Winnie Thomson

Can this be Love?

The lights in the club were dim, giving no more than a little glow; just a few candles in bottles and one or two wall lamps with low wattage bulbs. But people weren’t there to read or even to look at one another, they were there for the music- sensuous, sensual jazz floating and insinuating itself into the bodies of the dancers. Some were dancing alone, moving unselfconsciously to the tunes; some were humming softly, one girl was singing into a “mock” mike and the others at a nearby table were entranced.

It was Jane’s first visit to this club with Geoff. They’d met two or three days earlier and since then, had hardly been out of each other’s company. He dances divinely, she thought. The saxophones crooned and the drums swished and shooshed. The rhythm and the melody took hold of her and she moved with Geoff as if they were one person. He bent over her and then pulled her upright, let her go for a twirl away from him and then drew her back again. They looked into each other’s eyes, and she rested her head against his shoulder, he kissed her hair, then bent to kiss her neck and they danced and moved to the music.

Suddenly a whitish flash moved across the floor. Geoff pushed her away and ordered her to sit.

 “ Don’t say anything. I must go out for a minute.”

 Jane was puzzled, confused and suddenly sad. She also felt foolish sitting alone. The music didn’t seem so seductive and the club seedy rather than enthralling. Where could he have gone?  How would she get home? This was unfamiliar territory and the excitement of the earlier part of the evening was now replaced by a sense of danger. Geoff came back to her, muttering something about White Snow. She was alarmed and wondered if he had a cocaine habit.

 “Sorry about that,” he said, but offered no other explanation. “Let’s go to my place, it’s not far from here.”

She smiled: it was all going to be OK. And he was sexy, charming and smiling again.

 She hadn’t been to his flat. What would it be like?

It was a typical bachelor pad, not unlike her own, small, fairly comfortable, minimal furniture (without being minimalist, she thought wryly.) She’d often thought that about her own flat. I suppose one has to be really rich to live in what looks like expensive poverty. But what was different about this place was that there was a balcony high up, looking down onto a garden four, floors down. It gave the room, even in the dark, a look of extra spaciousness.

 They were drinking wine when Jane felt something moving near her legs. She dropped her glass and the wine spilled on the carpet. “Damn,” she muttered, “I’m so sorry.”
“Oh, this is White Snow,” Geoff said, lifting up a large white cat and nuzzling its fur. “Isn’t she just beautiful?”

Jane didn’t like cats, was in fact rather afraid of them, but felt that saying anything adverse would spoil the mood of the evening.

Early next morning  Jane woke and moved cautiously out of bed. She put on one of Geoff’s T-shirts and went to the kitchen to make coffee. Geoff didn’t stir and Jane looked at his sleeping form.  He’s just so gorgeous. I think I’m in love. She still didn’t know him well enough, but felt safe enough to take certain risks. If it weren’t for the cat  everything would be perfect. Perhaps his mother or his brother can take it…

Everything else was perfect: him, herself and the new confidence she was developing in making love with Geoff. “Here’s coffee…’ she started. Can I call him Darling yet? “Darling…” she said. This must be bliss: coffee in bed the next morning with your lover. It was Saturday, they didn’t have to hurry or get to work.

***

It was getting late and Jane was already in the flat. She found the novelty of living here with her man – her man, my man, she would say to Esther, her friend at work – and thinking of it as home, even after two months, exciting. It had been quite an upheaval for Jane to move there, but she did agree that it was a bit bigger than her own flat and the gardens seen from the balcony was a real bonus.

 Geoff opened the door.

 “Sorry I’m late my little darling,” he said and kissed her. “My little girl,” he murmured, nuzzling her hair as he’d taken to doing. Jane wasn’t sure how much she liked the diminutives and he also used similar words when he spoke to the cat. The cat had stayed.

 “Not negotiable,” he’d said. “Mum’s in a retirement complex where they don’t allow animals and my brother’s in Australia. No, White Beauty stays here.”

“I thought its name was White Snow.”

 “HER name, not its name!”

 He spoke quite sharply. “But it’s all the same: she’s my White Beauty, Snow Baby.”

 “Where’s Daddy’s love then?” he called. The large white cat  sauntered inside from the balcony.

“I’m going to have a shower,” and he picked up the cat and placed it on his shoulders.

Is he going to wash the blasted animal?

 Ten minutes later, showered, changed into casuals, he came into the sitting room, with the cat draped across his shoulders like a fur.

 Doesn’t he realize how hot it is?

He mumbled baby words into the cat’s fur and nuzzled it. He was doing that to me a few weeks ago, and I loved it. Now it makes me feel sick.

“How about some drinks sweetie?”

Does he mean for me or for the cat?

“They’re ready on the balcony table, darling,” she said. “I’ll get some snacks.”

 Do cats always land on their feet when they fall? She looked down four storeys to the garden as she placed bowls of olives and pretzels on the tables.

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