I’d been working for her for some time and we’d settled into a good routine after those initial settling in surprises. You know the kind of thing, Tuesday afternoons were out because I had a history of political theory class, yes I was really a student and, yes, I really was only into men. One day Selma said that there was someone she’d wanted me to meet, an old friend staying with her. He’d turned up on her doorstep and was down after being dumped by his woman. Half starved he wasn’t eating; he spent most of his time moping around her place and was starting to get on her girlfriend’s nerves. She wanted to try and get him to take an interest in things again, and she wanted to ask him if he’d model with me for a project she had.
Bizarrely, I thought at the time, she was hoping to have us as twins; so much did each of us remind her of the other.
It was yet another gorgeous day in Alexandria. I was modelling for one of the classical revival classes. You know the kind of thing she was into, Greek counterpoise, clean lines of muscle, head down, quite demure really. Butt naked, of course. It was nice and quiet in the studio. I liked it like that, very little hassle from the students and gave me time to catch up on my reading. Two hours of peace, thinking of nothing but the words scrolling up on my handheld.
I got the signal that the class was winding up, threw my clothes on and then … and then there he was. I’m trying to be cool and just say ‘Hi’ when I offer him my hand and look him in the eye. It doesn’t seem enough to say that it took my breath away to look at him. I don’t know how to describe it. Like electricity, a hammer blow, a thunderclap. We shook hands and it was like there was only us, I didn’t hear the introductions, didn’t hear his name. And the best of it, the very best of it was that he looked as shocked as me. Then he was kissing me. No words. Felt like it went on forever, every nerve on fire like a light filling me and pouring out. Seismic. There you go, like in all the worst romance novels, the earth moved for me.
Eventually we had to break from the kiss. Some vestigial awareness of the outside world perhaps, or just that our lungs were burning from shared breath. Anyway, there I was again in the studio and at first I had no idea what he was saying to me, a whisper of lust in my ear, his cheek bone hard and sharp against mine. He did not see the stunned faces staring at us, Selma amongst them, but he must have been aware of the silence that had built up at his back. Whoever he was, whatever he said, I said yes. I would have agreed to anything to be near him.
No idea what we said, how we got away from the others. I remember running, just running with him. And laughing. I think we went back to Selma’s. Wherever. There was a bed and there was us and no one else and … and it felt so good, sex with this captivating stranger. Yes, we must have been at Selma’s, she brought breakfast in to us the next morning. I finally got around to asking him his name. What a coincidence I said, the book I’d been reading in the life class was by historian called Dave Jensson. He agreed, amazing coincidence, he was the historian who’d written it. And then this ethereal, painfully thin, man stopped my questions with his mouth. No power games, no pain, a sharing as easy as being.
At first glance I thought we looked nothing like each other and yet I understood what Selma meant; somehow I had found another part of myself. Once we were together it was obvious we were always fated to meet. If it hadn’t been courtesy of Selma there would have been a different place and time, but I am convinced that we would always be drawn together, would always have discovered we loved each other.
And that was what happened. In time, in the silences and pauses, in the gaps when we were apart, and the way we looked at each other when we were together we realised our feelings. His touch made me feel alive again and looking into his endless eyes made me weep for the bliss of being with him. He called me beautiful, he called me a boy. Though from our appearance there didn’t seem to be that much between our ages – oh, I must have been about thirty-five by then and decades off being a boy – sometimes he seemed lifetimes older than me. And sometimes we were both like teenagers fooling around together while the grown-ups were out of the way.
It was easy to give up my solitary apartment and move in with him in Selma’s spare rooms. I remembered to ask, one time, why she didn’t seem bothered about us taking up space in her home. Such an odd question she thought, most amusing. It might have been her home when I met her but the building had always been Dave’s house. He’d invited her to stay a long, long time ago and found no reason to ask her to leave. Wherever he went he liked to know that there was somewhere he could go back to, and their arrangement gave him that security with no ties.