nudity and sex
In the afternoon -- lazily sunny and breezy as they often were --, after having eaten a sandwich, from which I prepared an enhanced version for Catherine Mortinné, I resumed painting the walls. When I got tired of it, I worked a little more in the garden, since the plants needed care and attention daily. Keeping myself occupied seemed the only possibility to avert the troubling emotions the girl evoked -- and I oscillated between anger, resentment and the strongest of them all, a consuming lust . Avoiding her presence did not suffice, for I saw myself constantly thinking of her, even if dreading our encounters.
The girl did not came down to the beach the rest of that day, and I feared she would still be messing with Armand's bookshelf. I also noticed my radar was no longer searching for Armand, like it had constantly done in the previous weeks. To my dismay, Mademoiselle Mortinné seemed to be the new target.
After having painted the walls for many hours, I felt like working on the canvas I had started a few days ago. Like an antidote -- since Paris, I had feared losing my art if I occupied myself too long with painting walls. Like it did happen, in Punaouilo. Anyways... I did not feel particularly inspired, but somehow compelled to paint. Standing by my easel and simply brushing away blandly, hadn't I intended to show off to her?
However, I felt disturbed by the girl's presence on the island, and could not concentrate -- I repeatedly turned my head towards the house because of some noise that had intrigued me... wondering if it would come from the kitchen where she might be trying to cook... or whether she had returned to my room and the bookcase, or would be snooping around Armand's office, where I myself had rarely entered, or... I was used to the immense silence of the Île du Blanchomme, and the noises she kept making were getting to my nerves.
One time I caught sight of her on the veranda, looking in my direction. Ridiculous as it might sound, I broadened my chest and straightened my back, but I don't think she saw me -- she must have been glancing towards the horizon, where the sun was making its way down.
A few minutes later, she came down to the beach. Although she remained at a distance, my discomfort increased. Should I try to approach her and start a new conversation, since we had reached what seemed a level of polite cordiality -- not so much because I wanted to talk to her, but because it would be my obligation as a gracious host to make her feel at ease, to continuously check if there was anything she needed, and perhaps gently draw her attention to the gorgeous full moon that would be rising on the horizon opposite to the setting sun... Take her to the movies, like Armand had done with me.
Even though no more than ten meters far from me, she seemed infinitely distant. The more because her natural, elegant figure was enhanced by the fancy designer dress she kept on wearing. The French Riviera of the roaring twenties would have suited her better for a scenery.
She made me think of Scott Fitzgerald's romantic heroines -- one of Armand's favourite authors during his teenagers, he had confided, but to me so foreign. Likewise, I regarded Catherine as the sort of girl who would never have approached me in Paris. Nor would I go to her -- not on that beach, not in life.
There was also sadness enveloping her like an aura -- and not a romantic aura, rather emanating inaccessibility and loneliness.
She wasn't just alone, contemplating the sunset -- she was immersed in solitude, and not a peaceful solitude like mine. I had a shiver at the thought of a predator seeing her, so small and fragile -- her delicate skin, attacked and reddened by the sun, her blonde thin hair blown and sacked by the breeze, her amber eyes where fire seemed to have extinguished -- and how this predator would attack her, certain of the easy, vulnerable prey she was, and rip her with one stroke.
No wonder she had so many angry outbursts, that made her look threatening and more powerful than she ever were. A bit like the naja snake does, if you pardon my comparing your mother to that animal, Laurent.
She roamed along the water's edge, with her long dress lifted to her knees, occasionally dipping her foot with a slow, melancholic move. And suddenly, I was sure that she was crying -- that shudder on her shoulders was nothing else.
What did I know about that girl? What suffering would she bring inside her? A broken heart? A disrupted family? Unrequited love? A rare disease? A childhood trauma? Was she an orphan like me?
I did not dare to approach her, who had walked in the opposite direction where my easel was placed, indicating her disposition to be on her own.
Realizing her suffering would be my suffering, and that we couldn't live harmoniously on the Île unless we both stayed on the ground of conviviality, I decided I had to prepare a meal worth of that name for us. Saying goodbye to the Sun even before it had disappeared behind the horizon, I went up to the kitchen.
