Of Time: Chapter 1
June 30, 1972, Washington, DC
The sun was shining and he was on top of the world. Everything, absolutely everything was going his way. The moment Paul woke up he knew that June 30, 1972, was a day of historical significance.
Paul felt the excitement inside him before he even opened his eyes. Something momentous was going to happen today; what was it? The clock read 6:59am. He watched the numbers flip over to 7:00am and the radio went on [“goo-ood morning, it’s WDDC playing your favorite new songs of the seventies...”]. That was a first – he never woke up on time! In fact, he’d arrived late to every morning class his entire five years of college. He rolled out of bed and sank his feet into the avocado green, shag rug, scrunching it with his toes as he tried to figure out what was going on -- he had bees in his brain. Maybe he’d had too much coffee last night, staying up to write a paper?
Wait a minute -- all that was behind him. He’d already graduated. So what was today about? Oh, yeah. Paul stood and stretched his 6’4” frame, brushing the ceiling with his fingers. He had his first job interview -- with Zylcon. That must be it. It just must be nerves. Paul lumbered to the bathroom to shave and shower.
Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, Paul examined his carefully cultivated walrus mustache and mutton chop sideburns. Would they be too much for Mr. Zylcon? He'd gotten his hair trimmed the other day so it now slightly brushed his collar instead of grazing his shoulders. As he struggled to get a comb through the disorderly mop, he hoped it was short enough. He ran his hands through his thick, brown hair. It felt weird for it to be so short. But, hey, he was no longer a student. Today he would join the work force.
Fortunately, his mom had bought him a new three-piece suit and crisp, white shirt to wear to the interview. His only had one tie, a bright, red paisley -- was it too wild for a conservative, gray suit? Paul couldn’t do anything about it now. He had to find his shoes.
Paul sifted through the dirty clothes; take out cartons and newspapers that littered his cramped studio apartment. The place hadn’t been picked up since he’d broken off with his first real girlfriend, back in April. (Okay, okay, so she was the one who said, “I think we’re getting too serious, I want to date other people.” But he was the one who said, “Does this mean we’re breaking up?”) He found his good shoes right where he’d left them a month ago -- under his graduation gown. He slipped them on and fumbled with the laces. What did it matter what his place looked like? No woman was going to see it any time soon. Paul walked out the apartment door to catch his bus without a backward glance.
He made it to Washington Circle just in time to get on the "K" Street bus. Hanging onto an overhead railing, Paul felt one of those minor tinges of regret that he hadn’t gone to law school like his father had wanted. His sister, finishing her first year at Harvard Law, tooled around Cambridge in a bright red MG, courtesy of their old man. He shrugged it off. It didn’t matter that he didn’t have a car. When he got wheels, they’d be 100% his and not some payoff from Dad.
At Connecticut Avenue, Paul hopped off the bus and strolled two blocks to the office building that housed Zylcon Design, Inc. The air-conditioned lobby brought a welcome relief from the sweltering summer heat. He glanced at his watch. Another miracle -- he was five minutes early! Stepping on the elevator, he remembered the summers he spent interning at Uncle Stephen’s firm in San Francisco. He had watched the applicants come and go from his uncle’s office. Some had looked pale faced and anxious. Others had seemed cool, calm and collected. It hadn’t taken Paul long to spot which applicants would be hired and which ones he’d never see again. Glancing at the elevator's mirrored walls, Paul fought the queasiness in his stomach and did his best to look like he had his act together. The doors opened and he passed a guy his age getting off as he got on. The guy had sunken eyes and looked ashen. Far out, thought Paul, the job’s still open.
Emile Zylcon liked to interview the applicants himself, just like Uncle Stephen. Paul sat across from the elderly gentleman, trying to look relaxed and at ease.
“First graduating class of the University of Maryland’s School of Architecture ... tenth in your class...” Zylcon said devoid of expression. Paul wondered if being tenth was a good thing or a bad thing. For Paul it meant he’d busted his butt studying harder during the last year than he had in his entire life.
“So you tutored Gregor’s students, I see.” The fellow looked up from Paul’s resume and peered at him through his spectacles.
“Professor Danoff? Yes, yes I did, sir.” Paul’s tongue was sand paper.
