Reflections on an Affair

 

  1. A Lover Reflects on a Fuck

 

Joy Fairfield woke up mildly hungover, her airways obstructed as always, but feeling strangely settled, and resolved. On what: she had no idea. But she felt a calmness and a certainty that had been wholly absent the morning before. She had slept naked—not her usual practice. Normally once the deed was executed she would pull on her big knickers and a frumpy nighty, but last night she hadn’t. Partly because she had been exhausted. Packet really could fuck. He was a connoisseur of fuck. He fucked like an artist. He was precise, rhythmic, and, judged even to modern secular standards, obscene. Joy blushed as she recalled the journeys his tongue, fingers and toes had taken across her anatomy.

She was still spooning him when she roused. She ran her hand down across his soft, hairy paunch, and squeezed her breasts against his back. She wondered if he fancied having another go at it, and she couldn’t remember the last time she had thought that when she woke up with a man she had taken home from work.

It wasn’t that he was especially pleasant to look at; he certainly wasn’t a contender for Mr Naked UK. It wasn’t even his British accent, or the obvious indications of wealth and class. It was his attention to detail, his devotion to his task. Sure, he was most likely a sleazy cheating husband, an absent father, and who knew how he made his money? But at least he had a passion in life to which he was utterly committed. And commitment, she had heard, was an attractive quality in a man.

But before he had revealed his virtuoso talents to her, he had just been a charming, vulnerable man, perched naked on a stool at her bar. But not permanently vulnerable—not weak. She just happened to encounter him during a short-form crisis. He had shown pointless resolve; had nervously laughed off his troubles. She couldn’t blame him for his situation; how was he to know that male nudity was essentially inappropriate in Paradise’s number one clothing-optional nightspot?

Although resolved, and pointlessly intrepid, he had been reliant on Joy’s intrigue, and he had shown her his appreciation. He had spoken to her in a manner in which men didn’t usually speak to her; with kindness, and interest. And he had come across as open and honest.

Maybe nakedness encourages honesty, after all, if nothing else is hidden… Or perhaps nakedness provides the illusion of honesty. Whether he was honest or not, she had not chosen to ascribe the value to him; she had felt instinctively that he could be nothing other. At some point, maybe a bottle and a half of wine into their relationship, she had longed to remove her own clothing, and work her shift undressed. She had broken into goose bumps at the thoughts of all those eyes on her flawed, flabby body. Half of her clientele may have seen it before, although admittedly in her bedroom’s ‘atmospheric’ lighting, but on those occasions she had longed for them to close their eyes, and this time she longed to be seen.

But she remained adorned, and she longed for the time when the last barfly would leave, and hoped that it would be Packet, and hoped that he would leave with her. Her chat with him had at first been mundane, but swiftly it had taken on an erotic charge. And when she had told him that there was more to sex than life, it had taken all her resolve to remain upright. It had been the most liberating statement of her life, which she had hitherto assumed was a life of lascivious liberation. She had felt a rush to her head, a dizziness, and her words felt like a whisper. She longed to slide to the ground and masturbate.

It was quite a thing to learn that sexual liberation was something other than sexual availability. She had always been up for it, and men had always liked that. She wasn’t demanding. She would usually make breakfast in the morning and she didn’t expect cunnilingus or a phone-call. But all her life, from the blow-job she gave Eric Peters in ninth grade to the doggy-style fuck she’d had with Paul the night before, she had been basically passive. She had just done what they wanted, without thinking about what she wanted, which she had formerly assumed to be the same.

So many evanescent shadows had been cast across her bedroom; her erstwhile cosy, tiny bedroom, which now felt like a place of profound emptiness. For all the fucks she had had, until last night, she may as well have been a maiden.

Perhaps that was hyperbole; maybe nonsense. But it was how she felt. And it wasn’t through sex that she lost her virginity (though the fuck had been a revelation); it was through assertion, through speech, and action. Those words, ‘sex is about more than life,’ seemed to her the bravest action she had ever contemplated. She had made herself vulnerable; she had put herself there, naked in front of him. But she had put herself there. She had chosen this path, and set about achieving it.

She kissed his shoulder; she admired his tenacity. She had never seen a man stay to the end like that. Most didn’t even order a drink. She could think of none who had stayed for more than one. And there was certainly none who had scored. She almost caveated that with: even if it was with me. But she didn’t.

What did she actually know about this honest, open man? He must be married, and a serial cheat. He hadn’t said this, but she knew it, and she hadn’t asked. And that was fine. He was imperfect, but strong and resolute. He was a lover of moments. He was not a scrub.

He was a different class altogether from the usual crowd, the beer and shot drinkers. He drank wine, and even naked was adorned in an aura that was easily, instantly, identifiable. That aura was money. He wore the subtle scent of wealth. He was probably an arms dealer, or maybe he owned real estate. Maybe he was going to open a hotel.

She hadn’t asked him any of this because she had been in a mood to talk of herself. She had been drunk on adrenaline, and, in retrospect she realized, also tequila. But not wobbly, just lubricated. She couldn’t remember everything she had said, as she practically dragged him home: yes, they had even walked, almost ran. But she remembered that she had barely let a millisecond go by unpunctuated by her thoughts. She had been desperate to tell him everything about herself, and about her day. She had even told him about Paul the night before, about that first blowjob that she had given Eric Peters, and she had spoken in detail about her recent listlessness.

