Entwined in the Summer Grass
I can’t believe our meadow is still there after all these years. I can still picture James, as a boy, walking through the trees and into the daffodils and columbine, the way he used to do. I can still see him in the too-short pants he was always growing out of, see the movement in his narrow chest as he panted, out of breath from running.
The way he looked at me today, that wicked smirk on his face, I could tell he too was remembering the little girl I once was—those short, frilly dresses my mother used to pick out for me, that crazy mess of hair I had. Getting married in the same meadow where we spent so much of our childhood together was a great idea, but the “cozy” hotel we chose for our first night together was not. How did we manage to have our wedding night coincide with a Shriner’s convention? Late that night, holding each other, trying to ignore the sounds of speechifying and celebrating coming through the thin walls, we laughed, and then he said, “Let’s go back.”
Giggling, we covered our nakedness with the hotel’s cuddly terrycloth robes, slipped our feet into sandals, and dashed out the door into the summer night. Holding hands, James and I ran through the small town’s deserted streets. Up one road, down another, the same roads we both knew so well. Nothing had changed, really, except us. Finally we came to the woods, our secret entrance to the meadow. This morning we had come, with our families, down a path from the main road, but this back way was one we hadn’t used in years. Despite the darkness, we walked in. I looked for our old path, but there were only traces of it visible, overgrown as it was. James seemed to know the way in though and, holding his hand, I felt so safe. We plunged into the forest, running recklessly, drunk on the night. Then James did the unthinkable. He let go of my hand and disappeared into the woods.
“Come back here!” I screamed. He didn’t answer. I slowly felt my way past one tree and another, looking for the path, but it seemed to disappear in the darkness. Great. I thought. I’m going to spend my wedding night alone and lost in the forest. Tears welled up in my eyes. How could he do this to me?
“Darling!” I screamed, “Where are you?”
Moments later he appeared, chest heaving in the old familiar way. He had been running, and held one hand behind his back. I looked at him—first angry, then curious. Where had he gone? What was he holding?
“Just a few more steps,” he said. “We’re almost there.” He took my hand and led me to the meadow. I had never seen it like this before. Our families had cleaned away every trace of the intimate little wedding. The chairs were gone, the arbor had been dismantled. Even the grass seemed to have sprung back, and it revealed no trace of our passing. Starlight shone down on night-blooming jasmine, and the heady scent of it made me inhale so deeply I started to feel dizzy. We walked out into the moon-bright meadow. James looked enchanted—the way the gleaming evening illuminated his tousled blond hair, the soft shadows that fell on his handsome face.
“I was going to give it to you after the wedding, but then I got cornered by Aunt Alice, and my mom wanted to take all those pictures. You were talking to your sisters . . . I didn’t want to rush it, so, I don’t know why, I just stashed it in a hole in a tree! I must be crazy.”
He pulled his hand from behind his back and presented me with the world’s most beautiful diamond necklace. The gleaming jewels seemed to drip from a platinum strand like droplets of pure water. He held it up to my neck. I gasped, speechless.
Then I loosened my belt, hesitated only a moment, and dropped my robe. The jewels shone against my pale skin, catching the moonlight, and winking it back to me. James’ hands were shaking as he fastened it around my neck, kissed my collarbone, then lightly caressed my shoulders, my breasts, my arms, my waist. He smiled as he lifted my hair, bunching it in his hands like a man greedy for more. Its strands shone in the night as they tumbled across my shoulders and neck and across the diamond necklace that lay, cool and heavy, on my bare skin.
I reached for his robe, and with a flick of my wrist, it was open. The warmth of his lean body emanated from inside, and the musky smell of his nudity filled my nostrils. I leaned in for more, and soon his robe lay in the grass beside mine. I was comforted by the fact that no one could see us here, among the trees, and remembered the safety of it, the illicit secrecy of those first fumbling days, so long ago. He cupped my chin in his hand as he wrapped his other arm around me, pulling me to him.
James kissed me long and deep. This time, a grown-up kiss. Everything was the same, and yet different, as we tumbled into the grass. I felt it’s familiar softness against my buttocks and back as we lay there, holding each other in the moonlight, dazzled by the light of the necklace, by the fireflies that seemed to glow for us alone. We sanctified our sacred place, finally as husband and wife. Initiating our meadow into our new lives, we made it no longer a place for children. Our cries joined those of evening birds and were carried away on the gentle breeze that cooled our bodies, entwined in the summer grass.