Too much noise, too hot, too many people! I swallowed and felt the narrowness of my throat choking me. I breathed in deeply. I shouldn’t have trusted him; I should have known he’d stand me up again!
I lined up in the buffet line. Philadelphia Main Line parties were always lavish. At least I’ll get dinner out of it, I thought.
A woman’s excited laughter made me turn.
“Look at these deserts!” she said. “How I wish I could dig in and not care!”
I sized her up: She definitely had that envied “something” called sex appeal. A man would never stand her up! She wore an off-the shoulder white top and tight black pants contouring her well preserved buttocks. A crown of blonde hair surrounded her Barbie-like face. Her eyes were sad, in conflict with her smile. She could have been twenty-five or thirty-five. She belonged to that envied category of ageless.
She continued to talk about diets and how they don’t work. I kept nodding. When our turn arrived, we helped ourselves to mostly vegetables and fruits.
I walked slowly and sat by the pool. She followed me and sat on the same bench, very close to me.
I was sweaty. I couldn’t breathe.She was invading my space!
I must find an excuse and leave…I thought, but suddenly heard Barbie’s clear voice announcing out of nowhere:
“I am in love with a married man who is twenty years older than me!”
She looked me straight in the eyes and continued:
“… and what’s even more painful, his wife is my best friend. She tells me all about her affairs with other men. Last week, I’ve had it with her! I told her about her husband and me! She didn’t even care, she said, who was she to judge!!!”
I came closer to Barbie, so strangers won’t overhear such intimate details.
Barbie licked her lips and sipped her wine:
“I’ve never been in love in such a romantic way. He sends me roses every day and calls me every night. I told him we are having a love affair, but I cannot be his mistress!”
She paused and looked at me intently.
My heart was racing. She continues:
“We didn’t actually have sex,” she explained and whispered in my ear:
“…but how do you define a love affair? Tell me, how?”
I smelled the sweetness of her perfume and felt the warmth of her breath on my cheek. Why did she pick me as a confidant? She really needs a shrink!
“Well,” I said aloud, “this is a personal definition but I believe a love affair starts when one’s mind functions on two levels at once. No matter what one does, there is a constant thought of one’s lover. An obsession. A love affair means that two people are in love, not necessarily that they have sex!” I concluded.
“Then I am right! We are having a love affair,” she said triumphantly and squashed me to her generous bosoms.
We continued to talk about him for a while and her eyes became misty, her voice excited. She glowed!
She is definitely in love, I thought with envy. How long since I felt for someone? Have I ever felt so deeply? Am I ever going to experience such passion? I bit my lip.
“He invited me for a two-day trip to D.C. Do you think I should go?”
“Would you like to go?” I asked Barbie.
“Of course I would but what do I do with the sex? I guess we could have separate bedrooms…”
She stopped. Tears rolled down her doll-like face.
Poor thing, I thought, now what? I hate tears!
“Here, use my tissues,” I said.
“I know he is no good for me. I know he’d never leave her. Even now, if he is half an hour late to go home, he panics. He is so German! I told him we should stop seeing each other, but I think of him all the time. All the time! It’s going to be so hard.”
“Sleep with him,” I suggested. “It will release the tension. What if he isn’t even capable of having sex with you? You said he is much older. If you don’t try, you’d never know for sure.”
The Barbie smiled, leaned towards me and whispered:
“But I don’t want to know for sure, it will spoil the romance! This is the most important part of our relationship. I have never loved so innocently!”
Suddenly, without notice, Barbie turned around and before I could speak she disappears.
For a second I thought I should run after her, tell her my name, get hers, but on second thought, it was better that way. Perhaps knowing would spoil the charm of this most intimate conversation with a stranger.
In the months that followed I thought of Barbie. I regretted not running after her. She seemed so emotionally frail… and I didn’t care enough!
A year went by and I went to New York to see a play on Broadway. The lead was an actress whose talent earned good reviews from the toughest critics.
I took my seat. The stage was dark at first. Then slowly a spotlight followed the silhouette of the actress. She came closer and closer, to the front of the stage, until the silhouette became Barbie! Barbie in the spotlight in the middle of the stage!
It can’t be! I thought, searching for my glasses.
Her curly blonde hair, her desperately sad eyes, her size DD bosoms. It was Barbie alright! She scanned the audience in silence and finally focused on a woman in the front row:
“I am in love with a married man who is twenty years older than me!”
Barbie stopped and examined the crowd, then focused back on the woman in the front row:
“…and what’s even more painful, his wife is my best friend!”
I asked Rodica what prompted this piece and she said…
It was performed in 2005 in Philadelphia at InterAct Theatre as part of a series called WritingAloud. The story is composite of characters I met and social situations I encountered while a social butterfly on the Philadelphia Main Line.
And wonderful characters they were. Thank you Rodica.
She holds a B.A. in English and Romanian from the University of Bucharest. She has worked as a translator and executive assistant at the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest before defecting from Romania in 1981.
As challenges continue in her personal life, she is currently finishing her Master’s in Counselling and Clinical Psychology, and hopes to graduate by the end of 2012. Her work focus is on Grief and Loss.
Rodica’s websites are:
- http://www.rodicamihalis.wordpress.com: the birthplace of The Gypsy Saw Two Lives, under the name of ‘Memoirs from My Two Lives’. Rodica then started to post practical ideas which are being well-received.
- http://www.lifewithbblola.wordpress.com: is about Rodica’s puppy Lola and the other two rescued dogs who are my companions and also Max, my super intelligent African Grey parrot. (Morgen: I feature an African Grey in my novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping List)
If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here.
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with travel writer Margaret Piton – the five hundred and sixty-first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.