Someone had told me that 'in Art and Cuisine, the measure is everything'. The person had been quoting someone else, but I could not see any relation between the kitchen and the atelier, cooking and painting; none, whatsoever. I felt insecure upon mixing the ingredients, and it felt almost agonizing rather than the pleasure I took in mixing colors. Each vegetable or grain, having traveled so far to be on the Île du Blanchomme, seemed too precious to be wasted in my unskilled hands.
I struggled. But knowing the results would be negligible, and since I did not intend to impress the girl with gifts that I did not have, I tried to stick to a simple meal, with a bit of daring in introducing the oriental spices bought by Armand. I wanted to please her, make her feel welcome and accepted, thus erasing my rudeness at her arrival. I had finally understood her horrible situation in being an unwelcome guest -- and I was the one making her feel bad.
When I finally finished it, night had fallen. I had lost track of time with my difficulties in the kitchen. I thought I ought to call her immediately to have dinner, but I desperately needed a shower, to get the smell of the spices off my hands, and the sweat and paint off my body. My main intention, indeed, was to be with her at the table that evening wearing nicer clothes... Just remembering the way she had looked at the holes in my shirt made me blush.
There were two entrances to the bathroom. One was the passage next to the staircase, which was close to the kitchen, and the other through Armand's room, separated by curtains -- and it was an unfortunate accident that I had entered coming from the kitchen and a few moments later, when I had already undressed, Catherine came in by the other passage. The house had been so quiet that I had imagined she was still at the beach, instead of being in her room, reading. She was wearing just lingerie and cried at seeing me, undressed to my underwear.
"Get out! Now!" She yelled at me, throwing me out with an imperative gesture of someone who was accustomed to have her orders followed. Or did she have a dog? "This is my bathroom!"
"This is the only bathroom in the house, if you haven't noticed it yet..." I spoke louder than her cry, abandoning my resolution to be the kindest host to my involuntary guest. "And I'm going use it now, if you'd allow me." I said, wryly.
"Quel bordel... this hostel is..." She quickly interrupted herself. "I know, this isn't a hostel!" She commented with disdain. "It is the dumbest house I've ever seen! Merde!"
"If you could close the curtains of your room behind you as you leave, please..." I ignored her complaints.
"Oh, and I'll be in my room listening to you bathe?" she sounded indignant.
"Unless you want to find another place to stay. And no, not only the bath... You will also hear me pee, and fart, and when I start..." masturbating and even when I moan and groan and scream as I come, I meant to say, but it would be so immensely rude, and as much as this girl could bring out the worst in me, I did not intend to go as far or as low as that... She was staring at me, horrified already. Or had she noticed my erection? "Can you go, now?" I asked, in the most cordial tone and opposite to the rudeness of her screams.
Triumphantly, I watched her leave. "The house is all yours, I know..." she said, shrugging her shoulders. And when I thought she was going to go on arguing, she just left the bathroom, closing the curtains angrily behind her.
Who has said that 'having a penis is like being chained to a madman'?
While arguing with Catherine, I would still notice how transparent her lingerie was, allowing me to catch a glimpse of the tips of her pinkish, perfectly rounded nipples. She had sweated, and her blonde pubic hair was pasted to her panties, a small mount that did not quite cover her opening.
And when she turned around to leave, I noticed her butt was firm and small, and its soft curves strangely reminded me of Armand's, who had the buttocks of a boy... It seemed like my jumping erection stole all the blood from my heart and, pacifying my wrath and softening my emotions, hardened elsewhere and had aroused me to my sensations.
Obligations first, that's what I've learned from my grandfather.
And at that moment, my duty was to relieve my hard-on, so that then I could take a bath. It felt like living my teenage years concentrated in a few days, intensely, hour after hour, the successive erections I had to beat off but that would never be beaten, until, finally, at the end I was to lose my virginity...
"I thought you were a pervert, and I was afraid of you... To think I was alone with you on that tiny island!" Catherine had confessed, many years later, back in France.
"Why were you spying on me?" I had asked.
