Variable Winds and a Gold Bikini

There are abounding kinds of winds, actually and figuratively, alarming through our apparitional lives. There are bitter ones that arm-twist acute restlessness, administer devastation, and amount lives. There are storms that advanced our affections into a tumult.

The adventure that we are about to access into-a adventure of two men and a woman-show capricious apprehension ancillary with the conflict’s unfolding…

It was a chilling, airy day, so I was afraid to see my backdoor acquaintance reclined like a albino goddess in a startling, bare gold bikini.

She sat up and smiled blithely as I absolved out assimilate the aback balustrade to abolish a amount of ablution from an old abrasion apparatus that had apparent abundant wear. My beating began to race.

“Hi,” she said cheerfully. “I’m Dena, your neighbor-one of them anyway. We haven’t met formally.”

She and her bedmate and babe had confused in alone recently.

“Hi, yourself,” I responded hoarsely. “I’m Tom. Welcome to the neighborhood!”

Dena had a small, attenuate amount that was absolutely added by the bikini. I wondered again, though, why on this cool, airy day, clouds blotting out the sun frequently, she was dressed so scantily. But I kept the anticipation to myself. Observing her furtively I estimated she acquire to be in her backward thirties.

“Where did you move from?” I asked neighborly, disturbing to avoid my eyes from her bikini-clad figure.

“We-my bedmate Joe and I and our four-year-old babe Chelsea-are from Anderson,” she answered. “I got a alteration actuality as a analyst with the county-health department,” she explained. “Joe’s opened a liquor abundance in a little boondocks about 18 afar from here, but he’s at home today-asleep. I acquainted active and apathetic and absitively to appear out for some alpha air. What do you do?”

“I’m a amusing artisan with the state,” I volunteered, active a duke nervously through average amber hair that was accomplished due for a trim. I was in my aboriginal forties but humans said I looked ten years younger.

“Oh, good, we acquire something in common,” she enthused.

“Yeah, you ability see it that way,” I agreed. A abrupt blackout followed. She best up a ache cone and advised it idly afresh smiled up at me with acute dejected eyes.

A stern, abrupt articulation exploded in the quietness:

“Dena, appear in the house! Now!” it allowable from her aback porch.

My arch spun around, startled. Dena alone aerial a duke and coiled at me.

“Just a minute, Joe. This is Tom, one of our neighbors,” she announced.

I said accost cordially. The tall, broadly congenital man nodded coolly.

“Come in, Dena!” he ordered agilely but firmly. He stared at both of us for a moment; afresh his dark-haired, mustached amount abolished aback into the house.

Dena tossed the ache cone abroad abominably and with a draft she lazily stood up and continued leisurely.

“It’s been fun,” she said. “But the bang-up commands,” she laughed.

With that acknowledgment she ran up the accomplish and into what I declared was the kitchen.

It was as if a ablaze ablaze had al of a sudden gone out. Sighing, I aggregate my ablution into a basket, took it to the car, a red Nova, loaded it in the backseat, and collection to a adjacent laundry to dry the clothes. As I waited for them to dry, I anticipation about Dena and her husband. He absolutely was affronted with her accepting alfresco in alone that gold-colored bikini. He gave off the consequence of accepting a jealous, careful type. Dena, chargeless spirit that she was, had allegedly developed annoyed of his abridgement of adventurous absorption and absitively to aggravate his anxious nature. On the surface, her arrangement had succeeded.

The afterwards canicule abounding with endlessly airy winds. Dena did not reappear in her bikini and I visited occasionally if Joe was home to get bigger acquainted with the family. The babe was a absorbing child, like her mother.

Then one bitter evening, activity restless, I abject through a abiding rain to her aback aperture and knocked. I had about absent my aggressiveness if Dena appeared at the awning aperture in white shorts and a apparent sleeveless chicken blouse.

Her hair was pulled calm and angry aback on the nape of her neck.

“Hi, Tom, it’s you. I wasn’t assured a visit.” She seemed flustered. “Joe’s not here. He’s at work.”

I coughed nervously and nodded.

“I ample he was working. I was activity at afar ends and anticipation we could babble and maybe you could accord me a claimed bout of your house. But if that’s too awkward, I’ll go and appear aback addition time if Joe’s home.”

I started to retreat. Dena pushed the awning aperture open.

“It’s all right, Tom. Appear on in. I’ve just put Chelsea to bed and was traveling to acquire a bite and apprehend by the fire.”

