Free Souls, Chapter 33

Free Souls

by KAH

(Produced ca. 1983, revised 2013 & 2014, all rights reserved)

Chapter 33

“Amazing,” said Sandy aloud as she stared out unseeing towards the falling snow. “Amazing how I could take so little and magically transform it into so much. Almost as amazing as how all my objections to his religious views magically just flew out the window.”

But on that warm May Saturday six years before, the idea that Werner might ask her to marry him and that she would probably accept had seized her, transfixed her, consumed her. “And I used it to justify almost everything that happened after that.”

She remembered how she sat down on the futon-sofa, trying it out. “It’s very comfortable,” she assured him.

He remained standing, his tie loose, his tuxedo jacket hooked over his finger. “It is not the only surprise,” he said with a smile. “Go into the kitchen, and look in the refrigerator.”

Inside it was a large cardboard box marked with the logo of a local catering firm. She pulled it out and placed it on the counter. “Oh, look!” she exclaimed. “Roast Cornish game hens! And lobster tails! And carrots and celery– oh, what pretty shapes! And toast rounds and oh, what’s this?” She looked at him with wonder. “Caviar? Oh, Werner, I’ve always wanted to try caviar! This is wonderful!” She threw her arms around him and gave him a kiss.

“Es gibt mehr, meine Liebling. Keep looking,” he said as he reached into the refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of white wine.

There was more. Side dishes and condiments of various kinds. Petits fours and strawberries dipped in chocolate. Cheese and funny little cracker sticks to go with it. All that and plates, cutlery, glasses, napkins, and a paper tablecloth.

He opened the wine, poured them each a glass, and put hers in her hand. “I thought I did not want to go out to a restaurant tonight,” he said with a note of apology, “with all the people and the noise. I hoped you would not want that, either? So here is a picnic for us. See, the box has a handle, to carry it. Das wetter, it is nice, and in the park, there is a spot, very private, where we can sit and view the sunset over the river. You will like that, ich denke?”

“Oh, Werner! What a thoughtful idea! Yes, I know the place. It will be lovely.”

“Then we will come back here and have music and enjoy ourselves. But first I must take a shower and change. I do not smell so sweet to you now, nichts wahr?”

She began to protest, if only for the sake of form, then stopped. “Yes, go get comfortable. Go.”

“But first, Liebling, we will have a toast.”

“Yes, a toast.”

“An Dich, meine schöne Zandra.”

“To you, my wonderful, talented Werner.”

He drained his glass. The wine was both refreshing and mellow, and Sandy drank much more of hers more quickly than she usually would.

About ten minutes later he emerged from the bathroom, rubbing his hair dry with a towel. He had changed into a pair of tan chinos, a white cotton shirt with the tail loose, and a pair of Birkenstocks. The top three or four buttons of the shirt he had left undone, and through the gap she could see his smooth light-brown chest. Overwhelmed suddenly she was, overwhelmed with the desire to slip her hand into that shirt, to lay it against that chest, to feel his–

“What am I thinking?” she rebuked herself. It must be the wine. Already, her first glass was empty. And, she recalled, she had had little or nothing to eat since breakfast mid-morning.

“Werner, do you have your comb? I’ll comb your hair out for you.”

He handed it to her. She sat him down in one of the chairs in the tiny dinette off the kitchen and worked the tangles out of his long hair, crooning a little song as she did. She gloried in the intimacy of the act, in how it spoke of the rights and privileges she had with this amazing man, in what it implied concerning her position with him.

“There!” she said, coming around to look him in the face. “You’ll do.”

“Ja, the poor public will not be afraid of a wild man in the park.” He collected the wine, both the capped bottle he’d opened before and a new one, and put them in a bag. “Here, you will carry that, bitte. And I will take the box mit der Nahrung.”

He was already near the front door when she stopped him, saying, “Werner, I was thinking . . . ”

“Ja?”

“Yes. You’re tired. It’s not that I don’t want to go to the park and watch the sunset over the river and all, but it isn’t fair to you. You’ve given so much already today. Why don’t we stay and have our picnic right here?”

He turned toward her with a smile of beaming wonder. “You are sure? You are willing to miss the beauty of nature this night?”

“We can do it another time. I know we don’t have much time left together, but we’ll make time for it. Tonight, let’s just stay in.”

He put down the box containing the picnic supper. “You will gave that up for me?’

“Yes. And well, for me, too,” she confessed. “I’ve walked far enough today in these sandals, and my feet are getting sore.”

Marvin would have said, “Then you were stupid to wear them.” But Werner in a gentle voice commanded her, “Setze Dich auf dem Sofa.” She did, and he drew off her shoes and carefully laid them aside. Then he got on his knees and took up her feet, first one, then the other, and reverently kissed them through the sheer stockings.

At any other time she would have been appalled, even disgusted, at such an act. But on this evening with the golden sun streaming through the blinds, it filled her with such mingled tenderness and pleasure that she felt it was the most fitting and beautiful thing he could have done.

Nevertheless . . . “Oh, Werner, sweetheart, you don’t have to do that!” He was yet holding her right foot cradled in his two hands. “My feet will be fine, now my shoes are off. You go wash, and I’ll get the food ready, all right?”

He disappeared down the corridor towards the bathroom. When he returned, he was carrying a white top sheet.

“From the room of Andreas,” he chuckled. “Do not worry– it is clean.” He folded it in quarters then spread it out in the middle of the living room floor. “Sieh! We have the grass– ” he indicated the green shag carpet– “und wir haben the picnic blanket.”

“If you’re sure he won’t mind . . . ”

“Andreas will not mind. It is not his month for changing his sheets.”

Sandy laughed in spite of herself. As she set out the food Werner raised the blinds to their full height. “If we cannot go to the sunset, the sunset shall come to us!”

“Everything’s ready. Sit over there, Werner, so I can look at you . . . ”

She waited while he put on a record, the Tafelmusik by Georg Philipp Telemann. Then he took his place, refilled her glass and his, and said, “Once more, a toast.”

“What shall we toast?”

“To Architecture and architects!” he proposed.

“To Music and all musicians– especially you!” she returned.

“To us, meine Zandra. Let us drink– to us.”

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