Marta, Who is My Friend Pt. 01

Asian

Part 1

Midwinter

In her living room she looks at me and says,

“I’m forty nine, Sid, and nobody’s ever gonna fuck me again.”

#

But that’s later.

First, we are sitting in my office hours after the rest of the world’s work day is over. It has been a long day, working on a long project. We are punch drunk tired. Pre-trial is like that; post-trial is like that, trials are like that. Lawyers are like that. It’s been going on for a week. Bench trials – trials before a judge – don’t end quickly, like a jury trial, with a verdict. No, the evidence all comes in, the arguments all get made, then there’s a week or two of writing post-trial briefs, summarizing what you want the judge to decide, trying to smooth over the points you may have eff’d up during the trial itself, trying to make up for the stupid things your witnesses said, trying ultimately to justify all the time, effort, money, the close to 24/7 adrenalized energy you’ve spent over the last however many weeks, trying to win.

And now it’s finished, we’ve just submitted the last brief, the proposed findings of fact and law, we’ve pressed send and we’re done doing everything we can do and now the judge takes everything “under advisement” for however many weeks or months she (in this case) wants to take. It’s done. The air’s out of the balloon. We look at each other, both of us bathed in fluorescent light and light from a computer screen – 21st Century light – and she says, “Fuck, Sid, I’m not ready to go home and get in my pajama’s yet, I’m still wired as hell. Can we get a drink before the bars close?”

I look at her. Her name is Marta. She is dark-haired, she has almond eyes that tonight are dark-lined, tired, inviting. Her blouse is open-necked, she wears a silver chain necklace that falls across flesh toward the opening, where she is pale, and there is just the hint of cleavage. Her mouth is odd, unusual, her lips strangely flat, the morning’s lipstick just a ghost of herself. She has not said the thing about nobody ever fucking her again. That will come later, after:

“It’s 11:30,” I say. “It’s a Thursday.”

In this small New England city, where she and I are growing middle aged together – or more to the point, where she’s growing into middle age and I’m growing old – the bars are all closed.

“Fuck,” she says. She looks at her watch for confirmation.

I try not to look at her legs. Nice legs, shaped, toned in slightly darkened nylons.

Dammit.

She looks at me. Almost sees me almost looking.

Story of our lives.

I have a wife.

I have a wife in Connecticut.

Where she is visiting her ninety three year old mother while I go through two weeks of late nights in court, in the office. In mid-Massachusetts winter And with Marta.

Maybe Susan would be less forgiving, less trusting if she understood that Marta is my if-I’d met-you-under-other-circumstances woman. She’s smart, kind, pretty almost to the point of beautiful. Days and long work nights she tells me about her lousy dates with guys she meets on an online site. She doesn’t fuck any of them, she tells me: they’re wrong, there’s no spark, they’re dumb, they’re dumpy, they’re ugly. She doesn’t want them, she wants to fall in love.

So do I.

“Then come back with me,” she says looking out a window into the mid-winter night. “Just one drink, then I’ll send you back to Susan.”

We’ve been here before.

We know we’re not going to fuck.

Except, I remind her, my wife is two states away.

Then ask: “And where’s your daughter?”

“With her father tonight. If she was there, I’d be okay. If she’s awake we’d watch Jimmy Fallon together. Eat ice cream. Be girls. But she’s not and I’m not ready to be alone yet. You know how it is. All the goddamn adrenaline and now we’re done and I just don’t want to be alone right away. One drink, Sid. Keep me company. Be a friend.”

A friend.

I take out my phone, look for any texts from Susan.

Nothing. It’s late. She’s far away. Asleep.

Marta is here.

“Okay,” I tell her. “One.”

“See,” she dazzles my old bones with a smile. “You are a friend.”

#

We drive separately, through woods and moonlight.

I am dead-tired.

This is wrong, may be wrong. Isn’t wrong.

Because we’re not going to …

We’re not.

There is a stretch of road just beyond the city, where our town blends into the neighboring town, where the land crests and starts to fall away toward the Connecticut River. From there, the world is made of meadows, trees in clumps, dark, sleeping houses, distant water, all of it bathed in white and silver.

It is breathtakingly, middle-of-the night beautiful.

So is Marta.

Her headlights visible ahead of me in the dark.

Leading me.

I sigh, deep enough that it feels like I’m breathing out some important part of myself.

