Fairytale of New York
It looked the same as it always had. Emily could swear that it was even the same tired tinsel that was unevenly sellotaped to the top of the bar, occasional bald patches describing a geology of previous Christmases. There was a time when this pub was the centre of all their lives. Friday and Saturday nights all radiated around the Red Lion. They had been hostages to its matted-carpet, sticky-tabled embrace and its generic, brewery-supplied playlist. When they were teens it didn’t occur to them to want anything else, but gradually of course, they acquired cars and dreams and educations, and one by one they radiated away from this small pub, in this little city.
But for twenty-somethings everywhere, Christmas occupies a timeslip. Each of them beckoned in by their parents for the festivities. They find themselves back in their old single beds, under unlikely, anachronistic duvet covers looking up at the blue-tack smudged walls of their youths. Car headlights sweep a particular and familiar beam of diagonal light across their bedroom ceiling in a secret arc that only they know, and the radiators tick-tick-tick the intimate night-time percussion of their childhoods. They almost fit right back in, into the old routines and family mythologies, into the pecking order of the house; all the old patterns.
Emily sat on the bottom step of the stairs in her parent’s hallway putting her shoes on.
“But Emily, sweetie, I thought you’d be coming to midnight mass with us…the Campbells and the Turnhams will be there… they’re so looking forward to seeing you.”
She knew that her mother was more excited about this prospect than the Campbells and Turnhams would be; her maternal pride in her girl made her want to show Emily off, all grown up now, but back in the fold for a limited period only.
“Sure mum, I’ll be along later, I’m just going to the pub for a quick drink with the crowd first.”
It’s not how her mother would have preferred the evening to go, but she knew Emily had old friends to catch up with. Traditional Christmas could wait to start until they were all together in that seventh pew back with the Campbells and the Turnhams at 11.30pm.
Emily could hear the Christmas revelry as she walked out of Deangate and turned the corner of the Minster. The noise from the pub was quite shrill, the new generation of seventeen year olds were squawking over each other’s voices, vying for the alpha spot (“guys… guys… listen….”) shout/singing the choruses of ‘Fairytale of New York’ and hum-mumbling the verses between. Growing up sometimes felt like a revolving door.
Sound and light spilled onto the Minster’s precinct as she opened the pub door and went in scanning the room for her old friends. They’d found themselves a decent corner, snagged a couple of tables and nearly enough chairs for the nine of them. Suzy, her closest friend from those days, was the first to spot her;
“Emmmm, hey there”
Suzy came over and pulled her into the centre of the group
It was so good to see these people. She didn’t keep in touch with them all closely but they had a shared history that shaped them all and knitted them together somehow. And anyway, Facebook had done away with the natural selection of friendships, all connections were forged and inexorably carried forward by the internet giant whether you chose to maintain them or not. Under her more gregarious friend’s arm she felt herself settle back into her position in the hierarchy.
Emily moved to the settle at the back of the table and her friends squashed up to let her on. In the bubble of this time slip each of them had adopted their old roles; Barney guffawing and showy, cashing in on his school rugby star currency, Matt, handsome and aloof, talking about the scandal of arts funding, Joe, (the most professionally successful of them all since his tech start-up floated last year) was cast once again as a lowly, uneasy bespectacled geek. Rachel too, always the party girl, already slurring a little.
It was no mistake that she found a place next to Barney. When they were in the sixth form she often fantasised about his broad shoulders towering over her and her reaching her hands around his back to run her fingers over the contours of his muscles as he hammered into her. But that was just a fairy-tale for the secret hours in her bed. He had dated long legged, swish-haired girls from the netball team, glossy and victorious from their games and full of the confidence of people that get selected for things. Girls who laughed like flutes, not mousy, bookish types like her.
Barney smiled up at Emily and accommodated her by hooking his right arm over the back of the settle to allow her some room so she could press into the final space around the table. The heat of his muscled thigh radiating though her tights made her feel as she always had around him; prickly and awkward, short of conversation and out of place.
This was not Emily’s demeanour when she was in London. She’d grown out of this all this awkwardness long ago. These days she was confident in her ability and her career, free to flirt with whoever she liked. Free to take them home and fuck them if she wanted, admiring the curve of her back and her own sexual power in the full-length mirror she’d hung beside her bed. She leaned back onto the oak panelled seat and spectated the rowdy conversation, sipping her drink and dropping her smiles in like punctuation to signal her arm’s length involvement. Barney leaned back too.
“So what you been doing Em?”
She downplayed her career as a lawyer;
“…ah, you know, turning up to the office, putting the hours in, same as all of us”
Suzy overheard and chipped in;
“Em, stop doing that! Barney, she’s a bloody star, she’ll be a partner in that law firm before next Christmas, you watch!”
