Second Sunset


Hugh sat in his car and looked out over the grass. The markers were a mixture of in ground and above ground, giving a look reminiscent of when his children were young and their wooden blocks were towers and walks and houses and everything in between. He smiled at the memory, then frowned as he remembered yelling at the kids while trying to find a safe path to walk from the kitchen to the bedroom so he could change out of his work clothes and try to unwind. It was his own fault. Betty only wanted two kids, he wanted six, so they settled on four. Two years apart. That one year, oh, how he wished he could forget their chant. “Two, four, six, eight, that’s our ages and we’re great!”

He opened the door and stood up. It was easier to get out of a car back then. Now he had a crossover so he didn’t have to rise up when he got out. Memories. Every time he came here it meant a flood of memories. Those children now all had their own, and then THEIR own, and an indiscreet action had the oldest of the latest generation three months pregnant. She was only 17, and it seemed so unfair that she would need to start caring for a child so young. She insisted, though, that she would have the child, the father said he would help raise it, and they were still dating while discussing the possibility of marriage later.

Cass was always so adventurous. So completely unlike her grandmother. And yet, they had loved each other in a way many people couldn’t understand. If Betty had still been alive, she and Cass would have been on the phone every day, preparing for the birth. Betty would have been invited to be there, to hold Cass’s hand when the baby was born. But Betty was not available any more. Now she lay in a box in the cold ground, where she had been for almost three years. She would have scolded Cass for being so careless, then would have loved the growing baby as only a great-great-grandmother could.

Hugh was so different. He loved all his children and grandchildren, but he had been forced to learn how to do that. After Grammama was gone it was only him, and they turned to him for advice, for love, for comfort when things were difficult. He tried to remember, tried to think what his wife of 58 years would have done or said. In time, it began to come more naturally, but his slightly stuffy personality never let him open up completely. He had accepted, simply, that he was not really a loving kind of person.

He stood looking at the stone in the grass, thinking he needed to get the clippers out and do some weeding. The groundskeepers were letting things go. Didn’t they realize these stones and plots were memories for people? As so often, he looked at the green grass next to hers, knowing the day was coming closer when he would be there. Maybe it was time. He had always wanted HIS time, time for whatever he wanted to do, and now it was all he had. He was lonely. He went to the car and got the clippers before returning and kneeling next to the stone marker.

“It’s a lovely day. Warm, slight breeze. The leaves are budding and I expect the trees will be green right on schedule again.”

“Yes, it is a lovely day, isn’t it?” A woman’s voice caused him to jump. He hadn’t realized somebody else was there. So totally lost in his own thoughts, he hadn’t heard another car or the closing of the door. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, “I didn’t mean to startle you. I was just agreeing with you.”

He turned to look at the speaker and saw a woman about his age fifteen feet away. She was heading toward a point farther from the paved drive, but looked at him, a soft smile on her face. A square face, he thought, with a full head of gray hair on top. Gray hair. No dye in it. Soft pink lipstick, a bit of rouge for her cheeks, and glasses. She had the usual fuller figure of a woman about 80 years old and she wore a dress that came to just below her knees. Old fashioned and a bit proper. He had a favorable first impression.

“I guess I was lost in my thoughts and memories again. It happens when I come here.” He looked out at the expanse of burial ground and the trees surrounding it. A stronger breeze made the branches dance lightly. “It was a day much like this when we first met. I suppose that just makes me remember more.”

“How long has it been?” she asked.

“Not quite three years. Yeah, THAT day was different. Hot, humid, and yet I was cold.”

She nodded. “Just over two years for me. The love of my life. Mostly. Sorry, that’s more than I should have said.” She turned and continued to a place about 50 feet from him.

He didn’t know why, but he stood and watched her. The build was about the same as Betty’s had been. Full in the middle and a bit wide in the hips, but four births could do that to a woman. Moderate sized chest. He realized her eyes were a deep brown, very different from Betty’s light blue. For a moment, he saw her again, lower body covered in a soft, cream colored blanket, upper body in a nice white blouse with dark blue jacket. The blue was to go with her eyes, bonus veren siteler but he felt it was her favorite even if her eyes weren’t ever going to open again. Then the lid was closed. Hugh felt the tear run down his nose and watched through the blur as it fell to the ground.

