Nightly, though sometimes in the daytime too, it has to be admitted, whenever I close my eyes, empty my mind and begin to drift, you appear against a shimmering, shifting background of various shades of blue. Sky, Klein, Royal, Electric. The hues of sex, sorrow and the sense of shame that can only be savoured because there is no succour to be found anywhere in this world.
An anthology of every one of your conceivable postures is imprinted indelibly upon my memory.
Sometimes you tentatively gesture with your forefinger, knowing full well that your feigned shyness is the ultimate aphrodisiac and that I will follow you wherever.
The red zonal markings of your target areas (mouth, tongue, the areola, the labial lips and the cleft of your cunt) beckon to me against the white hesitations of your flesh. You lead me into the shower where the water beats against our shoulders while outside the rain drums against the windows and the roof. I hold your glacial stare with difficultly (never have I known such icy depths) as we embrace each other with one arm (our other hands exploring our respective tropics).
Some nights I am rendered immobile. Yet you still approach, straddle my face with your firm flanks as you take me in your mouth.
While on the still deeper nights, you torment me with black echoes of our imagined union with a succession of strangers –your heavy breasts rubbing against the swollen nipples of a series of sluts or mounted from behind by a stable of studs.
During the interminable nights (and days too, if the truth be told) you taunt me, tease me, tempt me, tie me, bind me… I can never get enough, I will never be sated; this fire cannot be quenched.
Till the time when I unwillingly open my eyes and the vision vanishes, all my lust fades in the grey half-light of an ashen dawn and I am left with an unbearable leaden ache in the centre of my being that weighs down every passing moment. That is, until I fall asleep again.
Anna felt nervous about today. She was determined to make a good impression. O.K it was only a P.A’s position but the pay was excellent and it would take away some of the pressure. Without the constant worry about money she could concentrate on her real calling. True to recent form however, things had gone wrong from the moment she woke late after being up most of night rehearsing the upcoming interview. Filled with heavy dread she rushed around cramped studio trying to make up for time lost, but of course wasted hours could never be got back and her frantic efforts threw her into more of a panic. Indeed things went from bad to worse as she bolted towards the front door, taking final swig of coffee to keep her focused and it spilt over best suit she’d picked up from dry cleaners only yesterday, at considerable expense given finances at present time. She had nothing else suitable to wear, the only thing remotely business-like was a white cotton suit set, jacket and blouse, but it was the nearly the end of November. There was nothing for it now apart from making do. She searched around for an umbrella before remembering that she’d left it in a taxi a couple of nights ago, but at least she had a raincoat, thank God for small blessings. Outside it wasn’t just raining, no this was different, a new angle on the ever present rain, every drop left a yellow smear on her white clothes. This must have been the dirty rain she’d vaguely heard them forecasting on the news. Something about sand from the Sahara being absorbed by storm clouds, pushed across the Atlantic by an ominous low front before letting loose over London. Or something like that she wasn’t really sure because she hadn’t really listened but whatever else it was, it was nasty. There were no taxis anywhere to be had, she waited and waited, soon saturated to the skin. Being an attractive girl she usually had no problem flagging down a cab but today every taxi was filled with their shadows and ghosts being carried forward to their nebulous destinations, so when a bus came she hopped on even though she never caught buses.
Why were boys so oblivious? She watched and waited, wet and oh so ready, just inches away from their blatant erections. How ridiculous —a hard-on with nowhere to go. Would any of them even know what to do if they managed to get a willing partner to fuck? Had all their primal instincts been so dulled that a layer of cotton was enough to obstruct what their senses should have detected? What was it going to take? Her guiding a pair of shaking hands to her overheated, soaking flesh? Shoving him flat on his back to sit on his face and drown him in the flood from the delta between her thighs? She bit her lip in frustration.
She liked one boy in particular. Gloomy, androgynous and so very pretty —she had been immediately attracted to him. He was just her type. And although he was initially curt and surly, she could tell that he liked her too. They inevitably found each other at the same parties. And though his attitude remained inarticulately hesitant, his eyes told a different story. He wanted her. The question was how to transform this unstated desire into a demonstrated reality. Surely she wouldn’t have to make all the moves?
