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The Roles We Play

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“According to the wire, you are resting well and are being taken care of by a nurse. I hope she is beautiful and that she has red hair. I don't know why, but whenever I dream of a nurse she always has red hair. Red hair makes a man want to recover his health quickly, so that he can get on his feet and get the nurse off hers." - Groucho Marx, letter to his son”

  
     Anne Blythe stood in front of her full length mirror worrying her lip as she adjusted her costume. Well, it wasn’t so much a costume as it was a uniform. She and Gilbert had moved to Charlottetown one month ago when they’d returned from their honeymoon so Gilbert could start to work with Dr. Ward. Their eventual plan was to move back to the country and build their House o’ Dreams but the newlyweds had found Charlottetown to be a fine place to begin their life together in the mean time. The Charlottetown school was much larger than the one room institutions in the country and Anne had been fortunate enough to find a position there. As always, she made friends wherever she went, and felt fortunate to find a companion in Sarah MacDonald, one of the young nurses Gilbert worked with.

          Sarah was a sweet girl who adored the Blythes, a name Anne still felt a charge of elation when being addressed by. She hoped she hadn’t scandalized Sarah when she had asked to borrow one of her nurse uniforms. The girl had insisted on her keeping it, which Anne took to mean she might not be able to wear it again, likely deducing what it would be used for. It had taken Anne a week to refit it to her measurements which was no easy task hiding from Gilbert. She had finally finished taking it in so she decided tonight was the night. What if it offended him in some way? Or what if he was exhausted after a long day of work and didn’t find any amusement in it at all? If he merely laughed at her she could probably laugh with him and shrug it off as a joke, but irritating him and meeting with subsequent rejection would shatter her.

          Not one to entertain mournful fears for too long, she pinned her hair up the way she noticed many of the nurses in Kingsport Hospital wearing it and prepared for her husband’s return home. Gilbert didn’t always come home at the same time every evening, given his profession, but she had prepared for that. She had prepared a simple supper that he was partial to and finished some of her grading before deciding to go ahead and put on the nurse uniform… sans undergarments. She wore stockings but they weren’t fastened to anything and she would periodically have to tug them up again through her skirt. Soon enough she heard the front door unlock so she dashed upstairs to prepare for her unveiling.

          “Mrs. Blythe?” he called out cheerfully, making her grin from behind the cracked bedroom door. That was a good sign. Not exhausted.

          “I’m up here, Darling!” she called out, pressing her fingers to her lips in excitement.

          “I’m going to be in my office. I won’t be long and I can make dinner for you, Anne. You can tell me all about your day,” he left the spot where he hovered at the bottom of the stairs and headed to his office. Anne waited. And waited some more. She tugged up her stockings again then checked that her little white cap was centered on top of her head in the mirror. Everything was just right, from the little nurse’s cap to her white apron and dress. She sighed. She hadn’t told him that she had already made him dinner because she had hoped to surprise him with a work free evening but now he seemed to have lost track of time in his office. Growing impatient she decided she had every right to intrude on him.

          Walking down the stairs, heart pounding, she thought of all the ways this could go wrong again. What if he thought this was unprofessional? Or if he would be embarrassed to work with Sarah again when he asked her where she got her clothes? When she got to the ajar door of his office she knocked before taking a deep breath and getting into character.

          “Anne?” she heard on the other side of the door. She pushed the door open and adopted her most serious face. The look on Gilbert’s face went from surprised to bewildered eventually settling on a mixture of both.

          “I beg your pardon, Dr. Blythe. I would prefer it if you addressed me as Nurse Shirley,” she said with her hand on the doorknob so that she didn’t fidget.

          “Anne, what on earth-?” In his voice was an affectionate amusement. He moved his chair back and faced her in incredulity.

          “I’ve always heard that doctors are the worst patients, but I really must insist on giving you a check up,” she said sauntering towards him. She felt half ridiculous, never learning how to so much as flirt, but she kept reminding herself to be a convincing actress. Gilbert’s eyes widened as he surveyed her appearance coming towards him.

          “There’s a fever going around and it won’t do to have Charlottetown’s premiere doctor coming down with anything because he didn’t think to take care of himself,” she explained as she placed her hands on his shoulders, guiding him to lean back in his chair. He still looked utterly confused but at least he was laughing.

          “And what kind of fever is that, Nurse Shirley?” Good. He was playing along. Anne smirked as she moved to his medical bag, searching for his stethoscope.

          “A contagious one. I’ll have to check you for the symptoms,” she said as she approached him once again, putting the stethoscope to her ears. He was smiling broadly now, which was a good sign, but she hoped his smile would unfold into another expression soon enough.

