posture. Although she was a pretty girl with an attractive smile, Vicky didn't think much of her looks. Her childhood memories were of always trying hard to fit in, to look and act like all the other kids in the neighborhood. The girl grew up in the blue color area of Queens, where the houses were lumped close together and the owners cars were parked along the curbs. The kids played on the streets into the late evening hours, until their names were hollered.

In school Vicky was working hard to be a star student, although it wasn't all that difficult to get good grades in that mediocre public school. Her mother wanted her to take piano lessons and so she did, and was very studious and ambitious at that, enough to be admitted into the formal music school. She somehow realized early in life that the only way for her to be accepted by the others was to be one of the best in school. Deep inside she was convinced that it wasn't good enough just being who she was.

Vicky often stayed in school during after hours, not to get help herself, but to be of assistance to the others. She would let the other kids copy her homework or her essays, and she carried most of the weight in the group projects. This way the kids would at least spend time with her at school, or invite her to their houses on weekends, or let her play with them on the street.

In their games Vicky usually was the slowest and the least skillful one. And that made the other kids tease her and not want to include her in their team. Often times, she stayed in her little room and cried, angry with these kids for being so mean. She was too proud and afraid to be rejected by those kids again. Vicki's mother Leah then came out to ask the kids to include her daughter in and be nice to her. Which served the purpose of the moment, but made these kids despise her even more. This ritual did her another disservice: Vicky never learned to take a first step in making up with the others.

There was a huge contrast between the way Vicky was treated at home and by the outside world. Being an only child, without siblings or cousins, and the late and adored child at that, she saw nothing but love from her family. In her family, she was the most charming, smart, talented girl, and besides she was raised like a little princess.

Not only did it make her expect the same from the outside world, but it also made her think that she had an exciting beautiful life ahead of her. To believe that she was worthy of loving friends, and there was a wonderful man, waiting to meet her in the future. She would take nothing less than this kind of life: that was everything the girl read and dreamed about.

The girl spent most of her time with her mother who was a schoolteacher and who only worked part-time. Leah was a lively energetic woman, who was always on the go, and who filled their house with laughter and her songs and music. Vicky's father Eric was an architect, a very ambitious and hard working man, was always away on business trips or working late nights on some big projects. He was hardly around Vicky in her early years; it might have been rather common for men back in those days. One of the first flashbacks was them walking together as he was telling her some of his war time memories. So, in spite of her father absence early on, they became soul mates later in life. The other close relative living with them was her grandmother, a fragile quiet woman who also loved the little girl as only the grandparent could. The two women created this little cozy world were Vicky felt secure and loved unconditionally.

When it came to the real world, plain and unremarkable people surrounded Vicky. She had to win their friendship, no matter how little she liked or respected them. The girls with the most common appearance and a loud laughter were most popular. The boys she fell in love with and who of course knew nothing about it would prefer the company of those loud easy girls.

At the age of fourteen, Vicky only had one boy friend that called her on the phone from time to time, just to talk to her. She was well read and a good conversationalist, and that probably was the only thing that got him interested. But a few dates they went on, he wouldn't even smile at her, and in the end he didn't walk her home. Those few times, Vicky ran upstairs to her room, totally humiliated, and she cried to her mom about it: "He just treated me as his buddy, not the attractive girl". Her mother tried to make light of it - if only she knew how different Vicky's dreams were from reality!

When the middle school was over, her parents tried to talk her into switching to a school for gifted children. They were convinced that since Vicky was a good student, she'd have no problem entering any academic program. Their main reason was that by doing so she would benefit from getting into a more elitist environment.

But the girl was extremely attached to the little provincial world around her. She knew how to navigate here, this was her familiar grounds and she finally managed to make a few friends.

Besides, in case she left for a new school, Vicky was afraid of having to win her reputation all over again and meet new people. Deep inside she knew that it no matter how hard she worked, she'd always be at the tail end of the class. Vicky' would rather be a big frog in a small pond, then be a small frog in a big pond. Unfortunately for her, she ended up staying where she was. That was a turning point of her life when she took the wrong path, even though it was later hard to tell where the right path would lead her.

About a year later, another traumatic experience that marked the girl's life: she was about to graduate from music school. Vicky was doing well in most subjects there, but every time she had to go on stage for a recital, she'd be paralyzed with fear. That fear made her fingers freeze and go numb, to forget all the right keys, sometimes to even stop in the middle of the piece and forget the whole passage. That caused her panic, picturing herself losing her balance and falling face down in front of the whole world. She would wake up in the cold sweat, thinking "God, please help me think of some way out of this failure!"

