Amorous Attachment (Sophia & Gerry) — short story

SUMMER SEASON: bright blue sky, drifting clouds, and early afternoon rainfall.

A summer house belongs to an elderly couple that Sophia occasionally borrows for favours granted. She helps with cleaning the cottage and running errands for the elderly couple from their apartment in the city. Sophia lives not too far from them.

In the cottage’s living room, a statue of Buddha appears on a shelf in the bedroom, and a vase of tulips with a greeting card attached stands on a writing desk.

Sophia hails from Arménien, was granted citizenship in Sweden, and can be regarded as very attractive: she looks like Salma Hayek and once turned down a model career (had suspected pornography involved). Sophia visits the gym after work, which is sketching and assisting with model photography for an international fashion magazine.

Gerry is taller than her, slim and well-trained and looks like Mahershala Ali (in “Moonlight”). He might be from the Caribbean, Africa or elsewhere.

In the Black diaspora, rumour has it that Gerry is from a former Dutch colony or the Republic of the Congo, probably because his complexion is darker than blue. He’s tight-lipped about his country of origin.

(It’s not essential to know as far as I’m concerned, Gerry maintains. Being a decent human is all that counts — to be judged by my character ought to outshine skin colour.)

Gerry thinks he is successful with some women who regard his body and humour. He is sometimes homeless and shifts from friends’ lodgings at various addresses.

He does newspaper deliveries in two districts with the help of a (Nigerian) friend who owns an old green Ford ESCORT.

Sophia & Gerry are naked under a multicoloured bed covering. From a king-size bed, she gets up. Sophia appears younger than forty. Gerry is thirty and relishes dating older birds.

Sophia puts on a flowery-pattern dressing gown, reaches for a cigarette and places it between her lips, which displays some trace of lipstick.

She lights the cigarette, inhales deeply and exhales through her nostrils before taking a few steps to the half-opened balcony door, glancing up at the sky.

Sophia saw the rain had stopped, and a bright blue sky returned. The smell of greenery appeared, which she adored. And she heard twittering and chirping blue tits from apple and pine trees and bushes, occasional birdsong, cicadas, and clucking from chickens.

She had noticed the lawn had wown, probably before the rain. Some blackbirds could be seen picking at worms on the ground.

After outing the cigarette butt, Sophia sees Gerry is no longer asleep but on his back, stirring at the high white ceiling.

Sophia says to him, sporting a Mona Lisa smile, “I meant to tell you I feel like you began to manipulate me, you know that — of course, a male predator that you are — making me offer my body to you without willpower.”

“Where is that coming from, from your feminist conservative friends or lefty comrades” Gerry replies, a smile lingers on his lips and eyebrows knitted. “You can’t be serious.” He shifted his gaze from the ceiling to her briefly.

“I’m serious. I think you cast your magic spell on me. I’ve been thinking about it and meant to tell you, but I wanted to get a perspective on it.”

“Really! You don’t say!” Gerry says. “You mean like black magic ritual?” He laughs.

Sophia looks at him, appearing coyish. “Stop laughing! You know I don’t like to be laughed at.”

“Why you’re telling me this now?” Gerry says, smiling, his eyes on her.

“Why? No better time than never,” Sophia says as she sits on her side of the bed.

“What happened to your desire and responsibility for your behaviour?

“What about them? It’s your manner I’m on to,” Sophia says, half smiling and looking at her nails as if they were due for treatment.

“Playing the victim, are you?”

“Not the least. Not a game,” Sophia says. “For the last couple of times I noticed before you started touching me, my mood wasn’t there, and yet I didn’t stop you when my mind told me to. Then it was too late to stop you. You got me into the love thing. Only my body became involved like a robot. I think you know or at least sense it all. And I blamed myself for whatever it was that was making me feel that way. Can’t remember.”

“Wait, wait a minute,” Gerry says, averting his eyes from the ceiling, shaking his head, and turning his body as he stares her in the eye.

A smile lingers on his lips, whether he is flattered by her words or gathering his thoughts or whatever.

“I thought you wanted it as much as me or almost,” Gerry says. “And sometimes I don’t get you right because you can be, at times, like someone with nothing to say in whatever mood.”

“You dated many women — you told me, like most men — so you must know what I mean. What I’m onto is that lately, you make me feel guilty. And I continue to go along with this love thing when I should be alone with music and a book to read. The desire is gone. Vanished! That’s why I call it manipulation. Perhaps there’s a better word.”

