Glen, with one “n” because his mother was an economic and practical woman with a fondness for forests, was 75 but looked 50, a trim, neat 50. No puzzle gut on him. He was a swimmer and his body was a testament to the all-over good it does for toning and sculpting a body. Phoebe was 48 and pretty in a way that seemed to distract men to obsession. Petite, a dancer to keep herself in shape, she inspired protectiveness in some men that bordered on abusiveness and endangered her health, through no fault of her own. She was an avowed bachelor and so, was struck by the force of what she felt for Glen when they happened to meet.
The feeling. How to describe it? A sudden dawning upon? An awareness of being inexplicably drawn to another. Instinct told Phoebe that she could not trust herself alone with this man.
Glen, too, felt or rather sensed something about this sprite of a woman, whom he’d met on a matter of business. She did not offer her hand. She was muslim though not hijabi, and followed the custom of not touching men who were not a member of her immediate family. Phoebe was never more grateful for the teaching for she felt that if she touched Glen, he would know her heart.
Not only was she celibate, Phoebe, on principle, didn’t do married men. Just because she didn’t believe in the institution as currently constructed didn’t mean she didn’t respect folks who chose to do that sort of traditional thing. The institution did offer certain benefits, but they were minimal when compared with freedom.
Glen and his wife offered Phoebe hospitality, which she accepted, briefly, before making her excuses. The business concluded for the moment, Phoebe returned home and put her experience of Glen behind her.
Glen reawakened the fire in her body when he texted her a few weeks later to tell her a development with the business. He had gently teased her about not staying in contact. Phoebe asked Glen to give her a call, and she gave him a private number to her secure line.
He called immediately, sounding gruff, irritated, and impatient.
“Yeah, yeah. What do you want to talk about?”
“I haven’t contacted you because I have the biggest crush on you and I am afraid of myself, afraid of what I feel…for you,” she blurted, almost stunned speechless by his tone.
The silence seemed long.
She could hear him slowly take in a deep breath and evenly release it before saying,”I wasn’t expecting you to say that, but I’m not disappointed.”