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Chapter 25 - True Love

 

 

 

Claude needed to be handled carefully.  He was no saint, clearly an experienced lady's man and something of a user in his own right.  Margery knew instinctively that he would not fall for an early Christmas present. 

He would simply be pleased that she was such a slut but would decide that she was not at all suitable as a steady girlfriend or a wife.  It would be a one night stand and he would be cold and distant if they met in the lift.  The best that it would lead to would be an occasional late night knock on the door if he'd been drinking and needed company.

The campaign was to be two pronged: Get into his life and get rid of Cindy.

Margery's campaign to become more than an acquaintance to Claude was slow but relentless.  She would 'serendipitously' run into him around town until she was a familiar figure in his life.  But she took care that he didn't feel that she was stalking him by sometimes ignoring his attempt to be polite or being seen to see him, then walking away.

First she was introduced to his companions as this is 'a woman in my block'; then she became 'my neighbour' then 'a girl on the floor below' and eventually 'my friend from the floor below'.  She became more flirtatious and occasionally ribald.  She had to avoid becoming too much of a friend.  There needed to be some mystery about her.  That wasn't too difficult.

***

Then there was the night of the spider.  Discovering that Claude was home alone, Margery first had a luxurious bath.  Afterwards she would be warm and smelling of bath oil.  While the water drained she put on a flimsy robe, that she had carefully chosen and purchased for the purpose, then she rushed up the stairs to bang on Claude's door.    

"There's a spider," she managed to tell him breathlessly. "Please help me."

He had obviously been naked and had wrapped a towel around himself. He rushed back inside and pulled on some pants. 

"I'm so sorry but they terrify me. Can you please help me," she explained, her panic subsiding as they went down stairs.

As they entered her apartment there, sure enough, was a large huntsman spider, seven or eight centimetres across. 

Margery had caught it the other day and immediately seen this opportunity.  But now she squealed in terror as Claude chased it around with a large glass and a postcard.  The spider rushing from one hiding place to another fleeing from Claude who was being careful to avoid its bite and at the same time trying not to hurt it.  By the time it was safely in the glass he'd had a good look at Margery's body when her loose robe flew open as she jumped from floor to chair and fled across the room in mock panic.  She was delighted that he was wearing nothing but his denim pants as he crawled here and stretched up there.

After he had swung the glass over the balcony, centrifugally flinging the spider off into a tree, Margery ran up to him, embracing him with thanks. She was demurely wrapped and tied into her gown again.

"Oh thank you," she said.  "Sometimes it's so hard being a woman on her own," she added, as she ushered him to her door.

There must be no suggestion that she was looking for sex.  But now he'd had a good look at the goods on offer.  And so had she.

***

At the same time that she was getting to know Claude better, Margery was secretly white-anting his present relationship with Cindy.

Eventually it was the night of his big bust-up with Cindy and it was time to get some tickets to something appropriate. 

La Boheme was on at the Opera House, romantic and cultured, not too girly, with suggestive chat between the male students and Musetta's beautiful aria:

Quando men vo soletta per la via,
La gente sosta e mira
E la bellezza mia tutta ricerca in me
Da capo a pie'...
Ed assaporo allor la bramosia
Sottil, che da gli occhi traspira
E dai palesi vezzi intender sa
Alle occulte beltà.
Così l'effluvio del desìo tutta m'aggira,
Felice mi fa!
E tu che sai, che memori e ti struggi
Da me tanto rifuggi?
So ben:
le angoscie tue non le vuoi dir,
Ma ti senti morir!

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When walking alone on the streets,
People stop and stare at me
And look at my beauty
From head to toe...
And then I savour the cravings
which from their eyes transpire
And from the obvious charms they can deduce
The hidden beauties.
So the scent of desire surrounds me,
How happy it makes me.
And you who know, who remember and yearn,
Do you shrink from me?
I know why this is:
You do not want to tell me of your anguish,
But you feel like dying!

