“I’m far too tired”.
Her lipstick trembled, was bitten, and smudged over her lip line.
She didn’t even bother concealing how it smote her to be rejected by me. Once she would have smiled in a sultry way with one hand on my knee, her painted nails digging into my trousers, and acquaintances at cocktail parties would laugh resentfully at how clearly I wanted her, we wanted each other. The seduction fell flat here – her lipstick aged her.
As she left, the door clicking shut, her high heels clicking on, the door of the car clicking open, I stared at the frieze around the walls of my study, filled with pictures. Bodies frozen in time – open laughs revealing the inside of red mouths, bare flesh covered in nude sand, hands and fingers entwined.
I heard the high pitched chatter of her voice bouncing over his bass drone as they bounded out of the cab. She hushed him in.
“Red or white? Or maybe some champagne? We are celebrating!” She sounded hysterical.
When I had first discovered she was having sex with someone else I felt nothing. I had unexpectedly come home for my lunch break and heard them fucking on the kitchen table. Her eyes closed, dress ruched up and legs wide apart with her small bare feet shaking as he thrust, her mouth was open and getting wider with each cry. I waited till she came, her body going limp as she flopped over the back of his sweat-stained shirt. And then I left, closing the front door loudly behind me.
That evening when I came home she had been waiting for me, sitting at the same oak table, with legs modestly crossed. Her slender arms were quivering as she poured out wine. The white liquid swirled up the sides of the glass, waved and peaked and settled. It was mesmerising to watch her sip and swallow as she tried to bumble through explanations. The sound of her words agitated me like white noise when you’re fumbling about with the radio in the car, trying to drive through rain.
We slept in separate rooms for a while until she creaked up the attic stairs and tiptoed to my bed. “It’s so cold,” she said as she clambered into my bed and tried to touch me with icy hands, to wrap her bony body around my turned back. Her touch was like slime on my skin and I could feel the tears trembling on her eyelashes. She had never fully stopped the affair but had suppressed it since that day. She believed she was invisible to me, and perhaps she was in substance, but her indiscretion was magnified before my eyes so I observed each detail up close. I could recall every whispered phone call when she thought I was asleep. It seemed like after my open rejection of her tonight she wasn’t attempting to conceal it at all. They mounted the stairs together, murmuring, and went into our room.
It was like she had placed a loudspeaker by the bed, I could hear every fumble and rustle so acutely. I could visualise the pictures to match the sounds, but I wanted to see it. I padded to the doorway, where her dressing table chair was propping open the door, and slid into it. I felt like the bowler-hatted man in an old movie that creeps into a deserted cinema to watch a black and white adult film. They were too absorbed to notice me, or perhaps she wanted me to witness it all.
He stripped her first. He unzipped her dress along the side and plunged his hands over her breast. She reached underneath her dress and pulled off her lace knickers on one side and then rubbed her fingers over the length of her pussy. She kicked the knickers away – it would have been poetic had I bought the knickers for her last birthday or something but I couldn’t remember having ever seen them before. His face was engrossed in her breasts. It sounded like a pig snorting around in the muck. I had once filled an A3 sheet with a sketch only of her full breasts, carving their lines and curves in great swoops with charcoal and adding her lipstick like paint for her bright nipples. Her mother had come across it whilst visiting and it had been hidden in the attic since. She pulled one of his hands downwards, but he wouldn’t lower his hand to her clit, hovering above it whilst she tried to force his fingers down to pleasure her. Her lust was so removed from the first time we had made love, when she had been so nervous that I had had to touch her so gently I was uncertain she had even felt anything. I heard the wetness of his mouth upon her neck as his free hand fondled her breasts with her hand underneath his, both pinching those nipples together. She murmured in frustration and he gave in, plunging his hand down and pushing one finger teasingly around her labia. He sat up and I watched him watching her writhe as he touched her. It was almost like it was my own hands.
She wanted more, and he gave her another of his fingers, beginning to push inside her wet opening. She let out a sudden cry when his first finger entered her, and when her moist sides had enclosed his finger he added another and eased it in. Her cry of pleasure resounded around me until I was dizzy. He was kneeling between her parted legs in a position of dominance and suddenly pulled both his hands out and up to her clit, rubbing each hand on either side of it. She released a guttering moan as she caressed her own breasts – the motion of her hands resembled someone aggressively kneading dough and yet they were so delicate and pale I wanted to take her hands in mine.
He pulled away and positioned himself over her body in readiness, obscuring my vision. There was an incongruity in how his fully clothed form was juxtaposed by her bareness – it almost seemed like it was forced upon her.
“Do you want it?” He demanded in a rough voice.
“Yes.” I had never heard her sound so ravenous.
I somehow wanted him to enter her as urgently as she did. She released another biting burst of noise as he thrust his cock inside of her for the first time. Her small feet were now wrapped over his shoulders. He suddenly grabbed her hips and swung her body around, pushing her onto all fours. They were both now facing me but could not see me; his hand was behind her head, pushing it down so her face was against the bed and his eyes were directed downwards, watching his length enter her as he thrust in and out behind her. Her fingers clamped down on the bottom edge of the bed as they rocked back and forth. The tips of her fingers were white from the pressure. Her nail varnish matched her lipstick from earlier.
I saw the nail scissors on her dresser by my side. She had cut and painted her nails that evening, sitting in front of the dresser with her small feet up upon the edge of this chair, curled up over as she painted her toenails with her hair falling in tresses over her face, just as it was now. I opened the scissors and stepped towards them. They both looked up at me.
I felt like Maxim De Winter in some sordid version of Rebecca, actually catching Rebecca and Favell in the hut by the sea. I remembered how Rebecca had wanted Maxim to kill her, knowing she was dying already. So he would be punished. I stood so she was kneeling in front of me on the bed. I held the point of the blade against her white throat. The skin was so papery the veins could be seen pulsating from under the surface. I looked up along her lines and curves, from her bright nipples to the protrusion of her collarbones, the length of her neck, her jutting chin, the lipstick smudged upon her lips. Her eyes meeting mine. I couldn’t read them. I could see the crimson blood gushing everywhere, drenching her pale body and my hands and the white sheets – with one slip of my hand it would be finished. I was at once vacant and electrified. She gasped as she reached out and grasped my hand over the handle of the scissors, taking them from me. I watched her. She held the scissors over where my erect penis was protruding under my satin pyjama bottoms. She snipped at the material once, and then cut a line into the trousers, just to the side of and right along the length of me, the slit so close I could almost feel it. She dropped the scissors on the floor.
Then she lowered her still-bright lips towards me.
“Keep going”, she whispered. And he pushed inside her once again, pushing her towards me, so her open mouth touched the tip of me. I had seen her looking up at me from this point so many times before. A moment so intimate, sometimes lustful, sometimes missing something, never quite like this. Maybe this was the only way possible at this point, in this moment.
I exhaled and let her take me in.