Monday, October 18, 2010

Plaything

"Spill! Who is he and why has he been kept a secret?" Amy whispers into her best friend's ear.

"Just someone I met, we've been seeing each other for a while but I've kept him under wraps." She says, looking away to avoid further inquisition and resumes a previous conversation. She is blase and unfazed by her attractive young escort but that's all her best friend is going to get for now.

She and her new companion have been together for months but even her best friend has no clue about their relationship. He is her beautiful secret and until tonight she has been happy to keep him as such.

It's no grand occasion, just another Friday and the perfect opportunity for them to make their couples debut. Drinks then dinner with the crowd, her crowd. The divorcees and the golfers, that odd man who just turns up now and then, the tennis crew, the neurotic nurse and the self-made men and the women who 'married well'. They're her age, her peers, her friends. She doesn't go often and is considered by them to be recluse. She's different. Her conversations are about art and travel, philosophy, experiences, feelings, loss and love. Theirs focus upon the latest Tennis comp, private schools and luxury cars, how their businesses are suffering since the GFC, talk-back radio and comparisons of photographs featuring their kids' weddings and graduations. She's a fish out of water with them most of the time but these are the people she calls friends. They like her, berate her for her absence and form the closest thing she has to a 'social circle'.

Lately he's become her social circle.  He's her confidante, her friend, her playmate, her constant companion. He's her world and she loves him. He loves her back. She knows it. They are a perfect pair who tease and laugh. They have common taste in music, plan their travels, sing together, read to each other, confide in each other and for hours remain absorbed within their own cocoon.

He oozes youth; clear skin, bright eyes and how his dark hair shines. He's fit and tight, casual and cool, attractive without being showy and that smile: She melted the first time she saw it and she melts each time it's levelled in her direction.

He's way outside her self-imposed age limit for a partner. "Twelve year's either side" she has always maintained but this one clears the ball park and makes her wonder what on earth she is doing. She feels embarrassed and conspicuous but he shrugs it off as his 'Helen Mirren' complex and laughs away her concerns. With him, she becomes young and beautiful even though her face and body have that 'lived-in look'. He tells her that he loves her and she's awesome, how he loves her shoulders and the way she plays with her hair. She tells him that he's beautiful and talented and the centre of her universe. They feed each other's egos and need for companionship. Yes this odd couple are causing gossip and much consternation in the camp.


He's absorbed in his own verbal exchange, introducing himself to her friends, surprising them with his acute and sometimes intimate knowledge of her. Clearly he knows her well, in many respects, better than they. He's in his element, talking the leg off a chair whilst passing her surreptitious sideways glances. He engages in a secret lover's semaphore as he tickles her palm with his index finger while outwardly focusing on the depth and meaning of his conversation.

They finish their drinks and file into cars, heading out to dine. He takes her hand and smiles, kisses her neck and wraps an arm around her shoulder before dispensing a playful headlock. The eyes in the back of her head can see them gesticulating and wondering.  Her inner ear can hear them whispering and cogitating.  He's pleased with the gossip and minor furor he's creating. It suits his sense of mischief to be embroiled in such controversy. He's thrilled and the fact that it allows him to be close to her just adds to its appeal. She's thinking 'mutton dressed as lamb' and feels she's taking the Mrs Robinson thing to a whole new level but it's oh so wicked and so much fun and both are aware of their effect.

The evening ends. Hands are shaken, cheeks are air-kissed and farewells dispensed. Through it all he does not release his grip. He's gracious and conversational, bids them adieu and thanks them for their hospitality. And so the mismatched lovers leave, hand in hand, playful and replete.

As tail lights fade, their bodies involuntarily quake, tears begin to well and insidious glances are exchanged. Their giggling escalating to hysterical laughter. They snigger like naughty children who've placed a paper bag of burning poo on some innocent's doorstep, mischievous then raucous and finally uncontrollable. So collapsing is their laughter that she persuades him to pull over because she's at risk of wetting her pants. Noses are blown, tears wiped, a congratulatory kiss is shared and and composure barely restored before continuing their drive home to a stereo cranked with Dan Black singing U+Me.

