The Welder - Part I

Part II

We'll sit on the train, which is crowded but not packed, like rush hour. I'll sit by the window, like he requested, and quickly sweep my hair up into a tight ponytail, exposing the back of my neck to him. He doesn't say or do anything about it, just stares straight ahead. His hand is on my knee, or actually just slightly above it, his pinky underneath the hem of my skirt. What an interesting couple we'll make; I'll be wearing all black, stockings, leather shoes, a neat hairstyle, make up. I'll look like the ultimate business woman with her caveman lover, dirty, smudged, ruffled and unkempt. I'll notice a girl standing by the doors of the train, staring at the welder and smile to myself. She doesn't know that I'll be naked in bed with him probably within the hour. I clear my throat and shift a bit in my seat with anticipation, feeling increasingly warmer. The train will jostle and his leather jacketed arm will brush against mine and I'll resist the urge to rest my head against his shoulder. After one or two stops, he'll turn and look down at me.

"I remember you," he'll say quietly, almost soothingly. "I remember seeing this girl start giggling when she looked at me and I thought you were making fun of me. But I remembered thinking that you were beautiful, out of my league." I'll roll my eyes, not having been given permission to talk. "And then I saw you again, and you giggled again. It had been a long time. But your face lit up, too. Like you were happy to see me. You never noticed that I was staring at you, too." I won't tell him that I HAD. He won't say anything more, just start staring straight ahead again, but I'll feel my cheeks get hot.

When the train stops, only blocks from where I live, he'll grab my hand and pull me silently from the train, walking quickly down the stairs and out into the street. I'll feel almost like a kid behind him, stumbling forward, unable to keep up with his rapid pace. I look at each building and wonder if it's his, but he won't say anything, just walk and walk and walk. Finally, we'll reach a tree lined street with old brick buildings and he'll fumble in his pocket for some keys. When we get up to the front door he holds his hand over the names on the buzzer and grins at me.

"Let's keep it all a secret, what do you say?"

I'll nod, ready to do whatever he asks. My stomach is tightening into deep, throbbing knots. I can barely breathe. There is still time to back out, but I don't. We'll walk up one flight of stairs and into a spacious but dark apartment. The floors are hardwood, the windows covered in heavy curtains. He'll take his jacket and sweatshirt off and stand in front of me with dirty jeans and a gray t-shirt on. Once again, I'll be overcome with giggles and smiles at how attractive he is. I'll feel like a third grader and instead of being stern and silent, he'll just shake his head at me and smile.

"You're a strange girl." His smile will be unlike any other I've seen, radiant and wide. It will make me feel very safe even though I'm scared. "Take your coat off, leave your bag here." I'll do what he says and he'll walk in front of me, barefoot, simply assuming I'm following. When we get to the living room he'll point to the middle of the floor. "Stand there," he'll say, and I'll do it. He'll walk around me then and stare at every part of me. He'll run his hand down my arm, and along the back of my neck. I'll lick my lips, sure that he's just about to crush me in a kiss, but he doesn't. He'll step away and cross his arms. "Strip."

"What?" I'll say, simply because it will have startled me.

"Strip. Everything, that sweater, skirt, stockings, shoes. I want you naked. But you can leave the necklace on. And your wedding ring of course." He'll laugh at the expression of guilt that spreads across my face. Some people are better at humiliation than others.

I'll strip for him, feeling sick to my stomach at what I'm doing, avoiding his gaze, staring at his feet that have a little bit of hair on the tops of them. He won't like it.

"Look at me when you're doing it. I want to see you," he'll say in barely a whisper.

I'll look at him then, feeling myself frowning, feeling dirty and horrible about myself and what I'm doing. He won't smile at me. He won't say anything reassuring, he'll just let me stew in guilt for a while. When I stand there naked, just my silver necklace and my gold ring, he'll step forward and kick the clothes aside. I'll suck in my stomach instinctively in an effort to look better, more perfect.

"Don't do that," he'll say. "That's silly." He'll put a hand on my belly with his fingers splayed out wide. "Relax. Your teeth are rattling." I'll nod in reply and he'll step away again. "OK, kneel." I'll do it, resting back on my heels, my hands folded across my thighs, a pose I've learned from yoga. He'll stand in front of me and grab my ponytail, pulling my head backwards. "Don't move. Wait for me here, just like this."

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