At the graduation performance Vicky had to go in front of all the kids and their families and play a big program. And the closer it was getting to that moment, the more Vicky realized that she just couldn't do it. Feeling hopeless, she went to the school administration office and pleaded with them to allow her skip that performance. The result was, Vicky was graduating from the music school without getting her diploma, only receiving a certificate.

After that, something cracked inside her: Vicky started hating music, the girl wouldn't even touch the piano. It broke her mother's heart, Leah has been taking her daughter to music lessons across the town for years. And it also set the stage for another biggest fear of her life, a fear of being in a spotlight. Being afraid of the different platitude, to be in the center of the action, to voice her disagreement, to swim against the current.

The girl was just entering her early adult years, and she wasn't so sure her life would be all that wonderful, that there was a special man waiting for her. What Vicky was beginning to sense: that there was a struggle out there, which only the strong ones could survive. It would take her a long time to get what she deserved, but hopefully it was worth the effort.



Jonathan, the boy
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He was a handsome smart boy, his eyes plum-shaped, huge and dark brown, his skin cream and tan in color. "A cute little devil', so his mother and older sister were calling Jonathan every time they found out about something else he had done wrong. This boy was always up to some mischief: he ate the family weekly supply of candy, broke some beautiful glass objects, jumped on the new sofa bed as a circus acrobat and got the upholstery all torn to pieces. Afraid of his mother's punishment, he would then hide in the old dark closet near the pantry. He stayed there until he heard his mother's voice calling out "Jonathan, look what you have done!" And he then came out quietly, looking like a little angel, all puzzled and innocent. Jonathan just stood in front of her with tears in his beautiful dark eyes, the look of being unfairly accused written all over his face.

His mother Anne was a quick-witted warm woman with a hearty laughter and a lot of folk tales. Not only was she sharp with her tongue, but she was very organized and somehow managed to juggle her full time job as a schoolteacher and raising her two kids practically on her own. For Jonathan's father Chris was away on business most of the time, he held a high managerial position with some big and famous Engineering company.

Jonathan's older sister Diana, seven years his senior, was not in good terms with him at all, as a matter of fact at times she really hated him. How could she feel any other way when her parents' love and admiration was always on her younger brother's side? No matter what Jonathan broke, lost or did wrong around the house, he would always manage to squirm out of it, and even blame it on her. And the amazing thing was that her mom and dad were foolish enough to believe him! Jonathan could twist them all around his little finger, just because he had the most charming innocent smile. Even his rolling "R" sound that she was teasing him about constantly, this annoying speech defect made his talk sound sweeter to their ears.

But the constant battles with his sister never managed to turn him off to the rest of the girls in school. During his elementary school years, he loved these little girls around him. The boy liked playing with them, touching their long silky hair; sometimes he just ran up to one of these girls unexpectedly and kissed her on the cheek. Which of course got him in trouble, because the girl typically got scared and later complained to the teacher. And the teacher then called Jonathan over and asked "would you like anyone to do it to your sister?" Of course yes, he thought to himself, of course not - he answered.

Jonathan had a lot of cousins, who also happened to be his good friends. Most of them also lived nearby, in the small middle class towns, all in the outskirts of Chicago. He spent a great deal of time playing with them around the neighborhood.

When the boy was approaching his teens, he started to enjoy doing things on his own more and more. In fact, he sometimes preferred it to having a company, so he wasn't too preoccupied with making new friends anymore.

He liked drawing, building space ships, playing Lego, but most of all he loved reading. Jonathan read all the time, day and night, everywhere: on the bus, in the park, every chance he got. His favorites were action adventure novels, the books with a lot of fights and chasing. The books where the heroes always came out free and clear, where they climbed the highest mountains, and dove into the deep ocean from the steep cliffs.

Jonathan read secretly, into the late hours of the night, keeping a little flashlight under the blanket, so his parents wouldn't catch him. In the daytime, he used his school textbooks as a cover up, keeping fiction books underneath. He has read more books in his early teens then a lot of kids would read by the age of twenty. That was where his dreams came from, where the boy learned to tell good from the evil. From these books he got his knowledge of history, geography, Greek Myths and Bible stories.

When Jonathan was around thirteen, his interests took a different angle: he began looking inside all different kinds of electronic and mechanical devices. He would take something apart, then tried to put it together, not always successfully. That created another set of problems for him at home, and made his mother run after him, screaming: "Jonathan, look what you've done, you broke this again!"

In fact, it looked to them as if he was viciously trying to brake everything in sight. How could he possibly explain his interest to anyone who wasn't this curious about the nature of things?

