I am beyond hot for Hrehan, who’s only 20, half my age, and in a relationship. But the relationship isn’t the problem because Hrehan’s not in love with his girl—he’s in love with me. And it’s not our ages either, though I could be his mother. The problem is that while I would love to shag Hrehan silly—God knows I would—I’m in love with my husband. Oh really?
I wear that 38C cup bra, my breasts are tight not saggy and I need to take those darned herbs I’m taking—Shitavari: Capable of 100 Husbands and Ashwaganda: Strength of a Horse—to get us pregnant.
After all baby makes three and all that crap.
I am a sexy horny beauty with big breasts to Hrehan, what with all this bewitching of my ovaries, and Hrehan knows I’m hot for him, Good Lord. If that boy presses his cute little checkered pants arse against my apron one more time I’m going to lose my cucumbers.
One day, in the kitchen at the restaurant where Hrehan and I work, I was snatching meatballs from the hot line, smiling at the cooks, hungry, and hoping I can flirt my way into getting all of us, all the waitresses, fish for dinner instead of fried chicken (because my doctor says fish have enzymes, which are good for womb juices and such), and Hrehan, cooking, shoots the daggers of his deep blue eyes right into my breasts, “Beautiful nipples”.
“Oh, I know what you want, Emma,” he says.
Shifting my hips around, trying to hush the hunger in my groin, I pretend not to hear him.
“Oh, I know you hear me, Emma,” he says.
I’m trying so hard not to smile, and I won’t look up for anything because I know he’s still throwing those daggers at my breasts.
“Say, Emma,” he says.
“What do you mean?” I shift again, but it’s no use. Twitching all over, I focus harder on my meatball.
“Eh, Emma, you know what I mean.”
My eyes betray me. They look up at him, he was staring at my breasts, he is aroused and me good Lord, the glances turn me on. Just as he closes his mouth over the breast of chicken in his hand, searing his tongue, liquid juices run down his nude forearm and streams into the sleeve of his chef’s coat. I do find his laugh sexy but I melt when tears storm his baby face. Sensitive men drive me wild.
Speechless, I back my own arse out of the kitchen fast as I can manage. Head thrown back, palms pressing my pulsing thighs through my apron, I sway through the dining room as if in a dream.
The next morning when I pull up to work on my motorcycle, Hrehan’s puffing away on a cigarette out front. It’s still early, dark as night, and the breakfast crowd won’t be along for a while.
“It’s cold out here Emma,” he says, hands in his pockets, cigarette puffing between his lips.
“I know. You shouldn’t be smoking.”
He shrugs and looks away, hands still stuck in his pockets like he’s after something. There’s something wrong this morning, I think. Or maybe he’s just tired. For a moment I think we’re safe—that I won’t be tempted by him any longer. He’s just a kid, after all, and I’m, well I’m just not. Something inside me wants to press his head to my breast, but not like that. I want to do it like a mom. I want to take care of him. Rubbing my fingers together and breathing heavy into them, I try to warm up while he smokes.
After his cigarette, he looks up.
I search his face, which is long and sad. “Hey,” I say to him. “You okay today?”
His head still angled up, away from me, hands still in his pockets, fingers wiggling wildly around in there, he’s still searching. Shoulders shrugging, he says nothing. He blinks back tears.
“Hey,” I say to him. “Hrehan, what’s going on?” I warm my fingers with one bigger exhale and then I touch him on the forearm. I wait a few minutes, just like that, and neither of us moves. “Do you want me to go?” I ask him finally.
“Do you want to be alone?”
His gaze descends back down the ladder of the sky until it finds the earth. “Sweetheart,” I say, stepping in closer. “It’s me, Emma, Hrehan, you can talk to me.”
Maybe I should have stopped right there. Maybe I shouldn’t have pressed him anymore, but I couldn’t help it, seeing him in pain like that.
“Hrehan, I love you, you know.”
The passion I’d been harboring for him drains from me. I want to protect him. I suppose it’s a different type of passion. One passion replacing the next. Stepping closer, I wrap him up in my arms. If someone drives past, this is what they’ll see: a tall, gangly young man, hands stuffed in his pockets, staring at the earth beneath his gnarled shoes; a middle aged woman, arms wound round his middle, pressing herself into his side, her head on his bicep. It might look like the end of an affair, which it is, sort of.
“Time for work,” he says, and spins round on his heel, preparing to leave me dumbfounded and raw, but I stop him. “Hrehan,” I plead, “wait.”
“Why?” he asks. “What’s the point? We’ll talk and I’ll tell you I love you, and you’ll go home to your husband, and I’ll still be alone, I’ll still be missing you. Forget it, Emma. Just leave me alone.”