          ‘I’m going to need to remove your shirt,” she told him in her huskiest voice, praying he wouldn’t laugh. He didn’t. With a raised eyebrow and a smirk he began unbuttoning.

          “And what are the symptoms, Nurse Shirley? You’re being awfully vague,” he teased lightly, still not entirely sure where she was going with this game. Her eyes were fixed to his naked torso as she helped him remove the shirt entirely. Placing her hands confidently on his shoulders she slid them down to his chest slowly before taking the end of the stethoscope to her mouth to warm it with two short breathes. She moved it to the spot over his heart.

          “Hmm, elevated heart rate. That’s one,” she wanted to sound breathy and seductive but she just wasn’t capable, her tone coming across more as a fussed mother. She moved the stethoscope to the other side of his chest. “Take a slow, deep breath for me?” He complied. “Very good,” she praised him before moving it to his back, sliding the undone shirt down his arms as to remove it entirely. “Take another deep breath for me.” She brought her chest closer to his face as she reached her arm behind him.

          “What are the other symptoms, Nurse Shirley?” There was still amusement in his voice but it the question came out quieter this time. He moved his hand to her waist and stroked his thumb just below her breast.

          “High fever,” she listed off before moving her lips to his forehead as to test how hot he was, ending with a kiss. She trailed her lips along his forehead, moving down to his jaw.

          “Is that how you test everyone’s temperature?” he teased, his eyes fluttering closed as she kissed his jaw languidly. She pulled away from him and raised an eyebrow.

          “I’m going to have to ask you to remove the rest of your clothes.” There was a heat in her eyes now as she watched him hungrily. He saw it and brooked no argument as he made quick work of his trousers from his seat. She moved to her knees and helped him pull them off, sliding her hands up his calves and thighs. She placed a kiss on his knee and splaying a hand on his flat stomach, caressed him there. He had an erection now but she was avoiding it. He gripped the arms of his chair waiting for more.

          “What are you examining now, Nurse Shirley?” he questioned her hopefully. From her position there on the ground between his knees she looked like a siren, even with her silly white cap on. The sight of her placing kisses on his naked body, in this position of servitude, left him breathless with arousal, gratitude, and disbelief that this Anne-girl was really his wife. Even after these two short months he still had moments where he felt it was all a dream that might be disrupted, leaving him awake, panting and heartsick in his bed. Their lovemaking often made him feel this way, but never so much as the first time. He’d fantasized about her over the years, but the reality of Anne Shirley-Cuthbert so willingly surrendering herself to him… She was a celestial specter of beauty. Not just her immaculate body, and the way she moved it, but in her ways. If he had her connection to words he might be able to describe it. The way she looked at him, the timbre of her voice, the things she would say to him in these secret lovers moments, the way she made him feel as though out of all of her vast imaginings and dreams and passions, he was the most beloved. He met her there with such reverence; their physical relationship was like a sacrament to him. In this moment he reveled in the delight that she seemed to never run out of ways to amaze him.

          “I was afraid of this,” she said, sliding her hands up his thighs to massage his testicles and wrap her fingers around his shaft. He gasped.

          “It appears you’ve been stricken. You’ll have to be quarantined in here with me. This is the worst case I’ve seen.”

          “How many cases have you-“ she took him into her mouth and he forgot everything else. He briefly closed his eyes, tilting his head back to luxuriate in the sensation, the sounds of her mouth making sweet little smacking sounds over him. She was taking her time, exploring his testicles with her mouth, circling her tongue over his moistening tip to collect his offering to her.

          “Anne,”  he groaned before opening his heavy eyelids to watch her. She stopped and looked up at him, a small smile and blinding twinkle in her blue eyes.

          “Doctor, I’m afraid I’ve been compromised. I’m exhibiting all of the same symptoms… If I don’t receive treatment immediately… I feel as though I might not survive.” Her voice was husky and trembling. It made her feel so vulnerable to initiate things between them, and the fear of rejection still made her insecure. Even after a few weeks of marriage and nearly constant lovemaking, she still worried about putting him off with her unquenchable ardor. As wanton as she was with him, she still held back. He didn’t answer her in words. He pulled her up into his lap, fumbling to fit the both of them. The chair wasn’t really big enough for her to straddle his lap but he wasn’t letting that slow him down. He kissed her fervently, gripping her bottom through her dress and running his fingers into her bound hair, getting tangled there. He made to move her to his desk, still home to patient files and medical texts and they both scrambled impatiently to clear them out of the way before she was finally perched at the edge. One of his hands was pulling up her skirt, following her stockinged leg up and the other was caught in her hair as he never stopped kissing her throughout. He was entirely naked and she was still in ‘uniform’ and it wasn’t fair.

