(Translated from Romanian by Mihaela Alecu.
She was sitting in front of me in a thin, sheer under vest. You could see her breasts. I was trying not to look at them. I was trying to focus my eyes at her boyfriend, who was talking to me passionately. For him it was something really important, I could see it; however I could not even listen to him. I was only thinking about what a strange situation this was, his girlfriend almost naked in front of me, and he is probably still talking about his stories, which he wishes I will publish. In fact, it all started from these stories.
Good afternoon Mr. David, my name is Iulian Eutropie. I have a manuscript which I would like to present to you. There are only a few stories, but not for children, for the children within us… I can see you’re looking at me balefully, but I assure you that if you will find the time to read them, you will realize…
This is how I met him. To be honest, I had more manuscripts than I could publish. But some of them were worthless and it was my duty to announce the authors that it would be better for them to start on something new. I was actually thinking about how to do such a thing, when fate made it possible for Iulian Eutropie to burst in. Because if you can say to a talented writer, a true one, without being scared, what is good and what isn’t, the others won’t accept any criticism. It will be even more difficult for them to hear that they have nothing to do with literature.
Alright. You can leave the manuscript at… I was going to say the secretary but since he wasn’t front of me… You can leave it here. Let me write down a phone number… I included a CV to make it easier for you. I have there my phone number and my address. In fact, I really wanted to invite you to dinner, my girlfriend, Maxima, is an excellent cook and she always wants, in fact we want, to have guests over… Thank you, I don’t know if I have the time… But not necessarily today, it can be whenever you wish.
I thanked him and I assured him that I was going to call him after I will go to the manuscript. Then I put it aside and handled the urgencies, which could not wait. Days in a row had past and they had been so busy but I didn’t even get a chance to look through it.
After less than a week a stranger approached me on the street. Only after looking at him, I realized who he was.
Iulian Eutropie, do you remember? I left a manuscript for you… Yes what a happy coincidence, to meet you precisely now… Did you get a chance to read it? Not yet, but I planned to do it next week. Then I will give you a call. But it cannot be, since we’ve met. Why don’t you accept a lunch invitation, I live nearby, and my girlfriend is dying to meet you, I told her about our meeting and she was delighted… Thank you, but…
I don’t know how he managed to convince me after all. And so here I was in their studio apartment, struggling not to stare at his girlfriend’s, Maxima’s, breasts, round and naughty, as you could see them beneath that long under vest, which goes almost down to her knees, while Iulian Eutropie is speaking, I’m thinking that that’s probably a beach under vest, that is why it is so long and that she’s only got her underwear beneath it, sometimes you can see her leg up to her thigh, It’s clear that she doesn’t wear any shorts, it would be absurd for her to have a skirt, her legs are so long and tan, and she isn’t at all ugly, in fact, if I were to be honest, although she’s not a magazine-like beauty, she has the sex appeal which would recommend her to pose for one.
I’m sorry, I can’t hear myself speaking, are you by any chance a model, a fashion model… Iulian Eutropie suddenly stops, shocked by the interruption. Maxima has a huge smile, showing me her shiny white teeth and she nods that she’s not. I immediately turn to Iulian and ask him to go on. That is why, you know, my stories are not simple stories. What do you think? I think it’s extremely interesting, but I cannot draw a conclusion based only on what you have told me. You understand, I would not want to rush with this… Of course! Maxima fill Mr. David’s glass.
