Last DateThey plunged into my brain, hard like bullets and inducing nearly as much consternation; made my heart lurch all the way up into my throat, causing me to choke on the senseless speech that had been trying to escape my gullet and leak out uncontrollably through my foolish mouth. Words that I had been on the verge of finally spitting out when he’d interrupted me with his; horrible, heart-rending words that instantly wrecked my most pleasant of diversions, the nearly-middle-aged schoolgirl fantasies that had consumed me since the day I’d met him nearly a year before.“It’s in London.”I couldn’t answer; merely withdrew from my overly-zealous congratulatory hug, having shamelessly taken advantage of the news of his promotion with a just-this-side-of-inappropriate embrace. My hands fell slackly from Richard’s thick, sturdy waist as I stared into those kind but inscrutable eyes and waited for him to retreat quietly into the evening like he always had before; off to that new job so far away from where we were; as far from here as he was now far from me.But he didn’t go.“When?” I said finally, the warmth sadly retreating from my disappointed thighs.
He hesitated; wanted to break it to me gently, I supposed. “Next week.”
Next week. He’d be busy, preparing and packing. This was it, then, our last night together. We’d never get a chance to finish the conversation we hadn’t started the last time I’d seen him, just a few weeks before, that night I’d almost utterly lost my self-restraint and pressed so close against him, my arms and legs forcefully interlocking with his while we shared a beer at the bar of the pub downtown where we’d so often met for a purely friendly drink. Pushing, shoving my body against his as if trying irresistibly to get warmer, closer, while on the surface we talked and laughed as usual; pretended that nothing was happening.
Nothing was happening, it seemed. And now it never would.
I’d known it all along, I conceded. I was too old and that’s all there was to it. I didn’t think I looked bad for forty. Still had a nice figure except for the sags; a face that was only just beginning to line and crease; pucker in some spots and puff in others. But definitely old enough not to pretend I wasn’t. Maybe that was what had kept me in check, all these months; restricted my advances to too-long hugs and shy, barely-wet kisses on the cheek or neck. I wasn’t sure anymore if I was still young enough to flirt without looking foolish. Wasn’t sure anymore if my touch could still inspire the kind of desire in a man that one particular middle-aged man still inspired in me.
He would have made a move by now, I reminded myself bitterly. If he’d been interested. You couldn’t blame him for only wanting to be friends.
Yet he hadn’t let go; was still clasping his own rough hands hard about my hips and it was difficult to decide how best to deliver a formal, friendly goodbye when I could sense the warmth of those fingers almost flush against my skin; so very easily imagine that they were travelling over it in small, smooth circles in the center of which my interest would inevitably peak. And while my brain was struggling to formulate a phrase that would make for a nice clean break, one in which I would never ever have to reveal the ridiculous depth of the desire to which he had so incomprehensibly driven me, my body had already decided to act on its own.
I’d drawn him to me, fully, frontally, my hands pressing against his torso and pulling him towards me, almost into me, forgetting for a moment that I was no longer young; forgetting everything but the inexplicable lust that had so lately overwhelmed my aging body as if it were not yet willing to sink peacefully into sexless oblivion.
“It doesn’t change anything.” I whispered, knowing that it was my last chance to speak; knowing I had only a moment in which to obtain what might be my last such irresistible desire. “Richard. I still want…”
“Come home with me, Kris,” he urged, interrupting, his cheeks coloring crimson as if unaccustomed to such brazen boldness. “It would be… a nice way to say goodbye. Don’t you think?”
It was a nice way to say goodbye. And after he’d gone, I stood naked in front of the mirror and looked long at my graying hair and drooping breasts and baggy eyes and thought that none of that had seemed to make any difference to him. Maybe because he’d seen me from the inside, where I was as young and hotly-passionate as I had ever been.