Mother Never Warned Me

He’d always come early, my sister’s beau, hover over me with what I mistook for childlike interest, invite me to go for a ride in his shiny new sports car – a two-seater with overdrive.  I was barely fifteen.

Looked like Bert Reynolds: dark hair, dark eyes, a stylish moustache.  He was Russian and broad-shouldered, and took my breath away each time I dared to look at him – such a classic beauty.  I was flattered that he noticed me at all – the ugly duckling to my sister’s ravishing looks.

We’d drive down country lanes – he knew all the back roads – and he’d take the turns and dips at heart-racing speeds, and I’d never dare let him know how much it frightened me.

Then suddenly, he’d stop.  Pull over on the side of the road and declare the car’s birthday, or some other made up anniversary, and demand a kiss.  It was foolish – outlandish, even – but he’d declare it with such panache that I couldn’t refuse.  What’s an innocent peck between friends, after all?  It was our little secret.

He’d deliver me home just in time for my sister to emerge looking like a model, and I’d slink into the background, head spinning, wondering what it was all about.

Then he set me up with a friend of his – nineteen, drove a motorcycle, smart.  He’d host parties at his house, invite the two of us, follow me to the basement laundry room where the booze was stored, and close the door behind us, wrapping me in his arms, pressing his body up against mine and kissing me with fiery passion.

Not sure if I responded, but I certainly didn’t resist.  Quite honestly, I didn’t know what to think.  Few words passed between us – I was only a stupid kid – and I remember wondering if I should be liking this.  Could this be what the romance novels I’d read were talking about?

I never told anyone.  He continued to see my sister, for a while, and I went back to his friend, till boredom broke us up.

Then he found me again.  Years later, when life and experience had taught me a bit more, and I was engaged to be married.  He begged me not to go through with it, said he loved me, couldn’t stop thinking about me, wanted me to run away with him.

Of course, I said no, pushed away his advances, told him to lose my number, suppressed the anger growing inside me.

I was a still a child, incapable of making sound judgments when he took me, lured me with fast cars, invited me into an adult world, made me believe I was something more than I thought myself to be.   Those dark, mysterious eyes, were that of a wolf’s, his smile a hungry grimace – there was nothing loving about his advances – just a predator grooming its prey.

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

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