Grateful, I stepped out of the rain and removed my raincoat. Their kitchen was apple-pie and orderly. It seemed to acquire a lot of of the avant-garde conveniences, and the walls and beam were corrective with airy colors. Dena offered me a alcohol and some absurd and cheese.

“I feel afraid about Joe active home in this acclimate tonight,” Dena remarked, a billow of affair in her eyes.

“Yeah, it is awful out there. But he’ll appear through it okay. Don’t worry.”

She was al of a sudden casting that ablaze ablaze again.

“Come on-I’ll accord you the VIP bout of this mansion!”

She led me into the library, area a amount of absorbing paintings busy the copse bank of the adequate room. A lot of of them had either a fishing or western theme.

“These paintings, I gather, reflect Joe’s interests-right?” I speculated.

“Oh, yes, I’m not the art-collector type,” Dena acknowledged.

She gestured adjoin the books lining one absolute wall, in foreground of which two simple chairs sat with account lamps.

“Most of these titles either accord with fishing or psychology. Assumption who reads which?”

Chuckling, I asked, “What affectionate of fishing does Joe do?”

“Casting,” she said, “when he has time. His business and ancestors don’t leave him abundant allowance for leisure.”

“Yeah, I’ve been there, too,” I laughed.

In the alley Dena acicular out with some pride an aged grandfather’s alarm in a aphotic case with busy scrolls. A gold-colored alarm swung aback and alternating central a glass-covered bowl with anesthetic action. The numbers on the punch face were Roman numerals.

To my analytic attending she commented: “It was anesthetized forth to me by a asleep abundant aunt.”

At that moment I was abashed by the beating angelus of the alarm agreeable eight o’clock. Thunder erupted aloft the complete of the chimes. Rain caked torrentially. Afresh the wind exhausted berserk adjoin the active allowance windows as Dena led me into the active room.

The alluringly furnished allowance sported bright, adequate colors and contemporary-style chairs and sofas. The carpeting color, an apple tone, covered a agleam balk floor. Three attic account lamps, apparent but attractive, stood to the larboard of the sofas and chairs.

But what bent my absorption abnormally was a crackling bonfire in an accessory fireplace. Displayed on the circling mantelpiece were several ceramics cups and saucers.

“Do you aggregate these?” I asked, afflicted by the art work.

“Oh, no, I’m not a beneficiary of anything,” Dena assured me. “My ability of accession wouldn’t ample a page. How about you? Do you aggregate things?”

“Oh-yeah-sheet music, fridge magnets, bout booklets, golf balls, dog hairs-once I calm stamps-stuff like that.”

Dena’s eyes widened; afresh she laughed.

“You’re weird!” she chortled.

Suddenly an awkward blackout developed amid us. Finally Dena commented questioningly,

“You reside with your mother, don’t you?”

“Yeah-since my annulment three years ago. Sometimes it can be abstinent and awkward.”

Dena nodded, staring at me with a artlessness that fabricated me fidget. I acquainted like I was ability a psychologist’s scrutiny,

“Do you anytime anticipate about accepting a abode of your own?”

“Yeah, I anticipate about it, but financially I fair bigger active with my mother aback her abode is paid for. I acquire to advice alone with aliment and utilities. Why do you ask?”

I begin it difficult to accommodated her eyes.

“Oh, I just anticipation conceivably you and your mother ability be happier if anniversary of you had a abode of your own to entertain, appear and go added freely, be yourselves.”

Dena seemed absolutely concerned, not alone indulging in bushing awkward silences with abandoned conversation.

“Okay-well-you may acquire a point. At that moment the grandfathering alarm in the alley started agreeable again. It chimed nine times.

“Wow!” I exclaimed. “It’s late. I’ve been actuality over an hour, but it hasn’t seemed that long! I apperceive you acquire things you ambition to do, so I’ll be on my way. Thanks for the tour-and conversation.”

Dena smiled. “It was a pleasure. I’m animated you came over,” she said sincerely. Appear afresh soon-when Joe is here. It would be better.”

Yeah-right,” I agreed. Abominably I said goodnight.

“Night, Tom.”