The voice was back. “Are you all right? You’re shaking. Are you cold?”

“Betty should have done better. I wasn’t good for her. I was a selfish bastard and all she did was smile and love me. Why did she go and I’m left here? The kids deserve better, and the grandkids, great grandkids, and the one she would have wanted to care for.”

“Betty. A very pretty name. What happened?”

Hugh didn’t look, didn’t want to look, but he knew she was near him. She reminded him so much of his wife. The soft voice, slight smile on her lips, build, hair, in so many ways she reminded him, and yet he knew she was completely different. “Cervical cancer. A lot of pain. I had to learn how to take care of her. After all the years we were married, I had to LEARN how to take care of her.”

“But you did.” Again the soft voice. It was almost as if Betty had come back in another person who shared this person’s body. “And if she had lived, the pain would have always been with her. Would that little one want to grow up seeing her like that?”

He gave a short laugh. “I told you, I’m a selfish bastard.” He finally turned his head, surprised to see her just 5 feet away, arms crossed under her bust, holding her purse to her side. “I know it, in my head. I always wanted a little more freedom, more time for me and the things I wanted. Well, I got it. And I’m at a loss what to do with it.”

She sighed, the first time she lost her smile and air of happiness. “Maybe I’m the lucky one, then. Grant was my second husband. The first lasted long enough to produce three kids, then all he did was complain they made too much noise, that I’d gotten too fat, and one day he said he had found somebody new and he was gone. I got the mortgage and the kids and child support. At least he paid that regularly.”

It was her turn to look across the grass and remember. “Grant entered my life four years later. We hit it off, got married, and oh the romance we had, even with the kids. They accepted him as their father and I was happy. Then about 12 years ago, it changed. The romance stopped, sex stopped, we stopped. And when he had the heart attack, the world stopped.” She looked back at Hugh and the smile had returned. “But I found I could enjoy my kids and grandkids again, and slowly life got better.”

“I’m Hugh, by the way.”

She held out her hand. “Ethyl. My father was a chemist and he told me he was drunk when I was conceived. He told odd jokes like that. I think they were jokes. He never let on.”

Now Hugh smiled. “Ethyl, as in ethyl alchohol. It seems your father did have an odd sense of humor. And your mother went along with it.”

“She decided early not to fight that battle. He was a joker, and a drinker, and a few other things. In a way, I’m glad he died when I was in high school. He and my first husband would have been a volatile mix.”

They drifted back to their cars talking about children, grandchildren, and what made life worth the pain and effort. He was surprised when he pulled on the car door and it didn’t open, then he remembered it wasn’t his car. She smiled at him and moved to the driver side.

“I would like, wow, this is so strange for me, I’d like to see you again, if that’s ok with you.” Rarely at a loss for the few words he spoke, he was uncomfortable with trying to say a simple sentence.

There was that big smile again. It brightened her whole face and made her pretty turn into beautiful. “I would enjoy that. Are you inviting me out for dinner? Are you wanting to sit on the balcony at the Lake Forest Lodge tomorrow night for dinner?” The door chirped and she pulled it open.

This time his laugh was heartier. “You don’t like being left with making plans, do you? Ok, Lake Forest Lodge, tomorrow, at 6.”

The next evening, she was there, waiting on the veranda, wearing a fuzzy, tan pullover top with modest scoop and long sleeves. He had black casual pants and a red polo. For years he had worked on keeping his belly flat, but the last half dozen years had taken a toll and he had a noticeable paunch now. It bothered him, but he felt it was still better than what it could have been if he didn’t try at all.

They had a nice table overlooking the lake and made small talk. Neither had made much effort at being social in the past couple of years. She still lived in her house, he had moved to a seniors community, but generally kept to himself. If Ethyl hadn’t made a comment at the cemetery, he would likely have ignored her. Now he tried to come up with some kind of conversation.

“It’s funny, you know. You have woods with some hills and a little stream runs between the hills. Pile up a bunch of dirt and block the water, now you have a lake. bedava bahis Throw up a concrete wall and you can make a bigger lake and call it a resort.”