“You must be a favorite of his, then. It is an honor he does not bestow upon many.” Mr. Zylcon shuffled through Paul’s papers and found a reference letter written by Professor Danoff. “Ahh.” A smile creased the wrinkled face.
Paul inhaled deeply. His eyes focused on the wall behind Mr. Zylcon to a sepia photograph on the wall. Three college boys in suits and ties grinned broadly at the camera. One looked like a less wrinkled Emile Zylcon. The other, if you replaced the slicked black hair with a salt and pepper crew cut, looked a whole lot like Gregor Danoff. The third was tall with unruly, thick dark hair and looked familiar but he couldn’t think why. Paul looked back to find Zylcon gazing at him intently.
“So you interned at Marbanks’ Architects in San Francisco, I see. A rival firm.” Mr. Zylcon murmured.
Paul felt a lead weight in the pit of his stomach. He hadn’t known that his uncle and Zylcon were competitors. After all, Marbanks Architects was exclusively a West Coast firm. He began to worry that he wasn’t going to get the job.
Mr. Zylcon’s eyebrows shot up, as he looked at the title page of Paul’s resume, and compared it to the section describing his internship. “Your name is Marbanks, also. Any relation?”
With a sinking heart, Paul replied, “Yes. Stephen Marbanks is my uncle.”
He was stunned to see Zylcon’s lips part to reveal thin, yellow teeth. “YOU are Stephen Marbanks’ nephew? Does your uncle know you’re applying here?”
Paul shook his head. “No, sir. He doesn’t.” Paul didn’t mention that his uncle had offered him a job in San Francisco, which he hadn’t followed up on. The West Coast seemed too far away from home and California in particular was a little too weird for Paul’s tastes. Not to mention the fact his father would probably have disowned him completely. Charles Marbanks had not talked to his younger brother in decades.
Zylcon threw his head back and roared with laughter. “I’d like to see the look on that old coot’s face when he finds out you’ve applied to work for us!”
A cold sweat began to creep up Paul’s neck. He began to worry that he was going to get the job. He respected and cared for his uncle, it hadn’t occurred to him that he would offend his Uncle Stephen by applying somewhere else.
Zylcon quizzed Paul on several rudimentary aspects of planning and design, and asked him questions about how things were done in San Francisco. Having no idea where the interview was headed, Paul answered each inquiry as clearly and honestly as he could. Was Mr. Zylcon just being polite? Would his resume go in the trash the moment he walked out the door?
Then Mr. Zylcon stood up, so Paul did, too. They faced each other in silence for a few moments, Zylcon looking Paul up and down with an unreadable expression on his face. Then he reached out and shook Paul’s hand. For a moment, Paul thought he was going to say, ‘Thank you for your time, we’ll be in touch.’
“Congratulations, Mr. Marbanks. You have the position. Take your papers down to personnel and they’ll tell you how to proceed.”
Paul could hardly believe his ears! He began pumping Mr. Zylcon’s arm up and down. “Thank you, Mr. Zylcon, you won’t regret this, I promise!” he babbled. The old man slipped his arm around Paul’s shoulders and gently guided him to the door.
“I’m sure I won’t, my boy. I’m sure I won’t,” he chuckled. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to make a call to California before the end of their business day.”
Paul floated down the hallway to Personnel. They briefed him on his new job and told him to show up there at 8:00a.m. Monday morning. He practically danced to the elevators. His first interview and he aced it! Down in the lobby, he leaned against the cool marble walls, enjoying the air conditioning a few more moments before facing the muggy midday sun. Today had to be the best day of his entire life. Everything had flowed perfectly from the moment he’d woken up. From the alarm clock to the suit to the interview: what could happen to beat that?
A flash of gold hair appeared in the crowd outside the glass doors of the building. Paul found himself drawn outside. All previous events faded from his mind as he found himself following her. The intense sunlight made it hard to see. He only noticed her long golden mane, flowing and shimmering down her back. Moving closer he began to note other details. She was fairly tall and easy to see in the crowd of people. He decided she must be even more attractive from the front, for she turned a few heads as she walked. Getting closer, Paul worried about his own appearance. A quick glance in the reflection of a store window confirmed that his unruly hair had stayed put, and his gray trousers weren't too wrinkled yet. He quickly straightened his tie, and looked up to see her just disappear around a building. Paul raced around the corner to catch up and slammed directly into her, nearly knocking her down.