          Her arms were clasped tight around his shoulders and back as she spread her legs to get him closer to her. Finally her skirt was up around her waist and revealing to his touch that there was nothing beneath it. He released a long, low groan at his sodden discovery and Anne nipped his lower lip, making his hips jerk forward.

          “Doctor, please hurry. I won’t last much longer,” she begged. Would he ever get used to the sound of it? He really did feel fevered now, Gilbert observed as he set about looking for the fastenings of her dress. She hiked up her skirt higher and locked her legs around his waist, forcing him against her, his erection pushed against her red mound. He fumbled for her buttons but she must have meant what she said because she reached down between them to guide him to her entrance, not giving him time to disrobe her. He gave up at her insistence and gladly allowed himself to be ensconced by her, crying out the moment their bodies joined. He gripped her hips with both hands beneath her skirts as he entered her completely. His little wife appeared to want him hard and hurried this evening and she left his brain reeling as she lifted herself up, furiously meeting his thrusts with her own. He moved one hand to her covered breast, squeezing it through the bodice and met her frenzy as a challenge.

          When he initiated intimacy with her it was always gentle and adoring, but Anne occasionally demanded a violence from their lovemaking that left him completely demented and helpless to do anything other than meet her in that need. She was shameless now and he was undone.

          “Doctor,” she whimpered, her head thrown back, displaying her long white throat to him. “Doctor, YES!”  Why did he find this so compelling? Not for the first time he fleetingly wondered, what was Anne? How was she able to do this to him, to find things inside him he never knew existed? And how had he ever managed to make her his wife?

          “Nurse Shirley,” he grunted as he moved in her wildly. He reached down to pinch the swollen bud just above her entrance. She inhaled sharply, looking up at him in her mania and he didn’t think he would last. His face was twisted in ecstasy, his square jaw clenching. She wanted to reach out to it but she couldn’t move other than to force his body further and harder into her own. It made her feel deliciously powerless and she felt the crest of her pleasure swell until she was baying. He heard her call out ‘Doctor!’ at least twice more before he was riotously seized by his own climax, unable to last any longer with the way her body pulsed around him.

          “A- Anne! Oh, Anne,” he shuddered, slowing to a stop as his heart pounded in his ears. He was sweating. She moved a trembling hand to his jaw and leaned up to kiss him. Their eyes never left each others as they shared a brief, ecstatic laugh. He withdrew and wrapped both arms tightly around her, burying his face in her neck. Never, he thought, would her scent cease to ensnare him. He held her that way for so long that they both lost track of time, long having lost its meaning. Finally he placed dopey kisses to the delicate white column of her neck and looked at her face. She looked how he felt and it made him smile lethargically.

          “And where did all of this come from, Nurse Shirley?” He tugged at her disheveled cap. She was bashful now, tilting her face down. It was just as distracting, seeing his beautiful naked body in her arms. She couldn’t resist placing a kiss over his heart.

          “I thought it might be an interesting experiment,” she shrugged. “I didn’t know if you would like it.” He tilted her chin up to his beaming face.

          “What goes on in that wonderful mind of yours, Mrs. Blythe?”

          “I don’t know… I’ve been with Gilbert. I was curious as to what it would be like with Dr. Blythe,” she told him shyly.

          “You always have all of me. Every nook. You certainly don’t need this get up to have me,” he told her meaningfully. She just looked so shy and he didn’t want her to feel the need to hold back any of her fantasies with him. He came to her open and raw and hoped she could feel safe doing the same with him. Did she still feel the need to hide parts of herself with him? How could he entice her to share it all?

          “I don’t know. I figured maybe you might be… attracted to the uniform. At least some part of you,” she admitted. He laughed and immediately regretted it when he saw her expression.

          “Listen up, Ms. Anne- Mrs. Anne. I love you. Only you. For as long as I can remember you are the only woman I have- ever wanted to do this with. So make of that what you will. If you’re worried about me looking at nurses then just… don’t. Any spare thought I have at work is about my little red-headed wife. It makes me rather boring company, I’m afraid.”

          “Oh, Gil, it’s not that. Not really. I just… I don’t know- I-“ she shook her head as he waited quixotically for her to explain why she was so nervous. “I want you so much. I want you a thousand ways. Sometimes I don’t know if I’ll ever get my fill. It makes me feel obscene. Ashamed. That you will see it and be repulsed.” He let out an astounded breath. He couldn’t keep the chortle out of his voice as he answered, shaking his head,

          “You’re joking?” She narrowed her eyes and her nostrils flared, still looking away from him. “Anne, look at me. I…” he was shaking his head, bereft of words. He had to laugh again. “I could never feel repulsed by that. Do you really doubt that I feel the same way?” She whined petulantly.

