15 Mayıs 2023

Late Flowering Lust


Paris … ah, Paris … he had been in love with the city since that magical day in April fifty-five years before when he had stepped off the train at the Gare du Nord and walked out of the station into the bustle of the busy streets of the capital. He was a country born and had lived all his life on his father’s farm and his mother had decided that when he was sixteen it was time he saw something of the wider world. He was a quiet and sensitive boy who preferred to spend his days with his head buried in a book, or sketching in the countryside. As the youngest of five children, he was his mother’s favourite and she had arranged with her sister that he should spend the Easter holidays with her family in their apartment in the Paris suburbs.His aunt met him off the train and as there was time to kill before they needed to catch their suburban train from the Gare Saint-Lazare, she took him to a café on the corner of the Rue Saint Lazare and the Rue d’Amsterdam. It was one of the first warm days after a winter that had been one of the coldest in living memory and they drank fresh pressed citron while he gazed in wide-eyed wonder at the busy traffic and the smartly dressed passers-by hurrying about their business. To this day the sound of car horns took him back to that moment and his first experience of metropolitan life, so different from the sleepy streets of his home village.He had three cousins. The eldest, Jean, was eighteen-years-old and in the Army doing his National Service, and was only home at weekends. The other two were both girls, Jacqueline who was seventeen and Geneviève who was two years younger than him. The only girls he had known until then were typical country lasses who dressed simply in plain smocks and wore thick serge stockings, and whose conversation was mainly about dolls and babies. In contrast, his cousins seemed much older and so sophisticated, especially Jacqueline who wore smart dresses and nylon stockings, and even makeup, which he found shocking at first.His uncle worked for SNCF, the national French Railway company, and the family all travelled free in the trains. Over the next two weeks, the girls showed him all the sights of the city, and he marvelled at the majestic buildings on the boulevards and the grand palaces, monuments, and churches. They climbed the hill of Montmartre to take in the panoramic view of the city from the top of the Eglise de Sacré-Coure, had coffee at one of the many cafés in the Place du Tertre, and strolled past the booths of the street artists, successors of the Impressionists who had lived and worked there in the last years of the nineteenth century. One memorable evening the whole family walked arm in arm along the Champs Elysées past the brightly lit shops until they stood at the tomb of the unknown soldier beneath the arch of the flood-lit splendour of the Arc de Triomphe. The highlight for him, however, had been the day they spent at the Musée du Louvre and, best of all, the Museum of the Impressionists in the Tuileries.It is hardly surprising that as well as the city, he also fell in love with Jacqueline. She treated him as an adult and flirted with him a little, calling him her petit chou-fleur, and one memorable day when they were walking hand in hand in the gardens of the Petit Trianon at Versailles he managed to steal a shy kiss while his aunt wasn’t looking. Years later he would say that his three week holiday had changed the whole course of his life and turned him from a gawky and naive boy into a budding adult. Until then he had given little thought to his future, but on his return home, he was quite clear that he did not want to be a farmer like his father and live the rest of his life in the country. He had three older brothers, the eldest of whom was at agricultural Escort Anadolu yakası college and would inherit the farm anyway, one who wished to join the Army, and one who wished to become a priest. After much meditation, he realised that most of all he would like to study art at the Sorbonne in Paris, which is what he eventually did, although there was some resistance from his father at first.That summer he was invited by his aunt and uncle to join them in the South of France for the holidays. They owned an ancient stone villa on the outskirts of a village a few miles from Vence to which they escaped from the oppressive heat of the city for the last two weeks of July and the whole of August — all except his uncle who was only permitted two weeks holiday. For a country boy, even the rail journey from Paris to Cannes was exciting and in the taxi from the station he could hardly stop talking.Over the course of the following weeks, his flirtation with Jaqueline deepened into something much more serious. They would take long cycle rides on the quiet country roads carrying their simple lunch of bread and cheese wrapped up in a brightly coloured cloth in a pannier suspended from the handlebars. He had started experimenting with watercolour painting and they would frequently stop for him to sketch something that caught his