Around the same time, Jonathan started to get into the science of astronomy. He read on and on about the planets, studied the sky map, went to the after school "Young Astronomers' Club". Where the kids where talking about stars and planets, and used the telescope to see them. During those years the boy was becoming more and more of a loner and the scientific type.

Jonathan was also getting scared of the changes that took place in his body, and embarrassed by the latter. He started having this physical desire for girls, and he thought of it as something shameful and disgusting. And of course, since Jonathan's father was always away, he had no one to share all these feelings with. Poor boy was getting more and more nervous around the girls, afraid to be in their company. Even going to the school dance and being near the girl could cause him feeling awkward and unable to restrain his body.

That was the time when Jonathan was nearing the end of the middle school. And it was obvious to him that he didn't want to return to the town's High School. His dream was to go to a private specialized school that only took scientifically minded kids, the kids with excellent grades. It was called Birmingham school and was located in the very center of Chicago. There was a fierce competition to get into it and this school was also famous for being very expensive. Jonathan's parents wouldn't even hear of this "crazy idea", his father was a great believer in the value of public education. His parents' final words to Jonathan were "you go any place you want, just don't count on us for money, get it some other way".

That was when the boy knew: he had to come up with some idea on his own, but he didn't know where to even begin his search. He started looking for all kinds of sponsoring organizations, from the "Astronomer's Society" to "Young Engineers League". In addition, Jonathan spent all his free time on his homework, studied for his final exams like a madman; forgetting all his other interests. The outcome was, the boy got excellent grades and his School Office recommendations. But he still was lacking the money to pay for that school he wanted to go to, and he began to lose his spirits.

Diana was still living in the house; she just got engaged with some promising young musician. Of course, loving her younger brother the way she did she was enjoying Jonathan's suffering. What a sweet revenge, to see her spoiled little brother, her parents' pet, not to get what he wanted!

Jonathan decided to pursue this idea anyway and try to at least see if he can get accepted into the school in the first place. The boy wrote a very interesting essay, he underwent the interview with the Dean of Birmingham and the wonderful news finally came: he got admitted! But Jonathan knew that without the money it meant nothing, and the payment deadline was getting awfully close.

Just then the small miracle happened: his Uncle David and his wife came to visit his parents for dinner. The conversation turned to this subject: of course it would, how could his family avoid this sensitive issue? And Uncle David, being a businessman to the bottom of his heart, offered Jonathan a loan. His conditions were pretty tough: the boy had to pay a high interest, and he had to start paying the money back from day one. Which meant that Jonathan had to get a good evening job and spend all the money earned to pay his uncle. The boy was on cloud nine, he knew it was a chance of his life - and he just had to take it, at any expense.

That night he couldn't sleep at all, he was tossing and turning in bed trying to figure out how to plan it all. The night hours dragged endlessly, but finally the morning came and as soon as the school opened, the boy called the Dean's office. The office secretary took his message and promised him to send all the papers by mail. A week later Jonathan got a beautiful formal envelope, with the letter from Birmingham school. It was confirming his acceptance, priding the boy on being accepted to the best school, stating the school hours and ground rules. Jonathan's dream was becoming a reality, there was only one thing left: to find a job that paid enough money.

Being a truly goal oriented mature boy, he attacked this problem in extremely systematic manner with the determination only he possessed. He went through the all the Help Wanted section of Chicago newspapers. Jonathan sent out numerous letters, which resulted in getting seven job interviews. He walked and walked the streets around the school neighborhood, knocking into the endless office doors. Most of them plainly refused him, the others reluctantly offered to take his application, just in case.

In the end, Jonathan landed a clerical job with a small scientific company two blocks away from his school building. He didn't know how he managed to impress the company's president enough to want to give him a chance. The boy couldn't believe his lucky star: not only was the job for the exact hours he needed, but he was going to be around the high caliber professionals. And maybe while working next to these people he would learn from them!

But, Jonathan was a realist by nature and fully aware of how hard his life was going to be. With most of his homework falling on the evening hours, he knew he was going to get just a few hours of sleep every night. And then would have to go to school feeling alert and ready for the extremely difficult tests. That didn't scare Jonathan: he was ready for the challenge and confident that he'd come out a winner.



Vicki's life: married and before
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She was lying in bed, unable to catch any sleep thinking of what to do with her life. Vicky felt trapped in it, scared, confused and unable to find her way out. She got up and stood by the window, looking out of the little condo they bought just before they had a baby.

............

