Warm Leatherette

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Warm Leatherette

“See the breaking glass,
In the underpass.

Hear the crushing steel
Feel the steering wheel.”


Madeleine pulled on her soft cotton undershirt, covering up the scar. David walked to the other end of the sofa to retrieve her glass of wine, but thought she could probably use something a little stronger. He poured a glass of whiskey and handed to her. She carefully sipped it and made a face. She wasn’t used to drinking hard alcohol straight up, but she finished it in one gulp.

“For medicinal purposes,” she said.

David was impressed, but didn’t say anything. He sat and waited until she was ready to speak again. Madeleine felt herself relax as the warmth of the whiskey spread throughout her abdomen.  David poured her another glass.

“Are you trying to get me drunk, sir?” She asked.

David smiled. She was coming back to him. He put his arm around her shoulders and kissed her temple. He still wanted to make love to her, but next time he would be gentler. If there was a next time.

Madeleine finished the second glass of whiskey, took a deep breath, and began to tell her story.

“It was a drunk driver. My husband and I were on our way home from a Depeche Mode concert. We were both so happy, full of energy, and singing at the top of our lungs. It was about two in the morning; we didn’t even see the other car until the last second. The next thing I remember is being cut out of the car and loaded into an ambulance. I was delirious. Panicking. I kept screaming for my husband, but I didn’t know that he was already dead. His skull was pierced by a piece of windshield glass, and he died instantly. ”

Madeleine paused and stared at the carpet for a few seconds, though she did not cry.

“He was the lucky one. I was penetrated by twisted sheet metal and glass and was in the hospital for weeks. They stitched me back together again as best they could, but they couldn’t really do anything about my right breast. It was just too mangled in the crash. They recommended reconstructive surgery, but I decided I’d had enough of pain and surgery and hospitals for a while. Maybe someday I’ll gather up the courage to get it fixed.”

“Does it still hurt?” David asked, fearing that his rough caressing earlier had been painful for her.

“No, not really. I don’t feel anything there, actually.”

She continued.

“Eventually I recovered enough to leave the hospital and visit my husband’s grave. Of course his family had buried him shortly after the crash but I was in no shape to attend the funeral.  About nine months after the crash, I went back to work, and after a while I started to feel ready to date again. My husband and I had discussed what to do if either one of us happened to die before the other. He said he’d be shagging every woman he met, though I’m pretty sure he was joking.”

David smiled and thought to himself that he and Madeleine’s late husband probably would have gotten along really well.

“We both agreed that we wanted the one another to move on, if the worst should happen. I went on a few dates with a colleague. He was smart and funny, and we’d been friends for a long time. Of course he was very supportive and understanding, and he was willing to move as slowly as possible. But I didn’t want to move slowly. It had now been over a year since I’d been with a man. One night we were together at my house. We’d had a nice dinner, and were into our second bottle of wine, when the relationship started to go the next level. Of course I’d already told him about the scar, and he said he was sure he could handle it…”

Madeleine paused again. Tears began sliding down her cheeks. No sobs, just tears.

“But he couldn’t handle it,” said David.

“No,” answered Madeleine. “I never saw anyone put their clothes on so fast. The next day he apologized, saying that he thought he could handle the scar, but when he saw it, it freaked him out. Scared the shit out of him was what he actually said.”

“So, that’s when I knew. That part of my life was over. I’d never have sex again. I disgust men.”

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