Confessions of a Mistress (Part IV):


by Gwen Masters

Some say the Pacific has no memory. That it flows in with the tide and takes away all you leave there, coming back fresh and new, untethered by worry or care. You can cast out to sea all your troubles and they never return. The deep blue waters suck it into themselves and leave not a trace.

And on those white beaches you can reinvent yourself. You can go back to the time before regrets took hold and start as a fresh soul. You can leave with no memory.

But here in the Delta, we have the Mississippi. And the Mississippi River has nothing but memory. She remembers all those years of cutting away at the earth and pulling down the north to the south. She remembers all the wagons filled with dreamers that crossed her precarious way. She remembers a time before the railroad cut across her belly and before the highways cut across her breast. She remembers a time when she was not shored up and falsely believed to be conquered. She remembers everything.

Once in her past a brown-eyed man stood on a dam over her waters. He held a guitar the color of the sweetest tobacco her fields could produce. He sat on that railing and took in her inspiration and her color, her sound and her depth, and created something of beauty. Her soul became his. Two years later he came back to her overlook to show his little son the majesty of a River rising. Two years after that he watched helplessly while that damned River took away whole livelihoods piece by piece, ripping away at the farmland she had so graciously offered for a time. And just a year ago that same man stood on that railing and considered giving his life to her. He considered diving into the swirling welcome that would take him from this world and into the next. The soul of the River didn't feel like his soul any longer.

And just yesterday, he stood on that same overlook. He leaned over the same railing. But this time, I was there with him, smiling as I held his hand. And the consideration of giving up to the hands of time was the furthest thing from his mind.

"My whole life has been lived on this River," he said, to me or to the River, I didn't know which. It didn't matter. I watched the breeze lift his dark hair and push it back from his temple in gentle waves. He closed his eyes to it. I kept my eyes on him. Under us the River rolled.

We had spent the day wandering the banks of his River, exploring the dips and curves of her long form as she made her lazy way south. Time stood still here and that was good, for time was what we wanted plenty of. His hand in mine was warm and possessive. The thin grate walkway under us rumbled at times when a lock upriver opened and sent a surge of threatening floodwaters down the length of her majesty.

Spring was here.

The old Mustang waited on the wide and low bank beneath the levee. The waters rushed not two feet from the new tires. The expanse of water made me nervous. As if reading my mind, he said, "I'm here. I won't let anything happen to you." I believed him. My trust in him extended to knowing that if the waters did sweep me away, he would not rest until he found me. Even if that meant dredging the ocean waters one inch at a time.

"You're so good to me," I murmured against his jaw. He bent his head to mine and smiled.

"You deserve a man who is good to you," he said. His lips on my forehead made me cuddle closer under his strong arm.

Old sycamore and birch, maple and oak lined the passage of the River. Some roots showed where the majesty of her waters and the defiance of the planted hardwood met. The ground was uneven from years of the battle. We carefully stepped through the eruptions of the earth, occasionally stepping just the wrong way in order to have an excuse to fall into each other. We giggled like children as the way became very narrow and the waters of the mighty Mississippi lapped at our ankles. The bridge was just ahead.

Cars hummed above the bridge, making their way across the expanse to Arkansas. I stood under the bridge and stared up at them, wondering if they realized the magnitude of that mile they were driving. The dividing line of west and east: the River that so many travelers two centuries ago thought impossible to cross was now spanned by rubber and metal in less than a minute. The irony between the possible and impossible is very, very thin.

He was watching me. He knew what I was thinking. "It's amazing what we take for granted," he agreed, letting his eyes drift upward to follow a blue van that bumped just slightly as it crossed the threshold of the bridge.

Then his arms were around my waist and his breath came warm against my neck. I laughed and sighed as he nibbled on my collarbone. "I don't take you for granted, do I?"


"Damn. I was hoping you would say yes, so I would have some hefty making up to do."

Our private laughter was lost in the sound of the water and the taste of a kiss. He tasted like oranges from our lunch. After a moment he began to taste like the apple I had enjoyed. The strength of his body and the sound of the River were the only things tethering me to earth as his tongue played with mine, invited me to join him in the sampling of oranges and apples and playful sensuality.

Above us cars rushed past, in a hurry to cross boundaries, to get on with the unceasing motion of life. Here under the bridge, we simply took the time to let time stand still. We had nowhere to be. We had no one who was missing either of us. We had only the approaching sunset, that orb of fire crossing the Mississippi before falling to darkness behind the stands of pine and maple. As he pushed me back against that old sycamore tree, the River was suddenly a trusted friend, providing the harmony by which our breath kept pace.

