Elaboration on a Dream
He leans against the balcony rail, gazing out towards his ship and the sunlit sea beyond. I hesitate, unwilling to disturb his solitary reverie.
As I watch, I see his breathing hitch, and he bows his head. I approach quietly, and lean against the rail beside him, laying my hand upon his shoulder: a small gesture of comfort. I can feel his body heaving with emotion beneath my fingertips, and a steady stream of tears falls on his hands, dappling them with bright moisture that winks and blazes like diamonds in the sunlight.
And I know what ails him, and its name is loneliness. His ship is here, but he is here alone: no crew, no familiar friend to ease his lonely days. How many nights have I heard on the wind the plaintive cry of a solo violin’s song?
I rest my other hand on top of his: he clasps it between them, and turns to share a brief, weary smile. I notice the shadows of fatigue beneath his ocean-coloured eyes, and wonder: when did he last enjoy even a single night’s unbroken sleep?
I lead him to the couch and push him, unresisting, down onto the seat. As I remove his boots, he quickly sheds his cream waistcoat and tugs his shirt from the waistband of his breeches. I slide my hand tenderly up one well-muscled calf, pausing to unfasten the buckle just below his knee. As I reach across to the other buckle, he combs his fingers through my hair. The movement startles me, and my fingers fumble at the fastening. I glance upwards, and his eyes meet mine.
“Will you stay, my dear?” he breathes, his deep voice barely above a whisper.
Oh God, how can I not, when he asks me in such a way, ocean eyes pleading with mine? My throat constricts, and I can only nod my acquiescence.
He grasps my arm a little above the wrist, and pulls me, first to my knees, and then up onto the couch beside him. A brief, slightly uncomfortable pause, and then the instinct to take and offer comfort overwhelms us, and he leans into my embrace. My hands drift up to his queue, plucking free the broad black ribbon that holds his hair in place, so that the golden-blond waves spill around his face and shoulders. Jack has such beautiful hair, for someone who has spent almost his entire life at sea, and I revel in the sensation of its soft silkiness between my fingers.
He seems to relax a little, leaning more heavily against me, although I can still feel the tension within him, of raw emotions just barely held in check. His weight presses me down onto the couch, back and back until my shoulders are resting, somewhat uncomfortably, against the arm.
I fidget beneath him. Jack registers my discomfort, and tries to manoeuvre me into a more comfortable position without tipping both of us off the couch onto the floor.
Finally. we seem to hit on a position where we will run the least risk of us rolling off the couch: spoon-fashion. Jack lies behind me, with one arm draped heavily around my waist. He seems less agitated now. He tightens his grip, giving me a gentle squeeze, and I hear a sleepy murmur beside my ear: “Thank you, sweet heart”.