One thing about being a wallflower is that you become a keen observer, the politics and body language of the group was an open book to her and she could see that Barney was grasping at his old status unsuccessfully. How dull it must be for him to hear how each of them were kicking ass in The capital while he had stayed back to work for his dad’s building company which he would eventually inherit. Instead of asking him about work she opted to talk to him about something he must still be confident in,
“You still playing rugby?”
“Oh yes, I’m down the club all winter, and there’s are great social life down there, always something going on in the bar.”
She could see he was grateful to her for this lifeline, he visibly relaxed and they slipped into an easy conversation that they’d never been capable of in their youth.
At 11.30 the Minster clock chimed the half hour. Emily jumped,
“Oh shit! I’m supposed to be in the bloody Minster with my folks now for midnight mass,”
She jumped up, downing the last quarter of her drink and grasping for her coat,
“Typical Em,” teased Barney “got to scamper off to mass just as the party’s starting!”
“Let’s not do that Barney, let’s not do that thing where you’re a party animal and I’m a meek and timorous wallflower. We’ve all grown up now.”
“Yeah I’m sorry, I’m sorry. It’s a bad habit. I just, I don’t know. What I meant was its been just lovely chatting with you, I just don’t want you to go yet, let me walk with you to the Minster…”
It was nice walking with him out in the fresh air, out of her family home and out of the pub she could feel herself flooding back in. How could she have felt diminished all those years by these people?
He spoke a little about his frustrations. He really valued his place in family business, but he recognised he was also sort of stuck, that some parts of him were envious of them returning like prodigal sons, ebullient with success.
“It seems impossible that you have any of these doubts” Emily said. “I mean I was always full of doubt, but you seemed imperviously strong. You know I always fancied you. We all did I think.”
“No… ! You didn’t!”
Barney seemed entirely incredulous.
She looked up at him, still hot, generous lips and a sideways tilt of his head that had always made her want him, but this a little twist of humility was new. It sharpened all the ways in which she wanted him.
“Yeah, I sure did.”
She leaned in on tiptoes put her lips onto his. And just as she had both imagined, and imagined that he never would, he kissed her back, more tenderly than she had expected, but as strong and sensually as she had hoped.
Her body curved reflexively into him. As she kissed she could feel solid weight of his cock pressing against his jeans towards her. She slipped her hand between them and ran her fingernails over the taut denim seam in a way that she knew would send a delicious buzz into his length.
“Fuck”, he said “fuuuck…. you’re supposed to be in midnight mass by now” said Barney, leaning in to kiss her again.
“Nah, we get to decide what we do now” she said, and she led him by the hand to an alcove between two buttresses in the side of the Minster’s nave and pressed him to its 800-year-old limstone. Mass had already started inside, light from the service shone through the stained-glass window flooding the medieval stonework above them with blue and red. In the shadowed corner below she looked, steady and unblinking, into his eyes in the as she unbuckled his belt and popped the button fly of his jeans. She knelt in the grass in front of him to free his cock from its confines, and Barney watched her earnest face through a haze of breath rising from her nose into the cold December air as her mouth worked hungrily on his cock.
Close to the edge of himself Barney pulled Emily to her feet and turned her to face the Minster wall, she pulled her skirt up, wriggling and stepping out of her knickers and tights. She leaned both hands on the cathedral and tilted her arse up towards him; the very vision of wantonness. Barney smiled his disbelief and joy, as he deftly slipped a condom onto his cock and slicked its length with his spit, Emily smiled back over her shoulder at him, “You see? …not the meek and timorous wallflower anymore”.
He ran the firm sponginess of the tip along the length of the furrow of her vulva and enjoyed the buck of her hips as she tried to catch and guide him inside her with each pass. When he could no longer resist, he pressed firmly in to her – the enveloping warmth of her on his dick after the chill air of the night was delicious.
The first hymn was starting up inside, the deep rumble of the organ and soon the congregation too, loud enough that Barney and Emily could allow themselves free reign to voice their own gladness.
Emily pushed against the wall to meet each thrust, her arse slapped against him, urging him to pick up the pace. He licked his fingers and reached around to her clitoris with his right hand and held her tightly with his left arm as her knees began to weaken and bend with the pleasure. The chorus of the carol, a little louder than the verses drowned out her catching voice (“Oh god, oh god”) as she came, her orgasm tripping him into his own pleasure moments after her.
Afterwards they looked for Emily’s knickers and struggled back into tights, they giggled conspiratorially at themselves and at their own joy.
“I’ll never hear “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” again without thinking about this” Barney laughed.
“Yeah, happy Christmas Barney” said Emily as she smoothed down her dress and buttoned up her coat. They walked together out of the shadows and back into York, this ancient city that they’d known their whole lives, but had come back to somehow new.
Raphael; The Drawings. Ashmolean Museum 1st June – 3rd September 2017
It’s always a joy to go to the Ashmolean Museum. Apart from its fantastic permanent collection it holds a soft spot in my heart as some of my courting was done there, sometimes popping in to catch a look at the Uccello Hunting scene on the way home from the cinema, so I felt extra fortunate to be in Oxford during the opening week of their new exhibition Raphael; The Drawings.