When they finally landed in JFK airport, the old woman with a baby was walking towards them. It took them a moment to realize that the woman was his old nanny and the baby was their son, they both seemed so different. Toby grew up in that month, his face changed, his hair grew curly, but the boy had a hard time greeting them and separating from an old lady. The baby-sitter had to keep comforting him, and whispering something in his ear, then she put Toby on the floor and gave him a little push. And their boy started to walk towards them, an unsteady wobbly baby walk. It was their son, and he started walking, of course he would: he was almost one year old!

Vicky ran to him, trying to give him a hand, excitement and guilt overflowing her. When she and David were away, such an important thing happened: their son started walking. And she was the one who should have been near him, teaching Toby his first steps, holding his little hand.

............

~

The night was going by fast, it was almost getting to early morning hours, but Vicky lost all the hope of falling asleep. Too much was going through her head, all the memories from her young years before she met David. How did she ever end up marrying this man and staying with him all these years, how could she then decide to have a child with him? In these five years, Vicky had enough time to get to know David for what he really was, living with him day in and day out!

Her memory flashed back to the college years, when she was feeling so alone and insecure, an immature girl with high dreams and expectations. And then another flashback: her first painful love. She met Greg at a big dorm party where he was with a group of friends: all of them funny, intelligent and elitist. That was just the right combination of man's qualities for the young impressionable girl to fall for. The guys Vicky dated in the first year of college were mostly nerds: boring, predictable and too scientifically minded. Greg on the other hand had that "fresh out of college" aura: the young man's confidence about him, and the boyish spirit at the same time.

He approached Vicky easily as she was standing in the corner, all by herself and waiting for something to happen. She wasn't assertive enough to just go and mingle, and she didn't know too many people at that party to feel comfortable. Greg was there at the right time and the right place, eager to meet new people and self-confident enough to approach them. They started talking; he made her laugh at his jokes, even though some of them were a little on a dirty side. Vicky didn't really notice it then, although when his friends approached them, their jokes were more vulgar, and that was obvious to her.

From talking to his friends, Vicky learned that Greg was living in Philadelphia, which he somehow forgot to mention. That didn't seem like a problem: he was only two hours away from Greenwich Village where she went to school. The two of them left the party early: he suggested going out to get some fresh air, and that pretty soon turned into going bar hopping.

It was real late when they parted, he acted like a perfect gentleman, which was unusual for that day and age. Greg kissed her lightly on the cheek, said good-bye and said he'd call her the first chance he gets. Which he did, a few days later, and asked her if she had any plans for the weekend. The girl was so excited, she almost responded "What plans, I was waiting for your phone call all these days?" All she really managed to say was "Not really", and so they made plans together.

He came on the bus, for it was too much of a headache to deal with parking the car in the city, besides, Greg was still poor and was watching his money. She met him at the bus terminal (name?). They went for a walk together, talking and laughing all day, and it felt to Vicky as if they never were old friends.

Vicky couldn't believe this young attractive man would come to New York just to see her! She was still feeling insecure, although she turned out to be a beautiful girl and found that NYU was a great place for her, she was enjoying the college life and the city immensely. Vicky found a lot of young people matching her intellectually and seeking her friendship. In the past year, she had a few boy friends, but it never got too far, and no one had caught her eye until a week ago, when she met Greg at that party.

It was getting dark, and they were both tired from a long walk, so Greg suggested getting some pizza and wine and going back to her dorm. Vicky felt a little apprehensive of the idea: inviting a guy to her room. Would he interpret that as an offer to spend the night? Then she remembered all the girls she knew talking constantly of sex; she was feeling like the only virgin left on campus. She figured, if it were destined to happen soon anyway, she was better off doing it with someone she liked this much.

They came back to Vicki's room, which she wasn't sharing with anyone, and for the first time she wasn't all that sure it was a good thing. They ate and talked and got cuddly and close, and slowly Greg started to touch her more intimately. It lasted awhile, and then started feeling her acting uneasy, or maybe he wasn't sure what he wanted to do, but something made Greg stop. They were both slightly drunk and tired, and had no energy left in them, so he suggested getting some rest.

Vicky offered Greg use of the sleep sofa for a bed, but they both felt rather awkward about sharing the little bathroom, and changing into their night cloths in the dark. The girl was once again amazed at how tenderly he acted: not putting any pressure on her, not trying anything that night. She felt Greg was treating her so gently and unlike his usual confident self, because he may really be in love with her.

This was a first time Vicky allowed a man spend the night with her, even if it didn't turn into a sexual experience. The girl couldn't sleep too well, with Greg being so close, and kept confusing her dreams of him with reality. Greg seemed to be sound asleep though, curled up and breathing softly in the far corner.