“Ooof!” Paul sputtered, slightly winded by the collision. ‘Oh, god,' he thought as panic spread through him. He caught her elbow to keep her from falling.
Feeling like a complete idiot, Paul blurted, “I’m so sorry, excuse me!”
The woman turned and a wave of shock crossed her face as she looked at Paul. Her crystal blue eyes widened as they stared at him. Her mouth parted as if to say something, but no words came out. Paul suddenly thought she knew him, but he couldn’t recall ever meeting her before. He’d never seen anyone like her in his entire life. Her hair glistened in the sunlight like golden threads. Her skin was so pale he could see light blue veins in the arm he held. The few seconds they stared at each other in silence seemed like an eternity.
“I’m -- I’m sorry for running into you like that I, er, um.” Paul’s mind went blank. He couldn’t think of anything else to say. He thrust his hand out to her and said, “Paul. Paul Marbanks. That’s my name. I’m Paul.”
She seemed older than he, but it was hard to tell. Heck, he was only 23 -- everybody was older than him. She wore a lime green pantsuit with a long zipper up the front. Her eyes scrutinized everything about him, and he had an eerie feeling she'd seen him before.
He thought of the few girls he'd dated in college and high school, which didn't take long. None of them looked like her. He then thought of the multitude of girls who'd turned him down for dates in the past, no resemblance there, either. Even if she'd changed her hair color (could a shade of gold like hers be real?) he would have remembered her. It was more than the hair. She felt different, except he wasn't touching her. Standing this close to her the energy felt ... different.
The shock dissolved and the woman gave him a brilliant smile. “Paul,” she said, taking his hand. “My name is Moira.” Her voice was low and melodious, and his heart contracted when she said his name.
As she shook his hand, Paul didn't want to let go. They stood there, Paul holding her hand and straining to think of something else to say. She continued to smile, waiting for him to talk. No expression of surprise on her face, no starting the conversation herself, just ... an air of amused patience.
"I know it's early, but would you like to have some lunch?" Paul blurted, and started to shake her hand again, just to have some reason to keep holding it. "I know a little diner over on 'I' street...”
She laughed a musical, lilting laugh that mingled with the sunshine and precisely matched how he'd been feeling today. "I'd love to ... go with the flow.” As they turned and walked toward "I" street she said, “Tell me something, Paul."
"What?" he asked.
"Do you go about bumping into women for lunch dates often? Or do you have other techniques?" Her hand slid into the crook of his arm as they waited for the traffic light to change.
It was his turn to laugh. And it surprised him, low and rumbling in his chest. He suddenly didn't feel like some wet-behind-the-ears kid fresh out of college. He felt like a man, wise yet ageless. Feeling light headed, he inhaled deeply.
Huddled in a tiny booth over soup and sandwiches, he wondered if there really was such a thing as love at first sight. He didn't know this woman, and yet she was so relaxed and friendly with him, it was as if he'd been with her forever. He found himself telling her his entire life story: his parents in Connecticut, his sister in Boston, the dogs they had when he was a child, and his allergy to rabbits. She listened, smiled, and took him in with those deep blue eyes. Then lunch ended, and he realized he knew nothing about her.
"Wait a minute!" he said, as they stood up. "Don't you want some coffee?" Then he wondered if she had any more time to spend with him -- they'd been together at least an hour. If she worked nearby she'd have to get back to her office ... maybe she didn't work, maybe she was a grad student?
"I'd love some, but not here." She leaned forward and whispered, "The coffee's terrible here."
He felt an overwhelming urge to kiss her on the spot, but she moved away he could act on it.
"There's a coffee place across the street. They serve this Italian stuff -- it's called espresso. You'll love it," she chuckled, and took his arm to steer him there.
He did love it. Yet once again, he found himself doing all the talking. He still didn't know anything about her when the waiters shooed them out at 3 o'clock when they closed. Four hours. He'd been with her four hours. How could he make it last the rest of the day? What could he do to keep her with him longer?
