The Potomac — Poetry and Politics - Margaret Gilbert
Winter 2009 - THE POTOMAC

Sugar Time
   Margaret Gilbert

In about twenty-four hours, the lights came back on to stay, although it was still hot. On Wednesday, Sir Rudolf came to call. It was five o’clock in the evening, and people were coming home from work. He was standing in the heat impatiently outside my apartment building waiting for me to return. When I arrived, we went inside and made love. Later, I got up from the narrow cot in the alcove with the wild wallpaper and went into the bathroom. I felt old and tired at twenty. Sir Rudolf came to the bathroom door fully dressed. He was fastening on his $19,000 Longine’s wrist watch, a rose-gold with a pinkish hue. "Margot, darling,” he said, “will you let the hair grow under your arms? I love long hair underneath the arms.” “Maybe,” I said finally, thinking that it might be a sign that I was his mistress. “There’s something I have to tell you,“ he said. “I’ve fallen in love with another man. In Europe, a boy with green eyes and long lashes, whom I had never seen before, took me into the back of a print shop and made love to me over the summer.” Then he looked at his watch and said he had to go. “Where are you going?” I asked. with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. “To visit the ballet dancer? “The married one? The one you were in love with for a long time?” “She wants to have dinner at The Cote Basque.” The Cote Basque was a fancy New York restaurant with sky blue hand-painted murals trimmed in gold. Harry Cipriani was the only expensive restaurant I had been to with Sir Rudolf. After he had gone, I fixed myself a cold drink. On Madison Avenue and 60th Street early one morning, I had seen a glamorous, perfectly poised young girl with a long blond plait of hair get out of a taxi cab clutching a hardback edition of Sir Rudolf’s new book, All Night At The Opera, with its cover of carpeted red stair and pendant gold chandelier. I had been instantly jealous because she was so beautiful. I wondered if she were the ballet dancer and if Sir Rudolf had given her the book. But how could I compete with a boy??


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