A Little Tenderness

By:  Kelley

 

Otis Redding was coming through the speakers as she absentmindedly washed the same plate for the tenth time.  Drifting, she thought.....that's all I'm doing, drifting.  The vibrant, exciting woman she once was, had become a boat going nowhere.   She was looking out the window at her well-tended garden, the rows of vegetables she had so carefully planted in the spring were lush and green, basking in the heat of summer. 

 

"Oooh, she may be weary

and them young girls do get weary

wearing that same old shaggy dress...."

 

Her favorite song finally brought a smile to her lips.  She first laid eyes on him as he performed it and it would forever remind her of him.  He was magic when he was onstage.  As she watched him that first time, his lithe body slick with sweat, she was mesmerized.  He had it, that intangible quality that made you unable to tear your eyes from him.  Fate had registered them in the same hotel that night; she, however, had made sure he wound up in her bed. 

 

"You know she's waiting

Just anticipating

The thing that she'll never, never possess, no, no...."

 

He whispered those words in her ear as he nuzzled her neck the next morning, both of them a little surprised he spent the night.  They couldn't have predicted that it would be five more years before they would spend a night apart.  Her cheeks flushed as she remembered their first few months together.  In those days, just the tips of his fingers could bring her to the brink of insanity. 

 

"But while [all the time] she's without it
Go to her and try just a little bit of tenderness...."

 

"Mommy!"   The plate slipped from her hand as she turned around, shattering into a million pieces.  Her bare-footed daughter stopped in her tracks as she watched her mother stoop to pick up the shards.  "Can I go next door and play?"

 

"Sure honey, go ahead.  Be home in time for dinner...."  Her words trailed off as she watched her daughter run out the door.  Lately even her kids couldn't fill the emptiness inside of her.   Her greatest accomplishment this week was getting all three kids to three different practices in three different parts of town in twenty minutes.  For this, she was rewarded with more dirty laundry than she could handle.  God, mother's weren't supposed to feel this way.  There was supposed to be great fulfillment in driving to soccer and ballet and softball, right?

 

"Oh,but its one thing
It might be a bit sentimental yeah, yeah
She has - her grieves and care
But the soft words they are spoken so gentle
Yeah
But, oh, that makes it, makes it easier to bear, yeah..."


Dinner was pleasant that night.  The kids bickered across the table, preventing any sort of conversation from taking place.  She indulged their antics as this was her favorite time of day.  They had no where to go, no interruptions and when she laughed with them, it was genuine.   Those moments didn't happen very often and she cherished them.  Reality soon intruded as AJ left for the studio and the kids left for wherever it is kids go on a warm summer evening.   Three hours later the dishes were done, the kids were in bed, and the last load of laundry had been folded.

 

He could hear her humming as she put away his socks and shirts.  She was so distant lately.  She said the right words, did the right things, but it was like she was on auto pilot.  More often than not, he would catch her staring out one of the windows, deep in thought about something.   What, he didn't know, she didn't share that part of herself with him anymore.  He had tried everything to reach her...flowers, long walks, romantic weekends, nothing worked.  He missed her desperately.

 

"And its all so easy
Come on and try
Try a little Tenderness
Yeah Try
Just keep on trying..."

 

She laid on her side with her back to him.   He could see her silhouette in the moonlight, her curves so familiar to him.  "Do you even love me anymore?" he whispered into the darkness.  Her eyes closed as his words stabbed her.  "I want to help, but you won't tell me what's wrong."

 

"I don't even know where to begin...." she whispered back in a shaky voice.  He slid closer to her, wrapping her up in his arms as she began to sob.  He coaxed everything from her that night...the emptiness, resentment, boredom, guilt, he heard it all.  She trembled in his arms when she was done.  It was over, it had to be.  No one would stick around, knowing what he knew. 

 

He wiped her tears away and kissed her swollen eyes.  Then, to her amazement, his hands slid under her nightshirt, pulling it up and over her head.  He loved her throughout the night, every emotion they felt came through in their lovemaking.  It was slow and gentle in the bed they had shared for years; it was rough and angry as he threw her against the wall and took her without warning. 

 

The sun was coming up as he cradled her spent body in his arms.  He could see her drifting off again as he held her and he pulled her back with a kiss.  "Stay with me baby" he murmured against her lips.

 

"I will"

 

"You've got to love her
Squeeze her
Don't tease her Make love [Get to her]
Hold her tight
Just, just try a little tenderness...."

 

 

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