“Please, Henry...do it again,” she whimpered pathetically.
Henry Tarilus looked away from the television in the living room, which was currently broadcasting an ad for Pepsi (the “Next Generation”), and glanced at his brother’s wife, whose teary eyes still wept from his passing over a year ago. Eyes filled with pain and suffering. Eyes that pleaded with him now. He sighed loudly, shifting in the recliner’s plush seat so he could get a better look at Sarah, her hands folding and refolding themselves into little balls of nervous energy. “Sarah...” he started.
“You will, won’t you?” Sarah asked, her blue eyes sparkling with emotional pain. “Please, you know how much I like it...how it makes me feel so much closer to him, as if he’s actually still here.”
Henry sighed again. “I don’t really feel comfortable doing it over and over. I told you last time...”
“My William...” she sobbed, lowering her chin to her chest, letting her blonde curls dangle in front of her distraught, but still very pretty, features. “He was my husband, I loved him so much. I miss him so much. And you won’t even do this one thing for me, not this one thing. To make me feel better.” Sarah wept uncontrollably.
Henry desperately tried to keep the anger out of his voice. “I know you loved him, I loved him too, damn it. He was my brother, after all. I miss him just as much as you do.”
Sarah lifted her head to look at him, dabbing at her cheeks with long, delicate fingers. “I don’t want you to think that that’s the only reason I ever invite you over. But when you do it...when you talk just like William...I feel like he’s right here in the room with me. I can’t tell you how much better that makes me feel, Henry.”
“All right, Sarah,” Henry stated, rising up from the chair and turning the television off. He sat down next to his brother’s wife, grasping her cold hands in both of his warm ones, their knees just about touching. “Close your eyes,” he whispered to her, while he cleared his throat and prepared himself to do her bidding.
It had actually started out as a sort of joke, nearly eight months after her beloved William had been put into the ground. Henry had been trying to cheer her up, just as he was now, just as he had been trying to do since the accident that claimed his brother’s and her husband’s life. He had been looking around in the refrigerator, poking among the shelves to try to find something to eat, and suddenly said over his shoulder, “Damn thing is as barren as the Serengeti,” just as his brother would have said it, if he were looking for something to feast on, rather than being feasted on by the maggots and earthworms that no doubt had given him company in his grave. Henry had been amazed at how much it had sounded like William’s voice, but Sarah was downright incredulous with the tone of her former life partner.
“Oh my God,” she had stated. “You sound exactly like William.”
Henry had blushed, turning away from the refrigerator and joining her at the kitchen table, being there for her when the tears would undoubtedly start to fall. But they didn’t, not this time. She smiled lovingly, brushing his hand with her long nails. “Please, Henry...do it again,” she said, closing her eyes, imagining her brother-in-law was now her dead husband, returned from that mystical world to have a conversation with her in this one. Ever since then, it had become a near ritual any time Henry stopped over to visit Sarah and see how she was doing, or if she needed something, other than the comfort of another human being.
It wasn’t very hard for Henry to imitate his brother’s voice, he had certainly heard it enough from all the years he had spent side-by-side with William, as a young boy, then a teenager, and finally as a young man. They had been close in age, only two years apart, and it grieved Henry tremendously to know that next month would have been his fortieth birthday. A light rolling of the r’s...the slight stutter of an occasional t...the orchestrated hum and resonance of the vowels and consonants with his brother’s voice inflection, forming sounds that made words, words that made sentences. By now, Henry had it down packed. Anybody who knew better would have sworn it was William himself speaking, and not his younger brother flawlessly copying his mannerisms of language.
Henry swallowed the lump in his throat, looking at Sarah, admiring her beauty as she sat there, waiting for him to begin, her eyes closed tightly. Her skin was so soft and pleasurable to the touch, her hair the color of spun gold. His brother had been a very lucky man to claim her as his wife, and he was sure, even right to the end, as the pickup plowed through the guard rail and plummeted a hundred feet down through empty space to crash against the wooded hillside below, erupting in a fireball of flame, that Sarah had been in his thoughts, and his last prayers. Henry tried to push the image out of his mind and began to speak. “Hello, Sarah,” he said, in his brother’s voice.
