Wanderlust: A Short Story

Wanderlust had always driven Lawrence to pursue all life had to offer, personally and professionally. Failure was never seen as an obstacle, but an experience to help mold a brighter future. It was the knowledge that there was something more to life that drove him. Middle age had presented him with a decaying body incapable of performing the way he had in his youth. As his physical prowess declined the desire to pursue an idealized existence became more intense. Conversations between he and Jill often centered on their desire to understand why it was they meant so much to each other. They knew there was not an obstacle life could present over which they could not prevail.

It was a weekend meant to explore physical pleasure like they’d never experienced, but ended up eternally changing the relationship Jill and Lawrence worked seventeen years to build. Aging flesh dulled sexual experiences. Their souls craved more than their bodies could satiate. Ethereal bonds developed over their marriage were more fragile than either realized, but their airy manifestation engulfed them both; offering a false sense of comfort.

Multiple lovers had never been a goal for either Jill or Lawrence Restivo. History had been more a function of time, not desire. Memories were cast aside when they met. Knowing they found the person they’d spend the rest of their lives with offered a great deal of security, but also hastened the slide into complacency.

Growing pains rarely exploded into confrontation. Mildly contentious conversations were resolved with mutual understanding. Maturity and intellect brought about an understanding that their union was strengthened by synthesizing their souls. The process had become so idealized they mistakenly allowed others into their realm. People who had no desire to engage in a balanced exchange were allowed to extract physical and emotional pleasure from the couple without offering anything in return.

The historic town of St. Augustine offered the perfect setting for their foray into desires that welled from deep within their souls. Its ancient record mirrored the depth from which the couple’s desires emanated. Their mistake was feeling as though its inhabitants desires were anything more than superficial.

Sexual activity began for Lawrence at age sixteen. Freedom to move away from the influence of his family came in the form of an operator’s permit. Although he spent less-and-less time in the contentious household dominated by constant arguing, he gravitated toward those who reminded him of that very environment. Coupling with girls he went to school with was nothing more than a meager attempt to file a void created by the only family he ever knew. Feelings of fulfillment never outlived pulsating orgasms.

Teen pregnancy affected Jill personally without having to endure the embarrassment of admitting to expectant motherhood. Professing love was nothing more than a means of eliciting sex for Conrad, her high school boyfriend. Humiliation associated with the knowledge the boy she had chosen to offer her virginity fertilized the seed of a classmate seemed much more intense than enduring nine months of an unwanted pregnancy. Her parents would have shipped her off to another county to have the child as the parents of other girls in her school had done. Strength to endure manifested itself in a hard exterior and the pursuit of stellar grades. Laser-like focus on her studies carried her to earning a PhD at the very young age of twenty-five. Only then did she feel as though she had the tools to weather the potential pitfalls inherent in relationships.

Cracking Jill’s hard exterior was a task Lawrence took on like a miner searching for a golden vein. Subtlety wasn’t the strong-suit of a man desperately in need of making himself whole. His flight from a past marred by anger and hostility was masked by his desires. When they first met he was unable to separate the two. Violence beget violence across generations, and the lasting physical stimulation was eerily similar to that experienced by those able to give themselves over to a completely ethereal sexual experience.

Jill’s approach to her relationship with Lawrence was much more measured. Precisely analyzed feelings allowed her to embrace only those attributes of her husband she felt were worthy of her character. It was clinical and led to a benign existence. Years would pass before the jaundiced lens with which she viewed her husband was cast aside in favor of a completely open relationship.

Aging was fought through a rigorous approach to exercise. Five kilometer runs were increased to ten, fifteen, and half-marathons. Death was an event neither looked upon favorably. Determination’s byproduct generated fit bodies anyone would desire to embrace. Weekends during the fall and winter were spent throughout Florida participating in charitable races. It was never about speed, but embracing the experience. No matter how hard they trained, aches and pains grew in intensity as their bodies aged.

Lawrence never possessed an innate desire to pursue anyone other than his wife of seventeen years to satiate his passionate lust for female flesh. Jill had been all he ever desired. When they made love in Lawrence’s eyes she was the most desirable woman he’d ever known. Aged skin and wrinkles gave way to an angelic glow that intensified with each gentle touch of her flesh. The bond between them was unmistakable.

