I stand naked before the long mirror. I see long legs and flat stomach and firm breasts and I know that, at the age of 34, I am still desirable. I have an assignation in 40 minutes. I think the man will be pleased with what he sees.
My working day is spent in the town library. I give out information, offer opinions, place books on shelves, stamp return dates inside books. I wear spectacles, I am seen as reserved. Men might want me for casual sex, but they usually decide I am unapproachable.
Sex is, in any case, dangerous. The incidence of HIV is rising sharply. So are unwanted births. No condoms. No abortion. If you are poor. The church condemns the use of condoms and insists on abstinence. But the church breaks its own rules.
Carmel works in the Farmacia, on the market place opposite the Church of the Immaculate Conception. She is my age, and is the mother of a teenage daughter. Her husband left her years ago. She cannot get a divorce, but she has a boyfriend. He is a priest. They meet discreetly once or twice a week. Carmel plays the church’s insider game.
I play it as well. I would like an arrangement similar to Carmel’s, but that has not happened.
Visiting priests often come to the library. They talk with me because I can answer most of their questions. bahis firmaları There is another reason. My air of haughtiness is attractive for some men. I like priests. They know human nature and human frailty and, in spite of negative opinions about them, I have found them to be good to women like me and Carmel. I am available for the priesthood. Priests who want sex know it.
A little man wearing a cassock walks in this morning. He has the weather-beaten face of a fisherman. He has thinning gray hair, large ears and a chipped tooth. He is twenty years older than me, and he is friendly, extremely friendly. He is in town for a priests’ seminar. He asks me where Graham Greene’s books are. That might be a strange question under most circumstances, because they are where they should be, under “G” in the English-language fiction section. It is labeled clearly.
But I know what he means.
He goes where I direct him. He returns to my desk. When he asks the next question, I feel a pounding in my breast. Have I read Greene’s The Power and the Glory? No, I say, it was published a long time ago.
He lowers his voice, as if he wants to tell me a secret: “You should. It’s all about a priest who fell, became an alcoholic.” He adds, “And fathered a child.”
He knows. He has been kaçak iddaa passed the message.
“Do you need communion?” he asks me, his voice firm. That was the arranged question.
I look at him and say. “Yes. As soon as possible.”
He catches his breath. He is excited.
I stop admiring myself in the mirror, go to my wardrobe and choose a white kaftan. There is a tiny repeating pattern on it that looks abstract. You need to look really closely to see that it shows a naked couple copulating.
I do not pull on panties or a bra. I pull the kaftan over myself. I place a pair of panties, a bra, a towel, a bar of soap, a tube of skin cream, and a packet of condoms in a faux leather bag, which I sling over my shoulder and leave the house. I walk past the Farmacia. Carmel is talking to a customer. She sees me and waves.
I am bending forward, my feet on the floor, my elbows resting on the bed. The kaftan is pulled back so that it hangs over my head like a tent. Beneath the hem, I see only the white of the bed. I hear a car race past on the road outside.
He is behind me. His left arm holds me around the waist. The fingers of his right hand play with my bottom, my vagina. I feel the condom’s tiny rubber balloon brush up and down between my buttocks, kaçak bahis tingling the nerve ends. A wave of fiery heat comes over me. I spread my legs wider and thrust my pelvis back. I hear him gasp as he pushes his penis inside me.
We lie naked on the bed, exhausted, embracing. I hold his head in my arms and rub my hand over his flaccid penis and his testicles, over his round gut. He kisses me on the cheek and gently rubs my arm. He runs his hand along my back. He is soft, loving. He is enjoying this moment. I kiss him on his forehead and on the nose. I feel his loneliness. We say nothing. We both start to drift off to sleep.
It has grown dark. He drives back to town and lets me out in a quiet street leading to the market place. I walk away but he does not drive off immediately. He waits. I look back. He flashes high beam once. He is feeling great. But one morning soon he will lie awake on his own in the early hours and try reconcile the irreconcilable. He will not be able to, just as Graham Greene’s whisky priest could not. Inside, the demons will tear him apart.
I know he will return to me.
I walk across the market place, past the fruit vendors, past the little man selling mechanical dogs with their electronic bark and wagging tails, past the garishly colored tuk-tuks, past the terrace of the Hotel City Garden where tourists drink San Miguel beer, past the Farmacia, past Church of the Immaculate Conception, and I am, I suppose, reasonably happy with life.