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A month of Sundays A month of Sundays
by Abigail George
2023-01-22 09:29:36
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“I don’t see why you can’t write a book. I’m proud of you.” She caressed his back. "I’m your Alba remember. You can make words do anything. You charmed the pants off of me.”

set001_400“I often feel lonely in this world, you agree. I never knew I would meet someone like you. You make me so happy. I know I don’t often say that. I’ve only had baby fever on my mind for the past few months. I love this song.” She rested her one hand on his knee and began to drum her fingertips on it. He hated that too. He turned to look at her as the light turned red. She turned to look at him and smiled. He remembered what she said to him on their first meeting. “I don’t often meet men like you. Tell me all about mining.” He had never met a woman who wanted to know anything about mining. He told himself she was only being polite.

Today all day long it had seemed to him that she was looking for excuses to touch him. His arm as it rested between the two of them in the car. She rested her hand on his sensitive long fingers, his lean build, his muscular shoulder, his thin leg. In bed she was wild. He could keep up with that. Not always. Sometimes he had to pretend he was tired or had a headache. She was like an exotic flower to him from the Caribbean or Trinidad or the West Indies. She did not know her Ezra Pound from her Hemingway. She didn’t know her Jean Rhys from her Woolf, her Adichie from her NoViolet Bulawayo.

“I don’t know what you want me to say to that. You know I don’t get depressed about life.” He said as she banged the car door shut, he hated that, and they both waved at the same time at the real estate woman with the perfectly coiffed hair waiting for them in front of the house. He hated it when she banged the door like that. He always gritted his teeth when she did that. What she wanted him to say was this, “Neil, I want you to say that you were lonely too. That both of us, we were a perfect match from the start of our relationship. We were two outcasts, two interlopers stepping out into the world hating our aloneness.”

He knew she wouldn’t understand his love for the American poet Jenny Zhang, and writer and lawyer Elizabeth Wurtzel. To him marriage to the woman of his father’s dreams was like an anchor made of vertebra and bones. The curling spine and yellowing pages of old books that needed to be restored back to life again. In bed, he’d finger her sensuous mouth, his fingertips would linger across her cheekbones and he would kiss and caress her silken throat while she closed her eyes abandoning herself to his touch. He sucked her fingers. She would cry sometimes after their torrid lovemaking sessions.

“These rooms are perfect. Perfect for children, don’t you think,” but he said nothing to this. She was immaculate. She always was immaculate. He looks at her ankles with a far-off expression in his face, then her shoes, then her honeyed legs and then her thin dress. She was cutting a striking figure. She was standing on the edge of his sobriety and sanity. He thought of everything he was planning ahead in his life. He thought of all of his goals and his dreams that very much included her now too. Of that he was sure. The pathway outside the door hovered wordless, long and silent in his mind.

She wanted to walk on the beach after viewing the house. He had just received a promotion from the mining company he worked for. He wrote poetry in the evening. She wanted to have a baby. He had to do anything for her, right. He thought of the long shadows dripping on the floor in his study silken and signaling night. “The road here is all potholes”, he heard his voice from faraway but she was in the kitchen already looking at the appliances. He had everything under control. Yes, he would buy this house.

He would buy it for her. It meant maintenance but he could afford that with the kind of money that he was making now. He had everything his heart desired now. In the end he had made it in life. He had made life choices, plans for his future, decisions and had not thrown it all away like his father and brother and sister. He let it all sink in. He had no words anymore for his drug-addicted brother who was in his fourth rehab facility to come clean off drugs, sex and his troubles with alcoholism. He thought of his secret life. Therapists he had seen. He mostly spoke about his sex life, his confused sexuality and his attraction to both women and men.

He would speak about how he would masturbate in the evenings while he showered while she, his wife watched her shows. His sister went from bad relationship to bad relationship always making excuses for her children, and the man in her life. One of the torments of hell is never to be satisfied. He had learned to be happy for he was never happy as a child. He had always thought that he would never marry, never meet the right woman, never settle down and marry and become a father. He was reading NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names. He liked reading novels written by women. Remembered how his father had said no son of mine will become a dancer. Dancing was for “the gays”.

“No son of mine is a homosexual.” The words of his father still in his head like a broken record after all these years. Neil, he had been with men. He had been with boys. There’d been trysts in the backseat of his car and cheap hotels. He’d meet his latest love affair, Adrian, at The Grace. He’d call them all lover and sweetheart and honey. Yes, lover. Yes, sweetheart. Please sweetheart. Yes, yes, yes honey, just do it like that. Faster. Harder. Don’t rush. She’s only coming home in the morning. She goes to church so I don’t have to be back home until late Sunday morning. The last boy he’d been with had refused to take his money.