Ethyl smiled at him. “At this time of year, the sun sets over the long view of the lake. It should be quite beautiful with the wisps of clouds up there.” She pointed at the sky. “So your concrete wall just enhances the beauty nature already provided.”

Hugh looked at her with a mixture of annoyance and softness, a look he hadn’t given a woman in several years. “Don’t take this wrong, but that sounds a lot like what Betty might have said. How can you not be her, but be so much like her?”

She took a deep breath and leaned back, the smile fading for the moment. “Hugh, we were both married a long time, and we have memories good and bad. I won’t take it wrong. Of course you would compare me to your wife. And of course, I am not her. If we’re similar, and you enjoyed time with your wife, than I hope you enjoy this time with me as well.”

He blushed and she noticed, the smile coming back quickly, accompanied by a soft giggle. “Not that kind of time, you silly old fool.” That got him laughing, and when the sun set 20 minutes later he moved his chair close to her and watched it, amazed at the bold orange, pink, and deep reds that reflected off the clouds and the water before settling to a soft darkness. A tear slipped from his eye. When he was younger, nobody would have seen a tear come from him, but now he didn’t care any more. It reminded him of his marriage, how it had been bright, then the brilliant sunset, then the slow fade to darkness.

She put her hand on his. “Hugh, you’re like this lake, deep, moving, reflecting a lot but also absorbing it. Can we keep on seeing each other?”

It was his turn to take a deep breath. He turned his head and said softly, “I think I’d enjoy that very much.”

They did see each other. They would walk in the woods, or he would invite her to have a meal with him in the dining room at the center. One day they were outside and it started raining. They hurried to find cover and he was a little embarrassed to see that her white top was wet and he could see her bra through it. She reminded him it was just a bra and she would dry out eventually.

In late April he picked her up and they returned to the Lake Forest Lodge for dinner and to watch the sunset. Dinner was a 8 this time, since the sun was setting later. It was a warm day with the promise of a warm night, and both wore short sleeves. She wore capris, he wore shorts. They were comfortable with each other now. Dinner was perfect, they shared a hot apple pie dessert, and then the sunset across the lake. It was like a magic show.

“I’m going to tell my kids about you,” Hugh suddenly said. “Maybe I can get permission to bring you to the family picnic on Memorial Day.” He looked at her as if expecting she might be upset.

Instead she smiled, reached across the table, and took his hands. “Hugh, I would love to meet your family, but I need to know a lot more about them. Each week I want to hear about another layer of geneology. We start with your kids next week.”

He smiled. “I can do that. I can set up a slide show on my computer and you can come to my room and, uhm, I mean, I can let you look.” There was a glint in her eyes. He’d seen that glint before, in both Betty and Ethyl.

“In your room? My my my, you do want it all, don’t you?” She laughed before he got too self conscious. “When we finish your family, we start with mine so you’ll be ready by July 4 or Labor Day.”

The rest of the evening was pleasant, though he was afraid he had stepped too far. She seemed to go with things. It did amaze him how similar she was to Betty. He kept reminding himself Batty had not come back in another person. He drove Ethyl home and they talked about their next meeting.

Parking the car on the street, he went around and opened the door for her. It wasn’t really chivalry. He had gotten to where he did that for Betty because it was difficult for her. He walked Ethyl to her door and she thanked him for a wonderful night. The stars and moon were shining in the sky, he thought they reflected from her eyes, and then his lips were on hers.

For a few seconds he was shocked that he had been so forward, kissing without permission. She might reject him. But then he felt her arms around him and he let the kiss continue. When they finally broke, she spoke first.

“Oh my goodness, that felt really good. I haven’t had that in over 10 years. Thank you, Hugh. Thank you so much.”

He was flustered. “Ethyl, I hope, I mean, that was so good, and I sort of, well …”

She smiled and let him go on for a while before putting a finger on his lips. “Hush. You aren’t dead yet. Honestly, that’s one of the best compliments I’ve had in years, but if you hope to use that thing for more then pushing against my belly, well, it’s been a long time and there’s work to do. Now, good night. Dream of me.” They deneme bonus shared another kiss, him trying to pull his hips back, her holding them tightly against her, then he broke off and went home to try to figure out what was happening.