Days ambled by; afresh it was the weekend. My 10-year-old son Cody came for one of his approved visits, which he spent a lot of of his animate time with a macho acquaintance alleged Bobby, who lived beyond the street. I took them to the skating amphitheatre on Saturday black and best them up two hours later. The wind had formed up to gale force by the time I alternate for them. Severe thunderstorms had been predicted for afterwards that night, with the rain allowance out by dawn. The temperature had collapsed abundant that sweaters acquainted comfortable. Conceivably it was the active acclimate that acquired it, but I acquainted a faculty of anxiety as I collection home. The activity lingered until bedtime.

The next morning, a Sunday, my son drowsily toyed with his breakfast of atom and acknowledgment while my 72-year-old disabled-but mobile-mother and I ate biscuit with our coffee and chatted with a asleep Cody. About nine o’clock Cody’s acquaintance Bobby accustomed to actuate my son to appear outdoors to play. Although the wind’s atrocity was still acceptable copse and there was a morning chill, the night storm had anesthetized on. A bleared sun peeped amid rapidly affective clouds. While my mother and I accomplished our adequate breakfast and chatted about the latest news, I could apprehend the accouchement shrieking with laughter.

Then a aciculate beating on the aback aperture abashed us.

“Wonder who that can be this early?” I mumbled, accepting up from the table and aimless to the door. I was puzzled to see a grim-faced, chunky Indian macho cat-and-mouse abominably at the awning door. The Indian lived with his wife and two middle-school daughters in a barn accommodation on Joe and Dena’s property.

As I empiric his grave expression, that faculty of anxiety I had accomplished the night afore came hasty back, as air-conditioned as the airy apprehension that blew atrociously through the accessible door.

Shifting his weight from one bottom to another, the Indian, Hari, said in a low, austere voice, “I had to ask your son and his acquaintance to play added agilely about abroad from the landlord’s house. They were authoritative too abundant noise, and it didn’t acquire appropriate with your backdoor acquaintance accepting dead in a car draft aboriginal this morning.”

My troubled, inquiring attending switched to one of shock. For a moment I stood speechless. Finally I managed to asphyxiate out,

“Killed- in an accident-Joe!?”

“Yes,” Hari said grimly. “He was active home afterwards closing his liquor abundance for the draft of the weekend. It was a one-car accident. He acquire to acquire absent ascendancy in the storm. The badge said he allegedly ran off the artery at a top acceleration and addled a accurate abutment.”

“Oh my God! It’s harder to believe!” I said, convalescent from my shock. “How is Dena-his wife-taking it?”

“The doc has accustomed her a sedative. My wife is with her now.” Hari befuddled his aphotic arch sadly.

“What’s wrong?” asked my mother, accepting risen from the table and haltingly fabricated her way to the aperture with the aid of her walker.

I explained.

“Oh, that poor girl!” my mother wailed. “I’ll go over and see if I can do annihilation to help.”

She befuddled her arch over the tragedy and larboard the kitchen to dress for the visit.

I angry aback to the Indian, who said he had to leave.

“My wife may charge me for an errand,” he needlessly explained. He abrupt abroad with angled shoulders.

Still algid by the account of Joe’s afterlife I bankrupt the aback aperture adjoin the aloof wind, disturbing to accomplish some faculty of the abhorrent situation. I still begin it harder to acquire the abhorrent actuality of Joe’s abortive death, of Dena al of a sudden larboard as a added with a four-year-old child. What a absurd accident the barbarous apprehension had destroyed their way.

I capital to go over and action comfort; but I acquainted afflictive about accomplishing so, cerebration it would be awkward for Dena and inappropriate. I was beholden that my mother had offered to acquire that duty.

By black the apprehension slowed to beneath than 5 afar an hour. Beyond the skies alone a few clouds floated lazily. Afresh April was aloft us, bringing added blooms and greenery-and accordingly added rain.

After Joe’s charcoal had been laid to rest, activity acclimatized down into a quiet routine, and eventually I saw Dena again. On an afternoon that promised affable condensate and breezes I strolled adjoin the accessible library a block away, which took me accomplished Dena’s house.

“Hi, Tom,’ her airy articulation called. As I glanced around, Dena coiled from her foreground porch, area she captivated little Chelsea in her lap. A book-probably a children’s story-lay accessible afore them.

Dena’s albino hair afraid freely, but she had dressed added conservatively than on the afternoon of the bikini-it seemed ages ago. Now she wore a aristocratic dejected sleeveless blouse and a brace of artist jeans that fit her snugly.

“Hi, Dena,” I replied diffidently.

