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Sir 2.0 Episode 3

You inhale the oils in the water, carried across from the steam. You can no longer hear the ambient murmurs of the audience. A quiet relief blunts your discomfort to a degree where it becomes part of the burgeoning arousal within you. Your acceptance has unlocked the first stirrings of a wild, terrible power within you. Your need for ritual, seen perhaps as discipline to the unknowledgeable gives you permission to participate and now that you are aware of the memory block, you no longer feel powerless in the face of Sir and the guards. You take a breath in deep, to alleviate the trembling in your fingers.

One of the guards takes your arm and leads you to the table. He drops into a squat and starts to lift the hem of your hospital gown, you squirm away and there is a sharp, displeased intake of breath. Your skin tingles with disquiet and anticipation, making your nipples harden, visible through the cotton of the gown. The guard steps backwards, and Sir’s voice booms out from the darkness.

‘They act on my authority. Please do not incur my anger.’

You lower your chin to your chest, fighting the creep of blood to your face. The resistance is part of this for you, a show of defiance before the surrender in the same way that a bird flaps its wings as it takes flight. Your need for this resists the rational, and your body speaks to its power with an eloquence that your words never will. You go to remove the gown yourself and Sir speaks up to interrupt you.

‘I want him to do it. Autonomy must be earned here, little girl.’

His vocal relish in speaking aloud the title he’s assigned you sets sparks in your stomach, a slow, inexorable warmth that has waited for affirmation. You put your arms up, give the guard a stare of mock-defiance that you can comprehend but not quite feel and he comes forward. He has brown eyes, warm with interest, flecked with motes of a lighter brown within the iris. You notice a small shaving nick on his cleft chin and smile to yourself, relieved that there are small signs of humanity within the scenario. He hides his smile with a small degree of practiced care, but interest animates him, and in turn, you but you are both subject to a higher authority at this point in time.

‘Undress her.’

His expression becomes neutral, hiding behind the shield of authority as he comes towards you. You do not resist, and as he lifts the cotton gown over your head, your pulse sounds in your ears and the rush of chill air to your bare skin raises goose pimples all over. Your vulnerability, your self awareness are as much instruments in your submission as any number of toys or implements. You go to cover your breasts and pudenda with your hands but the guard tosses the gown to one side and grabs your wrists to draw your hands away. He looks at you with a second of open, primal appreciation and you enjoy how he loses himself within that for a brief amount of time before he leads you to the station. You are arranged on the board, the leather underneath is warm and your buttocks sit ably in the cut out section, leaving you exposed there.

The guard adjusts the cuffs and slips them onto your wrists and then moves the stands into play. His rough fingers dance against the soles of your feet, but you are too suffused with feeling to laugh. You test the restraints and find they resist your struggles with ease. The guard looks out into the darkness, then walks around to the bowl and picks up the natural sponge, placing it into the bowl and you turn your head to watch him.

Unable to move anything more than your midsection, the spotlight’s glare forces you to close your eyes. You hear the sponge being squeezed out into the bowl and then the rough-wet drag of it against your skin. The water is hot and you give a small cry of surprise as the guard washes you in small, deliberate circling motions of the sponge. Where he has washed you, the air caresses your damp skin. Each breath carries the scent of lime and coconut, diffused by the steam. Without the means to resist him, he draws the sponge over your breasts, and the slow drag of the sponge’s fibres makes your nipples harden, tender and electric with sensation. He runs the sponge down your stomach and you twist, involuntarily against it.

‘Does my little like being washed like this? I like how you wriggle.’

His voice bypasses your resistance, and although the guard is carrying out the task, in your head, his touch and Sir’s words combine into a thrilling whole. Supine in your constriction, you arch your back when the sponge returns, swollen with fresh water and starts to wash you over your hips. You push your knees together but the guard shoves them apart and sweeps the sponge against the tender skin of your inner thighs.

‘If she does that again, pinch her.’ Sir’s voice has a playful harshness.

