Another Brunette, Again
He had kissed Lilith in August by the burnt brick wall. It would have been romantic, if she hadn’t felt his wedding ring against her neck.
He inspired a cold fire in women that bemused handsomer men. It choked them with a jealousy and insecurity that almost resembled love. He loved easily and left with even greater ease. All were the same: the opposite of his wife.
THE TASTES OF MR ERNEST DAVIDSON
Young, Brunette, 34-25-34, intelligent. Preferably educated in languages or the arts. Commonly found at dinner parties or on the lap of a close friend.
Of course, no one realised their categorisation before being introduced to the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh mistresses. Very little, mistress five had hissed to seven, makes you feel smaller than realising you are nothing more than a favourite aesthetic. Like wallpaper to be stripped.
Lilith, or No.5 as she was known to his agent, was the most embittered by it all. Or maybe Rosalind. A close second, perhaps. Lilith, 41, had the greater case for anger.
He had dismissed her like a dancer at the end of an unkind tape measure. Ignored her letters, her calls, her pathetic attempts to ensnare him again in any way possible. She had found No.6 entwined in his arms on the chaise longue. Who, to her horror, was identical to her. If five years younger.
That was Rosalind. 28, middle class, middle England and middle ability at the cello. Brown hair cut at the shoulders. Pale like milk or tuberculosis. Spidery hands that betrayed her anxiety. She bit her nails when frightened.
Did he choose them because they weren’t his wife, or because he had a type? One thing was sure, the age gap was growing with each cravass and crease under his eye. Rosalind had thrown a vase at his head after discovering a photograph of Enid.
Enid was 22. Middle class, middle English and middle ability at the cello. Dark brown hair pinned up above her neck. Pale like milk or tuberculosis…
But still, at least she hadn’t found her mirror self in bed with her lover. Enid too would be dismissed come November.
Then, years later, after No.17 had called him a bastard in the middle of a Mayfair restaurant when No.18 waited on their table, he met a young woman in the street.
Thin, dressed in burgundy and cardboard soled shoes, she grabbed at his trench coat as she slid in the snow. 19, brown hair in a tight plait to her waist, skin pale like milk or-
Ernest and Helen had become lovers almost immediately. He felt a warmth for her that extended beyond extramarital yearning. She had a sharpness to her that blew away the cobwebs of sycophancy.
She turned in her sleep to the window, her profile illuminated by the early sun. She looked like someone. It seemed a silly thing to contemplate after so many pretty young brunettes. But there was something a bit too close to memory in the lips, the length of the neck.
Ernest Davidson felt his heart stop. Oh god.