She put her hand directly on his chest, and he the panic drained out of him. He felt it run down his legs like an electrical current, and out his feet into the ground. He suddenly became heavier, like the earth’s gravity had increased.
As if reading his thoughts, she said, "I have time, today. I'm between assignments." A statement of fact? An invitation? An answer to his prayers!
He sighed and relaxed for the first time since he saw her. "Then let me take you to one of the most beautiful places in DC." They hopped on the bus to Georgetown, where they got off at “M” Street, and walked up the tree-lined, narrow streets and tiny colonial row houses towards Dumbarton Oaks. Paul couldn’t resist stopping every few yards to point out interesting details on buildings they passed.
“I’m sorry, I must sound like a history professor,” he said when he realized what he’d been doing.
“Don’t apologize,” Moira squeezed his arm, “it’s interesting. You’re an architect; you can’t help but notice the beauty in these structures. Although I’d imagine most architects nowadays are more into modern glass and steel constructions.”
Paul stared at her. No one in his family except his uncle had ever understood his love of buildings. Past girlfriends had been bored senseless whenever he talked to them about his consuming passion.
“Well, I think modern design has its place, especially for downtown offices. But what really irks me is seeing a beautiful old mansion dwarfed by some newly built monstrosity. There has to be some way to bridge the gap between historic and present day architecture. I think it would be interesting to create new buildings that can blend with nearby older buildings, so that it’s congruent with the overall view of the place.” He searched her face for any hint that she was just humoring him.
Moira’s voice was soft and sincere, “What a wonderful idea. To build with the atmosphere of the existing area in mind, to keep with the original intent and feel of a place -- not just plunk a new concrete box down in the middle of it.”
That did it. Paul knew he was in love with this woman.
Moira looked at him thoughtfully. “You’re thinking about creating buildings in harmony with the environment.”
The top of Paul’s head started tingling. “What an interesting way to put it,” he said, a million ideas rushing into his mind. “You could stretch that to mean designing buildings with materials that recycle--” Feeling extremely dizzy, Paul abruptly stopped. His vision went blurry and he thought he might faint.
Moira put her cool hands on his face. Paul’s sight returned to normal and he regained his balance.
“I’m sorry, it must be the heat...” Paul said, and frowned. “What were we talking about?”
“Buildings,” Moira said absently, looking around. “Where are we going?”
“Oh, just up here,” Paul pointed up the block to the red brick walls of Dumbarton Oaks.
By the time they walked into the gardens, the heat and humidity forced Paul to remove his jacket, which he slung over his shoulder. He unbuttoned his collar and pulled his tie loose. He wanted to unbutton his vest as well, but thought it would be too much like undressing in front of Moira. He pulled a cotton handkerchief from his back pocket and blotted his damp forehead with it. Moira seemed unaffected by the temperature.
They found relief in the cool shade of majestic oak and chestnut trees. Only the vaguest of traffic sounds reminded them they were in the city and not out in Virginia somewhere. Standing there, so close to her, Paul’s mind went blank. His warm brown eyes stared into Moira’s deep blue pools. Crickets chirruped unseen in the grass. An insect droned around their heads and then faded away. Moira smiled at him. Without thinking, he leaned over and kissed her. Her lips were soft and cool and slightly salty. And, after the slightest hesitation, they melted into his. Joy surged through Paul’s body and he tentatively reached out to embrace her. Moira stepped forward into his arms and their bodies magnetically bonded together. Now what? Paul wondered; this was a public place, he couldn't go any further than just kissing her. He could have stayed with her like that forever, if it hadn't been for the cacophony of giggles that erupted behind them. Looking up, they saw a gaggle of young school girls getting an enormous kick out of watching them.
Moira pulled back from him, out of his embrace. Paul panicked with the thought that she might fade into the bushes and disappear.
“No, wait,” he said, grabbing her hand, “let’s go somewhere more private, where we can ... talk,” although talking was the last thing on his mind.
She looked at the girls, and then at him, and nodded. “Okay.”
They walked out of the gardens and to the street, a strained silence between them. Out of nowhere, a taxi appeared. Paul hailed it, and they got in.