You do it again, and good to his word, the guard takes a section of skin on the inside of your right thigh and pinches it with a clinical expertise. The pain travels upwards and you fight tears and hiss at how sharp and clean it is. Without ambiguity, the control asserted is a route to the most divine liberation.

You do not recall choosing this, but your decision reflects your wants like a mirror.

He carries on washing you, and you feel the blunt tips of his fingers parting your labia and the sponge applied there, pressed with an enthusiasm against the tender, pulsing flesh.

‘I see there’s hair there. I think we need to get rid of that, don’t you little girl?’

The pain has started it’s work, aided by the knowing yet uncaring touch against your throbbing clitoris. His fingers are either side of it, tweaking and pulling at the hood to ensure that you are both entirely on display to him and clean.

You must be clean for Sir.

You gasp out an affirmative and hear the click of fingers.

‘Now, let’s see what we can do about that, shall we?’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sir 2.0 Episode 2: Processing.

86

You swallow but your throat is acrid with tension. You cannot make out the details of the people watching you, only that they are there. The gown continues to shift up on the back of your legs, adding self consciousness, drop by drop, over the stir of emotions that collide and change within you.

‘To complete processing, you will undergo a cursory medical examination and a bathing procedure. Once those are complete, you will be assigned sleeping quarters and then left to your own devices until tomorrow morning.’

You narrow your eyes against the light. The voice has retreated behind an air of routine and its emotional content is all that you have to go on in terms of figuring out what is going on here. How much trouble, you potentially are in depends on what information you can glean from your present circumstances.

‘The correct response is yes sir.’

Your heart beats hard and faster. There is a low murmur of conversation, and a stifled giggle which rakes its nails down your spine. A hot flash of humiliation bursts in your stomach, a perfect emotional time travel, taking you back to high school again. The spotlight is hot, and you can feel perspiration beginning to teem underneath your arms and at the small of your back. At this precise moment, every sense is sharpened, ready to cut like a theatre of eager surgeons. Whether it’s you or someone else, depends on the response you give.

‘Yes, sir.’

You raise a hand and a titter snakes through the audience.

‘Am I being held here against my will?’

The laughter grows and someone calls out ‘not with those thighs, dear.’ Your cheeks burn with blood and tears well in the corners of your eyes.

‘Don’t laugh at me.’

That draws a series of oohs.

‘What upsets you more, being held here against your will or being laughed at?’

The voice comes through, silences the others in its wake. The way a comet burns up air on its passage through the night sky.

‘Don’t play doctor with me. I want an answer to my question.’

The voice gives a dark chuckle that makes you shiver to be its subject.

‘What if you had already been asked that question?’

You frown, aware that the spotlight makes every expression exaggerated. Another ripple of laughter starts up. It hurts more than the first time and you start to back up.

‘Stop right where you are.’

You jerk at the change in tone and volume and in response, the back of your gown hitches up a centimetre, highlighting the backs of your thighs where they meet your ass. You give an involuntary yelp, which fuels the embarrassment even further.

‘I wouldn’t, there’s nothing wrong with me.’

He pauses and the laughter dies away again. It’s application reminds you of a whip or a paddle and its sting unsettles rather than the pure, stable joy of pain that you enjoy. That you recognise this comes to you unbidden and without import.

‘My point, exactly.’

A wall to the left bursts into brilliant, white light and coalesces into a screen. A series of numbers dance across, teeming in patterns of deliberate complexity before it opens on a woman’s face, smiling.

Your face.

‘Hey, look you’re probably freaking out about now, but that’s kind of the point. I am you and you are me, before all this starts off.’

You watch yourself give your name, date of birth, social security number, mother’s maiden name and that you have paid to experience SIR, signed a raft of paperwork to avoid indemnity and that you should just relax and go with it.

