“I was never very good at this,” he says, reaching under her sweater for her bra strap.
“Then why the fuck are you doing it?” she says.
The words tumble out of her mouth, she has nothing to do with what she just said. And yet she’d said it and now the words were there, suspended in midair.
He jerks his hand out from under her sweater, catching a loose ravel of yarn on his watch so he has to use his free hand to untangle it.
A fire blazing in the hearth. Snow blowing gently against the window. Miles Davis playing in the background. She’d cooked a candlelight dinner, baked him a pie, even though she’d only met him a week ago. At seventy time rushes on and he’d appeared a good prospect. He wasn’t bad looking, didn’t look that old, and down at Lew’s Grille the other night, he’d chattered away, even tossing in a bit of humor from time to time. It’d been so long since she’d had a lover on the rug before the crackling fire.
But she’d guessed wrong.
Groping under her sweater, it was like he was planting a garden, making little rows to drop in the seeds. And his kisses, stiff little pecks on the lips as if some dragon teeth were lurking in her mouth waiting to snap shut and gobble him up.
She glances around the room, lurches up off the sofa, grabs her wine glass, notices his is still full and heads for the kitchen. She yanks open the refrigerator door, retrieves the wine bottle and fills her glass.
She walks back into the family room where she sees the fire has found a glimmer of new life. He sits on the sofa, fading into the flowers on the slip cover. “OK,” she says and stands there beginning, one by one, to remove her clothes.
First the sweater up off over her head. “See,” she says and turns deliberately around, unsnaps her bra and flings it in the corner. She turns to face him again, unzips her pants and they fall to the floor revealing her bikini lace black panties. She puts her thumb under the band of her panties and slips them very slowly down until her pubic hair rides the top. She takes another sip of wine and then slides her panties on down to the floor.
He sits there on the sofa stunned. She steps out of her panties, catches them on her foot and tosses them in the air. Naked now, she stands before him, picks up her wine glass. She thinks of gladiators in some far off arena.
She watches him look up at the ceiling. He looks down at her again, this time at her bare feet. “I was never good at this,” he mumbles, grabs his coat and is out the door.
is a retired English teacher. Her prose has appeared in *82 Review, Edge, KYSO Flash, Minerva Rising, Motif, and elsewhere. Her poetry has been published in American Tanka, Atlas Poetica, Bright Stars, and Ribbons, among other journals. In the wintertime, Marilyn lives in Central New York State, and in the summertime, you can find her at her cottage on the St. Lawrence River.