from Open Door

She seemed so comfortable in her beauty. The woman grew momentarily wistful. When she was younger, when she was the girl’s age, she was as uneasy with her beauty as this girl was secure in her own, fearful of the blunt power of her gaze, unable to gauge the effect of her smile on a stranger. Only when she had gotten older had she been able to enjoy it, to control its authority, to appreciate her beauty for the gift that it genuinely was.

After the woman opened the door and wordlessly spread her arm to invite the girl in, they stood at the foot of the bed, facing each other as they had in the doorway.

“You are very beautiful,” said the woman.

“Thank you,” said the girl, serenely. “So are you.”

“Thank you,” she said. She had to fight the urge to steal a glance into the mirror.

The girl said, “I’ve seen you around the hotel. You and your friend.”

“Yes.”

“I don’t see a ring.”

“We aren’t married. We’re…he’s my boyfriend.”

“Yes,” said the girl evenly.

“Honestly, I don’t know what we are.” The pause that followed revealed more than the statement.

“I’m not going to fuck your boyfriend,” the girl said, unbidden.

The woman recoiled inwardly at the harshness of the statement. “I don’t want you to fuck my boyfriend,” she replied.

“No?”

“I don’t think my boyfriend wants you to fuck him.”

“He doesn’t?”

“Well, I mean, maybe he does, I don’t know, but he’s not going to.” She gathered herself.

“He thinks you’re attractive. You are attractive. He doesn’t know about this.”

“About what?”

“This. Me asking you up here. I don’t know. I’m not sure what this is. I’m not sure why I asked you.”

The girl smiled, and for the first time the woman felt some warmth escape from the glare of her beauty. The smile reached her, and touched her.

– from J G Cain’s Open Door

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