Out of the Pool

Their relationship turned sour and became mutually abusive.

Years later, Martin came to think that his girlfriend had been getting bad advice, maybe from her father and one of her female friends, both cynical people. In any case, Fay seemed to change over the months, and they stopped pulling together. Instead, they seemed to be locked in a power struggle, and unable to find ways of making any kind of mutual decision.

Martin had gone overseas on a contract. The experience had been deeply disappointing, and left him unsure of himself, and unsure if his whole career choice had been a mistake. In such times, a man tends to query everything, including whether he has chosen the right woman.

One letter she had sent him while he was away had particularly incensed him. He took care to save it. When he saw her on his return from the overseas contract, he took care to have it with him.

Fay still wanted to work on their relationship, but Martin had his doubts. He had lost confidence in front of her, and was inclined to desperate measures. So it was that he decided to make the girl eat her words, literally. He told her that she was to eat the letter that had so angered him.

Fay lived in a hard world, at least in her head. She seemed to accept that she needed to do something to regain lost ground. She, too, was desperate. So, she ate the letter.

He had been inclined to just get her to nibble on a few small pieces; but his anger grew rather than receded, and he thought to himself that it was only airmail paper and some ink. He let her get some water to help it down – but he made her eat the whole thing.

Strangely, she seemed to accept this and put it behind her quickly. Years later, Martin wondered if his behaviour, which was intended to “test her” so far that she might simply give up and go away, could have actually excited and impressed her at some deep, unhealthy level. In short, it could have had a paradoxical effect.

Despite her heroic efforts to get back in his good books, the relationship had been permanently damaged. It moved on, but only as a fatally winged bird will fly on a way. Their relationship was moribund.

As that relationship neared its end, Martin heard again from a girl called Claire. She was minding a house in a hilly suburb in the city for some rich, older friends while they were on a summer holiday.

“I would feel safer if you spent some time here”, she explained. “There is a boy next door who has been spying on me. I went for a swim nude a couple of nights ago in their pool and I am pretty sure he was watching me.”

It is always satisfying when gallantry and sexuality come together, so he agreed.

When he first visited, it was early evening. She showed him around the house, which had a massive library, and in general an immense amount of room. The pool was outside and reached from a patio cluttered with white plastic chairs.

“I am going out for a swim. Do you want to come too?”

“No. I am alright. I will just have a look around”, he replied, still reading the titles on the shelves in the library.

“OK. Suit yourself. Come and join me if you like though.”

“I will. Don’t worry”, he said.

After a while he had seen enough of the library, selected a range of volumes, dipped into them, and grown a little bored. So he went out on the patio.

He gradually realised, as his eyes adjusted to the evening gloom, that she was swimming naked. He could hardly not notice. Eventually, she tired of her recreation and came over to the edge of the pool.

“I feel safe here with you. I don’t think that weird boy would hang around with you here.”

Not sure of the etiquette of talking to a naked girl in a pool, he could only nod and feel uncomfortable. Eventually, he asked:

“Do you want me to get you a towel?”

“No, just help me out.”

So he did. She walked naked back towards the house itself, and then turned. Her right hand was hanging down; and then she seemed to point between her parted legs for a moment, before going inside.

The next day, Martin rang Fay for the last time. They had a most satisfying argument in which they gave each other a lot of frank life advice.

And life moved on.

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