They knew each other since they were children. Her mother, a pregnant, escaped slave somehow found her way to his people. His parents took care of her and when she died, they raised her daughter. He was four when she was born. He loved her from the moment he saw her. He was very protective of her. He named her Behitha which means “an eagle child”.
They were inseparable. Always together, playing, exploring. He taught her how to swim and to identify the different stars in the sky. In his community, the boys and girls usually played separately but, although Behitha and he played with the other children, most of the time, they played with each other.
He taught her the Ring The Stick Game which she loved because it was fun and it taught her the importance of having a goal or a dream and hand-eye coordination. His mother taught her the The Butterfly Hide And Seek game because it was a girls’ game.
When he looked at her now, he was reminded that they weren’t children anymore. His feelings for her had changed. What he felt for her was no longer the love of a brother towards his sister but the love a man for a woman. And love wasn’t all he felt for her. Desire raged inside him. Many times, he woke up in the night, extremely aroused because he had had an erotic dream about her. It was becoming increasingly hard being around her.
And she behaved as if nothing had changed between them–as if things were the same as when they were children. That frustrated him. He didn’t know what to do about the feelings she stirred in him. When they were children, they used to swim naked but they couldn’t do that anymore.
“Why not?” Behitha asked when he told her that afternoon as they were heading down to the river.
“We’re not children anymore,” he replied. “It wouldn’t be right.”
“Nothing’s wrong with us being naked, Matto. I like to see you naked.”
He swallowed hard. “I like to see you naked too but–“
“But, nothing. If you’re so embarrassed, I can cover my eyes while you get undressed and when you’re in the water, I will uncover them.”
He sighed. “All right.” He had to make sure that she didn’t see him naked or she would see the effect she had on him.
Smiling, she ran ahead. It was a beautiful afternoon. The sun was high in the blue, cloudless sky and the birds were singing. How she loved being with Matto, her “brave warrior”. She loved him more than anyone in the entire world. She hoped that they would be together like this forever. She turned to face him, “You can undress now. I will cover my eyes.”
He went behind a tree and quickly removed his clothes. Then, he ran to the edge of the river and plunged into the clear water, making a splash for her to hear. She undressed and joined him. The water felt good on her skin and she reveled in it. She was an excellent swimmer, thanks to him. She had learned so much from him.
He was a great storyteller too and at night before they went to bed, he told her fantastic tales. He told her like most of the other Native Indian tribes, his people believed that a long time ago only water covered the world, and then an animal rose from the bottom of the sea. The animal was the turtle. The turtle swam so much that he got tired. The Breath Taker took pity on him and helped him by giving him a place to stay. As the turtle rested his back began to crack. Out of the cracks came the people. When the people came out the cracks closed and the squares became the homes of the people.
He also showed her which fruits, vegetables and plants were deliciously dangerous if they were not prepared properly. He made her swear not to pick anything unless he was there with her. She promised that she would never go anywhere without him.
Growing up, she learned how to do errands and cook while he learned how to be a warrior and to hunt. She loved being with him and his people were her people too even though she looked different. They never made her feel like an outsider.
They spent a long time in the river now, splashing and racing each other. And then, it was time to get out of the water. “You go first,” he suggested.
“All right. Let’s race to the bank.” They did. He won and he turned when she climbed out. She wished she could lay in the sun for a while and get dried off. She hated the idea of putting on her clothes over her wet skin. She decided that she wasn’t going to do that. She quickly wrapped her head with the cloth lying next to her clothes. Then, hiding behind the tree, she yelled out to Matto that he could come out of the water.
She watched as he climbed out of the water. Her eyes drank in every detail of his nakedness, swallowing hard as she felt that same curious sensations in the pit of her stomach and between her legs. Impulsively, she stepped out from behind the tree and he froze.
His eyes slipped over her and heat surged through his body. A pulse throbbed alongside his jawline as he did his best to hide his arousal. “What are you doing?” he demanded.
“I–I didn’t want to put my clothes on my wet skin.”
“It was a mistake to swim naked.”
“No, it wasn’t.” She didn’t try to cover herself. Her hands were at her sides. She wanted him to look at her. She walked over to him and reaching out, she placed her palm flat on his chest which was rising and falling swiftly as his breathing quickened. “You have a beautiful body, Matto.”
“So do you,” he moaned and reaching for her, he pulled her roughly against him, letting her feel his arousal. His stormy eyes raked her face before his head swooped down and his mouth covered hers. She put her arms around his waist and responded eagerly to his kisses. They kissed for a long time and then, he broke it off to pull her down onto the grass.
He dragged his mouth down her body, making her writhe against him in ecstasy. Her fingers gripped his hair tightly and she closed her eyes, moaning softly. That drove him wild and he lay on top of her. He took his time and entered her. It hurt but instinctively, she didn’t recoil from the pain but yielded to it until it went away.
The sun bathed the sinewy muscles of his back as he made love to her. She clung to him as waves of intense pleasure washed over her like a waterfall. When it was over, they lay spent and entangled. His face was buried in her neck and her arms were wrapped around him. “I love you, Matto,” she murmured. How good it felt to finally tell him that she loved him. It was a different kind of love now. It was the kind of love a woman felt for a man.
“I love you too, Behitha.” How good it felt to hear her say that. He smiled and closed his eyes.
They remained like that for a while and then, reluctantly got up and dressed. They walked back to the village, holding hands. They didn’t have relations again until their wedding night. Behitha never knew what had happened to her father. Perhaps, he had died before her mother escaped. She wished she had known her parents but thanks for her mother, she had a family and her beloved, Matto.