Friday, January 15, 2010

Running the bath

She understood perfectly well, and continually admonished herself, that if at any point he had wished for her to know his intentions, plans, itinerary, and precise or even merely general whereabouts he would have willingly and gladly dispensed that information as easily as one might pluck one by one a jellied, nut-topped or squiggled chocolate nestled in its pleated cup thereby working one's way if one wasn't careful through an entire plush lined box in the space of an afternoon, easily informing her by one or another of an orchestral tangle of latterday epistolary instruments, whether email, gmail, snail mail, blackberry, executive assistant, blogging Cyrano, telephone, or choral concatenation of several modes at once, that he was now here, and soon there, and was showering her with restless kisses in absentia even while in transit. She reflected that she, like Susan Orlean, of whom she had lately formed a strange, vicarious affection (what would Susan say, she would find herself thinking, imagining the toss of her mane, her crooked smile, and conspiratorially welcoming gesture of arm as she unveiled with wry awe her secret cache of - what? unopened perfume packages, size 2 clothing never worn, bien sûr ballotins of bon-bons never eaten....) had not written the modernized manual of retro feminine wiles, The Rules. Moreover though, she now reflected, unconsciously curling her fist and pressing it against her lush naked thigh, she had never so much as read them, or been taught a version of them, and she considered now if that crucial gap in her feminine education wasn't at this step of her long ladder of years a source of her solipsistic predicament and fanner of her exquisite torment. It had not been enough that as a girl, eyes widening at the sight of a platter of frosted almond Polish pastries - Slavic petits fours, or queen's cakes as the pastel confections were dubbed at Sweet Melissa's - she had been admonished by her beloved but old-school Babcia who thundered that she would sell her soul for a chocolate bar. She had laughed at her grandmother's pronouncement which had struck her even at the time as having within its ringing tones and incisive summing the stark nature of a prophecy or a curse, and she had tried to conceal her nervousness at the discovery of her flawed character, pretending to blithely ignore the aproned, elderly woman who stood above her lips pursed shaking her head in exasperation, brazenly reaching out her hand to help herself to another while all the while in inner tumult agreeing with her grandmother, whose power over her was such that years earlier she had shamed her "favorite granddaughter" out of sucking her thumb, and who had now seen into the depths, found her out, and predicted that she might indeed one day discard in a thrice, give away without reflection, something rare and coveted, irreplaceable, and true, for a mouthful, mouthfeel of sweet, delicious, nougat cream, though she ventured to think, as she stood in the bath regarding herself, pale and glistening after a long hot shower after which a spritz of Miss Dior had not been forthcoming, that the price today would be considerably higher.

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