The Beach at Windang  

by Clement Wood © 2012

Gentle reader, I sometimes wonder if my life consists of nothing but going to meetings and conferences; I probably go to more than my fair share, being free of family ties and fond of travel.

The Windang experience came out of the blue.

Sandra, my boss, rang me late in the middle of a really busy week and asked how I would feel about going away for the next few days to a 'conference'. Call it a holiday, she said.

I presume this won't be one of the black suit and make-up jobs?

No, no, this will definitely be jeans and T-shirt country. Just a few group sessions.

Hey, is this that mad encounter group thing that some left over hippie in Head Office dreamed up?

Hardly, the boss chortled. You may have to organise your own love-in.

Next morning, driving south on a fine spring day, I felt relaxed. In my luggage were a couple of juicy detective stories, binoculars, a fishing rod and a few other aids to relaxation. From a brief glance the agenda for the weekend seemed pretty innocuous. Of the attendees there were a few people I knew slightly, no-one I detested and no-one I fancied.

The event was being held at an older resort-type place close to the coast. In the reception hall I was pleased to see lots of jeans and faded T-shirts. However my gaze rested on a tall dark headed woman who stood with her back to me. She was wearing a tailored pink pants suit, high-heeled navy sandals and an armful of bracelets. Mmmm, perhaps no one had told her about the dress code.

At the first briefing session, it turned out that we had already been allocated to groups and we were to remain in these for the entire conference. I groaned inwardly – this could be hell if one's group were tedious. We were even supposed to eat together. Talk about bonding. Mon Dieu!

The team leader announced that we were now to meet our other team members and be allocated our meeting room. Our leader was looking round the room. We're short of one – where is Kate Everard? - I saw her before. The woman in pink emerged from a hallway, and apologising, came up to be introduced. When my turn came, I found myself looking up into a pale pleasant face with dark eyes which looked down into mine.

Hmm, I thought, as we trailed off to our meeting room, I wonder…

I listened just enough to keep track of what was going on during a brief chat about where we had come from, what we did, why we were here, what the rules of the game were and what we expected to get out of this session. The Kate person turned out to be some senior doctor from the country.

At lunch Kate and I migrated to the same end of the table and exchanged a few cheerful words. I noticed her hands were free of wedding rings, as mine were. I learned she loved beaches and fishing and that whenever she got a chance she would drive down to the beach in her station wagon with her dog and spend the weekend fishing. I expressed a passion for the beach and a moderate interest in fishing. By the time lunch was over we had made a tentative plan for an early morning swim at the beach at Windang.

The afternoon sessions wore on. I was aware of where Kate was in the room, what she was doing, who she was talking to. She was now wearing a loose pink check shirt and shorts. The long legs and the loosely buttoned top made it very hard to keep my eyes off her. So I gazed relentlessly at the nondescript fellow next to her. He began to shift uneasily in his seat and I had to shift my eyes elsewhere.

In one sense the afternoon was endlessly boring – at best I find this process stuff mind-numbing. But the presence of Kate in the room provided me with a fascinating point of interest. By dint of sidelong glances whenever she said a word or gave an occasional reply, I took in every piece of personal information that she let fall. I also had the impression that she was keeping an eye on me. Our very rare exchanges across the room shimmered, had meaning.

When the last session ended, Kate and I migrated to each other's sides like homing pigeons. For me the need to touch her had become achingly physical. I sensed the same in her as we walked down the corridor talking on, heads bent in together, walking slightly closer than was necessary and bumping into each other ever so softly at every second step.

It was a foregone conclusion that we would eat dinner together. Kate said she couldn't take another minute of those boring people. I said, with no conviction, but it's part of the process to eat together… To hell with the process, let's have dinner in town.

As we drove into town, Kate lounged back, laughing as she patted me on the shoulder. We both laughed as I negotiated a series of bends and I hoped she might need to put a steadying hand on my thigh. But no…

We found a restaurant, chose a dark quiet corner, gave our order and relaxed. Our chatter ceased as we drank in each other's details, frankly and unashamedly.

At length, she leaned forward and said simply: you are nice – are you married?

I looked at her with a flicker of puzzlement as I shook my head. Hadn't she picked up yet that I was gay?

No, I'm not in a relationship just now. You?

Kate laughed, no, no, and my last divorce was a while back.