A small smile crept on her perfect lips. A single tear, glistening in the shafts of sunlight filtering through the living room blinds, coursed down her pale cheek to light in the dimple of her mouth. “Hi, William,” she breathed.
“I’ve been watching you, you know,” William said, while his brother studied his beautiful ex-wife. “And I’m very proud of you, for the way you’ve been handling things, for the way you’ve been so very strong.”
“Really, William?” Sarah purred more than asked.
“Really, sweetheart,” William affirmed. Sweetheart? But Sarah didn’t object, didn’t flinch a muscle. Didn’t even open her eyes. Only the smile grew wider, her angelic face becoming more complacent.
“Thank you, dear,” she said, holding onto her brother-in-law’s hands more tightly. Did he feel her tugging them toward her as well? No, just my imagination, Henry thought. Henry wanted to get this over with as soon as possible; it was not something he had ever really liked to do, but this time, somehow, it disturbed him even more. Somehow, it felt more real, even to him.
“Sarah, I want you to listen to me now,” William intoned through his brother’s mouth, commanding the words in a forceful, yet appeasing, tone.
“Okay, William.” Sarah sniffled back a tear.
Henry (or was it indeed William, this time? Who really knew anymore?) continued. “I know this is going to be very difficult for you to hear, and even more difficult to do, but I want you to move on. You have grieved for me, I have felt your pain, sensed it even here, where I’m waiting for you, my dearest.” Henry never knew he could be so poetic, goes to show you, huh? “But the time has come to carry on, to enjoy your life while you still can, and know that I will be with you, always, in memory, and in spirit.”
“But, William...” Sarah started to say.
“No buts,” William stopped her. “I want you to be happy, Sarah, because you deserve it and...and...”
“And what?” Sarah asked, her eyelids twitching.
“And because I love you,” Henry stated, in his own voice. He leaned forward to brush his lips against Sarah’s, urged on by an unstoppable impulse to kiss her. When she kissed him back, opening her mouth to feel the exquisite delight of his smooth tongue tangling against her own, Henry knew that it was for him, and not his brother. Sarah had opened her eyes, staring into Henry’s longingly.
Their passion ignited like an out of control blaze, fed by hot breathless fusion of quivering lips and wildly groping hands. Sarah scratched her fingernails along Henry’s sport shirt, down his back, as she moved closer into his arms. Henry caressed the skin of her bare knees, gliding underneath her skirt to tenderly rub the inside of her steaming thighs. She moaned in pleasure, then, and both of them knew what was going to happen next.
Sarah led him up the stairs to the bedroom, where she hurriedly shut the door and threw herself down on the bed. Henry jumped on top of her, working her blouse loose so he could fondle her breasts under the cups of her bra. She wrapped her legs around his buttocks, pulling him toward her, feeling his erection brush against the satin lining of her underwear. It drove Henry mad with desire.
They stripped each other of their clothes, merging as one as Henry pushed up inside her. He rocked back and forth, slowly at first, feeling her tighten against his penis, wanting more, so much more. Henry growled like an animal, fueled by her insatiable whimpering. He pushed in further, faster, sweat beading on his forehead, running down between his eyes, dangling on his nose for a moment, before splashing down on Sarah’s heaving chest. Her spindly and flexible legs wrapped around his shaking body with more force, inching upward to the small of his back, forming a pincher grip that squeezed mercifully, but not too tight so as to impede his thrusting motion.
They were panting so much, Sarah releasing moan after continuous moan of ecstasy as the bed springs creaked loudly, that neither one of them heard the front door unlock and open, or the plodded thudding of heavy steps as they trekked up the stairs. When the bedroom door swung noiselessly inward, Sarah’s eyes looked over Henry’s bobbing shoulders, opening wide in panicky terror. When she screamed, Henry prided himself on what he thought was a violent orgasm.