Aloysius lay awake, listening to the sounds of the night.
It was 3AM. She didn’t have to look at a clock to know that. When they were young, Tommy worked second shift and he got into bed at 3AM like clockwork. He always tried so hard not to wake her but she was a light sleeper and she never minded. More often than not, they’d make love, trying for the baby they never had.
When he went away to Italy, she still woke at 3; even when she knew he was never coming back, her body will woke at 3AM, expecting her sweet Tommy. More than thirty years hence, her clock still told her when it was 3AM.
For more than thirty years, lying in bed and listening for movement in the hallway, sleeplessness had brought along sorrow- settling on her chest like a weight, crushing her into the mattress.
This night, a small smile tugged at the corners of her lips. The sound of tiptoed footsteps, trying valiantly to avoid the creaking floorboards but missing one or two as Sister James hurried down the hall.
There was a small, perfunctory knock before the younger woman pushed open the door. Aloysius propped herself up, her tousled and surprisingly curly blonde and white hair falling over her shoulders.
Sister James smiled so earnestly at her that Aloysius’s heart fluttered in response.
“May I come in, sister?” She whispered.
“Of course, sister.” Aloysius scooted back, making space for her sweet Sister James.
Aloysius reveled in the young woman’s body heat, the smell of her hair, the feel of her petite frame seeking as much bodily contact as she could.
“I never sleep.” Aloysius smiled.
Comfortable silence stretched on between the women before Sister James spoke again. “You were married?”
Aloysius furrowed her brow, surprised by the question. “Yes.”
“So, you’ve… with a man?”
Sister James bit her lip nervously. “And have you… with a woman?”
Aloysius nodded, “yes. When I first took the vows after my husband died. There was a woman who took me under her wing. She was a source of great comfort and strength.”
“Did you love her?”
“It was a type of love.” Aloysius admitted, “but my heart was not in a place to accept an all-consuming love at that time. It was the beginning of a very long mend.
“But I don’t think the mend would have even been possible if she hadn’t loved me and given me someone to love.”
“And you… made love to each other?”
“Yes.” Aloysius smiled. “And I will always be grateful to her for making me feel like a whole person again.”
Sister James licked her dry lips. “Does it feel good… being with another person? Does it… feel good giving all of yourself to someone you love?”
Aloysius paused for only a moment. “Having someone you love and being loved in return is God’s greatest gift.”
“My heart was so broken I didn’t think it would ever be able to love someone again.” Aloysius breathed out slowly. “Some days it still feels as painful as if he died only yesterday. Some mornings I wake up and for the briefest moment before I open my eyes… I can imagine him in bed next to me…”
Aloysius smiled, “completely outside the covers because I always stole them in my sleep.”
Sister James turned over. There was scarcely room for both of them. “What does it feel like to be in love? Is it the feeling that… if they died, you’d die? That every moment spent away from them is a little glimpse of Hell? That every breath not spent professing your undying love is a wasted breath?”
Sister James drew in a shaking breath. “Is it the feeling that you would give up everything for just one kiss?”
“It’s all those things.” Aloysius whispered. “And being loved in return is the feeling that nothing else exists in the entire world but the two of you. To be in someone’s arms and know that you are the most important thing in their life, the sun rises and sets on you, that no other person could ever compare to you. It’s the closest thing to Heaven that you can find on Earth.”
Aloysius cupped Sister James’s cheeks, leaning close. “I love you.” She whispered.
Sister James beamed. “I love you.”
The young woman broke the kiss to sit up. She leaned her forehead down against Aloysius’s. “Will you touch me, sister?”
She cupped Sister James’s cheek. “Where would you like to be touched, my love?”
“Everywhere.” She smiled widely, chestnut brown eyes looking up into Aloysius’s blues. “All that I am is for you.”
Sister James took one of Aloysius’s hands and guided it between her legs, never losing eye contact. “Touch me. Please.” She whispered, their lips brushing with every word.
Aloysius’s long, nimble fingers gathered the fabric of Sister James’s scratchy cotton nightdress until she had exposed the skin of her thighs and her cotton underpants. Aloysius’s fingers snaked underneath the waistband. She leaned in and captured Sister James’s mouth, swallowing the guttural moan as her fingers made first contact with Sister James’s swollen lips.
The young woman grabbed fistfuls of Aloysius’s nightdress, mouth agape in pleasure as Aloysius’s skilled fingers swirled circles around Sister James’s clit.
Aloysius deepened the kiss; Sister James rolled her hips. The redhead squeezed her eyes shut, her body writhing and gasped into Aloysius’s kiss as she climaxed.
Aloysius held onto her tightly as her body rocked with aftershocks. Sister James looked up at Aloysius with half-lidded eyes.