“You woke up looking different that day, you know?”
There was nothing in response for a few moments, but the clicking of the knife against the chopping board, as it sliced through fresh, juicy vegetables.
Then, a nonchalant, “Did I?”
He frowned in concentration, trying to conjure the moment up once again. “You sorta had this look in your eye? Like … this determined, mean look that action heroes have when they know they’ve got things under control?”
On another day, she would have smiled at the analogy.
“I guess that musta been because I did have things under control … and not a minute too soon either. It was about time I sat up to the truth.” She replied, not looking up.
She slid the broad blade of the knife flat under the cubed veggies, and briskly transported them into the bubbling sauce on the cooker.
He looked at her quietly, noting the tenseness in the set of her shoulders, the rigid line of her usually soft mouth, and the cool chill in her once warm brown eyes … and seriously wished he had not raised this topic. However, something told him he was at the point of no return, so, like every wise idiot, he ploughed on.
She stirred the stew tenderly, brought the wooden ladle up to her nostrils, took in a whiff, then snaked her tongue out to take a lick. With her tongue still writhing against the savoury wood, she lifted her eyes to peek at him. He was staring at her mouth with a besotted look. She sighed, stopped, and threw the ladle into the sink.
“The fact that you are a heartless, sex-besotted, single-minded guy who will always keep breaking my heart because he doesn’t know how to love a woman back, and is too proud to learn how!”
For a few seconds, his mind was split between the image of her tongue giving oral sex to a wooden ladle, and the impact of what she had just said. It took him approximately twenty seconds to sit up and yell indignantly, “What!”
He leaned forward, placing his arms on the kitchen table, his eyebrows knotted with displeasure, as he repeated.
“What did you say?”
She gave him a wan, pathetic smile, her eyes narrowed in boredom.
“See? You were too engrossed, analysing the sexual aspect of my tongue against a wooden ladle, of all things, to catch a single thing I just said … which was exactly what I just said.”
She threw her arms up in frustration, got up, and stomped to the fridge. She bent over to search for a bag of crackers in the bottom shelf, and left him struggling to ignore her derriere – full, round, firm, and wickedly sexy.
“Look,” he tried to say something sensible, “I always have loved you.” He fumbled. “You know that, but everytime we make a little progress, you balk and refuse to commit further. What did you want me to do? Go on national radio and sing you a ballad? Propose to you at the stadium just before the professional league game finals begins, so that 50 000 people will know I love you? Or fly you to Jamaica all expenses paid? Go on. Tell me!”
She turned around and took a long, good look at him, then walked into the sitting-room. He almost burst with anger at her audacity. He jumped off the chair and followed her angrily.
“Hey, answer me! You can’t just walk away like that!”
She was at the door, picking up just-arrived mail. She tossed them on the mantel-piece and picked out a magazine. Mouth puckered in concentration, she tore off its protective sheeting, and flicked idly through a few pages. After a while, she popped a glance his way, and said coolly, “I would very much have liked you to commit with me every step of the way. But … if you said I was frightened of commitment, then you were absolutely mortified!”
“Oh, yes, you were too. You were so afraid to commit, you kept girls all about you like a wall. When I complained, you told me about how friendly you are, and how it’s difficult for you to be mean to people. How perhaps, I was feeling a bit jealous and insecure.”
“But you also had guy friends …”
And he instantly knew he had put his foot in it. She threw the magazine down, and folded her arms under her breasts, her mouth set.
He begun, “There was, uh …Brown, and … his brother, then … that cousin of yours … whatshisname? Uh …”
He took a full minute of mms and uhs, and could still not get ‘culprits’. His face was getting tighter and tighter, and just when she felt he would surely choke to death, he yelled in her face,
“So you don’t even have guy friends worthy of calling a threat to our intimacy! So what? Was it my fault that they were all gay guys? In fact, that even goes to show how seriously you fear commitments. For goodness’ sake, you don’t even have friends to commit to!”
“First of all, you idiot … I work at a rehab centre for gay men in crisis. Secondly, you couldn’t speak sense even if you wanted to! Besides, how pathetic can you sound? You expect a girl to accept you unconditionally, when all you do is hurt her feelings? Where are you from anyway? Fifteenth century Mars?”
When he gave her a blank look, she added.
“According to research, the aliens back then were so stupid, scientists did everything possible to dispute their existence – research was a waste of time and money.
“Yeah right! Like even a dope would believe something that corky.”
“Exactly! Like you. Nothing about you should even be existing right now. You are so unbelievable, and like … the most hopeless thing in the world.”
I sat up in bed – again – and scratched my buttocks – once again; for lack of something better to do. Every passing, empty moment made me as restless as a dog with fleas. I always yearned to be occupied, doing something. Unfortunately, my current companion does not give a darn flicker about that. He sleeps like he wants, passes his day like he wants – and everybody go burn.
Which leads me to my current train of thoughts. Why am I still hanging around such a shit-bag? I don’t know, and it peeves me like nothing you know. I change, night after night, into sexy nightwear after sexy nightwear. Does he see it? Are you kidding? Oh, he appreciates that very well – then after pinching and squeezing as much of me as will trigger his orgasmic juices, he shuts down. Yes, like a machine shut-down.
Then all through the night, he makes a damn-good show of ignoring me, to tell me later that he was doing me a favour by sparing me the sexual ordeal – after all, had I forgotten we hadn’t committed to a relationship; and he wouldn’t want me to feel like he was using me…
Hot darn! You did use me. When you treat a woman like she the only one confused about what she wants in a relationship, and you know you have not bothered to work on it yourself, you are nothing but a ‘user’. You know you gotta do something, but you cannot be bothered, and there!
