Beryl Eichenberger

Parting

The naked prawns lay in a bath of creamy melted butter, redolent of garlic, lemon and herbs. The rising mists of the rich sauce teased her senses and the fleshy pink of the prawns resembled fat pinkies elegantly curled in anticipation.

“This will revive the spirits,” she thought as she moved towards the table.

He was toying with his glass of wine, silently contemplating the careful details of the table.

To the strains of a violin concerto she moved slowly in rhythm with the music and as she laid the dish before him she gently nudged him.

“Eat – things aren’t that bad,” she laughed –“enjoy this whilst you can – in a few days you’ll be in the desert and this may be the last really good meal you have for a long time.”

He looked up at her – taking in her smiling face and her relaxed demeanour. To others’ eyes this would be a romantic dinner, yet here they were, two old friends who had never been lovers, celebrating a parting  – a completion of this cycle of friendship. Theirs was an idyllic relationship – no physical entanglement to confuse the senses but a complete understanding of each other’s needs – friends who had a history of more than 30 years. Across continents, between marriages, as children grew up, uncomplicated their lives had melded and parted like the waves of the many oceans that had separated them over the years.

She raised the juicy pinkness to her mouth, crunching softly, allowing the butter to spill down her chin, lying in glistening jewels against her skin. He reached across to wipe them away and his gentle finger lingered, tracing the butter jewels and moving up to her cheek to lie against the curve of her cheekbone. She raised her hand to cover his in a womblike embrace releasing him from the guilt of parting.

 “We’ll always be friends,” he countered to her unspoken comment, “you are my anchor – always here, smiling and welcoming. I will be back.”

She touched his arm and in that moment felt the current of sensuality flow between them. A ripple of warmth spread through her body.

A tightness in her throat allowed her only to nod as she felt his fingers move slowly back down her face to cup her chin.

In tune, they knew that they would be together long after the last lover had closed the door, and even as the tides of parting rushed towards her the moment was complete.

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