My One and Only
The night I met her she wore white; a deceptive symbol of innocence. As she walked towards me I couldn’t help but notice how her mohair jumper caressed her curves and I guiltily wished I were that jumper. I turned my attention back to my beer which had disappeared quicker than I remembered drinking it. I turned to ask Joseph if he had taken a sly sip and found my words addressing empty air. The stool beside me was vacant. Where had he gone?
She stopped beside me at the bar and I inhaled a heady scent of sweetness laced with a musky depth.
"Red wine please." She said to the barman.
Her voice had traces of velvet and nicotine overindulgence. Her lips, which shone a ruby red, looked well practiced in simultaneous smiles and pouts. I glanced down at the butterfly pin which sat just above her hip and realised with surprise I had bought Melissa one just like it last summer.
"It’s a strange place to put it I know."
I blinked in surprise as she smiled at me and her hand flickered over the pin.
"No, no. I was just thinking how..." I hesitated, feeling a heaviness grip my conscience as I realised that I did not want to associate myself with the word wife. "I bought one just like it recently for a friend." A friend? What kind of tribute was that to a love that had lasted so long I couldn’t even remember when or where it had exactly begun.
"I thought you looked like a man with good taste." Her lips curled slightly, like a cat.
Did cats even smile? I frowned at the dregs of my pint. How many had I had?
"Would you like another?" She asked as she started to hand over the money for her wine.
I looked at her in surprise. I couldn’t remember a time a woman had ever offered to buy me a drink.
She took my hesitation as a yes. "And another pint of whatever it is he’s been drinking."
"You don’t have to..." I stammered.
"I know." She said. "I only ever do things I want to do."
The statement may have sounded selfish to some people, and on later reflection I thought there was a possibility that this was an accurate judgement; Had she known what she was inflicting upon me without a care? But that night all I heard behind those words was a woman screaming, ‘I am feisty and carefree and I am choosing to spend my time talking to you.’
I would like to blame the end result of that night on the ensuing pints, or even say it was because of the premature disappearance of Joseph. If he had stayed it no doubt would have been he who found himself being led…okay willingly following…this intoxicating blonde upstairs to her hotel room. But that would just be avoiding responsibility. Which was the symptom of my downfall.
I still have a clear picture of the wallpaper in my head as I ascended the stairs. For a second I stopped at one of the turns and my eyes followed the rows of lemon and lime flowers, which through my alcohol fuelled vision blurred into characters with Afro hair and spindly bodies. I momentarily wondered if I was in some sort of Alice In Wonderland type dream and I was following the white rabbit to embark on some sort of farcical adventure.