Back in her room, she slowly undressed in front of the full length mirror. She studied her body with clinical detachment. What would he see when he looked at her? Would he find the shape of her breasts pleasing? Would he stare at them, unable to resist touching them with his long, clever fingers, caressing them with his palms, running his tongue over the stiffening nipples and across the bruise-colored aureoles? And then would he suck them? Pull each tightened peak into his mouth, simultaneously gaining comfort and driving his lust? Maybe he would French fuck them, thrust his cock between them, rub the tip against her nipples until, at last, the moment arrived and every drop of come had been squeezed out, adorning her elegant neck with a glistening pearl necklace. The girl in the mirror touched those taut peaks, feeling them pucker in anticipation of something more. Would the boy know what to do? Would he know how? Would he be shocked and offended at her lust, the desires that she needed so desperately and immediately to fulfill?
She ran a hand over her heated skin to her navel. Maybe he would flood her belly button with his semen. Maybe he would trace a finger through it and write his name on her stomach or across her rib cage. Her own fingers swirled the four letters of his name. She was soaking now, heart beating rapidly, breathing quickened. What else would he do to her? Would he stroke the peeled wands that were her slender arms, the serpentine smoothness of the skin in the hollows of her thighs? Would he find arousal at the overripe strawberry of her anus? Or would he be satisfied with her breasts, her eager and willing mouth, her slick cunt? Her fingers trailed lower. The girl in the mirror sighed.
Absorption in such questions while you are alone and naked in a room in front of a mirror can only lead to one thing. Her body flushed with the heat of arousal, her depths drenched and aching to be filled with his length, she took one last look in the mirror and moved to the bed. She imagined him coming to her as she lay back and spread her legs wide. With both hands she lightly caressed the inside of her thighs, her need now urgent, the delay a sweet torture. When finally parted her labial lips, she was so wet she could easily insert three fingers. With a soft moan, she pushed in deep.
(This wouldn’t have seen the light of day without the invaluable editorial advice of Megan from Murmer and Sigh. Please visit her wonderful site.)
Sara was sickening for something. Every day Alex had noticed that she was a little more drawn, a little more drained. Upon awakening he saw that her pale skin was flushed with fever. He felt her forehead and nudged Sara awake.
“You‟re burning up baby,” he whispered.
“I know, I don’t feel so good,” she replied drowsily. Her breathing was a ragged gasp, sweet with distemper.
“I should really get you to a doctor,” Alex suggested.
“I don’t have a doctor down here. The only doctor I know is the family doctor back home. I have never really needed one, apart from my bout of anaemia.”
“Well I think you need one now Sara, I’m worried about you. Don’t they have to take you on as a patient if you turn up at the practice?”
“Not sure about that really. Look it isn’t that serious, just a touch of the flu. A couple of days in bed will see me right. Besides, I hate doctors, they give me the creeps. The only person I want examining me is you, Alex.”
Alex felt that Sara was deluding herself as to the extent of her illness but was relieved at the same time that she didn’t want to see a doctor. He shared her aversion to the medical profession; found their probing of orifices and suggestive personal questioning highly intrusive. He doubted if there was a career more suited to people who held a deep-seated grudge against the human race. Continue reading →
Murky, very, very murky, definitely, decidedly so—how else could I describe my motives for not fucking Margot? Before getting in the car I stared up at the window where I had just left Margot lying unclothed and spread-eagled on the mussed up bed. That thought made me hesitate for a moment but I got in the car anyway and started the ignition.
As I drove at speed through the somnolent streets of her neighbourhood, I was in considerable physical discomfort. Pressing my crotch against the steering wheel afforded some relief, but what I really needed was the release that can only be obtained though the agency of the other, the rapture of bodies mingling and dissolving in unison until the mutual, desired annihilation of orgasm. Continue reading →
All weekend long I had failed to act upon the ultimatum handed down by Sarah on the Friday night I left her to return home to my wife. Breakfast on Monday morning was my last opportunity. But I realized —as I sat down to cereals, toast and tea— that putting an end to a twenty-three-year marriage at 7:50am on the drabbest of all days, seemed wildly inappropriate. I couldn’t cope with the inevitable ugly scene of harsh words, bitter tears, righteous indignation and promises of reprisals before leaving for the city and work. The trouble was, I could now expect a row with Sarah. Hopefully, she would have the discretion to wait until after office hours, though I wasn’t optimistic. Her tact had been embarrassingly absent lately. Continue reading →
Max returned with the drinks and slid in beside Margot. ‘Cheers,’ he said, as they touched glasses and then promptly drained them. He was back at the bar within minutes, not even having time to finish smoking one cigarette. Boy, he was in the mood, now. The second dose was unfurling within his cells like a flower opening up to receive the first rays of the morning sun. This promised to be a hell of a night, indeed. Never before had he felt so clear-headed, so sharp and so aware. Preternaturally aware, in fact, of everything that was going to happen before it actually happened. He was a god surveying the world from the majestic heights of Mount Olympus.