 

Although other operatic arias are sung by courtesans like Violetta in La Traviata or seductresses like Carmen, this is perhaps the most beautiful and explicit.  Either of these operas might have been a good choice for a romantic evening in which a man could enjoy his Christmas present but alas they were not on at the moment.  La Boheme it would be.

"My girlfriend couldn't come so I have a spare. It's in A Reserve and it would be terrible to waste it," she told him rather transparently.

It was their first true date.  Claude enjoyed his long overdue Christmas present under his coat during Musetta's aria.

At the conclusion he told her:  "That was appropriate.  You realise that the last line 'Ma ti senti morir'  refers to orgasm. The little death."

It turned out that someone that he was no stranger to such presents and she enjoyed the giving as much as he had the gift.  So each received an encore in the hover-cab as they kissed and canoodled on the way home.  As a result Margery was as excited as he when she asked him in for 'coffee'.  They were barely inside her door before their clothes were scattered in a trail to Margery's bedroom. 

Margery had planned to keep their first time entirely conventional and play harder to get but she was genuinely excited by this man.  "What the heck!"  she decided.  He was no amateur and was up for anything.  And he was very good Margery decided happily.  This was a bonus as she'd decided to have him as her husband no matter what he was like in bed.

***

They began to date regularly. 

Margery had already met a few of his friends during their 'accidental' encounters and had researched them.  Soon she knew more about their partners and kids and their ages and their schools and their recent holidays and past and present illnesses than he did.  He was a typical male; a lot of this personal stuff went in one ear and out the other.  Margery let the friends tell her things she already knew and asked appropriately sympathetic questions.  A 'how to make friends and influence people' site told her that everyone's favourite topic of conversation is themselves.  To her own surprise this worked like a charm and they liked her. 

Margery was now his official girlfriend and she arranged his social calendar.  And she genuinely enjoyed having social friends for the first time.  She started to see herself as the de-facto Mrs Ball. 

They had fallen in love.  He thought her ignorance of anything to do with physics was charming and amusing.  He was a natural explainer and she was a blank slate and so appreciative.  She boosted his ego.  He boosted her ego and esteem too.  He was famous; and on his arm Margery was bathed in reflected limelight.

She hadn't bewitched him.  She was like a rich person who pretends to be poor to discover if they are loved for themselves rather than for their money.

For the first time in her life she felt a warm fuzzy satisfaction when she thought about a man, which she did many times as day.  She found herself messaging him just to say hello. His picture replaced the pentagram as her wallpaper on her hand-held's screen. When she saw him her heart leapt.  And she liked being with him; preparing food in a kitchen, when he would come up behind her and she could feel how much in lust he was; or simply sitting around playing a game in The Cloud as he read his odd books and on-line journals.

He had a very nice classic car, of the kind that they no longer make, and they drove into the country and stayed at properties that had once been farms but now offered a 'real farm experience' to couples like them. They travelled overseas where Claude was always met at the airport and enthusiastically taken to some top hotel.  They walked on the beach at sunset and frolicked in the surf. She dragged him into a cupboard at a friend's place to fuck; and off a walking track into bushes; and behind a sculpture in a public square; and into a sail locker on a boat. He was just as keen. The list grew. In the park; on the balcony; in both kitchens; in addition to all the usual places; the living room; the shower; and so on.  They even did it in an empty church below the pulpit and once in part of a shopping centre undergoing refurbishment, behind a screen as the work continued on the other side. 

As time went on and the initial buzz in the relationship subsided she noticed that sometimes he was annoying and intractable.  She also found that she was jealous of his other relationships, particularly with women. There was a pretty young technical assistant that he seemed to get on with very well and she discovered that the wife of one of his friends was an ex-girlfriend.  His life before Margery was often shared with a small group of close friends and although he was sensitive to this and explained this or that incident in the past, at times she sat staring into space as they recalled earlier humorous experiences.

Like that secretly rich person who, once they have discovered they are loved, begins buying expensive gifts, Margery began to practice The Craft.   She began very subtly at first, to introduce some 'points of difference' into their sex life that would distinguish her from previous women in his life and perhaps spoil him for any future relationship.  Arguments had became more common and on occasion she found herself screaming at him and stamping away furious. It began after one such incident when she had actually been reduced to tears. When they had both calmed down and he came to apologise for upsetting her and they had makeup sex.  He was drowsy afterwards and she put his head into her lap and enchanted him that way for the first time.