For a woman who’d taken pride in her appearance her entire life, the effects of an aging body struck an emotional chord with Jill. Psychologically she understood she was getting older and the only way to stop that was an unacceptable alternative. Keen intellect continually challenged her to understand exactly how she could ensure continued growth while trapped in the confines of a decaying vessel.

They both fiercely believed that upon their deaths they would be reunited, but in what form was unclear. Many discussions were carried out over a glass of wine between the couple centering on the subject, and what they could do to ensure their love would be bound eternally. The same conclusion was drawn after each conversation. It was simply a matter of continually loving each other with desires based in complete honesty. They knew their love could never be fettered by the piercing shrapnel of exploding lies or deceitful behavior.

Regardless of their mutual dedication to one another, each felt a wanderlust about life that had to be satiated before passing into an existence filled with uncertainty. It was this desire that was the only unspoken truth between them.

Sensations centered upon the tactile spark generated by love-making waned as the years passed. Doubts about their relationship rarely enter the minds of either Lawrence or Jill, but middle-aged reflections upon how dynamic life had been became the genesis for unanswerable questions concerning their future together. Recapturing physical sensations became nearly impossible as senses dulled with age, but their minds sparkled with feelings of impetuous and youthful desires.

Relief draped over them on the night Lawrence made the proposition that would change their lives. Jill wanted badly to discuss the transition they were experiencing, but Victorian ideals had formed the lady Lawrence fell in love with, and prevented her from opening her mind and body to experiences deemed foul.

Motivation to be the best husband possible provided the catalyst for the proposition. Lawrence could not deny that Jill was the best woman he’d ever known. From the moment he became aware of his existence he knew there was something great in life to be experienced. No matter how many obstacles presented themselves Lawrence forged ahead undauntedly searching for life’s purpose.

When the couple met, experience communicated to them almost immediately that they were meant to be together. From the way they felt in each other’s arms to how each one tasted, it all seemed right.

On the day they arrived in St. Augustine an overcast and a chilly sky followed them along Interstate 95. Sailboat masts that speckled the bay teetered at the behest of gusty winds. They swayed in undulating circular motions as the hulls to which they were affixed rolled over the white-cap covered waves. It was a stark contrast to the sunny and hot day the tourists enjoyed until the arrival of an ill wind. Lawrence drove the couple’s car across the Bridge of Lions and they gazed upon the oldest city in the United States. The weekend would be spent checking out the local fare and enjoying the entertainment local establishments offered. Pressure was not a concern. Nothing would happen if the requisite energy to propel their souls into eternity was non-existent.

The only room available at the historic home turned bed and breakfast had two double beds. It was confirmation for the couple that the energy of their desires was positive and needed satiating. After unpacking the couple made love and tasted the purity they had come to understand was inherent in their relationship. Whether or not it would survive a lust-filled night could only be answered by committing the deed, and then living with it.

Every indication they came across that night seemed to support their inclination. Handsome couples of all ages strolled leisurely down St. George Street, falling into and out of the kitschy shops and ice cream parlors that lined the promenade. A few smiles and ‘hellos’ were exchanged with various parties, but nothing sparked any interest in either adventurer.

After several trips up-and-down the short avenue the couple decided to go into an intriguing little pub. Everyone inside, from the staff to its patrons, was dressed in sixteenth century attire. Their common appearance gave Lawrence and Jill the impression they all knew each other. Conversations were loud and made it difficult to hear. They remedied their discomfort by moving through the rear door and into an open-air garden. The rear of the property was bordered on three sides by a four foot high concrete and stucco wall that had been white-washed. Its uneven appearance gave the impression it was of the period everyone tried desperately to re-enact.

Small wooden picnic tables dotted the landscape and only one near the rear of the yard sat empty. Lawrence and Jill made their way toward the inviting spot, making eye-contact along the way with several couples and exchanging smiles. The people outside seemed to be less into sixteenth century pirates and more concerned about a cold libation and relief from a long day of sun-soaked tourism. The couple sat where they could see everyone in the garden and watch how they interacted with one another. People watching had always been a cherished activity for them both. There was a lot to learn by listening to people and marrying their body language in order to truly understand their intentions.

Not long after receiving their first drink order they were approached by a young, handsome couple.

“Do you mind if we join you? There aren’t any other seats available.” Billy asked.

“Of course not, please do,” Lawrence replied as the couple shifted in their seats so their new friends could join them.