And think of Susan, asleep in a fold-out bed in her mother’s widowy apartment in a graduated care community kızılay escort outside Bridgeport, among the old, the dying, the dead. Remember her young, middling, and now starting, like me, to be old. Smile at all the years, the sex, our foolish long affections. Waking mornings beside her, her blonde hair greying, straying onto my pillow as she breathes.

“I love you,” I say out loud to my empty car.

I don’t know who I’m talking to.

*

Her place is a condo in what used to be a meadow in a town on the Holyoke River. I walk in behind her.

Small hallway, narrow kitchen, living room, couch, chairs, TV on the wall.

For all our time together, I’ve never been here before.

She peels off her jacket, throws it across the back of a chair. Her blouse is sleeveless. Her arms are pale, lightly muscled.

She has told me she does yoga, sitting on a mat in her bedroom in morning sunlight.

She looks at me almost looking.

A small smile flits across her face.

“Thank you,” she says.

Her cheeks are faintly rough, a remnant of what I imagine was a difficult adolescence. Her habitual makeup having worn as thin as her lipstick. Tired, hair disarranged, there is nothing artificial about right now.

“That drink,” she says. “I’ve got whiskey, white wine. I’m not much of a bartender.”

“Wine,” I tell her.

“You need to drive home,” she tells me.

“Yeah,” I say. “Wine’ll do fine.”

#

It is two glasses later, amid all the comfort of inconsequential talk that starts with the case just finished and moves on to the inevitable problems with our kids, that she looks at me from the couch, where she is sitting with her bare feet tucked beneath her thighs and says,

“Fuck, Sid, I’m forty nine and nobody’s ever gonna fuck me again.”

I take her in, the soft full swell of her under her blouse.

Tell her the truth.

“First of all, that isn’t true. But, god, you don’t know how much I wish I could be the guy who shows you how wrong you are.”

She waits a while.

“That,” she says, “is perhaps the nicest way anyone has ever said ‘I’d like to fuck you,’ to me.”

#

I have known her for four years, ever since she joined the office. She tells me about the men she doesn’t fuck, I’ve told her about my wife, with whom I sleep after twenty years only occasionally. I have never told her how infrequently. Or that, when we do, my old body can be embarrassingly slow to achieve what, when young, I could never not achieve.

Some things are verboten between us.

We are prudent, lonely people.

And now, for a moment, we are awkward.

“This,” she says, “is one of those moments I wish I hadn’t given up smoking.”

Again her broad-lipped, dark-eyed smile.

“I’ve given up too much, Sid,” she tells me.

Stretches, catlike on the couch.

“Sexual desire,” she says to me. “For example.”

“You don’t mean that,” I tell her.

“Yeah, I do, Sid. I can go long stretches where it just doesn’t seem important anymore. Months. And then, it’ll come back and I’ll be like a house on fire for a while. And then I won’t again. Don’t you feel like that sometimes? Do men ever?”

“Hot and cold? On and off? Yeah. I’m older than you, y’know.”

“Does that mean you’re less sexual?”

“No,” I tell her. And then skirt the truth. “Less able sometimes, but less interested? No.”

She takes that small tragedy in.

“I’ve always liked older guys, y’know. Even when I was young. That’s part of you and me, Sid. Whatever we are. We’re friends, I know we are. But, men and women, there’s always … I mean, would we be friends if we didn’t find each other … attractive? If, for example, you didn’t just say you’d like to fuck me?”

“I don’t know. I do know that making love with you would be like poetry.”

“That’s a sweet thing to say.”

She sighs at me the way I sighed in my car.

“I’m not pretty, you know. I’m just some woman. You can’t be in love with me. It would be too … complicated. Susan would get hurt. We have kids. I don’t want to be that woman. You’re not that man.”

“Maybe,” I say to her. “But you are beautiful, you’re ridiculously beautiful, Marta.”

Then, for a moment, there are tears. Silent. Unspoken. They run down her rough, lovely cheeks. “No,” she says. “You’re besotted. We’re both besotted. We’re tired. We’re full of adrenaline that feels like sex. And the wine. Don’t underestimate the wine.”

“No, you. You are beautiful. If not me, somebody. Somebody’s got to see that.”

She laughs, wipes her face with the back of her hand.

“Look at me, Sid. I’m a middle-aged, divorced lady with a daughter that I love more than life itself, but who is a complication to my so-called dating life. Men don’t want my complications. The don’t want me.”

She moves her legs beneath herself.

