I watched K watching television from my vantage point on the balcony. He was on the sofa quite happily engrossed in some sporting event and swigging his beer while I was sipping a glass of rosé.
I’d been putting off the inevitable but now it was definitely time for decisive action. It concerned hubby number four. I was still married, though this morning I decided not for much longer and therefore it was important to be discrete before entering the winding up stage of the proceedings and negotiations. That would of course have had no bearing on how often I would see K. I always could wrap my husbands and partners around my little finger, and hubby number four was certainly no exception but an amicable settlement would be infinitely preferable to all parties.
He was the only other man, apart from K, I’d slept with in my penthouse flat. Well he did buy it so it was the least I could do. Anyway slept with had become somewhat of an exaggeration. I couldn’t actually remember if he’d achieved penetration on the last occasion or rather attempt a couple of weeks ago. While he was fiddling around with himself down there I was on the phone with Ernst going through an email he’d sent. It needed some concentration so I left hubby to his own devices.
When I’d finished the call, still none the wiser about the email, I turned my attention to hubby and, predictably, he’d fallen asleep. The time had come to face the truth, he’d had a good couple of years.
On the subject of K, we were maturing well together, a special vintage. He felt uncertain sometimes I thought, maybe I was giving off the wrong vibe. Then again, he’d always been insecure. I’d have to talk to him about it. We confused each other. I didn’t know why. I mean sometimes, I thought it was as if he didn’t want any unnecessary intrusion in his life, he didn’t want to share. I understood that. I was the same.
He belied his age. He behaved exactly the same way he’d always behaved. I never asked him but I was certain he’d never had a long term partnership with a woman. Ever. Unless you count what we had. But, on the other hand, he never really talked about his liaisons, and I didn’t ask him. I should add there’d been some sightings of him with other women but he hadn’t mentioned them so I didn’t. But I told him all about my entanglements. I didn’t hold anything back. He was interested. But a woman can tell and I knew many would consider him a catch. He was a shy type but a lot of women go for that and he’d never kiss and tell. I’d had quite a few partners over the years, but for whatever reason I seemed to flit from one to another. I was choosey.
K loved alcohol. Loved it. Beer was his thing, though on occasion he’d hit the ouzo. He wasn’t an alcoholic, he just didn’t know when to stop, sometimes. I’d seen him drunk a good few times, and then he always slurred, ‘I just need a short nap and I’ll be as good as new.’ Which he then had and he was.
He was what I would describe as minimalist. But if you’d asked me exactly what he was wearing when he arrived today, I couldn’t tell you. Obviously we all had our own style, consciously or otherwise. I would describe his as functional; jeans, t-shirts and shirts, nothing special but it suited him and his clothes were always clean and he was never scruffy. It wasn’t that he dressed badly, he just didn’t dress obviously well. It was funny, the way he dressed reminded me of those paper dolls I’d had as a child where you could clip on all their different outfits with paper tabs. Some of our class mates christened us Ken and Barbie. I just didn’t respond to the Barbie tag, while he hated being called Ken, so I shortened it to K. He didn’t mind that.
Fashion and color had always been among my specialities; I had an eye for angles and lines. I could, some say should, have been an architect or a designer; fashion or interior.
K was a thinker, he could be very deep. He liked reading. He always had his nose stuck in a book or a newspaper. He told me about what he was reading, well he droned on about it, to be honest. He was always saying things like, ‘‘You really should read this article, it’s fascinating, it’s about….’’ He never gave up.
I listened but sometimes I thought he could bore for his country whatever he considered it to be; he was a committed European, so was I, but politics was a subject we steered well clear of. The thing was I could see the disappointment in his light blue eyes when he realized I wasn’t really listening. But I couldn’t help myself. I could be impatient.
I wasn’t much of a reader. I got my news from the radio, tv, people and the odd newspaper; and as for books, I probably read maximum six a year, in English, French or Spanish and of course German, usually biographies, always from friends. K thought I should expand my horizons with regard to my choice of reading material. He had a point.
We’d never really not got on. But it was logical we must have had our ups and downs, like all couples. But after all these years it was something to be proud of.
He went through my bag recently. He doesn’t know I saw him. He must have had a good reason. Although I’d no idea what.
I just could’t believe we were still together after so many years and still practicing our arrangement. He was the most reliable thing in my life and I in his.
I would say he was a fast friend; trustworthy, caring, a good listener, reliable, always punctual. I could see all that in his eyes. My corresponding characteristics would probably be the opposite to his. Still, that’s a woman’s prerogative!
What did he want in a partner? If he wanted a partner, he would insist on any partner having her own life and understanding that he had his. He would expect loyalty but forgive if she strayed.
As regards looks, I was his type. I ate well but I could be quite disciplined if necessary, which wasn’t often. I had the perfect metabolism. What he wanted or needed was somebody to look after him but he defended his privacy jealously, so a preparedness to compromise would be essential.
I could tell him literally everything. But he, typical man, kept things locked away, especially about women. I’d have to ask him. I needed to know. It had nothing to do with competition or jealousy, I was up to my eyes in men.
He liked music so did I, especially to dance to. But he insisted on singing along to everything and that got on my nerves. I would say he was far too passive for his own good but you know the saying, ‘Still waters run deep’.
K would have done whatever I asked, that’s why I didn’t test him. But I wouldn’t say he was in thrall to me.
Did I love him? Did he love me?
Maybe we would describe it in another way. I couldn’t explain it but I felt it.
Put it this way, I couldn’t imagine life without him and I was sure that went for him. But I didn’t know if we’d admit it.
Yes, we would.
I liked the idea that, life is random, it made me appreciate the transitory nature of things.
I’d never been to his flat. He’d asked me on a number of occasions, but I had my doubts as to whether it would be a discreet enough location.
As regards employment he’d taken early retirement, from what I’m not completely sure but it involved regular flights to and from and months long stays in the Middle East.
I’d driven past the house where he lived a few times. It looked like something out of a Hitchcock film; standing all alone on a main road, the nearest house was about 250 meters away, with a graveyard beside it. In a strange way it seemed fitting. He lived in a flat at the top like some kind of sentinel, that’s what I thought when he told me. I stopped the first time and looked up, there was a light burning in his window and I saw him in profile, tilting a glass to his lips. If you could tell such a thing about somebody from a distance, then I would say I was looking at a very self aware person and one who accepted fully whatever life had in store for him and always would. Crazy, I supposed. But that was what I felt. That was what he emanated. I envied him at that moment and still do. In fact, his favorite saying was, ‘It is, what it is.’
If you could say that and mean it and live it that must make life an awful lot easier. At least that’s what I thought at the time.
Later it came to me: K accepted life while I explored it. I preferred my approach, maybe he would have too.
I'm British and have been living with my German born wife in s.w. Germany for 30 years. I've been writing short stories for many years and they have appeared on Fictionontheweb, Short FictionBreak, Literally Stories, Spillwords and other sites. I also have a story in the book The Best of Fiction On the Web.