Offscreen, a female voice asks you onscreen how you heard about SIR. You smile, and you recognise yourself, the telltale blink that you give and the bitemark on the inside of your lip that you could probably slip the edge of your front teeth again and find the indentation by instinct.

Your capacity to tear yourself to pieces without cause, a thought arises, might be part of why you are here.

Not that you are sure what here means.

‘I go to a munch two towns over once a month and one of the subs there went. She did not stop talking about it so I looked into it and -‘

You watch yourself spread your arms and grin. A hopeful light twinkles in your eyes. If this is not you, then it’s terrifying in its accuracy.

‘Here you are. Or I am. Sorry, I get tongue tied with things like this.’

The interviewer chuckles and you join in, a little ahead of the beat and the audience in the room follow along. The screen fades into black.

‘We’ve installed a block on your memories. We don’t change anything about you, and at every turn, we’re a bit like the opposite of a supermarket. We always offer choice. You are here because you want to be, but part of what makes this so popular and so important to maintain discretion is that we agree that this is all part of the play.’

Your breath is molten in your lungs and a heat begins to pool in the pit of your stomach, drawn downwards by gravity and you clench your thighs together to make the sensation flare deeper and warmer.

‘So, I volunteered for this?’

A hum fills the air and you experience the interview directly again. The leather chair underneath you, the scent of the Ethiopian coffee that you were offered on arrival and the drive over, calculating how much this was going to cost you. Chrissy had said it was ‘life-altering’ and you knew that your life could use some of that.

Some people went into simulations about the zombie apocalypse, you came here.

‘Does that answer your question?’

You stare into the darkness. The want is bolder than your fear, it puts a leash on it and a muzzle. The courage hardens your nipples, relaxes the muscles between your thighs, opening and transforming the emotions into fuel for the engine of your desire and your fear and your need.

There have seldom been clear distinctions between them and that, you know is part of why you are here. You smile and lower your head. Deferment is part of it, and you know that there is expectation and a responsibility here for you. It is a misconception that the submissive is powerless, and you stopped explaining this to vanilla types a long time ago. Here, you have the power and the voice, the eyes in the darkness are asking you to take it.

‘Yes, where do we start?’

The table is wheeled in with stainless steel stirrups mounted on telescopic stands mounted on the ends, a section cut away in the middle and velcro straps at the top end. A second table is brought in with a bowl of steaming, lilac and coconut scented water and a natural sponge. You run your tongue over your lips, and your heartbeat drowns out the thoughts in volume and rhythm.

No one is laughing at you now. Which is a good place to start.

‘Whenever you are ready.’

TO BE CONTINUED.

 

 

 

 

 

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These Walls

20161122_082051

These walls

Pulse with intention

Xanadu

Heaven

Wondrous fever dreaming

Borne into being

Stroked by my

Rough, gentle fingers

Sheets clenched in your fists

Your eyes blaze

Divine under my attentions

No prohibition beyond my command

Supine as you become full, my vessel

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Violent Delights

I tremble with the

Effort of control

Not monstrous

Nor misogynistic, although

The accusation is thrown,

Oftentimes in hindsight

I understand

Forgive it

Envy it sometimes

The light of

Self-knowledge

Makes my head hurt

Even as other aches

Rise like smoke

I would never hurt

Intentionally

I only come

When called

Invite me across

The threshold

But do not expect

Tender gifts in

Return

Too often given

Expensive

And I need

Time to heal

The ghosts

All offer

But never promise

They die as wholly

As my heart

But these violent delights

Remain

Too powerful

To be wielded

By anyone

I bear them

In lieu

When they leave

Like those

Who praised them

The loudest

A fall

Into

Silence

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Closed For The Season.

 

This agony

Tests my dimensions

Inspires a grand violence of spirit

Anger is an anaesthetic

That allows me to go through

The day

Numb and shivering

And how the world goes on

Ignoring my resentment

At the callow circumstances, fate swept

The house of cards from the table

How could a love so grand and operatic

Feel so prevalent on circumstance

That the blank, warm milk

Of domesticity

Tastes sweeter than the wine

I offered.