"Poor guy must be really tired" was the last thing on her mind before she fell asleep. She slept very lightly. In her dream the two of them were in the room alone, and he approached her gently from the back and kissed her on the neck. That felt sweet and sensual, not too overwhelming, yet a little persistent. Then all of a sudden, his hands were on her breasts, playing with her nipples, and she moaned softly. His fingers were moving slowly down to her belly, and down to where no one ever touched her before. That sensation was so strong that it made Vicky wake up with a moan, and she felt some spasms still going through her body.

She opened her eyes, and as if the dream was still continuing, saw Greg sitting next to her, as Vicky felt this awful embarrassing wave sweep over her. Did he hear the sounds she made; did he have any idea of what just happened in her sleep?

Greg sensed her fear and desire, as he was trying to comfort her, saying "It's OK Vicky, don't be scared anymore, it's just a dream". Then it all started happening, and it was impossible to tell the difference between the dream and reality. This time, there was no stopping and no going back. He was undressed and pressing his body next to hers, completely, his hands moving swiftly all over her. He asked Vicky "Do you want me to teach you to kiss?" and she just nodded her head "Yes, please, teach me everything".

Greg kept moving his tongue through her mouth and her tongue finally started responding playing with it. Then the two of them just kept kissing for a long time, as if perfecting their technique, until they both got tired of this game and he moved on. His lips were kissing her whole body now; he was taking his time but getting closer and closer to where she knew he wanted to end up. Greg's touching made Vicky tense with pleasure, a totally uncontrollable sensation, new and wonderful. Like she was getting heavy and light at the same time, drowning and flying high, totally molded by what he did. And she begged him to stop and the next minute she begged him not to stop, never, ever! Finally, she was right at the verge of something unreal, and Greg's face moved up, it was now right next to hers, their eyes met for a moment, all cloudy.

After, he kissed Vicky again, and this time she could still taste herself on his mouth, and she loved his kiss even more for it. And then he put her hand down, and she felt what he wanted her to feel: it was pulsing and alive, and ready for her. Greg couldn't wait any longer, he entered her and started moving inside her, impatiently: deeper and deeper. And all of a sudden Vicky felt the pain and she felt the blood: as ready as she was for it, she still couldn't get over the shock. The whole thing was not what she envisioned it to be, the way he moved in and out, her cramps, his total concentration and the entire momentum of it. It all ended very soon after this, Greg shaking violently on top of her and making this animal sound at the last moment.

Later Vicky learned that he must have been shocked to find out that he was her first sexual partner. Greg realized that this whole thing meant much more to her than it did to him: her being so emotional and vulnerable. Vicky felt he was already beginning to regret what they had done, suspecting that after this she would want nothing less than a relationship.

They both didn't share any of this with each other: Vicky didn't want to scare him away with her expectations, and Greg didn't want to tell her what he didn't feel. They went out to a coffee shop in the Village, and had a breakfast together laughing and talking like two good friends. Then they walked a little and made plans to see each other soon, this time Vicky coming to Philadelphia.

No promises or definite plans: "sometime soon" was non-committal and easy, just the way he liked it. Greg took the bus back that evening and Vicky walked home as if still in a dream, only this time it was a sad one. Because she was afraid that what happened was going to make things different between them.

Vicky was walking the city streets and thinking: was it obvious to everyone that she was a different person now? She felt like she just learned some secret about the rest of the human kind that they all have known and wouldn't share. Today she knew that kisses and hugs, looking each other in the eyes, and flirting were just a prelude to "this thing". Those moments were just a way of getting there, nothing but a disguise of what men and women really wanted from each other.

A few days passed, and Vicky started feeling terrified about him not calling, for she expected his phone call the next day. In her mind, Greg was supposed to tell her that he missed her terribly, how special it was, that he didn't realize how much he needed her. The time went by, and he still hasn't called. The longer she was waiting, the more she was convinced that she'd never hear from him again. What could have gone wrong, wasn't it incredible and unreal, didn't he feel the same way she did?

It was Friday night when Greg finally called, just at the time when Vicky gave up all hope and decided to stop waiting for him. The girl even worked out the exact words she was going to say when and if he ever called again. She'd say she was just fine, thanks, and tell him about the parties and movies she went to, and the dates she didn't have time for. But when she heard Greg's voice sounding all friendly and easy and asking her if she was coming tomorrow - she just couldn't resist saying "yes". Like all the words, all the plans and decisions were wiped out by this simple invitation, last minute as it was.

