By Jern Ng
He came into my life like summer rain; sudden, unexpected, but greatly welcome.
The first time we kissed, it was like the earth opened up before me, engulfing me in a burst of passion and love so furious, I both quailed and revelled beneath its power.
His touch sent jolts of electricity coursing through my veins, giving life to an emotion I have not felt in a long time; desire.
For the past ten years, I might as well have been asexual. After Andrew succumbed to the deadly disease, I was lost. Here I was, a middle-aged man, suddenly without a partner, without someone to care for, without someone to love.
The men I saw, who would once have roused some feelings within me, now brought no reactions whatsoever. It was like I was dead inside, as if a part of me was buried alongside Andrew in that grave on that overcast day. Perhaps, as I knelt there crying next to the casket, my heart had poured forth together with my tears, joining my beloved in an eternal embrace.
Between then and now, I had sex exactly twice. Once, because I was drunk out of my mind at a local bar, and ended up in bed with a random stranger. I had woken up the next morning with no recollection of what had transpired, but seeing a used condom on the floor confirmed it.
The second time was about 6 years after Andrew passed, when a friend of mine decided that I needed to get hooked up. He set me up with another friend of his, and somehow, this led to sex. He enjoyed it, but I found the whole thing empty. Meaningless. Mechanical even. It was then that I decided. No more. No more of this emotionless pleasure.
Then he walked in and screwed everything up.
Ever since I was young, I had known one thing about myself; that I enjoy making love, and not simply having sex with any willing stranger. It is both emotionally and sexually fulfilling, to be able to pleasure the man you love, and have him do the same to you. Otherwise, it was uncomfortable, and there were times when I wished it was over as soon as it started.
It wasnât that the men were terrible at sex; they were amazing. Sexually, those were the best times I had, but emotionally, it was nothing. Nada. Many out there could not comprehend why I did not enjoy sex, just as I have no idea how one could perform such an act with a complete stranger. I guess everyoneâs different, in this sense.
When I met Andrew, we didnât jump into bed immediately. After our first date, he drove me home and as we stood in my doorway, leaned in for a kiss. At this point, I was starting to get uneasy as most guys who did this wanted the evening to go on a hell of a lot longer, with much less clothes on. I was determined to say no, but then his lips touched mine for a brief second before he pulled apart. Grinning slightly, he gave me a hug and a wave, before walking back to his car. I stood there, my feelings in turmoil. On one hand, I was glad he wasnât another of those guys, but that brief kiss made me long for more.
For our next few dates, we chatted, we laughed, we cuddled, even kissed for a bit; but he never asked for sex, or touched me anywhere he shouldnât. He was the perfect gentleman, and I liked it. At this point, I had told him about my aversion to random hook-ups, and he assured me that he felt the same way. Then I realised that he was waiting for me to take the next step, patiently giving me time to be comfortable around him before going further. Maybe that was why I fell head over heels in love with him.
The day we spoke our vows was undeniably the happiest day of my life. Families and friends had turned up, all eager to congratulate and celebrate our love. Of course, there were the select few who refused to turn up, said it was against their beliefs and that our marriage threatened the sanctity of theirs, but we were not going to let them spoil our big day. Once the minister pronounced us partners, we leaned close and felt our lips touch, while the crowd erupted all around us.
Twenty long years we spent together. I must admit that it wasnât easy. Like all couples, we fought, we bickered, we refused to speak to each other at times, but in the end, we always make up. Our worst fight led to Andrew moving out, and for those terrible few days, I realised how much I missed him, and wanted him by my side. Right before I headed over to find him and apologise, he walked in and gave me a hug and a kiss. All was forgotten, and the very next day, he moved back in.
When he first fell ill, we thought nothing of it. He started coughing a lot, but we dismissed it as a simple cold. Then came the blood; and everything progressed much faster after that. Our family doctor diagnosed him with lung cancer, but by then, it was too late. Andrew, being Andrew, waited too long before going to the doctor. He never even told me about it, but nights after that fateful diagnosis, I would lie awake, hating myself for missing the signs. Granted, I had been going through a rough patch at work, but he was my husband, dammit! The man I loved with all my heart, and now thereâs nothing I can do but stand by and watch him die.
People said that opposites attract.
People said that love is blind.
People said that love knocks at the most unexpected moments.
I never believed, until now.
One of Andrewâs friends, David, had his nephew coming down from Auckland for a holiday. However, at the last minute, David found out that an uncle of his living in America was gravely ill, and he called and asked if I could let his nephew stay over at my place for a few days, at least until he got back from the States. What else could I do but agree?
The day he arrived, I picked him up from the airport. âIâm Jakeâ, he said, giving me a firm handshake. He was in his early twenties, with a shock of black hair and a shy quiet demeanour. I could tell he was shy because after all, he was with a complete stranger more than thirty years his senior. I got him chatting after a while about university life and his friends and his part time job at the campus store, and I told him about my volunteering job at the local botanical society. For some odd reason, we hit it off.
I would be lying if I said I didnât find him attractive. Hell, he was cute! But I never gave that notion any further thought, because I didnât want to make it awkward between us. After all, I was in my fifties, with wrinkles, greying hair and a belly I have been trying hard to make disappear but to no avail. What twenty-year-old would be attracted to that? And even if he was, it would be some kinky fetish thing, and I didnât want any of that.