After the fourth (or maybe fifth) drink, Margot decided that, even though still early —night had just fallen— it was time they made their way to Kubla Khan’s. Another drink at the bar would while away the time.
‘Great, I just need to head to the jacks before we go,’ Max said, standing.
‘Work away. I’ll meet you in the lobby.’
Everything in the toilet —the urinals, the cubicles, the porcelain sink— was a vivid, startling shade of ultramarine. Was it the lighting? Or maybe the drugs?
After pissing in the bright blue urinal and washing his hands at the equally dazzling sink, Max thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to splash a little water on his face and freshen up his appearance, though he already felt better than fine. As he reached for the paper towels to dry his face, he checked himself in the mirror. He studied his reflection in the mirror and found everything to be just right until, as he was about to walk away, he noticed a splash of red appear on the left hand side. ‘God, what was this now?’ Max thought. Hadn’t he learnt his lesson? You should never look in the mirror when you are completely fucking out of it.
The red splash on the facing cubicle door gradually coalesced into a blob which then separated into letters that read out ᗡAƎᗡ ᖷᖷO ЯƎTTƎᙠ TИUƆ What? Of course it was reversed in the mirror and after a moment’s thought Max realised it read CUNT BETTER OFF DEAD.
He spun on his heels to look at the defaced cubicle, but found it pristine and glowing banally blue. Yet, when he returned his gaze to the mirror, the obscene message was still there. It didn’t even make any sense. Was it in some way directed at him? Did someone feel that he would be better off dead? Or was it meant to be a vicious insult, an expression of violent, misogynistic rage aimed randomly or directed at women in general?
While Max pivoted back and forth to stare at the blank cubicle and the mirror with its message, someone emerged from the corner of the toilet. Where the fuck did this joker come from? Had he been there the whole time? Had he silently witnessed the strange behaviour which could only be construed as the actions of a madman? Time to get out of this cursed bathroom and get some clean, fresh air.
The man stood next to him, sighed and turned on the tap. He washed his hands and as he was drying them said, ‘Howrye? You seem slightly distracted my friend, however not to worry, it’s nothing a little bump wouldn’t sort out in a hurry. I trust you partake?’
Max gaped at him, perplexed. He seemed to be in his late forties or thereabouts. What was this? A mad, fucking, Irish queen?
‘?’ Max silently queried.
‘Ahhh, I think you have misconstrued me my friend. No, I mean a little something something, you know?’ he said, pulling out a small clear plastic bag containing a pure white powder. He then proceeded to carefully pour it out onto the space between the index finger and thumb of his clenched left fist. Holding it toward Max’s face, he went on, ‘Trust me. I mean you and your lovely lady friend —my, isn’t she just peachy creamy— no harm whatsoever. Go on, what currently offends your eyes will disappear without a trace after you have tried a taste.’
This was getting stranger by the second. He knew about Margot? How? He knew Max was seeing things? Was his state of mind that obvious? And why the hell did everyone Max met today want to give him drugs?
‘Thanks,’ Max said, bending down to inhale the substance. In for a penny, in for a pound after all.
‘My pleasure. See, isn’t that better?’
Max dusted his nose and hardly daring to look, glanced at the left-hand corner of the mirror. The red lettering was gone. Thank God.
‘It most certainly is. Thanks. Ummm, do I owe you anything for that?’ Max asked, starting to grin. He just couldn’t help himself.
‘Not at all. I was just helping someone who was obviously in need. What terrible reprobate and general scoundrel wouldn’t do the same? Ask anyone in Carlingford in the Wee County what kind of man is Matthew Flynn Flaherty O’Neill and they will say without exception that he is a good man, a kind man.’
‘I am sure they would. So how did you end up here?’ Max asked as he buried his face under the running tap.
‘Ahhh well, you know, it’s a beautiful corner of God’s earth, but with The Troubles and it being not only in Ireland but in Ra-Ra-Land, a poor soul like me just cannot enjoy himself. So I came over here and now I am the Night-Watchman. Such is life,’ he said and sighed.