This giant of art history whose works adorns the Sistine Chapel shows his workings in this extensive and beautifully curated exhibition. Famed even in his own lifetime for his ability to capture emotion and humanity in a way his more formal predecessors had not, his sketches show how he studied and reworked people and scenes until emotion was entirely distilled on the paper. In his drawing for Madonna and Child we see how he moves and reworks the position of Mary and the infant Jesus’s heads, tilting and re-angling and shifting them until the intimacy of the mother/child relationship is entirely palpable, and deeply touching. His confident hand meters out a foot or a cherub in a few, scant pen-strokes. I marvelled that he could have such skill at such a young age, apparently flawless at 17, and yet as I moved through the exhibition the drawings showed more and more skill and more and more clarity of thought and line. Similarly, pages of sketches of babies, scratched out quickly from life and then flourishing with ideas for wings, and trajectories as he visually pondered how best to illustrate the cherubims’ flight with clarity.
Around much of the exhibition I trailed behind a visually impaired lady who had a guide to describe the works to her. Nosily I listened in to her descriptions;
“This one’s an image of Charity with her four babies clamouring for attention and nourishment…” she synopsied, flatly from the exhibition notes. I wanted to interject so much. “Charity’s face is a vision of maternal love, but somehow at the same time, exasperation. (I recognise this, for I too am the mother of four children.) Her babies are a seething, tiring mass of youthful vigour” I would have said.
And for me, this was the most compelling aspect of his work; how it reached out of its frames and across half a millenium and connected me so directly with this Roman Goddess.
On the way through the gift shop and bought a jigsaw puzzle of the Uccello hunting scene, to give those four babies of mine, the product of those years of courting in the Ashmolean, and felt a little, comforting wave of Charity’s serenity.
http://Raphael; The Drawings Ashmolean Museum 1st June – 3rd September 2017
Its 33 degrees on the streets, but underground is much hotter, maybe 38, maybe 40. The other passengers and I hang limply from the handrail, willing the journey forward so that we can ride the escalators out into the fresh air. But nobody is willing the journey forward more than I. I need the destination.
I’d already been edging for him for a week when he texted me;
“Come over, I’ll give you some relief”
“Oh, yes please!” (my neediness bleeds through my words) “I’ll come over straight after work.”
“No, I’m working from home today too. Wear your new butt plug and come now, right now, just as you are”
That’s eight stops on the Central Line, one of the busiest, hottest, oldest underground lines in the city. It’s not built for hot days or modern London. It’s an ordeal on any day, but in the summer it’s hell.
I could refuse, of course, but I love to please him and I’m so very hungry for relief. I want to run to him like a puppy called to heel. His is a special sort of sadism, it catches me in a web spun from my own need. It makes me my own punisher, willingly stepping up to the challenges he sets me as route to my own intensity and peace. I put on a simple summer dress and cringe at my own wantonness as I slip the butt plug in and message him that I’m leaving. He doesn’t reply by phone, but I know he’s received my text as the plug starts to buzz a low hum in my arse.
I walk with quiet purpose to the tube, I’m smugly pleased and ashamed both at once; it’s a tight rope balance between being a such a good girl and such a bad girl, it’s vertiginous and dizzying. Halfway down the escalator there is a feeling of being lowered into a warm water as the air becomes thick with heat, breezeless and stagnant. The people coming up on the facing stairs look flushed and wilted – their hair stuck to their faces and their eyes uplifted to the light at the end on the tunnel. But I descend.
It’s fairly quiet on the platform, I stand a little away from the other people as I’m nervous that they’ll hear the buzzing, the maddening, incessant buzzing, that they’ll see me for what I am; lascivious and libidinous, shameless and yet still ashamed.
The coming train pushes a chunk of hot air forward and it animates everyone on the platform who were, until that moment, static. A suited man, tie undone, looks up from his phone and takes a step towards the edge, a woman holds her billowing hair away from her face and picks up her shoping bags. I press the hem of my cotton dress to my thighs. They mustn’t see, nobody can see.
The train is busy, no room to sit, maybe that’s a good thing, no, maybe that’s a bad thing, will I hold it? I think I can hold it. Imagine the alternative. No, don’t imagine the alternative. Concentrate. Be calm, poker face, nobody will suspect you. I hold the hanging handrail above me and look into the middle distance as the doors close.
I try to zone out during the journey, it seems best to try not to engage with my longing, my predicament. Not to dwell on the buzzing in my arse, not to think about how pleased he will be with me, of all the ways he might reward me. I can maintain it; it’s a mind trick like willing yourself not to be ticklish, I press the rising need to moan, to flee, the wriggle down inside myself with mental force. It’s possible until the train jolts or new passengers alight or disembark and I’m jostled about and required to make eye contact or polite engagements like “sorry” or a smile. One person even makes the ‘you know it’s illegal to transport sheep in heat like this’ comment to me. Each time I have to reassemble my in armour and find a way to disappear back into myself a little.
