It in 2007 and still to be finished
In the beginning
At 47 and two failed marriages, I had given up on finding some one who completed me, what a stupid turn of phrase that is. I don’t need to be completed. The chances of me growing or needing to grow any further to be completed just wasn’t necessary. In my professional life, I had achieved all I had ever wanted to achieve. A self assured, mature woman who was in complete control of her life. WRONG! I wasn’t looking for love, or relationships or even casual lovers, just kept to myself, just my cats and me. I tend to drive people away, some say by design I say it’s a selection process. Little did I know it was all about to change?
I’ve always had an interest in other women, I mean deep down that is. Nothing overt but I knew it was there ever since my teenage years but nothing I had ever acted upon. I have close friendships at work and my social network was mainly built around them but I wasn’t physical with a woman until about ten years ago. Which explains why the two marriages didn’t work, but one had to keep up appearances and it did give me a daughter.
Which means when you least expect it, when caught off guard, BANG someone, that special someone just comes along. No planning, no preconceived match making by friends or family, they just come into your life, totally by accident and half the time you don’t even notice they are there, at first. So it was with Sarah.
Sarah looked less than half my age and living with half dozen other stereo typical Uni types, you know, dressed down, always in jeans and T’s, coming and going at all times of the day and night, loud and full of that cockiness that is only seen in our young and just two houses up. Feral I would have called them but they weren’t, not really, they’re just young.
But looks can be deceiving.
One things for certain, they didn’t have too much in common with a middle aged, over weight, a self opinionated, blunt, grumpy, PIA, pharmaceutical researcher, but who is financially independent, so I could afford to be all those things and more. Yes, there is always room for more. So hence, the one BIG more in my life was loneliness!
These kids were as foreign to me as an Afghan refugee. I was more curious of their lives than they were of mine or more likely envious. It must have been all those years of asking questions, seeking the answers, looking for things that weren’t there, that’s what kept me looking at them wondering, longing for that freedom of youth, lost all those years ago.
One of them was about to change my life, forever.
Sarah always smiled when she walked past and nearly always spoke, even just to say “good morning or a hello”, In fact looking back Sarah was always smiling. Mostly I just nodded, rarely did I smiled back, what a silly old cow she must have thought.
As a ritual, Sunday was MY day, no phone calls, no emails, no working, ever. Just me and my time with my cats, Sunday was for me me me…….a selfish old bitch my daughter would have said, if she was talking to me that is, which once again she wasn’t. So grabbing the weekend papers I waddled off down to the cafes that proliferated along Glebe Point Road, my favorite window seat was occupied at El Fresco, so I sat with my back to the wall in the only empty seat in the place where the sun just caught the top of the paper. Carlo placed a latte in front of me, we have been doing the same routine for some seven years, ever since he moved out and I moved on. Being good friends with your ex has its advantages, at least you can talk without shouting, which wasn’t as it was when we were together. A Middle Eastern male and an Anglo female, hardly the best combination. He was more Australian than Middle Eastern, and I’m still trying to work out if that’s a plus or not.
As I look back, I can see now how it all evolved, a chance meeting in a crowded café as she blocked the sun light, or more to the point cast a shadow across the paper, because someone that slim could hardly block the sunlight for more than a minute or two as the world turned. Looking up, annoyed that someone was intruding on my space. It was her smile that instantly changed my first comment from “what” thinking Carlo had come to chat, to a half stumbled “hello”. The smiling Sarah asked if she could share the table, looking around the café, it was full once again and lord knows why I agreed but I did. It was so unlike me to be even this friendly on a Sunday morning.
Her smile or her brightness made me feel uneasy for some strange reason, lord knows why I had only just said hello to the girl.
