Chapter 6 Summary
Leonard is initially unsure what to do. Maria seems shocked even though she clearly recognizes Leonard, and she draws back in fear. It occurs to Leonard that Maria has had men barge into her home before and brutalize her. He picks up the note and hands it to her, hoping it will explain his boldness in walking into her home unannounced. She reads the note and is mildly horrified by the bar he chose as a meeting place (she, too, knows that it is for prostitutes). She abruptly begins chit-chatting with Leonard flirtatiously, and closes the door behind him. She invites him to tea and he takes in his surroundings as she converses from the next room. The home is remarkably spare, and Leonard realizes its lack of furnishings allows for the possibility of fleeing quickly should the need arise.
When Maria brings the tea, Leonard is initially at a loss for words. He cannot declare his infatuation with her, but worries that generic small talk will kill the conversation and any potential for romance. Despite this, he begins stumbling through generalities when Maria unexpectedly asks him to take off his glasses. When he does, she admires his eyes and asks how many girlfriends he has had. When he admits he has never had a girlfriend in all of his twenty-five years, she asks him if he is a virgin. He surprises himself by honestly responding that he is. She laughs out of relief. She has known so many men who have been physically abusive and is comforted to know that Leonard will not harm her. He does not realize this and thinks she is making fun of his lack of experience. When he tries to leave, she stops him at the door and asks to see his eyes. Eventually, she takes him back to her bedroom and they begin a long afternoon and evening of making love.
In their postcoital embrace, they talk about their pasts, and Maria reveals more about her abusive ex-husband. Her family tried to warn her about him, but she would not listen. He returns periodically to beat her and extort money from her. Leonard and Maria eat together in bed, drink wine, and make love some more. Leonard marvels at his first sexual experience and the ways in which it altered his expectations. As he makes love to Maria, he worries about prematurely ejaculating, not from the physical sensations but from the look in Maria’s eyes, which curiously reminds him of a mechanical diagram.