I like to arrive to him elegantly calm and delicately scented with the cucumber freshness of Issey Myake, but right now I’m wet and I smell like like sex and sweat and flesh. I’m wet on my temples and I’m damp behind my knees. I’m wet under my arms and between my breasts and my hair is sticking to the nape of my neck. I’m wet in the small of my back; at White City I felt a rivulet run down into the crease of my bottom.
I’m wet in my knickers too. I stand with my legs crossed, convinced that a drop might run down my thigh, but then that makes me unbalanced and I have to dangle from the ceiling too much while the train makes its rattling scream as it banks around a subterranian corner, so I uncross them. And then I cross them. And then uncross them and close my eyes. Please let this stop next stop be Holland Park.
I walk carefully to the escalators and as I rise into ’phone connectivity a text arrives.
“Let me know when you get this.”
“just got this.”
The intensity of the buzz in my bottom increases, and I accidentally let out a whimper. It’s a sex noise or a pain noise, I don’t know quite which but its definitely not a London Underground noise. Oh god, I’m so close now. My fingers are white knuckled on the handrail, I look at my feet. I don’t know if I can do this, I’m so thirsty and I feel like I’m pulsing with heat and longing; just teetering on the edge of my capability.
I buzz his flat from the white painted portico of his building, and he answers
Fucking ‘Hello?’ Like a question, like he doesn’t know its going to be me, I lean into the intercom and just implore him with a single breathy
I could cry... I might be.
He’s got me just where he wants me, needing him in every physical way and begging for it on his doorstep. In this moment I, again, am his.
He buzzes open the door and meets me on the stairs, he is cool to touch and calmly gentlemanly in a fresh linen shirt. I look more bedraggled and waif-like than ever in his presence.
“Look at you” he says, taking me under his arm “You’re such a good girl. Such a good, brave girl” and I feel like I am home.
Inside his flat he lifts my dress off over my head and push-rolls my knickers down my legs to the floor. He pours me a long glass of water from a bottle in the ice bucket. He wipes me down with a cool flannel, My wrists and my back, my neck and my breasts. I stand limply; pliable in his hands as he manipulates me to access everywhere, lifting my arms and spreading my legs, moving my hair to the side. I moan and whimper in the quenching pleasure of it. He takes an ice cube and puts it in his mouth and I welcome his cool tongue into me as he kisses me. He stoops to my nipples and runs his cold, cold lips over one and then the other and it is heaven. The white gauze curtains billow in the breeze like the very epitome of cool and I close my eyes and give myself to him. He puts a thick glass dildo into the ice with wine and water and picks up the bucket, holds my hand and says
“Let’s move this to the bed” I am proud and I am glad.
There was a moment, and oddly I can’t remember what was going on at the more obviously sexy end of things at the time. It’s funny that something so acute can also be a blur. I know I had just slid a condom over to my man to signal that he should or could fuck the woman I was kissing, and I was watching that, or kissing her breasts, I don’t recall. You moved beside me and started to touch me. So gently and respectfully as you knew I was already in much deeper than I thought I’d be. Stroking my back, my thighs, responding to my consenting moans or squirms, moving to my tummy, my breasts, my hips, my bottom; parts of me untouched by anyone but him for decades…
The softest skin between my thighs, between my legs.
It felt so good.
I felt so good.
Within all the evening's blurred, fragment memories this part is clear, this simple act; just to be touched. You felt entirely different to me; the weight and texture of you, the speed of you, the finger-tip and palm-touch ratio of you. And the differentness of you made me feel new. I could feel the full weight of possibilities and opportunities leaning into me. If merely being stroked could feel so new what other sensations could there be if we opened up to other people?
In retrospect I wish I’d let you stroke me for longer but once the newness door was ajar just a little, I could see through this chink of light into to a new landscape, an undiscovered country that has been hidden inside myself all this time, pristine like fresh snow. I wanted to run straight in. I whispered to my man;
“I want him to fuck me”
and he smiled his yes at me, already deep in the other woman himself, so I asked you to, and you did.
New York was gridlocked, the subway had shut down and everyone had come up from underground into the stagnant July air to hail themselves a taxi. But the traffic wasn’t moving and every cab taken. Luckily, I was already in one and was ’phoning my West Village breakfast appointmet to let them know I wasn’t going to make it in time.
Afterwards the driver spoke to me;
“Is that an English accent? I just love to hear you speak, the way you told them you’d be late even makes this mess sound palatable.”
He gestured at the crowded-in streets and the high rise and din. Steam rising from the pavement and distant sirens the backdrop for this traffic jam. We were in an emblematic scene of New York, he and I like punctuation marks in the epic ongoing story of it.