With an uncertain feeling in my stomach, which alone should have warned me about this girl? “Hi I’m Sarah, I live up the up the road from you, I think”. She put her glass of water and a plate of toast on the table and extended her hand. I normally wouldn’t have taken her hand but looking at her tiny, slender milk white hand, I grabbed it with an eagerness that surprised me. “You only think you live up the road from me, you do Sarah, so please sit down, you’re making the place look untidy”, she laughed quietly as I gently shook her hand. Her glass of water and cinnamon toast seemed hardly like a real breakfast. “Is that all you’re eating” “of course” she said with a little twist of her head “for now” came her abbreviated reply. Something in her voice and a glint in her eye was definitely off putting to me. This girl was trouble I thought.
How did this 20 something schoolgirl unsettle me so, I wasn’t sure what it was but something about the girl certainly got to me. I closed the Sunday paper and put it aside, sitting back in my chair, I tried to study this fit, young, pretty woman. I looked deep into her eyes searching out her soul, a knack some say I have and saw a warmth, an adventurous nature and a calmness that I wanted, in exchange for this emptiness that I called a life. What was it that stirred in me on this warm sunny morning? Was I chasing my lost youth what did I see in this young thing?
She looked straight into my eyes gently smiling, she started to speak as I sipped my latte, “what do you do” she inquired, I hesitated before answering, “I work for a pharmaceutical firm”, not wanting to give too much away. “Why do you ask”? “Because I wanted to know, I would like to get to know you a whole lot better,” her voice no more than a gentle whisper. I looked away from her strong stare, was it me, the older mature, so-called professional who was weak at the knees not knowing what to say, not understanding this foreign feeling.
What to me seemed like an eternity, Sarah smiled and with a turn of her head she looked at me and stated the obvious “you seem nervous” did it show, I blushed and quickly gained my composure “oh do I” came the reply “and why would that be, do you think?” the old me had regain the cold composure that just 30 seconds before had been stumbling out a hello. “I think I intimidate you” “oh do you now” smiling to myself and thinking what a cocky self assured little bitch she was. Maybe that was what had caught my attention. Or was it the gentle curves beneath the smooth white t shirt, that ran down the contours to her hips where her jeans hugged the top of her hips, a smooth belly. Shit how and why in god’s name did I notice that. Gathering up my paper I caught Carlo’s attention and got him to put the small cost of Sarah’s breakfast on my bill. I got up to leave as Sarah reached out and caught my hand, it startled me a little and I don’t know why, “I hope I haven’t put you off of me, by saying that”? I laughed, just a little chuckle, “No Sarah, you haven’t put me off of you, in fact I’m not sure I was ever on to you, but thank you for the company for breakfast, now I’m off” drawing my hand away, slowly, she grabbed hold and held onto it a little tighter as I pulled my fingers through her hand and she looked into my eyes. That was a most sensuous feeling and my heart quickened, what on earth was going on? She said “let’s walk home together” I hesitate, what seemed like an eternity but was in fact a brief second “And why would you want to do that Sarah”? “Well for a start, it will give me a chance to learn your name” I smiled as I regained control “as I said before, and why would you want to do that, you haven’t finished your toast yet”.
For the first time that morning I saw a doubt cross her face, a troubled look. Taking back my hand I walked to the counter, where Carlo was serving and he just nodded towards Sarah, “not another stray you have picked up”? I gave him one of my looks and he knew instantly that this topic wasn’t up for discussion. “How much do I owe you” I asked? “You mean all up or just for today, all up you owe me big time, but today just the coffee”. “Yeah right” came the retort as I handed over the five dollar note. Even with our history I still liked Carlo, he was one of a few men I truly did like. I missed his company, not often mind you, only on occasions.
Walking down toward Bridge Street with the sun shinning felt good and despite my uneasiness with Sarah, I did have a good feeling about her and I didn’t know why. She came up from behind and some how I wasn’t either surprised or startled, in fact I was half hoping she would. I looked over towards her and with a smile said “Lenora, but you can call me Lee, most people do, how do you do”. She smiled and said “That wasn’t hard was it”. I smiled and looked straight ahead thinking, this is going to lead to trouble, I just know it. But what the hell, what could possible happen that I didn’t want to happen. I was in control right?
