••• The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Life Fiction
‘I have a secret.’
‘So, tell me, what’s your secret, beautiful?’
‘Well, it’s my birthday and I’ve come out with a girlfriend to celebrate.’
‘Oh, well then, I should wish you a happy birthday. Let me buy you both a drink then.’
‘Well, she’s with someone right now. They’re dancing. You could buy me a drink. Thank you for wishing me. Well, aren’t you going to ask me?’
‘Ask you what?’
‘How old I am?’
‘No, I’m not going to ask you how old you are.’
‘And why is that.’
‘It’s not polite to ask a woman how old she is.’
‘Oh, you’re one of those.’
‘What do you mean by that?’
‘No, I meant nothing by it. Being a gentleman is a good thing. Few men are these days.’
‘You think I’m a gentleman?’
‘I’ve been standing here for ten minutes and you haven’t asked me if you could buy me a drink yet.’
‘Well, then, I think I’d better buy you that drink now.’
‘Yes, a drink would be nice. A glass of red wine would be fine. Aren’t you going to have anything?’
‘No, I think I’ll just watch you drink your glass of red wine and savour it.’
‘Oh, well, okay then. You’re one of those men.’
‘Whatever do you mean? Just come right out and say it, why don’t you.’
‘You’re one of those men who just come out at night and buy strange women drinks. I mean, I don’t even know your name.’
‘You never asked me what my name was, darling.’
‘So, what’s your name stranger?’
‘Anton, and yours.’
‘Julia. I’ve never done this before.’
‘Oh, really.’ Anton wanted to add. ‘You mean going to bed with a stranger who picked you up in a bar where you were celebrating your birthday with a friend and then left your friend, in the bar, and made your way to a hotel in an out of the way district,’ but didn’t.
‘Maybe it’s fate that we met like this. I’m just nervous. Men are never nervous when they go for a woman in a bar.’
‘Really now. I never would of thought of it that way.’
‘Did you think I was forward?’
‘I noticed you earlier, and I have to admit that I liked the look of you. You looked so lonely. On your own like that. I wanted to get up the nerve to speak to you.’
‘Why didn’t you?’
‘Oh, I don’t know. It’s just not the done thing. A woman on her own approaching a man on his own. I’m just not that brave, I guess.’
‘Oh, why do you say that.’
‘You’re going to sleep with me.’ Julia blushed.
They made their way up to the hotel room in the lift. Anton stroked her cheek. She seemed to quieten down. Shivered less. She had drunk a few glasses of wine at the bar. Anton pulled her towards him. Julia closed her eyes. He could feel her tremble in his arms.
‘Are you going to kiss me?’
‘Do you want me to kiss you?’ Julia opened her eyes, put her arms around his neck and pulled him close. Anton kissed her cheek and let go of her then as the lift’s doors opened and they made their way down the lit passage.
When they were inside the room, Julia sat on the edge of the bed.
‘Are you cold, Julia?’
‘Yes, yes, I am a little cold.’
‘Do you want something to drink? Something warm. Cocoa or hot chocolate or something.’
‘Milo would be nice. Do you think that they would have Milo here?’ Anton was reminded of his children now who would be fast asleep in their beds by now on their grandparents’ farm. His wife was probably watching television.
‘How about something to eat? You must be famished. Have you eaten at all today?’
‘Just birthday cake. You go ahead and order room service if you want something to eat, though. Anton, I’m fine.’ Julia stroked the bedspread.
‘You don’t mind if I take a bath first, do you, Julia?’
‘No, you go ahead.’
‘You’ll wait for me.’
‘Yes, of course, I’ll wait for you,’ said Julia, she hesitated before she got up and made to follow him into the bathroom. ‘I’ll keep you company, if you like.’
‘Well, then if you must.’
The colour of this Julia’s hair was red flowers. He wanted to bury himself in the feel of her flesh, skin against skin. She was young but she wasn’t that young. She was younger than he was. In her early forties. Divorced with grown up children (she had been really chatty at the bar).
She had a son who lived in Australia with his psychiatrist wife and a daughter who was studying in Cape Town. She had really been enjoying his company in the bar. Laughing at his jokes. Looking at him flirtatiously. Putting her hand on his. Telling him he had an interesting face. That he was in good shape, did he workout, go to the gym regularly. That he had sensitive hands.
‘I don’t often go out at night on my own anymore but it’s my birthday,’
‘Like you said before, I know.’
‘And my girlfriend said we should go out tonight and celebrate.’
‘Oh, yes, quite. Like you said.’
Anton undressed himself.
‘I’ll just put on the television.’
‘Do you want me to wash your back?’
Anton handed Julia the soap.
Anton was made of flesh and sun. His hands had the feel of a tree. The same warmth and sincerity that he showed towards his maternal aunts, he showed to all women in his life. In the world of a boy made up of nausea and meat tea, broth and biscuit, banana bread and cake, thin slices of buttered bread and steaming hot mugs of tea.
And when silence came upon Anton in the evenings, he played Bach. He loved cooking for himself when his wife and children weren’t at home or even in the same city. His wife was always taking the children to her parent’s farm outside of the city. Whenever Anton cooked for himself, he made a feast of it.
A man like Anton found an escape in women. All women were the same to him. Young or old. They wanted someone to listen to them. To pamper them. To buy them a drink. Give them attention.
He stroked the soft inner space of her thighs, watched her close her eyes at the bar. Anton wondered how far he could go. How far she would let him go.
At night, the city turned sensuous. Into sacred earth and lost universe. Anton lost himself in bars, booze and women. He was a man’s man but also a woman’s man.
There were days when he couldn’t read his wife, Moira’s expression on her face, or her mood. He only knew that he had been created to love her (hadn’t he also been created to love all women).
To Anton, life seemed pointless without females. Without flirting. Anton always fell in love with a woman’s voice first, her body second (like he had with Moira).
The women that he picked up in bars were so easy to love, to impress. Not Moira. They were divided by the children who needed her attention the whole day. She saw to them before she saw to him.
‘I want to know,’ said this Julia, with the red flowers in her hair, ‘about you.’
‘Well, what do you want to know about me?’
‘Clearly, you’re not married. Have you ever been married?’
‘No,’ lied Anton. ‘I’ve never been married.’ Sometimes Anton believed the women whom he had these trysts with, were ready to believe anything he told them. Women believed in the evening sky of marriage, the window of that image more than they believed in the mental vibrations of love.
Remember. What will I remember at the end of this night, this day, Anton mused. And Anton thought to himself, not for the first time in his life, that he was not a perfect person. Nobody was perfect.
He wanted to lift all signs of sadness off his wife’s Moira’s face. The veil that clouded her vision. The deep-seated loneliness that he felt she must also feel.
Anton was a master when it came to women. It came from youth. Moira, (over the years had been and still was a terrific wife) and Anton were a loving couple on the surface of things.
Women would do anything for him. Julia’s moonlit mouth was soft and sensuous in the dark. He remembered the kiss in the lift and the kisses that had followed. Hard and fast and furious.
Anton closed his eyes. The woman beside him stirred in her sleep. He couldn’t remember her name. Was she a Jessica, a Janine, or a Julia? For the life of him, Anton just couldn’t remember.
© Short fiction by Abigail George - June 1st 2017
Email address: email@example.com
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