They were standing next to each other waiting for her bus to arrive. The terminal’s timetable displayed the name of her suburb and the time left until the correct bus arrives. Only nine minutes. We are in luck she said, not long to wait. That’s good he said. No, not really she thought.
She wanted him to say something like how time is always too short when he is with her, or how he would not mind waiting much longer if it meant they would be together a few more minutes, or some such sugary nonsense she picked up from romantic novels or fantasized of being told. Even whispered.
The wind picked up from the harbour spreading spring scents across the night. She shuddered slightly.
He stepped towards her and pulled the collar of her red overcoat closer around her, tucking it tightly around her neck. They did not look at each other. She saw blinking lights of her bus approaching over his shoulder. My bus is coming she said.
She smiled and waved to him from the bus. Her overcoat collar was still tucked tightly around her neck.
The next day she received a letter from him. It was a very polite and well-written letter. He explained how he is afraid she might be seeing in him what is not there; kindness and generosity and love and care. Humanity. While really; he is not that kind or generous. Or loving. None of it.
She read the letter few times and cried a little like kids do when they discover for the first time that, all along, it was their parents who put all the presents under the Christmas tree. So that all the long letters they carefully wrote and kept hidden in especially chosen places never really went anywhere. Despite the stamps they licked and pressed on envelopes.
Later she picked up a low-cut dress and applied make-up skilfully. Her reflection in the mirror pleased her. Her skin was still glowing with golden undertones and her eyes sparkled when she smiled. She liked how her dress hugged her figure. She applied scarlet lipstick and practiced smiling in front of the mirror few times.
Out of habit she reached for the red overcoat and noticed the collar still turned in. She stroked it gently and left it hanging over the edge of the couch.
Then she called the taxi and gave the name of the down-town cocktail bar.
It was swinging with late night blues and gypsy jazz. A few reluctant dancers swayed towards each other. Spectators nursed their drinks in the corners, scanning the crowed, prowling.
She took her shoes off and danced barefoot; it made her look wild and untamed. Daring. Musicians noticed her and sped the beat. Her feet moved faster, her body melting with the rhythm. They watched her and she knew it. Their eyes burrowing small holes in the folds of her skin.
A man took both her hands and started dancing with her. He had a boyish look and a practiced, seductive stare. His hands were strong and dry. Music slowed down to longing melodies of faraway lands with exotically named mountains. He told her his name and she thought it sounded similar.
They danced the rest of the night slowly; bending into each other’s body, testing each other’s skin. She felt his erection against her thigh.
She let him take her home and undress her in that slow motion that makes the skin want to peel from the inside. Like an orange hot from summer sun. Moist and open.
While he was entering her, she could still see the sleeve of her red overcoat hanging from the edge of the couch.
‘Sex is the consolation you have when you can’t have love’ ― Gabriel García Marquez