Maxima stands up quickly and fills my glass with cognac. When she sits down, for a moment, a moment of neglect from her part, or on the contrary, on purpose, the under vest bloated like from wind and uncovered the curves of her buttocks. It was only for a split second, but I can swear that she had nothing underneath her under vest. My heart started to race, like from the emotion caused by an amazing discovery. I quickly took the glass in my hand and I drank with thirst, like from a beer. Iulian Eutropie looked at me a little surprised, but he did not say anything. I do not think he noticed the incident, or maybe he did? I stand up and I excused myself. I can barely get outside, to air. I realize that I was manipulated, I blushed like an adolescent, that I was stirred like a dog too much kept on a leash. As if I wouldn’t have seen a woman before, I chalk it up against myself, upset. I try to think about something else, but I cannot take her large smile, full breasts, and her voluptuous buttocks out of my mind. I turned my thoughts from Maxima to my girlfriend, whom I love and with who I’ve spent last night unforgettable intimate moments. I succeed for a moment, then her image takes over me completely. While I enter my office, I cannot prevent myself from having erotic fantasies. I can see her smiling at me, again dressed in her sheer, beach under vest. She’s standing; in the light I can see that she’s not wearing any underwear. We are talking. You should at least get some lace underwear. Would it turn you on more? Maybe… Am I to understand that you’re not sufficiently turned on? I smile at her precisely when Iulian Eutropie enters. Good afternoon, he says bluntly. I would like to end our cooperation here. I have the impression that you’re not serious, that you did not listening to me and that all you did was to take Maxima’s clothes off with your eyes. I’m sorry, I answered, while handing him the manuscript, but there weren’t many clothes to take off… He gets mad; he plucks the manuscript from my hand and leaves, bouncing the door. You will be sorry, he got to say.
After a week I succeeded to forget about it, and about Maxima. My girlfriend was in the countryside, I was to meet her only after two more weeks, go to the mountain: the heat of the summer was hitting my head strongly. I was sitting on a terrace, sipping from a cold beer, when she suddenly appeared in front of me. You should drink hot tea. Beer only enhances your thirst. I lift my eyes and I look at her. She’s wearing short skirt and a flowery shirt unbuttoned in the upper part, and tied in a knot above her belly. Now I can see that she has a small earring there. Please sit down. Thank you but I cannot stay. But I could use your company. I’m going to a pool… I would be happy to come, but I don’t have a bathing suit. You don’t need one, we’re going to a private pool… I don’t have one either… So how about it, are you coming? I should have said no, but I couldn’t resist it. However I tried: and Iulian? We’re no longer together. If you will come, I will tell you all about it. I paid for my beer and we left. She took me by the arm familiarly. I’m a little bit baffled, but the heads Maxima is turning flatter me. When I’m with my girlfriend, either the current one, or the one before her, it does not matter; jealousy makes me ask them to dress as decent as possible. I could not bear for somebody else to admire them. Now, however, I’m proud to have such a beauty on my arm, a magnet for the eyes, and what is more important, not only those of men!
We got to a gate. A tall wall was hiding the building. Maxima rang. A heavy man, frowning, opened. However, he smiled when he saw Maxima. He’s with me, she told him, pointing towards me. The hulk made room for us to pass. Before we enter, you must promise me you won’t tell anyone this address… I promise. We go round the house, painted in a light blue, modern on the outside. Behind it, surrounded by trees, a pool, more like a swimming pool, maybe not as large as an Olympic one, but not too far either. A bunch of young men and young women are sitting in the sun or are swimming. They are all naked, all beautiful. I try not to look impressed, but I can feel it is noticeable. It’s alright, she whispered, taking my hand. It also happened to me the first time. Come. We are going to a cabin, big enough to fit us both. She unbuttoned her shirt letting her perfect breasts free. Then with the same natural gesture she took off her small skirt, remaining only in her lace underwear. I looked at her speechless, motionless. Do you need any help? No, thank you. I get undressed myself, happy that I was surprised enough not to get an erection. We go out. Let’s swim, she shouted at me running and jumping into the water. I follow her laughing. We swim, I think for about 20 minutes, maybe longer. The sun is still strong and when we come out it dries us and warms our bodies. Mine is white, not yet touched by the sun. Hers is tanned all over. It glimmers brownish in the light of the sun. You should also put some on, not to get sunburned… Wait I’ll help you. As I’m lying on my stomach, she covers my back, my buttocks, my legs, with oil, barely touching me. Her hands are like wind petals. I tell her how soft her touches are. I know. I cherish these touches. I like to offer what I expect to receive.
I don’t know how long we stayed in the sun. Maybe the entire afternoon, maybe not enough. However we were still there when the evening came, and we were among the last to go. We did not speak to anybody else, I wasn’t introduced to anyone. We left just as simple as we entered, with the custodian of the villa friendly saluting Maxima. We separated right there in front of the gate, after she promised she would search for me at the Publishing House.
