Sunday, February 10, 2008

Love Not Wisely

(A Will and Diana Adventure)

NOTE: New readers may want to read up on Will and Diana's world before proceeding.

Will and Diana moved silently through the darkness with only the pale light of a solar lantern to illuminate the path to their tent. Once inside, Will took off his boots and began arranging his guns, canteen and lantern beside his pallet. Diana slipped out of her moccasins and dragged her pillow and blankets to make a nest beside him.

Lately Amalia had been trying to make them sleep apart, reminding them that they weren’t children any more. Diana thought being sixteen was a silly reason not to sleep with the young man she thought of as a brother and she subverted Amalia's orders at every opportunity.

“So what should we do?” she said as she settled herself on her blanket.

“Nothing. It’s none our business.”

“But she's—” Diana raised herself on an elbow. “You know. And with our commanding officer, of all people.”

“It’s not like we’re a real military unit.” Will's weapons were now as he liked them and he sat down. “What’s that word Mother uses to describe us?”

“Mercenaries?”

“No, the other word.”

“Guerrillas?”

“We’re not monkeys. Quit making fun of me.” Before Diana could answer, he remembered. “Insurgents. That’s what she calls us.”

Diana flopped on her back and stretched her arms overhead. “What does a word have to do with anything?”

“It means we’re not real enough for it to matter who Mother sleeps with.” He lay beside her and Diana snuggled against him like she always did.

“I feel real,” she said. “And what they were doing in there sounded pretty real, too.”

“As long as Mother’s happy, that’s all that matters. She’s had a hard life.”

“So have we.”

“Which is why we shouldn’t mess it up for her.”

“Okay. It’s going to be hard not to say anything, though.” She moved against him in a way that wasn’t intended to be suggestive, but aroused him nonetheless. By the time Will regained control of his desires, Diana was asleep in his arms. He tried to doze too, lulled by the warmth of her body and the faint whisper of her breath.

An hour later they were awakened by a movement of the canvas tent flap and the sound of tentative footsteps. Will pushed Diana aside and sat up.

Amalia froze. “You’re supposed to be asleep.”

“We were,” Diana said, blinking in the glow of Amalia’s lantern. “But you—”

“We’re glad you’re back,” Will interrupted. “We were worried.” He lay down and pulled Diana to him.

“I’m fine. Go back to sleep.” Amalia set down her solar lantern and fumbled with her shoes. “And Diana, I believe your bed is supposed to be on the other side of the tent.”

Before Will could silence her, Diana blurted out, “And yours is supposed to be here, not with Harley.”

“I’m a grown woman. I’ll sleep wherever I want.”

“And now that I’m old enough to go on missions and shoot people, so will I.”

Will squeezed her arm, silencing her. Then to Amalia he said, “Maybe we should talk about this in the morning. How about you read to us?”

It was their nightly tradition that Amalia read aloud, but Will had never acted like he enjoyed it. After giving him a suspicious glance, Amalia drew the lantern closer and reached for her Bible.

“You have nothing to repent, Mother.”

She and Will locked eyes. Slowly, Amalia put the Bible away and reached for her only other book, a volume of Shakespeare.

“No Romeo and Juliet, okay?”

Diana stifled a giggle.

Amalia opened the book and flipped through the pages in annoyance. “It’s not like that at all.”

“What is it, then?” Diana asked.

“None of your business.” Amalia slammed the book shut and turned off the lantern. She lay down but sleep didn’t come. Instead she listened in growing exasperation to the rustle of whispers from the other side of the tent. “If you two aren’t going to sleep,” she finally said, “Go trade watch duty with someone who’ll show a little gratitude to be offered a chance to rest.”

Silence. Then a shifting of blankets and the soft sound of footsteps.

“I’m sorry,” Diana said, kneeling by her side. “We didn’t mean to make you mad.”

“We like Harley,” Will added, coming to sit beside her, too. “And if you’re happy, we’re happy.”

Amalia sighed. “As your guardian, I’m supposed to set a better example than this.”

Had there been enough light to see by, Will and Diana would’ve looked at each other in confusion.

“Why is it wrong if you like each other?” Diana asked.

“My parents used to yell and beat each other up,” Will said. “You’re a lot better example than that.”

“And my mom never did find another man after my father was drafted,” Diana reminded her. “I think you’re lucky.”

“But I’ve tried to teach you. . .and the Bible says. . . .”

“Someone must’ve wrote it down wrong,” Will said. “It makes no sense that God would want things to be hard for us.”

Diana leaned forward, her voice conspiratorial in the dark. “Are you in love, Auntie?”

“If he breaks your heart, I’ll kill him for you,” Will offered.

“What kind of values are you learning?” Amalia sat up. “Turn on the lantern. And hand me my Shakespeare.”

“You’re not going to read Romeo and Juliet, are you?”

“No. Now go back to bed. And Diana—”

“I’ll sleep where I want,” she said, guessing what was coming next.

“You don’t want everyone knowing that you sleep where you want, do you?” Will added. "It would be bad for camp morale."

Out-maneuvered, Amalia watched in dismay as Diana settled under her blankets, pressing against Will for warmth and oblivious to the way he was looking at her. "Fine," she said, opening her book. "Then we'll read of those who 'love not wisely but too well.'" Getting only blank looks in reply, she found the tragedy she was looking for and began reading.

8 comments:

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Poor Diana. She thinks she's so savvy but has no idea what lies ahead down this path...

bunnygirl said...

Yes, Diana has a huge blind spot where Will is concerned. He's been her best friend and protector ever since her family was killed when she was ten.

At an instinctual level she knows that if she ever acknowledges a change in their relationship, she'll have to make a decision that could require her to face the world without him.

At this juncture in her life, it's unthinkable. And so she goes on living in denial, lying to herself and creating a situation that's only going to get worse.

It's really Will who breaks my heart, though. His trust issues run so deep that he's never going to completely get over her. He's a fragile person on the inside, whereas Diana can bounce back from just about anything, given enough time.

Thomma Lyn said...

What a poignant story -- I feel badly for Will, ultimately losing Diana. He's tough on the outside, but not-so-tough on the inside -- his hurt runs very deep.

Kathleen Oxley said...

There seemed to be a real innocence to Diana and how she sees Will. I'm sad that they don't stay together. I really enjoyed the emotion of this piece - nicely written!

~Kat

William Skye said...

There is a sensual sweetness in this story. A thing that navigates the emotional-intellectual / knowledge-innocence dichotomy. I love the feeling of darkness and night, the physical and emotional intimacy just a hair's breadth (or denim width) from sex.

Gwen Mitchell said...

Great little glimpse. I'm intrigued by the characters and the world you've set up. I think I'll have to give the rest of it a read. Well done!

AlannahJoy said...

As hard as Diana's life is, there's still an innocence to her that is appealing. Getting to know her is an intruiging ride, and this peek into their world is one of my favorites.

Alice Audrey said...

Good reading choice, but it won't be enough.