Claudine, Marianne, and Pierre are in Claudine's apartment, overlooking the river or rather overlooking the park that runs beside the river, the park lined with maple, tulip poplar, sycamore, and oak trees. The three friends listen briefly to the bold song of a bird perched but invisible near the window. When the birdsong ceased, Claudine began a story told to her by her friend Izamar. Izamar, she reminded them, was a lanky brunette dripping, as Claudine put it, with existential savoir faire, not to mention international sophistication. But this particular story told by Izamar was an anecdote about a friend of hers--that is a friend of Izamar's.
This friend, Irina, was in her late forties at the time of the story, a slender, brunette, attractive though shy person. She dressed conservatively and wore glasses and not much makeup if any and lived alone in a bungalow on Garden Street. She had a halting gait as if walking was an effort. Her whole hip went into this motion. It was not actually unattractive actually because it drew attention to the motion of her hips ... of her curving though not obtrusive rump. She undulated well. Her hips were narrow especially for a woman of her age but not boyish ... rather they were alluring. Her skin ... the skin of her thighs, her torso. her bosom ... displayed the softness and tenderness combined with the toughness and alluring fleshiness of middle age. She had taken to the use of a walking stick. She would stride with sedate care down the sidewalk or in the hallway of the school where she worked part time ... the cane tapping the ground in time to her step, her hips working, her handsome face intent on the space before her. And she was a handsome woman.
Lonely too though. You might wonder at it. She had been unpartnered for years. Some of her acquaintance considered her shy. She thought of herself--in reference to the shyness--as aloof or at any rate reserved. At this time of her life in the evenings she would stand unclothed before the full length mirror in her bedroom assessing her development or the toll of the years or the progress? The bedroom was at one back corner of the house, a window facing the side yard. The side yard was bounded by a line of bushes with intermittent gaps and at one point a sizable tulip poplar. On the other side of the shrubbery the house next door had been vacant since spring.
It was now summer and at this particular time quite hot and humid. Enough so that people commented on it when making casual conversation. Lizo was fourteen ... a young looking fourteen, who Irina met because he was one of her students in an art class she taught in spring term. A gorgeous boy, according to her and also according to Izamar, who had met him. At the end of the term, when the students were leaving the final class session and saying their goodbyes to each other and to the teacher, Lizo came up to her and hugged her, whispering, "Give me a hug, Ms. Irina." He pressed his cheek to hers and then gave her a quick peck of a kiss on her neck. Just a peck but it resonated for Irina. It was in just the right spot. It was just the right person. It was just the right connection.
But she said something dismissive. She was his teacher after all. "I know you have liked the class," she said. "But you have friends your own age. You are a nice boy, popular with other students."
Later she rethought that pompous and pointless remark. Especially when she heard two young ladies of thirteen, two who had also been in the class, remarking ... one saying to the other that "Lizo is so wonderfully handsome, so adorable. Wouldn't you like to kiss him?" And the other answered in the affirmative with an enthusiastic and breathy retort. A pang of jealousy--real jealousy, she thought with amazement to herself--coursed through Irina's frame. Jealousy, she thought, because they could have him and she could not?
Then ... Irina was filled with muddled and mixed emotions when she found out that Lizo lived across the alley from her. She had not known that until one night a week after class ended she saw him striding down the sidewalk in front of her house. She had mixed emotions about that for sure. She thought, oh God, he's stalking me! And then she had mixed emotions about his stalking her. She realized that she was excited by that idea. Her breath suddenly came quickly; her heart beat fast and hard. She was short of breath. She was sitting on the steps of her front porch, sipping a glass of wine. She crossed her legs and her quick intake of breath apparently caused Lizo to look her way. Her skirt fell away from her leg when she crossed her legs revealing to Lizo her well formed thigh. A middle-aged thigh ... a thigh of just the right amount of ripeness ... not to hard and just the right amount of softness and fleshiness. Was this in the eyes of the boy as he took her in. She thought so but of course she feared she could not be sure.
He called to her: "Ms. Irina!"
"Lizo? What brings you here?" She immediately regretted the question. She wanted to learn that he came to look at her thigh but she did not mean to ask him that so bluntly. And what if he did not come for her thigh? Which turned out to be possible if not probably as it turned out because he lived nearby.
"I live in your block," he informed her. He gestured grandly with one arm. "Around on the other side of the block across the alley from this side of the block."
And now the doubts assail her. He is just passing by because he lives in the neighborhood (and I have already revealed my inappropriate and possibly unwelcome desires). But still maybe he is walking around the block because he wants to see my bare thigh. He did after all hug me, press himself against my breasts. She still recalled the touch of his torso against her softness ... her yielding ripeness--a phrase so stultifyingly ... uh ... stultifying that she blushed and became short of breath just to compose it in her mind.
"What a coincidence! I had no idea." She shifted her weight so that her skirt fell slightly more away from her thigh, revealing even more of its fleshy underside. She smiled at Lizo and he stepped forward moving up the sidewalk toward her porch and towards her perch on the steps. She was sitting on the porch floor at the top of the steps, which put her above Lizo so that his line of vision was easily directed at the thigh in question. 'A coincidence, ' she thought to herself, why a coincidence? Doesn't my having described it as a coincidence betray my having thought of him, having thought of him as, having considered... ? Why else would I think of it as a coincidence? Thus the lady's sense of guiltiness or perhaps complicity is a better word, made her imagine embarrassment or even excitement over an innocent exclamation of surprise.
"Yes," Lizo said, "so maybe we..."
"Will see..." she added.
"A lot..." he whispered huskily.
"Of each..." she supplied.
He said all that! she thought. Well, actually, she had said half of it. But that is even better ... because it shows them on the same wavelength. I can't get too anxious, she thought. That could ruin everything.
"I live," he said, pointing straight towards the alley behind her house, "on the other side of the alley right behind this house next door." He indicated with a nod of his head the vacant house on the other side of the bushes that separated her house from the one next door. Irina turned to look towards the bushes. Lizo continued, "Well, I uh have to go home." He swung his hand towards the side yard of the vacant house. "See you later, Ms. Irina," he said and bolted down the line of bushes on the opposite side from Irina's house, cutting lengthwise that is through the yard of the vacant house. Irina gasped and caught her breath realizing that he had just cut past her bedroom window. Though her side yard was slightly shielded by the line of shrubs, nonetheless it would be possible to see at night her lighted window. She felt her heart beating and then laughed at herself and then shrugged and then went inside. Dusk was gathering.
She saw him over the next few days passing--cutting through--the yard next door. She had not seen him do that before. But then the house had not always been vacant. Maybe he had a friend in the next block and this was the short cut. Or maybe he wanted to pass by her house. Uh no ... maybe, she thought, she shouldn't dwell on fantasy.
.... There is more of this story ...