Irresistible (2)

Dec 18, 2015 by

Irresistible (2)

Serialized Novel

 

Sitting across the table from the artist on their first date Martine thought about how his beauty had not diminished since the day she first saw him.

It was a retrospective of his paintings where Martine first met the artist. Her best friend Lisette Ray had wanted to hear him speak and had dragged Martine to the museum too early on a Saturday evening.

Martine made clothes, she was a clothing designer, or at least that was what she wanted to be, and the artist was a painter. She had never seen his work before, had never even heard his name. She was there for Lisette, as a favor to Lisette Ray only.

When she walked into the museum she saw him immediately, only she did not know that it was he, the artist, whom she was looking at. She only knew that she was looking at a man whom she found instantly desirable.

She stared at him. At his tallness and his thick wavy black curls. She was riveted by his creamy honey colored skin and his full mouth.

Very red, very tender, like it was used to being kissed, or bitten.

“Look at that,” she said to Lisette. “That man is beautiful.”

“That’s the artist,” said Lisette Ray. “That’s him.”

 

Yes. He is still beautiful Martine thought sitting across the table from him nine days later at the Mexican restaurant on their first date.

 

In the past Martine had occasionally been surprised by her dates. When they arrived at her door she found that they did not look at all the same as when she had met them. Sometimes shorter or plumper or less blonde or less dark. Somehow less, or even sometimes more. But not the same. Martine could never account for these changes. She simply decided that she had a strong imagination and that it went to work somewhere in between the first impression and the first date.

But he, the artist, he looked the same. Even her imagination could not enhance him. She was still excited by him. She was excited by everything in those days before him.

 

When the waitress came by she ordered alcohol. A greyhound. Vodka and grapefruit juice. It reminded her of the summer even though it was the middle of the winter. Drinks were good for that, bringing up memories even before the first sip, just by the order itself. She remembered herself some months before. Carefree. Her toes in the sand. Lisette Ray at her side, making sure, as best friends do, that she protected her pale skin from the rays of the sun.

So she ordered alcohol. He did not. She was disappointed. She did not know what to do with a man who did not order alcohol.

“You don’t drink?”

“No.”

“Never?”

“Never.”

A moment later he got up, walked over to her, leaned down and kissed her on the mouth. Exactly ten minutes had gone by since they had walked in the door.

She was surprised by his kiss and she spit on his lips trying to push his mouth away with her own.

He enjoyed her surprise. It did not matter to him whether she kissed him back, or even whether she wanted to kiss him at all, ever. Those thoughts did not even occur to him. He was just checking to see how easy it would be. To see if she would let him. For him it was as mundane as checking the time.

He sat back down.

Martine thought about the beauty of his lips, their deep redness and their perfect bow, and then she managed to separate them from the aggressiveness of his act. That seemed to work for her.

“Where do your parents come from? You’re not Jewish are you?”

“Yes, I am.

“You don’t look Jewish. Are you one hundred percent Jewish?”

“Yes. My father comes from France and my mother comes from Russia. Where do your parents come from?”

“My father comes from Spain, the same small town that Picasso came from, and my mother from Costa Rica.”

Later she would learn that this was not true. His parents had in fact come from two completely different countries.

“What are you wearing underneath your skirt?”

He did not wait for an answer. He put his hands on top of her thighs to find out for himself.

“What are these, tights?”

She did not object to any of his behavior. The surprise of it momentarily blocked her reactions while at the same time igniting her curiosity.

The communication was what interested her. His telling her directly that he wanted to know what was underneath her skirt.

This is not a schoolboy fumbling, thought Martine. This is not a schoolboy hoping to get the girl in bed. Hoping that the girl in her girl role will be unable to say no to what is clearly beneath her. No, she thought, this is something completely different. Something so sure of itself that the self-assuredness itself is a point of fascination.

As far a she could see, there were no leaks. No cracks in his confidence. In fact, he was so confident that Martine wondered whether or not he was bored. There did not seem to be any excitement in it for him as to which way the evening would go. He seemed to already know even before the dinner had arrived at the table.

 

When the waitress came back Martine asked for another drink. They argued in front of the waitress.

“I don’t want you to drink anymore.”

“It’s just one more.”

“No. I do not have any interest in being with you if you are going to be drunk.”

The waitress stood over them looking annoyed and waiting for the order.

He spoke clearly, enunciating each word as if the waitress were not there.

“I want you to know exactly what you are doing on this night. Exactly what you are going to be doing.”

“I guess I won’t be having another,” Martine said smiling conspiratorially at the waitress as if to say, “you know how men can be.” Inside of herself she felt good that he wanted her to remember the night. It was a strange turn of events that a man did not want her to drink on a date. Most of the men she had met began pouring alcohol into her before they even asked her what her name was.

