••• The International Writers Magazine - 21 Years on-line - Life Stories
The Onset of Menopause
Aren't all women cautious, seeking, seriously breathtaking, and divine in the arms of the right man. They are divine, aren't they. Pain is wasted in youth. It is like driftwood in my hands.
There's a winter chill in the air and the room is cold, but there's a feast in her hair. My poor spiritual progress has paid for everything in my life. When it comes to women there's no one type that I am attracted to. My mother used to wash dishes the whole day. To this day I still don't understand her depression and then later on her nervous breakdown. I don't know what my father saw in her and I don't know what my mother saw in him. I only saw my father clench his teeth. I only saw a father who isolated my mother until she began to withdraw from life.
Miriam and Graham. It was love at first sight. I was like a soldier in bed (showing off my muscles). I kissed her hard and fast and almost half-buried her face in the pillows. Men can be pitiful sometimes but so can women in the arms of a man. Intercourse was thankfully over quickly for her. I was vain, smart, snobbish, thoughtless, and sometimes had no filter between my brain and my mouth. The interlude with Miriam was a memorable one. She was brittle and hard and tough. Those two days she certainly cracked me up. Her mood suited my own. I spent two days and a night with Miriam. I even thought she could save me. I even thought she could be the one. We met at a party. She was drinking a glass of wine, and flirting unashamedly with me. Miriam wore too much makeup, swore too much, smoked too much and perhaps in the end she was more woman than I could handle.
"Graham, one day I will be an old woman. I will (I promise) forget your name. I know you will abandon me." Miriam was wearing the hotel towel around her wet hair like a turban.
I smiled at this. Thought of her mouth, her neck, her shoulders. I thought of how toned her arms were. Her skin was luminous. She still had youth on her side. She ran her fingers through her wet hair.
"Graham, what you are saying is all alien to me. Don't speak of love. Did you dream of me? Did you long for me as I longed for you?" Now it was Miriam's turn to smile.
I'm in the garden of Eden.This is my state of mind the morning after. She is in the shower. So I get up out of bed and pretend to wash my hands, brush my teeth, anything just to be near Miriam. I know you're out there somewhere Ignatius. I imagine we are strangers waiting for a train. Your lady, is she much like my lady? Warm, eyes full of sincerity like it's an authentic stamp of approval. We were best friends once and shared everything. Understand this. I still can't let you go. I still can't completely annihilate the memory of you. I can't obliterate you. Where did you come from oblivion, army days, the border. It feels like the end of the world as I know it after I make love to them. And then you know what happened to that nice lady (my longsuffering mother) she went insane. I wonder do you still think of me and us playing-at-war, killing people just for the heck of it 'grensvegter'. I was Quasimodo and you were Andy Capp. The border transformed us 'Boet', my brother in arms. Remember the names we use to call it. The Apocalypse. The Frontier. The Hallucination. Once again I'm cashing in on paper tigers. I'm alone again playing bachelor. On the move again looking for a woman to keep me warm and my desires sated. Someone to light up my life for a few hours. Just a few hours. I'm smoking again. It is a terrible habit. I give up but then my hand itches, my heart itches, spirit and body and soul. I mean whatever the yogis call it and I find myself buying a pack of menthols with my morning newspaper. I'm just trying to live. I'm just trying to survive. It helps if you have a beautiful woman on your arm. I can see it in my eyes. I can see it in their eyes.
Happy hearts creating happy hearts. I never really saw that growing up. My mother never had a happy heart. Perhaps I inherited my sadness, my suffering-everlasting from my father. I adored him. Like many men of his generation he was an alcoholic, not a talker, not a falling-down-drunk. My mother never really gave me a chance. Everything was everlasting in my childhood. The whisky hidden at the bottom of my father's drawer in his study and library, the driftwood spit up by the green sea was everlasting, my tallness, my thin legs, my girlfriend's, my lovers, my pain was everlasting. Pain is pain. Strange for a man to have a long memory for things of that nature. Even now there is little I know about the world of men. The person who betrayed me most often was my mother. You're a disgrace, boy, she would drawl into her vodka and orange juice. I sleep with women who have sad eyes. I sleep with women who make me work for it. I look at them, study them, ask them with a plaintive stare or by stroking their hand with mine, please just let me forget the pain of yesterday and I will in return take all your troubles away. Do you have a love, something on your mind, lust, perversion, I on the other hand have nothing waiting for me at home. If I say I am confident but that would be the wrong thing to say. Distance lends enchantment to the view and I am still in the honeymoon phase of my life.
I have a lot of anger inside of me. Now a woman would never understand this. I don't dream. Ever since I came back from the border I don't dream. Maybe there are some of us who became the family man, who have sons and daughters, who live on a farm and make their own biltong. I know people are suffering. I know that women suffer too you know. Miriam was painting her nails this morning. I watched her while I drank my coffee thinking that all women are beautiful and perfect and lovely in their own way.
"Graham, don't you think I have pretty feet. Can I bum a cigarette off of you? Sure, anytime he says. Cat got your tongue, handsome? This is now. This is us. Wouldn't it be nice to have a lady in your life? I suppose you're always getting attention from the ladies. Doesn't really matter how old they are. Graham, why do the men of your generation want to play the role of the reluctant hero."
I fell in love with Miriam but also out of love with her pretty quick. They all call me a selfish lover, a bastard, and they tell me that I have a heartless soul but it provides me with a backbone I never knew I would ever have.
I kiss her cheek. I already know that this will end badly for her. A woman wants everything and then she turns it around and says what's love got to do with it. I refuse to love another. I refuse to love another.
I disappear into the crowd. Miriam watches me walk away. The door to my heart is closed forever. She reckons that there's no more love in her future. Perhaps it is only the very young who think like this.
She's lovely in her own way I remember thinking. She feels cold, can't believe she's blinking back tears, and pulls her denim jacket around her shoulders. She waits. She waits until she cannot see me anymore.
© Abigail George
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