Those Words


     Tom liked to sleep with the lights at 5% - just enough so
that he wouldn't have to stumble to the bathroom or wake up in
the dark.  Even if I could have slept without my eyeshades, there
was no way I'd find rest that night.  So, I used the dim light to
watch my lover sleep.  I used it to watch my soon-to-be ex-lover
sleep.
     Tom was always beautiful, but he was unearthly when he was
asleep.  All of the hardness disappeared when he was asleep.  At
times he seemed younger than I was.  At times he seemed the young
and innocent kid he thought I was.  So, I lay there watching my
best friend sleep and wondered how I could stand to hurt him as
much as I did.  I'd heard of hearts breaking because of love gone
wrong.  My heart was breaking because of a love I never had.
     We'd become lovers right after the Akritarian prison.  He'd
been my lifeline during that horrible time, and I'd tried to kill
him.  He forgave me for that.  He knew what I had been through -
he felt the clamp close down on his own brain, on his own soul. 
We shared a dinner of steak and pudding, which progressed to a
night of touching and holding.
     I remembered that first night in Tom's cabin.  We'd both
been with men before.  Strike that.  We'd both been with men
willingly before.  Tom told me that there had been a time he'd
been raped, but he didn't tell me when.  I thought it had been in
prison.  A man as beautiful as Tom would be a target.  But he
said it wasn't.  I was glad I wasn't the first to be gentle with
him.
     It was a wonderful, perfect night.  We kissed for what
seemed like hours after dinner and then explored each other's
bodies as if we'd never seen each other before.  In a way, we
hadn't.  I kissed every inch of that graceful, slender body as he
writhed in my arms.  He felt right in my arms, but not the way
Libby did.  I put Libby out of my mind.  If I saw her again, it
would be with her husband and children.  Maybe even grand-
children.
     I tasted him that night as he filled my mouth, filled it
with silk and velvet and the hardness of his desire.  He stroked
my hair, telling me how soft it was as I grasped his hips and
then he couldn't speak for a long time.
     And then I filled him, and again we fit as I stared into his
blue, blue eyes and kissed his lips and let him taste himself, as
we moved together as if we were dancing, as if it were
choreographed.  He cried out again, but I was silent.  I'm always
silent at the end.  It's as if my vocal cords freeze.  Instead, I
cried in his arms.  He thought it was because it was too intense
after the prison.  I knew better.  I knew this night would come,
even as I prayed it wouldn't.  I buried my face in his chest and
slept in his arms.
     We couldn't hide the relationship, so we didn't try.  The
whole ship knew by lunchtime. I was surprised at how many people
approved - and at how many people thought it was about time. 
There had even been a betting pool.  The captain won.
     There were others, though.  People who still didn't trust
Tom, people who told him that if he hurt me, he'd pay, or who
told me that I'd better not get too involved.  I just smiled. 
I'm good at hiding things like that.  Everyone thought that the
affair would last forever or would end with Tom dumping me.  How
could I disappoint all our friends?  I hoped that it wouldn't be
necessary.  I hoped that it would be able to last forever.  Tom
was my best friend and I did love him.
     It was fun for a long time.  Tom was an incredible lover,
and I wasn't so bad, either.  Sometimes we tried out innovations,
sometimes we had