In And Out Of Egypt
I met him many years after the great disappointment, not to say heartbreak, he
caused me. He is now an old man and, anyway, I too, am getting along in years. He is
a widower and I have been divorced for some time. I live alone just like he does
because my children are studying in Canada where we have some money and
property. After the children left, I moved to an apartment close to his and, quite by
chance, we met on the street, mon petit Paul and I, and our old peculiar and
conscience-stricken erotic friendship resumed with the same intensity minus the
sexual factor, which he claimed he still does not understand. He did not understand
what a blooming flower like me found in a wilting one like him. He got it half right.
He too was a flower.
In our days, it is commonplace to find beautiful youth. Beautiful old people
are a rarity and are so wonderful to contemplate. Paul was a handsome young man but
for me he was outright beautiful in middle age. The hair graying but intact, the
sculpted face, the white strong teeth, the wondrous smile. I saw women lose
themselves in that face. But it was not only that. It was much, much more. It is the
reason we are back together, inseparable friends. Wonderful friends hooked on each
other's company. There is simplicity, modesty and tenderness in that man that is out
of the ordinary. He is cultured and well read and there is no way one can get bored in
his company. Oh, we talk for delightful hours now that my own amorous life is in
steep decline. But there is another reason why, some ten years ago, I was crazy about
him. It shall come out partly in the story and more explicitly in the epilogue.
For I have undertaken the task of recording an ordinary and passionate love
story that, on the way, became extraordinary with a sequel that was not to be.
Thwarted by guilt and the last-minute doubts of a Narcissus. For he must have been a
Narcissus, mon petit Paul, to have left me high and dry the way he did. More than
anything else, I had lost a friend. The sex would have been an added intimacy and I
never expected from him the performance of a twenty year old. I had tasted some of
that and though orgasms are heavenly releases, they are not always enough. My
husband was an accomplished lover and difficult as it is to leave a man who satisfies
you sexually, I finally left him to escape his constant bad moods and insufferable
behaviour. Two children tied me to him longer than I would have otherwise tolerated.
It is hard to believe that the depression that gripped me after Paul disappeared
from my life lasted many months, almost a year. Nevertheless, I recovered a stronger
person. One usually does, if one recovers. I often wondered if Paul left me from
strength or from weakness. Probably, a little of both. In any case, one corrective
action I took as soon as I was normal again was to send my husband packing. I was
bitter at Paul and thought he acted selfishly, succumbing to the petty scruples of a
generation ago. I did not see why I should be generous with Tony who was, if
anything, many more times as selfish.
My father died a few months later of a heart attack. A lot of grief, of course,
because he was a wonderful father to the whole family including my self-indulgent
mother and I loved him dearly. A lot of grief but with it a little inadvertent
recompense because he left me a reasonably rich woman. Rich enough, at any rate,