Mickey J. Corrigan, What I Did for Love
What I Did for Love
Publisher: Bloodhound Books
Date: October 14, 2019
Length: 228 pages
ISBN: 1913419142; 978-1913419141
Mojito, the drink of my choice. My heart and my reason, my loss of reason. So wrong for me. But now, without Mojito, my life is an empty glass.
Mojito is not his real name, of course. It is the pseudonym I will use while I tell you this story. To protect his reputation. He was not of age.
Gasp. You are horrified? Well, that is my point, you see. To draw you in with the tawdry steam of my situation, my obsession, my bad choices.
What I mean to say is, picture this: under a gaudy blue sky, a tanned young man in colorful board shorts lopes across the hot white sand to the surf. A tall, golden, lightly muscled teenager, fully emerged from boyhood, but not yet a hardened man. Imagine watching him toss the shiny yellow board into the clutch of the aqua waves and jump on. He lays flat, paddles out. Deftly shaking the sea from his eyes and hair. Wet, joyful, like a young seal. So carefree, strong, full of spirit. Full of life.
Got that? Now, imagine this: a middle-aged woman standing alone on the tideline, staring at the distant horizon. Thirsty, licking at her sun-dried lips. Wearing a broad brimmed hat to shade her fine skin. Her freckles. Her (dear god) wrinkles.
You see now?
Was he the first young man I lusted after? No. I’d wanted others before him. So he had a precursor? He did, of course. I’ve loved many men over the years, men younger than I. In fact, I always preferred my men unseasoned. Even as a high school junior and senior, I liked the middle school boys with their wide eyes and virginal smiles. I kicked my cheerleader legs high for those kids seated passively in the stadium. I lured them in, the ripening jocks. By their freshman year, many of them had already been mine.
And in college? I did not respond to the creative writing professor who called me to his weed hazy office in order to ogle my model figure and make suggestive comments on my work. No, thank you. Unlike the other coeds, I did not worship the ice hockey studs with their bearish manes and campus swagger. Instead, I had my heart set on the genius kid. You know, the four-eyed geek who skipped high school to breeze through college on a three-year track. I wanted his black-framed glasses on the floor beside my futon. I wanted his serious little face pressed against my naked skin.
That’s how it’s always been for me. Give me the boys, burning young and bright. Hold me up to these hot new suns and bake me to a crisp. After, I will cover myself with coconut crème and soak in tequila and lime.
But this Mojito, he was nothing but a surf rat, you say? Not true. When the ride was high, he slipped away to test and retest his body and his prowess. Yes, he did. But he worked hard between wave sessions. High school senior by day, plus community college classes at night, studying on weekends for the SATs. He wasn’t slacking. Too energetic for that, too full of plans for his blazing future.
My mouth is so dry. It needs wetting. The drink I crave, however, is not available. Will never be available again.
Back then in that dream, I slaked myself as often as possible. I lived high above the unfurling sea in a castle on the sugary sand, he in his father’s princedom on the peaceful Intracoastal Waterway. I know, my prose here is laughable. But you can always count on a seductive murderess to have a book in her. We always do, you see.
So, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, please take a hard look at exhibit A. Mojito, there in the distance on his colorful surfboard, glorious in the glance of the afternoon sun. The salt water glistening on his hairless chest. Toothpaste smile gleaming against the blue green water. Honey blond hair long as a girl’s, but prettier. Wet trunks clinging to seaside thighs.
And me, here at the defense table. Pale, withering. Juiceless. Dry, so very dry.
He was a child, you say? Ha. He was seventeen. Smart. Aware. Sexy. Jacked on testosterone, full of passion. He had so much to look forward to. He was beauty. He was youth. Energy. Vitality. Everything that is irresistible to old age.
And me? Well, I was incapable of resisting his youth-soaked charms. Because there I was, looking ahead to what? To growing only older. My lord, I was gripped by a funhouse mirror. I saw myself warped, in crisis, tumbling ever faster down the bumpy hill from forty. A woman alone, trying to survive the avalanche of aging, buried alive in unquenched desire.
On that, you see, I rest my case.
