It wasn't easy to make love. For starters, you needed six people. You couldn't do it with less. And each person needed to love all of the others. Most importantly, each needed to love themselves.

It began with a single pair, as most things do. In this case, Lance loved me and I loved him. So we had a start. Lance cared for all of the emotions that others discarded when they didn't need them anymore. Things like a young girl's first crush. The closeness between best friends who, over time, drift apart. The pains of unrequited love.

I was just a file clerk with great legs. I divided and categorized and counted and kept track. I recorded suffering. Somebody had to. But Lance took me away from all that. Every night we danced without music and pantomimed removing each other's clothes, which was much more erotic than the actual act. Souls are matched in heaven, I suppose. But I found the locks of his hair gorgeous, tumbling across his forehead as they did.

Two down, four to go. It took a long time, usually, to bring six people together in love. Most found it all too easy to be satisfied with just that single companion. The embrace of another. You had to wait at least until the newness of such singular fascination wore off. For Lance and I, it was six months. Then we were ready for others.

Also important was that they be chosen together, through the mutual attraction of all involved. Otherwise, it was never going to work.

Lance and I fell in love with a scuba gear salesman named Matt. Matt kept a lot of oxygen in his lungs. He breathed only when he needed to. I could see his face filling up the forever places inside of me. I could recognize the fit.

What Lance and Matt saw in each other was their own business. I had to stay focused on mine.

We were with Matt one day, as Lance gathered up some carelessly dismissed passion from beneath a park bench, when the three of us beheld Tina and Trudy for the first time. They weren't acrobats, exactly. But they had walked around attached to each other in one form or another for nearly five years. Currently, they were attached at the mouth, kissing. They were good at it. I could've watched for hours. But they broke it off when they spotted the three of us.

We all stood staring at each other, as Tina and Trudy interlocked arms at the elbow. I wondered what it was like: never being separate, forever having someone near. I kept totals on human misery. That was my day job. But there would be no tallies on a pair like this. Through togetherness, they had beaten the odds. Everyone introduced themselves. Matt took a breath. The twins came home with us.

Five wasn't enough. I didn't make the rules. It just wasn't. We gave and received and took and shared. We lived to form a gestalt personality, unique in all creation. But we couldn't make love. This incompleteness haunted our union for three summers, winters, and falls. We slept through the springtimes. What good were they without passion to bloom? You couldn't give up without being a fool, so none of us did.

Casey. Ah, Casey. Casey wasn't a man or a woman. That alone was pretty exciting. Casey lived in a supermarket, but only because it was convenient. All five of us were browsing for dinner when our life turned a corner into the produce aisle. Casey counted stars, but only in the daytime, because it was more of a challenge.

We each of us knew, instantly then, that we had what we needed. We were ready to make love.

No one sat in a circle and joined hands. (Well, maybe Tina and Trudy did.) No one took off their clothes. (Except maybe Lance and I, after a fashion.) We weren't even all together in the same place when it happened.

It was like reaching for a light switch and finding another hand in the dark, doing the same. We felt our love for one another. We felt joy, contentment, peace. Death didn't matter, if it ever had. This was about life.

Feelings don't have legs or arms or even bodies. But they exist. And love is the granddaddy of them all. We didn't have to concentrate. In fact, we had to unconcentrate. We had to smash our hearts together and know the form without looking.

We made love.

There it was, the seventh of our six. Alive. Free. It existed. It was.

Our love had choices to make, a destiny of its own to fulfill. It lived with us for a time, taking up no bed space. We swam in it and went blind and ate a piece and hugged strangers because of it. Love made us sane.

I didn't know about Lance or Matt or Tina or Trudy or Casey, but a protective part of me wanted to kidnap our love and hide it away from the orange and black of the world. From jagged darkness and overloud fears. From the failures of reaching for perfection every time.

We made love. And then we let it go. What happened to it out there? Faith gave us the only answers we would ever receive.

Of course, the six of us made love again, but it wasn't the same. It never would be.

We lay together on a hillside. Tina and Trudy were on top of each other. Lance rested his eyes from seeing. Matt breathed easy. And Casey handed us a plastic bag to smother our doubt.

Love is simple when you make it your life.



Mark Joseph Kevlock has devoted his life to perfecting love. Not to finding a perfect love, but rather to perfecting the love that he finds, working at it, letting it in, learning ever new ways to surrender to it. He really doesn't do anything else but practice love all day. Perhaps someday he may even feel it toward himself.

Darla Mottram