Yet if there was any chance my relationship – not to mention our planned marriage – with Rebecca might have survived, this was soon shattered by an incident which occurred a week or two later . . .
Late one evening when I hadn’t arranged to see her, Rebecca turned up at the flat unexpectedly and discovered myself and a girl called Anne (at least who I call Anne) getting ready for bed. I had first met Anne with Rebecca at a bar in Highgate and we all got on well together, often going back to Anne’s flat for coffee or a drink; although at this stage my attitude towards Anne was purely platonic.
One evening shortly afterwards, however, I’d been out on my own and walking Anne home and found myself in her bedroom listening to records and tentatively sipping wine. Going into her bedroom had not been intentional but one of her flat mates was entertaining her new boyfriend in the communal living room We weren’t talking about anything especially but suddenly I began to be aware of Anne’s figure and couldn’t help noticing her legs. She was wearing a cotton dress which had pulled up slightly where she’d positioned herself on the bed and, try as I might, it was impossible not to notice the patches of stocking-covered flesh.
I knew she was watching me and this made it worse though, at the same time, she expressed no visible sign of embarrassment and even seemed to be enjoying my uncertainty. She carried on talking quite normally but somehow her expression became ‘knowing’ and she shifted her legs with deliberate abandon as if to offer further encouragement. This may have ben no more than innocent amusement on her part but I strongly sensed it was a ‘come on’ and I moved closer on the pretext of changing a record to test her reaction. She lent over to look at the disc resting her hand on my arm for support. Our faces were no more than two or three inches apart Without really thinking, I kissed her gently and almost at once, felt her lips pressing back against mine. The next minute we were lying on the bed, our bodies pushed together, and I felt her hand inside my shirt slowly dragging it up over my body. Hardly aware of what was happening, or at least, far beyond the point of caring, I pulled her dress up around her waist and gently caressed her exposed thighs. She offered no resistance but sighed expectantly and clutched me tightly. She began to move deliberately and in a few minutes the powerful pent up energy exploded between us.
We laid in silence for a long time after that and her breathing gradually became steady as she fell into a light sleep.
I gazed at the ceiling feeling an unexpected feeling of guilt; not so much because of the act itself, but because it had been done knowingly- behind Rebecca’s back. Once again it seemed I had deliberately set out to hurt her; or had least, but I had still ‘gone through the motions’ in reality even though she knew nothing about it. And what a time I had chosen to give way to weakness and jeopardise our relationship. We were preparing to get married and any hint of further deceit would surely break us up completely. After all, she’d already left on suspicion of virtually the same thing and returned only in the obvious hope that I’d change and grow to love her independently. Now any ounce of trust Rebecca might have had, had been abused and I’d dismissed her feelings with as much care as a spoilt child might disregard a favourite toy. I somehow felt ‘unclean’ – although this was not Anne’s fault but entirely my own. And it was too late to make amends or even try and put the pieces back together. I was possessed by a powerful magical force that ensnared its victims through lust and sexual desire then left them to bear the fruits of their own iniquity.
And now she’d turned up unexpectedly and it seemed only a miracle could stop her leaving forever.
Strangely, she didn’t say much but remained calm and asked for a cup of coffee and spoke to Anne as if nothing had happened. Anne was acutely embarrassed and, like myself, struggled vainly to give an impression that we’d just come back for a short chat after meeting by chance in the pub. It was a losing battle but ironically, acting out such a charade in preference to telling her the real truth, seemed to be the lesser of two evils.
Suddenly, just as unexpectedly as she’d arrived, Rebecca said she had to go, and before it was possible to stop her, she uttered a polite ‘goodbye’ and disappeared from my flat. I felt like running after her, but something kept me rooted to the spot. It seemed that although relevant words had been spoken, everything had already been spoken.
So it was, she finally left. Yet much as I loved her, I knew deep inside that our parting had always been inevitable, and much as I’d struggled to maintain our love amidst the torment of Alison, – indeed even to the extent of planning to get married – Fate, as usual, had interceded to ensure a final and irrevocable decision. Although almost succeeding, I had never really stood a chance. Even though not intended to hurt her, my actions had ultimately driven her away and I’d been left to adjust to the cruel reality of my material surroundings.
It was a cold reality that almost demanded a fresh outlook to my conceptions of love, and the consequences of mingling true relationships with my magical involvements and obligations.
But I did not regret the fact that we’d shared a temporal love together. For Rebecca had taught me a lot and her love and patience had done more than simply captivate a relationship that I had thought lay beyond the bounds of feasibility. She had drawn me back to a world that I had almost forgotten – a world filled with the need for material love and stability, where such things as tangible relationships and laughing children can become an external reality.
No. I had not rejected her – but just been unable to adjust to those things that demanded satisfaction to a code of conformity and respectability. Any regrets I might have had, were really irrelevant. For as usual, I had no way of recognizing such regrets until it was too late to bring about their correction.