I swallow down a couple of sleeping pills and go to bed regretting we two couldn’t give it a fair trial tonight. Of course, with Zita alone at home, and waiting for him eagerly, I haven’t got a snowball’s chance in hell. Which I regret. Under other circumstances we could have made a fresh start and go for an easy life together.
The week goes by slowly. To play it safe I avoid even Beda and stay at home to study. All is well till the day when, coming out of school, I walk straight into Egon’s champagne-coloured Ferrari.
“Come and see what I’ve brought you from London, Lolita!” He bangs the car door shut and starts the engine.
“Impossible! First, I’ll have my lunch and then we’ll go for a fitting with my grandmother for that famous Medical Ball gown!”
“No way, my dear. The only really pressing thing is me. Don’t worry, I won’t let you starve. I have champagne on ice, some lovely Scottish salmon and other finger-licking delicacies. What bliss to be with you! It’s going to be the last time we’ve parted for so long, I promise!” He grabs my hand and brings it to his lips, so hot and eager that they make me believe anything they say. In fact, why not? Isn’t his embrace a chastity bell shielding me from Milan?”
“Okay, but I must be home by three.”
“Of course you will, don’t worry.”
The car speeds up and Egon’s heart takes wings.
Refraining from any bodily contact, he steps aside and ushers me in our love nest.
“To prove you my altruistic I am I’ll let you eat first and will molest you with my eyes only. Everything, even my self-denial has it limits. When you’ve finished eating, join me.”
I shift on the chair, not giving the delicious salmon the appreciation it deserves. Everything, even my hunger has its limits. I pick up the “Veuve Cliquot” and go to share it with my lover.
Ready to accept any of Egon’s clever tricks, I do my best to play into his imaginative hands. Yet, out of tact with my aroused flesh, my heart stands still. This time, Egon is off his usual game. There is something new and something old in it. Surprisingly new. Startlingly old. Reminding me of something. Recalling somebody. Remembering a dream-like feeling. My jaws clenched, my body hard as a striking fist, I refuse to acknowledge Egon’s wooing.
“I love you, Lolita! Even if I know it’s playing with fire, I’ll run the risk of asking you a question. Would you, could you marry me, Irene?”
He gropes for a purple satin box under the pillow, takes out a heart-shaped diamond ring and slips it on my finger.
“How about Leo?” I ask with the despair of a moth in a spider-web.
“Oh him! I’ll find him a nice, gullible virgin. My sweet Lolita! You’d be wasted on that boy! I’m still awaiting your answer, Irene! Would you marry me?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Egon! You’ve had too much to drink. Here, take your ring and give it to Zita,” I push him off to get out of bed.
“Wait, Irene! I won’t let you go until I hear your answer. Will you marry me?” He holds me pinned to the bed, staring at me with the glazed, vacant eyes of a madman.
“Don’t be absurd, Egon! Zita will never divorce you. As for myself, I’d hate to become a notorious divorce-case!” I push him off fiercely, gather my clothes and disappear in the bathroom. When I come back, I find Egon draped in his indigo dressing gown, smoking a joint.
“Call me a taxi, Egon. My grandmother must be mad!”
“Cool down, Irene! I phoned her and told her we met by chance, had a luncheon together and that I’ll bring you for the fitting in my car.”
“You did that, Egon? I don’t think it was wise. My grandmother isn’t anybody’s fool. Now get dressed, please!”
He does but my victory is hollow. His marriage proposal lingers like a taste of rusty metal on my tongue.