The flesh hung low without being flabby. The soft whiteness of the skin rarely touched by the human hand, and, perhaps never by another, trembled as Isabella’s wrist flicked with the movement of the bow, now licking, now moaning and now slamming on the strings of the cello. The muscles on her shoulder were taut – tonight I can give her a good massage, he thought. He was a shadow in the audience and she never strained to catch his dark eyes, well spaced in the umbra of his motionless head. She knew he was there. She knew he was watching. But whom?
He waited for the change in crescendo of Vivaldi’s Concerto in G Minor – her upper arm flesh would quiver for his pleasure. He waited for it, and while others drew in breaths of appreciation, he held his while watching her triceps play a different tune. He was done now.
It wasn’t before an hour when she came to him. He was sipping on his punch while his eyes drank in the tight form of the Afro-American woman who was talking to the majordomo. He liked her dark graphite green halter and the stretch of the fabric over her derrière. He hoped she would move her left foot a little ahead so that the fabric fell straighter over one cheek while being stretched over the other.
“Stop it Robin. I am tired of your flitting eye.”
“Isabella”, he smiled and noticed that her upper arm wasn’t interesting anymore.
“I have been watching you since then. Who is it now?”
“Well, if you have been watching me, you should know!”
“I don’t have time for games, Robin. I am tired of this.”
“You were beautiful up there. Really. I loved it when…”
“Shut up, Robin. What did you take me for?”
“My wife and someone who would understand.”
“What? That you can’t keep your eyes off every single body that passes by?”
“I don’t spare well dressed men, too.”
“And is that supposed to make me feel better?”
He sighed and shook his head. He loved the vein that protruded along her neck when she was angry and into the strap of her gown. Had that strap not been there, he wondered, would it flow down her shoulder as a long straw of blue blood? The skin must be so lightly clad over it, and…
“Robin, listen to me. I have had enough of this. Tonight is the last time I am going to let you continue with this.”
“With what? With what? With your god forsaken roving eye, that’s what!”
“Come on Isabella, I have told you a million times before. To me the human body is like what the cello is to you.”
“One can’t be a desperate flirt with a cello.”
He winced visibly. He felt the shudder of her rebuke wobble down his nape. He wondered whether the tiny mole on his spine would actually tremble when he shuddered thus. Wouldn’t it be lovely? A tiny mole being shaken off one’s back but that being possible only when one is slapped with the greatest shame and slander. He imagined it fall off his body and that one true lover of his – a faceless woman in stilettos, who sat with him along tram stations, parks, leaning over the rails on the bridge, breathing round moth wings of hot air into the glass of the London’s Eye, all this while watching how the soft slice of the breast’s side peered into the sun from under that woman’s orange sleeveless blouse, how the hair on that man’s chest (made visible by the three, no four, undone buttons) hummed in the sunset’s air, how perforations on the metal seat of the tube had left an impression of dark pink spot on the old lady’s calf, how this faceless woman appreciated all that there was in this world and only smiled when he spoke of the slight beer belly that looked so cute as it peeped out from under that teen’s shocking green tee – she, and only she would bend down to pick that mole up and press it between her fingers, place it on a thumb’s nail and try squishing it with the nail of the index finger – would it burst with black blood?.
“I am sorry. I do not mean anyone harm. I just…”
“Either you stop this tonight, or I am moving out… forever.”
“But Isabella, it isn’t like I did something wrong. All I enjoy…”
“Stop it. Do you want me or a world-load of flesh?”
He smiled. Isn’t flesh the perfect word for something which doesn’t have angles? F-L-E-S-H. Always soft and ending in a hiss, the air escaping from between one’s teeth and tickling the pink of one’s lips. That made him lick the tickle away. She understood that wrong.
She hung her head down and rolled it against her sternum in disbelief. Had he not lost himself in the swirl on the top of her head – isn’t it beautiful? The whorl had a symmetric flowering of silky hair with the chandelier glimmering like an oscillating silver “C” forming a striated tiara – had he not enjoyed the shimmering sight, he would have seen it coming.
Isabella slapped him hard and walked, then ran out. His punch spilled on his shirt and while he flicked it away, he couldn’t help but admire the way her hair swept from side to side as she ran, and he didn’t miss the sheer melody of the metronome of her heels and its ripple up to her tenuous waist.
Why won’t she ever understand?