Title:  Parting Rituals
Author:  Kim Q
Length:  Vignette

SubPen Dues:  4/1/10 to 7/1/10

 For my own beloved who is thousands of miles away right now.  Aloha au iaoe nui loa.

The warm California sun streamed through the gently waving palm trees outside the window, casting rippling patterns of light and dark across a well worn duffle bag.  Two graceful hands moved with deliberation across piles of clean crisp khaki and soft white cotton… selected a target and folded it with military precision. 

Those whose lives were ensnared by the siren call of the sea tended to be a rather superstitious folk and the woman packing the duffle was no exception.  Heartfelt prayers of protection and love were gently wrapped around each piece of clothing as they were added to the duffle.  This was her superstition.  Her private ritual…done only while her beloved was occupied with other last minute details.   He had protested that he was more than capable of packing his own bag and had done so for many years before their lives crossed paths.  It did not take him long to discover that some things were non-negotiable.  A mischievous smile danced briefly across her lips.   Such a sensible man.

The pace of packing slowed as she heard the shower cease in the master bathroom.  Deliciously tempting images filled her imagination in perfect accompaniment to the sounds of her love slowly donning his meticulous cloak of dutiful khaki.  Unfortunately she would have to settle for just her imagination as it was almost time for the more formal leave-taking rituals to begin.  Rituals that would be repeated in homes all across the Institute property.  The last minute household details discussed  as they drove down the twisting drive from the cliff-side dwellings of Officers Row to the secure dock where Seaview lay in expectant majesty…the last precious kiss, wordlessly sharing so much of what was in their hearts in one brief tender moment…fixing firmly into memory the feeling of being engulfed in strong arms, held tight against smooth, pressed khaki, breathing deeply one last time the spicy scent of his favorite after shave….the final wave goodbye as her love disappeared into his other Lady’s cool embrace…

As she carefully stowed the last item, a rich, warm voice called her name.  In one final ritual she took a deep breath, carefully locked away her fears, and summoned up her best smile.  Zipping up the bag she turned and headed to where her love waited.  It was time.

Tomorrow she, along with the other wives and sweethearts of N.I.M.R., would return to the comfort of routine, buoyed up by the resilient and supportive sisterhood of those who love men of the sea.   But today…today was for poignant farewells, the occasional tear and the communal prayers of those left behind as they watched the greater part of their hearts slip into the soundless deep.

The Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from another.

© 2010 Kim Q. All Rights Reserved