A real woman – by Juan M.S

My name is Tomek and I’m thirty three years old. I like strolling around Poznan early in the morning, but usually I can´t indulge in this pleasure because I need to rush to work. I’m a sleepyhead, but fortunately I have a fiancee that makes sure I´m always on time to work. She shakes me awake every morning and prepares my breakfast while I get ready. We’ve met just a year ago, but I’ve learned to realize that she’s an angel and I couldn’t possibly live without her.

But today is Sunday and I don’t have a care in the world for almost the whole morning. I must just return home at eleven to go to church with Eliza, who says the only reason to miss church is to be prostrated in bed. On my way to the park a young woman crossed my way and handed me something. It ended up being a flier for a movie this same afternoon. I had seen the young woman walk in my direction. I had seen her shapely body and her pretty face, and I was too busy looking at the curliness of her blond hair to see what she handed to me. Once my eyes fell on the piece of paper she had handed me I felt cheated. But it is worse than that; I feel outraged at having being treated as an ordinary male or, as women like to say around here “zwykła świnia.” Many offensive assumptions from the young woman’s part come to my mind right now. The most flagrant one is her certainty that I would take the flier. She’d done her sexy walk in front of me, swinging her hips a little more than necessary for the health of her knees and putting on her best nonchalant face, without ever making eye contact. Then I realized what her reasoning might have been. She must have thought I was so spellbound by her charade that I hoped to get her phone number or a love message on that piece of paper; nothing farther from the truth. I had observed her beauty objectively and I realize some people may find it offensive when I look at them, but this is simply out of curiosity because it helps me elaborate my humanistic ideas. I was aware she is an attractive young woman, but my interest in her was by no means as base as she had presupposed it was. I was actually thinking what a well dressed young woman may be doing strolling near Park Wilsona on a Sunday morning. The fact that she was attractive only added circumstantialities to her presence at that place and time, so I had wanted to capture every detail of her appearance. That was it. I’m not the kind of man that jumps at the first sexual opportunity he has, and this assumption outrages me, not because it is offensive to me in particular but because it is offensive to men in general, or at least to Polish men; I’m not sure what the reach of her assumption might be: whether she thinks only Polish men are “zwykłymi świniami” or other nationalities too. Anyway, I was surely not giving any porcine vibe because I know I don’t have a tendency to think of sex every seven seconds, as ordinary men are supposed to do. The only time I give free rein to my sexual desire is in front of my dear Eliza because she is the only one who deserves it.

Because she would never behave like this young woman has just done. She is too straightforward and too contemptuous of base behavior to be able to put up such an act. Her scorn would be so evident in her eyes that no man with indecent thoughts about her would be able to hold her look. That’s the kind of woman I have beside me and not, quoting my dear Eliza: “Some modern girl whose head is as hollow as her values.” And she proves it to me every day that she isn’t like the rest. She cooks for me, washes my clothes, irons and places them in my wardrobe; she keeps the house impeccable and makes sure there’s never lack of provisions. That’s where I come in, because I’m sent on daily errands to buy a bag of flour or sugar when we run out or to go to the supermarket with a long list of items scribbled on a piece of paper, much like a doctor’s prescription. I learned to ask when I don’t understand a word because it may bring about a domestic tragedy as the one which was imprinted indelibly in my mind.

Once I hadn’t gone through the words before leaving and, when already at the supermarket, I couldn’t for my life decipher one of the words, so I just skipped it. When I got home I put away all the products and prepared myself for the home warmth Eliza got me so used to. But she happens not only to be a very intelligent person but also to have a sixth sense, so when she went to the kitchen she asked me calmly but firmly: “Where is the parsley I asked you to buy?” “Oh, it was parsley! I said,” happy to know at last what that indecipherable word was. Only now that I look backwards in time I realize my terrible mistake, but, as they say: hindsight is 20/20, and back then I didn’t have the luxury of knowing what I now know. I was really insensitive that time. As she explained to me later, when she became calm again, I had neglected the only thing she requested from me. She did all the chores, she took very good care of me and watched over my physical and mental wellbeing. The only thing she demanded in return was that I do the shopping, but my negligence had destroyed the domestic paradise she’d so carefully created for us both. This act of total indifference from my part had severed the tender threads she’d so carefully woven between us. When she explained this to me in a soft tone I understood her first reaction. The good-humored smile that the discovery of the indecipherable word had drawn on my face was mistaken by mockery. Eliza then jumped at me swiftly and so violently that she made me lose my footing. She fell over me and in only one minute she left bloody tracks of her nails all over my face and neck and also on my clumsy hands that broke two of her fingernails while trying to defend myself. Probably because of the pain from her fingers, she grabbed me by the hair and started bumping my head against the floor, whose carpet cushioned almost the whole force of the impacts, as she explained afterwards; although my head ached for a week, which was only my fault, she said, because I chose to watch TV instead of resting.

When her legitimate anger was over, she excused herself and was in the verge of tears, but I didn’t let her humble herself. I knew it was my fault and I promised never to be so negligent again, and we closed that chapter for ever. The next day I explained to my coworkers that I had been attacked by a neighbor’s cat, but when they answered that that pet should be put to sleep I couldn’t restrain myself and shouted: “How do you dare to blame such an innocent creature!? It was only my fault for being careless.” Oh, Eliza if they knew the kind of woman you are; if they could see the purity of your heart bare as I can see it. If I could tell them our story, they would understand, but they aren’t as sensitive as I am and they can’t see the goodness behind your actions. In another occasion you showed me how much you care about me. I was careless again, but this time my neglect was graver. We went to a party and I kept watching a woman while she was dancing. You remarked my indecorous behavior once and that should’ve sufficed me, but I stared once again. I won’t start again with my excuses about not watching her sexually but with humanistic interest. I know what I did is unpardonable and I’m just glad you forgave me. When we got back home that evening, you mentioned the fact that you had to remind me twice of my duties as a future husband. It was as embarrassing for me as it was for you, believe me, and I’ve never again dared to stare at a woman in your presence. But you were really upset and I understand why you took the chopping knife and pulled it to my face. You wanted for me to realize the severity of my actions and it was the only way to open my blinded eyes. But at last I saw it all when you told me in a tearing voice that if I ever dared to think sexually of another woman, you’d kill me and throw my mutilated body to the Warta river, and if I dared escape with another woman, you’d burn up my mother’s house with her inside. I know my mother trusts you unconditionally and even if I told her that you stabbed me once, she would just believe that I made that up to incriminate you. After all, she knows as well as I do that you’re a hundred times more righteous than me and besides, you both are so close. I don’t know exactly when you became so intimate, but there seems to be a bond between women that we, men, can’t even start to fathom. Anyway, I wanted to avoid a tragedy so that day I gave way to your more than sensible proposition to marry, and that’s why now I have the honor to be your fiance. Eliza, you know I’d never leave you, and you know your suicide threats were unnecessary. I’d never think of leaving you, my love, because you’re a real woman, and I love you for that.


I'm a writer born in Argentina, but currently living in Poland. I work as an English and French teacher, translator and copywriter.

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