Friday, May 22, 2015


I have returned my dear. Can you feel my presence? The seagulls hover over the deck; their laughter mocking, yet I have returned.  I enter the ship's lobby. You were not allowed here. I see the same carpet. The same shops. You were not allowed here, but I bought you many beautiful things. The same crystal sets, the same brands of cigar. And, what's that? I can certainly smell it: the same Acqua di Parma. You loved my gifts. I loved your gifts. Although the finely dressed children of dukes and lords and celebrities who run up and down the stairs are not the same; their joy is. Can you feel my presence? As I feel yours? I have returned my love.

As you can see, I brought with me only one luggage case, for I do not intend to stay for long. I have come to claim your hand; to take you back with me. I won't need to stay for long. I reserved this room where we first made love, and it is exactly how I imagined when I find you and have you all over again. This bed was amazing. And where are my linens? Ah, here. White linens like the ones you had brought when I called the red light; they are not stacked on my dresser as you had done, but set on the luggage rack. The satin ribbon that binds them is tied in a loose bow, just the same. Do you remember after our lovemaking, when I tied the ribbon round your lovely, bright neck? Your salt; your neck a sea for my lips to drink. 

I remember the bathroom door jammed. Yes, it does still. I kneel beside the tub and dip my hands into the cold basin once and then many times filled with the heat of you. I pass by the vanity; the blond, tri-mirrored vanity where you sat and smiled as I gazed into each mirror, desiring your visage for eternity. I take off my clothes --too many years have I longed for our meeting, my love; and I apologize for my wickedness and want -- so I then smooth over the bed and stretch my body across the down and feel your naked legs under my increasing quake. You are here with me after all that has happened; after all the time that has passed. I have returned my Dear - my Mary Queen, as I teased to no end - for you, for our final voyage. I have agonized by this wait for so very long, abiding the years in London with devoted misery and worthless privilege, for this return to us. Have you been waiting me, too?

I lie naked here, but only for a while. I have some more waiting to do, but only until evening falls – twelve hours out to sea – an anniversary of sorts of that last night we made love with only skin between us. And so I wait for the afternoon to burn off, and I cannot help but wonder. Do you know how that evening changed everything for us?

I had to wait near the pool; thought there was hope. And when you failed to show, I then reasoned perhaps your shift may not had freed you to grant my wish to meet there. I left when the laughter dimmed and the water stilled to glass. I dined alone –persistently alone –in the First class grill in the hope that I would see you walk by the entrances and glance in as you had done that first night long ago. As I waited for that divine moment, I avoided conversing to old acquaintances, declined many offered drinks, and I went dead with the fear that each demur caused me to miss your knowing eyes. When only the clink of hanging glasses kept me from drowning in a murk of grief, I then took to the reflections of the nightfall windows and wished myself a vagabond despite this bow tie and suit. I teethed on my cigar, unlit and toxic, as I strolled the promenades for hours wishing you and your kind could step foot there. When the spray began to sting, I returned to our cabin and laid on this very bed and toiled those wicked hours staring into this hideous crypt…startling at every turning of a knob from the hall… imagining at my sliding under the door and searching the scent of your hair and skin of the fine Milan cologne I had begged you to cling to your marvelous body. My Mary Queen. By midnight, I admit to you now, I realized why you failed to come meet me by the pool. Your words, confirmed.

Your threat to rescind our considerate and fond moments, depart our many deep kisses, erase our breathless, all-consuming lovemaking, kill our romance among the whitecaps of this jealous sea; it was all too real, substantiating the death of us. And for why? Because of my status? No. You had admitted having affairs with higher men than me. Because of your fear living in London, with me? No. You had before the night stewardship position a collector’s worth of occupations in East End. Ah, but I know. I think I had always known. Because of your Thomas?

I went through great lengths in search of you that night when the cabins were sound to a sleep. I shadowed many corners and hid in several closets and covets, slamming into walls by tremendous swells: all to reach that terrible hum and shudder of the Third class quarters. I then found your Thomas leaving the scullery, with great shock at my presence and of my privilege near such areas. He confirmed, reluctantly, that you were, indeed, in your cabin. Imagine my anger when he warned me back to the upper deck with an authority disguising, thinly, his jealousy; his face a permanent mask of sweat and steam and the hatred of me. I hope you see, now, since I knew where you were hiding; you understand how I could not let your friend bequeath such evidence.

I had little will to be held back by your Thomas. You must understand, my Dear, how I could not let him stop me. I made clear my threats to have his position terminated with such demeanor. I made sure he begged for my forgiveness; even drove him to the desperation of offering himself to me. I made sure to coax him to the deck where he thought we would commit our crime; where instead the wind ferociously beat him against the ship; where the salt spray cut into him like a hundred wicked blades into his many wounds.

Bloodied and nauseous, I returned to your quarters with doubts of our love. I admit to you now, at that very moment, I thought to leave you there, sound asleep, for good. Yet, I found myself hovering about outside your door and imagining what lay on the other side. I imagined you alone and needing my company; needing my presence as I needed my Mary Queen. I waited nearly an hour for the communal to go empty and until I was sure the cabins were still. I made a final crossing of the hall and fell into your unlocked door. I made too much noise; though I did find you sleeping. Asleep, though you a man of the night? Asleep, and in your bunk, and asleep next to Thomas's bunk now empty? Asleep, and so magnificent your face; your long, long dark eyelashes clasped in a spreading line of perfect rays, as if drawn by a thin, sharp line of charcoal. Asleep, and as pure as the last time we kissed; the last time you wanted my lips against yours?

Your chest, shirtless and hard; hard as if missing a heart and flat as its breathless sex.

I thought to turn myself in at Southampton. I worried how such a scandal would suffer us, how shame would plague our families, if not for our sinful love, then for our cruelly disparate repute. I learned to regret nothing and to savor the romance, for what is more forgiving, my Dear (if you allow me this question)? The thief who stole your last breath, or the castes that kept us apart?

I leave our room now, and I know you are here with me: Tyler and the Mary Queen, together and ever free. We leave for the deck, and in the bow of the hull where I apologize for the many years that have become the past. Lonely, I have been, without you. The cabins in front of us come into view and gently sweep towards us; I pull you closer to my side as you trail your fingers against the veneer and you are entranced in the wonderment, of the endless possibilities, of the fairy-tale life soon together. I draw your head against my shoulder, and we enter the emptied lobby. We walk up the stairs, now hand in hand, and we want whoever passes us to witness and to know of our no longer secret love. As we enter the promenade, I ask you to confirm that you belong here with me. You nod your lovely head yes, and you declare with a shiny grin that I am your vagabond; and you are my queen. We lean against the ship’s rail, and I pull you in closer as a sailor walks by with his gal. I bend down and smell cologne de Milan on the back of your neck, under your black curls of hair that fall from your hat and dance across the bridge of my nose. The couple is near; they are kissing at the fore. I lift your chin and offer the same. One last kiss; the deepest kiss of all, and we fall into ourselves as we touch the sea.

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