So, imagine my surprise when one night, as we were watching a movie heâd picked out, he lifted my arms, put it over his shoulders, and leaned against me. Oh crap, I thought. What the hell is he up to? But he didnât do anything more, so I relaxed after a bit.
Up to that moment, weâd chatted a lot and learnt much more about each other. I told him about Andrew, about our magical time together, and how my life lost its meaning when he passed. In return, he told me about his first relationship with a guy who was almost twice his age, and how that didnât work out either. He confided in me that he never enjoyed sex unless it was with someone he loves, and I was impressed. Not many men in their twenties shared my point of view. Most of them seemed to exist only for sex. Talking to Jake was like a breath of fresh air; we had similar personalities and beliefs, and his level of maturity seemed to exceed men twice his age.
âWould you mind if I slept with you?â he asked suddenly.
I was too shocked to answer.
âNot for sex or anything, itâs just that I like cuddling a lot, and there arenât many guys I can do that with without them expecting any sex. Youâre a really nice guy, and I trust you not to do anything funny.â
Well, with everything he had told me, I doubted he was going to jump me or anything, so I thought, hey, why not? I havenât cuddled with anyone for over a decade, and I missed it dreadfully, even more than I miss making love.
âSure, Jake, we could do that. I promise I wonât touch you or do anything inappropriate.â
For the next couple of nights, that was exactly what we did. Heâd snuggle up in my arms and Iâd hold him close. We were always fully clothed, though once I swore I felt a slight bulge in his pants, but neither of us said anything about it. I was better at controlling myself, though occasionally I did get a rise. I couldnât help it; here was an absolutely gorgeous guy in my arms and for the first time, I actually had to resist the urge to do anything.
His week in Christchurch soon came to an end. Throughout the many nights, we had slept in each otherâs arms, enjoying the physical and emotional contact it provided. I have been lonely for so long, and the feeling of having a warm body close to me was almost heavenly. I could tell that Jake felt the same way, because he always awoke with a smile on his face. We cherished each otherâs presence immensely, and I secretly wished that he could stay longer.
In life, you rarely get what you wish for, but there are certain times when, by some twist of fate, the stars align for you. Jakeâs plane was delayed due to the heavy snow, and I ended up making my way back with him by my side, instead of alone and wistful as Iâd first expected to. The airline had promised to give him a call when the delay was over, but they cautioned us that it could be a matter of days.
I couldnât help thinking that the heavens were sending me a message. I mean, here was Jake about to leave when it started to snow that very morning. What were the odds? Perhaps they were telling me to buck up and do something about this gorgeous young man whom I so obviously had feelings for. But heâs too young for me, I argued. What twenty-year-old would want a partner old enough to be his father, or even his grandfather?
But if I didnât do anything, Iâll never know. I might live my entire life regretting this very moment.
So I closed my eyes for a second, and took a leap of faith.
âAlright, Iâm going to come right out and say that I like you. A lot. Now please donât say anything yet because I know youâre freaking out that this old man is hitting on you, but please, just let me say a few things. I know how hard it is being a young, handsome man like you. You are nice to someone, and the next second, theyâre torpedo-ing straight for your dick, or your ass. I want you to know that Iâm aware that youâre young and beautiful, and Iâm not either of those things. But Iâm attracted to you, and thatâs saying something because I havenât been attracted to anyone for more than ten years. Youâre mature, youâre funny, youâre affectionate, youâre sweet, and youâre one of the most genuine guys Iâve ever met. Now part of me knows that as soon as my lips stop moving youâre going to say no, but please just consider this. Maybe we could try it out, and see how it goesâŚ. even if you were to change your mind in the next couple of days, Iâm not going to hold it against youâŚ.. Iâll understand if you feel uncomfortable, seeing as Iâm all wrinkled and old and my bellyâs bulging out and my hairâs turning whiteâŚ alright, Iâve run out of things to say, so could you just tell me now, if itâs a no?â
I chanced a glance at him and noticed that he was staring straight at me, a surprised look on his face. But then it turned into a smile, and I felt his hand over mine.
âYou know, I really like you too. You were the first guy who never tried to do anything to me while we cuddled, and itâs been a week. You never betrayed my trust, and I am extremely grateful for that.â
I cringed, waiting for the âbutâ, knowing it was coming.
âDanny, youâre the first person I could truly connect with in a while. The time we spent together has been one of the best moments of my life.â
Where is that darn âbutâ? Where the hell is it?
âSo, if youâre asking me for a relationship, my answer is a yes.â He squeezed my hand tightly.
It took me a few seconds to fully comprehend what he was saying. And then it hit me. He said yes. To me. This sweet young man wants to be with me. Hell yeah! I swerved the car to the side of the road, almost hitting an oncoming car, and brought it to the stop on the gravel.
Then I turned to Jake, and kissed him. And kissed him. And kissed him.
And he kissed back.
The whole journey home, I was grinning like an idiot. For the first time in a very long time, I was happy.We welcome NZ Writing! Just send your work to firstname.lastname@example.org