“Where is your accent from?” I asked.
He has a lot of New York in his voice, but it’s piled on top of something else; vowels clipped short, some of the consonants thudding in on the end of his words in a way I can’t place.
“I was born in Ethiopia, I came here as a kid refugee in the late 80s” he said, glancing at me via the rear view mirror. My head provided me with newsreel images of 1980s Ethiopia; pot-bellied, big eyed, tearless, children, covered in flies, too weary and hungry to swat them away. I looked back into his brown eyes framed in the rectangular reflection.
“Oh God, I’m so sorry.”
It’s was stupid thing to say, as if it came from teenage me, watching the news reports of it.
“It’s okay” he said, “this country has been the making of me. It gave me food, and I went to school. I’ve got this job. I like this job. Moving people around the place, talking to people…”
He smiled a smile that made me feel like part of that pleasure, but also as if he wanted to move the conversation on.
“So you Brits have just voted out of Europe, right?”
We had. Only a month before the sting of it is still very fresh. I wasn’t sure I could talk to him about it yet.
“I’m surprised at you, when I think of the Brits I imagine those early seafarers 500 years ago who set out on tiny boats to see if there was any more world out there. They just sailed off…” He gestured at an imaginary horizon “not knowing if they’d fall off the edge, sink in the sea or find another world. Can you imagine such a thing? There must have known there was no chance they’d ever return, they must have been fuelled by a curiosity and bravery we can only dream of. You’ve all got that in your blood, but then you cut yourselves off from the world again. Why do you think that is?”
I felt the full weight of the disappointment in my country that many of us had been feeling since the referendum settling heavily alongside me on the sticky plastic seats in the back of this taxi. I said something non–committal and evasive like “We’re still trying to work out what the hell happened” and gave him that same smile he’d given me – yes I’d like to move the conversation on, he understood I think, and started afresh;
“I went to England once. When the plane was landing it I looked out of the window and the landscape was so beautiful, like it was hand-sculpted by God”
He made a thumb gesture, like that of an artist working in clay, which so accurately illustrated the scooped out, curving valleys and hills of southern England that I felt quite home sick. Home-sick for that disappointing, infuriating, beautiful, country of mine.
He starts on a new tack, on less political ground.
“I bought these peaches. They’re the exact same ones as I bought yesterday, because yesterday, they were so damn delicious!” He smiled at a four pack on the passenger seat beside him, two already eaten. “I can’t tell you how good they taste, so damn sweet and juicy. I thought, ‘what the hell kind of place could make something that tastes so good?’ So, I look on the packet and they’re from New Zealand. I think ‘I don’t know anything about New Zealand’ so, I looked it up on the internet last night. It’s like a tiny world, all habitats and terrains in one place; snow and ice and plains and mountains, and such lushness. And it’s peaceful. I knew it’d be a great place, it’d have to be, right? To be able to grow a thing that tasted so much of heaven. I’m going to go there. I’ve decided. The natural New Zealanders have the exact same skin tone as my children! I like that….”
A quiet settles on us, I feel such affection for this smiling man. Born into the worst of places and times but springing with positivity, with a world view that scrolls with deft dexterity around the centuries and continents and a curiosity to learn cultures and visit new places. The shadow of our brief touch on politics is still in the car with us, I can feel it and it seems he can too because next he says;
“Of course, we’ve got a big election coming up too next year”
And then he says;
“I’m voting Trump.”
This beautiful, black, Muslim, former refugee. This hard working, job loving, happy, engaging, international human. It hits me like a stone. I can’t make my face into a passive, relaxed, enquiring shape while I ask him why.
“You’re surprised, yeah?”
“I’m surprised, yeah.”
This world. This broken world.
(This is a true story, of a hot, July morning in Manhattan in the summer of 2016.)
I come from the ‘meh’ camp of 69ing, really feeling that there’s just too much going on, that the distraction of his face in-between my legs effected the quality of the blow job I was giving too much, and in turn, the guilt from that detrimentally effected the pleasure I could receive from oral. Which was a drag, because receiving oral is one of my all-time favourite things. I firmly believed it was better to take turns, fully concentrate on him, then maybe fully concentrate on me. Or the other way round, I’m not fussy like that. But recently, (and let this be an endorsement for the ‘full and frank communication’ school of sexual pleasure) I have had an epiphany.
The conversation went a bit like this;
“Yeah but, I don’t fully enjoy 69ing because it feels so good that I get distracted and can’t do my job so I have to hold back so it doesn’t feel so good so that I don’t fall apart with your cock in my mouth….”
“But I love it when you fall apart with my cock in my mouth. That’s best bit about 69ing.”
“Yeah, but I feel like I ought to hold it together…”
“But I love the feeling of you trying it hold it together, and then the feeling of you falling apart with my cock in your mouth… That’s the best bit about 69ing.”