The young couple sat, as they placed their drinks on the table in front of them. Billy Percival wore a pair of smartly ironed, pleated white shorts and a tank top. His shoulders and arms were well developed and tan. His wife Sara wore similar pants and a sleeveless blouse. Its top-most secured button was joined at a point low enough for Lawrence to see she was wearing a front snapping bra. Her ample bosom formed a titillating cleavage just above the snap, and the sheer nature of her top offered a glimpse into what lie beneath her clothing.

“Where are you guys from?” Lawrence asked.

“Delaware,” Sara answered.

“How about you guys?” Billy countered.

“Down south,” Jill replied, feeling reticent about offering any more information than was absolutely necessary. “Have you ever been to St. Augustine?” she continued in order to shift focus back onto the young nubile couple.

“This is our first time,” Sara responded as her husband took a sip of his beer.

“So what made you decide on St. Augustine as your destination?” Lawrence added.

“We were looking for a place where we could get in touch with a brand of American history that isn’t propagandized and taught in our schools. This area is unique to Florida and its subculture status intrigued both of us.”

Suddenly a raucous burst of laughter exploded from inside the pub. The clamoring mirth briefly captured the attention of the couples, which they quickly shifted back to each other once the noise faded.

“I didn’t realize there were still pirates around,” Lawrence joked.

Billy nodded. “I can appreciate their desire to experience all that life has to offer even if it means embracing a long ago period. If that’s who you are then by all means, be yourself.”

Lawrence and Jill exchanged a wry, yet quick glance. Billy and Sara seemed to be quite the suitable couple for their foray into the realm of the unknown. Before either had the opportunity to broach what could have been an uncomfortable topic another couple approached.

“Do you mind if we join you?” the man asked.

There was no more room at their table, so the wife made the observation that, “There’s an empty table here we could bring together with yours.”

Everyone stood and took part in joining the table that had recently become vacant with their own. Lawrence and Jill’s excitement welled beyond comparison at the increasing options that presented themselves. Introductions were made. The newest couple to join the group was contemporaries of Lawrence and Jill. Their names were Johnny and Lisa. They hailed from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Lisa was a pretty woman who benefited from the proper application of makeup. She knew how to present herself in the best possible manner.

The wind blew through the trees above their heads, shaking loose a few leaves and twigs that rained down upon the group. They laughed as they brushed away the debris and got to know each other through conversation.

“Where are you staying?” Lawrence asked Johnny.

“The Pirate’s Inn Bed and Breakfast on U.S. 1. How about you guys?”

“We’re staying at the Flagler Inn.”

Lisa leaned across the table and spoke to everyone as if she had some patent on the information she shared. “Isn’t it wonderful that everything you’d want to see is within walking distance of your hotel?” Her southern accent drew out each word. Everyone except Johnny waited patiently for her to finish. He took in scenery that was all very new to him.

Billy added. “Has anyone been to the fort?”

“The Castillo de San Marcos?” Jill asked.

“Yeah. I think that’s what it’s called.”

“We’re planning on going tomorrow,” she replied.

“It amazes me the primitive conditions that those soldiers had to endure.”

“And they probably thought they had it good compared to their ancestors,” Johnny added.

At that moment the server approached and placed six mugs of their house ale called Fountain of Youth on the table. While reaching across the table to retrieve his, Lawrence commented, “One thing that hasn’t changed in a thousand years is the quality of a good stout beer. I think they got it right the first time.”

Once everyone had their glass in hand Jill proposed a toast. “To new friends and everlasting experiences.” They all raised their glasses toward the center of the table in unison.

As the evening grew later the bond between the couples coalesced. Alcohol acted as the adhesive between six souls that had never been together and never would after the dawn of a new day.

Crowds thinned as people voluntarily closed out their evening in favor of a good night’s rest. Staff members cleaned the area around the couples without intruding upon their conversation.

“What time do you close?” Johnny asked a nearby server.

“Two o’clock,” she responded.

“We have forty-five minutes,” Billy said as he looked at his gleaming Rolex Submariner.

There was no indication anyone wished to leave. There was an energy that developed around them and they felt a bond amongst their nocturnal acquaintances. Age old friendships were deeply rooted into each person’s soul, but the quest for connection drew the desire to experience someone new so close to the surface it became tactile.