One point of tension was over children. Margery had told him that she didn't want children.  She said it was anti-social when the world was attempting to reduce the population to sustainable levels.  Claude had wanted to pass on his genes and his knowledge but now he found that he had to agree with her.  She suggested that he have a vasectomy.  Although he had once found that abhorrent again he agreed.  Margery didn't need the joy of children like other women, she had once been down that track once and it ended in misery.  In time Claude would become her child substitute, her submissive, as all the men in her past had become, another of her big little boys. 

They had now been a couple for over a year and St Valentine’s Day was coming up.  This was as good a day as any to make the de-facto official and make him propose. 

***

Claude had been asked to debate the age of the Universe with a panel of religious leaders, some of whom believed that Earth had been created by God four thousand years ago, as it implies in Genesis.  It was to to be on MV and to take place at a luxury resort overseas.  It would provide an ideal opportunity to publically announce and to celebrate their engagement.

For the debate Claude assembled a great deal of evidence that he felt proved that the Universe was nearly fourteen billion earth years old but still quite young in galactic years.  Computer modelling showed that our spiral galaxy, the Milky Way, was only fifty three galactic years old.  That was how many times it had completed a full rotation since it condensed out of a gas cloud about thirteen billion Earth years ago.  In another seventeen galactic years it's projected to collide and merge with the nearby Andromeda galaxy. During this event radiation levels will be so high that all life will be sterilised from all of the tens of billions of planets in the system and everything will have to start over from basic chemistry. 

"Can we stop that?" Margery had asked him, alarmed. 

"No, of course not!" he'd replied, as if shocked at her naivety.

Again she realised that she had said something he regarded as ridiculous. It made her feel angry.  People can do anything.  And by then we could have a big atomic bomb or something to keep the galaxies apart.  She told him so.  He'd looked at her incredulously. Her apparent inability to understand anything about his interests was starting to annoy him.

"What's wrong with that?" she asked him, petulantly.

"Well you see the sun up there.  That's a minor star, one of many billions in our galaxy.  We have about as much chance of changing our own sun's path in space as a bacterium does. There are more suns in our galaxy than there are grains of sand on a very large beach."

"Yes but can't we go into space and do something to keep them apart?"

"Well think about this. It took Voyager 1 the first ever manmade object to leave our solar system 36 years just to get to our front door, it's one of the fastest manmade vehicles ever conceived, travelling at 62,140 km/hr.  At its speed it will take 270,000 years to reach nearest next-door neighbour, the nearest solar system, within our little piece of space, within our own galaxy.  It would take tens of millions of years for it to cross our own galaxy.  Andromeda is way further away.  Even at the speed of light it would take us two and a half million years to get to Andromeda.  Not that we could do anything to divert around a thousand billion stars when we eventually got there."

"So you say that all life will be wiped out everywhere in the universe when our galaxies collide?"  

"No not in the universe, just in our two galaxies of around two trillion stars. Then there are billions of other galaxies with trillions of other planetary systems, all older than the three billion years that it took life to evolve on Earth and for us to evolve.  So there are, in all probability, billions of other civilisations, looking nothing like humans, but all facing the same existential questions as we do. We know that they are probably there but light from their homes that left their star tens of millions of years ago is just reaching us now; and they are seeing light from our sun that left here long before humans existed. So they may well have evolved in the interim too. By the time some future intelligence in a distant galaxy receives one of our messages we will be extinct."

"Humans won't really become extinct," she objected.  "We'll just get in a space-craft and go somewhere else or live in space like in those old space movies."

