“What did you say?” she asked sharply, almost yelling.
“I asked if you could take off you clothes”, I said quietly, trying to hide the trembling in my voice.
“Are you out of your mind? What is up with you?” she went towards the door.
So, here I was, a week before my wedding, sitting in my ex’s house, asking her to undress. I came over to give her a wedding invitation. Well, that too.
“Wait, Elinor, let me explain.” I ran after her.
“What’s there to explain? I’m a married woman, with a child. Last time I saw you was six years ago when you decided that our relationship was too stressful for you and it was time to take a break that turned into a breakup. You suddenly thought about me a week before your wedding, to give me an invitation…” she stopped, trying to hold back her tears and kept going in a tone that kept rising, “and now you’re asking me to take off my clothes? What do you want? To fuck me? Do I look like a slut to you? I loved you, you were my whole life, but that’s it. I’m over you, I’m happily married and I have a wonderful husband and a gorgeous child. What right do you have, huh? Who gave you the right to just show up here, thinking that you’re going to fuck me just because you’re getting married? Do you actually think I sit at home and fantasize about you? I-“
“Elinor”, I yelled, “you have to stop for a second and let me explain.”
Well, this is not going to be easy.
“Elinor, I don’t want to have sex with you. It’s not about that.”
“Then what are you-“
“Wait a second, calm down. I really don’t want to have sex with you. That’s not why I came. I admit the wedding invitations were not the main reason. But neither is having sex. There’s something else.”
“What?” She asked.
“Come, sit next to me for a bit” I gestured towards the couch. She hesitated.
“Don’t worry. I’ll just explain myself and then I’ll leave.” I took her hand in mine and sat her on the couch next to me.
“I’m thirty two already. You’re thirty. When we broke up you were twenty-four. You were at you peak. Your body was divine. Sex with you was everything I could have wished for. Everything was right. The full and perky breasts, the long legs, the smooth skin, the long and lustrous hair. Oh and the smell. You smelt like heaven. I enjoyed every second with you. But I was young, I had plans. I felt that even though I really loved you, I couldn’t let the relationship hold me back from going on with my plans, from going to study overseas. This may have been a mistake, but that’s not why I’m here.”
“You’re confusing me, I still don’t understand.”
“I met Christy, my future wife, about a year ago. It was obvious from the start that the two of us had amazing chemistry. She is smart, sensitive and loving. I love her. But, Christy is thirty-one. She has the body of a thirty-one-year-old.”
“What are you trying to say?”
“I am trying to say that Christy could never look the way you did when you were twenty-four.”
“But even I don’t look the way I did when I was twenty-four. It’s not as if I remained young while the world around me grew older. I’m thirty and, as you can see, your description is not very accurate any more” she said with a slight smile.
“Not in my head. You see, in my mind, the image of you at twenty-four still lives. Every girl I have dated since was immediately compared with that image, with you. At first they were younger so the comparison wasn’t bad, but once I’ve crossed thirty and the girls I dated were somewhat older, the comparison became impossible. They were in their thirties and they looked accordingly.”
“And what’s so wrong with thirty?”
“Nothing. But no matter how you look at it, a thirty year old girl cannot look like a young, beautiful, attractive, sexy twenty-four-year-old. The body changes. But the problem wasn’t that they were thirty. The problem was that I was comparing them to you. You see, you were amazing. When I was overseas, when I was stuck at home studying for exams, I used to masturbate and only fantasize about sex with you. When I was sleeping with other girls, I fantasized about you. Well, not exactly about you, rather about a twenty-four year old Elinor.”
“So, what do you want? You want to leave Christy?”
“No, I love Christy and I am marrying her next week. But the image of you at twenty-four is still stuck in my head and the constant comparison is driving me nuts and jeopardizing my marriage. The older Christy gets, things will only go down hill. Rationally, I realize we will grow older and our bodies will change. The relationship between Christy and me is more than just about sex, but the image of you is still stuck in my subconscious, torturing me every time I want to have sex with Christy. When she undresses, the image of you at twenty-four pops into my head, I compare it to Christy and my subconscious starts yelling: How? How did you leave that, for that? How? And it drives me insane.”
“But that’s crazy. You’re comparing her today to me six years ago.”
“Exactly. But it’s not me. It’s in my head and I can’t control it. This is why I want you to undress.”
“What?” she was panicking again, “what does that have to do with it?”
“If I see your body today, the image of it now will replace the image I have of you at twenty-four and then, finally, I could have sex with Christy at peace, without those voices in my head.”
She understood. She smiled. I calmed down. Now, even if she won’t do it at least I got it off my chest.
“So, instead of going to see a shrink to help you solve your problems, you came here. And what exactly did you think? That just because you went out with me for four years, six years ago, you have the right to see my naked body today?”
“I know I don’t have any rights. I understand that we are strangers today. I am coming to you for help. The closer the wedding got, the worse it became for me. Christy is losing patience with me. She doesn’t know how I feel but she can sense it. I’m afraid. I’m afraid of losing the whole thing because of this fantasy that’s stuck in my head. I’m only asking. If you say no I’ll understand and I’ll leave.”
Elinor was thinking. I wondered what was going through her head. Maybe she reminisced about our time together, when we used to stay up all night, every Thursday, because we decided those were the best hours of the week. The silence prolonged. I started to feel uncomfortable. I didn’t want to torture her anymore.
“Look, I’m sorry, I…”
“Shut up” she said quietly, gently taking my hand. She got up and stood in front of me. She started unbuttoning her shirt slowly.
“Can you help me with the bra?” she turned around. I got up and with shaking hands after a couple of attempts, managed to unhook it. I sat down. She turned around, smiling. I studied her. These were invaluable seconds. Concentrate, I told myself, concentrate. Replace the image. This is Elinor. This is Elinor. Not the girl with the perky large breasts, with the tiny waists and the body that screams at you “I want to live!” She wasn’t unattractive. Her breasts were still impressive but had already started to sag. Childbirth has taken its toll. The waistline wasn’t as narrow. She was beautiful. But not stunningly the way she was six years ago. She looked like an attractive thirty-year-old woman. Something any man would be thankful for. I didn’t ask, but she took off her jeans and remained standing in her black underwear. She tried to do it in a practical, non-sexual sort of way.
“Should I walk around like some model?” she asked, laughing.
I didn’t answer. As it was I felt like disappearing.
She turned around, showing me her ass. It was pleasing to look at. Her husband did not suffer in bed. A little bit of fat was bulging around her panty line. The perfect symmetry was damaged. It was still nice but not as firm. I remember I used to spank her during sex just to feel the firmness of it. If I was to slap it now, it probably would have had a softer, elastic feel. It was obvious she exercised. Some sort of losing battle a person has against nature’s wear and tear. She turned around again.
“Well, did you enjoy it?” she asked.
“I know you didn’t do this for pleasure” she laughed, “after all, it is the old body of a thirty-year-old.” She winked.
I got up and stood next to her. Awkward. She hugged me. After all, four years together.
“Elinor” I said, “thank you.”
“Don’t thank me” she smiled, “go home to Christy. I think she deserves great sex tonight.”
She kissed me gently on the cheek. I left.