William Quincy Belle is just a guy. Nobody famous; nobody rich; just some guy who likes to periodically add his two cents worth with the hope, accounting for inflation, that $0.02 is not over-evaluating his contribution. He claims that at the heart of the writing process is some sort of (psychotic) urge to put it down on paper and likes to recite the following which so far he hasn't been able to attribute to anyone: "A writer is an egomaniac with low self-esteem." You will find Mr. Belle's unbridled stream of consciousness here (http://wqebelle.blogspot.ca) or @here (https://twitter.com/wqbelle).
The Pool Boy
Marlene swiped at the flesh under her upper arm and watched as it jiggled. For a moment, she stood transfixed then let out a long sigh.
Picking up the bottle of suntan lotion, she squirted some into her palm, spreading it over her neck and upper chest. As she glanced down, she stopped and stared along the top of her bathing suit. With one finger, she gingerly poked several stretch marks. Should she expect anything less after two kids? She cupped her right breast, lifted it a moment before releasing it and watching it sag.
Squirting more lotion into her hand, Marlene set the bottle down and put her foot on the lounger. She rubbed her hands together and bent forward to cover her legs and thighs. Twisting and looking closer at her outer thigh, she exhaled noisily. More cellulite.
As she worked on the other leg, her eye caught the roll of flesh protruding over the waistband of her swimsuit. Standing, she ran her hand over her stomach. It wasn’t flat: it bulged. With one hand, she squeezed a love handle.
Marlene cast an eye at the second lounger. It was Saturday, and yet Richard was at the office. Is he working more these days? she wondered. He recently received a promotion which meant more responsibility, but there had been a time when he was home every weekend.
Again, she held up her arm and swiped at the hanging flesh, wincing. Was she merely unhappy with Richard’s absence or was she disgusted with her own body? Is ‘disgust’ too harsh a word? She knew she had to do something if she wanted to rid herself of such feelings, but what? Go on a diet? Join a gym? Were there any true anti-aging treatments for women her age, or was the only real option plastic surgery? She blanched at the thought. There was no way she was going to turn into one of those desperate women, seeking all sorts of ill-advised procedures and turning into some sort of disfigured, artificial-looking freak of nature.
She shivered, thinking of the before-and-after pictures she’d seen in magazines. If her husband wasn’t coming home every night now, bad cosmetic surgery would ensure he never came home again. She let out another sigh, hearing for herself the touch of exasperation mingled with sadness. She was getting older, her body was aging, and there wasn’t anything she could do to stop the progress of time.
Unfurling a beach towel, she arranged it on the lounger and adjusted the back into a semi-upright position. Stepping out of her flip-flops, she sank down and stretched out her legs. The light reflecting off the pool was mirrored in her sunglasses. It was warm, and the sun felt good on her skin. She reached out and picked up her book, but changed her mind and laid back down. Instead, she shut her eyes and listened to the quiet behind the house. A bird chirped; a car went by.
Next week, this would be a busy spot. Richard was planning a big celebration, with family and friends, for her fiftieth birthday. He’d decided to have the party catered so she wouldn’t have to do anything except enjoy herself. Marlene knew everybody would gather to congratulate her on managing to make it this far; congratulate her on still being alive. But is that an accomplishment? She wondered about that book she’d always wanted to write. Or the sculpting class she procrastinated about.
Last week at the salon, Candy had made note of some gray hair. Would it be considered vain to color it and delay the inevitable? Or should she just give up now and let nature run its course? She considered if such a color would make her look dignified, or if it would leave her looking older than she was. Men seemed to look more distinguished with hints of gray, but was that idea applicable to women?
With her eyes shut, the image of her loose skin flopping back and forth haunted her. “Ah, Jesus,” she muttered softly. Fifty years old. Gray hair. Stretch marks. It was all adding up, and it wasn’t looking good.
Off to her left came a distinct metallic squeak and Marlene opened one eye. The pool gate swung open and Freddy, the neighbor’s kid, entered the yard. He set a satchel and a smart phone on the patio table close to the house and started around the edge of the pool, heading toward the utility shed. She followed the seventeen-year-old with her eyes, blushing when he stopped and stared at her.
“Oh, hello Mrs. Caulfield. Sorry to disturb. Would you like me to come back later?”
“No, that’s fine, Freddy. Just ignore me and do your work.”
“Okay. This shouldn’t take any more than thirty minutes.”
“That’s fine,” she said, adjusting the back of the lounger. Turning over, she laid her head to one side, fiddled with her sunglasses, and again shut her eyes. The sun beat down on her skin, making her feel drowsy. She was only vaguely aware of Freddy dragging out the tubing for the pool vacuum.
“Mrs. Caulfield? Mrs. Caulfield?”
