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All characters in this story are over 18 years.
Most evenings Leona Nelson spent at the local pub with friends.
On one occasion, after a vigorous game of pool, she became aware of one particular man standing with two other men at the bar. He was tall with a dark bushy beard.
She couldn’t recall seeing him in the pub before; she knew most of the regulars; but there was something familiar about him. Those eyes liquid, dark.
He was buying a round of beer for his friends. She looked at him for a long moment, then it struck her. She stood transfixed.
What was Alan Markham doing here? Her former art teacher drinking in the local bar in North Melbourne. Someone she hadn’t seen in years. Should she go up to him?
What was Alan Markham doing here? Her former teacher drinking in the local bar in North Melbourne. Someone she hadn’t seen in years. Should she go up to him?
She knew that for teachers it was almost impossible to recognize former students after a lapse of a few years, especially girls who filled out and developed figures different from their gawky schoolgirl shapes. Whereas you never forgot teachers; they remained in your mind forever.
Would he know her? Unlikely. Supposing she were wrong? No, it was definitely him. She’s held his image in her mind for almost ten years. Black hair, intense black eyes, but no beard in those days.
‘Lee!’ – anxiously – ‘you all right?’
Her friend Susan Collins broke her thought.
‘What?’ Leona gasped, looking round.
‘You look spaced out,’ Gail said. She was another of her group. ‘Something’s the matter?’
‘You see the guy at the bar with the beard,’ Leona said. ‘He was my art teacher at school. I had the biggest crush on him when I was fifteen.’
‘Wow!’ Susan said, ‘I’m not surprised … I could go for him.’
‘The next move is up to you, Lee,’ Gail said. You better go talk to him.’
‘I couldn’t do that!’ Leona cried.
‘Just go up, reintroduce yourself,’ said Susan. ‘Nothing wrong in that.’
But Leona just stood beside the table, unable to move. Although no longer on the edge of adolescence, she found herself still infatuated.
At the time, all those years ago, Alan Markham was to her, more than anyone else in the world. Naturally, she had known there was no possibility of him returning her feelings, he was hardly aware of her.
She had been very self conscious of her lumpy teenage body. Already boys her own age had given her the go-by. She was a big-busted hefty girl. Solidly built as a statue. Junoesque, you might say, with an elongated face.
Alan was many years older; yet she was infatuated.
As well as being art teacher, Alan was also the school’s swimming coach.
And when he stood poised on the end of the diving-board, Leona was acutely aware of his lithe body, taut thighs and muscled torso.
He came up out of the water, her eyes following him. He was swimming strongly now, making for the far end of the pool. Then turning he looked up surprising her, and she felt herself colour faintly. He climbed out of the pool and she was conscious of his slow appraisal of her; dark eyes resting on her face. She kept the towel wrapped firmly bursa escort about her, trying not to expose her white thighs. Her body was the raw sore of her life.
But despite this, this duckling firmly believed that there was a swan within. And that the artist in Alan must see beneath the surface. But if he did, he made no sign.
Her senses stirred fully within her. As she sat beside the pool, she found herself looking deep into his eyes, to the very bottom of them, she thought; she imagined the touch of firm lips upon her breast.
Throughout that year Leona thought of virtually no one but Alan Markham. When she was alone in her room at home, she would close her eyes, picture herself naked, riding him, feeling him inside her, her climax approaching hard and fast.
Now in the local pub, many years later, Leona sat looking at Alan Markham. She could hear the pervading maleness in his voice across the room.
She recalled how she obsessed over him the whole time she was in Year Nine, but he never gave the slightest hint of being aware of her. And why should he have done? He was a teacher and she a schoolgirl.
Alan had left the school at the end of that year and took up a new teaching job interstate while Leona moved up a grade. Life had to go on.
She had the odd relationship with boys her own age, but without any real feeling.
She looked up from the table where she was sitting with her friends. Gail’s older sister had just entered the pub door from the street and was coming across to their table.
Faye Osborne’s hair was a gleaming red-gold mass and her white skin was flawless. She had all the confidence that good looks give. She was every man’s dream of the perfect girl, Leona thought.
Alan’s two male companions were now playing snooker at a table in an adjoining room. Alan stood by himself at one end of the bar watching them.
‘Go up and talk to him before his mates come back,’ Susan whispered.
Gail smiled saying. ‘Do it now, Lee. You won’t get another chance.’
Her friends were egging her on.
Leona drained her glass, stood up slowly, took a deep breath and went across to the bar. Ten years is a long time, she thought. There’s no way he will remember me; I made no impact on him at all!
Leona drained her glass, stood up slowly, took a deep breath and went up to the bar. Ten years is a long time, she thought, there was no way he will remember me. I made no impact on him at all.
She stood at his side, ordered a small brandy, spoke nervously. ‘It is Mr Markham, isn’t it? You won’t remember me but I was in your Year Nine.’
He looked at her blankly, then smiled. ‘That’s a long time ago,’ he finally said.
‘Almost ten years,’ she said. ‘But I recognized you at once.’
‘Well, can I buy you a drink? You’re no longer under age.’
She looked at the glass in her hand: she had finished her brandy without realizing it.
‘That’s kind of you. Another brandy please.’
Next thing she knew he had indicated a table at the other end of the room. ‘We’ll sit over there and you can tell me about yourself.’
As they took their seats Leona felt that they were talking as though they had known one another for bursa escort bayan years. And as it turned out he did most of the talking. His deep cool voice held her captive.