I have lost as much as I loved.

I insinuated you, opened every door

To my heart’s mansion

Opened up as you asked me to

But the cold wind blows

Even the fire has died

And there is no one here

To keep me warm

Let me shiver to death

Cursing the world.

Yet if you peered around the door

I would let you in

Dear god, how I would

Let

You

In

But for now, this house needs boards nailed to the windows

And I shall become a ghost,

Lost to some other place

Than here

 

 

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Limited Service

ghost_train_by_han_van_zem-d71d75z

(http://milannikolapetrovic.deviantart.com/art/Ghost-train-425558663)

Lizzie stood alone on the platform, arms wrapped around herself, and looking down the tracks. Every noise made her react until even the rasp and rattle of the breeze had her nerves on edge.

Harry had once told her about the ghost trains. Scheduled trains that stopped at odd places, single journeys that appeared to end up going nowhere.  Kept open because it was easier than closing down a line, itself made cumbersome by an Act of Parliament.

He had taken her once, back when things were good, and they had watched it come in. Empty and unused, just an ordinary process made magical by their presence, an imp of bureaucracy at the bottom of their heart’s garden.

He wasn’t coming. She only hoped that it was late enough that the kids would stop knocking on the door, asking for sweets.

That’s what had started it between them.

She had come home with a couple of bags of generic chewy candies, individually wrapped and an orange moulded plastic bucket shaped like a jack o’lantern. Ten minutes queuing in the pound shop and change from a five pound note. She was excited to show Harry, a way of testing the water to see if he had changed his mind about things. The little rituals that she had dreamed of since they had met.

He had looked at the shopping bag in her hand, sneering from the couch as he put the controller down.

‘What the fuck is that for?’

She grimaced, her stomach starting to hurt at how his tone of voice whipped through her like a belt being swung.

‘Thought we’d get summat when the kids show up.’

He shook his head and picked up the controller.

‘Not answering the fucking door t’kids.’

She set the bag on the table and began to take off her coat.

‘You don’t have to, Harry, I will. It’s not like it’s a nice thing to do, or anything like that.’

He often ignored her sarcasm, she had learned how to phrase a comment so that it sailed over his head like a paper airplane but not always. His frustration was fuel for the engine in him that made his self awareness a touch more acute.

‘What’d you say to me?’

He had not gotten up from the couch but he had pushed his heels against the couch, ready to get up and then it would follow the usual pattern. Him, invading her space with his squat, bulldog physique going to seed and his bitter, oily breath. A magnet with two polarities: indifference or aggression.

On cue, he got up and swept the bag from the table.

‘No fucking kids, in my fucking house. ‘

She backed up against the counter, breathing hard and struggling not to cry.

She did not cry when he struck her across the cheek. A maintenance slap. She had endured worse than this but it never stopped hurting.

It was the sight of the bucket, broken pieces poking out through the handles of the bag that did it. A perfect symbol of what she wanted and would never have.

She reached behind her. The wooden handle of the knife he had used and left to cut the loaf open felt right in her hands. When he slapped her again, she closed her eyes and swung the knife, in a perfect downward arc.

He fell back, clutching at his throat with his hand. The blood squirted through it, against his fingers as he collapsed against the table.

There was so much blood. An ocean of it inside him, pouring out through such a tiny cut in him.

She dropped the knife. She did not grab her coat as she left.

Outside, tight little knots of supervised children clad in masks and cloaks of black rubbish bags, led by wearied parents moved around her. She was running without a destination in mind.

Away. It was all she could think of. Away.

Harry had been into trains. Studying timetables and spending hours waiting for particular  engines to arrive into the station. He had been gentle once, before the accident. The compensation that had not gone as far as they had hoped. The pain had rewired their lives together into something desperate and vicious. She ran into the station, and looking at the clock knew that it was due anytime now.

