There was the sound of a key in the door, which I had locked when I had my bath. It was Leo, of course, returning from an evening of serious squash, still wearing black sweatshirt and jogging pants. I sat at the kitchen table, having a bedtime drink and reading New Scientist. I was ready for bed, in an old familiar pink towelling dressing gown, my skin slightly wrinkled from a long luxurious soak.
He was surprised. "Are you still up?"
"I had a bath, then I was pottering. I'm just having some hot chocolate."
My long hair had fallen to either side of my neck, and Leo bent and kissed the nape. Sensory nerves began to fire, and not just at the back of my neck. Leo went to a cupboard, and opened it, smiling.
I finished off my drink down to the sludgy brown mess in the bottom of the cup, then gathered up my magazine and started to rise from the table. Leo thrust his palm in front of me. There were two small round white things on it. For a moment I didn't know what they were, then a childhood joke floated into my mind: Why are elephants large, grey and wrinkled? Because if they were small round and white they'd be an aspirin.
"What are they for?" I asked.
"Paracetamol for your headache," he replied.
I looked up at him, confused. "What headache?"
Leo smiled. The grin got wider. He couldn't stop it. It was infectious. I smiled back though I wasn't quite sure what the joke was.
"Oh good!" he said.
I looked up at him, smiling but confused, waiting to be told the joke. Then I got it and my smile widened. Slowly, languorously, I stood up, and put my arms around his neck.
"You smell...... male," I said.
"Is that good or bad?" Leo asked, guiding me towards the stairs.
"Not unpleasant, rather the reverse. Natural sweats and...beer. You've been drinking!" I noticed.
"Not too much!" he said, pushing me gently from step to step.
At the top of the stairs he pulled me towards him, kissing me deeply. "I can taste hot chocolate," he said at last. "But your skin smells wonderful."
"Marks and Sparks best bath gel."
"No, it's you." He put a hand under each of my elbows and hustled me into the bedroom.
We undressed quickly. I giggled. This bit always seemed so ridiculous. We threw themselves under the huge duvet. When he touched me I squirmed away. It was always like that. I liked to make him wait a bit, I liked to prolong the beginning, or it would all be over too quickly. Leo reached for me, gently. I was lying on my front, head turned away. He ran his hand gently down the centre of my back. I shivered. He moved his body closer, till he was alongside me, length for length or nearly. He was longer than me by six inches. He was not so impatient, this time.
He stroked my back gently, and with each stroke I wriggled, and with each wriggle I pressed my body closer to his. When he applied his tongue to the base of my back, I groaned and, at last, turned over. He moved above me and pulled me to him. Even at that moment I thought "Perhaps this time..."
Perhaps this time I would conceive a child.
I did not know then that there were other ways to conceive.
To move on, follow the theme
Last amended on 22nd April 1999 / copyright H. M. Whitehead