An epiphany :)
Epiphanies are funny things—they just sort of occur, mostly when you’re not really paying attention to your own thoughts. That very thing happened to this woman (don’t worry about who, you don’t know her). She just woke up one day, and realised what she’d known for years; men were all the same, and they weren’t worth any more of her time. Faithless, mindless, rutting animals, all they ever brought to a woman’s life was betrayal and despair. She was tired of it, that was all. So she decided to swear off men, with their ugly lying tongues and their filthy cheating hearts.
But that’s not to say she swore off males entirely.
She picked him up from outside the gates of his all-boys boarding school, barely legal, still young enough that he could get by with shaving once a week and standing easily 2 inches shorter than his final adult height would be. For his part, he was mostly innocent. When the long-nailed, wild-haired brunette, in her glossy red convertible and fashionably oversized sunglasses, honked her horn and motioned him over one Friday afternoon, he had no idea what she wanted from him.
He soon learned. He had been a virgin (other boys had girlfriends, but he only ever went to school and to church, and maybe the choirmaster’s daughter fancied him, but he couldn’t really tell, he was much, much better at GCSE-level physics than he was at figuring out what girls thought of him) but that changed almost immediately. Not the first night he met her—he didn’t drink or smoke pot and he wouldn’t, it made him nervous, and without a disinhibitor like alcohol or cannabis drifting lazily through his system, he was just too shy—but by the end of the weekend (his parents thought he was with his friend Matthew) he’d managed to lie back on a slick black leather couch and let a, truly very sexy, brunette sit on his cock.
It lasted all of 10 seconds. But at the end of it, when his head was full of clanging lights and flashing noises and a hundred other unimaginable, indescribable, contradictory sensations; when his heart and his head and his body all exploded into something more than he had ever been before that moment; then, he thought, this is it, this must have been what it was like, when the universe exploded into being, and for a moment the scientist and the choirboy within him were in one accord, and he understood. Looking up at the smoky-eyed wildcat on top of him, he saw that for every Big Bang, there is someone driving the explosion, providing the energy, the combustion. Someone makes it happen.
And when she looked down and locked eyes with him, and smiled her lazy, predatory smile, he thought her face must have been like the face of God, and he was at peace.
So, for his part, he was an innocent, corrupted easily enough, and he drank down every line she fed him as if it were the water of life. And he was alive, tingling in places he didn’t know he had, and for the first time in his life, he could worry about something more important than his exam results. He was in ecstasy.
For her part, his wildcat was exactly that—wild and wicked, not just in the bedroom, but in life as well, and for every trick she showed him, she kept a dozen up her sleeve. She worked hard at captivating him, and she did so, so completely that sometimes, she herself was captivated and captive, not only to her own whims, but to his as well. He couldn’t hold her; no man alive could have held her, much less a half-grown boy; but she toyed with him and led him through her hoops and contrived a merry enough game that she had no need to leave him. He called her a cougar, in reference to the fact that she was nearly twice his age—she called him ‘kitten,’ and he was, in every way that mattered—and though things were always exciting and a little bit dangerous and although he cried sometimes, at her capriciousness and cunning, there were moments of quivering tenderness as well; and the woman and her lover were happy.
It lasted for months. Months are unimaginably like little eternities when you’re 16, and when the new term started at school, he just didn’t go back. He moved into her flat, and she let him, and she taught him how to make French toast and scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and Spaghetti Bolognese from scratch, and he tried to explain the difference between potential and kinetic and surface energy to her, as well as how to convert Imperial into Metric (she didn’t listen, he didn’t understand why) and they watched some crappy TV and some good subtitled films and even went dancing a few times; and then one day, in late summer, they went shopping and it all fell apart.
She was standing in front of a cashpoint, taking out £50, and she was thinking about all the lovely, floaty dresses that were recently back in fashion, and wondering whether she was too tanned and too old to get away with showing that much skin. As she turned away, her £10 note slithered through her fingers, and gracefully, agilely, she dipped her knees and plucked the note out of the air before it could even hit the pavement below; as she straightened up, she started for the door, which he was holding open for her.
A girl was walking through it. A young woman, really, maybe 4 or 5 years older than the boy, in a strappy black vest and dark skinny jeans and far too many buckles and piercings and metallic bits of make-up: and when she made it through the doorway, she half-turned, and looking over her shoulder, she gave the golden-hued boy a quick sharp smile, and then, tossing her shoulder-length cloud of hair back, she strode away, her stiletto-heeled boots clip-clopping like a pair of horseshoes.
He was smiling. The boy was smiling. Not just any smile, either—the appreciative, near-grin of a man who’s seen something he likes, and intends to ponder it for a bit; and maybe do something about it. His look was, not quite lust, but the realisation that there could be lust, not only for the woman he was with, but for all the other women in this great wide world.
He looked like a scientist, on the brink of expanding the periodic table. He looked like a mathematician, with an inkling of how to solve the Riemann Hypothesis. He looked like Archimedes in the bath, in the second just before he shouted ‘Eureka!’
He looked like a half-grown boy, who’s suddenly stumbled over the realisation that one day, he will be a man.
She didn’t wait to see what would come, after he discovered how to use this new knowledge. Stepping briskly through the door, she pressed her £10 into his hand, saying only, “That’s bus fare to your parents’ house, and a meal as well. I said I’d buy you lunch,” and then she walked away, silently, and got into a cab without speaking a single word to the desperate, yapping puppy of a boy who followed her out to the taxi rank. She gave the cab driver an address the boy didn’t know about—a woman like that always has a spare place to stay—and after being dropped off, it took her 3 hours to shower, change clothes, and hit enough of a bottle of vodka to make hitting the town seem like a good idea.
She found him at 2 o’clock the next morning. He was standing outside a club in the neighbouring city, being asked for I.D. he was a year or more away from having; this one had glasses and ugly shoes, and his hair wasn’t as nice as the other boy’s had been, but what the hell. All men are the same anyway; and a half-grown boy is just a man who hasn’t realised it yet.