 

The huff and screech of it’s arrival compelled her to step to the edge of the platform.

She got on as the sirens grew louder. When the doors closed behind her, a chill hand brushed the hair from her face. She shut her eyes and felt cold breath on her cheek.

Welcomed her home.

 

 

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The Devil Went Down To Pensacola

What offended Lou most about the protest was it’s lack of taste.

The signs were written in black, bold fonts on neon and hot pink pieces of card glued to lengths of wood. Some earnest art project gone horribly wrong.  He stood and watched them with his forehead furrowed in amusement, smoking and smirking to himself.

He seldom took time off. Today though, he had outsourced the day to day affairs to a few ‘trusted’ subordinates and had found himself in Pensacola. The weather was something that he found entirely comfortable, even with the dark pinstripe and the cravat, his hair remained a perfect sculptured wave of white blonde hair and his face was a perfect study of milk poured atop ivory.

He tutted to himself, cast the cigarette to the ground and crushed it beneath the heel of his boots before walking to join the other mourners. He walked alongside a young couple, their eyes red with tears who kept looking to the small, vicious knot of people across the street. The elder of the two went to approach but his partner put a steadying hand out and shook his head.

‘They’re not worth it.’

The young man turned and looked into the perfect, violet eyes of the stranger.

‘Sorry, he hates those guys.’

He looked past them and narrowed his eyes.

‘On grounds of taste alone, I’d agree.’

He knew that the couple were Iain and Benjamin, that they had met in college and were at one point, experimenting with the deceased in a polyamorous relationship before primal notions of dominance asserted themselves and they did not speak for a while. He knew the worst in people, and that was why he loved them so much.

Looking at the church, he knew what would be said and what would be meant. Funerals were clumsy affairs and seldom captured a life, good or bad. They were for the living, and the dead oftentimes spoke of the self serving omissions and errors that irritated them. The event that marks your passing has all the depth and veracity of a celebrity autobiography.

So, seeking amusement, he walked across the street. He heard calls and ignored him, lit up another cigarette because it would irritate them and he smoked like a fiend. He was not afraid of cancer, cancer was afraid of him.

‘YOU’RE GOING TO BURN IN HELL, FAGGOT.’

They spoke in upper case, angry comments on the internet without the excuse of anonymity. He pitied how empty they looked, even he knew the fullness of existence. Even though it hated him.

‘I was actually coming to thank you, actually.’

His fringe had fallen into his eyes but he kept it in order to avoid having to look at them directly. He inhaled the cigarette smoke, enjoyed the tickle in his throat and how they had lapsed into silence.

One of them, with his dad bod, undulating chin waddle sparsely covered by a beard that resembled glued on pubic hair stared at him. Every instinct screaming to run, but self righteousness and hitherto undiagnosed fetal alcohol syndrome made him stand his ground.

‘For saving your immortal soul? I should think so.’

Lou chuckled, a dry, ugly sound like dessicated branches sweeping against a window pane. It was a laugh that once sounded chimes in the heart of creation, but time and circumstance had rendered it’s beauty into something practical and terrifying.

‘Oh you sorry little sac, you really have no idea how it works, do you?’

Lou managed something that had eluded the great and the good who encountered the group’s feverish infant protests.

Silence.

‘He doesn’t concern himself with hatred, neither does the boy. He pities your lack of understanding, if anything.’

He lit up another cigarette. It carried an unearthly scent, due to the fields it was grown in, fertilised with the eternal corpses of the damned. It made marijuana look like child vitamins and the crowd’s noses wrinkled collectively in response.

‘But why let the facts get in the way of the resolutely good time you all appear to be having, eh?’

Dadbod gripped the sign in his doughy hands and began to advice. Lou laughed and waved his finger in a mocking gesture.

‘Seriously, don’t.’