She knows there will be questions. Amy is not going to be brushed off and once she has her friend alone there'll be a torrent of enquiry, a waterfall of wanting and her thirst for more information on the young lover will need to be quenched. And so it comes - the inquisition.

Amy twitches uncomfortably in her seat. Clearly sidetracked and agitated, she's downing Chardy and building up Dutch courage.

"Can I ask you a question?"

"Already did . . " her friend quips.

"No, I'm serious!" Amy scowls.

"Sure, fire away."


The questions spill uncontrollably from her lips in rapid succession. Where did you find him? How old is he? How long have you known him? What's the sex like? Are you self conscious? Is he a keeper? Does he make you happy? Are you heading for a fall? What do the kids think?

These two women are the best of friends, there will be no deceit between them.

"Well my darling" She steels herself for the truth . . . "I have a confession to make . . ."

"Yeh?" Amy responds, and draws her cafe chair noisily closer into the conversation as she poises for the revelation.

"He's not actually my lover . . ".

"What?" The astonishment on her friend's face proves that their 'prank' was convincing, "You're kidding! All that lovey dovey stuff the other night? Jesus, woman, he certainly looked the part! Did you pay him?"

"Amy, I'm not quite that desperate!" she retorts indignant that the thought.  "No I did not! Besides a Gigolo couldn't possibly know all those things about me. He's my friend, my closest friend, I've known him for ages. We were just fucking you up a bit. It's all so fucking hilarious! Should have seen your faces, should have heard the whispers and I won't pretend that I didn't like the attention!!"


"Oh bloody hell!" Amy chastises her friend before her expression of disapproval turns to abject disappointment, "I thought you looked so happy. I thought you were the real deal!"

She confesses all to her loyalest of friends and smiles a knowing smile, one tainted with sadness that he is indeed too young for any furtive affair.

But she is happy, very happy. He makes her so. She does loves him deeply and he loves her but they are not 'in love'.  She is left to treasure those moments of sweet deception when his breath warms her neck and his hand sweeps gently against her palm as they engage in a playful and unrequited faux romance.



Fiction posted for the Tenth Daughter of Memory "Confession"

19 comments:

  1. smiles. an endearing write...and a great friendship so familiar...a playful piece...

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  2. OK, I'm jealous. That sounds like so much fun. The closest I've come to that sort of fantasy was playing the "beard" to a gay friend, which come to think of it, was quite a lot of fun too.

    OK, back to the story. I particularly liked the fourth paragraph where you describe the people in the group. You gave just enough detail to make them all instantly recognizable.

    Well done.

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  3. Yes, yes! You take us for the same ride as your heroine does her 'social circle'. Lovely stuff ...

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  4. Wait, no... what happened to the shoulder-kissing scene?

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  5. Jeff: Maybe he had a little too much to drink and never got farther than the neck. (wink wink)

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  6. Ah... this is exactly what those of us without partners would love to do sometime!

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  7. i'm so glad i waited to read this, until i had time to absorb it...really well written, and inspired.

    love to see you happy.

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  8. it was really fun to get inside this woman's head......great ride! and you do dialogue very well......wonderful!

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  9. Grinning - you are naughty but I like what you write. I felt my nose twinge at the bag of burning poo*!*

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  11. Sorry typo...

    I loved walking through, being introduced to the party. A great vicariously written read. Hey, that wasn't a confession! She was not sorry at all! hehe -J

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  12. How beautifully written a tale of friendship!

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  14. Loved this. LOVED it. Pacing, dialogue, all of it were just grand. A well-deserved win.

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  15. Congratulations. Well-deserved, Helen.

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  16. Yep, nicely paced, and with a feel of collusion with me as a reader.

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  17. Congratulations! It's a wonderful story with a nice twist to the end.

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