They’d danced the night away in a gay nightclub in Rosebank when his wife had visited her parents in Hout Bay. Oh, this wife of his would never figure out his secret life. She loved his money too much. The restaurants they dined out in. The overseas vacations and cruises to Greek islands. She loved the life he had given her. “She does not suspect anything,” Adrian had asked him passing him the lit cigarette. “I don’t know half the time where her head is at,” Neil had just shrugged his shoulders, and kissed Adrian hard and fast. “She loves my money. God knows, she didn’t have any when growing up in Korsten wherever that is. It’s somewhere in the Eastern Cape in a backwater town. ”

Adrian’s voice trembled in the dark. Neil could hear him moan. “You’re too good to me, Neil.” “Sometimes Adrian I think it’s her money. I have to pay for her silence.”
“You’re too charming Neil. You’re too confident.”

“She told me she fell in love with my confidence. She’s a backward country girl born in poverty, raised in poverty, not educated like us at the best schools I mean. I mean she’s ridiculous sometimes. She takes a calculator to the shops with her, cuts out coupons, scouts the supermarket shelves for specials.” Adrian smiled at this and then laughed.

“I wish I could stay here with you Adrian. She wants a baby. That’s the fate for my secret life. I’m doomed.”
“Neil, honey, don’t see that as a punishment.”
“Adrian of course it’s nothing but a punishment. She’s turned me into a sheep. Buy me this. Buy me that. I just don’t know how long I can still go on with this charade.”

“You can stay with me on the nights that you’re in the city Neil. You know you’re always welcome here. Mi casa, su casa.”
“She bleeds me dry you know. Don’t do it is my advice Adrian. Don’t marry. I married because of my father but he knows about my city life.”

“Adrian, my dad knows I went driving around with the older men in smart expensive cars when I was a teenager, and the young boys that I hang around with now that I’m in my thirties. My wife, who my father adores, she exhausts me, drains all my finances doesn’t even want to learn how to draw up a proper budget. She doesn’t want to study through UNISA. She was going to be a needlework teacher in one of those schools in a sub-economic Colored area before I literally saved her. She wanted to teach Needlework and home economics, Accounting and Afrikaans at a convent school she confided in me once.” Neil took a long drag on the cigarette.

“She tells me Adrian that I was the one who saved her from a fate worse than death. Is money, my money important to you Adrian?”
“No, Neil you’re important to me. I have my own money. Don’t you worry, honey, it will never become an issue between the two of us again. I don’t sleep with you for your money. I am in love with you Neil.”

“Adrian, you know of course I can’t leave her. I’m not going to leave Sylvia.”
“That’s fine, babe. You really make me feel so good. You make me feel like a Viking-king.”
“My father thinks that my wife, she’s saved me. He really thinks that she saved Neil, the homosexual, from a fate worse than death.” Adrian leaned over the pillows and the sheet and embraced Neil.

“It’s ok Neil, daddy’s here now. Nobody’s going to hurt you ever again in your life.”
“I tried telling my clinical psychologist about just how much I love my father in spite of everything. There were dark days when I wanted to take my own life. You know how it is.”
“But Neil, your family accepts you now. Your dad, your mother, your sisters accept you now. I’m a problem child too Neil if you want to know.”

“Lover, I think about you all the time. Neil, the way you walk, the way you talk and the way you wear your hair.” Neil reached for the remote and his half eaten room service sandwich.

“You’re divine, Adrian. Sylvia, she just looks so happy. In the morning she makes me coffee and breakfast for me. There’s breakfast in bed. Can you believe champagne and orange juice? She thinks that’s the life. The life we were both meant for. Having money sometimes is hilarious.”

“I can’t argue with that Neil. What do you want me to say to that?”
“Your wife sounds as if she has the perfect life. All she ever does is shop up a storm, brunch with the ladies.”

“Adrian, the minx she’s far from perfect. She’s becoming fat.” At this Adrian laughed again, showing his perfect white teeth.
 “Oh, glory. So Neil, you’re saying she wasn’t before.”

“No. She was a beautiful green-eyed beauty in Mauritius where we got married on the beach. Her family wasn’t there. Not even her mother, her father and her cousins. Not even a grandmother. It’s easy to keep her happy Adrian. Flowers, gold jewelry, expensive French perfume, champagne. She drinks now. She never did before. This is what happens to all of those kinds of girls.”

“Pity we didn’t meet sooner you know Neil. Pity we never met before this minx.”
“Adrian I know when to be quiet now. I know how and when to give in.”
“Do you sometimes think Neil that you should never have married?”
“I eat in my father’s house every Monday evening because of my wife. I could never give that up.”

“Neil you gave the boys up for me.”
“I did that because I love you Adrian.”

“Neil, I think that one of the torments of hell is never to be satisfied.”
“What do you think?”

“What do I think about what, lover? About us, about secrets, about being gay and married, about drinking on a Tuesday afternoon and sneaking away from your wife to be with your boyfriend.”

“No, man, lover, I’m talking about going on holiday.” Neil yawned, reaching for the pack of cigarettes on the nightstand.
“We should go swimming. Yes, we should definitely go swimming. Go for a mini-break somewhere. I mean just us, just the two of us. Perhaps we can go on a cruise to kingdom come. Perhaps we can go somewhere Mediterranean or somewhere warm.”

“Just you and I walking at midnight on the beach, what do you think, lover.”
“When we’re in bed at night she can’t take her hands off me, you know.” Adrian smiled as Neil kissed his neck.


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