“Yeah but, even when I’m coming I just feel bad that you’re not coming because I was distracted and my technique was all off.”
“But I love the feeling of you coming like that, and I love the feeling of you trying to hold it together, and I love it when you fall apart with my cock in your mouth. That’s the best bit about 69ing.”
You get the picture; the very thing I was hung up on is the very thing he likes the best. It took me 20 years to work this out. I figured we’d give it another go.
I straddle him, his face and fingers are in me, I suck his cock with my hand cupped around his balls or stroking him. I squirm at his touch but he holds me firmly to him with the crook of his arms looped through my thighs holding me in place. Soon I’m getting sloppy and I can’t be held responsible for rhythm any more, I rest my head on the inside of his thigh and take his cock deep into my mouth, I’m suckling on it now, it fits perfecting into the soft roof of my mouth and I pressing it with the flat of my tongue. Low murmurs of pleasure are hummed between my lips and his length. It’s so wet. I’m sucking like his cock is the only thing keeping me tethered to myself. I try to regroup and organise my face into more useful action, to make more techniqued movements like I see the girls on the films do. But I’m not the girls on the films, I’m messy and happy and I’m going to let this engulf me, not artfully or correctly, or egalitarianly, but guiltlessly and joyfully. He ups his pace too, the flat, spongy surface of this thumb slipping over me, his tongue busy. I’m losing track of which fingers are where. I’m losing track of everything.
He feels every part of my orgasm, my toes flex into is forearms and my cunt clenches on his hand. Involuntarily my hips push me into his face, greedily rubbing myself closer, faster onto him. The muscles in my stomach harden onto his and my spine curls. He holds me tightly on to him, he has control of every part of me, even my breath and moans are muffled by him. He is in me and around me, under me and over me in every way. I let go of myself.
Do I feel guilty that I got distracted and my technique was off? Do I fuck. There’s plenty of ways to even things up.
I could hear a noise, an awful, guttural howl, like a frightened animal caught in a trap. Then I realised that it was coming out of me. I recognised it, I’d heard it before, from the final moments of pushing my daughter into the world, and here I was in another hospital, making it again in the moments she was leaving it.
I’ve little memory of the following month. Snapshots remain; a house filled with flowers in various states of decay, wastepaper bins over flowing with tissue, a coffin, smaller than any I had seen before. Little else. I was a reluctant member of a secret club. A club I didn’t know about before, so feared and terrible, so unthinkable that there isn’t even a word its members. A wife that’s lost a husband is a widow, and child that’s lost its parents is an orphan, but a parent that’s lost its child doesn’t even get a name.
After that, only time dragged me forward, I looked from the outside like everyone else, and I went about my days as best I could. But inside I was heavy, as if I was filled with a viscous fluid which I struggled to displace with each breath. Every mouthful of food had to fight against it for a space inside me. Hours and minutes were long and hard. People were kind but were no solace, They’d ask me how I was and I’d replied with rehearsed phrases like;
“I’m doing OK.”
“You know… taking each day at a time.”
Because the alternative was to cut them with the sharp edge my pain, by shouting at them “MY CHILD IS DEAD!” and that wasn’t going to help any of us.
We were like two ill people left to nurse one another. He had no resources to support me, and I had no resources to support him. Sometimes, as we passed in the house, we leaned on each other, not an embrace, and not to comfort so much as to ease the effort of standing up for a moment.
We went to therapy, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. She talked to us about guilt and shame and anger, she knew all the theory about loss, but I could feel she wasn’t in the terrible club, and though she nodded, she had no notion of the extent of my pain and did not possess the key to helping us. I felt jealousy for her blissful ignorance, and wistfully recalled what not knowing this felt like. I countered nearly all of her questions about all the possible, convoluted natures of our feelings with;
‘No, I’m just paralysingly sad.’
She talked about intimacy too, suggesting that although it may seem inappropriate now; making love might be an important, connecting thing for us. We looked blankly at each other. No, she definitely wasn’t in the club. She had no idea of how this might work.
Each night exhausted from the effort of social behaviour and moving, we’d fall into each other’s arms, grateful at last for something visceral and recognisable. I’d already be crying, not the stifled, furtive tears I’d shed by the dairy fridges in the supermarket earlier, but hearty, gutsy sobs that contorted my face and made my breathing jagged. And the embrace, was not the cuddle you see in films and on TV of grieving people, we’d tangle into each other in each other, losing track of whose limbs were whose. His cock was usually already hard, I’d want it in me, I’d want to be pierced and cleaved by it. This night and many nights around this time, I didn’t want intimacy I didn’t want to make love, I’d want to be stabbed, I’d want to be fucked so hard that I’d be reminded that I was still alive.