The idle chit chat on the way home was light and impersonal nothing too demanding, I learnt she was from Adelaide, working in the media and studying politics at Sydney Uni, but of course, what else do uni students study these days, I thought. What ever happened to the old arts courses? She was also working part time in some retail shop down at the Broadway to help make ends meet. She wanted to end up as journalist, why on gods earth would you want to commit to something like that I thought, as I shook my head. She seemed to be able to talk at length but most of it was nonsense really, but then again when I was her age.
What was her age? Should I ask, or just wait to be told, I’m sure it was coming sooner or later.
When we got to my front gate, I stopped and wondered what to do next. Dismiss this child woman as a silly flight of fantasy on my part or actually let her into my life a little bit. I stopped and looked toward her, “How old are you”? “Was does that matter” came the reply “It matters to me” I gave a short sharp response, which took her by surprise. “Get use to it Sarah, I’m blunt most of the time”, “You can be blunt but no need to be rude, with it” she whispered as she turned and walked away. I walked the four steps up to my front door not wanting it to end like that, but before I could turn to say anything she was gone.
The door opened with a turn of the key and I was greeted by two large ginger toms, Julius and Cesar, not original I know and I must have been reading some thing Roman at the time they came into my life. These two softies made my life bearable, they kept me company, let me speak and never answered back and as long as I fed them they made me feel important. Their love was totally unconditional, so as I sat on the lounge and put the Sunday papers next to me as they jumped up, one to sit on my lap and the other curled up next to me, making sure that I wasn’t going to do any reading, I sighed as we three slowly settled in and we gently dozed off. I loved Sundays like this, no phones, no demands, no one needing my time and no flaming emails to answer. I closed my eyes to doze for a second when the knock at the door startled us all. Cesar, who was on my lap, jumped down as I stirred, while Julius opened one eye but didn’t move a muscle. If it was one of those bible preaching mob I was going to give them a serve. I marched to the door half expecting to be greeted with a smiling face and a cheery grin from some pimply youth trying to save something that was never lost, my soul. I opened the door with a start and a stern look ready for some very short one sided discussion on religion.
She stood there with a smile on her face, “bet you didn’t expect to see me so soon”. The quizzical look on my face must have said something to her. “I hadn’t given you a second thought to be truthful Sarah” I lied. “How can I help you” I asked in an old school mistress type tone as Cesar wrapped himself around my legs, his purring could be heard as I looked into her eyes. She kneeled down to stroke the cat. “that’s one contented pussy you have there Lee” she just glanced up at me, I didn’t say a word but my glare should have warned her off, it didn’t of course. She was either very stupid or very game, I wasn’t sure which. One thing she did have was nerve, that’s for sure.
“Sorry, I came up to ask if you’d like to go out this afternoon” “Don’t think so, but thanks”. “Oh come on, you might enjoy yourself” “Sarah, when I say No I mean No” The sour look on her face was completely wasted on me, I had seen those looks from my daughter all her life. “But you didn’t say No, you said I don’t think so, which means you are kind of undecided, aren’t you”
“Sarah, thank you for the invite but I don’t know you well enough to go out with you” “it’s not a date Lee” she laughed “just a quiet drink down the local, besides what better way to get to know me then” came her quick reply. I stood there feeling trapped between wanting to get to know this woman child and a gut feeling telling me she is dangerous, this whole scene is dangerous.
Deep down I did want to talk to her, get to know her. Something about her made me want to protect her, but protect her from what. I put it down to the mothering instinct in me.
“O……K” came my drawn out reply, “but just a drink or two, but my shout” “oh good” she said, “I was hoping you would say that, I’m kind of short this week”. The twinkle in her eyes told me she is used to getting her own way. “Don’t mind if the girls come along do you”? “What, are you kidding me”? I stated in a raised voice “You come up here to ask me out so you and your mates can have a boozy afternoon on me. I don’t think so”? I was about to shut the door, when she put her hand up to stop it closing. “Lee, I was kidding, just you and me OK, please”.
I hesitated for the second time that day but reluctantly agreed.