Friday, October 9, 2009

photographer's advance

At some point he turns the light off. This is the moment when Bec knows that she is being seduced. A lazy kind of seduction. No urgency in it. He stands and turns the light off and says “My eyes are a bit sensitive to glare” and sits back down a little too close.

Bec thinks, I am being seduced, and would have laughed except that would be impolite. Instead she smiles, trying to catch his eye, to let him know that she is onto him, that she wasn’t born yesterday, in fact that she was born a long long long time before him and that this is the oldest trick there is, used so often that it has become a cliche. She wants to let him know that the very idea of him seducing her is ludicrous because of her age and because she has had a husband for so long. In fact, she takes a breathe to say something like this and is surprised by the tightness in her chest the little tremour in her upper lip. When he leans a little closer to her in his chair she feels unsettled. When he holds her hand, she is afraid that the startle in her heart is shaking the chair.

She has responded to him physically from the beginning of it. Who knows what alchemy takes place in a human body when it decides it would like to be in physical contact with another human body. It was sometime between seeing his photographs, all framed up and hanging in perfect symmetry in the university gallery, and finding him leaning over her shoulder as the developer did it’s chemical best to turn shiny white paper into a thing of beauty. Bec caught his smell and he touched her arm lightly for balance or to underline something he was saying. He laughed at a joke she made and no one ever laughed at her jokes, in fact she often joked that she did not have a sense of humour and people would look at her with such pity that it seemed they didn’t realise she was actually making a joke. Anyway, something shifted at some point and his physical presence took on weight that made her slightly anxious.

Soon after she had read an article on Cougars, women of her age who were vilified or perhaps mocked, for finding younger men attractive and actively pursuing them. The word echoed in her head. She began to see them everywhere, these women dressed in leopard print, these women with makeup like war paint. These women who seemed much older than she did but who weren’t at all. Bec stopped wearing the lipstick that she quite liked. She became accutely aware of her cleavage which was ample, and began to wear button up tops where not an inch of it could be sighted, even if a boy was leaning over her shoulder staring down past her cleavage into a tray of chemicles and an image slowly revealing itself like a wonderful secret.

He holds her hand. At first it is a simple gesture to illustrate something he is saying. She can barely hear what he is saying. When he touches her fingers the sound is snapped off. There is only his hand resting gently on hers and the thump of blood rattling her chair and the rythm of her pulse says, I am being seduced, I am being seduced, I am being seduced. She does not mean to respond, would not know how to respond, and when she parts her fingers and catches his between hers it is more to break the intollerable suspence than to respond to his advance. She holds his fingers tightly between hers to stop the inevitable escalation, not to aquiese and yet it seems now she has done it that this response only encourages him. He shifts his chair right up against hers careful not to disturb the delicate lacework of their fingers. He leans his head and kisses the nape of her neck. All this in the dark. The dark he created by turning the light off.

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