“After Eight” (1)
By Paul Larkin
He was just
putting his tools away when to his surprise, she entered the room in her
precise, almost ethereal way - head aloft as if balanced on a stick and carrying
a tray of tea and sandwiches with arms that were too long for her slim frame.
She placed the tray down onto the low table beside him with an ease and grace
that he loved to behold. Then she retired slightly. Her arms protruding still
from her body as she looked at him. It was like an offering. More of a wait than
a smile to see if he would like to stay a while longer. Now that the work was
He liked that. The fact that her arms were long and slender. And she extended this look by the things that she wore,. Fine, tight fitting, long sleeve sweaters and garments in deep colours. Her hair was black. Dyed, he thought, but the dye made it full and “tressy”, all down her back and around her pale small face. It also made her taller than she was and made her thin frame shaggy. He liked that too, although he had always behaved himself with her as she was obviously a lady. An attractive lady, despite the fact that she must be getting on a bit, he mused, as he munched his spicy sandwich and tried not to make his studying of her too obvious. Even though she knew. She was all awareness. She was everywhere.
He had done most of the repair jobs in the house and of course in a country area of Ireland people were going to gossip but she didn’t seem to mind. She had always made a show of being nice to him at social gatherings and their growing attraction to each other was obvious but restrained and gentle. He felt comfortable with her. He had had enough of raucous, demanding women. She sensed that, he thought. Besides, she was a very independent women and didn’t seem to mind living alone and in a remote area. She didn’t even keep pets which surprised him slightly. Well that wasn’t quite true. She had some sort of large shed or barn where she kept things. “My pretties” she called them but, from the way she talked, they sounded like flowers or something. A hamster run maybe.
He rose to go and noticed a slight dizziness. He was unsteady on his feet and there she was standing next to him. Those red fingernails that he loved against the white skin of her hand were digging into him and drew blood in a neat bracelet of drops around his wrist and she was saying something like he wasn’t going anywhere and he smiled at that. She had never really looked at him in that direct, urgent, hungry way before. She had never really looked at him at all.