"They're just wishful human fantasies and nonsense.  We can and we will die out sometime within the next million years.  Probably sooner than later if we artificially improve our genetics; rely more on prosthetics; and/or hand any more autonomy to The Cloud.  Galaxies colliding in billions of years is the least of our worries. Our recent initiatives to control our population have probably extended our species survival by returning the planet to health.  But, as with us individually, even if we stay healthy we all die eventually.  There are a few ancient plants and reptiles and fish species that are over twenty million years old but no mammals have made it that far without evolving into something else or becoming extinct. Modern humans have not been around for more than a hundred thousand years, so it's too soon to say, but every other hominid that we know of either evolved or died out in well under a million years. Eventual species extinction is as inevitable. But as with our own deaths, if something's inevitable why worry about it?"

"So is this what you are going to say in the debate?  Your version is not very nice and sounds like science fiction to me," she told him crossly.

"The problem the Creationists have is an inherited inability to understand the real scale of creation," he continued, ignoring her objection.  "Their constipated thinking has come down to them from their parents and teachers, relying on ancient texts, written by men who had difficulty imagining the scale, even of their own little world.  Men who thought the sun, the planets and the stars rotated around the Earth, at the centre. Men who had no idea about biology and thought that a man's seed was handed down from generation to generation in humans as well as in plants and that there was a mystic spark of life that quickened it.  Men who had 'the wrong end of the stick' on almost everything they believed."

But he realised that Margery was right.  He couldn't even persuade his own girlfriend of the truth of his position.  It required too much scientific knowledge and education.  To her it sounded like another religion, not tested and verified facts, like all those he worked with every day.

***

Margery was concerned for him when he became depressed about the debate.  He told her that they would bring up the same old arguments over again. In the face of overwhelming evidence his opponents believed that the Earth and even this vast Universe, in which the whole solar system is an insignificant speck, had been created just for us humans.  He knew that they would claim that the Earth had been created complete with all this 'so called' evidence of its great age to test our faith. 

But then he brightened up.  In that case perhaps he could persuade them that it's much younger than they think, say two hundred years old, and had been created complete with all the evidence of the past: like old buildings and objects; and evidence of our ancestors in oral history, public records and old photographs?  "No one alive can refute that can they?" he argued.  Actually, Margery wanted to say that he was talking complete nonsense again.  Everyone knew that the Earth is more than two hundred years old. 

Yet she let him rave on. She didn't want to depress him again. He was cute when he got passionate about his nonsense.  She was so looking forward to having him as her husband. She jumped on him as he sat on the couch and initiated some more morning delight.

That afternoon, after a little post-coital nap, Claude was feeling better and was keen to teach her something by showing her some obvious evidence with her own eyes.  He took her down to the local bushland park to see an old quarry face in the sandstone where the strata in the rocks are no longer horizontal.  He said that he had excellent evidence, in the form of plant and marine fossils embedded in these rocks, that they were laid down around three hundred million years ago.  But all sedimentary rocks are young in comparison to the others from which they were ground and then re-formed.  Vast amounts of evidence indicate that the Earth itself is something in excess of four and a half thousand million years old. 

"You see how the different coloured layers are twisted," he told her. "These rocks were here for hundreds of millions of years before the first humans even evolved." 

She humoured him. She pretended to be interested and touched the rock, even rubbing sand from the surface.  Yet she had no idea what he was talking about.  The sea is miles away and this looked just like any other rock. Yet he went on and on about how it proved something and how he would invite the Creationists to come here with him and see these for themselves.  And if that was not enough, he said he would show them a rock in the museum chipped from the top of Mount Everest that he said was formed out of sea shells laid down over millions of years before being raised by continental drift and plate tectonics. 

Margery wondered why he was now talking about plate technology.  Is it something to do with that food show where Bogans compete to see who can get some judges to claim that their cooking is tastier than someone else's?  But she has learnt to keep her doubts and questions to herself, because his expression often changes to puzzlement and even doubt about her education.  On occasions she's even had to use The Craft to get him back. She's become expert at sidestepping any questions or simply saying that the particular thing was something she was still trying to understand. This worked brilliantly for questions like gravity or those hole things but not so well when she genuinely thought people could not have walked on the moon because it was too small.  Fortunately the people at the dinner party were in a jovial mood and were sure she was joking.

But then there was a much more serious setback to her wedding plans. 

 

 

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