pelé and ophelia

OPHELIA TURNED UP again. Just when I thought I was in a safe place, and I would never have to deal with her hands on hips and domineering personality and she had at last dissipated into the periphery of of my waking awareness, she came bounding into my apartment with her new boyfriend, a Brazilian football star who looked like a young Pelé, clad in his soccer shorts and socks, kicking a ball all around my living room. They demanded food at once and so I started making them dinner, slices of fried halloumi, cuts of plump tomatoes, platters of Greek olives, my usual fare. Ophelia put her legs up on my table and complained loudly that I did not seem happy to see her, and Pelé kept kicking his ball against the wall. They opened the door and windows too and left them open, so that soon the room was quite cold. At one point, while frying some breaded eggplants, I attempted to engage Pelé in a friendly football exchange, but Ophelia intervened. “Don’t even try. Go back to cooking. You know you’ll never be the man that he is. It’s pathetic.” Alas, such was my fate, to cook food for this woman, who gave her sex to some aloof Brazilian football star instead. After they ate, they left, and I was on my own. I cleaned up the dishes and put on an old song by the Canadian group, The Guess Who, called “No Time,” and went to sleep in a bundle of world weariness and misery. Who was she to treat me that way? And why did she have to bring Pelé along? To rub salt in the wounds of my heart? Then one day, a month or two later, I was walking along the coastal road when I encountered beautiful Ophelia again. She was less imperious this time around, and actually seemed happy to see me. I let down my guard and told her that I knew how to fly. “Show me,” she said, with her gold hair dancing in the sea wind. It wasn’t easy, it never is, but with the right degree of concentration, I began to lift off the ground. She wrapped her arms around me, and up we went into the sky. From the air, we could see the entire coastline, and all of the birds that shared it with us. When we landed, a man showed up with two small children. He was not Pelé. I guess they had broken up. This was a Welsh footballer. This, as I understood it, this man was the father of her children. They were headed to a picnic down the beach. “If you want, you can join us,” said Ophelia. I declined the offer, though I did consider it a second. Better to leave others to their stories. Better to leave old dreams alone.

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