“Hrehan,” I begin, but I don’t know what to say. What can I say? Sinking down onto the curb, I hide my face in my fingers. He stays. He waits for me to say something to make it better. “Sweetheart,” I finally manage, “I’m old enough to be your mother, and I love my husband. You don’t love me—”
“I do, Emma,” he argues, and spits at the earth. He kicks the garbage can with the steel toe of his boot. “You see?” he asks. “I knew you’d say this. I know you love your husband. But you love me, too.”
“No,” I lie. Because lying to him is the only thing to do.
What can I possibly say to Hrehan? Yes, I love you, but not in the way you want me to love you? That I’m out of my mind, all jacked up on herbs, a last ditch effort to achieve pregnancy without IVF at my age? That trying to achieve pregnancy might be just a last ditch effort to revive my stale marriage? That all love goes stale eventually, and that you have to find the one you want to work through the staleness with? Is that even true? Does all love, eventually, go stale? Do I still love that idiot? Does he love me? Or are we fooling ourselves? I’m older than Hrehan, and I’m supposed to be wiser. But I feel like a donkey.
After Hrehan leaves, I cry, head in my hands, until those night owls hollers at me through the open kitchen window, announcing the first table of hungry breakfasters waiting to be served.
That idiot is on a business call. The bell rings again.
This time I’m a little startled. “What?” I call from the sofa.
“Emma, it’s me, Hrehan.”
“It’s me.” Rightfully wondering whether I’ll scold him, ignore him, or permit him to enter my home, he waits a minute
“I heard you,” I holler. My rum mug I place on the coffee table, and I pad on over to the door, bumping my knees on the hearth and my hip on the corner of the hallway wall. I wish for a mirror in our foyer, but we don’t have one, so I can’t notice my hair and all that. I just open the door for him and turn away before he enters. In a moment, he hovers over me as, rum in hand; I resume my nest in the sofa.
I watch him as he helps himself in the kitchen, sort of guffawing for a moment when I remember in my haze that he’s not even of legal drinking age. Suddenly I feel old and lonely. But as I watch his body at the stove, his long, strong arms stirring the pot of rum as it reheats, there’s an awakening in me, a hunger licking its chops. How long has it been since I craved for that idiot like this? I can’t remember the last time we made love because we wanted to. We fuck now and then because we should, because we’re married, because we’re telling ourselves we want to make a baby.
“What do you think, Emma?” He enters the living room with two steaming mugs. One he hands to me, “Your old one is probably cold.”
I take the hot mug from him and stare hard into his eyes, bold because I’m drunk. For a moment I’m lost. “It doesn’t matter,” I lie. “Rum’s rum.”
“Taste them side-by-side,” he says, and his smile erupts. The irony is inescapable. What if I could taste Hrehan and my husband side-by-side? Who would I choose?
I sip from both mugs. Obviously, the hot one tastes better. The old one, I discard.
Smiling wildly, Hrehan buries himself in my breasts. He presses me so far back into the cushions that I think we might disappear and in that moment I know I’ll be hopelessly lonely without him. Smiling I lift my head from the pillows and face him. His face is closer than I expect, so I wind up inches from him, staring straight into the daggers of his eyes. The blue is twinkling. I can’t tell in the moonlight whether his eyes are full of tears or whether I’m drunk and the lights from the skyline in the window behind him are reflecting onto my own eyes, but nevertheless his eyes look moist to me. I wonder if he’s been crying.
“I stalk you” he unhooks my 38C Cup
“What?” Now I am surprised.
“I didn’t stalk you today.” He brings the side of his leg closer to the side of mine. My insides gasp and purr.
With one hand I grip my hot mug like it’s my lifeline; with the other I reach for the blanket on the armchair next to me and yank it over my lap. A chastity belt.
I don’t say anything. I can’t say anything. He’s a child. I’m a middle aged woman. I’m married. He’s confused. So am I. This is wrong. I sip my rum.
His nude forearm brushes my knees as he reaches for my lifeline. Unwrapping my fingers from my mug with his calloused hands, rough and burned already from only a handful of years cooking other people’s food but still so soft and tender because of his nascent age, he leans into my space.
My eyes crawl up his sideburns and over the bridge of his delicate nose to his eyes. I don’t know what I expect or want to find there, in his eyes, but it’s exactly right. There is so much sadness. In him. In me. Effortlessly, like water moving, he suddenly slips his hand inside the slack neckline of my pajama blouse, cupping my naked breast. His movements are liquid, dreamlike, and I have no time to protest. Holding his hand there, breathing, we’re still, and I think for a moment that perhaps I’m not awake.