Marlene opened her eyes and turned her head to see Freddy standing to one side. She must have dozed off. “Yes?”
“I’ve finished up.”
“Okay,” she said, half-rolling over and propping herself up on one arm.
“Everything is vacuumed, and I cleaned out the skimmer. Plus, I tested the water and put in some more chlorine.”
“Thank you, Freddy.” She shook her head groggily.
Marlene realized he was staring at her a little more closely than usual. Was she showing too much skin; too much old weathered, wrinkled skin? What would a teenage boy think of my sagging body?
“Ah ... could you pay me?”
“Oh, yes! Of course.” She stood and looked down at her flip-flops, slipping one foot in after the other. As she glanced back up and stepped toward the house, Marlene abruptly came face-to-face with the boy. She stared at him, surprised, then realized he wasn’t looking at her but staring at her chest. When was the last time Richard had looked at her like that?
He looked startled, his gaze darting around. “Yes?”
“I’ll get your money now.”
“Yes, of course,” he said, stepping to one side. “Sorry.”
She strode around the pool and toward the house, feeling as though her two-piece bathing suit left a lot exposed. What would the young man think of an old woman walking around in such an outfit? Should she care? Was fifty that old?
Opening the patio door, she entered the kitchen and fished around in her purse for her wallet. When she turned back, she stopped and stared at Freddy, standing by a patio table thumbing a message on his smart phone. As she watched, he reached down to his groin, seeming to struggle a moment before continuing to type. He turned, giving her a side view. Does he have an erection?
Quietly, Marlene stepped closer to the patio door. There was no doubt: she could see a bulge in his pants. She snickered. Is he looking at dirty pictures? Stepping back into the yard, she held out a bill. “Ten dollars?”
“Yes, ma’am. Thank you.” Freddy folded the bill, sliding it into his pocket. “Would it be too much trouble if I used your washroom?” He set the phone on the table.
“Not at all. In the door, across the kitchen, and the first door to your left in the hallway.”
He nodded and disappeared into the house. Curious, she eyed the phone and peeked through the open door to the kitchen. It was empty.
Picking up the smart phone, she looked at the screen and the various icons representing the phone’s functions. A small numeral one appeared beside an icon labeled Text Messages. She touched the icon with her index finger and the screen showed the most recent dialog.
Bob: Where are you? Our game starts in an hour.
Fred: I’m just finishing up a pool.
Bob: OMG, she’s hot. Is she there?
Fred: Sunning by the pool.
Bob: God, ya gotta have a boner. That’s one foxy MILF.
Just then Marlene heard a noise from the house. She closed the conversation and set the phone back down on the table.
Freddy came out from the kitchen. “Thanks, Mrs. Caulfield.”
She glanced at the phone then back to the boy. “Ah, thanks for your help today.”
“The chlorine should be good for a few days, but I’d keep an eye on the deep end as I did see some algae. It tends to grow faster with the hot weather.”
Marlene raised a hand and adjusted her sunglasses. “Yes, it’s hot,” she agreed, bringing her hand to her collarbone and tracing a finger along the strap of her top. “It’s very hot.” Feeling hidden behind her tinted shades, she studied Freddy as his eyes followed the movement of her hand. He was staring at her chest and let out an audible gulp. Is it this easy? She half-smiled.
“Don’t forget your stuff,” she said, pointing to the table.
Freddy turned and followed her gesture. “Oh... yeah... right...” He picked up his satchel and phone. “Thanks again, Mrs. Caulfield.”
“Have a good day, Freddy.”
The boy scanned her chest again before walking to the gate. He carefully shut it and waved over the top. “See you!”
She stared after him, feeling flush. MILF? What did that mean again? She thought back to a newspaper article she had read once about older women. Ah yes, MILF: Mother I’d like to-- She chortled and turned to survey her reflection in the patio door. Freddy clearly had a hard-on. “Because of me? Seriously?” she said out loud.
Turning sideways, she looked at her profile. Was she old, or just older? Was she out of shape, or simply more mature? She shook her head and clicked her tongue. “Tsk, tsk.” She looked around, suddenly worried someone was watching. Did anybody hear her?
She looked again at her reflection. He was only a boy, but it felt good to be appreciated, to be desired. She sucked in her stomach and stuck out her chest. Turning back and forth, she smiled as she looked at herself from different angles. I’m foxy. I’m hot.
Marlene glanced once more around the backyard, stepped into the kitchen, and slid the door shut. Picking up the phone, she dialed Richard’s office and waited for him to answer. “Hi, sweetie. How’s work?” She leaned against the counter. “Why don’t you knock off and come home? I’d like to spend some quality time with my man.” She listened to his response and regarded the clock. “See you at five.”
She hung up and stood still, staring off into space. She shook her head and grinned. “This cougar ain’t dead yet.”