Book 2 by Rupert Jetson | Flickr
Tamara bustles into my study with some shopping. She is cheerful because she does not think as deeply as me. She twitches her nose at the cigarette smoke - another bad habit, like my womanizing. She calls me ‘Professor’ and flutters around the room, tidying my books for me. The subtext here is that we totally banged but I was too sad and wise to sustain it.
She is my daughter’s age. My Daughter Doesn’t Speak To Me™.
Tamara’s blouse lifts above her waist as she dusts and gives me an erection which is Darkly Comic. I think about her body for a paragraph. She is nice and idolizes me for reasons which are surely obvious to the reader.
A slim volume falls from a top shelf as she cleans. I ogle her buttocks (Darkly Comic) as she picks it up, and she reads my name on the cover.
“You ‘av written ze poetry, Professor?” she asks. She is French, or maybe Italian.
“Not anymore.” I tell her gruffly.
“But you should!” she begs. What does she know, sweet airhead? Harshly I dismiss her. She gazes back through the door with eyes full of tears for my wasted potential.
On a mysterious whim I visit the Shrew who also lives in Bloomsbury. Since our divorce she has finished her pHD and married a banker or a fitness instructor. She seems much happier and exudes a bourgeois grace I find less attractive now that she is a self-possessed equal. I am not sure what I hoped to gain from the meeting, but a quickie seems out of the question. So I leave and tell the story of our estrangement to the Thames. The river glideth by his own sweet will… and what did Baudelaire say about breasts in middle-age?
Back in my study, I get a phone call from my distant daughter.
“Father, I have come to terms with the past and I forgive you. Let’s meet for coffee.” she says.
Coffee: a foul drink for idiots. I berate her for it and assert a crabby dominance. My rudeness charms her; we arrange a date. O time: Her voice is like her mother’s.
As the Autumn twilight falls, I pick up my book of poems for the first time in thirty years. I do not recognize the man who wrote them. A man’s heart changes as frequently as the women he beds, perhaps. The subtext here is that I’ve boned a whole bunch.
Soon the light is too dim to read. I traipse to bed, ruminating on the lot of man, on memory and all the women - Tamara, the Shrew, my daughter - who tragically did not find me interesting for terribly long. In a Darkly Comic scene I describe myself masturbating. Who do I picture? A young man full of hope and fire, a dashing enfant terrible signing covers in a Bloomsbury bookshop. I ejaculate, meaningfully.
Rayfox East was born in Bangor, Wales, and lives in London, trading a sea breeze for city smog. He is not as well-travelled as his stories, which have been published in four continents, but plans to catch up before the next pandemic hits. He works as a website manager for a UK charity.