The midsummer sun penetrates the conservatory, amber shafts of light slipping between the polished slats of the wooden blinds. Judy backs up to Peter so he can unhook her bra. The white straps fall easily from her chestnut shoulders. Her tossed-aside blouse hides the bashful eyes of cuddly toys, corralled and tidied onto the bamboo sofa.
As Judy wriggles off denim slacks, followed by simple cotton panties, Peter’s concentration skips to a lone yellow Lego brick on the plastic sheet. He must remember to put it away. The imprint of Lego in soft flesh was a typical hazardevenings.
She tugs the navy polo shirt over his head and unbuckles his belt. Her bifocals dangle, bouncing off creamy breasts. For most of the afternoon the baby had fixated on the glinting links of the chain, plump pink fingers grasping, only succumbing to sleep for the last hour of the weekly visit. While Peter became Black Pete, Pirate Captain of the vegetable patch, to tempt the twins outdoors for fresh air and vitamin D. Giving Judy time to bond with their new granddaughter.
Silly old goat.
Her words still smarted. ‘Why do you love me?’ Peter had growled, fumbling socks over saggy feet. And she’d called him a silly old goat.
Judy’s hip bumps his naked buttocks as she bends to the floor. Her back is smooth, dotted by a familiar map of honey freckles.
But Judy wouldn’t have said goat. What had she called him? Silly old …Silly old fox. Silver fox was her pet name. When Peter’s raven hair retired, he grew accustomed to (and secretly admired) his distinguished slate-grey look.
Peter entwines one leg around her lower calf to anchor himself before stretching fingers towards the needle on the mat. Judy’s skin smells warm, he thinks of baked apple spiked with cinnamon. The terror of losing words engulfs him like seawater; an ice-cold wave strips away the façade of youth, exposing the crumpled reality of age beneath.
Judy’s nipples precociously protrude, demanding his attention. Peter thinks of strawberry sauce dripping over dollops of cream. What had she promised to make him? The gooseberries were almost ripe
Silly old fool.
That’s what she’d called him, her eyes sparkling, engorged with love.
He is an old fool. Not to remember why she loves him. She loves him for all the myriad of reasons that he loves her. And he loves her because she still wants to play Twister on Thursdays once their daughter has collected the grandchildren.
Peter’s thigh trembles and he topples backwards to thump onto the sticky plastic sheet. Judy lands on top. They lie together, wrapped in giggles. She traces her finger along a line of grey hairs, moving down his body. Even the stabbing press of the Lego brick cannot block his growing desire.
‘Gin and tonic?’ Judy murmurs.
‘Shall we take them upstairs?’ says Peter.
His wife, of forty-eight years, smiles like a coquette. ‘Well, it is.’
Originally published on CafeLit.