“Rape?” Gerry shouts. His face is blank, and lips pouched, eyebrows furrowed.

“No, no. Not rape. I hate that word and what it stands for. It cannot be described as a mutual consensus either. But whatever word we choose, I’m trying to be honest. Decent. You seem to know yourself better than I understand myself. And I have the right to change my mind.”

“Oh yes, you certainly have the privilege to change your mind,” Gerry says. “And even if I dated many women in the past, each one was different. Anyway, I got you wrong. Strangely enough, I used to ask for your permission to caress you and the like. And your answer was — I remember well — there’s no need to ask. But I can now see the situation between you and me is no longer the same, which is to be expected because it lasted longer than I expected. In some love relationships, decency and compassion can crumble when fiery passions cease. Things fall apart.”

Her eyes followed his movements as he got up and began to dress. She disliked disputes.

“And I was somewhat worried I might be bored of you,’ Gerry says, “before you lost feelings for me. Difficult to know people who are reticent about their feelings. Your feelings have changed without telling me. I’m not a mind reader and certainly missed out on your change of feeling. Better we stop having this one-sided love affair and try to be friends.”

“A timeout might be the best thing,” Sophia says. “But being friends with ex-lovers, I’m not good at because negative thoughts keep getting in the way.”

“At least we can give friendship a try.”

Both Sophia and Gerry suddenly appear sadden by the discussion. Their romance began one year ago. For the first six months, they couldn’t keep their hands away from each other — four or five times a week, they did it like rabbits. Then for the following months, it gradually eased off to once a week or every other.

Both are eccentric in their ways, and Sophia would perhaps be content with the time out because the relationship wasn’t going anywhere. Gerry says we spoke about that so many times and got nowhere.

Sophia knows she needs to get her act together: to stop calling Gerry to come over to save her from doing something stupid, like taking many sleeping pills and chasing them down with alcohol.

Gerry will miss the once-a-week dose of intimacy and friendly chat about this or that, but mostly about happenings on social media and the latest hip-hop songs. He shies away from talking about books because he doesn’t enjoy reading for pleasure or knowledge.

In his state of loneliness, he might not search for a new female lover on Date Hustle or, for a while, indulge in his adolescent habit when sexual frustration gets to him.

In contrast, Sophia wouldn’t miss the lovemaking since it increasingly brings back feelings of mainly being a mattress for a man’s pleasure.

Epilogue:

Sophia wasn’t in the mood and didn’t want to, but she didn’t say no and allowed Gerry to seduce her before accusing him of manipulation. Was it from sympathy (or an unconscious desire) she became a sacrificial lamb?Feelings rarely exist in isolation. They are a collection of clashing elements.

Gerry should have known since he was a man of the world and ought to know better, even though he did not force her, nor was there a clear no from her. Gerry was graceful/artful in performing the seduction.

Yet that’s a serious thing to say! It seems like sexual assault, even if no force was applied and no explicit request, apparent refusal. Sophia expected Gerry to comprehend only implicitly because he wasn’t a foolish fellah.

Gerry’s skilful approach might have done the trick. With much pride, he would regard it as all charm, but even charm might have gotten him into trouble.

Little that Sophia knows, his need for a woman’s body has become compulsive. And what was sad about Gerry was that he was secretly ashamed of his sexual addiction instead of seeking help.

Perhaps seduction can be a form of sexual assault, not splitting hairs.

Supposing. Just assuming Gerry didn’t keep her talk of manipulation to herself but spill it to her radically upper-class-turned-lefties or feminist soul sisters who despise Gerry for whatever reason, that would be enough to report him to the police. Then Gerry could be in deep shit — probably getting his goose cooked.

Satan’s dungeon (the powers that be) would devour his body and soul. Because getting arrested, charged and sentenced to two years imprisonment, then deported to where he was wanted for spreading false news about his country.

Gerry likes to refer to himself as a stateless creature and seems proud of the status — tongue-in-cheek humour.

© Lawrence G. Taylor

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Lawrence G.Taylor writer

Born in Guyana, lived in England; settled in Sweden. Retired from a mental-healthcare job. Literary Fiction. Long&Short Stories: Black Diaspora in 🇬🇾🇬🇧🇸🇪