“Where to?” asked the cabby with an enormous Afro.
Paul’s throat went dry, but the words came out anyway “26th and H St., NW”
The energy in the cab was electric, as if the slightest movement would cause the vehicle to explode. Paul turned to Moira, who seemed to be sitting serenely looking out the window.
“I hope this is okay, going back to my place?” He asked, his heart beating so hard he thought it would jump out of his throat. My god, what was he doing?
Moira’s gaze shifted from the passing scenery towards him. Unfathomable blue eyes seemed to be reading everything about him, yet betraying none of her thoughts.
Paul looked down at his hands. He was about to say ‘I’m sorry, maybe this is a mistake...’ when Moira reached out and slipped her hand into his, and squeezed. Paul looked up to see her smiling at him, a mischievous twinkle in her eye. Paul leaned over and kissed her again. This time there she didn't hesitate, instead Paul sensed an opening from her, and he dove right in.
"Hey, hey man, not in my cab! Gonna have ta throw a bucket of water on y'all!" The cabby's head bobbed up and down in the front seat, silhouetted against the bright daylight on the windshield. He pulled up to the front of Paul’s apartment building. "That'll be $4.95."
Paul thrust a $20 through the window. "Keep the change, man," he said as he ushered Moira out of the cab.
"Thanky very much, man." The cab driver replied, chuckling. "Happy honeymoon," he hollered as he took off into the stream of traffic in Washington Circle.
“So this is where you live?” Moira said, peering up at the building.
“Um, yes.” Paul fumbled in his pocket for his keys. At that moment someone came out of the building, so he caught the door before it closed and they went in to the elevators.
They got to the elevators just before the doors closed. There was an elderly lady already inside, her arms filled with shopping bags. She smiled sweetly at them. Paul gave her a strained grin in return. Moira beamed from her eyes. At the third floor, Paul stepped out, keys in hand.
“The place is a mess, I haven’t had company in a while...” he started to say as they entered his apartment, when he felt a cool hand on his arm.
“It’s okay, Paul.” Moira whispered in his ear.
Desire overwhelmed reason, and Paul swiftly turned around and pulled her to him. Again she melted into his embrace as if she had always lived there. He kissed her as if it were the last breath he would ever take, and she received him in his entirety.
"Over here." He nodded his head toward the main room. The sofa bed was still out from the night before. A fleeting thought went through his head about what his tiny, disheveled place looked like, but she focused on only him and didn't seem to notice. They stood by the sofa bed long enough for him to drop his trousers, and for her to unzip the rest of her pantsuit. With a start, he noticed as it dropped to the floor, that she wore pantyhose but no underwear. If he wasn't aroused enough already, now he was ready to explode. She stepped out of her clothes and moved toward him, pressing her breasts into his chest.
"Mm." She rubbed her nipples over his curly, dark chest hair. Her hands slid around his back and into the elastic of his shorts. In one swift move they were on the floor around his ankles. Now, only the pantyhose between him and her, she rubbed her belly against him. His brain had turned to pudding and he put his hands on her shoulders to steady him.
"Let's lie down," he said huskily, and they fell in slow motion onto the bed.
Her legs wrapped around his body before he knew it. She was hot, and wet. He couldn't stop himself from plunging into her. "Oooooo" she cooed, deep within her throat. Paul opened his eyes to see Moira staring at him. It unnerved him -- she seemed to see directly into his soul. Such love poured out of her eyes, Paul almost cried. Moira lifted her head up and softly kissed his chin. Then a slight movement from the lower part of her reminded him what he was doing.
"Oh g-good golly, Miss Molly," he said, convulsing ... not so soon, not so fast! He could hear her laughing, but it sounded like miles away as his orgasm seemed to last forever. He moved and out and then he felt her grip on him tighten, her back arch, and she joined him in his climax. As he slowed, she forcefully thrust against him a little while longer, as she came. "Oh, oh, Pa-au-ul" she moaned softly in his ear. He lay there unable to move, his face pressed into her hair and neck, as he felt her finish
"Mm I too heaby for you?" he said, muffled by her hair, and started to shift off her.