I drag my cheek on him to feel the rasp of his stubble. Our faces are close and wet and I can taste him, (or is it me?) salty and slick with tears, saliva and snot. He grabs meaty handfuls of my arse and raises me so that I can I plunge down onto him. It hurts and it feels good. I’m holding him too tight, my fingernails in his chest and the heel of my left hand pushing his shoulder upwards, driving myself toward him. His hand on my arse demands more pace and he pulls our mouths together with a fistful of my hair. I think I can taste blood. We eat each other’s sobs; breath and voice snatched from one another’s mouths
The muscles in my thighs burn as faster now we slam ourselves together, the slap of flesh and the thud of bone colliding. Everything that was held in check each day is spilled here, gasped into the air and smudged into the mattress. Rage, love and pain expressed and shared at last, without empty, inept words.
I come hard, it’s not a crescendo, it’s more like swimming in a too-rough sea and being blindsided by a wave. It slams into me and I flail and tumble helplessly in it until I don’t know, or care, which way is up, and then it spits me out, all buoyancy of the water drained away leaving me heavy and gasping on the shore. I look back can see him drowning too, tensed and arched, mouth open. I use my ragged lungs kiss breath back into him, to bring him home to me.
After the brutality there is a gift; a fleeting window. We are silent so that we don’t accidently let is pass us by. In this place, where pain and love and endorphins intersect there is a secret moment of calm where we might be allowed to slip into oblivion for a few hours. I roll off him and we lie hot and panting, willing unconsciousness to take full rein. It will help us find the strength to endure another day, a day on which we’ll wake, and for a brief moment feel just like an ordinary people. It’s always there, a waking millisecond where we feel like we used to, just before the lurch of reality crashes back in.
This story was originally written for a competition on exhibitunadorned.com/ in conjunction with a TV baking show. I worked from the pastry related prompt word; Plait
Three parts, twisted together to make a single strand.
Mark watched her and wondered how she could make such a complex thing seem so simple. Behind her head, with quiet dexterity, she separates her glossy hair into three, fat strands, smoothing each to make them manageable and compliant, then deftly weaving them into a single rope
He’d always thought about watching her fucking someone else, the liquid thoughts of another man’s cock slipping into Rebecca had spilled out of his fantasies and flowed into conversation with her with ease. Thoughts about her greedy legs pulling someone else into where he felt so at home filled him with an unfulfilled longing he didn’t quite understand. Now he couldn’t remember why he was surprised that she was so open to the idea. Yes, she had a habit of making complex things seem simple. Beautiful, sexy, brave Rebecca.
He glimpsed her looking at him as he walked from the kitchen to the sofa with his glass of wine. They’d agreed he’d sit opposite them to watch, and he wanted her to seem him getting into place but she was already moving towards the knock at the front door. This really was about to happen.
Ben was bigger than he’d expected and had a confidence that Mark hadn’t banked on, a strong physical presence, relying on well-practiced action over words. Although he politely acknowledged Mark’s presence he had clearly taken the couple’s preferences for him to be a bystander on board and became immediately busy in making Rebecca feel at ease. The curtain was lifting on the scene Ben had conceived, instigated and directed; the scene in which Mark had cast them as the protagonists and himself as an audience member. He watched Ben deftly navigate the etiquette of greetings, and wine
There it was; that familiar, delicious thrill of unknown promise as he waited on the landing outside the flat. He was used to situations like this; he often browsed for opportunities to join couples, to be part of their intimacy without being part of a relationship. To him it was the best of all worlds, hot, varied sex and no commitment; just how he liked it. The trick was to keep small-talk to a minimum and get straight to action. Small-talk made things complicated, and complicated was not want he wanted.
He was pleasantly surprised when Rebecca opened the door, they’d chatted plenty on-line, but Face-Time had short-changed her of some of her animation and sparkle. He kissed her hello, lingering a little as if to reiterate and confirm the purpose of his visit. She responded with warm, doughy lips, that didn’t speak, but clearly told him ‘yes’. He sipped the wine she’d poured him and set aside (as wine can trip you into a small-talk situation) preferring to put his lips on her cheek and neck, pulling back to look at her face as he undid the buttons of her shirt. Minimal conversation, just smiling, consented action.
This was his natural habitat, a beautiful, willing woman opening easily to him, but also it fed into his testosterone-fuelled competitive nature, he aimed to quite undo her, right under the very nose of her loving partner, he aimed to fuck her in a way Mark wished he fucked her.
He felt her little hand slide into his jeans and circle around his cock, his cue to take them off.
“This is what I wanted, isn’t it?”
Written, it seems like a question, but it wasn’t, it was a reminder; her own mind reiterating what she already knew, looping these whispered words back into herself to reassure her nervous reflection as she fixed her hair. In truth this was what she wanted, but in the pacing moments before the Ben’s arrival she spoke them to herself for courage.
She and Mark had chosen Ben together, his easy chat and open face had made him the obvious choice for this adventure, but the reality of his footsteps on the stairs outside the flat pushed this former confidence to the back of her mind. She cast a look over to Mark in the kitchen just before opening the door but his face did not reflect her own last minute nerves.