Dadbod, looked around, lost in a storm of primal panic and aggression, before committing to the worst possible decision and charging him. Huffing to accommodate his lack of experience with actual aggression and a cardiovascular system that would lose in a race with a sleepy dormouse, he charged and for a moment, imagined shoving this petulant asshole to the floor. In an instant, he saw the approval of his peers as a parade of hateful good feeling and was heartened by it.

Which was when Lou stepped neatly to the left and watched him tumble, using his face as a brake. Pink and scarlet shreds of skin laid in streaks against the asphalt, like abandoned gum, devoid of flavour but not colour. Dadbod screamed, clutching his face and Lou walked over to him.

‘This, Gary, is a perfect metaphor for your approach.’

His smile uncoiled, a bright and terrible beauty that made it’s mark on this world and he continued.

‘I have no time for lectures, but I encourage you to really pray. Listen to that small voice, the one that you actually struggle with but you pretend is dyspepsia, and follow that.’

He stood up, bowed formally from the waist and went about his day with a wink that made the nascent libidos of many of the protestors and crowd flutter like a newborn butterfly. There was a woman at the tent hire place he wanted to look at, and a plate of chicken parmesan to enjoy.

 

 

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The Bridge At Otter Creek

Justin was barking into his phone as he took the corner at speed, and when he caught a glimpse of his face in the rear view mirror, he was shocked at how angry he looked. He had spent the entire drive back from the city seething at how badly the deal had gone. Right now, he was on the phone to Tia, who had sworn blind that the deal was good.

‘You wasted my motherfucking time, Tia. How am I supposed to make my nut when you’re sending me out to mom and pop operations?’

Justin looked up, the bridge at Otter Creek ahead meant that he could get back into town before dusk. Already thinking about hitting up Kev, a gram and a couple of shots of Maker’s would salve his wounded pride. He swallowed, feeling a seam of hard steel at the back of his throat, burning with thwarted pride.

‘Justin, you’re going into this thinking that every lead is a Fortune 500, it doesn’t work that way and Mr Helsdon – ‘

‘Mr Helsdon needs to shit or get off the pot, Tia. He’s been with the same insurer for fifty years, golfs with the guy every Tuesday afternoon. You wasted my time, Tia.’

He hit the bridge and before he was halfway across, a sudden wave of emotion overwhelmed him.

‘I’m scared, Tia. I turn 30 this year and I’m fucking terrified of turning out like my dad did. Fat, useless, trading on old glories. I don’t want to look back and see that my life peaked in high school -‘

Tia took in a sharp breath, overwhelmed by the pleading and the pain in his voice.

‘It’s okay, just it’s been rough I know – ‘

Justin shook his head, squeezing out tears that ran down his cheekbones.

‘No, I know that you’re fixing to leave and I don’t blame you because I treat you like shit but that’s because I can’t stand how much I fucking need you Tia.’

Tia looked around, waited for him to laugh or someone to pop up with a camera to record her reaction.

‘Justin, just come back. We can talk about Houston.’

He crossed the bridge, his fear gone, the way a vampire dies in the sunlight, ash and bone fragments. The next few miles were strange ones for him, and better ones too.

2.

June had kept up a running monologue for so long that when she fell silent, Andy wondered if something in his brain had finally broken. She asked him something, and he murmured his agreement without hearing what it actually was.

‘Do you ever listen to me?’

He lowered his chin to his chest and sighed. It had been a long weekend, her family would all toss disapproving looks when they thought he wasn’t looking.

‘Of course honey, just it’s been a long drive. But look, we’re nearly home.’

She sighed and turned the radio up. It was her way of ensuring that Andy did not get to speak and whereas once he would have resented it, now he was grateful. They had separate lives, running in parallel, a truce rather than a marriage. Since the kids had left, the house was too quiet and neither of them quite knew how to handle it.

As the bridge rattled beneath the wheels of their Prius, Andy reached and turned the station off with a sharp twist.

‘The reason I don’t listen to you is that you don’t give me a chance to speak, June-Bug.’

June’s face sharpened, the perpetual mask of good manners slipped to show the woman beneath.

