On my stomach with my arms above my head, more than half adrift in the afterglow and groggy on the emptiness. Cleo tracks her nails around my back while she ruminates and waits for me to purr, a thing of idle not intention. ‘How often do you think about sex?’ Her voice harbours the dry workmanship of putting up wallpaper. Most of all the time, I tell her, at some point everything boils down to sex and my brain does the rest. ‘Sounds like your brain’s the thing boiling,’ she says. I close my eyes and let it simmer.
He looks at me with an almost destitute seriousness and sighs longer than lungs have a right. ‘I want to fuck them all,’ he says, almost aquiver. ‘I can’t help it.’ Tense to the point of pain. ‘It’s killing me. It’s destroying me. I can’t see them as people anymore. I can’t see people, just fuck things and the rotting blackness inside me.’ And after, I ask, when you’ve fucked a thing? ‘Nothing,’ he says, ‘beautiful nothing for long enough to notice, then horrors again.’ He closes his eyes and looks at something I’ll never see. ‘I feel monstrous.’
I found her vibrator when I was putting the laundry away, tucked in a sock amongst the innocent pairs. Sadly, we had less sex per year than anniversaries total, and the gap only ever got bigger. Its presence inflamed something seething beneath my skin. Why would she need it if she didn’t need me? Passively furious, I stapled the sock shut. Maybe I thought it would lead to resolution or a healthy conversation. Probably I just wanted leverage for my anger. Wrapped up in myself, I waited to explode. It never occurred to me that she had other avenues.
Sweat drops from my forehead and pools between her bladed shoulders. I keep saying sorry, breathless, as though it means something, not simple sounds. ‘Slap me again,’ she demands. I relay my hand to the last beveled pink impression I left behind. She gasps in the brutality, beauty refined by pain, and pushes against me, fighting without violence. I weave my fingers down to the scalp and pull us together. Exposed, inextricable, skin flushed, sighing. Pressed to cheek, we breathe a syncopation. I close my eyes and plummet. Inside the darkness I can believe I am not simply myself.
Fucking Damien, with his skin stinking like cigarillo pale ale and day old pork crackle, wreaking sweat into the bed. Fucking Damien, throwing me down with juggle clubbed hands and thickly mallowed fingers making clumsy fumbled passes. Fucking Damien, ploughing witless, greedy furrows in the dirt, clotted ruts and too much traction. Fucking Damien, channeling away, an inept oarsman throwing stroke after stroke and grunting, gormless with the effort, racing trials against my ghost upon the swell of my repentance. Fucking Damien, as if I hadn’t already said yes, he has to take the joy out of it too.