"No, no don't move yet," she pleaded. "I like your weight on me." She kissed his neck. "I like to feel you in me." They lay quietly until Paul needed to move.
"Sorry," he said, as he slowly rolled off of her. He wanted to get a better view.
What a perfect body, he thought. I could be a leg man or a chest man and have everything I want. Her legs were long and lean, her breasts full and cushiony. Her shiny, golden hair cascaded off her shoulders in long tendrils that nearly reached her slender waist. Like most women he knew, she didn't shave. The hair under her arms was the same color as the neat little "V" lower down -- a lighter shade of gold (so the hair color must be real). She had the palest skin -- translucent, and not a mark anywhere, except tiny silver lines beneath her navel on the curve of her stomach. He had this urge to reach out and trace his fingers over them, but held back, not certain how to proceed.
Then he noticed her looking him over, too. Paul felt both self-conscious, and then grateful for all the sports he'd participated in while at school. He was in good shape, muscular but not bulky, with dark hair spread across his chest and covering his arms and legs. She surprised him by casually reaching out and running her fingers along his arm, chest and abdomen. Not as someone exploring another for the first time, more like someone rediscovering familiar territory. Her hands traveled up to his face, her fingers outlining the distinct line of his jaw, the strong chin, even the walrus mustache he had proudly cultivated during his college days. She ran her fingers through his thick curls, then looked directly into his eyes and chuckled.
"What is it?" he asked, slightly taken aback; she was so hard to figure out!
“‘Good golly, Miss Molly?'" she said, a melodious chortle rising in her long, swan-like throat. “‘Good golly?’” She rolled on her back, her laughter making her breasts jiggle.
"Well, it's hard to think at a time like that," he sputtered, embarrassed and titillated by her at the same time. He wasn't very good at pillow talk. He wasn't sure whether they should get up and get dressed now, or if they should order a pizza, or how long she planned to stay here with him. He didn't want to say anything that would spoil this moment, because he wanted it to last as long as possible.
"You'll think of something better to say next time." She grinned.
Paul's heart leapt. She'd said, "Next time." Hot dog! Maybe she would spend the night! Maybe even the weekend! This was the greatest day of his entire life.
They did order pizza, as it turned out, and lived off of it and corn flakes with milk (the only things he had to eat in his kitchenette) for the next two days. Unlike the few other girls who’d ever visited his apartment, she didn't have any comments about his cramped living space or lack of furniture. He had the sofa bed and a dresser with a TV on it, not even a kitchen table or chairs. A "Summer of Love" poster hung on one wall, but that was it. Also, unlike the few other girls he’d ever been with (make that two), she had an appetite for lovemaking he could not have imagined in his wildest dreams. Sunday morning she slid into the shower behind him and started doing something standing up he didn't think possible to perform even lying down. His sophomore-year roommate dropped out to go to India, wrote him about a book, the Kama Sutra that told about stuff like this in it. He thought he'd fall over and drown. Needless to say, by Sunday afternoon, he wasn't sure he would ever be able to walk again.
Moira stood naked at the window, peering through the drapes to the clear, sunny day outside. She turned toward Paul, flopped face up on the bed.
"You need some fresh air. Let's go for a walk," she said, not a suggestion but a command. She retrieved her pantsuit, unworn since Friday, put it on, minus the pantyhose, and turned to him. "Well?"
Paul looked up at her and, spurred by the fear she would leave without him, forced himself up and over to the dresser. He pulled out a pair of denim bell-bottoms and a tie-dye tee shirt.
"Okay, okay, let me find my shoes," he said, looking under the bed. "Where do you want to go?"
"It's a nice day," she said, "let's go down to the river.”
They went down to Virginia Avenue and crossed over to the Watergate Buildings. The scorching heat rose from the pavement rippling the view ahead of them. Paul noticed the Howard Johnson’s across the street and longed to stop in for a milkshake and grilled cheese sandwich, but continued to walk beside Moira down to Rock Creek Parkway instead. For the first time in three days he found himself having to make conversation again. She, of course, walked in blissful silence. Was she always like this? Did she always expect him to start the conversation?
He took a deep breath. Heart pounding, he asked her: "Do you believe in love at first sight?"