“Then they’re idiots,” I tell her.

We are close, so close.

“Do you have a full length mirror?” I ask.

#

She kızılay escort bayan nods.

“In my bedroom. Where I don’t think we should go.”

My hand goes out to hers. Across the small, infinite distance between us.

Marta considers, drinks a slug of wine, puts her hand into mine. She is made of bone, knuckles, flesh.

“Sid,” she says, her almond eyes appraising me, “What exactly are we going to do?”

“Not poetry,” I tell her. “A haiku, maybe. I want to show you what I see every time I look at you.”

“And what’s that?”

“You,” I tell her. ” I see you.”

#

Marta leads me up the stairs.

Her ass, as I follow her, is something more than capacious. Clothed, it is perhaps her least attractive feature, her one surrender to age. The way it moves beneath her skirt as she walks makes me smile, and also very slightly sad.

I apologize to my sleeping, loved wife, miles and forever away from me right now. At this moment. As I follow Marta up. Thinking that I will limit my infidelity to … what? Something.

Something that isn’t

wrong,

that is,

something else:

poetry.

Marta.

Now.

#

She leads me down a hallway beneath a cheap-built stuccoed ceiling, past the closed door to her daughter’s room, a bathroom, an open set of shelves stacked with towels and linen. Then pushes open a final door at the end of the hall and walks ahead of me, into her room with its quilt-draped rocker, its bureau, its bed.

And when I am inside, reaches around me, her bare arm brushing my shoulder to push the door closed. There is the mirror. She looks at it, at herself reflected in it, at me.

“So, my friend,” Marta says to me. Her voice is husky, sensual, worried. “What now?”

#

The clock on Marta’s bedside table says 12:50.

Time slows.

We will be here forever.

Standing.

Reflected.

Two of us.

In the world, in the mirror, I touch her.

I put my hands on her bare arms.

In all our years, I have never touched her like this.

She shudders when I do. Not intensely, just a frisson that says

at last

and says

this. No more.

That says my name in breath and silence.

That says

Alright. Alright.

Now.

My hands on the flesh of her arms, I turn her to face the mirror.

Looking back at us:.

A white haired man, goateed like a superannuated Lenin;

a vaguely exotic, exhausted, excited woman.

Touching. Barely.

Breathing the same air.

“Let me tell you,” I say to her (my breath warm on her neck, her ear, moving gently the loose strands of her hair; and when I breathe in, it is her I am smelling, I am smelling her). “Let me tell you tell you what I see.”

#

I do not touch her now.

This is how I will make love to her.

With hands hovering just above her flesh, and with words.

My haiku to this lovely-souled, rich-bodied woman with whom I have not slept.

#

“Look at yourself,” I tell her.

And now I touch her forehead lightly with my fingers, the paper soft skin of her eyelids.

“Your eyes,” I tell her. “First, I notice your eyes. You have rich, dark eyes and you look at people with a … frankness … that I find … wonderful.”

The rough, slightly pocked skin above her cheek bones.

“And this. These. You as a teenager. You’re a palimpsest”

“What’s that?”

“A painting. A painting on a painting. Your history, your life.”

Her hand floats up to touch my hand on her cheek, then falls away. She closes her eyes. Breathes a little raggedly. Opens her eyes. Looks at us in the mirror

as I touch her neck

the skin in the open top of her blouse.

Telling her

Each inch, each piece of her

That this is beautiful

soft, alive.

And then,

asking

“May I?”

She nods.

My hands move outward on her blouse around the soft swell of her breasts.

As she breathes, they move under her clothes.

And I say:

“You are soft, you’re a mother. A good one.”

And then my hand subsiding onto her, my palm surrounding her, feeling, faintly, the thrum of her heart beneath her blouse, her breast, inside her bones.

She turns into me, away from the mirror.

Says:

“I want to undress, Sid. I want to undress for you.”

#

She moves away from me, my hand, my breath, and walks across the bedroom floor to the far side of her bed. Pale yellow duvet.

“I’m shy,” she says. “I’m feeling shy right now.”

And then undresses.

The buttons of her blouse, her shirt open, a laughably granny bra.

Her shoulders, when the shirt comes off are pale and delicate.

She is made of ivory.

The skirt, unhooked, that falls away from her hips along her legs to puddle at her feet on the floor.

“Still beautiful?” she asks.

“The bra could use escort kızlay some work.”

