Child’s Play

by Catherine M. Wilson

This was a mistake. She lies asleep in my arms, as trusting as a child. She sought this. She began it. She held out her hand to me and I took it without thinking. She took me with her before I could defend myself against her. Those tiny hands, like a child’s hands opening its father’s stronger one to find the sweet inside, opened me with their sweetness, not their strength.

But this is not child’s play. This is hearts that break and bodies that yield to desires of which they were innocent until tonight. I have taken pleasure from many, but I have taken love from no one. I will not start now. Her love will never find a home in me. Her love will find a home where safety is, and comfort. I am not safe. I have no comfort to give her.

This was a mistake, a mistake I knew I was ready to make. I knew better than to start it, but I never thought that she would, and I was unprepared to stop her. She knows my weaknesses and her own strengths. She had seduced me before I knew that I had given in. She had taken me before she ever touched me, and I never saw it coming. She had all the arts of experience and all the artlessness of innocence.

But she plays a dangerous game. She thinks she knows me. She does not. She thinks she loves me. She cannot. I will not be loved. My heart will never yield to love, not because it is strong, but because it is not strong enough.

How can I take pleasure from her but not her love. How can I give pleasure to her but not my heart. She is too young not to be wholehearted, but my heart never will be whole again. Her body fits well against me. Our bodies fit so well. But our hearts will never fit. Hers is young and full of hope, and mine has set hope aside.

My body is peaceful now. The restlessness that troubled me is gone. She smiles in her sleep, happy in her conquest. But tears always follow love. She snuggles against me. Warm and soft, she smells of violets. My body relaxes against her, against my will.

The anger that has troubled me is gone. I have been angry all my life. Where is my anger now. Her arm lies across me. It moves upon my breast. Where is the anger I should feel. I should curse the gods for this. To give me what I wanted now that I cannot accept it. They have made my life into a comedy for their amusement. But still I am not angry.

Her body moves against me. She murmurs in her sleep words I cannot understand. Is it my name I hear? My heart beats faster. She reaches out and finds my breast. She seduces me in her sleep. How can I untangle myself from her embrace.

I lay her gently down upon the bed. I take her hand from around my neck and place it on her breast. I gaze upon her face. I know what I must do. I must leave her here before she throws away her childhood and her innocence and wastes her youthful heart on me. Her breath is sweet. She smells of sleep. The blush upon her cheek reminds me of the blush of love upon her body as I loved her.

My hand still covers hers. Her fingers intertwine with mine and blue eyes open and immobilize me. It is my name I hear. It never sounded sweeter. She pulls me to her, not with her hands or with her body, but with her eyes and with her heart. She pulls me into her embrace. Her kisses stop my thoughts. What was I about to do. I don’t remember. It was a mistake to stop and look at her, and now it is too late. I will never untangle my heart from hers. It would be the death of both our hearts.

This is not child’s play. This is hearts that break. To break her heart would break my own. I will not. This is not child’s play. This is bodies that yield. My body has been innocent of love. Hers has not. My heart has been innocent of love. Hers has not. I have played at pleasure as children play with toys, then throw them down. But this is not child’s play.