I look back at his sleeping face. I remember the number of times he has chipped a crack into my heart, and I shake my head in disbelief. Why I am finding it hard to dredge up the courage to walk out of this mess is beyond me, and it makes me sick. To the pit of my stomach.
He still sleeps. He does not care, never has. There are times I can cry the whole night through, and he doggedly forces himself to sleep through it. That is one good soldier! I scratch my buttocks again. There is a new feeling today, and it is as persistent and piercing as today’s sunshine – that soon, I’m going to walk out and never look back.
I tell it to myself in a hushed whisper, and smile – like I was just told the secret of the century … and wasn’t it? I let it float all over me, and down to my toes. I look back at him and smile. Sleep well, Mr. World, ‘cuz tomorrow when you wake up, I will be gone to a better life. He mumbles in his sleep and turns.
“You got that right,” I said, and gently laid myself down. I snuggled my head into the pillow, and my thirty-two teeth were bared in all their stinking morning-breath glory. I could not seem to stop grinning. Finally, I decided to be flamboyant, so I pulled off my nightie and threw it into the waste-paper basket at the foot of the bed – it is his favourite, and always likes to see me wear it. Then I drew the duvet over myself, and turned my back to him. I had never done that before. It felt so good!
Now if there was one thing he could never beat her at, or deny, it was her skill with words. She could stun a comatose patient to consciousness with two words. Unfortunately, right now was one of those moments, and he had nothing witty enough to say back.
She picked up another magazine, and flicked idly through the pages. When she realized he was still stuttering and fluttering his arms in what was obviously a desperate attempt to say something painful back, she sighed and rolled her eyes.
“You are pathetic, aren’t you? And for all that, you lie like an idiot, but …” she posed elegantly and checked her watch, “I have a legal appointment at the Rehab in an hour, and have to get myself ready, so … you know your way out.”
With that, she proceeded to walk past him, on her way back to the kitchen, but before she had taken two steps, he found his tongue again.
“Did you just ask me to leave?”
She stopped and looked at him, mock-lost.
“Why, yes. I do believe I did. Why do you ask?”
He shook his head and laughed in disbelief.
“I see how it goes. Well, I hope your appointment stinks!”
She strode past him, and as she did, she stopped briefly to shove the magazine into his pocket. It was opened to a page, and rolled up.
She said, “Gee, thanks love. And whilst you are at it, do read that page, won’t you?” She leaned in very close and whispered in his ear. “I think you really need it.”
Then, with a slight mocking caress across his cheek, and a saucy flutter of her long eyelashes, she was gone, leaving a trail of soft, chesty laughter in her wake. He pulled out the magazine and stared at the page. It read, very matter-of-factly, “A Dumb-Ass’s Guide to Love, Sex, and Sense (You can’t get confused with this one)”
Been one full week, and ‘I’ is surviving! It’s amazing, this new-found sense of self-identity, self-confidence, and freedom. I must still be in the High-Up’s good book. I feel good, and I just came to understand what all those be-spectacled counsellors meant when they said “your psychological and emotional welfare vies with your physical.”
I looked in the mirror today, and my face was smooth and shining, my eyes were clear and twinkling. I giggled and heard this throaty, beautiful, absolutely sexy person, and I could have sworn it wasn’t me, but it was! I almost looked down to check whether my boobs had risen up a few inches to a more pert position – but forgive your child, Lord. That would have been sheer vanity.
Well, a very quick look told me they hadn’t shifted position none.
TALK & MIND:
I studied her back – the lady in front of me. Her casually elegant pose mostly, but Lordy, will you look at those legs! Long, shapely, and toned, beckoning the guys from beneath that scandalous pair of shorts.
She reminded me of Genelle, my crazy pal from way back in high school. Genelle had had looks to die for, and a mouth cold enough to quench fire … kept all idiots at bay with that mouth, Genelle did!
I strolled over to the cookery books section, still reminiscing about those good times back in school. The sexy lady was now turning towards that section, face in a DIY magazine for Woodwork – what a strange woman – and she really looked like Genelle …
“Oh Lord of Mercy! Bijou? That you?”
“Oh hell no! No shit! Genelle? I was jus’ talkin’ to m’self and sayin’ … look at this here crazy lady, all sexy ‘n’ shit and looking through a DIY mag for carpin-tary, and how she reminds me of you … then lookie here … it is you!”
“My God, Bijou … whatever happened to you? After high school, it was like you dropped off the face of the earth.”
“Mm-hmmm … don’t i know it! … and I think I did.”
They looked at each other for a few seconds and fell to laughing. For about a full minute they laughed themselves weak, so many fun memories running through each person’s head, and so much relief, that at the point in time when they needed a genuine friend to spill things to, they had miraculously found each other all over again.
When they got their breath back, Genelle started, “Hey, you want to sit and catch up over an ice-cream sundae?”
“But sho’ thing, lovie. Why not? I have the most incredible things to tell you … goddamit! … ten years worth of incredible things, I say!”
“Me too. I just came out of a painful affair, and life is something else for me these days …”
They started walking off, the elegant sexy lady in her casual couture, and the crazy-looking one in her shabby African print wrap-around and ancient, torn Birkenstocks. They held hands.
“Shucks. You just outta a painful relationship? I should probably tell you about the one I walked out of just this morning.”
“This morning? Mine happened this morning too!”
“Yeah, I know … what a coincidence.”
They both sighed. It was going to be alright. They were.
“So … what was the idiot’s name?”