Vicky simply couldn't live without seeing him. This sexual experience they shared made him so essential to her, no matter what they said about it meaning nothing - it meant everything to the girl! She wasn't sure if she felt so strongly because Greg was her first lover, or because he was the "right one" for her.

Of course, the next morning she was on the bus going to Philadelphia, sleepy but excited. The two-hour trip lasted forever, or so it seemed to Vicky: she just couldn't wait to be together again. Greg picked her up at the train station and kissed her in a friendly manner, not amorously or tenderly, the way she imagined it. When they came to his little apartment, a third floor walk-up in the seedy neighborhood, he asked if she was hungry or thirsty, or is she needed a shower.

Only when she said she was fine, or maybe because he saw her eyes when she said it, Greg understood. "This beautiful creature is right here, in front of me, and she wants me, this moment" he thought, as he got her undressed. Completely, fast, without any foreplay, having no doubts about why she came and how she felt. What Vicky thought was "He is so passionate, and spontaneous, he must've missed me too, how could I doubt him!"

And the same thing happened again, only this time it seemed more familiar, Vicky was more open about what she wanted, and he was ready to use protection. As before, they flew away and came back to the real world, but now the girl knew what to expect on the way there and back. They chatted and talked about their week for a while and then Greg suggested going to his friend's birthday party.

Vicky felt flattered to be invited, although she remembered the host from the party two weeks ago when she met Greg, and that guy seemed like a sleazy type. She put on the one dress that she brought with her, Greg got into his beat up jeans and a sweater, and they drove off in his car. The party was loud and wild, mostly a college crowd, just a few people in their mid-twenties. One of these "grown ups" was a woman standing in the corner and flirting with the young boy, looking clearly bored with their conversation. Greg stopped at her side, kissed her on the cheek like a good friend, and exchanged words with the woman.

He then went to chat with the host who greeted him with one of his dirty jokes, the two of them standing in the far away dark corner drinking beer and smoking. Vicky was left alone for a while, and she was beginning to feel uneasy about it: why did he start treating her like that? She helped herself to some wine and the little food there was left, as she continued observing the crowd. A long time passed before Greg stopped by to check on her, and ask her if she was OK here. He didn't pay any attention to her mood change, just kissed her lightly and went back to mingle.

The party was in its peak: the music was blasting and almost everyone dancing, wildly holding beer and cigarette in one hand. A few couples were making out in the corner, the one of them right next to Vicky, who was sitting alone on the couch. The girl finally got bored and tired of all the noise and smoke, she decided to get some fresh air, in hope that Greg might notice her absence. Vicky was just on her way out of the house, when she overheard two voices on the back porch.

Man's voice was unmistakably Greg's and the other one was a woman's voice. Their conversation was hostile, full of accusations on her side and him sounding defensive. Vicky was curious who the woman was and she wanted to hear every word they were saying, so she got closer - and saw her. It was that "older" woman he approached earlier and kissed casually. Vicky could hear her hissing at Greg " Do you think you can just move in and out of my life as you please? I must tell you, you really got some nerve to bring this young New York girl to this place"

Vicky couldn't believe what she just found out about him, all hopes and dreams she had, and the plans they made. She wanted to throw up, the pain and the disgust she felt were just unbearable, but she needed to hear what he'd say in response. In Vicky's mind, there was still a tiny hope that all of this was a mistake, that Greg would say something that would make this all go away somehow.

So, she stayed and waited for his answer, which came in the voice that only barely resembled his: it was so cold and cynical. "I don't owe you anything, you hear me: nothing! This girl I'm screwing now is none of your business, she likes it and doesn't ask for much..."

He continued on, but Vicky just ran out of the house: she got her bag out of his car, and kept running, nowhere, just out of that party and away from that man. She was weeping loudly, and losing her sense of direction: the tears blurring her sight and the ground floating under her. A few times some cars stopped and the people asked the crying girl if she was OK and needed a ride. One of them was a police car; Vicky felt safe about it, so she just got in it half-consciously. The policeman was either very discreet or very tired, but all he asked Vicky was if she needed some medical assistance. And when she said "no", he just took her to the train station as the girl asked him to do, and the rest of it she hardly remembers.

Vicky somehow made it back, and cried herself to sleep, in the middle of the night the phone rang, she knew who it was - and she didn't answer. She stayed home and cried a few nights, and then got out of her room and went back to school. She threw herself into studies vehemently, she stopped going out, seeing friends, and only studied: that helped to numb the pain. Greg called and left messages a few times, but she never returned them. All she wanted was to forget it ever happened to her, the good and the bad, to block this experience out of her memory, once and for all.