She chuckled and looked at him, her azure eyes piercing directly into him. "Are you sure you don't mean lust at first sight?" She asked him.
His gaze dropped to his shoes. God, he felt like a fool. He didn't know. Was this love? All he knew is he had never felt like this before. He wanted her with every fiber of his being. He wanted her never to leave his side. He felt lightheaded just being with her, as if she exuded an aura of helium. Was this lust? He decided to sidestep the subject.
"Do you have to go tomorrow?" he asked, wondering where she was going.
She slowed her footsteps and slipped her arm into his. "Well, actually, I have to go tonight," she said softly.
"Tonight!" he exclaimed, panic rising in him. "How soon tonight? I mean, where are you going anyway, why are you going?" As he asked, he realized they were the first questions he'd asked about her since he met her.
She patted his arm. "I have to go ... overseas, and I have to leave tonight."
"Why? Is it for your work, what kind of work do you do?" He couldn't believe it, but he seriously felt like crying. Man, he had it bad for her.
"I ... sort of work for ... an organization ... like the Red Cross." She groped for words as if trying to translate from another language. "I get sent on assignments ... I'm not medical personnel but more ... support. Anyway, I was between assignments when I met you. I wasn't sure even what I was doing in DC, of all places..." Her voice faded to a whisper, "maybe I was just here to meet you," she said, almost to herself.
"Such cute sideburns," she murmured, as her hand caressed his cheek. Then she held his face in her hands and looked him directly in the eye. "Listen, I have to go, but don't worry: we will meet again, okay? It'll be okay, you'll be fine, you'll see me again," she said, soothingly as a mother to a small child.
He threw his arms around her and held her tightly to him. "Yeah, I understand. It's kind of ... a cosmic thing. Cosmic timing. I'll see you again, when you get back?" Cosmic timing, he sounded like his sophomore roommate. She wrapped her arms around him; he again sensed tension draining from him, down his legs and into the ground. She had this, this effect on him. How did she do that? He felt relaxed in her embrace, as if time did not exist, or moved around him.
She pressed her face into his shoulder, but he could feel her smothering her laughter. Finally she looked up at him. "It is a cosmic thing, more than you'll ever know." Then she stood on her tiptoes and gave him a warm, lingering kiss. He started to kiss her back but she pulled away. "Actually, I should go now; I have to get ready."
"NOW?" he cried, feeling the wind knocked out of him. "You said this evening!" He felt her starting to step away from him, and he pulled her to him, pressing his body hard into hers. "Please! Wait! Not right now ... come back to my apartment. One last time..." he almost sobbed into her ear.
She held him silently for a long time, but he sensed her fighting tears herself. She stepped back, and shrugged her shoulders. "Oh, heck," she said. "Why not one more time. One for the road." With that they raced back to his place.
Paul made love with Moira slowly and tenderly, touching and exploring her, wanting to memorize every part of her, wanting it to last for as long as he could make it. At last, he fell asleep in her arms, his head resting on her soft, white breasts, oblivious to the tears streaming down her cheeks. Her face turned into the pillow to muffle her sobs. Finally, when his breathing had deepened into a low, rumbling snore, she kissed him gently on the cheek and let him go.
The next morning, sunlight streaming into his apartment woke him up. The bed was cold beside him, with no trace of her anywhere. She had vanished. He suddenly wondered if she had ever existed. Perhaps he could call the Red Cross about her, but no. It wasn't the Red Cross she'd said she worked for, but an organization like the Red Cross. Did she live in the DC area? It didn't sound like it, or else he could look her up in the phone book. And the realization hit him ...he didn't even know her last name.
************************************ MOIRA’S TRANSMISSION **********
ASSIGNMENT 276: WASHINGTON DC, 1972
I can see the changes in motion from my presence at this time. I correctly limited my duration. I wish to thank you for your gift of an additional three days. Beloved, is my main lesson for this lifetime unconditional love? Is this why I have been given two Human Beings to know in this manner? I no longer doubt my responses or reactions. Thank you for your patience, this has been a long learning experience!
You are most correct and most welcome. Understand that in True Reality there is no time or space, therefore it has not taken you any length of time at all to learn your lessons. Go forward with our blessings.