eye. The quality of the light fascinated him as it had so many artists in the past, and he began to notice how it illuminated the skin of Jacqueline’s face as she lay stretched out in the sun while he painted. However, it was only after a visit to see the paintings in the Musée Matisse in Nice that he summoned the courage to ask her to sit for him.At first, he painted her fully dressed, but one afternoon she took the initiative and suggested that if he was going to become a real artist he should really paint her in the nude. He tried very hard to put lustful thoughts out of his mind while she was sitting naked in a wall or reclining in the grass just a few metres in front of him, concentrating on trying to capture the simplicity that had so entranced him in the nude paintings by Matisse in the museum. One hot afternoon, however, his feelings of desire overcame his resistance and he reached out to touch her breast. The softness of her warm flesh aroused him further and before long they were lying in the grass kissing passionately and shyly caressing every inch of each other’s naked bodies.They both lost their virginity one memorable afternoon in late August, and although their first coupling was tentative, and also painful for her when he breached her maidenhead, they soon discovered the ecstatic joy of mutually overwhelming orgasms. For the last few days of their holiday, they spent many hot afternoons in delighted exploration of the many exquisite ways they could give each other pleasure. Neither knew much about contraception and didn’t give a thought to the possibility that Jacqueline might get pregnant, lost as they were in the first flush of sexual love and in hindsight they were extremely lucky that she didn’t conceive.Far too soon their summer idyll came to an end and at the beginning of September, they parted tearfully at the Gare du Nord, promising to be eternally faithful to each other. Over the autumn and winter that followed they wrote long sentimental love letters to each other, but as is the way with teenage love affairs, their ardour slowly cooled in the absence of propinquity. The following summer Jacqueline completed her baccalauréat générale and successfully applied to enter teacher training college at the beginning of the September term. Meanwhile, having finally persuaded his parents to allow him to study art, he followed the advice of his headmaster Kurtköy escort and spent the first part of the summer in the Louvre copying the works of the old masters. He stayed in the Paris apartment with his uncle who was pleased to have his company while the rest of the family were, as usual, at their home in the South of France.ooOooIt had been an uncomfortably hot day, unusually so even for this summer, and there was not even a breath of wind to stir the dust. It was nearly eight in the evening, but the blast of air from the subway entrances was still as scorching as a dragon’s breath and he was reluctant to join the masses on the Metro for the short journey to his apartment in the sixteenth arrondissement overlooking the Bois de Boulogne. It would be best to wait until it was cooler he thought and he took another sip of wine from his glass. He decided he would prefer to eat here — he had been told that the steak was very good — even though there would be a meal in the fridge prepared by his daughter for him to heat up when he got home in the evening. Never mind, it would still be okay for another day and he was sure she would understand — she was used to his whims by now. However he’d better phone her anyway so that she wouldn’t be concerned — she did worry — and he keyed her number into his mobile.Even now the apartment still felt empty although it was six years since his wife had died. After university, he had had a number of lovers but had eventually married the daughter of his professor. Maybe he should have moved to somewhere smaller when she tragically died far too young of a brain tumour, perhaps closer to the Jardin du Luxembourg and Institut d’Art et d’Archéologie where he was Professor of Modern Art, but now he was about to retire that would have been foolish. He still felt her loss keenly and it was strangely comforting to see her things in their familiar places with all the memories that they evoked of their many years of happy marriage. It was the silence that was most unsettling but he had been surprised to discover that, almost more than the sound of her voice, it was the clatter of everyday life he missed as she went about her household tasks.He thought back over the events of the day, idly watching the people passing his table; nameless office workers weary to get home and pretty girls eager to meet a lover — he did a lot of people watching these days. That was when he saw her in the far distance, radiant in her own bubble of sunlight. Time seemed to stand still for an eternity and he froze with his glass halfway to his mouth, spellbound by this dream of otherworldliness. She moved as if she owned the space around her with the grace and assurance of an athlete. He had never seen anything so lovely; a once