She discovered he had been back in Melbourne for almost two years, was teaching and living in Kensington. He told how his wife had died of breast cancer five years ago. She had never known he was married.
About twenty minutes later, Susan and Faye came over to their table, smiling. ‘Aren’t you going to introduce us?’ Faye asked.
‘Hello. Do come and join us.’ Alan moved the chair around so that they were evenly spaced around the table.
His eyes seemed to eat Faye up. He took in the brilliant red-gold of her hair and her very delicate face.
‘You remind me of Botticelli’s Venus,’ he said. ‘You know the painting where she’s rising from the sea.’
Gail and Faye laughed as they seated themselves.
‘You have the same shimmer of red-gold hair.
Leona’s eyes were blue chips of ice as she made the introductions. As far as she was concerned Faye Osborne had a blonde and blank prettiness, was all looks and no substance.
‘So Faye, what can I get you? Another coke? Or something harder?’
‘Something harder,’ – smirking slyly – ‘sounds good,’ Faye laughed, ‘but it can wait till later. A coke for now will do.’
Leona felt something inside her tighten.
‘Another coke please,’ Alan said to the barman, ‘a brandy and two beers.’
The drinks were placed in front of them a few minutes late and Alan turned to Faye who was delighted with the attention he was paying her; she couldn’t help flirting – she did it all the time; she looked on any man as fair game.
Soon the conversation became general and Susan was telling about her new job in an insurance office in the city, whereas Alan and Faye were forming themselves into a cocoon of intimacy; their faces alight with interest in each other.
Leona looked fully into Faye’s face, but the other girl avoided her accusing eyes. She felt furious, frustrated. Alan’s complete indifference to her!
The barman was saying it was closing time and could they make their last order.
‘Let’s all meet up here tomorrow night,’ Faye was saying as they made their way out to the car-park. ‘There’s a new group playing around nine o’clock. And there’ll be dancing.’
It was agreed that they should meet. But before Alan and Faye moved to their separate cars, Alan came over to Leona and took her hand in his, saying, ‘It was great to meet up with you again after all this time. Look forward to seeing you.’
Faye was reversing her car before driving out to the road and waved as she drove away. Alan walked to his car and as Leona got into Susan’s car, she said bitterly,
‘Once Faye came in, Alan no longer noticed me. He behaved as though I wasn’t there!’
Susan moved the car out into the flow of the traffic on the clearway.
‘He seemed to warm towards you at the end,’ Susan said. ‘I wouldn’t worry too much about Faye if I were you. She’s still in the midst of an affair with an interstate driver, from what I hear.’
‘Who told you that?’
‘Her brother. Tom said she was getting engaged in November.’
By the time escort bursa Leona reached her apartment block she was beginning to feel a lot more optimistic.
Throughout the next day, her thoughts kept zeroing in on one image.
That night the pub was crowded to capacity; the level of hard-driving music by the live group on the small stage almost deafening. Sound poured from everywhere as the metal tune blasted the normally quiet room. Flashing strobes quickened the pulse.
Leona had some trouble finding her friends among the surging crowd. She turned to look for Alan Markham but he was nowhere to be seen.
But across the room she saw Faye Osborne dancing alone on the edge of the dance floor, her beautifully proportioned body swaying provocatively. Her mouth opened as she caught Leona’s glance, the faint tip of her moist tongue resting on an incisor.
With the thump of the dance floor flooding through her pulse Leona’s breath caught as she saw Alan leading Faye out onto the centre of the floor. Faye was wearing a blood-silk clinging sequined top over a mini and sheer stockings.
As the night wore on Leona had only one dance with Alan. Her body leaping in wild response whenever the crush of the crowd pushed her against him.
‘Sorry!’ she had to yell over the crashing pulse of the band. She ached to touch him but she didn’t dare.
A moment later she saw Faye with him again, her body writhing close to his as they moved to the music, so close that they were practically making love.
Her head aching from the dynamic beat pulsing from speakers throughout the room, Leona wove her way through the gyrating throng of people, continuing her way out to the beer-garden at the back of the pub, where there were several semi-secluded alcoves with tables. She sat in one of these alongside a zoned-out girl whose eyes were blank and dazed. She is how I feel inside, Leona thought.
She saw Alan and Faye moving into another alcove on the other side of the garden. A passing waiter took her order for another brandy. She declined the offer of a joint from the girl seated beside her.
Alan was embracing Faye in the alcove across the way. There was a vituperative smile on the girl’s red lips.
The shock hit Leona right between the eyes.
She stared hard, mesmerised as Alan again bent his head to kiss that smiling mouth.
Why had she come? Why had she come? She asked herself.
Then she couldn’t stand it any longer. She was dying inside. A savage jealousy. She left the hotel garden, concentrating on getting out to the taxi stand without breaking down. She stood leaning against the lamp-post.
She didn’t know how long she stood waiting. She was experiencing the raw misery of jealousy.
At last a cab pulled up in front of her, Her voice was cold, almost hateful as she gave directions to the driver.
In her mind she was seeing images of Alan and Faye as in an erotic painting. From when she was a schoolgirl she’d had a crush on Alan. And now jealousy shot through her like a white-hot flame: she could picture Alan’s hard, male body moving passionately between Faye’s slim white thighs.
Love, as she saw it was an exploded fallacy, the one mockery greater than any other.
She knew it was the magnetism of sex that ‘pulls’. That Faye had a beautiful body but was cold and empty inside.
When she got inside her apartment Leona threw herself sobbing face downwards on the bed.
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