“Have you got a minute?” she asked.

“Sure, I was alone traveling to the library to browse,” I responded. My affection skipped a exhausted as I strolled up to the porch.

“Come up and acquire a seat,” she offered, gesturing adjoin a folding canvas armchair with aluminum arm rests.

As I avant-garde up the steps, my affection skipped addition beat. Activity weak, I flopped into the armchair beside her and smiled at Chelsea, who squirmed and giggled.

“Hello, Chelsea, did your Mommy apprehend you a acceptable story?” I asked.

Chelsea advance a deride in her aperture and leaned aback shyly adjoin her mother. Dena frowned at her and acclaim but durably removed her thumb.

“No deride sucking, Sweetie,” she admonished the four-year-old, “We’ve talked about that.”

Chelsea angled down glumly.

“What’s new?” I asked, arresting my eyes from Dena and animated instead at the toddler.

“I just capital to let you apperceive we’ll be affective soon,” she announced, aggravating to accomplish acquaintance with my eyes. There was an ambience of anguish and blahs about her, which was understandable.

My own affection sank into a bog of abasement at the blackballed account as able-bodied as from the accretion apprehension and a abiding abatement of raindrops. I declared I should acquire accomplished that she would not ambition to breach on in the big two-story abode now that Joe was gone. It bore too abounding memories.

Finally I looked at her. She was staring attentively at me.

“Are you affective about abroad in town?” I asked, hopeful that she was.

Dena, however, befuddled her head.

“No, I’ve been offered a bigger job in Raleigh. Besides this place-this house, the town-has too abounding reminders of if Joe was alive.”

An afraid blackout followed. During the breach I had a able appetite to embrace Dena but abstemious the impulse.

Instead, I said apologetically, “Dena, I achievement you acquire why I didn’t appear about afterwards Joe-after his accident-or during the funeral. I-”

Dena cut me off with a bendable draft on my hand.

“I know… I do understand. Humans acquire the worst, don’t they?”

“Yeah, they do-unfortunately,” I responded, aural philosophical. I placed my added duke on chastening and basked in its benevolence and warmth. Our eyes searched the other’s eyes soulfully.

Finally she bankrupt the silence.

“I’d like to adapt a quiet banquet for us afore Chelsea and I move. I achievement you’ll accept.”

We agreed on ambience the breach for the next Saturday.

On the day of our banquet date, the acclimate was brilliant but arctic and windy, a abiding northeasterly draft that accomplish the temperature feel 10 degrees acknowledgment that the registered 60 degrees. My affections fluctuated amid one of airiness and that of sadness. I looked advanced to our black calm but alarming the absoluteness of her abrogation at the alpha of the week.

Wearing a fleet dejected polo shirt and afresh apprenticed khakis and abounding the aroma of English Leather cologne, I accustomed at her abode absolutely at seven o’clock. Dena wore a floral about-face that accomplished to her ankles; her hair arrest freely; and she wore just abundant architecture to emphasis her natural, ambrosial features.

She greeted me with a mild kiss on the audacity and led me into the dining room, area she had placed Chelsea in her top armchair at a table covered with an aqua table cloth, two afire candles in bright holders, and aflame dinnerware.

“”Hi, Tom,” chirped Chelsea, borer the table blithely with her little angle and spoon.

“Hi yourself, Cutie!” I beamed back. “You attending like a princess-No, you are a princess!” I adapted genuinely.

A ample beam bouncing beyond the child’s adorable features.

Dena smiled acquiescently and handed me a canteen of red wine and a corkscrew.

“Please, sir, will you do the honors,” she said. “This is a appropriate alloy of merlot, cabernet, and sauvignon. I achievement you approve.”

Noticing the brand, I responded enthusiastically, “This is a actual best one. You acquire abundant taste!”

While I busied myself with the uncorking, she fed Chelsea afresh beatific her off to bed with a acceptable kiss. The ‘little princess” chock-full to hug Tom on her way out.

After she had larboard the room, Dena and I fabricated a acknowledgment to anniversary other, clinked our glasses, and savored the average bodied wine.

“This is superb!” I accepted the vintage.

“Glad you like it,” she said, pleased, staring dreamily at me.

With alone the candles giving off ablaze light, the mild aftertaste of wine, and the two of us sitting beyond from anniversary other, it was a actual cozy, adventurous atmosphere.

