The soft, warm night settled around John and Marcia, a blissfully cozy chenille-like throw that cuddled the lovers' entwined limbs and tickled their bare cheeks. Cheeks that were ruddy with that special pinkness indicating recent, very intimate activity, as it happened. And their faces glowed, too.
"Marcia," John blurted out suddenly and impetuously. "Can we discuss something?"
"John," sighed Marcia, the contentment after achieving three orgasms enriching the exhaled name with feminine satisfaction. "I'm all ears."
John wrapped the slightly damp sheet around his manly chest, sat up and tried to think of how to confess what he had been pondering without sounding as if he were complaining before he murmured, "I've been thinking about us, sweetheart."
"Darling," Marcia purred like a kitten with a ball of interesting yarn (not, you understand, the imported cheap acrylic crap you can buy for $1 a pound, but that expensive designer stuff like Caron Bliss that costs an arm and a leg for one piddly skein.) "Tell me," she continued, picking up the thread of conversation and toying with it, just in case someone forgot she was the one speaking, "what about us?"
John reached for his trousers and then turned to look at Marcia while opening his mouth to utter in honesty, "We" -- he put one leg in his jeans, jeans that were comfortably faded but still a bit stiff, as he had hung them out to dry versus using the dryer as part of his endeavors to go green -- "never" -- he pulled up the waistband just like that very hot but sexually waffling young man in the Levi's 501 commercials-- "talk" -- he zippered the fly and fastened the button with what he hoped was a casual disregard for the fact that the woman he loved was watching him wrap his package -- "anymore."
"We're talking now," Marcia retorted with passion and the natural emphasis of her emotions, tossing her head as she leapt out of bed and jerked on her own clothing as her cheeks flushed and her eyes sparkled with temper and annoyance that made her assume the position of a highly indignant painter's anatomical doll. Her rich brunette hair settled around her blushing features as her lips, the lipstick on which had been kissed away during the last, loving hours of delight, turned a little white with her swiftly-shifting mood. A loose eyelash, uprooted by the more-rapid blinking of her eyelids, drifted from her upper lid to land in the crease next to her right nostril.
Jumping jacks seemed like the thing to do to work off some of his own ire, and so John began the exercise as he carefully formulated his response to her retort and let the words, which might have sounded defensive if he wasn't careful to modulate his tone, come up out of the spot in his chest that transformed speech into a cavemanlike guttural growl of masculine frustration as he blithely informed the woman he loved more than life itself, "I just want to say things." He dragged in a breath, filling out his muscular chest, now covered with tiny but sensual beads of sweat from this, the latest round of vigorous exertions. Would that it could have been from making love to Marcia again, but even John needed five minutes to recharge his supply tanks. "To you."
"Oh, for God's sake . . . " Marcia trailed off, first to a blown breath and then to a sharply-drawn inhaled snort of contempt, which whistled through her deviated septum with high-pitched irritation, much like the sharp sensation in her heart which provoked her to add with equally pointed intonation, ". . . . say whatever you want," she snapped like a fourteen-day-old oak twig left in a seasoning shed on a cold fortnight in November that knew no humidity, among the crackling brown leaves and the chips and wood dust left behind by the merciless teeth of the chainsaw, which seemed to her to be as destructive as the man she loved, at least whenever he decided to discuss things with her that were better left unsaid. "Whatever you want," she repeated, much more gently this time, because with her own eyes she saw that John was staring at her with weary acceptance and tolerance that made her own impatience seem ungrateful and childish.
"Tell me you love me."
Marcia frowned before she attempted to button the front of her dress to give herself time to compose a new tag for her dialogue.
"No." John put his hands over hers to stop the buttoning and composing. "Tell me you love me."
"I," Marcia offered, desperate now to gain some space to properly tag her words so the reader would know absolutely everything she was feeling, doing and physically experiencing, "need--"
John kissed her. "Say it."
"Darling, you don't--"
"I love you," Marcia whimpered.
Marcia whined, "But John--"
"Oh, all right," Marcia said. "I love you. There. Happy now?"
"Not yet." John grinned, picked up Marcia and without another word or dialogue tag, tossed her back on the bed.
(Dedicated to my ninth grade English teacher, who maintained that important published writers never stoop to use the plodding, unimaginative word "said.")