The kiss Ben gave her as she closed the door behind him dispelled many of her misgivings, she’d worried that when he arrived she just wouldn’t feel attracted to him and thoughts of the ensuing awkwardness and niggled her, but that wasn’t going to be a problem. She poured him some wine, which he sipped and set aside. He seemed well versed in keeping a strong forward momentum.
She helped him with her blouse and then his jeans, slipping her hand in the open button fly to get her first impression of his cock, it felt solid and efficient, keen to spring from the denim. As he slid his trousers off she took a seat on the sofa directly opposite her Mark as they had planned, but her eyes fixed on Ben as his body was quickly revealed. She opened her mouth instinctively as he stepped towards her, accepting his cock and exploring its unknown contours with her tongue and hands.
Mark saw Ben exhale as he slid his cock between Rebecca’s lips, the way his shoulders relaxed and widened reminded him of the intense, enveloping pleasure Rebecca’s mouth was. His own cock twitched in his pants now at the thought of it. By the time Rebecca was naked and Ben’s face was buried between her legs, his fingers deep inside her, Mark was finding it hard to keep his emotions in check.
He shifted positions, cleaved by his own thoughts. The scene was so hot, just as he’d envisaged it, and he’d got himself a ring-side seat. He could have just reached out over the coffee table and touched them; Rebecca’s soft pale skin, the colour of pastry and usually available to him to stroke and knead, now oddly off-limits as the weight of Ben pressed onto her. He felt the sharp edge of his own jealousy for the first time, not a sharpness that honed him to an elegant point as he’s imagined, but a jealousy that dragged him over the whetstone, rasping and gritty, over and over with each thrust of Ben’s muscly arse, driving into his girl.
One foot on the floor and a knee on the sofa, Ben curled Rebecca’s copper plait around his hand to pull her little pale body on to him, his large left hand spread over her waist, thumb on the hard bumps of her spine and his fingers curling downwards towards the softness of her belly. He felt as if, like this, he controlled all parts of her from above, like a puppet master, he could feel her relinquishing herself a little more with every push. Even each of her exhalations were voiced, sound pushed out from within her by his own physicality. This is what he browsed for on the internet, a stranger in a strange room his temporary plaything, and her boyfriend, agog and silent admiring his skill. He looked over at Mark, his face now pale and shiny, head tipped to one side in open mouthed observation, his dick hot and hard and red in his hand.
He was struggling to get on top of his feelings. God, it was hot seeing her like this, a pink flush rising on the skin of her neck and chest as her orgasm started to clutch at her. Golden tendrils escaped her neat braid and curled near her cheekbone, catching on the light sweat on her face, the muscles in her thighs shaking a little now. But his mind didn’t know how to process the sight of Ben’s commanding presence, not only was he soundly, deeply fucking Rebecca, but now, he was looking straight at Mark, not a passing a glance, but a challenging gaze. But what unsettled him most was Ben’s lips; was that the slightest hint of a smile?
He’d orchestrated this whole scene, he’d expected to feel some form of jealousy, god he’d yearned for it, but the eye contact made him feel belittled; as though he’d been caught peering in, uninvited, from the edges, and caught with his dick in his hand, beads of come leaking from the tip at that.
In his profile there was something about Ben’s which attracted Rebecca to him, a sort of confidence in his ability, but in the following days when she’d revisited these words she’d worried that perhaps if it wasn’t confidence, but arrogance (such similar traits; one so attractive and one so repellent). But now, brought to the very precipice of herself by his tongue and flipping swiftly over onto all fours at his bidding, pleading with him to put his cock in her, (“urgh..now, please, fuck me now…”) his confidence seemed entirely founded.
She pushed hungrily back on to him, one hand forward on the arm of the sofa to give herself a physical foundation to better meet his thrusts. She flexed a little at the waist and hips to find that angle, that perfect slant; adjusting and adjusting, then finding it. Her focus narrowed down onto to that delicious intensity, Mark’s presence opposite them driven to the peripheries of her consciousness.
All three players in this scene were dancing to Rebecca’s lead, each waited and wanted and willed her orgasm on. She tensed, arching into its warm, spreading glow, welcoming it at the centre of herself then allowing it full rein to radiate to her edges. Ben came hard too, the tightening of Rebecca’s cunt and the little boy expression on Mark’s face together too much now. Mark, his hand tight on his cock came just after them, his milky come arcing upwards and his raspy gasps the last of the three of theirs to settle in the quietening room.
She lay face downwards panting and stretched out the dissipating orgasm in her arms and legs. Her hair, loosed now, fell over her face. Undone.
Ben ran his large hand down Rebecca’s milky back and allowed his latent smile to spread across his face. Released.
Mark felt around for a familiar emotion to which to moor himself. Unravelled.