A LIFE IN PIECES
Saphie was the sort of girl men dream about. Or maybe some men dream about – I guess not all men dream about girls. But if they were to it would be Saphie who headed the queue of fantasy beauties, and she was no fantasy.
Saphie was real.
She knew a bit about herself, and by the time she hit her early twenties she knew what she was. She knew with all of her mind that she was going to enjoy her life, and that would involve loads of men, loads of sex and no responsibilities. For the first time in humanity's time on Earth contraception was in female hands! Her body was her own and she was only going to do with it what she wanted. It was the sixties, and they were definitely going to be different!
Her mother had been like her, physically if not emotionally. Her mother, it was often said, could easily pass as her slightly older sister if she were to make a few alterations to her wardrobe. Both, after all, had blond shoulder-length hair, both a “peaches and cream” complexion and both were just about the same height and (to put it impolitely) girth. The main difference was mother wore a skirt whilst Saphie wore a pelmet!
Her mother (Jessie) had the sort of breasts that had served her well during the baby Saphie's early months and still served her will now despite the fact she no longer needed them as a feeding station for an infant, and Saphie's figure was similarly splendid. Indeed, in the shadows of a clouded evening a stranger would have had difficulty determining which was the mother and which was the daughter, a confusion that delighted the mother even if it occasionally troubled the daughter.
And having set her stall out Saphie lived the life she'd chosen for herself.
She was not lacking in morals, though. In fact, even though she had decided to live a life filled with physical fun and emotional excesses she was careful and guarded about who she formed a relationship with, and was no easy push-over for a one-night stand. She knew that a shallow relationship cannot, by definition of the word “shallow”, ever have any depth.
It was the seventies and she was almost thirty when she met Colin.
Colin was the sort of man that women like to mother. His dress sense was appalling, his attitude to much of life like that of a schoolboy yet his work ethic could only be described as dominant. So, whilst being almost scruffy he brought home an excellent income. They met in a bar (as do so many couples) and she slept with him on the second night. And by slept I mean actually slept. They went to bed together and passed into sleep together, and it wasn't until the next morning that they made love together.
That slight delay was probably the secret of their success, because they remained together for almost five years, until the day Colin died.
His problem was he smoked a great deal too much (people did back then), and even though he had read warnings that smoking can harm the health of smokers he didn't associate the warning to himself. But cancer can be so arbitrary, and it chose to consume him.
Saphie was heart-broken and still young, and for a few months after she had buried Colin she went wild and had affair after affair until she began to suspect she might be open to criticism by everyone, in particular Jessie, her mother.
“You can't carry on like this,” advised Jessie.
“Why not?” she demanded.
“Because it's the eighties and you're unhappy,” came the sage reply.
And that was the day she smiled an honest, sweet smile at her mother, and decided to enter a convent.
For the first time in her life she became a bride. She hadn't married Colin, but after a period of three years of study and prayer and general abstinence she married Christ. The relationship wasn't great because it existed entirely in her mind, and on her fortieth birthday she discovered Sister Isabel was as unfulfilled as she was beginning to feel. Her main problem was that her marriage was cerebrally spiritual, yet she had a physical body that needed reminding that the evolutionary purpose of love is almost completely physical.
Her relationship with Sister Isabel became torrid and wholesome and, so far as she was concerned, unique.
She had enjoyed female company in her earlier life, but it had been no more than the sort of friendship that turns away from more than the most formal of hugs and kisses, the sort she had been quite happy to display publicly as a greeting or farewell. But then, she had been with Colin or one of the other men who had shared her life for brief intervals. Now there was no man, and she discovered that Sister Isabel was no substitute. That would have offended her had she thought it. No, Sister Isabel was a lovely, warm, homely, lovely woman, and she loved her in a way she had never loved Colin. Of course she did! Lovely women deserve to be loved.
Her affair with Sister Isabel also lasted for five years and may have lasted much longer, but the convent she had joined disapproved of any kind of physical relationship with anyone but Christ, and she was caught in the act of quite a serious breach of their rules. Both women were chastised and it was Saphie who was cast out, being the last of the two to join.
She really believed that Sister Isabel would follow her, but that didn't happen. She never knew why, but reasoned that the other woman, being of a generally timid disposition, found life easier without challenging the status quo.
Saphie, once more in the big wide world outside the convent gates, had nothing but her personality and her looks, and the latter attracted attention whilst the former rapidly selected a partner.
Having been a virtual prisoner in the convent as a Bride of Christ (their term for it) she found that Father Timmy Bosun and she had quite a lot in common, mostly to do with sexual secrecy, and when he suggested on the second day of her “freedom” that she “do” for him - he needed, he said, a housekeeper, one who had faith as well as a tidy character - she accepted gratefully. One night on a park bench had been enough for her!
Timmy was undemanding, which pleased her, but he did seem to have a series of physical needs that were quite new to her. There's no need to enquire too closely as to those eccentricities, but suffice it to say she found them fascinating and provided her with more pleasure than her time as a Bride of the Almighty in the convent ever could. Her years with him were, perhaps, the happiest in her life. She had loved Colin, felt sympathy and warmth for Sister Isabel, but she worshipped Father Timmy Bosun.
It was, therefore, sad that their time together was so short.
After a mere three years he walked into the front of a double-decker bus doing thirty-odd miles an hour, and became an ex-Father. The Church kept her on in her position as housekeeper for the new Father, a crotchety old man with no physical needs other than bottom-wiping,
And it was during the third week of attending to the soiled cheeks of her new employer that she gave in her notice. Enough was enough. The millennium was approaching and she wanted more out of life than discoloured toilet paper.
And Saphie decided, there and then, that she would spend the rest of her life alone. She'd suffered loss too often and her last experience was enough to turn any woman into a self-serving loner.
Which made it all the odder because it was almost immediately after that when she was sitting in a street café during a summer month, and a voice said,
“Excuse me. May I join you?”
And she said,
“By all means.”
And he said,
“I've not seen you here before.”
And she said,
“I don't come here that often.”
And he said,
“I hope you don't think I'm being forward or anything like that, but can I ask your name...?”
And she said,
“Saphie … I'm Saphie … who are you?”
© Peter Rogerson 06.03.14