tuesdays with tara – volume fifty-nine

“I’ve got soft skin. Are you gonna’ let me in?”

It was Jacques who brought her around. He was the Kerouac of our group, swarthy, gregarious and slightly dangerous. A bit overly verbose and strangely wound, he was tolerated because of the gifts he gave the house. His father was a diplomat and Jacques was forever pinching things from his office: bottles of cognac, Cuban cigars, a rare first edition of a book. He said his father was an elitist shallow man who regarded such prizes as mere bribes from sycophants, people who expected favors in return. This lessened our guilt and aided in our enjoyment of the contraband.

She came in on his arm and barely stirred the breeze. She was like a tiny bird flitting from room to room. She was small and thin to the point of appearing gauzy. She had alabaster skin generously sprayed with sandy freckles. Her long red hair was ropy with hopeless tangles for lack of care. She was clearly a duchess and she was slumming it with us. But because she was only in high school, because she listened instead of spoke, nobody took her seriously.

She never contributed much when she was around, save for proximity. Her casual elegance was such that she classed up a room simply by being present. I watched her once in the kitchen as she poured tea. She had the studied mannerisms of a geisha. It was moments like this when she took a bit of my breath. I was certain that she was marvelous and just trying to keep it a secret from everyone.

Years after that bohemian cooperative had broken up, we would see her around. She showed up at my husband’s art show. She bought a piece because she could. She came to the after party and turned me on to gin and tonics; told me that I had strong beautiful legs.

Her mother was very powerful and important and had one of the best loft apartments in the city. They threw fantastic parties. At one of these, I had a conversation with David Byrne’s parents, at another, I beat her in a drunken wasabi-eating contest on the balcony. Her friends were contrite and oddly sophisticated the way rich and beautiful children often are and it never took long for me to feel uncomfortable enough to want to leave.

She seduced me once. I was home visiting my parents and her campus was an hour’s drive. She was naturally attending some over-rated liberal arts college suitable for her ilk. I missed her and so I agreed to do an overnight.

She had a small gathering of cohorts upon my arrival. They drank wine, smoked clove cigarettes and talked of Nietzsche and Zen Buddhism with the passion and purpose of newly awakened beings. I felt too old all night. Felt like petting heads and pinching cheeks. I felt chagrined and steeped in cynicism.

After they had gone, she put on Henry and June, citing my love of Anais Nin. I knew then that she had been planning this. I was flattered though I felt the device was rather clumsy. I knew to her, I was June. I knew that she wanted to climb into my lap and whisper into my hair.

She drank just enough to maintain her courage. She put her feet in my lap and that was fine. She edged next to me and looped her arm through mine and that was fine.

At some stage, I think she was concerned about what she perceived as a lack of escalation or reciprocation on my part. She began to slam the wine back in angry gulps. She occasionally punctuated the air with weary pointed sighs. When she finally announced that she had a terrible headache and was going to bed, I felt rather relieved.

Feeling callous, I went into her room and sat on the edge of the bed. I caressed her cheek and asked if I could give her a scalp massage. As I did so, she moaned and smiled up at me. I looked down at her and was so saddened by what I saw lying there. Gone was her almost Victorian beauty and what was once feminine and gauzy had just turned skeletal. She had lost some vital spark and she just looked fragile and brittle in a way that made me sad for her. She grabbed my wrist and asked me, “Are you going to kiss me?” I looked at her, smiled compassionately and with tears in my eyes, shook my head no. She threw her head into my lap and wept. “What did I do wrong?”, she cried. ‘What did I do wrong?”

She fell asleep there in my lap and I woke with my back against the bed frame and a terrible ache in my eyes, fingers threaded in her copper knotted mane.

It was the last time I ever saw her.

[written by Tara Noble.]

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Got something to say? Feel free, I want to hear from you! Leave a Comment

  1. Mumsy says:

    Beautifully written as usual…where’s that book I keep hearing you are writing and better yet where is my signed copy?

  2. Ginny Farrell says:

    Very descriptive piece of writing there, Miss T. I agree with your mumsy, where is that book of yours??? People like Chelsea Handler are getting rich off shit and I am wondering why can’t it be your thing? I can see you writing Eat, Pray, Love or something ofthat type but with much more interesting vocab and not as whiny.

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