From the back of the garden Lawrence occasionally glanced toward the pub. The rear and front doors were aligned so that an unobstructed view of St. George Street could be achieved if there was no one there to block it. At such a late hour he was easily able to watch as people ambled along the thoroughfare. Some walked at a face pace, as if they were trying to meet a deadline; while others staggered under the weight of inebriation. Conversations faded into the background as Lawrence stared toward the path taken by thousands over the centuries. Lights from the street created a halo around the building, and pierced the darkness of the garden through its openings. Luminescence overwhelmed his sense of site and rendered his gaze impotent to detail. Reflections became about the soul and were no longer visual. Jill had been the most wonderful person he’d ever known, but physical constraints exacerbated his sense that there had to be something more to such a wonderful bond. Midlife brought about a change in how time affected Lawrence’s psyche. Memories, experiences, and aromas from long forgotten days entered his conscious mind without any familiar association to trigger his thoughts. Regression seemed the natural course as he craved simpler times. He could not help but wonder if the timeline that was his life had folded over at its vertex, forcing him to re-live memories he had no desire to voluntarily recall. Frustrated at the fact he could not embrace the universe’s energy with his wife he shook away his funk and looked upon the group who had continued talking in his emotional absence.

Just before completely rejoining the conversation Lawrence glanced toward the door again and spied an older couple walking into the garden from the pub. When they stepped onto the grass they stopped and looked around. Seeing that there was no one else outside the man made eye-contact with Lawrence and offered a gentle wave. With a large, sweeping, and inviting wave of his arm Lawrence offered their company to the strangers.

The old couple was dressed smartly. He wore cream colored slacks that were pressed to a fine crease, and a shirt with palm trees printed all over it. She wore a skirt whose hem gently touched the top of her knees and a bright pink polo shirt. Together they appeared as though they had just stepped off the golf course. Both were fit and tan, and appeared to have not a care in the world.

“Hey kids,” the old man exclaimed as he approached the table.

A smattering of ‘heys’ and ‘hellos’ greeted the couple as all six moved in unison to make room for their new members.

“Where’re you guys from?” Johnny asked.

“The beautiful peninsula of Coronado, California,” the old man answered, and then added, “I was a Navy pilot and when I retired we stayed out there.”

“Are you originally from California?” Sara asked.

“No. I grew up a military brat. So I travelled all over the world with my parents. I was born in St. Augustine, and it’s always been like my first home.”

“I grew up in Chicago,” his wife added, feeling left out.

Apologetically, the man offered, “I’m sorry dear. When I’m asked a direct question I give a direct answer. It’s all those years of military training.”

The couples got to know one another well in their brief time together. Conversation was not tempered by social conventions, and mores were cast aside for honesty between strangers. Truth, as they understood it to be, focused on visceral desires. The need for Lawrence and Jill to expand their understanding of their place in the universe was reciprocated by the others. Finding others of like mind eased their anxiety about the detour their lives would take that night.

Once the night’s purpose was understood by all, the dynamic of the group changed. It was an unspoken awareness communicated by pheromones and wanton stares. Lawrence was supplanted by the two younger men who took up positions on either side of Jill. Their undivided attention focused on her and she basked in the interest shown by these handsome men.

Momentary dejection faded quickly when Lawrence noticed equally desirous glances from the women who had lost the attention of their husbands. He moved to position himself between them. Driven by carnal desires he began petting these beautiful women. Gentle strokes of their legs led to caressing derrieres, and gentle brushes of the curvy lower portion of breasts. Lawrence gently kissed Jill and Sara.

As quickly as they made their entrance the older couple sensed the others had found what they were looking for and chose to leave arm-in-arm, embracing their love of fifty years that was as fresh as the day they met.

Pleasure radiated through everyone’s bodies; manifested in a tingling sensation that each person mistook for something more than piqued physical desires. The collective had been brought together by a similar desire to understand what more life had to offer than the mundane paths their lives had been relegated to as they settled into their time together. Social conventions were cast aside in favor of unadulterated pleasure.

Although Billy and Sara had not been together nearly as long as the others, their youthful and impetuous nature opened them more-so to the experience that presented itself on that warm spring evening. Unlike contemporaries who may have been turned off by the idea of sex with people two decades older, the young couple embraced the notion that life was to be lived by partaking in the experiences life presented.

The sixteenth century bar matron tasked with the duty of breaking up the love-fest happening in their garden leaned against the door frame with her arms folded across her chest, and gazed at the six lovers with intensity meant to spark the recognition of disdain. Sara was the first to notice the woman was clearly communicating the fact that it was time to leave. She alerted the others who slowly stopped what they were doing and one-by-one casually glanced at the woman in the doorway.