‘That would require you to say anything that wasn’t about work or football, Andy-Bug.’

He grinned and shook his head, sighing with a gesture that made her damp.

‘When was the last time we had sex, June? Not just the time where you use my dick as a sleeping pill. That was April last year.’

June snivelled and wiped her eyes.

‘I didn’t think you wanted to. I thought you’d made other arrangements. The Hawkins girl.’

He laughed and shook his head.

‘That would be like fucking a box kite. I still jerk off about you, June-Bug but you don’t seem interested.’

He clamped a rough hand on her thigh and she thought she might explode right there.

They stopped once they were on the other side of the bridge. It was quick, but it was good and despite the years, they managed to surprise themselves.

3.

It slipped beneath the water from where it had hung beneath the bridge. It knew that the world seldom offered such ample opportunities for it’s kind and that it could feed from here for a long time to come. It was full. That was enough for now.

 

 

 

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The Boys And Their Mothers (NSFW)

Clea kept flexing her right hand as she waited in the queue. The surgery had been successful but she would never have full function again, and the painkillers merely took the edge off the pain but never removed it entirely. She would shift the small pile of books from one arm to the other. Her library card was, out of everything, the most valuable part of her new identity for her.

Books were her only escape now, aside from the painkillers and the SSRIs. The therapy, a condition of her parole, left her scrubbed raw for days afterwards and she needed these library visits to give her some sense of herself again.  She had spent the last five years under the eyes of several institutions, none of whom looked upon her with kindness. She had her supporters but their generosity of spirit was short lived. Another cause, another victim to raise in their estimation and she was left to deal with herself again.

She would have googled herself but she was not allowed to use a computer with access to the internet. Life for her was lived in the margins, defined by where she could not go and what she could not do. Who she could not speak to, or call, or write. A small apartment, so damp that the walls breathed, paperwork and everything cracked, worn and patched up. A second act as depressing as a Werner Herzog documentary.

Today was her son’s seventeenth birthday. She had spoken about it, the therapist sat there, digging into his furred nostril when he thought that she wasn’t looking and staring at his faded brown loafers when she was. She had arranged for a card to be sent, but she would never know if he received it. Christmas had been especially difficult for her this year.

Christmas was always difficult. It had been a time for family, for love and contentment, defined by the pressure for bigger presents, brighter and larger lights, more food and for her to show the world that as a wife, a mother she always went the extra mile.

Steve worked hard, long days and even bringing work home with him, barking numbers into the phone as he sat in his wood panelled den. He loved her, not in the way that she wanted but as a symbol, a symptom of his invention and his determination. He looked at her but barely even saw her.

Unlike Finn, her son’s friend.  Cerulean blue eyes, jet black hair and honeyed skin. Lean from track, ungainly as though his limbs had a life independent of his will. Shirts versus skins in the yard, watching him with a frosted glass of lemonade pressed against her cheek. Flush with heat as she watched him.

It had seemed so small a thing, to express an interest in him. Both his parents were absent in their own ways, Greg ran a car dealership and Rebecca drank. He bloomed at her attention and her thirst grew more complex, sharper and richer. He had come over when she was alone in the house one afternoon, thirteen years old and trembling with curiosity and confusion. A stronger woman would have turned him away.

Clea would have turned him away.

But her name was not Clea then.

Later, with only dry literature to sustain her, she had come across a quote from Oscar Wilde. Had missed it during the cycles of mom memes, photos and passive aggressive status updates. That he could resist anything except temptation.

Then, Finn had brought a friend.

And another. Feverish, damp knots of flesh in the basement.

Footage.

She had been at the PTA meeting when the police arrived. By then, it was almost a relief. She had reached down into the fire of her need and been scarred by it. The trial, the sentencing, the comments online all spoke with either vulgarity, muted indignation or dissembling. Even prison had been brief, and Clea knew that had she been a man with a pubescent girl, or god forbid a boy, she’d never have seen daylight again. The shiv through her forearm had been the only notable incident and that had shaved some time off her sentence.