Jonathan's life: married and before
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He was driving home and dreading this moment, since he knew what coming home every night was like. Jonathan was living with a woman who had been a total stranger to him for years, emotionally and spiritually. His wife Andrea was intellectual and ambitious, but certainly not feminine at all by his standards. This was absolutely clear to him at this point, he had no doubts about it.

Jonathan turned into their street, parked his car and came inside where Andrea greeted him in her usual icy and indifferent manner. She gave him a cold glance and they looked away from each other, both pretending that everything was fine. As if they didn't remember the insults they screamed at each other last night, all the hatred and rage that usually came out in their regular shouting fights. There was no love friendship and even understanding left between them. There was only one reason they have been staying together, one reason they've been holding on to this ridiculous marriage year after year, breaking up and giving it another chance. That reason was their daughter Emily, a charming, intelligent, delicate girl they both adored.

Jonathan walked quickly by Andrea, and flew up the stairs to his daughter's room, calling out "Emily, daddy's home!" The girl ran towards him and he hugged her, threw her in the air and caught her back. It was harder and harder to play this childish game with a ten years old girl, frail as she was. But they had this ritual, and Jonathan knew she loved him doing that, so he kept on. There was nothing he wouldn't do for Emily, even the hardest thing of all, staying married to her mother.

A few minutes later, Jonathan came back to Emily's room from downstairs, where he took off his suit and left his business personality and his briefcase down in the study room. The girl showed Jonathan the picture she painted in her art class, her new little poem, he asked her about school and talked about his day. She was always interested in his life. Her father was Emily's well-trusted friend as well. Today she had a test in science, and she said she could do better, even though she stayed up late last night to study for it.

Jonathan asked her why she thought that way, and realized again that his girl was only being hard on herself: she answered all the questions correctly. How typical of Emily to underestimate herself! It reminded Jonathan of his school years when he used to do the same thing: he always lived by the principal "Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best". It really helped Jonathan to survive the tough competition, and somehow he managed to teach it to Emily.

This was just one of so many habits and personal traits the girl inhabited from her father. The pleasant feeling warmed up Jonathan's heart again, of Emily being a continuation of him, his split image. The man had so much to teach her, and his daughter was really eager to learn, she was soaking it up like a sponge! That made it all worth the struggle and pain of keeping their family together: the joy of giving what he knew and what he could share to his daughter.

They spent the whole evening together, until it was late and Emily had to go to sleep. Which meant that Jonathan had to get out of her room, and spend the rest of the evening with his wife, and so he did. Him and Andrea then went into the kitchen where the woman served him dinner, and they discussed something. It was always some other things: not what really was bothering them, or going on between them.

After dinner, they made their necessary phone calls, read their papers, and reluctantly went to bed. Where Andrea used yet another excuse to stay away from him, treating him like some unwanted stranger. And Jonathan took her cold no for an answer as usual, although at times he managed to coax her into doing it. That night they just went to sleep.

In the morning Jonathan got up early to help Emily with her breakfast and drive her to the school bus. Andrea was still sleeping while he was picking up the last minute things for his daughter and getting dressed. It was just another morning, and he was just another driver sitting in the car and going to work, listening to the news. His days repeating like this year after year; Jonathan resigned to this routine a long time ago. But Jonathan's thoughts drifted away slowly, as he was thinking back to the beginning of his life. Asking himself the questions: why did it happen to him, when did it all start and how, was he just unlucky or did he deserve it?

Jonathan got married for all the wrong reasons, looking for the wrong qualities in a wrong woman. After the first few months of living with Andrea, he already knew they weren't right for each other. But he kept waiting and hoping that maybe it would get better with time. That maybe it was just a bumpy beginning, maybe the things would change, maybe they could adjust to each other.

In his early twenties Jonathan had a few short flings that left him feeling that all that romance was just a waste of his time. As a young boy, he had a strong belief that sex was something shameful and totally separate from love, and then life has proven it true. From time to time he went to bed with a woman, both of them had no expectations, complete strangers to each other intellectually. He didn't even like any of them.

Meanwhile, Jonathan's body had a life of its own, and would make him yearn for physical release once in awhile. It was like some storm sweeping over him, turning his brain off and only leaving his body's sexual impulses totally controlling him. At such moments he would call one of these women, and felt terrible about his weakness afterwards. As if he took part in some dirty procedure, some deal he had to make with his body just to keep the mind sane. By mid-twenties, Jonathan was totally immersed in science, disappointed in the whole idea of love.