‘Well, thanks again. I am in your debt.’
‘Not at all. In fact, please give this to your delightful lady friend with my compliments,’ he said and handed over another small bag full to the brim with white powder.
‘Cheers, mate,’ Max said, quickly walking out of the bathroom before the Irishman sprung the catch on him and headed towards the hotel lobby.
Margot was sitting on one of the lobby’s angular leather sofas. When Max reached her, she said, ‘Christ, you certainly took your time. My God, you are positively glowing! What on earth were you doing in there?’
‘It’s a long story. However, somebody give me a gift for you,’ Max said and passed over the packet.
Margot looked down briefly before closing her palm.
‘Who gave you this?’ she asked.
‘Some crazy Irishman, said he was the Night-Watchman. I dunno. But it’s good, I can testify to that.’
‘Well, I suppose I better go to the powder room then,’ Margot said, rising. ‘By the way, I booked us a room for the night, just in case we miss the last train.’
Max tried to prevent his already wide grin from growing wider but his attempt was doomed to fail. ‘Really? Good idea, Batman.’
‘You needn’t be getting any ideas, Max. Now, wipe that stupid grin off your face and all. It’s merely a precaution.’
‘I won’t be long. Sit tight.’
‘I’m going nowhere. Hurry up, though.’
‘Will do,’ she said, sauntering off across the lobby. Max followed the switch of her hips for as long as she was within sight.
Happy, happy fucking, happy days.
Margot was as good as her word and soon came out. As they left the hotel, Max couldn’t suppress the anticipation he felt inside that soon enough —this very night— they would be back.
There were several taxis waiting. They got in the one at the top of the queue. Their driver was a heavy looking fellow with a bull’s neck wearing a fluorescent-pink polo shirt.
‘Where to?’ he asked in a thick Birmingham accent.
‘To Kubla Khan’s please,’ Margot replied.
He shook his head vigorously. ’Sorry about this, but you two lovebirds can hop right out again and get into the next taxi in the line, because there is no way I am going anywhere near that place. It’s in a fucking shit-hole of a neighbourhood and what with the canals and flyovers it will ruin my vehicle. Go on then, run along.’
Max was stunned. How could he refuse to take them? And more importantly, what kind of place was Margot taking him to?
Margot, however, didn’t skip a beat. Smiling sweetly, Margot merely leaned over and whispered into the taxi driver’s ear. Max couldn’t overhear a single word, but whatever she said did the trick. Looking visibly paler beneath his sun-bed tan, the driver turned the key in the ignition and pulled away from the curb.
Max marveled. What kind of power did Margot wield that she could, with a few words, coerce this taciturn bully of a man into taking them someplace he had moments earlier refused to go? His attitude had been so transformed that he even attempted to make conversation, albeit the usual taxi driver drivel about Birmingham having more canals than Venice and such-like. Did they know that? No, and neither did they care.
He was right about the location, as well. Beneath a gigantic flyover, they crossed a pot-holed bridge that was the only access to the disused warehouse that had been converted, complete with a fake pagoda facade, into Kubla Khan’s.
The driver stopped the taxi in front of the entrance to let them out, but drove off without asking for any money. Weird. Had he muttered something about some cunts being better off dead? Or was Max just being paranoid? Hearing things that were just an echo of his earlier hallucination? Whatever the case, Margot must have really done a number on the driver. He wanted to ask her what she had said to him, but in this instance maybe ignorance was bliss. Maybe. Probably. Almost definitely so.
Margot took his hand as they walked though the muddy wasteland, stepping over craters overflowing with rusty water and averting their eyes from the homeless people who huddled over garbage can fires and found shelter beneath the herculean legs of the flyover.
So finally, Max thought, we have reached our destination. Everybody who is anybody is in the place. Well, it seems as though the night is just starting but the games have already begun.
After finally emerging into the daylight from the scrum and press of the ticket barriers, Margot immediately declared that they couldn’t possibly go to Kubla Khan’s at this early hour. The shutters may have been lifted, but nobody who was anybody would be caught dead there at this time of day.
‘Besides Max, you are looking as peaky as I feel,’ she said. ‘I think that we are both in need of some refreshment. Yes, a little pick-me-up would act as a tonic, do us both a world of good. So what do you say to that?’ Margot asked, more to herself than to Max.
