“I think I found it, what do you reckon?” Electra smiled, her newly unlined face luminous in the light of dusk. She was thinner than he remembered her too.
“I think you look terrible, what have you done to yourself?” Simon, a creased forty something, stubbed out his cigarette. “How did you get the money for surgery? Why would you do this to yourself?”
“I haven’t had any surgery. I just eat properly.” Electra was suitably deflated. “Can’t you see that I look better?”
“You are far too thin, your hair is ridiculous. You aren’t twenty anymore.” Simon was aghast at her appearance. He hadn’t seen her for fifteen years. Now he looked fifty and she looked twenty five. There was no way he could seduce her, as planned and take her back to his crumbling cottage. Why did people have to change themselves? Wasn’t life supposed to go in chronological order?
“I feel so much better though, and look at the lovely things I can wear.” Electra couldn’t understand why he was being so nasty. She thought they were friends, at least. They had split up over a decade ago, surely he wasn’t still upset? “I like being able to go swimming again.”
“I don’t know how you can be bothered. What is wrong with some TV news and a biscuit?” Simon had been looking forward to finally securing Electra’s attention. Now she wouldn’t want him anyway, he decided that talking her down was a good idea. “Wouldn’t you like some cake?” She had always liked cake, he reasoned. If she could be persuaded to eat cake, he might be able to convince her that his cave was the only cave to be in.
“I can’t eat food like that anymore. I had cancer, and lupus. I was really very ill.” Electra wondered if she was destined to be gorgeous, but alone. Simon seemed most displeased.
“You are being stupid. What on earth are you eating?” Simon twiddled his wristwatch and considered the rabbit in port he had prepared for her coming to lunch. It did not look as if his plans were going to work out.
“Grasses, seaweed, a few herbs. I eat about ten portions of vegetables every day.”
“Ridiculous. I made some lovely lunch, wouldn’t you like some?” Simon was almost prepared to whine.
“Um, no, do you have any salad?” Electra assumed that everyone would have salad.
“No, I don’t eat rabbit food. I eat rabbits!” Simon chortled. “When did you become this vain?”
“It isn’t a case of vanity, Simon, I just want to be well. Look at this video, this lady is 74?” Electra pointed at her phone, which showed a beautiful black woman who looked about 30.
“You’re the wrong colour.” Simon was now becoming panicked, and irate. “I went to all this trouble, and now I find you are on some fad diet. There is nothing wrong with you.”
Electra was now becoming slightly frightened. Simon had once been quite vicious, she now remembered, and she didn’t want to get on the wrong side of him. “Perhaps we should do lunch another day. At my house perhaps?”
“No thank, I am quite happy with the age I am, I don’t want to drink from your fountain of youth. Besides, how on earth do you eat out? It doesn’t look like fun.”
“It’s fun having enough energy to do what you want to do. It’s fun being well. I don’t think I’ve ever been well before. I like swimming, and walking.” Electra nervously tugged at her short dress. She was now feeling a bit isolated and lonely. She had not expected him to be this unsupportive. She had thought that he would perhaps want to join her at the pool.
“I am too old to be going swimming, and so are you.” Simon remained resolute. “I remember when you used to be dignified, and serious. Now look at you.”
Electra was, by now, suitably crushed. Simon saw his advantage, and pressed it home. “Would you care to join me for some rabbit?”
“No, sorry. I hadn’t thought about telling you. I was so looking forward to seeing you.” Electra sadly thought about the drive home and the cold flat where she would be spending the afternoon, rather than the warm cottage she was currently in. “Another time perhaps.”
“Not even a drink?” Simon remembered how much Electra had enjoyed drinking, and considered this a marvellous ploy, given that she wouldn’t be able to drive after it.
“No, thank you.” Electra was now extremely sad. Why couldn’t he see how much better she was? Why did he find it so offensive? She sadly got up from the table and went for her coat.
It had not seemed important when he had got in touch. She was so proud of her new looks and improved energy. She had had no idea that her very lethargy was what had made her so appealing to men of her age. Now she was stuck. Looking younger than her years threatened her old lovers, and she did not go out enough to meet new ones. Beautiful and alone was not necessarily going to be fun. The only problem with finding the fountain of youth, apparently, was finding someone to join you to drink from it.
Simon was disappointed. Why couldn’t she just accept her age, and stay with him? What was so desirable about youth? Time is so short when you are getting old, why not enjoy it?
“It’s a shame, Simon, but I am guessing you didn’t want any more children anyway.” Electra pouted slightly as she got to the door. “I don’t really have much time left.”
Simon laughed in her face “Children, at your age? I don’t think so.”
“Ah well, I guess we would have been wasting our time anyway.” Electra sighed. Simon was, in short, past it. Electra, at 47, was not. “Sorry Simon, I really did like you.”
Simon continued to laugh. “Imagine you with children! Do you know how much hassle they are?”
“I had considered that, yes. If I don’t do it now, I won’t be able to anymore.”
“You stupid cow.” Simon was now red in the face as he tried to make her feel bad enough not to leave, laughing at her folly. “The last thing you need is kids.”
“I would have liked the chance to find out. I always thought of you as being one of my better partners, but I guess I was wrong.” Electra now felt utterly bereft.
“Bye then.” Simon sneered. “Keep your fucking fountain to yourself.”
And yes, several very similar conversations actually took place.