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A September Storyby Charles Benson

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"Mom, my ride's here, I'm going!" Grace called through the front door and then made her way down the front stoop and across the front lawn.

Lily was just making her way into the living room when the screen door gently closed. She wanted to encourage her daughter to have fun, but reached the door too late and would have ended up screaming like a lunatic. Instead, Lily watched Grace walk around the car that her friend drove and reflected on how much the nearly 15-year old girl had grown this last year. She had matured and came to accept the changes that were happening in her life, and even embraced them as opportunities to learn about the world around her. When Grace's grandfather died, Lily thought, she could have wound herself inside a cocoon. Rather, she blossomed into a butterfly experiencing life and all it has to offer.

As Grace entered the car that was waiting for her on the street, Rick pulled his SUV into the driveway and gave a quick wave to his girlfriend's daughter. He hopped out of the vehicle and turned his attention to Lily who noticed he was wearing that rich purple tank top that showed off just enough of his physique to send her heart aflutter. She decided not to tease him about the ozone layer today.

Rick looked back at the car that was pulling away and asked, "Was that Jennifer driving?"

"Yes, they're headed out to that big end of summer bash that Grace has been talking about for the last two months," Lily replied. She waited as patiently as she could for Rick to slowly stride up the front walk. Not able to contain herself any longer, she leapt down the walkway and into Rick's arms. They embraced and kissed passionately for a few moments, then held hands as they reentered the house together.

"Funny, Eli went with Jennifer to that party last year," Rick mused out loud. He looked around the house as he entered, still not entirely comfortable in the home that was still owned by Lily's soon-to-be ex-husband.

"Is Eli going this year?" Lily asked.

"Oh, yeah, his band, Anti-Inflammatory, is playing there. They need the exposure, he says. I just think he just wants to impress the girls." They stood in the center of the living room for a moment. Suddenly, Lily popped, "Hey, let's wash that car of yours. I need to cool off."

"Where's Zoe?" Rick asked.

"She is with her father," Lily noticed Rick wince, so slightly, "She felt that she needed to do something special if Grace got to go to a big summer bash. So her and Jake are going for a movie and dinner," she explained. "With Tiffany!" Lily threw her hands up pretending to be excited. "What about Jessie?"

"Sort of the same thing, except they are calling it girls day." Rick replied, seeming satisfied with how the day was playing itself out. Lily and Rick spent the next half-hour sudsing up the car, playfully spraying each other with the hose, and making a general din in the neighborhood. Once they had finished rinsing out the buckets and coiling up the hose, they went back in the house through the kitchen entrance. "Want anything to eat?" asked Lily, "I could cut up some fruit for us." She opened the refrigerator door and bent down to rummage through the crispers for something refreshing. Rick noticed, and not for the first time, the shapely curve of her behind. He was lost in thought as she stood up and turned around.

"Richard Sammler, were you checking me out?" she asked in mock horror.

"Uh, no," he stammered, his mouth fluttering, "uh, well, yes, I was."

He stood up straight, with feigned pride in his voice. Again, he looked at her and this time he noticed that her wet tee shirt and the cold of the refrigerator produced an effect on Lily that caused his thoughts to wander.

Lily did not notice his staring and asked, "Strawberry?" placing a bowl on the table. This brought Rick out of his reverie and he dreamily picked up a strawberry and began to move it towards his mouth. Lily gently took his hand and guided the fruit to her mouth. She wrapped her lips around Rick's fingers she placed the strawberry on her tongue. Rick finally withdrew his fingers from her. She stared at him and began to chew, feeling the many seeds crunch on her teeth, the meaty part of the fruit softening in her mouth. Lily took another strawberry from the bowl and pushed it into Rick's only partially open mouth. He chewed in small bites as he placed her hands around his waist and pulled her toward him.

They hugged for a minute, but for each other, it felt like an eternity of bliss.

Lily separated herself from Rick, just far enough so she could look at him. They held each other's hands and stared, facing each other. Lily took a deep breath.

"Let's take a shower," she stated, her voice trying its best to stay even but not really succeeding. Rick looked back at Lily. He thought about the trust that she was showing in him, a level of trust, that up until this point, he would not have been sure he could have returned.

They had been through so much this last year. After they discovered each other, it was as though nothing else in the world existed for him.

And then she told him of her terrible mistake. At least, it felt that way at the time. Did she really love him? Were they the soulmates that he felt deep down inside? There was a long, horrible hiatus in their relationship, during the holidays, just at the time of the year when they should have been celebrating their life and their love together.

Finally, Rick came to realize that Lily was in a different place in her life, and that if they were truly going to be together, he needed to wait for her to catch up to him. If he continued to rush their relationship, he would drive her away.

Now, here they were, almost a year to the day since they first eyed each other across the carpool lane. He was with her in her house. She was asking him to share a most intimate act with her.

Lily stared at Rick, trying to see through his eyes and into his soul. God how she loved him. They had so much more to learn about each other, so many more ways to share themselves with each other, thoughts and feelings to be expressed. Was she ready for this? Was she really ready?

"Yes, let's," Rick responded. His words broke a golden silence that had enveloped them and held them even closer.

Upstairs, Lily and Rick had never been so clean. They cleansed their hair, the little spaces behind their ears, their necks, arms, back, their chests, oh their chests, their bellies, hips, backsides and genitals, legs, knees and finally the toes of their feet were clean and fresh. They stayed so long in the shower that the warm water that flowed on them turned a wonderful shade of cool. They were refreshed and energized.

Rick wrapped a towel around his waist and Lily threw a tee shirt over her head. They held hands as she led him into her bedroom. Here, Rick hesitated again. All his insecurities came flooding back to him in a flash. This was the room she and 'he' had shared. Lily looked at him and smiled that deep radiant smile that Rick just knew helped to make all the bad things go away for her girls. It was that smile that warmed him and allowed him to feel confident with her. Just as quickly, the insecurities were gone

They stood next to her bed, facing each other holding hands. Rick was staring at her again. He just could not help himself, he felt safe looking at her. Quickly, and with a sly grin on her face, Lily snapped Rick's towel off of him. He grinned sheepishly and held his hands out to his sides, presenting himself to Lily. Without taking her eyes off of him, Lily pulled her tee shirt off.

Just two steps away, they regarded each other. They looked at each other's forty-something year old bodies, each with wet stringy hair and little flaws revealing themselves. This was the very best moment for both of them. At once, they stepped toward each other and embraced. Lily began to shake slightly. Her joy was overwhelming, frightening her. She breathed deeply and smelled Rick, felt his strength, his love, and his safeness. He held her tighter and she relaxed. He never wanted to let her go. She turned her head up to his and smiled. He smiled back and they kissed passionately, their hands began to explore.

They were still standing next to the bed. Gently grabbing Rick's buttocks in both hands, Lily sat on the bed encouraging Rick to join her.

He did so. Now, only now, did Lily truly feel safe. And only now did Rick feel free. They made the most of the moment.

September 12, 2000

Copyright 2000 Charles Benson
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Based on characters created by Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz


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