Today, she had picked up John Updike’s The Witches of Eastwick and there was a copy of Germaine Greer’s The Boy that she knew would necessitate hiding but still, she needed something. Without making conversation, she checked the books out at the self service terminal and went outside. She could have waited for the bus but it was a nice evening and she wanted to walk. Such small pleasures were all she had left.

She could look through the Greer on the way.

The park would have taken ten minutes off the walk but she did not risk it, not at night and so she kept to the main streets until she saw the sagging building that she called home. She had the rest of the tagliatelle for supper, then it would be a cup of tea, a bit of reading and then sleep. She had the privacy of her head, at least, both heaven and hell to her dependent upon her mood and her circumstances. God loves a trier, her daddy had said.

Then she felt the cold hard object at the base of her spine.

‘Gimme yo’ fucken’ purse.’

She panicked, eyes watering as she put her hands up, dropping her purse and her books. She inhaled the tangy musk of perspiration, layers of that cheap body spray and the faint hue of pot.

‘It’s on the floor. ‘

She turned her head, looking into eyes that were tawny gold, like fresh cider, brown skin over high cheekbones and all of it framed in a faded hood as he raised the pistol up to her face.

‘Pick it up, ain’t got all day.’

She reached but her fingers touched the cover of the Greer book, the index finger blessing where the collar bone of the angelic boy on the cover, the face that made her ache with longing as Finn’s face had.

It had gotten to her that he had not coped well afterwards. The memory had been hidden for so long from her conscious mind that she began to turn, infected with the same fervour that had brought those packs of beautiful boys to her, their first and for Finn, his last. Someone had shouted at them and she looked up, the boy’s face was a mask devoid of sentiment and passion. Beautiful and terrible all the same.

He raised the barrel of the gun, and she did not close her eyes. She smiled at him and wished that she’d been given time enough to thank him.

She brought up her hand and the world went red.

 

 

 

Categories
andy weir books craft creative writing dark places fiction gillian flynn writing

Dark Places

It is a good book, not as disturbing as Sharp Objects nor is the plot as engaging as Gone Girl but it represents a transition between the two books in an interesting evolution. There is a sense of rural noir, the desperate bleak horror of what an economy in freefall does to people and how that horror compels some terrible, long reaching decisions and consequences. There are moments of nihilistic decadence, and the narrative shows the lies and self deceptions as having a reach beyond the immediate.  Yet for all it, it lacks the passion of the first book and the inexorable logic of the third. It is still a cut above the majority of it’s imitators but it slightly dips for me.

At the moment, I am working on an uncomfortable dinner scene that moves things forward and reveals some hidden subtexts that arose between the first draft and this, that gave me some really powerful insights into the book and the characters. These moments are really what shape the story for me, they’re borne out of that time spent marinating in the universe of the characters as well as a general playfulness, best espoused as  ‘what if’.

It’s good to be in this place, where the book is evolving and I can also cut away the dead ends that clutter a first draft. I aim for a smooth, legible read and resist anything that reads too much like WRITING’ to me. The story, the book is the boss and although beautiful language is aesthetically important, whatever poetry exists does so at the story’s behest. It has to follow it’s own logic, and sometimes that frustrates me, especially when there are points where it feels like I am trudging rather than flying through things but that’s necessary sometimes. I can always cut. I can always cut. Two pages a day builds up a routine where it becomes autonomic on one level and frees up mental real estate for when I come across story issues.

I’ve started The Martian by Andy Weir, which has an engaging, avuncular voice as well as a well staged increase in scale and urgency. Science is amazing but here, we get to see how even the simplest of tasks can be fraught with danger in the most hostile environment known to us, an alien planet. The tone is engaging and even from a layman’s perspective, Weir makes the explanations of the dangers and trials involved as tense as a gunfight.