“Kindness” is a love story between a younger man and an older woman. It’s a story about Mark’s innocence confronting Bridget’s disillusionment. It’s a story about suppressing feelings and intimacy for fear of getting hurt…again. It’s a story about trust, and more importantly, the lack of it and the need to restore it.
The previous segment set up the question: Will Mark and Bridget hook up? We are about to find out.
HOW TO MAKE LOVE WHEN YOUR DOG DIES – AT 5 AM [Part 6 of 12]
Like mannequins posed in Macy’s windows, Mark and Bridget stand face to face in a townhouse living room. There’s no script for what is about to transpire, nor do they know the lines and the direction of this scene. They DO know, they are King and Queen on a chess board, moved by the hand of God. This knowing however, is all subconscious. They’re too whipped to think more than one play ahead. Consequently, Bridget starts with a tried and true advance: king’s pawn to e4, as in, “Hungry? Want something to drink?”
“No. Where can I…” yawning, “…sleep?”
“You can sleep with me.”
“It’s not about sex.”
“Val was my dearest friend. He’s gone now. I don’t want to sleep alone.”
Mark’s eyes drop to Bijou at their feet, waiting for her hoist into arms, and maybe a trip into the bed. “What about–”
“Val was different. He knew me. Like a friend.”
Mark nods, and keeps nodding. And yawning.
“You’ve never had a pet?”
“Goldfish and a turtle.”
“Then you understand.”
“I was four.”
Bridget approaches her guest room door. It’s shut. She gently knocks.
Inside, between sheets, Mark turns to face the door. “Yeah?”
She gently swings it open. She’s barefooted, wearing a silky pink robe. “Is it cool enough in here?”
“The bathroom’s just down the hall.”
“Yeah. I saw it.”
Moments pass. Her intention and timing won’t line up. And Mark waits, yawning again. His eyes dart to the clock on the nightstand. “Can I come in?” she eventually asks.
He nods, as he usually does. She saunters into his space and sits on the edge of the bed, her back to him, staring at the floor. He waits for more words. There are none.
“You’re really bummed,” he says, staring at her curtain of red-orange hair cascading to her shoulders.
Now she nods, followed by more silence. His hands stretches to her back, and slowly move up under her hair. She lifts her head, relaxing and letting him work the pain from her neck, moaning relief. “Thank you. You’re so good at this.”
“Cynthia Prayner showed me how.”
“Cynthia Prayner deserves an award.” Her shoulders release, and exhaling despair, her body sheds the gloom. “I haven’t been this depressed since my father left.”
“Roque’s parents got divorced too. It’s tough.”
“No divorce. He just left. I was eight.” She sighs. “I never saw him again.”
“Wow. What’d your mom do?”
“She kept working, for food and the mortgage. A few years later she started dating. Men came and went. Mostly they went. And after six years of that, Mom remarried, to the biggest jerk on the planet.” Her head drops again, along with her story. Mark’s hands returns to his lap.
“Any brothers or sisters?” he asks.
Again, a hole in their conversation. He refills the hush. “Did your new dad, did he, like, come on to you?”
“Worse…” she breathes out. “He totally ignored me. I was made to feel worthless. And always in the way. My mother did nothing.”
“I couldn’t wait to leave.”
Mark nods, and glances left and right. She ended up here, and she made herself a nice place to live. This room, it’s peaceful, and soothing, with yellow-beige walls, carved wood furniture, landscape prints on the walls and white curtains. This could be Mark’s sanctuary. It should be. It’s a chamber of caring; of feeling safe and sheltered. And so, wading now into Bridget’s despair, within this expanse of warmth, Mark tells the untellable. “When I was twelve, my dad died.”
She turns to him. “Were you close to him?”
“Yeah. He was the greatest. And after he passed, my mom had a nervous breakdown. She couldn’t do anything. We had a lady that shopped for food and drove me to school.”
“Was it just you?
He nods. “I always wanted a brother.”
“Did your mom remarry?”
“No. She said nobody could replace Dad.”
“Did she get well?”
“Kinda. But she was just never happy again. And then…she did meet this guy. They really hit it off, and things were getting better. And then she got sick. And then she died too.”
“Oh my God.”
“Last year. Lymphoma. It was really bad in the end.”
“Is that why you dropped out of school? To take care of your mom?”
Bridget looks back up to the ceiling, running her fingers through her orange mane. “And here I am, breaking down over my dog.”
“No, I understand. It’s sad.”
She lets out a long exhausted breath. Her attention moves to her Renoir print hanging next to the window. It is named ‘Seashore at Guerney’ and it depicts a lone woman sitting on a grassy hill overlooking the sea. No one else is anywhere close. And those souls in boats far out in the bay, have no knowledge of her existence. She is alone.
Bridget stares as that print for maybe twenty seconds, then turns to Mark. “Can I hug you?” she asks. He looks as lonesome as she feels.
They embrace. It’s a long, I-love-you embrace. Because at this moment, she does love him. And for Mark, surrendering into a woman’s arms, is as well a refuge. It’s a mother’s caress, a place to fall and be caught. And feeling cradled in Bridget’s warmth, he starts to weep, then tumbles into sobs. He cries, and cries, and cries…letting grief gush from his heart, wetting the spread on which they sit.
She strokes his head, rocking him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, his salty tears running down her arms. “It’s okay…” she whispers. “It’s okay.” Because it is. Right now, embraced as they are, it is. And so she nudges his head from her bosom and looks into his sad, moist eyes. She kisses them; tiny gentle pecks of compassion, tasting his loss as she shares her own.
She disrobes now, revealing the body of goddess, white and unblemished. And pulling back the sheet, she slides under the covers next to Mark, drawing his whimpering body next to hers, pressing her breasts against his back, and kissing his neck. He turns to face her, their lips inches apart. They kiss. Delicately, tenderly, devotedly, and committed for this crack in time, they kiss. And kiss. And kiss, as hands find each other’s heat. They are making love.
To be continued…10/21/2011
Well, it’s no surprise that Mark and Bridget ended up making love, but the path getting there was of course the mystery. I didn’t know myself where this scene would go when I started it. I knew my lovers would explore sensitive secrets, building more and more intimacy. But I wasn’t sure what those secrets would be. I had previously worked out Bridget’s early years, but Mark’s parent’s history, and their subsequent deaths, came to me from some place outside my mind. It actually felt that way as the words went down. I had entered the “Zone!” After this scene fleshed out and I read back what I had channeled, I then realized I needed to go back to earlier scenes to set up Mark’s REVEAL.
This is the best part about making up stories, when they write themselves and the characters start talking for you. You’re just typing!
So where do you think it’s going? Are Mark and Bridget going to become a unit? He’s 24, she’s 36. He’s unemployed, she’s a registered nurse. And they both share tragic pasts.