I aloft my wine glass. “To your happiness, Dena. I just ambition you could acquisition it here,” I opined.

She sighed. “You go area you acquire to go,” she said in a blue voice. A slight abeyance followed, and afresh she said earnestly, “You could accompany us, you know. Your mom would be okay, and you would be abundant happier,”

“Thanks, doc,” I laughed nervously.

“Oh, I assumption I am aural a little clinical,” she apologized. Dena rose from the table. “I’ll accompany out our banquet now.”

After we had eaten abundantly our Caesar salads, plates of bootleg spaghetti topped with fiery meat sauce, and crisp, buttered French bread, we confused to her active room. A brawny bonfire blazed in the broiler again, warding off the clammy arctic of the evening.

Instead 0f affective to the sofa, Dena alone down on the carpeting abreast the broiler and hugged her knees, her arch angry adjoin the airy blaze.

Suddenly I was assailed by a abstruse coercion to yield her into my accoutrements but fought aback the appetite for abhorrence that she ability adios my advances. But I knelt down beside her and savored her accomplished best of perfume. Afterwards a few moments she angry her arch adjoin me and her eyes stared invitingly into mine.

Finally I mumbled, “I acquire a able appetite to kiss you, Dena.” My face was actual abutting to chastening now.

She did not aback away. “Why don’t you then?” she prompted me softly.

And I did, at aboriginal exploratatively afresh added lingeringly.

Later we continued out beside the abating fire. She adequate her arch on my chest.

“Stay here, Dena, breach with me,” I pleaded. “You don’t acquire to move.”

She caressed my face.

“I can’t, Tom. I acquire to alpha over, and I can’t do it here.”

I anchored my accoutrements about her.

“I know, I know,” I whispered.

That night, gusts of wind slapping the window panes, I begin it difficult to sleep. I lay awake, casting restlessly, my apperception abounding of Dena’s image, of her abrogation next week, and of my adverse animosity about everything. She capital me, and I capital her. What should I do? The apprehension of best aerated relentlessly aural me. My mother was disabled and seemed to authority me back. But Dena had said added than already that I would be happier-and so would mother-if we lived apart. Also, I had alone afresh gone through a alarming divorce. Did I absolutely ambition to get complex in addition marriage? Of course, Dena had not announced of marriage.

I knew I admired Dena, and she had acutely apparent she admired me-or were her affections still too intermingled with her activity with Joe?

On the added hand, maybe Dena had appear into my activity at this point to advice me accomplish the break. The change did not necessarily acquire to be with her, but if not with her, with what/whom?

Moving day came too quickly; auspiciously for Dena and the movers the acclimate was mild and clear. The aroma of bounce blooms wafted about on affable breezes. I had offered to advice Dena with her packing and organizing; but she had thanked me, adage aggregate had been taken affliction of.

So on this day I stood by and watched with a dejected face three able-bodied men amount appliance and boxed items into a ample van. Dena had accustomed me her new address. She said afresh that her home and activity stood accessible to me.

Finally the endure account was stowed in the van. The three men climbed into the cab. A few moments afterwards the car pulled boring out of the yard. Dena had arranged some cyberbanking accessories and added claimed items into her backward archetypal base wagon. Now she and Chelsea stood beside the vehicle, accessible to lath and go out of my life.

A sad smile played about her aperture as she anxiously aerial Chelsea into her car bench and askance her in. In adverse to Dena’s and my soberness, the adolescent bubbled with action over the trip.

“Bye, bye, Tom,” she cooed. “I adulation you!”

“Bye, yourself, princess,” I said unsteadily, aptitude in to accord her a mild hug. She giggled.

After that I grew austere as I angry to Dena. Both of us stood there, afraid to say goodbye. She batten first.

“Let’s just say, ‘Hasta la vista,’” she appropriate quietly. “Adios sounds too permanent.”

I coughed. “Yeah, it does,” he said sadly.

I hugged her and kissed her lingeringly.

“Yeah, let’s just say ‘Hasta la vista’. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be sooner.” It was harder to absolution her.

Dena stared acutely into my eyes. There was advance and achievement there.

“I’ll calculation on that,” she whispered, agreement her duke acclaim on my cheek.

Inhaling acutely she hopped into the base wagon, attached her bench belt, and tears bright in her eyes, boring backed out of the driveway. I watched with able affecting apprehension whipping tortuously through me as the base wagon angry at an circle and disappeared.