“I didn’t think that anybody was going to see it.”

Then: “I’m scared, Sid.”

“So am I, Marta.”

“Of the bra? Or of me?”

“Of me, Marta. I’m scared of me. It’ll be different after this.”

“Will we still be friends?”

“I’d like that.”

“Then tell me I’m beautiful. Lie to me, Sid.”

#

She steps out of the puddle of fabric on the floor. Reaches behind herself, unlatches her granny bra, then slides her smoky panty hose down her legs. She is alabaster, with a soft belly and a trimmed dark patch.

She looks at me, dark eyed, frank, frightened.

“I don’t have to lie,” I tell her.

She crosses the floor to where I wait for her.

“Beautiful,” I tell her.

I could love this ivory woman.

#

She leans against me.

I feel the pressure of her breasts through my clothes.

She is different from Susan, her body more substantial, the soft avidity with which she presses against me. Different. Other.

Herself.

“Show me,” she says. Her voice huskier than I have ever heard it.

Marta lifts my hand, deposits it gently onto the skin of her breast, where it feels again, unmediated, her beating heart.

“Don’t think about her,” she tells me. It is partly a command, partly a plea. “For tonight, Sid, just for tonight. Just think about me.”

#

So I think about her.

As I touch her

this woman

(Marta)

who I thought could be my

friend

colleague

friend

and who

(as I touch her)

is now, suddenly, none of those things

(lover).

I read her flesh

I drink her skin with my fingertips, touching

her breasts, first one, then another, full, blue-veined (blood and heart ghosting beneath the surface of her). Nipples smooth to the touch, hardening beneath the palms of my hands

her belly, soft, not muscled, the small indenture of her navel, a graze of hair below

then travelling around her: her thighs, the swell of her ass unseen in life or in the mirror, as she pivots to face the door, herself looking back at us, no tears now, only eyes wide, mouth beginning involuntarily to open. The music of her: soft, animal crooning,

as my fingers trace behind her, two-handed, each one moving along the swell of her, towards and into the cleft, and finding with two middle fingers the secret of her asshole, touching, visiting not exploring that straining, small, contracting piece of her,

only to withdraw, retreat across the twin hills of her behind, across hips, ribs, breasts, belly, a second, brief, recapitulated tour of her, my fingers electric with the feel of her, then drifting finally downward

because it is time, I know, I can smell her, I know what I am going to find at the bottom of her

and my fingers flow through the soft and fibrous down of her to pass across her mound (pausing, pausing at the bottom, at the top of her sex) to slide slowly down, four fingers of each hand gliding over, caressing her lips while the index finger of each hand enters, feeling warmth and soaking wetness, the slick, delightfully sloppy inside of her, drifting, squeezing past the small hood, the tiny hardness of her clitoris emerging (she gasps, once, twice as I touch her there); and then

moving on and deeper into the velvet cave of her, finding (with one finger of one hand), the soft entrance and moving slowly, knuckle by knuckle (Marta swallowing air more deeply with each further penetration) until I am inside that new universe, touching with that finger (buried now to its full depth, the knuckle at my hand grazing against her body) her sweet, interior skin

while my other hand draws up, away from her vagina, caressing always the swollen curves of her lips, until my finger finds (while the other, buried, moves slowly in out, the simulacrum of real penetration) the hood, the hard protuberance below, and begins to stroke.

I whisper, how do you want me to do this?

And she, Marta, my friend, my colleague, naked beside me, my fingers inside her (my love) whispers, choked, constricted, back at me, slowly, start slowly.

So I do: slow, light, vertical touches. While the hand below, my inserted finger, finds and begins to match the movement until I am a rhythm of penetration and of touching, releasing, touching Marta’s clitoris.

I listen to her, taking instruction now from her breathing – this is hers, for her, this is all about her – her breaths come faster now, in shortening gasps, her voice, her crooning music more broken. And, listening, I increase my speed, my rhythm, the varying depths to which I push into her

until I am a fierce, kind (loving) tango inside and on her.

and she turns into me, pressing (naked, sweatslicked) against my clothed body, whispers

Sid, god, my legs are melting

and clamps hands on my shoulders as I touch her, as I ease my finger in and out of her. She hangs on, against me, her legs giving out, she is without support, she is draped on and into me as the first wave hits her, then another – inside her body, she is squeezing around my hands, my buried finger

I feel her contracting inside.

and the shuddering of her belly, breasts, shoulders and

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