His skepticism didnít last too long: Jonathan met Gail. This encounter turned his whole idea around, unexpectedly and unbelievably. Jonathan didn't want to get anything from Gail - he only wanted to give: to protect her from the world, to tell her things he learned in life. But most of all, he wanted to be near her, and it was in itself a very pleasant sensation. He longed to hear her voice, look at her and see her smile, her lovely hair, to be next to her. Clearly, the young man was in love, he just found out it existed.

The two of them became friends right away, few months later they were inseparable. Jonathan found himself thinking of Gail as a special woman that he was dying to touch and kiss. As if she was made of a different material then those girls he slept with and any other girl he knew before. Maybe it was because Gail was only nineteen; she just entered a college, seemed so fragile and child-like to Jonathan. Yet, she was intelligent, sophisticated, and very talented: in music, arts and foreign languages. There was another amazing thing about her: it was the way she treated men around her. As if she was playing, slightly flirting, but always keeping the distance that made her unreachable.

And so, it went on this way until one night Gail invited Jonathan to a party. The girl felt flattered to be accompanied by the young intellectual man, who was so obviously crazy about her. This time Jonathan had a few drinks and that gave him the courage to dance a little closer to Gail. He started necking and kissing her, not paying much attention to the girlís reaction. In his imaginary world, the moment he saw in his dreams was coming true.

His unusual bravery made the girl shocked, as she was pushing him away with questions "Whatís wrong with you, what are you doing?" Jonathan thought it was all part of her game, he wouldnít even assume her reacting with fear and disgust was real. He kept on hugging her and whispering "Gail, I love you, I want us to be together". The words came out so easily, Jonathan felt relieved and proud of himself for finally saying it. But Gail must have misunderstood, because she kept pushing him away, trying to free up and saying "Please let me go, youíre scaring me!" Jonathan released the girl and took a step back, totally sobered and amazed by her behavior.

Gail was clearly repulsed by his close touch, and it finally dawned on him she just didnít like him. They were both feeling awkward about their real feelings getting out on the surface. Then they walked out to the balcony for some fresh air. She started talking first, probably feeling guilty about hurting him, making a fool out of him in front of all their friends.

"Jonathan, Iím sorry it all came out like that, Iíd been wanting to talk to you for a while. I really like you, I mean I like a lot of things about you as a person, and I feel good being with you. You are intelligent, nice, youíre a very good friend, a really giving person. I think youíre a nice-looking guy, really, a lot of girls would be happy to be with you, proud to be loved by you. But I donít want you in that way, you know, you just donít attract me as a man. Something must be wrong with me: maybe Iím not capable of loving anyone, I must be just a cold person or somethingÖ" Gail was almost crying by now, she could sense it was the end of their friendship. She knew how much he was hoping to be with her. The girl was trying to delay this moment for as long as she could, she really did treasure this relationship. But it was too late now, what happened couldnít be undone.

Jonathan stood there silently, listened to Gail and couldnít believe it. It hurt him to even look at her, like this little innocent angel turned out to be evil, unexpectedly. He was thinking of all the times they shared: the little things they did together and said to each other. It all seemed in a distant past. How could he misread her indifference and take this for a feeling of love that was mutual, and real? Gail looked confused, and she continued to mumble "I kept hoping it would come, with the time, eventually"Ö

Jonathan looked at her for a long moment, as if trying to take in her whole image, capture it in his memory, his eyes wounded with pain. And then he just turned around and left, without saying good bye, he flew down the stairs and closed the door tight. It seemed like he closed the door on this chapter of his life, full of promise, romantic dreams, hopes for the future...

He was briskly walking down the street, making decisions about his future, his career, his whole life. And telling himself "To hell with it all, I would never, ever let something like this happen to me, ever! I donít want to try to interpret these silly creatures anymore, theyíre too unpredictable, too vague. And if Iím wrong, I donít want to give this much of myself and get nothing in return, itís just not worth it: too much out of my control. I must be doing things that I have to do..."

And so he did, Jonathan was as goal oriented as always: he worked through the days, studied through the nights, and he was one of the best in the class. That left him very little time to worry about the girls, or to have a social life. When unsure or hesitant about his decision, Jonathan would convince himself saying "No more silly dreams, no more looking for big love, no more hopes". His school grades were excellent.

Six months later he met Andrea; she was quite levelheaded, very intellectual, and totally down to Earth. But she was the first woman he met that loved him back, and who he respected, so a year later they were married. Jonathan wasnít madly in love with her, and it was exactly what he wanted, a normal mature relationship. It started out as something of a partnership on his end, and he was hoping it would grow into love with time. Alas, it didnít, it was like a bottle of wine that hadnít really been good from the beginning and got real sour in the end.


~

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