I'll admit to being baffled – I had become increasingly sure that she was a lesbian - and resolved to keep my mouth shut about my sexuality until I was on firmer ground. After another short silence, I led the conversation onto family and childhood stuff. She came from a grazier family, minor squattocracy, had been to boarding school, had older and younger brothers and very traditional parents who expected her to marry a local farmer. Her marriage had been disastrous – she said musingly – I think he was gay – you know, only married me for protective cover. My parents were horrified about the divorce. Anyway I was sick of nursing and being bossed around by male doctors so I used a small legacy from my great aunt and put myself through medicine.

I said tentatively – you haven't thought of marrying again?

Nooo, she said dismissively. I just don't find any of the available blokes interesting. My mother keeps harping about my age. I'm 35, by the way (I had guessed she was a little older than me) and she already has grandchildren from the boys.

Yes, it's always as issue – luckily my younger sister has produced a few nice little ones. Aunty suits me fine.

Well, what about you, she said. I ducked away from anything too close to the bone about relationships.

We made our way through a quite passable dinner and a bottle of red. We were now nicely relaxed and joking about anything that came into our heads – the conference, films, books, holidays.

It was getting close to the time to pay the bill and depart but things were unresolved and I was quite reluctant to make a move. Kate said, why don't we open that last bottle, I'm not ready to go yet.

I pulled a face. I'd love to, but I can't risk a drink-drive fine in the office car.

Over cheese and the last of the wine she leaned towards me and said, I do like you very much, I find you very attractive…

I looked into her appealing eyes and opened my mouth slightly, for a moment at a loss for what to say. Taking a deep breath, Kate, I also find you really attractive. Far too attractive, in fact.

She looked surprised, puzzled. I hesitated whether to go on and decided I couldn't stand the uncertainty any longer. Kate, hasn't it occurred to you that I might be gay?

Her response crushed me. You can't be, I'm not you know, I can't be… She was looking at me with tears welling up in her eyes – Chris, I like you so much, but I know I'm not gay.

Hey, you don't have to be, I faltered, making a great effort to keep my feelings in check. What to do? I made soothing noises and refrained from asking any of the hard questions about what place women had in her life up till now, about crushes on girls.

I said several times, hey, it's not written anywhere that you have to be gay, you know, I just happen to be that's all. Because we have got to be rather close rather quickly, I felt that I couldn't be friends with you under false pretenses. And, I must say, I wasn't sure where you were coming from…

That's just the trouble, Kate explained. I was always quite a tomboy when I was young and my mother was very negative about my best friend from school – we were very close and Mother was very cold to her, almost rude. Perhaps she thought our friendship was a little too close. I was really devastated when her parents took her overseas to live.

Look Kate, close friendships between girls are very common – you know that – in fact it's a quite normal.

Well, Kate went on, I was so hurt when she left that I really didn't let anyone get close to me after that, and since then I've had a hopeless marriage and a few boyfriends. I quite like sleeping with men, she said with a grin.

Well, I've had the odd encounter with men myself, but for me it's really about who you fall in love with, and I just happen to fall in love with women.

She looked at me sharply. How do you feel about me?

I took a breath. Look, I find you very interesting and attractive, that's fairly obvious, isn't it? She nodded. And I guess I'd like us to be friends – I do have quite a few women friends who aren't gay, you know.

Kate looked at me closely. It's years since I met a woman that I have found so attractive. Tears welled again, that's what upsets me so much, I really want to touch you and hold you. What does that say about me?

That you're affectionate, I responded lamely and insincerely.

She gave me a hard look. You know what I mean.

Indeed I did. But at this point I simply had to let her work through her feelings. We sat in silence. Eventually I asked for the bill. Time to go home, I suppose. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling tired. Early to bed, early swim. I said this with complete lack of enthusiasm or conviction.

She nodded slowly and even sadly, OK let's go.

Back at the resort she said, Chris, do you mind if we sit around and talk about this for a while when we get back?

I swallowed, Kate, I don't know whether I'm up to that – I think you need to do a bit of thinking by yourself and to be absolutely honest, I do fancy you quite a lot and having you up close in my little room could be quite uncomfortable. I think I just need to sleep it off.