“I need you, Emma,” he says, squeezing my brown nipple between two fingers, hand so big he holds my rib, my breast and my sternum in one palm. I feel small, so feminine; this feels so right.
“Can I kiss you, Emma?”
Falling forward, I burrow into his chest with my forehead. If I let him kiss me, I’ll dissolve into him, all the way. I’m the kind of woman who falls in love fast. I’ll end up loving him more than I already do if I let him take me to bed. Deeply, I inhale him. “Not tonight,” I whisper, because I’m too drunk and lonely now to stop him from taking me to bed if I let him kiss me. And because it’s true what I said in the beginning, I love that idiot, too.
There’s a silence at the center of unrequited love, the deafening kind of silence that tells you’re alone—that you always have been alone, and always will be alone. If love is a storm, unrequited love is a hurricane, most destructive at the outset and ending, quiet in the middle. I had known Hrehan was in love with me for years, and I’d relished the attention, sure. Who wouldn’t? And at my age? My own love affair with my husband having grown into something dormant like the center of a hurricane, though I’m told love evolves—becomes less and less pregnant with passion over the years, but ever more rooted and fierce if it’s real. Perhaps our dormancy is sending a message to my body—Do not get pregnant! There’s not enough love here! Maybe you need that pregnant passion to get through the unbeautiful parts of childbirth together.
I stay on the couch, sleepless, still a little drunk, as morning rises. By the time daylight whispers into the living room I’m lost in a fantasy. My head presses back into the corner of the sofa, my legs drape over its back, my body turns away from the windows. I writhe. My breast pokes out from beneath the slack neckline of my pajama blouse, and I remember Hrehan’s fingertips, so young, so desperate. My nipple stings with the memory of him squeezing.
He finds the back of my head beneath all the pillows and cups it with both hands. Lifting me up so he can see my eyes he hovers just above my face, his blue eyes—are dark and hungry. He slips a small hand over the front of my neck and it’s clammy, but familiar. The grizzle of his beard scratches my sternum but it’s all hot and wet as he licks and oozes his way down between my breasts. My nipples sting again as Hrehan licks all the way down. I wanted them to be licked I think, as I watch him squat back on his haunches like an animal. The pad of his thumb bursts it’s way inside me, and then it’s gone. For a moment I panic. Where did he go? Suddenly we’re not touching anymore and I can’t feel him anywhere. I can’t live without him. I know this. Scared, my eyes fly open, and I discover him standing over me again, watching, licking his lips. Fast, he swoops down and lifts me up off the couch, carrying me into our bedroom. With me in his lap, both of us sitting up, he enters me. As he does, he finally speaks to me.
We burst out laughing. Suddenly we’re laughing so hard, and then, heads thrown back, bodies rocking in time together, arms and legs wound round and round like knots keeping us from falling apart, we come together.
Two months later, carrying Hrehan’s child, I pull up on my motorcycle to work the lunch shift at the restaurant. I barely notice Hrehan waiting for me out front. I hurl myself off my motorcycle just in time to lose my helmet and barf in the bush on the sidewalk. Groaning, knuckles in my eyes, I sink down on the curb to recover.
When Hrehan re-appears minutes later and offers me two mugs, one with hot water and lemon, the other with Sprite, I stare up at him for a moment, jaw slack, and then turn and wretch in the bush again. He searches in his pants pockets after setting the mugs down on the sidewalk, jingling change.
“Hrehan,” I beg, “please don’t smoke. It’ll be too much.” I gag, and hurl again.
His smile erupts and he bends down to rub my back. “Soda crackers,” he says, and produces two packets from his pockets.
“Do you want to be alone?”
“No. Not right now. Please stay.”
“Worse than yesterday, huh?”
“Yeah,” I say, wiping my mouth with my sleeve.
“Here.” He thrusts a stack of napkins at me.
“I thought this was only supposed to happen in the morning.”
I want to laugh, but I wretch again.
He stares at my breasts, and when I’m recovered I follow him. A few minutes later he asks, “Have you figured out yet when it happened?”
“No.” My gaze falls to the earth.
“I thought you’d want to know.”
“It’s too soon I think.”
He keeps his eyes up in the sky. “Have you told your husband yet?”
I’d promised Hrehan that I’d tell that idiot. That I’d tell him about our affair.
“Emma, I never loved you, so no need to spout to your husband about our affair- it was your 38C cup bra and your breasts which turned me on, those herbs weren’t for you, he was impotent, so I gave that child to you, but I never loved you”
That was the last time I saw Hrehan. Seven months later, I got a girl, same blue eyes; I whispered to my new born daughter “You are Hrenita, Hrehan’s and Emma’s love child”Published in