Max nodded absently. ‘Sure.’
He’d been so absorbed in the act of putting one foot in front of the other, suppressing the nausea brought on by the sight of the grey concrete towers dissolving in the sickening heat haze, that he really hadn’t been paying close attention. Now, though, he wondered where exactly they were walking to.
‘I know. Let’s go to that new place,’ Margot said, answering his unspoken question. ‘You know, that place they spent a fortune on? It was in the news. They called it the beginning of an urban renaissance or some such public relations nonsense.’
She stopped, lifted her sunglasses and rubbed her eyes in an effort to jog her memory. ‘Oh what’s it called?’ she asked aloud. ‘The Babylon. No. That’s not it. Something like it though. Babylon, Babylonia, Bethlehem, Bedlam…’ She shook her head. Then clicking her fingers, she said, ‘The Babel, that’s it. Let’s go there.’ With a look at their surroundings, she added, ‘Though I’m sure we’re headed in the completely wrong direction.’ When her gaze landed on a cluster of buildings that had briefly obscured the sun, she pointed. ‘There. Let’s go that a way instead.’
Again Max just nodded. He tried to speak but discovered that his swollen tongue was incapable of forming words. They had to get somewhere soon though, he thought. As Margot’s mind spiralled in ever decreasing, tightening circles, his limbs and extremities were being overtaken by a debilitating leadenness. Soon, very soon, he sincerely and desperately hoped, they would find this damned hotel and be seated in a dim nook with tall, long glasses of some refreshing, viscous, alcoholic drink. He could see it so clearly. He could almost taste it. Why were they not there already?
These thoughts were familiar. Memories, perhaps? Thoughts he’d had before? Glancing out of the corner of his eye at the mirrored, reinforced, window of the shop-front they were passing, he realised his mind was like that sheet of glass —reflecting everything and yet remembering nothing. The images that appeared before his eyes made a momentary impression, then moved off and vanished forever.
They scurried down empty avenues designed to disabuse anyone of the quaint notion that streets were for pedestrians to stroll upon. It simply wasn’t the case, especially not these days and not here, of all places. No, an avenue was a place for traffic to tear down, brakes untouched —woe betide anyone stupid enough to try to cross the road. Getting to the opposite side required being born there. And so they turned up sinister, dead-end alleys built primarily to facilitate robbery and rape, emerging finally, on the canal area. Margot immediately perked up, remarking that it couldn’t be far away now.
‘Thank God, I thought we were well and truly lost there for a while,’ Max said, finally finding his voice again.
‘Dearest Max, your lack of confidence in me is simply appalling,’ she said. ‘Though, I believe we are both on a bit of a come-down, which simply won’t do. But never fear. I believe I have the solution to having peaked too soon. I just never expected it to be such a long day. Anyway, all’s well that ends well, isn’t that so?’
‘I realize you have some master plan in the works, Margot. I just wish you would enlighten me a little.’
‘Oh Max,’ she said, smiling. ‘That would just spoil the surprise. Where’s your sense of adventure? When you woke up this morning, I bet you never thought you’d end up lost in Birmingham, did you?’ She gestured to a squat, low-rise, balconied building which had BABEL TOWERS emblazoned across the entrance. ‘Look, that must be it.’
‘It must be indeed, though it’s not really a tower, is it?’ Max remarked.
‘Not to worry, I am sure they will add bits onto it later. It does look shiny and new, though, doesn’t it?’
‘Sure does. Anyway, I couldn’t care less. I just want to get inside and take the weight off and have a drink. I’m completely parched’
‘Come on, then, stop dawdling and we’ll be there right quick.’
‘Coming, Margot,’ he said, pouting. ‘Are you just going to get bossier and bossier as this day goes on, or what?’
‘You’d better believe it, darling. You ain’t seen nothing yet. Besides, that’s the reason why you love me so,’ Margot suggested rather tartly.
‘Oh, you think so?’ Max replied, though he had to admit that she probably had a point on this score.
And as she marched up to the bar —with its space-station curves and mirrored surfaces— and commandingly ordered two gin and tonics with a squeeze of a lime, he felt just a little bit more in love, if such a thing was possible. The fleeting thought of his somnolent father finally waking to discover their absence entered his mind and was dismissed straight away. Hadn’t he already had that thought before?