The sycamore was flanked by peeling birch and the sturdiest of maples. It was hard and welcoming against my back. The ground beneath it was strangely flat when held in the stead of her neighbors. It seemed she had grown here and kept her roots in place so that one day, a man and a woman could take passionate refuge under her leaves. His lips trailed down my throat. My hands buried themselves in his hair. I gave my weight up to the sturdy sycamore. I fell into the embrace of nature as if into the embrace of my lover.

His hand slid up my side and I arched into him and then back, escaping the thrill that ran down my side and settled in my thighs. He snickered against my throat and did it again. I twisted slightly away from the tickling of his hands, giggling just as he was. My hand slid under his shirt.

"Hmmm…I'm not ticklish," he pointed out.

I bit down lightly on his shoulder. "Who says I was trying to tickle you?" I whispered, letting my hands trail down his chest.

He sucked in a breath and the little belly that he always fought to lose. My fingertips crept under his belt and pulled him closer to me with one solid jerk. He let out his breath in a rush, his lips coming down over mine. I braced myself against the trunk of the sycamore as his hips thrust slowly into me, once, then again. And again, starting a rhythm that had nothing to do with the River, the bridge or the travelers passing by, and everything to do with a man and a woman isolated from the world.

"I want you," he gasped when he could tear his lips away from the sweetness of mine.

"I want you, too," I answered.

"Now, right here, right now." His hands were shaking as began to unbutton my jeans. "Now, I don't want to wait. I need you. Now."

I kissed him and let his hands have their way. The sycamore stood strong. Birds whistled and chirped from around and above us. A little rivulet of water trickled somewhere behind us. My moan of anticipation mingled with the rush of the river. My hands linked around his shoulders while I reveled in the sound of a zipper opening, of his low groan of need, of the rush of air that teased my smooth legs. I didn't want to wait, either.

One smooth motion and he thrust into me, his hands pulling my head back so that he could watch my eyes. The color of the river within me turned darker as he slid deeper. My lip was caught between my teeth as I closed my eyes and moaned. He moved slowly enough to make me want more yet fast enough to satisfy. His hands clenched in my hair. He whispered in the deep tones of a man possessed by pleasure.

"Did I ever tell you that you feel incredible?" He nibbled at my earlobe. His hands drifted from my hair to my hips, lifting me just enough. My legs twined around his waist. He pressed deeper. We groaned in unison.

"Hmmm…we feel incredible together."

"Yes. Yes. We do." He braced himself on the uneven ground and thrust harder, driving the point home in more ways than one.

"More," I gasped, and he obliged, burying his face into my neck. My arms tightened around his shoulders. My hands settled in his hair and I gently pulled. Then harder. The dam within him broke forth and he drove into me with a gradual quickness that made me cry out, the sound muffled against his shoulder.

His body began to tremble, and so did mine. The raging fire within me was doing nothing but growing. Cars on the bridge whipped past with the speed of life, and here against this tree I simply let time take its course, let the feeling build within me until I was like the River threatening to spill over her banks.

"Let me feel it," he whispered in my ear and thrust one last time.

I gasped at the wave that crashed over me, stealing my breath and making me cry out in abandon. The sound of my passion sent birds fluttering out of the treetops. His hands tightened on my hips as my body clenched around him, greedy for more, calling forth the very essence of his soul. His cry followed soon after mine, a deep and desperate sound. We both trembled with the quaking that filled his being.

For long moments we did not move, frozen in time and reveling in the sensation of our bodies joined in the most delightful way known to man. My feet found the ground. His hand slowly spanned my throat, feeling the throb of life within me, and the sweetly tortured breaths that filled my lungs. His lips found mine. I sampled the sweetness of his kiss for a long moment before he began to laugh. The sound hummed against my lips and filled me with a joy that made me laugh, too.

"I wonder how many people saw us?"

I giggled. "I wonder how many people enjoyed seeing us?"

"Well, I know that I enjoyed being half of us."

I smiled, a slow smile that was reflected in his eyes.

"I am enjoying you," he whispered.

Moments later we were walking hand in hand down the shore of the mighty River, stopping occasionally to look back at the bridge. I glanced back once at the tree. No one would ever know we had been there. But I would remember, and so would he, and so would that old tree. And of course, so would the River, she who remembers everything, history without beginning or end.

"I am enjoying you too," I told him. His eyes met mine and we both smiled.

All Contents © 2024