Give me a kiss goodnight, she said, and thanks for being so understanding. I went to give her a peck on the cheek but she grabbed me and kissed me very hard. Every hormone in me jangled wonderfully, but I carefully detached myself. Good night, sleep tight. I'll knock on your door at seven. And I went into my room and closed the door.

The alarm went off at 6.45. I splashed cold water on my face, threw on my costume, tracksuit and sneakers, grabbed a towel and very nervously went down to Kate's room. I knocked gently and the door was opened at once. Come in, she said very softly. I'm not quite ready. She stood close to me in her pink flannelette pyjamas, her dark hair tousled. It was a major effort not to take her in my arms and I was sure she wanted me to. She moved slowly away saying – I just have to find my swimmers. I nodded and looked out to sea as she stripped off and wriggled into her costume.

So, off to the beach at Windang. It was a long unspoiled beach with parking behind the sand hills. We followed the path through the dunes and onto the beach. We dumped our gear in the lee of the dunes and stood side by side looking at the surf. We turned as one to say, the surf looks good and, too close for comfort, we looked into each other's eyes. She turned into me, her hand restraining mine low down and kissed me full on the lips. The moment was engraved on the clouds for me.

I broke away and giving her a sharp slap on the bum said: beat you in and we raced headlong into the water. We both surfed hard. Bracing cold and exercise was what we both needed. At last, with time running out we towelled ourselves down on the beach.

I needed that, she panted.

I gasped, me too.

A dash back to the resort, a shower and then down to breakfast. I had resolved to keep a little more distance from Kate today, for my own self preservation – but she came and sat next to me at breakfast. At lunch I sat between two other people and at the end of the final session she came over and said – you're avoiding me.

No, I rejoined, just making a little space for myself.

What do you mean by that?

Look, I said softly, I don't think we should talk about it here.

How about coming downtown for a drink before we leave. You're going back tonight, aren't you?

Yes, I have to work tomorrow. Let's meet at the cafe in about half an hour.

With a couple of coffees in front of us, Kate again asked, Why have you been avoiding me?

Look, Kate, I've told you. I do find you very attractive and if you were gay I would love to be closer to you. But we both know that you aren't gay or perhaps you're a little confused about where you're at. Now, to be blunt, I've had my share of women coming on to me who are basically straight, experimenting, confused and this can be very unsettling.

I don't know what to say. I suppose it is clear to both of us that how I feel about you goes beyond the desire to be friends. You know that last night I stood outside your door for ages. I was on the verge of asking to come in. What would you have done if I had knocked?

Probably pretended to be asleep – I'm in self-protection mode just now. I have recently come out of a long and difficult relationship and to fall in love or even lust with the wrong person is not what I need.

Oh, well, I can't blame you, she sighed, but we can be friends, can't we? Would you like to have a quick dinner before we head off?

We were both unwilling to part so we ate quickly and embraced before leaving.

On the drive home I replayed our conversations in my head. I now had four precious days off but all I really wanted was to be with her.

Time passed. Back at work, I was more than busy. I had decided to let Kate make the first move. After a few weeks she got in touch – how are you, how's work, what have you been doing? Then she said: I've met some people who know you. It seems to me if I was seen around town with you, I'd be a marked woman.

I ground my teeth. Hear this, Kate. I'm a lesbian not a leper. And no, I'm not in the closet. Now I don't wear a T-shirt with 'I am a dyke' plastered all over it but nor do I make any secret of who and what I am. And if you find that too hard, bad luck. With that, I slammed the phone down.

Some weeks later she rang again to apologise. I said: that's OK. I was probably a bit hasty but I find your attitudes really difficult.

I understand , I am sorry. Look, look, any chance of you coming up here for a weekend?

Really, I said sharply, but someone might see us.

Not out here on the farm they won't. I'm looking after my parents' farm while they are away.

She still fascinated me. I was free, so I said yes.

Kate had given me detailed instructions about where the place was as country properties can be hard to find. As I drove in the gates I saw two cars, one of them Kate's, the other a venerable Jaguar.

Visitors, I wondered, as I knocked with the huge front door knocker.

Kate came bounding to the door. Breathless, she pulled a face saying in a low voice, I'm really sorry, the parents haven't left yet.

Apparently they were late leaving because a delivery of cattle had been late and then they had stayed on to have lunch and meet me. Thanks very much I thought, saying instead, how nice of you, as I felt the mother's gimlet eyes on my quite butch gear, the sort I usually wore for a weekend in the country.

