If I Show You A Flower
"If I take your hand, and lead you away from here," she said, looking up at his face. "If we walk together through shady, sun-dappled places, talking easily of things that matter to us, will you come willingly?"
"I think I will have to," Mike said.
Rosemary nodded once, as a smile flickered for a moment on her lips. She reached out for Mike's hand.
He looked at her as his hand moved, seemingly of its own accord, towards hers. She was smaller than he was; about five foot-eight, he guessed. Her hair was all the colours of autumn leaves, golden where the sun caught it, fading to a deep dark rusty brown in the tangle of thick curls around her neck and shoulders. She wore a short, black velvet jacket over a black scoop-necked T-shirt and an ankle-length black dress with large red roses printed on it. Just visible, at the bottom of her skirt, was a pair of battered, mud-stained motorcycle boots.
Mike put his hand into Rosemary's hand.
She turned to walk beside him. "Those trees over there," she said, nodding towards a small copse, about twenty feet from the riverbank.
Mike could see a few cows in the field beyond the copse. They began to walk towards the trees.
"If I show you a flower...." Rosemary stopped to kneel down beside a flower. "If I show you a flower, petals open, damp, moist, waiting for a kiss," she looked up at Mike, "will you show me a bird? You do understand, don't you? I'm not being too elliptical, am I?"
"No, I do understand. It is just that... just that I feel I don't belong. Not here, not with you… this is not my world."
Rosemary stood up and took both his hands in hers. "It is your world. It is your world just as much as it is mine… just as much as it is anybody's. You just have to be willing to take a few steps in a new direction, that's all."
"But why me?" Mike said. "I don't think I am your type at all. I mean, I only ever wear jeans on weekends and holidays. I live my life in suits and by the clock."
"You're not happy though, are you?"
"I... I don't know. I thought I was."
"Well, come on then," Rosemary said. She turned, taking his hand and led him to the trees.
Rosemary's hair looked dark, almost black, in the shade of the trees. She gently placed the palms of her hands on Mike's cheeks and kissed him.
"Don't you think people should be naked in the countryside?" she said. "I think it seems right, somehow." She sat down with her back against a tree and pulled off her boots. Underneath she was wearing a pair of multi-coloured, knee-length woollen socks. She laughed when she noticed Mike staring at them. "I made them myself, do you like them?"
"Oh, yes, very nice."
"Nice? Can't you think of anything better than that?" She pulled up the socks and smoothed them over her feet. "That's the only trouble with them. They keep falling down." She put her boots back on, and stood up. "Are you ready to carry on?"
Mike nodded uncertainly. He had been almost on the point of taking his shirt off when she spoke of being naked in the countryside. But now Rosemary seemed as though she was about to continue with their walk.
"What's the matter?" Rosemary said, looking up at him. "Oh, did you expect...?"
"Well, no, sort of... yes."
"Oh...." Rosemary said. She looked around, as if seeing the copse for the first time. "Do you want to fuck then?" She stared straight at Mike, raising one eyebrow.
"Well, I...." Mike said. "Oh shit, I don't know what to say. Are you trying to wind me up, confuse me or something?"
"Yes… and no." Rosemary laughed.
She lifted her skirt up slowly. She was not wearing any underwear. Mike tried not to stare at her rust-coloured pubic triangle.
"Well, what do you think?" Rosemary said. "Shall we fuck or not?"
"You're not being very elliptical now, are you?" Mike said, smiling hesitantly.
"No, I don't want us to misunderstand each other again." Rosemary took Mike's hand. She pressed it between her thighs, letting the skirt fall over his arm. "Is that unambiguous enough for you?" She kissed the tip of his nose.
"Yes, I can almost believe you now."
Rosemary took her coat off and dropped it to the ground, giving a slight shiver as Mike's fingers slowly began to move. She removed the black T-shirt and dropped it on the ground. Putting one hand behind Mike's head, she pulled him down towards her breasts. Mike sucked a nipple into his mouth.
"I think we are beginning to understand each other, at last," Rosemary said softly. She began to unfasten the buttons of Mike's shirt. He brought his face up, level with hers and they kissed again.
