It had been nothing but a random provocation of muscle, an awkward-standing up that led to a consistent, throbbing ache in my right lat.
"Rub it?" I asked Jeff, hopefully. "Not like scritchies, but real massage work?"
From the master bedroom, he nodded. I picked up the nearest bottle of massage lotion and thought for a moment how much my life has changed in the past six months; my now-life dictates keeping a few bottles of massage lotion in different rooms around the house, because there's no telling when or where a sore muscle might strike.
"Which side of the bed? You're right-handed, and the sore muscle is on my right side…" I looked up and realized that Jeff was giving me his 'That's-too-much-information' look. I shrugged, took off my shirt, unhooked my bra, and lay down on the guest bed.
"Where's it at?" His hands, dry, pressed slowly down my back.
"That's the right area. Move a bit further out from the spine - up just a little - ow! Not so hard! You'll have to ease into that much pressure. I can't take that all at once." His hands eased, and began massaging the sore spot, first dry, then with a bit of the massage lotion.
With time, and gentleness, the clenched muscle began to relax. He began to sweep his hands up and down my back, gently, fingers splayed, thumbs following spine; my mind drifting gratefully toward thoughts of sleep, comfort, other nights like this.
He drew his hands down around my waist, momentarily curling his fingers around my waistline, and I remembered.
* * * * *
I had been lying on my side, a slight glow, a slight sweat, emanating from my skin. We were both blue-eyed and blind, our glasses guarding our respective nightstands, our eyes seeing only degrees of shadows. He brushed the hair away from my face and trailed the hand down my body, coming to rest at the notch between rib cage and hipbone.
"I like this. It wasn't here before." He traced it, gently, letting his fingers tell me in the darkened room of the curves: inward from rib cage, outward again at hipbone.
"That wasn't there before. I like it."
* * * * *
I felt the bedspread rasp against my lips as I smiled. He continued stroking his hands down my back; up, down, up, down. I remembered comments of friends hugged, and wondered if they were true.
"Does it feel different to you? Look different?"
"With your arms up, like they are now, it's hard to tell. When they're down, though…yes."
I know the internal answer, but I'm not always sure of the external answer. I can feel the changes in me, an awareness of muscles growing and strengthened, but I'm not sure how much of that translates into changes visible to others.
In the mirror I catch glimpses of it. A stretch in front of the mirror unwittingly shadows unfamiliar curves. Where there was once round, and pudge-there is, admittedly, still so-but less of it, now beginning to share center stage with what this body must look like without it: the swell of breast, a noticeable dip at waist, the flare of hips.
He trailed his hands down my back, spread them softly against the sides of my rib cage, and squeezed gently; a hug in another guise. "Better?" he asked.
"Yes. Thank you."
We were once described as violinesque, and I cannot argue. I've been called far worse.
After speaking with her again, Val has cleared me to do cardio work this week. I'm to do no weightlifting for the next eight days, though. Let the healing and rest commence.