It was quickly decided the six would make their way back to Billy and Sara’s yacht secured in the harbor. The couples walked through the narrow streets of the old town. Giddily they hopped across A1A and skipped down the wooden stairs to the marina below. Each couple stayed together holding hands and arm-in-arm until they reached the boat.

Once onboard they released each other and drifted apart, taking up separate positions on the deck and gazing at the stars above. The night was clear and the same thought cascaded through their collective minds, “Who will I end up with?”

To maximize freedom they cast off and sailed into the Atlantic without the prying eyes of on-lookers acting to suppress their activities to the cabin below. Everyone pitched in to make sure their journey was safe. Not until they were a mile offshore did Billy release the anchor; securing the boat. He flipped a switch below his seat at the helm to turn on the running lights. Once he was sure they were all on, and that passing ships could see them, he stood and made his way along the narrow edge of the deck toward the bow where Jill stood. She had enjoyed their journey into the open ocean from this vantage point and the gentle pitch of the eerily calm ocean waves.

Not understanding any differently Lawrence assumed this meant he and Sara would be together and he followed her below deck.

Johnny and Lisa seemed more than happy to stay astern and enjoy making love. They embraced the new environment and allowed it to permeate their souls that became awash with cascading new sensations because they allowed them to do so.

Billy eagerly lifted Jill’s shirt by its tail and pulled it over her head. Just as quickly he removed her bra, and then his shirt. They embraced and the feeling of unfamiliar bare skin increased their excitement. Youthful enthusiasm took Jill by surprise, but not to the point of becoming uncomfortable with her chosen pursuit. She embraced it and allowed it to pique the giddiness associated with finding a new lover after so many years of monogamy. She was happy he chose her.

Sara smiled at Lawrence when she saw him coming down the stairs into the galley. She turned away from him and walked toward the bow of the boat. He followed her and watched as she disappeared through the forward cabin door. When he entered the room he saw Sara had taken a position at the head of the bed. Snuggly, she worked herself into a reclined position at the apex of the wedge created by the bow. She offered a come-hither look, and he obliged; crawling across the top of the bed toward her. He kissed her gently as they settled into a passionate embrace.

The tingling Lawrence felt in his fingertips was muted compared to the sensation of touching his wife. Everything about Sara was different, but no less pleasurable. She stimulated him in a different way. Desires emanated from his flesh, and left his soul wanting more. No matter how gently he stroked her curves, kissed her lips, or attempted to combine their energy into something greater than two people making love; every sensation he felt while making love to her was harshly tactile. Sara’s beauty could not be denied, yet Lawrence found himself conjuring visions of Jill in order to satiate celestial desires.

It was evident Billy had engaged in this activity more than once. There was no hesitation on his part to explore every inch on Jill’s body. Gently he brushed the tip of his thumb across her tattoo of a mermaid. It was a symbol of a fabled love Lawrence never thought possible until he met her. For Billy, sex was about exploring and extracting the pleasure he desired without regard for the energy that could be generated from a couple embracing harmonious passion. Atlantic waves tossed the boat and its occupants. Coupling was made difficult, but everyone lunged toward their paramour du jour for fear of losing the experience they so strongly desired. Jill found herself longing for the more gentle touch of her husband. Billy’s passion was thrust upon her. Lawrence’s energy was contained in his kiss as a gentle joining of two souls.

As the couples made love mere feet apart the realization for Lawrence and Jill that no matter how new the acquaintance sex had become stale. They could spend their lives seeking a perfect love based on sex, but their desires would prove insatiable.

Enthusiasm for their evening’s paramour ceased for Lawrence and Jill as each achieved orgasm, cast aside like so many carnal desires of the past. Making love to someone new was pleasurable for them both. As with all they experienced their souls came together that night. Neither the fiberglass deck nor the fleshy impediments of their nocturnal lovers could prevent either from soulfully reaching out to the other and experiencing the desired epiphany. Embracing the young couple drew them backward and halted the effect of time for just one night. What they realized was although they were not physically together their souls would always be linked. It became obvious to them both at the same moment in time; that their desire for more from life was happening. Until that night neither recognized the fact that their bodies were transitioning from a physical existence to one that was intertwined by boundless energy. Their love for each other became stronger. Overnight they shook away the physical dependency that brought them together, and paved the way to carry their ethereal bond beyond life’s constraints.

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