Rosemary unfastened her skirt. She let it fall around her ankles as Mike took his clothes off. She stepped out of her skirt. "I'm going to leave my boots on. We must have something that is a little perverse, don't you think?"
Mike looked around, through the trees, feeling slightly nervous at being naked out in the open air. He could see no-one, only the cows that ignored what was happening in the copse.
"Lie down, I want to go on top," Rosemary said.
Mike nodded and did as he was asked. Rosemary stood astride him and looked down.
"Are you going to show me a flower I can kiss?" Mike said.
"Yes." Rosemary crouched down above Mike. She smiled down at him as she pressed down on his mouth. "I want to see the bird," she said, giggling, and rose up to turn around before crouching down again.
Some time later, Rosemary lay down beside Mike. He stroked her damp hair from her face.
She looked across at him. "Did you enjoy that?" she said, suddenly lifting herself up. She lay on her side, resting her head on her hand as she looked into his eyes.
"Yes," Mike said feeling as disconcerted by her directness as he had been earlier by her circumlocution.
"Well, how do you feel about it? Surprised? Disgusted? Grateful? What?"
"I... I don't know. Should I feel anything?"
"I should bloody well hope so!"
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean...."
"That is just your trouble. You don't know what you feel, or what you mean when you try to say what you feel."
"It's just that I'm not sure of what you want, what you expect from me. I'm sorry."
"You could stop fucking apologising all the time." Rosemary picked up her coat. She pulled a packet of cigarettes and a lighter from the pocket. She lit a cigarette and lay back down on her side, supporting her head with one hand as she smoked. She looked down at Mike's face. Putting the cigarette in her mouth and screwing up one eye in the smoke, she smiled at him and winked. She sighed and lay down on her back again.
A few seconds later, she suddenly sat up and grabbed at his arm, twisting it so that she could see the face of his watch. "Oh shit, shit. Look at the time. We have to get back to the campus. I'm supposed to be giving a seminar on The Female as a Muse."
"I know. You're supposed to be giving it to my group."
Rosemary lit another cigarette as she pulled her clothes, on and then stood impatiently watching Mike as he tied his shoelaces. "Come on, let's go."
They walked back rapidly across the field, towards the university campus. He eyed the cows nervously as they passed the herd, but the cows seemed indifferent to anything that was not grass.
Mike looked from the cows across to Rosemary as she walked beside him. "Why? Why me? I don't understand."
She shrugged. "Because you're different. You are not one of the typical Middle-class culture junkies I usually encounter at these Summer Schools. I get so pissed off with them and their earnestness." She stopped walking and turned to face him. "Last night, in the bar when you told me why you came here… the thing about finding that Yeats poem. How surprised you were by how profoundly it affected you. Your desire to know and understand more, which - eventually - bought you to this course. It really got to me. It reminded me so much of when I was younger, before it all became routine, a chore. Sometimes, I wish I could see it all again with innocent eyes, but still knowing what I know."
Mike felt himself redden slightly as he thought of the previous night. "I was a bit pissed last night. I came out with a whole load of rubbish."
"Oh, don't be silly. You said it and you meant it, every word of it. You weren't that pissed, anyway. I would say we fucked a flame into being last night."
"What? There you go again." Mike stopped this time. "Sometimes I think you are using me, playing some sort of game with me. Laughing at me."
"No, no. It was just a quotation that's all, from Lady Chatterley's Lover actually."
"You see, you know all this, and I don't. I feel excluded. Like I said, we are from different worlds."
They had arrived back at the campus. Mike glanced up at the buildings in front of them: the usual modern concrete and glass towers that could be anything from a prison to a hospital. It was not what he had expected. He sat down on a low wall in front of the library, taking her hand and pulling her down to sit by him.
"Literature is just a mode of discourse though - like fucking really." Rosemary laughed. "I'm sure that if you talked to me about computers I'd be just as baffled." She stood up, taking his arm once more to look at his watch. "I've got to fetch my notes for the seminar. I'll see you there, in five minutes."
"But there is a difference, isn't there, between literature and ...and all the other stuff?" Mike seemed eager for Rosemary to answer his question. "Isn't there?"
Rosemary turned, a few yards down the path. "What do you think?" She laughed, before turning back and walking on.
[This, and other stories can also be found here as well]