"I wasn't spying on you... I came back from the kitchen to ask you if I could eat something from those bowls you'd left there... And that weird house with no doors... I caught a glimpse of you in that bathtub, and I just backed..."
"How much did you see, Catherine?" It was so weird to think she had been watching me jerk off when I had been actually fantasizing about her. "How long did you stay there, watching me?"
And once the bathroom was all mine, I decided to take a really long bath and relax in the tepid water.
I no longer cared that I had prepared dinner, let alone my plans of sitting at the table with that girl... I would still warn her that there was a meal ready in the kitchen, but let her eat whenever and wherever she wanted. Why set the table with Armand's finest china? The chipped bowls at the kitchen would suffice, and I was content as long as she stayed away from me.
At the end of the bath, I shaved. I even trimmed my pubic hair, for it had grown into a wild black bush. With that explosion of sensuality, vanity had come along, something I thought I had never possessed. Suddenly I saw myself trying to judge my own image, trying to remember the features Armand had praised on me, and trying to guess what the girl might like... Guessing I could annoy her with my delay, I was even more careful than necessary with my appearance.
Yet once more, before the mirror, I had to masturbate -- I had submitted my lust for so many years that it had finally rebelled, taking control and hold of me. Sometimes I wondered if it was not some kind of disease...
When I again heard her yell, I was ready, all dressed in clean, yet if worn and torn, clothes.
"Will you take the bathroom forever?" She shouted angrily. And only then, did I open the curtains to her room. "Since we have this single bathroom in the house, I wish you had more consideration for me and would shorten your... bath." Was she being ironic?
"Naturally." I answered, condescendingly. "Today I got carried away with... the water... more than I normally do. Are you hungry?" I asked cheerfully. I was feeling relieved yet full of energy, and in my tranquility I felt I could easily tame her anger.
"No. I have already eaten." she replied sullenly.
"You mean, the afternoon sandwich? That was just a snack..." I smiled, happily anticipating the nice surprise I held for her. "I made dinner. It's in the kitchen when you want to eat it... And if you want to eat it now..." For a moment, I went back to my plan of dining at the table with her. Candlelight, the moon and the stars, the rustling of the breeze on the palm trees, Nature at its loveliest enveloping us, even if my food was not the best. What else could we care for? For a moment, only.
"Yes, I have seen those bowls." The scorn in her voice indicated those were not the appropriate recipients for a proper meal. "I went to the kitchen while waiting... for your bath... to finish... And I have already eaten." Entirely oblivious to my surprise and disappointment, she continued. "May I ask you to pay more attention to the salt, next time? Nevertheless, I'm grateful for that meal. Though less greasy would have been finer, too..." She gave me her condescending smile. "Now... could you please leave?"
Not only had Catherine not noticed my clothes... they were surely as ragged as the others, but at least they had been clean... She hadn't noticed my attempted kindness in cooking for her, so full of concern and effort, to try to please her, to make her feel welcome. All I did was small and humble, and went unnoticed for her. And it would be exactly like that anyway, for all the years to follow.
I felt I was losing control of my life. Half a minute before I had been excited, full of energy, and before that I had abandoned myself to an insane pleasure -- and now I felt hollow and discouraged.
I was kind of glad that she had taken my hunger away, I thought, when I got to the kitchen.
Catherine must have thought I had already eaten, like in the afternoon when I had left her a sandwich, having taken mine downstairs to the garden. And from dinner for two there were only a few remains left. So little that it wouldn't be enough for the mice, crumbs and bits that I had no desire to eat. Not the least, when I heard she was vomiting again.
Finally, I understood. An insight sprang up in my mind, seeming to come from the empty bowl before me. And it was very clear. If Catherine's image and memory, even her presence, could arouse and excite me so much, talking and interacting with her was the greatest turn off.
She was the sickness and the remedy, the enslaver and the liberator, all at once.
And I, what was I in all this?
Another insight would take longer to occur -- actually, it came too late, and because of its lack and delay I got into deep trouble.
Well, it took me too long to understand that as much as I loved Catherine's body, I did not love her.
On the other hand, I truly loved Armand, but failed to love his body.