I think I waited for her for two or three weeks. It seemed like an eternity. Since she did not come, I left for the countryside to pick up my girlfriend to go to the mountain. This year in Bucegi. I tried to seem as calm as possible, unchanged, but I don’t think I fully convinced her. It’s true that she only asked me once what was it, when my mind was somewhere else, but I told her I was working on a volume of short stories of some guy, which are very interesting and which preoccupied me. I was probably very convincing because she never asked again during the entire five days we were on vacation. Then I left, and she stayed longer. I envied her, but I was also missing work a little bit, and, moreover, I hoped to meet Maxima again.
Therefore, here I was, back at the office where some have entered circumspect and came out happy, but others went in happy and came out upset. There’s another kind, there are very few of them, who came out triumphant, those whose volumes were not only accepted, but even awarded prizes, discussed, appreciated. Maxima came one day, unexpectedly, without any previous announcement. She had the strong smell off lily of the valley flowers and she strongly radiated sexuality, through her gestures, looks, lips, clothes, through everything. I don’t think in my entire life I’ve met another woman so loaded with femininity. I tried to hide my emotions and I smiled at her. Please take a seat. What a pleasant surprise… I did not expect to see you again… I was away. But now I’m back, and nothing can break us apart. She took me by the hand and she took me outside. We ran through the hills, we danced in discos, we drank in bars, we watched movies, we listen to music and we swam naked in that pool. Days and nights past of such high intensity it seemed like months. Time condensed to the maximum, each moment was exploited. I did not go to the publishing house taking advantage of the fact that it was summer and that everybody was on vacation. I relived moments of my romantic adolescence, when I tried, shy, the first kiss after a crazy week. She laughed and stopped me putting her finger on my lips. I thought she was only trying to stimulate me, to play, so I laughed myself and tried again. She backed out this time too, seriously. We cannot do this! Why not? Goodnight… she left leaving me stand in the middle of the street with the moon grinning cynically at me.
I did not see her afterwards. I also broke up with my girlfriend; of course, I could no longer lie to her. I locked myself in in the house, isolated myself in work, I stopped going out with my friends, I became sarcastic, now it’s much more easier for me to tell to many aspirants that the gates of literature are closed for them, I didn’t even care about that young lady, otherwise pretty, who thought of herself to be a poet, her poems were quite bad, but I told her that they are corny, and that it was precisely for that that my Publishing House was appreciated, it did not publish corny writings, not even if you will sleep with me, she went out crying and I did not care, it was mean of me, I could have said it in a more elegant manner, I think I’m on the verge of becoming a monster, I’m losing my mind and I don’t know if I want to go back to whom I used to be or if I’m starting to enjoy it, I am an executioner-victim, I never felt so miserable and yet so good.
This morning I was preparing to go out, when Maxima entered the office. I looked at her glumly, without saying a word. The simple fact of looking at her was painful, but I did not want to show it to her. I think I’m in love with you. And I hadn’t planned this… She looked at me whit eyes which led me to think about a deer, but, since they weren’t at all sad, just as well at a tigress. There was a blend of gentleness and ferocity in her eyes. She was staring at me and I was like hypnotized. I was already ready to forgive her, in fact I had been since she entered my office again. I could no longer remain serious, when my heart exulted with joy: Maxima had come back to me! However, I did not jump to hold her in my arms, as my instincts dictated, but I reasonably offered her a chair. I would like to know what your intentions are! After she stared at me for a few moments, she pulled from the backpack, which she had boyishly hanged on one of her shoulders, a file. I recognized it immediately. I looked at her. You are right, it is the same file. These are my stories, but I had asked Iulian to bring them to you, to know your opinion. I care about it a lot and I did not have the guts… But you did not read them and Iulian left… I must give them to you, I can no longer hide. Will you read them? She handed me the file, with her beloved hand. I would have even kissed the gesture, before I got to the hand. I didn’t do anything more than to take the file. Very carefully. And I will speak absolutely honest to you, afterwards. Will you accept the verdict, whatever it will be? Her look transformed again, this time, softly-alluring. I hope, however that it will be a positive one… She stood up from the chair and came towards me unexpectedly. She grabbed me and she kissed me. Stoop. Intoxicating.
It was a kiss to dream about, which I thought about a long time after she left, more and more intensely, while I was reading the stories. A thought occurred to me, more and more persistent: until I finished the file, I realized that I will never be able to make love to Maxima, although I would have done everything for it. Except for this. The stories were corny.