By way of conversation she asked a lot of pointed questions about my family background, school and marital status – all of which I replied to as briefly as possible and followed up quickly with questions about her family and the property. I was about to launch onto acreage and carrying capacity, when she fixed me with a steely gaze and asked 'Are you a professional friend of Kate's?' I matched steel with steel and said that we'd met at a conference and had professional interests in common. Are you a doctor? she said.

No, actually I trained as a lawyer, I smiled with what I hoped was offensive cheerfulness.

At last they departed.

Kate came over, master of her own domain, and took me in her arms. Looking down into my eyes she asked, Would you like a drive around the place while the sun is still out? I nodded and she kissed me gently on the corner of my mouth.

From high on one of the hills she showed me the extent of their property. Then she kissed me long and hard – it felt so free with the wind in our hair and the warm sun on our backs. My impression was that she had made up her mind about us so I let her make the running – I was past caring about the outcome.

Back at the ranch she showed me round and dumped my gear in the guestroom before settling down for drinks. It was wonderful having the place to ourselves. Kate had put on a roast for long slow cooking and lit the fire. I floated along, chatting easily – the tension gone from our exchanges but not out of my body. She was wearing a dark red clingy silk shirt and tight black jeans, so ravishing. We settled down to a long night in front of the fire.

I expected her to be a good cook, and she was. The wines were fine – spoils of her father's cellar, she said. After finishing the fruit and cheese, chocolates and some very mellow old port, she came and sat close to me on the large old lounge in front of the fire.

Leaning over and taking the glass from my hand, she turned to take me in her arms. No holding back now, she kissed me long and deep ... till I gasped for breath. She lay on my half reclining body, my legs fell apart to welcome her, as she slid her hand gently round the curve of my breast, and said with her mouth close to mine, would you like me to undress you here in front of the fire?

No, wait, as I kissed her with tiny kisses all the way from her full wet lips to the swelling upper curves of her breasts. With one hand I slipped loose the buttons of her shirt and all the time with my face buried in her cleavage I slipped the catch and released her breasts from captivity. What a feast, two hands were barely enough to contain the weight, one tongue was not enough for two ripe nipples. She sighed with pleasure and slid her hand under my polo shirt to find me naked underneath. My breasts leaped with pleasure as she played ever so gently with my nipples. Let's finish the job she said and we pulled down those confining zippers and slipped exploring fingers into each other's cunts. She eased her body on top of mine and kissed me long and slow and teasing. We lay on the furry mat for a long time, stroking, exploring and kissing, making up for lost time.

For a woman supposed to be inexperienced she was a natural sensualist. I whispered in between kisses, have you been taking lessons, Mmmm, she said, slipping her tongue way way down, and then, tell you later.

The fire gradually died down, and she said, let's go to bed. All the pent up emotion and the frustration took hold and we fell on each other with ferocity and passion. Bruising kisses, probing fingers. She came so easily, like a dream. I have never been so responsive, she had only to brush my nipple and my whole body arched with pleasure. I buried my face in her cunt and used all my skills to make her come as never before. And freed from care about being heard, she made me scream for more. Worn out at last we curled up in each other's arms and slept till dawn.

She dashed from the warm bed to the cold kitchen to make us tea and toast but we soon threw breakfast aside and began to make love again. We were bathed in each other's juices. I licked her all over. She ate from me as if she could never get enough.

At last satiated, we threw ourselves into the pool. The contrast between the warm and reeking bed and the icy clear pool was breathtaking, exhilarating.

Lunch was farmhouse bacon and eggs and French pastries which we ate on the terrace with a lovely crisp white wine liberated from the cellar. Totally relaxed we chatted on and I learned that she had indeed garnered a little experience since last I saw her. However she was still determined to stay in the closet. My parents …

Ah, well, I said, I've really enjoyed being with you. Ring me again.

But I knew she wouldn't. That weekend had not been a beginning, but an end, and deep down we both knew it.

We exchanged the odd phone call after that and then there was a long silence. I later heard from a colleague that she had been killed in a car accident on one of those winding country roads.

I was devastated for weeks, paralysed. On an impulse I ordered a wreath of pink flowers and drove down to the beach at Windang.

I stood on the beach at the place where we had stood and then carried the wreath down to the water and cast it into the surf.

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