“Are you coming home with me?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Let’s go right now. I have a big day tomorrow.”

 

She was not sure why she had said yes, she only knew that she could not say no. She could not say why she could not say no. Her mind made up some vague idea that they would talk and not have sex. She believed her mind.

 

Leaving the restaurant her thoughts drifted back once more to the night they had met.
Laughing, she and Lisette Ray had linked arms and run up to the top floor of the museum to make a plan. She had decided on a note. She would write the artist a note with her phone number on it. She took an ATM receipt out of her purse and wrote on the back, “I think you are very handsome. I would like to take you out for a drink.” She left her name and phone number on the slip of paper.

 

In part it was Martine’s clothing that had given her the courage to write the note to the artist. On that night she was wearing her favorite rose colored silk dress. The one that made her feel good about herself. The one that accentuated her thinness by way of its largeness.

It has been so drummed into Martine that her body is what matters, is what is important about her that she ends up cultivating an extraordinary visual self. A self that cannot be missed when it walks down the street. Martine’s clothing for instance always looks as if it could fall off. Any sudden movement and it could fall. It always has the potential to reveal the body underneath. Her clothes are much too large and she is too thin, giving the impression that her nudity is only moments away. That if someone were to follow her long enough, walking behind her down the street, her clothes would fall to the ground piece by piece until she was naked.

 

She found her favorite dress, the dress she was wearing on that night at the retrospective, in a second hand store. The dress was out of style in that it was wide at the bottom, A-line shaped, and not tapered. It was a soft rose colored silk that landed just below her knees. The neckline was off of the shoulders and the cap sleeves were too wide for her thin arms. Her breasts looked as though they were too small to carry the shoulderless dress, but they did, just barely. No one at the retrospective seemed to think that they would, and the tension it created when she walked around the paintings was visible. She wore dark red lipstick, smudged, and pink eye-shadow to create a contrasting look. An unsophisticated face next to a dress of old and refined silk.

Her hair was an item of clothing in its own right. Dark and thick and wavy and most importantly, down past the waist, just brushing the bones of the hips. Sometimes, and on that night, when Martine wears the rose colored dress, she gathers her long hair to one side and then wraps it around her neck like a scarf, accentuating the chest that the dress could fall off of and also further separating the head from the body although she was unaware of that particular effect.

 

Her hair is black brown and her eyes are black brown and her skin is opalescent. She has the courage to go up to the artist.

 

Martine walked over to him and told him how much she liked his paintings. He did not want to talk about himself and so she thought that he was humble, but really he did not trust anyone.

“I wrote you a note, but I don’t want you to read it until I leave.”

“What does it say?”

“It’s embarrassing. Don’t read it until I leave.”

She walked away. She could feel him watching her. She felt beautiful and powerful and daring. The writing of the note made her feel that way.

The artist let her feel that way. That way there would be more of her to tear down later.

 

She remembered the difficulty they had in arranging their first date. The work and the strategy involved had somehow made the date more valuable to her. Had made her take the date more seriously than she might have otherwise. She remembered clearly the first time he had called her.

“How come you’re home on a Friday night,” he had asked, immediately creating an aura of intimacy. A premature intimacy considering the fact that he had never spoken to her except for the brief moments of their first meeting in the museum.

“It’s only eleven o’clock,” said Martine. “I haven’t even gone out yet.”

In truth she had been sitting in her apartment with a man she was seeing at the time, eating Lebanese food out of plastic containers.

“What night would you like to get together,” he asked.

“How about Monday?”

He had been surprised by her choice of nights. At the very least, he had expected her to suggest a Thursday. He was pleased with Monday. Very pleased. Because of Monday he had assumed she had a boyfriend for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. That made him very happy. Less responsibility for him.

She had chosen Monday night fearing that he would not see her on a Friday night, a Saturday night, or even a Sunday night.

Hanging up the phone, Martine had smiled at her date while watching him eat. His manners struck her as disgusting. He ate the Middle Eastern food with his hands and used his bread as a napkin. Suddenly she hated him. He spent the next two hours massaging her body from her feet to her head. She could not wait for him to stop massaging her so that they could finally have the sex and then it would be over with and she could get him out of her apartment as quickly as possible.

On Monday night, the artist called her at six o’clock in the evening.

“I won’t be able to see you tonight. There are some collectors coming to look at a painting. Is there another time we can get together?”

“How about next Wednesday?”

“That’s more than a week away.”

He cancelled the date to make himself more desirable to her. She made the next date so far away to keep her enhanced desire hidden from him. Both strategies worked on both people.

Margot Berwin is the author of Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire and Scent of Darkness.

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