My story is, of course, a tangle of roses, stones, and broken glass. Someone had to bleed.
“If he doesn’t turn in the paper by Monday, I will have to give him an incomplete for the term,” I told Mojito’s father, a tall, graying man with a sincere handshake and a shy smile. “And I don’t want to do that. He could do so well if he took the time to focus on this class.”
I always said that kind of thing to the concerned parents. Usually, it was bunk. But in this case, it was largely true. Mojito was not like most of my students. They tended to be disinterested kids of average intelligence with zero motivation to tap what they’d been given. Mojito was different. Capable, ambitious, and from what I could see in class, highly intelligent. But he was focusing on his college classes to such an extent that he no longer took high school seriously. Even though he needed the grades to get into a top university. Not the local college where he studied part-time now. No, he deserved much better than that, which is what I told his father that day.
“This sometimes happens with dual enrolled students,” I said, removing my reading glasses to look the man in the eye. He had nice eyes. Charcoal gray but with a tinge of blue, almost perfectly matching his sharply cut Armani suit.
Mr. Mojito nodded, his handsome face serious. “I understand, Ms. O’Hale. I will make this quite clear to him tonight at dinner.” He began to rise from the metal chair, then sat down again with a sigh. He looked at me across my cluttered desk. His eyes were like a wolf’s, but lacked guile. I thought he might be a good man. “His mother left us when Mojito was only six. I have done my best but I can only pray he doesn’t go off-track.”
The way he was looking at me now indicated his mind was not on his son’s immediate future but, instead, his own.
He cleared his throat. I thought, here it comes. The why don’t we continue this discussion over a nice bottle of wine?
I stiffened. Yes, he was attractive. And he dressed like he had class, and plenty of money. But I would never date the parent of one of my students. One of my students, maybe. But not the old man.
He caught my eyes and scooped them up, his smile so sweet it was unnerving. “I was wondering...”
They are always wondering, these mature, self-confident men. Wondering what it would take to seduce their kid’s teacher. The old maid who existed only for her students. A creature of negative space who lived alone, drank tea with lemon, and pet her slinky cat while marking up homework papers in red ink.
“Would you join us for dinner one night? We would love to have you to the house. Mojito speaks highly of you. He tells me you have read all the classics. I, too, love literature.”
Yeah, right. All the old guys said this over the first drink. Then it turned out they had never heard of Zora Neale Hurston. Marguerite Duras. Lucia Berlin. The great female writers. I could understand the kids’ ignorance. But I did not make excuses for the grown men who did not have enough curiosity to seek out truly great literature.
When I started to shake my head, Mr. Mojito reached over to put a hand on mine. His skin was cool, pampered, soft. Yes, he was definitely wealthy. This was not a man who held hammers, crowbars, tire irons, dead fish. His manicure was nicer than mine.
“Please. Think about my offer. You don’t have to answer, not now. This is a standing invitation. In the meantime, I will see to it that my son does his homework for Monday. Perhaps then you will agree to come to our house.”
Not likely. Not unless the father was away on business and Mojito and I could...
An image of the boy flashed in my mind like a strobe. The first time I saw him outside class, jogging down the beach. His tanned back, smooth and rippling with new muscles. His long, wet hair. The tight ass.
Swiftly, I stood up, pulling my hand away. Then I thanked Mr. Mojito for meeting with me to discuss my concerns about his son’s schoolwork.
And so it began. The beginning of everything, the end of everything. How poetic. How unexpected for someone of my invisible status. For so long I was nobody. Now I am everybody’s nightmare.
Where did I come from and how did I arrive at this point, you wonder? I wish I could say I was born in Paris and lived a glamorous life, but that would be a lie. I prefer not to lie to you now. The truth is, my life was unglamorous. In fact, it was dull. So dull it was almost normal. Like a glass of clear liquor with just a twist of lemon.
Sex being the twist.
Perhaps I should have seen a shrink. Taken anti-something-or-other medications. Detoxed, twelve-stepped, converted to Zen. Perhaps I might have averted disaster. But then there would have been no story to share, no book. No great doomed love.
Copyright © 2020 by Mickey J. Corrigan