tagIllustratedA Woman's Story of Love Ch. 009

A Woman's Story of Love Ch. 009


A woman's story of love in one hundred episodes

Part Nine

"Lucky Me"

Two days after the party- it was on a Saturday and this happened Monday afternoon- I went to the collective studio where I paint and found a note from Mary, the manager, saying that someone- it turned out to be Marcel- had called looking for me. How had he gotten the number? Well, I guess it's not so difficult to find out things about people. Mary wrote- in a long message- that he seemed to have phoned to find out if I really was who I said I was, like someone checking a person's references before taking them on for a job or other trusted position.

Mary wrote with humor. She and I get along. I didn't worry much about her wondering who Marcel was to me. It wasn't as if I'd be asked to leave the studio if she found out I was seeing a man other than my husband. And maybe Mary had guessed but was too discreet to say so or ask, wouldn't pry. Maybe she even liked the idea (I could picture her smile as she wrote). She was on my side, liked me.

The message, like most from her, expressed encouragement, offered quiet support. I did't meet Mary often. She was busy and stopped by the studio only now and then, but her visits brought cheer, a sense of security. We talked seldom and not at length but had a rapport. She could be friendly even to the point of embarrassment. Middle-aged, she saw me as a kind of daughter, or maybe in my figure recognized herself when younger. She wanted me to enjoy life thoroughly, the painting I did and everything else. "Don't hold back," she seemed to say. "And don't let anyone else hold you back. More power to you."

Marcel had left a return number.

I remembered him petting my hair, saying he wanted to photograph me, and the irony of the moment, because Mitchell also is a camera fanatic.

But you're probably interested in what happened the night of the party, the hours right afterward rather than days later.

Mitchell told me that a guest had asked him, "Do you have square shoulders?" and he'd been pleased by the question, as it suggested the exercise he did at the gym was bringing results.

We compared notes on our experience at the party.

Mitchell felt horny, but his brother Will was staying with us that weekend, home when we arrived. Our small apartment didn't offer much privacy.

I remembered Marcel's ruby-red lips. I know that may seem a strange thing to say about a man, but he had a very sensual mouth, looked the ideal French man, good for French kissing!

The party ended in the early evening. Can I also tell you about the night?

Mitchell and I told Will we were thinking of going to a movie, one we'd been looking forward to, and invited him to join us. But hearing the title, Will said he'd already seen the film. I said he might enjoy it anyway. The reviews were good. We felt a little bad about having left our house-guest alone so long even though he'd said he didn't mind, had work to do. He repeated that we needn't worry about entertaining him during his visit. He had things to do, and sure enough, when we'd entered he'd had his laptop open, looked contented sitting on a stool at the island kitchen counter hair down around his face peering at the monitor, in the circle of soft yellow light cast by the overhead lamp that resembled a conical hat.

The movie didn't start soon. Mitchell asked his brother how his day had been, and Will said he'd fallen asleep and had strange dreams, one in which he'd learned he had a blood clot. Listening to that, I thought of menstrual blood.

"How do you get rid of a blood clot?" Will asked friend in the dream. The friend answered, "You don't. You wait for it to kill you."

We all laughed at the macabre machinations of the imagination, almost as if the dream weren't his exclusively, could have been anyone's.

"Would make a good horror movie," Mitchell said, "speaking of movies."

With time to fill, we told Will about our afternoon, the party we'd been invited to by people we'd just met, French transplants.

"You didn't stay home working," I said, frowning at the thought, staring at him, feeling apologetic. "Poor you."

Will waved his hand in front of my face, brushing away my wrong impression, and said that he'd taken a break while we were gone, walked to the waterfront and watched a ship shoot a fusillade in honor of some event in the city (he wasn't sure what). It seemed likely the big guns weren't firing live ammunition, but all the same, on the off-chance, he'd looked out to sea for the big splashes the projectiles would cause, far off where the water appeared flat and even, the minute waves seemed to coalesce as energy rushing toward the horizon. There was a sense of vertigo, a drop-off.

Marcel didn't come up by name.

I guess Mitchell knew he'd liked me, because on the way to the movie he talked to me about how much I'd liked him at the start, teasing as he sometimes does when feeling insecure. He brought up the Japanese class I taught as a volunteer, said that a few weeks after the course ended he saw me at the college bookstore where I had a part-time job and approached the counter behind which I stood and said "hi," then passed to the far side, out of view behind a post.

"You can remember that?"

"Because of your reaction."

He claimed I had looked desperate for his company then. I recognize his needling as another way to check if I'm really with him. Or maybe he hoped I'd say, "I want you, I want you.

"I'd disappeared behind a pillow and when I emerged on the other side you looked panicked.You thought you'd lost me, called out, "Mitchell!"

"In the bookstore? Maybe I was thinking about something else. Busy, I was working. Ha ha."

"And I said, cool as hell, 'Yes, can I help you?' As if you, not I were the customer!"

Mitchell said the same switch had taken place when he joined my Japanese class. He was the faculty member, but there I was teaching him.

"'Would you let me take you out?' you asked."

"I didn't."

"You did."

"Not that way."

I haven't forgotten the conversation but remember it differently.

"I took your behavior as a sign- well, more than a sign. A pretty clear-"

"Pretty clear what?"

"You'd gotten tired of waiting for me to make a move and decided to yourself. I felt for you."

"Felt for me?"

"I felt embarrassed for your sake. I could have punched myself actually. And here I'd been waiting, afraid you'd reject me."

"How stupid I was."

"'Can I take you out to dinner?'"

"I can't imagine those words coming from me, but if you say so."

"'Yes, of course,'" I answered."

"Sorry I pushed you. Look how it ruined your life."

Mitchell was still seeing Pam the day we crossed paths at the college bookstore. He later told me he'd thought of revealing that complication then and there. "You know I have a girlfriend," he'd have said. But he didn't want to risk our budding romance.

Women prefer honest men to deceitful ones.

Mitchell smiled recounting his version of events as we strode along the pavement.

"When?" he'd asked me across the bookstore counter.

At the restaurant he'd taken out his wallet. No, I hadn't planned to pay for us both.

"Can I call you?" I'd asked.

"Can I? Was I so submissive?"

"You didn't turn out to be."

"When?" he'd asked again.

"Anytime. Tonight?"

Mitchell had worried, he confessed eventually- all the truth came out- that his girlfriend might be at his place when I phoned but saw no way to avoid that risk. Instructing me to call only at a specific time would have raised suspicions.

"You're not stupid," Mitchell acknowledged, patting my head as we neared the movie theater apartment.

At the bookstore on the campus, he'd said, "Sure." I could call him. Lucky me. He took a chance. We both did.

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by Anonymous

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by Anonymous08/09/18

What a spankable bottom!

The story is good, too.

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