They slid into the seats of a banquette in a shadowy nook, just like he had envisioned. Suddenly awestruck, he wondered if he was now psychic. Had the drugs Margot so thoughtfully provided unlocked a hitherto unused portion of his brain to reveal everything in the world in all its essence? He sipped the viscous gin that wonderfully refreshed his parched mouth and throat.
‘We really shouldn’t be mixing drink with what we took earlier —not really the ideal combo, but what the hell. I really needed this. Besides we are definitely on the comedown phrase, and that certainly won’t do if we are really to make a night of it,’ she said. ‘And I really want to make it a night we will never forget, don’t you, Max?’
Max sipped his drink. ‘Of course.’ Though, it was already a day that would live long in the memory.
‘Anyway, so,’ Margot said, pausing to rummage in her handbag. She withdrew her hand to present two sugar-cubes in her open palm. ‘This may be too much, but too much of everything is just enough, don’t you think?’ She laughed. ‘Though it may be in this case just too much. What do you say?’ She handed him one of the sugar-cubes.
‘I say yes. Thanks, Margot,’ Max said as he swallowed and reached for his drink.
‘Good boy, hopefully we can expect fireworks very shortly.’
‘No doubt. Do you want another drink?’ Max asked as he rose.
‘Absolutely, same again. Here, take some of your Dad’s money to pay for it.’
‘Cheers,’ Max said, smiling as he accepted the ten pound note.
Then cash in hand, Max wound through the crowd toward the glowing Shangri-La that was the bar. As the drug took effect, he felt the resurgent joy that had been slipping away, slowly return.
‘Which way now?’ Christopher asked at the T-junction.
‘How should I know,’ Angela snapped back.
‘Why are they never any signposts out in the country?’
‘Because people usually have a good idea of where they are going.’
He ignored the insult. He glanced at his watch, the second-hand on fourteen, fifteen, he turned right.
‘I hope this is the right way,’ Angela said.
Christopher remained silent and drove on.
What should have been a relaxing winter weekend getaway from the demands of their respective professions and their two young children, a time to rediscover each other, had gone wrong from the very start. The temperature had taken a sudden unexpected dip and they had argued as to whether to return home to collect heavier coats. Christopher had remained adamant that they press on while at the same time blaming Angela, who had been in charge of packing, for her lack of foresight. When Angela countered that the weather forecast had called for it to remain mild, Christopher, in that tone of voice that always made Angela see red, suggested that instead of always believing absolutely everything that was on TV that perhaps she should have looked outside the window.
The icy conditions and sleet showers made leaving the city even more difficult than usual and it was 7:30 before they reached the open countryside. Stopping to fill up at the petrol station Angela bought chocolate and coffee. It would be very late by the time they reached the hotel. Continue reading →
The sensation started in my thumbs. A weightlessness, an unbelievable lightness. I rolled over and shook my hands, thinking I’d just been sleeping too long in the same position. The sickening sensation only grew worse. I lay staring at the ceiling for a time, willing for it to stop. It spread from my thumbs to my wrists and back down into my other fingers.
I slipped quietly from bed so as not to disturb Henry. He was never pleasant when awoken in the middle of the night. In the bathroom, I elbowed the light on to protect my hands, hands that no longer felt like they belonged to me.
The flickering fluorescent light intensified the ghostly sensation. I heard the sound of metal against porcelain and realized that my wedding ring had dropped into the sink. What was happening? In my panic, I let out a scream that echoed throughout the house.
“For God’s sake, Molly, what’s with all the noise?” Henry shouted irritably from the bedroom.
For what seemed like an eternity, I was rendered speechless. How could I possibly articulate what was happening? “Henry, please come here!” I finally managed. “I’m dissolving!”
It was true, I was dissolving like sugar in a cup of tea. My fingers, wrists and forearms had disappeared. It was like I was being erased, I was being rubbed out. The phenomenon was dissolving every inch of flesh and bone as it progressed towards my shoulders.
With a sigh, Henry leaned against the door. “Really Molly? I think you’re being just a wee bit hysterical, don’t you?”
“Henry, look at me!” I cried.
“Seriously, Molly,” he said, frowning.
“Can’t you see? Henry, I’m disappearing, I am going to vanish!”
He sighed heavily and went over to the sink. “Please be more careful, you dropped your ring,” he said, holding out the ring.
“Henry, help me please, please, please help me,” I wailed in utter frustration.
