Rubies by Carol E. Anderson

Remember that night in the basement of Draper Hall when you wrestled me to the floor? The sweet smell of musk oil on your neck made me dizzy. My hands—damp with sweat— lightly touched your hair. Your mouth an inch away, your breath the smell of berries. I longed to brush my lips next to yours– to taste the tang of rubies on your tongue. You smiled. Your eyes flashed. My eyes averted.

I heard you married a doctor, that your father died and you won teacher of the year back in your small town.

We wanted each other yet had no words for our devotion kindled by evening talks in a tiny dorm room painted lime green, an ancient wooden desk the only barrier between us. You picked up a matchbook next to the lamp and struck one—a flicker, a spark, a flame— a blaze. We sat silently and watched the fire burn until it reached your fingertips. Our eyes met and you blew it out.

I imagine you now, with four children, balancing beef dinners, budgets, and baseball games—desire lost in the fray of expectations.

Remember the day you gave me a massage when I said my back was killing me? You told me to take off my shirt, that you would work on me. Lying face down, I felt your hands glide over my shoulders and down my back. It was the first time you touched me without pretense. Everything quivered, dulcimer strings in search of perfect sound.  I jumped when someone knocked at the door. 

When I cleaned the closet yesterday, I found the plaque you made about friendship. You’d written on it by hand—a promise we would always be friends– though we knew we were far more than that. Do you still have the book I gave you that promised the same?

When you left that night, my body buzzed with fear—of my feelings being discovered. Of being gay. 

I saw on Facebook that you’d gotten a divorce from your husband, that you’d moved. I wondered why we grew apart, fell out of love. I wrote you a private message on Facebook. You never answered.

Remember when, later that year, you got mono and had to go home? Your father came and piled you and all your belongings into his station wagon. I held out my hand as you passed by, window cracked open. Your fingers reached—brushed my own—before you drove away.

Even now when I think of you, I taste the tang of rubies on my tongue and wonder if you ever loved another woman.

Carol E. Anderson is a life coach and former organizational consultant whose passions are women’s empowerment and travel photography. She is the founder of Rebellious Dreamers, a twenty-five-year strong non-profit organization that has helped women over 35 realize dreams they’d deferred. Carol holds a doctorate in spiritual studies, and master’s degrees in organizational development, and creative nonfiction. She is the author of the award-winning memoir, You Can’t Buy Love Like That: Growing Up Gay in the Sixties. She lives with the love of her life and their sassy pup in a nature sanctuary in Ann Arbor, MI.

Image Credit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.