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Open your mouth. I want to make you happy, Clarissa. I need, want and desire you.

You are my journal, my hours, my half-commitment, my purpose crafted to cure all social ills. I am happy and content. Satisfied, fulfilled, I don’t need a man. And you will never know about my love affairs with other women. You married your sweetheart, Malcolm. You met her in high school. You called her honey child and sexy dollface, and we all loved you, and that was the last time you ever told me that you loved me. And I wanted you to tell me that you wanted to marry me. I wanted you to pull me into your ambit, your domain, your principality, and just hold me, but you didn’t. In the end, you left me for another woman. Younger scholar, sexier lover, in seedy motels in Hillbrow.

“Don’t you want to kiss me, pretty girl? Don’t you want me to put my hands down your panties, French kiss the dying light out of you and touch your small yet beautiful breasts?”

The construction men laughed among themselves, and although it was morning, Clarissa stopped to stare at her reflection in her bathroom mirror on her way out to run errands. She enjoyed walking, but today she missed Jones. 

And still the rain falls. And still I don’t eat. And still I dream of making love to him. And still I dream that their child was our child, that he named her child after me, that somehow I live vicariously through his wife. But, of course, I know it is wishful thinking, that I am only dreaming, that it is all just a part of my sinful nature to want to please him, to want to feel Malcolm inside of me, for him to hold me when I climax. But, now, all I think about is my monthly budget, taking in love with women who are younger than me, linked to the clouds in my coffee, vain, beloveds with legs that I want to stroke and caress forever, the gym-bunnies-toned arms; I want to take them on a journey to paradise for one night.

I won’t make a scene, Malcolm, I promise. I’ve found another. His name is Lewis. I lie back on the pillows in the hotel room, open my legs, make myself vulnerable, meet him halfway, for I am his red sparrow. He kisses my stretch marks, touches me here, there, everywhere, as if I belong to him. Lewis makes me cry. He thinks I’m a groovy cat. I tell him I’m a journalist first, a poet second. Outside, there are lovers on the streets; you’re with Portia, your wife; I did say I would never make a scene. I think you’re amazing. I think you’re the most impressive man on the planet. I don’t want to smile. You’re not here, Malcolm, and I miss you. When I’m with Lewis, I think of you; when he yells at me, I think of you; when he hits me, I think of you, Malcolm; when I close my eyes in the bathtub, my fingers find the heat between my legs. I eat my suppers alone in my bedroom, watching soap opera after soap opera. I masturbate in the shower in the mornings in my flatlet, where there is only room for one in the kitchenette. Dad is in a wheelchair, now. You’re in Europe, Portia is in the mansion in Summerstrand, Lewis will be here in ten minutes. He’ll smoke a joint first, before he fucks me; afterwards, I will look for something in my bag, brush my unkempt hair, tuck a stray curl behind my ear, make Lewis orgasm.

“What are you searching for?” Lewis will ask.

“Gum, my hairbrush, my mascara wand, my French perfume and my journal.”

“You’re a ray of light. You make me smile, you know that. I know you enjoyed the sex,” Lewis will say. “You’re the only woman I know of who enjoys pornography.”

“You like that about me? That I’m no Madonna? I have a friend.”

“I have a friend, too.”

“You want to come home with me. You can put it anywhere you like.”

“Talking dirty will get you everywhere, Clarissa.”

Clarissa touched up her lipstick expertly. Lewis looked at her; he was slowly getting high, but he liked to look at her, this beauty on his arm whom he felt he couldn’t quite deserve, or live up to her unattainable expectations.

“Clarissa, look at me, please.” And, at the plaintive sound in Malcolm’s voice, Clarissa turned around.

Red lipstick stained her two front teeth, but Lewis kissed her hard on the mouth.

Lewis was sleeping soundly next to her in her bedroom.

When you’re at your most vulnerable, then and only then will you admit that you love me as I love you.

You will realise, Clarissa, that all these years I’ve loved only you. Then, Malcolm took her into her arms, and Clarissa was silent.

What about your vows, Clarissa wanted to say. What about independent Portia, financially secure Portia, stable Portia?

What about her, Clarissa? I love you. Do you love me, do you even like me in the mornings?

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