A Culpable Innocence

Chapter 25: The American Dream (pg. 330)


“You risked your life for her.” Sharon locked eyes with Regis. He did not turn away. “She was more than just a friend, wasn’t she?”

“Yes, I never wanted our relationship to be more than friendship. But it did become more than that for a brief spell. I stopped it just before writing that letter you spoke of in the car. She knew from the beginning that I loved you. I don’t think I knew until afterwards.”

Sharon bowed her head in silence. Regis wanted to move closer and hold her hands, but he was afraid. This was the moment he had dreaded. Just the same, he could not have known how unbearable it would be. He studied her face for some sign of the inclination of her thoughts. There was nothing there for him to read. Finally she raised her head and spoke directly to him. “Reggie, I have been prepared for something like this for a long time. Your mother called me once about two years ago. She told me that you were seeing other women and that I should take my ‘hooks out of you.’ I told her that you were free to do whatever you wanted until you were ready to commit to our relationship. I also said that if you ever did, I would expect her to respect me for the sake of the love we both shared for you.”

“My mother . . . God forgive her . . . I know I failed you, Sharon. Our last time together . . .”

“That night before you left was different for me than for you. We were both distraught about your orders and feared for your life. I was selfish. I rushed things because I feared there might never be a time for us. Reggie, I knew you were still not ready. There is no need for you to ask for forgiveness or anything like that.” She smiled. “Just say what is in your heart.” Her eyes opened wide, as if to swallow him whole.

Regis replied in a voice that seemed to echo from the deepest part of his being, a husky baritone, almost guttural, but fulsome with a resonance that spoke of its complete sincerity, “May I kiss you?” Her smile both brightened and beckoned at once.

Regis leaned forward, but he was no longer the force behind his action. He was being pulled slowly and powerfully to the ground of his own being. What he felt, what control he had over his body, was more like a release: whatever resistance, whatever fear he still harbored was being dissolved, disintegrated in the fire of love. Her lips were soft and caressing, but they were the burning caldron which fired his blood as it coursed through his veins and arteries. He could hear the beat of his heart as it echoed through every pore, bringing his senses to life and his brain into total awareness of the moment. He had never been so fully there, so fully alive, so much in love. The wonder of the moment was that he was not alone. She was there too! Now he knew for the first time what had always been there between them and that she had been there from the very beginning.  He was home, finally and irrevocably.

Gently she wrapped him in her arms. Here, he knew, he could always find rest and replenishment for his soul. Outside this embrace war, racism, and conventional taboos—all that hinders, dictates and constrains the children of women—fall into oblivion, into nothingness. The only reality is this love: a new creation and the sole responsibility of its participants. Regis now knew what had been locked in his heart, what he had stupidly resisted all these years, his self-imposed gulag of pride and fear. He cried on Sharon’s shoulder. His body trembled in the warmth of her arms and the brush of her lips as she tried to kiss away his tears. Here was solace enough for self-indictments and healing balm for painful memories of what he had lived. She pulled her head back so that she could hold his in her hands and look into his eyes. They were soft and glistening, filled with love and gratitude. “Regie, my love, you’ve come home to me at last.”

Other Links:


                            Return to publishing corner                 Return to introduction