Tears and Sex

John wasn’t prepared for this. He didn’t know what he’d been expecting but it wasn’t this. He hadn’t had a chance to say a single thing. He’d knocked on her front door, she opened it almost immediately and then, as soon as she saw him, burst in to tears.
John had spent three hours on the train from London playing this moment out in his mind, over and over. Sometimes he imagined her pleased to see him, other times she was indifferent. John knew the day dreams where she grabbed him and pulled him in to a passionate kiss were just fantasy. Still, he’d never imagined her bursting in to tears.
Sandra was still achingly lovely to look at. John desperately wanted to drink in every inch of her but all he could see was the anguish in her eyes. She was insecure, lonely and hurting. John felt her pain.
He stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her, holding her gently and close. As she buried her face under his chin he asked her quietly, “What’s wrong ?”
Sandra couldn’t find any words but his warm embrace opened up her feelings and she sobbed uncontrollably. After a few moments John eased them inside the house and pushed the door closed behind him with his foot.
Still holding her close with his left arm he reached down with his right and hooked her legs behind her knees so that he could carry her. He moved through to the front room and set her down in the big armchair. There was a blanket over the back of the sofa which he took and tucked in around her. Then he leaned down and quickly kissed her forehead before heading back out into the hall. On his way out he turned on the light switch and then went down to the kitchen.
Gradually Sandra stopped sobbing and began to dry her tears with the hankie in her hand. Her nose was running and there was a drip on the end that she wiped away. She stared vacantly at the familiar bookcase opposite her and felt numb. Charlie, her sometime live-in lover for the past seven years had dumped her that morning and just minutes before John’s arrival she had received news of her father’s death on the telephone from her sister.
Sandra hadn’t spoken to John more than two or three times a year for the last ten years or more. They had occasional telephone conversations and exchanged Christmas cards. Yet Sandra always felt completely at ease with him and every time she heard from him it made her happy.
Today’s events had torn the world from under her feet and left her feeling empty and alone in an unfamiliar and desolate emotional landscape. The house had become cold, dark and unfriendly leaving her feeling vulnerable and anxious. Yet within a few short minutes of his arrival John had made her home a safe haven again.
He reappeared holding a tea tray. Looking around he pulled a small side table over with his foot and placed the tray on it within easy reach.
“Tea ?” he asked.
“Thank you.” said Sandra, simply.
Sandra had bought the tea tray only yesterday. It had a greenish floral pattern on it’s shiny surface with a wicker edge and handles. There was still a faint new tangy wood smell about it. John had also found her best tea set and two cups were turned on their side on top of two saucers. There was her teapot in it’s usual cosy and a small milk jug as well as two teaspoons. A small silver container with sugar completed the setting.
John turned the cups right way up on their saucers and poured a little milk in each. Then he lifted the teapot and poured the tea too. He dug out a heap of sugar with a teaspoon and Sandra almost protested by reflex.
“Medicinal.” He said, flatly, looking her in the eye. He put the sugar in the tea and stirred.
He passed her the cup on it’s saucer and looked at her with concern as she took it from him. She must have looked reasonably comfortable now because he left the room again and Sandra heard the front door open and close. For a moment she thought he’d gone. Turned up out of the blue, made tea and buggered off. She was too stunned to laugh. She took a big gulp of her tea. It was hot and sweet but refreshing.
Then John stepped back into the room. This time he held a large brown leather carry bag which he placed on the floor in front of her. Obviously the bag was his, he must have left it outside when she had answered the door.
He took out a package wrapped up like a present. It was in gaudy pink patterned paper with a red ribbon.
“Sorry about the wrapping.” he said and put it on her lap. “Best I could do at the train station.” John sat down on the sofa.
She put her cup on the tray and unwrapped the gift. It was a fancy box of fruit shortcakes.
“My favourites” said John and leaned across to take the box from her. He took the cellophane off, opened the box and took one before passing it back. In truth the biscuits were not his favourites. They’d been Sandra’s favourites many years ago but John didn’t know how she felt about fruit shortcakes after all these years.
Sandra took a triangular biscuit from the box and bit the point off. Then she picked her teacup up again and dunked the remainder in the tea. By the time she’d finished the biscuit she was smiling. John had finished his and was smiling too.
“I haven’t had these for ages.” said Sandra, “I’d forgotten how good they were.”
John grinned at her and the years that had passed fell away. Sandra told him all about her break up with Charles. In truth they had become more and more distant over many months and his final announcement that it was over should not have come as such a shock.
John persisted in referring to him as Chuckie, after the evil doll in a horror film, as he had always done and after a while Sandra was laughing at the association too.
Her father’s death had been less expected. He had been a very healthy 76 year old. He had never smoked or drank to excess. He wasn’t overweight and he hadn’t had any major illnesses. It had looked like he might make the Guiness Book of Records for world’s oldest man one day. A prophet once said “If you want to make God laugh, simply tell him your plans for the future.” Sandra’s father suffered a haemorrhage in the brain, collapsed and died on the way to the hospital. There was nothing anyone could have done to foresee or prevent it.
Years earlier John had known Sandra’s father quite well. He had been a very intelligent man, a Doctor. John and he had got on well largely because John appreciated his subtle humour and laughed when no-one else got the joke. John was genuinely saddened to hear he had died so suddenly.
Conversation turned to their own shared past and John and Sandra talked and talked. Somewhere along the way John produced another gift from his bag, a bottle of malt whiskey. Gradually they worked their way through their repertoire of reminiscences and through the bottle of scotch.
Eventually they reached a lull in the conversation where they both realised it was very late. With a minimum of fuss John was invited to use the sofa for the night and Sandra headed up the stairs to her bedroom.
John turned out the light and felt his way back to the sofa. He took off his trainers and socks, trousers and jumper and climbed under the blanket. The sofa was quite a bit too short to accommodate him stretched out. First he tried it curled up but that soon became uncomfortable. Lying with his head and shoulders propped up on one arm of the sofa didn’t feel good so he opted for hanging his legs over the side and stared up at the ceiling. It was 2am.
His eyes adjusted to the bright moonlight coming through the thin curtains from the full moon outside and he could make out the pattern on the ceiling wallpaper. It had been a very strange day and he wondered to himself what the morning might bring. He didn’t feel at all tired and was just thinking that he wouldn’t be able to sleep when he heard Sandra’s soft tread on the stairs.
She appeared in the room in from of him. It was a warm night and she looked as breathtaking as ever in the silvery moonlight. She didn’t say anything and John was loathe to break the silent magic of the moment. This time he enjoyed looking her up and down, slowly and hungrily. His mouth and throat went dry. She was an extraordinary vision and incredibly enticing.
Her chest rose and fell quite noticeably as she breathed deeply. She was obviously nervous but didn’t say anything. She reached up and undid the top two buttons of the large man’s shirt she habitually wore as a nightie. Shrugging the shirt from her shoulders it slid easily down her body and left her standing naked before him. John thought fleetingly that now would be a good time to die; life simply had nothing better to offer him.

Tears and Sex

Jeremy Harle

Newton Abbot, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

The beginnings of a tale …

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sex tears

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