          “Gilbert, if you only knew half of the things in my head. You can’t promise that. You’re so dear and tender towards me- If you knew some of the thoughts I have about you sometimes. Sometimes I wish time would just hurry up so we can be a comfortable middle aged couple, secure and unencumbered by the thrill of it all. It feels dangerous to me. I wish I could stop.”

          She had never meant to make this confession and now that she had she was close to crying. Why did he want to poke at her until he knew everything? Couldn’t she keep this to herself? All the advice she received from older women leading up to her marriage was varied in theme but they all agreed on one thing: Leave the mystery. Familiarity breeds contempt. If he knew all of her there was no way he could continue to love her this much. Gilbert wasn’t laughing anymore. He took her chin in his hand and placed a deep kiss on her mouth.

          “Anne. Silly Anne.” He began stroking her hair and her face with both hands. “My sweet, ridiculous Anne. Don’t wish this joy away from us so quickly. Did it ever occur to you that I might feel the same way? That most men do? We’re told not to ‘contaminate’ our wives with the brunt of our lust. You are such a gift to me, Anne. When I learned that you loved me, when you told me you would be my wife,” he laughed again, “I had determined to be so careful with you as to not frighten you away. Yes, I’m tender with you because you’re a delicate, precious thing to me, you’re so darling and small, and my instincts told me to treat you with gentleness and caution. Remember that night in Hester Gray’s garden not long after we were engaged? You responded to my kisses so,” he shook her head, “passionately. Did you think I was repulsed?! That was fear. You made me lose control, Anne. But now we don’t have to control it. Give all of it to me. Like we vowed to each other on our wedding day. I can promise you this, if you ever want anything from me that I don’t think I can give you then I will simply tell you. With no disgust, no judgment. I’ll love you just the same. I only hope that I never disappoint you. That is what I worry about.”

          His speech had her in tears. He chased them away with his fingers and his lips as he shushed her.

          “Oh, Gil. Never must you think that I’m dissatisfied! You satisfy me so completely. I don’t know what I did to deserve you-“

          “Then isn’t it wonderful that we should both feel the same way?”

          “If I do want things from you that you don’t think you can give, never ever think you’ve disappointed me. It’s just that I’m so greedy for you. I love this part of our life together. More than I can possibly say. It’s not dissatisfaction that makes me ‘longing still for that which longer nurseth the disease’. I just sometimes feel so crazed. You make me crazy. You can never allow yourself to think that it’s not enough because it’s the opposite. The more I have of you the more I want.”

          He let her words wash over him and pressed his forehead against hers while he let the bliss of it all sink in. It would seem that he was right when he considered on their wedding day that every day afterwards would be the happiest. His wonderful, insatiable Anne wanted him every bit as much as he wanted her. He had never fully accepted it and here she was, wrapping him in it.

          “Answer honestly. Do you desire for me to… hurt you? In any way?” His eyes were so serious and she shivered.

          “No. That’s not what I want. I’ve never wanted that,” said she, thinking of her brutal early childhood. He breathed a sigh of relief.

          “Do you want anyone else? In addition to me?”

          “Certainly not,” she laughed.

          “Then there is nothing to be afraid of. I could never hurt you, even if you begged me. And it would break me to share you. I’m willing to at least try everything else. So don’t hold back.”

          “Don’t hold back with me either,” she bid him. They kissed again, a kiss that sealed the deepening of their life together. He pulled on his clothes and admired her as she took off her hat and stockings.

          “So what’s next, Anne-Girl?” he asked mischievously.

          “Dinner! I made you stew hours ago and have been keeping it warm. You must be starved, locked away in here so long,” she chided before feeling guilty. She had sworn to herself never to nag him if he had to work long hours.

          “Dutiful wife! I was going to cook for you then I got so engrossed in searching for references to Mr. Daugherty’s symptoms that I abandoned you. Forgive me. I’ll cook for you tomorrow,” she led him into their kitchen but he wouldn’t allow her to serve him. When they sat down to eat together he pulled her close to his side so that he wouldn’t have to go too long without feeling her warmth. When they finished he pulled her into his lap.

          “Never regret not pursuing medicine as a vocation, Anne. You make a sultry nurse but I always quite liked imagining you as my schoolteacher, keeping me after class for being naughty and teasing the girls, pulling their hair,” he whispered into her ear. Her eyebrows quirked and she surveyed him.

          “Well, Master Blythe, maybe we can make that fantasy come true for you.”

          He nibbled her ear and she made a weak effort of batting him away. When the two cuddled that night in bed after a slower paced exploration of each other’s bodies they fell asleep to whispers of wishes that would be brought to life by the kiln of their glowing, abiding love. They both marveled that the trust and intimacy between them could grow any deeper, and looked forward to many more nights where they would discover and marvel again.