He placed it on the bathroom vanity. “I don’t know what is going on with you Molly. Come back to bed when you have finished with your amateur dramatics.”
I sank to my knees sobbing. My shoulders had been rubbed out and now my breasts were being erased. Those breasts that Henry had so adored when we had first met. This self, myself, Molly Matthews, this unique identity was in process of complete disintegration. It was becoming difficult to breath; in desperation, I inhaled deeply as my body faded. Now I was just a head, an unconnected head floating in space. Henry always said that I lived too much in my head. Now all that was left of me was this head. For some reason this thought made me laugh hysterically. The light flickered before shorting, leaving me in the dark.
I sat bolt upright in bed. I was sweating heavily, but that was OK. It was only a dream, just a dream. I moved my fingers, they were there. I touched my arms, thighs, belly, breasts –all still there, Thank God, it was just a horrible dream. I was complete, I hadn’t vanished or been erased. I was whole.
My relief was so great that I couldn’t sleep. Unlike Henry, who didn’t stir, even though I tossed and turned. Towards four in the morning my limbs became leaden with the accumulation of toxins, but I welcomed this leadenness. If anything, I wanted it to increase so as to drive away the disturbing sensation of lightness that I had felt so vividly during my dream.
My sleeplessness meant that I didn’t get up with Henry like I usually did in the morning. I just lay there, staring at the ceiling. I could hear him getting ready for the day. The same routine, breakfast with two cups of strong coffee, a shower and shave. It was Wednesday, so Henry always went in a little later, but he still got up at exactly the same time. As I lay there, I thought about calling out to Henry to ask for a lift to my morning class as my car was in the garage, but I was seized with a curious inertia. I realized we hadn’t really spoken to each other for quite a while now, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember when or why. When had we stopped acknowledging one other? How had we let things come to this pass?
I was surprised to hear the doorbell ring. Who could that possibly be?
I heard Henry open the door.
“Oh hello Jane.”
“Hello, Henry. Is our Molly around?”
“No she isn’t. I don’t know where she has got to, to be honest. Maybe she went to her classes.”
There was a pause. I couldn’t shake this listlessness that had taken hold of me, because I knew that I should have announced myself and stopped whatever was going to happen from happening.
“Oh, that really is a shame, I was so looking forward to catching that new exhibition in town with her. I have so being looking forward to it. Really.”
“I’m sorry about that, Jane. Seems a pity that you will miss the exhibition.” Again, there was a pause, longer than before, but it didn’t matter, I knew what he was going to say before he said it. “You know, Jane, I’m at a bit of a loose end today. How would you like it if I took you to see the show?”
“Really, would you do that for me Henry? Are you sure you haven’t got something else you need to do?”
“Well, yes… but nothing that can’t be postponed. A little outing with you, Jane, would do me the world… yes indeed, a whole world.”
“I am flattered, Henry.” I could almost hear the smile in her voice. “Well… I would like that very much, indeed.”
“Great! Excellent! Come in then, Jane, while I get ready. It should only take me five.”
I heard her heels click on the marble floor in the hallway. I just lay there, unmoving, staring at the ceiling, while my husband and my best friend chatted and laughed away to themselves, like they were alone, like I wasn’t there, like I no longer existed, like I had never existed.
After the front door had closed and Henry’s car started up and they drove away, I still didn’t move, yet part of me disconnected… I was in the rear seat of the car watching the glances, the smiles playing upon their lips, the tension generated between them –tension that could only be resolved later. After the exhibition and the lunch, Henry had paid the hotel receptionist in cash and had received the key card –handed over with a knowing and complicit look– and my husband and best friend closed the featureless hotel door in some infinite corridor and Henry cupped her face, like he had done so many times to me, an aeon ago, an alternate dimension away, a universe apart… and kissed her parted lips. That disconnected part of me observed what followed without surprise or emotion, that part of me had known all along that it would eventually come to this. Even if they knew they were being observed it wouldn’t have stopped them, so intent upon each other were they. They knew I knew they knew…. And it didn’t matter.
And as I lay there in the deepening shadow, inert, listless, desperate, I willed myself to wake up, this time for real.
This is the cakeordeath treatment of Dr. Meg’s story Dissolved. She very kindly let me play around with her idea, and I added an extra layer of existential dread, a sprinkling of sexual paranoia and a dollop of ambiguity. You can find the original at https://drmegsorick.com/2016/08/18/dissolved/.