Parking the truck on the side of the road, we took an almost indiscernible trail, crawling under fallen mesquite, working our way down to the river. There it was, beneath the giant cottonwoods, a sweet little haven set close to the water in bright green grass, soothing to listen to the trickle of water, a luminous ripple over stone and cress. We sat in the warmth of the afternoon, and watched the hummingbirds dart like living needles, gathering nectar. I felt a similar hum in my own veins, as if my heart was singing on its own propeller—I was just so glad to be there with him, to hold his hand, to feel the dry, rough texture of his skin. What a pleasure it was, sitting in this little homemade gazebo with the beautiful birds all supping on sweetness, to smell the odor of the air—like beeswax candles.
But then Sam said, "I'd like to marry you here." I don't know why that should have broken the spell, other than it brought up everything in my life that burdened me. I wanted to live in the bliss of the moment, and marriage meant dwelling on the future and the past. All I wanted to do was lie down with him here, on the hard dirt floor of this makeshift gazebo and to marry ourselves, but of course that didn't happen.
Laura Chester's most recent books include Lupus Novice, Toward Self Healing, an account of her struggle and breakthrough with the auto-immune disease S.L.E. (Station Hill Press); a short story collection, Bitches Ride Alone (Black Sparrow Press); and a novel, The Story of the Lake (Faber & Faber). She has edited several anthologies: Deep Down, Sensual Writing by Women; Cradle & All, Women Writers on Pregnancy & Birth, both from Faber & Faber; and The Unmade Bed, New Sensual Writing on Married Love (Harper-Collins). Holy Personal, her latest project, on small private places of worship, is forthcoming in 2000.