Anne's Soup

2009

I had fish soup at Anne's house the other day. We talked about sex. That week we'd both had some, after long dry spells.

She met the guy on the Internet a month earlier. He was charming, handsome, intelligent and German. They had a mutual Teutonic attraction. They agreed that they wanted to sleep with each other but he was headed to Europe for a few months. So Anne made him wait until the last minute, just before he left. That way she couldn't become too involved or hurt too badly. She said it was worth it.

I told her that my new lover isn't traveling anywhere. She lives up the road. I've known her for decades. She's a soft-eyed beauty, a bohemian artist with a lazy sultriness. We'd been circling each other for weeks, vulnerable to each other, cautiously flirting. One night she said, "I'm not ready for you, but let's go upstairs anyway." I told Anne that it was worth it.

Anne was bustling around the kitchen as she talked. I always enjoy watching her move. She has an easy athletic grace. I remembered her naked in rivers. In the years we were together we walked many riverbanks. Whenever we found a deserted pool she would strip and swim, hollering with joy. The best was in the Copper Canyon, in Mexico. She swam in a deep grotto circled by smooth, bleached, ochre sandstone. When she dove and surfaced, the hot afternoon sun revealed glimpses of her haunches and shoulders and breasts. She looked like a mystical, wild creature. I opened the wine and let it breathe.

I asked her if she was afraid of being heartbroken by the German guy. She shrugged and said, "I don't mind being a bit heartbroken. It's a risk you have to take if you want to be alive." She scooped whitefish, scallops and mussels into the bowls, drenched them in broth and garnished them with crab legs.

She warned me: never to say to a woman, "I'm not in love with you." Even if it's true, don't say it. Better to say nothing. I asked if I had ever said that to her, and she said yes, I did. I couldn't remember. I said I was sorry.

She said, "No big deal" and broke the bread.