Posted March 14, 2012
This story is part of ULTRA. Support the author by liking it on Facebook!
The first time they made love they were underneath the ladder leading to the hayloft in his grandfather’s barn. He had to make love to her there to prove he wasn’t superstitious. She needed a man who was grounded in reality. For her, he could be anything.
“Jesse, I think there’s straw up my ass,” she whispered in his ear right before he was about to climax.
“Jessie, don’t ruin the moment,” he responded.
No one had called her Jessie until they had met. He chalked up their similar names as a sign. She thought it merely a coincidence. There were other coincidences as well, most notably the similar birthmarks on their left butt cheeks, although he couldn’t always tell for sure that his was a birthmark or that it was on his left cheek.
She would have laughed at him if she knew that he thought they were making love.
Making love to her in that barn was the highlight of his life.
“I love you,” he told her.
But before he could even utter the final syllable, she had buttoned her blouse and jeans and was off, her bare feet crackling the loose hay with every step.
He was too stunned to chase her. “Wait,” he called, but there was no one nearby to hear.
Jesse, a hard-headed man by nature, assumed that Jessie was playing hard to get, so he vowed with his grandfather’s tombstone as his witness that one day he would bring the woman back to the haystack and begin his family.
Unfortunately, Jessie was quite a bit more elusive than Jesse had anticipated. She was the type of woman that swooped into a town, seduced a handful of man, and then disappeared. He found this out when he asked around and learned she had also slept with his best friend under the name of Florence, although he had called her Flo against her wishes. Jesse harbored no ill will towards his friend, but he was envious that someone else had seen his Jessie’s birthmark, which was what had caused Jesse to fall in love with her.
With only a butt cheek birthmark to go on, Jesse knew the search would be difficult, but a vow was a vow. Jesse would bring that woman back to the haystack and make love to her again and again until they had a family. He imagined himself caressing that birthmark as she repented for her loose ways.
The search lasted for days, weeks, months, and years, but he never relented. He had very nearly slept with dozens of women, all of whom seemed to be his Jessie, but he would always check for that birthmark right before the deed, and when their asses came up bare, he confessed to them through sobbing tears. The women undoubtedly would have been furious with him if he hadn’t seemed so pathetic. They each held his naked body in their naked arms, pressing his hair up against their breasts, collecting the tears on their delicate skin.
This continued for nearly a decade until one comforting woman, a tattoo artist, said to him, “I know her.”
Almost instantly, the tears dried up, like some clichéd sudden end of a storm giving way to an even more clichéd bright blue sky filled with sun and rainbow.
“Where is she? Are you sure it’s her? How is she? Is she married?” the questions flowed from his tongue.
The answers came: “I don’t know,” “pretty sure,” “she’s okay,” and “yes, at least she was.”
He begged, “Will you help me find her?”
“Yes,” she said, having already fallen in love with him, secretly hoping that helping him find the invisible woman would cause him to feel the same about her.
After two years had passed and the money for food and lodging had run almost dry, the woman decided to make her move. “You know, you can call me Jessie if you would like.”
“It wouldn’t be the same,” he responded.
“I’ve always wanted to make love under a ladder in a hayloft.”
“I’ll never make love with a woman other than her.”
“I can have a birthmark on my ass, too.”
“But it won’t be the same,” he said again.
“Sure it will be. You don’t know squat about this girl. You love the idea of her. I can be that same idea.”
“But it was destiny. And I made a vow.”
“Vows can be broken. They’re broken every day. And destiny doesn’t know what’s best for the world. Sometimes, I like to think we can make our own destiny.”
“But there was something in that mark that connected with my soul.”
“I’ll make one just like it on my ass.”
“You can’t make one just like it. It’s one of a kind.”
“Sweetie, I think I can repeat my own work.”
Speechless and confused, he stared at the tattoo artist, noticing for the first time the irony of her art-free skin.
“That’s how I knew her, love.”
“Are you sure?”
“It’s the only thing I’m sure of.”
Jesse stared at her for a long time, imagining this woman creating the most beautiful mark upon the most beautiful woman, a mark he thought only God could have made.
And then he broke the silence.
“Well, get drawing,” he said. “We’ve got a hayloft to visit.”
He was finally bringing his Jessie home.
Nathaniel Tower writes fiction, teaches English, and manages the online lit magazine Bartleby Snopes. His short fiction has appeared in over 100 online and print magazines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His story “The Oaten Hands” was named one of 190 notable stories by story South’s Million Writers Award in 2009. His first novel, A Reason To Kill, was released in July 2011 through MuseItUp Publishing. Visit him at www.bartlebysnopes.com/ntower.htm
All content released under a Creative Commons license unless otherwise noted.