The white lingerie was lying on my bed. I picked it up and hung it on the rack, rubbing my cheek in the fabric and smelling the faint sweet scent of the lady who came occasionally for lighthearted interludes away from a husband who was all but impotent but nevertheless loved. We suited each other well: perfectly happy in ephemeral passion with no intention of commitment.
I had been seeing her off the grid for the better part of the year. We had met under mysterious circumstances and hit it off in no time. She was older than I by ten or twelve years, also slender, dark haired, unselfconscious and with a face so young and vibrant she could pass for a 23 year old. This and her curvaceous body made it easier. No one would ever judge me or point fingers at me for being with this fine human being. At least that’s what I told myself.
I checked around the room that was my house, switched on the music while checking my messages on WhatsApp to see what I had missed in the few days I had been away and offline. The network is pathetic in my rural home. There was nothing worthwhile. It was all about how Christmas had been fun and other hullabaloos that come with the festive season. New year was approaching, would be here in three days to be exact, and there was nothing to smile about for me.
An hour ago, my phone had ringed and had listened (without a word) as the warm, familiar and husky voice came to the point without delay. It had been her.
“How about now…” she said, “We could have an hour.”
I could seldom resist her, seldom tried.
“An hour would be great. I was just thinking about you.” This wasn’t a lie. I had indeed been thinking about her.
“Good. See you in an hour.”
I had been thinking about her, thinking about how I would break it off with her. I had made it my only New Year resolution despite being opposed to the idea of making resolutions. I do not believe in New Year resolutions, I believe in continuous improvement. But before that, I first had to learn how to say no to her. She was so charming and too damn sexy to be said no to. After the call, I had proceeded to borrow a friend’s bike (not a sports bike) and rode at an almost constant 100km/h to get to my place before the hour mark. It was holiday season and I had gone to visit my family not so far from where I lived.
Now here I was, in my house, 20 minutes ahead of the agreed time, wondering why a man would go to such lengths for just an hour between the thighs. It was beyond my cognitive abilities.
I put two wine glasses on the table by the bed and looked at my watch again like I was in a hurry to get somewhere. I had no seats in my ‘bedsitter apartment’. So we would seat on my bed. I sat there, my mind wandering and waited through the twenty minutes.
The door was knocked.
“Hello,” she said as I let her in. “How did the game go last week.”
I kissed her. ‘We won.’
I fetched the always-waiting wine, popped off the cork and poured our drinks. The drinks were a ritual preliminary really, as we had never yet finished the bottle and as usual, after half a glass, there was no point in sitting there making small talk.
She exclaimed over the long black bruise down my thigh.
“Did you fall or something?”
“No, someone stepped on me during the last game.”
I play football and I mean soccer, British soccer, not American football.
I drew the curtains to dim the setting western sun and lay with her naked between the sheets. We were practiced lovers and comfortable with each other, philosophical over the fact that the coupling was usually better for one than the other, rarely earth moving for both simultaneously. That day, like the time before, it turned out ecstatic for her, less so for me, and I thought the pleasure of giving such pleasure enough in itself.
“Was it alright for you?” She said finally.
“Yes of course.”
“Not one of your great times though.”
“They don’t come to order. Not your turn, my turn. It’s luck.”
“A matter of friction and angles,” she teased me, repeating what I had once said.
“Who’s showering first?”
She liked to return clean to her husband, acknowledging the washing to be symbolic. I showered and dressed and waited for her to finish. She was an essential part of my life, a comfort to the body, contentment in the mind, a bulwark against loneliness. I usually said goodbye with regret, knowing she would return, but on that particular afternoon I said “Stay,” knowing all the same that she couldn’t.
“What’s the matter?”
“What of?” She was preparing to go, standing by the door.
“That this will be the last time”
“Don’t be silly,” she said.
“I’ll be back”
She kissed me with what I knew was gratitude, the way I too kissed her. She smiled into my eyes. “I’ll be back.” I opened the door for her and she went away lightheartedly, and I knew that the premonition had been not for her but for me.