in a lifetime vision of beauty — not the skin-deep artifice of a model — but something fundamental, almost divine.To his surprise, she stopped and sat down at the table next to his. The waiter, whose attention he had found so difficult to engage, immediately moved from where he was hovering at the entrance to the café and asked her what she would like. She asked for a cup of coffee — an espresso — and a glass of pastis, and while she was waiting she took a long cigarette holder and a pack of black Russian cigarettes — the type with a gold filter tip — from her handbag. After lighting the cigarette with a gold lighter, she inhaled deeply and then blew a long stream of smoke into the evening air, reminding him of those sophisticated and glamorous film stars of the fifties. Then she looked over at him … and smiled … not just a friendly smile, but a smile full of meaning. He was totally nonplussed and blushed like a teenager, uttering a feeble greeting, but she just smiled Maltepe escort bayan again and continued smoking with an air of utter relaxation.Shortly after that his order arrived, followed by her coffee and pastis, and he turned his attention to his steak, which was really rather good and cooked just as he liked it. Nothing further was spoken between them and after about half an hour she stood up, nodded to him and walked off into the gathering gloom. He guessed that he would never see her again and he regretted his unusual shyness. If she had been a student he would have had no problem asking what she was studying — an annoying habit of an aging academic. She was so remarkable he would love to have known her story — what she did and why she was there, but he had missed his chance and he would forever wonder. Perhaps she was just a vision.ooOooTo celebrate his retirement the university had offered him the use of one of its galleries for a retrospective of his paintings and invited him to give his valedictory lecture on “The Nude in Modern Art — Eroticism or Pornography” on the opening night. After he had completed his university education he rented a studio in Paris and for a couple of years attempted to make a living as a full-time artist. He had specialised in painting nude portraits of ordinary people, both men and women, in a style strongly influenced by the works of Matisse and also the amateur female artist Suzanne Valadon. She had posed as a model for both Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec among others in the 1880s and was also the mother of Maurice Utrillo by an unknown father, and had been the subject of his doctoral thesis. Although he sold many of his paintings he had realised by his early thirties that with a wife and young family to support he was not going to be able to earn a living from painting alone. He successfully applied for a lecturing post at the Institut d’Art et d’Archéologie where he discovered that he had a flair for communication and from then on concentrated on his academic career, although he continued to paint in his spare time and during the long vacations.Over the days following his moment of epiphany that hot summer evening, his mind kept wandering while he was sitting at his desk trying to write his lecture as he recalled that brief moment of magic — he just couldn’t get her out of his head. He would chide himself that he was just a foolish old man, and leave his desk to and make another cup of strong black coffee accompanied by a very large glass of a fine cognac, before returning to his labours.He dressed carefully for his lecture in a long mustard frock coat and large pale yellow cravat — as a professor of modern art he had always liked to present a slightly raffish, if slightly old fashioned, air, and he had always considered a black tuxedo to be so boring. After the lecture there would be a reception in the gallery in his honour and the idea of showing off a little appealed to him. One never knew, but there might be an attractive lady who would be pleased to join him in an intimate late supper; just a little flirtation to round the evening off in a pleasant fashion — nothing more serious of course.The lecture was going well and he was in that zone where he seemed to be speaking directly to every member of the audience. Suddenly his attention was distracted by movement at the back of the darkened theatre — a latecomer was trying to find a seat. Normally such things didn’t bother him, but there was something this time that made him pause, and he looked up to see who it might be. And then he realised — it was her, the young lady of his daydreams, sitting there with that same air of mystery and seemingly still surrounded by an aura of light in the darkness. He soon recovered his composure and continued with his presentation. When he had finished there was a moment of silence and then the audience rose and gave him a standing ovation that lasted for several minutes. And that was that, the conclusion of a successful career, and he made a slight bow and left the podium with the applause still ringing in his ears.

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