Two weeks later he told her he had permission to bring her to the picnic and they celebrated two months of knowing each other with a trip to a local restaurant for a burger and a beer. It was just a bit more than two months, but both felt it had been so good they needed to celebrate.

As usual now, he had picked her up, and now took her home. She led him by the hand as they went into her house, and he opened his hand to drop hers once inside. She held his hand, tightly, surprising him, and led him to her bedroom. He was rather uncomfortable, knowing this was where she had been with her husband.

“Hugh, I feel like things between us are going really well, and may be headed in a certain direction. I just want to be very honest with you. Don’t run off, please.” Ethyl pulled her top over her head and tossed it onto the bed. He could see that she wore a full bra, as he had noticed she always did, but really, most women her age weren’t wearing sexy lace under their shirts. Then she took off the bra and tossed it onto the bed.

His look of surprise didn’t fade when the bra landed with a soft thud and bounced. He wasn’t looking at the bra. He was looking at her chest. Her beautiful chest with two long, horizontal scars where her breasts should have been. One odd looking nipple. He looked back to her face. “Ethyl, why are you doing this?”

Her eyes stayed on his. “I’m tired of hiding this part of me. If we get intimate, I want you to know this is all I can offer you. I’m too old to be embarrassed by showing skin.”

He nodded a little, then gently held up his hand, one finger extended, and asked, “May I?”

She nodded and he touched her, running his finger lightly along the scar from the right side, then across smooth skin and across the scar on her left. She smiled. “That’s more than Grant touched in 12 years.”

“Then he was foolish,” Hugh responded, a little surprised at his forwardness. “What’s the nipple thing?” His finger kept moving back and forth and he took a small step closer to her.

“They were taken 10 years apart. After the first surgery I got an implant. They tattoo on an areola so it looks more natural. That was back before they tried to save the nipple. So, I’m a girl with a tattoo.” She laughed her light, happy laugh. “It wasn’t comfortable, though. They took a lot of skin in the surgery and what was left had to stretch. I always liked laying on my belly, but that bag of a breast pushed against me and hurt. When I had the second surgery, I decided to just do bra forms and had them take out the implant.” Hugh looked at her, eyebrows up. “Grant had a fit and tried to get me to change my mind, and maybe even get larger breasts put in. I think part of not touching me was payback for my decision.”

He was very close to her now, holding her sides, looking into her eyes. “It wasn’t his decision. Your body, your comfort, your decision.” His lips pressed against hers and she put her arms around him. No clothes went flying. They were 78 and 80, after all, but in time they were on the bed naked.

He kissed his way down, then kissed her womanhood, licking, preparing her as much as pleasing her. He responded when he heard her moans of pleasure. When he thought the time was right, he moved back up, kissing, licking her scars. When his mouth once again met hers she reached down and grabbed his shaft, guiding it to her as she whispered, “Be gentle, it’s been years.”

The beginning was good. He was as gentle as he had ever been, moving steadily, listening for her responses, feeling her hands on his naked body. His body let him down, though, and despite everything they tried, he felt himself fading to softness. Finally, it seemed the more he tried, the less he responded and she kissed her way to his ear before whispering, “Hugh, it’s good. We can stop here.”

Hugh looked into her eyes with his own, wetness showing. He so wanted to give her fulfillment, so wanted to share this intimate time with that most wonderful part of sex, and he couldn’t. Ethyl pulled him down, holding him close as he continued to soften and finally fall free of her. They pulled up the sheets and she turned off the light, closing the door rather than going through the house to turn off lights and ruining what they had. Then they slept.

He woke early, but she was already up and making breakfast. She wore a light robe that came to her knees. He wore only his boxers. On her face was that smile that seemed almost permanent.

“Ethyl, I’m, I don’t know what happened. Suddenly I just wanted …”

She put down her spatula and walked over to him. “Good morning to you, too. You silly old goat, I’m not a teenage girl getting seduced by an older man. If I’d wanted to say no, I would have said it.” She hugged him and looked up for a kiss, which he willingly gave her. “As for this,” she gently grabbed his cock through the cloth, “if it works that’s nice, but your mouth was really good. Just being that close is exciting for me. I’ve missed that for a lot more than three years.”

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