French Lessons
against the wall.
    When he was done, he held her for a moment, and their hearts beat furiously against each other. They stepped out of their pants and he carried her to the bedroom, laid her down, and buried his face between her legs. She pressed the back of his head, arched her back, and came in waves that rolled on top of one another.
    And then he was inside her again. He was still hard, but he held her still and they didn’t move, their bodies wet and trembling.
    She waited for a long time. Stay with me , Josie thought.
    When he pulled out of her he looked at her and smiled—a sweet, exhausted grin.
    His breath slowed. He ran his fingers over her stomach, her hips.
    “Look at you,” he said. His voice sounded sad and lost.
    His fingers moved to her breasts, massaging them and then teasing her nipples.
    “You’re so young,” he said. “So impossibly young.”
    Josie reached out and touched his face, ran her finger along his jaw.
    “Don’t get all old man on me,” she teased.
    “I can forget about youth,” Simon said, his voice quiet and serious. “I mean, I see it all the time—in movies, in ads, young men and women and their firm bodies, their smooth skin. But my own youth slips away, not noticeably, not enough to terrify me, until one day I end up in bed with a beautiful young woman. And then all at once, I’m an old man.”
    They looked at each other, their faces close together on the bed, their hands both resting on each other’s hips.
    “Is that it—your age? That’s what’s upsetting you?” she asked.
    He winced, then closed his eyes. When he opened them again, he looked terribly sad.
    “I’m a good man,” he said.
    “I know that.”
    “I never meant to do this to my wife.”
    “Did she—”
    “No, she doesn’t suspect. She wouldn’t suspect.”
    He stopped and she waited for him to finish. She brushed his hair back from his forehead.
    “It’s not an affair,” he said.
    “What is it?”
    “I’m too old to start over.”
    “I’m not asking you to start over.”
    “But I can’t give myself to you.”
    “You give yourself to me every time we’re together.”
    He touched her lips with his fingers.
    “No, it’s not that,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s that I can no longer give myself to her.”
    He looked close to tears. He looked like someone else, like someone she’d never seen before.
    “You’re so fucking young,” he said.
    “Why does that matter?” she asked.
    “My wife. Now, every time I look at her, I see—”
    “No, don’t. I don’t want to blame myself for that.”
    “It’s not your fault.”
    “Don’t compare us. That’s not fair.”
    “I can’t leave you behind. You’re with me all the time.”
    He pulled her to him and they held each other.
    “How long does it take for hair to grow?” Nico asks. He looks like a frightened boy.
    “Oh, don’t be foolish. This is great. This is just what I wanted if only I had known what I wanted. I needed a lesbian to unleash me.”
    “Turn around,” he says.
    He spins Josie around, in the middle of the sidewalk, and a few people stop to stare. They all smile, as if they too are pleased with the tousled hair, the shy smile, the adoring young man.
    “Bon,” Nico says decisively. “I still love you.”
    “Don’t talk about love,” Josie says. “You’re not in love with me.”
    Nico leans over and kisses Josie on the mouth. She steps back, her mouth open in a small O of surprise. Nico smiles and turns away from her.
    “Follow me,” he says.
    She stays where she is. People pass her on the street. She watches Nico walk jauntily ahead. She remembers the last time she saw Simon. “Wait for me,” he had said. He had kissed her, standing on her porch, more daring in the light of day than he’d ever been. She had watched him walk away, down the long, sun-drenched street toward his car. His body disappeared into the harsh glare of sunlight until her eyes burned with the strain of keeping him in

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