But now she had realized that she could have a story; that she did control her life. That she had the power to affect her outcome, and those of others. She was sure he had probably agreed, but she knew that she had just kept talking over him, as she pulled him down the sidewalk like a dog—a thought which reminded her that they had seen that ragged white mutt that looked like Rod Stewart. Packet, probably overloaded with information and in need of a deep breath, had stopped and patted him. The dog had been nervous, whinnying, but Packet had calmed him down with his learned caresses. He was a skilful man.

 

  1.       A Fucker Reflects on Love

Melbourne Packet walked to the Garden of Paradise on unsteady feet. In his hand were flowers; the most expensive bunch from Flores Flowers. He left behind him a sophisticated tail of shell-shocked petals; pale blue and white crumbs to trace his steps by.

He had woken with Joy spooning him. It was the heat that woke him: her heat, which soaked in through his skin, and Paradise’s, which blared in through the window and bounced between the close-set walls. He woke with sweat on his forehead. He could sense that he was pink. He felt physically uncomfortable, clammy and hyperthermic. But he had no desire to move. No longing for the penance of soap and water.

He never slept like this, entwined. He always left upon the execution of the deed. Even, usually, with his wife.

‘Management accounts,’ he’d say, as if it meant something, and shower. On the odd occasion they did sleep in the same bed, they didn’t cuddle. She understood that he needed his space.

But this morning he had awoken with a sense of lightness. Hot, clammy, but on a bed of air. Perhaps partly causatively, he had also awoken with a boozer’s winning pool coupon; that is, he was not hungover, but mildly drunk, bright and alert to his inner world of lazy endorphins, but completely uninterested in, lacking almost any awareness of, the world outside Joy’s bedroom sauna.

He allowed this happiness to fester a while; dozing as Joy stroked his stomach. He had no need to cover his tracks, not in Paradise. Not in Eden. And he no longer felt sleazy; yesterday’s angst was absent. The endorphin tingle in his brain had spread; it had drifted southwards, first to meet Joy’s petting paw, then further. He was wholly under its instruction.

Almost wholly, as he managed, with all his strength both mental and physical, to refrain from ejaculating: on that first gentle pawing; then when she took him in her mouth; again on first penetrating her vagina; again in the second he withdrew to switch position against the wall; and at the moment she turned her gaze back over her shoulder and provided him instructions that would lose their erotic power if repeated outwith the situation they were decreed within. Packet had never felt a truer connexion and he could not withhold forever. Most fortuitously, when he did cease to withhold he enjoyed a full-body and mind orgasm, and the feeling of happiness that comes from shared pleasure; not the pleasureless spunk he usually associated with prolonged orgasm denial, not the guilt and stress of precaution that he now associated with so many of his international affairs. Finding his penis still fully erect, he surprised himself by reusing it to further good effect. By then there was no time for him to be served Joy’s traditional post-coital eggs, but she did add a decent glug of whiskey to his instant coffee, being, as she was, without unspoilt milk; and Packet could claim to be nothing less than entirely sated.

However, upon leaving Joy his sense of wellness and comfort evaporated. Something about her enthusiasm, her sexual indefatigability, had filled him with an vivaciousness. Now, alone, he felt not vivacious. He tried to re-invoke his earlier euphoria by thinking of Joy: of her cute pout, of the little white hairs above her lip, her round belly and bum, of her warmth.

He thought about their conversation the night before. As they had walked to her apartment from the Garden of Paradise she had told him of her search for the story of herself, her nascent desire to use her life for something greater than pouring mind-altering cocktails and having casual sex. But she had no great purpose; only a tentative feeling. And he thought of the drunken half-advice he may have given her, if he had been able to get a word in. He would have said, ‘you go girl,’ or something similar like, ‘you can do it.’ He would have seduced and flattered her with a few platitudes and clichés.

But now he felt quite certain the aphorisms did genuinely apply: there was something about Joy. She had a power, over him at least, that made him think she could do something exceptional. Something much grander than fucking him to a state of inner peace. And her power? It was over him, but not hierarchically. It was instructive, but not condescending. She touched him by example; there was a selflessness about her. It wasn’t entire: it was clear she was caught in her own internal struggle. But it was there, and when he was with her he was enchanted by this—by shared experience, tenderness, and, what seemed to him like, love. A genuine love, perhaps evanescent, but tangible and fulfilling.

And herein was the root of his despair in her absence. Alone, he was forced to measure his self, his life, in comparison to her’s. Hitherto, he had assumed his life a great success. True, the precautions were wearisome; but he was wealthy, popular in a vacuous way, tremendously well sexed, and he was sure that his children were probably a thing to be proud of. On reflection, in a manner, he could be seen as quite a bad person.

He had always understood that sex was different from love. Mutually exclusive, almost. Sex was what you did for release and recreation; it was base, animalistic, and it was the most important thing there was. Love was what you had with your wife. It was the appearance of bourgeois dignity; staid, and built on a foundation of words like ‘darling’ and phrases like, ‘of course, dear.’ Love was because it always had been; it was genetic condition, a biological urge to form a partnership for the business of child rearing. Love was what one needed release from.

But, after forty years, forty years in which he had strutted with the sort of self-assurance that comes being the solver of the deepest riddles of life, he was, at around 9.30 this morning, having to reconsider his opinion. For love and sex were not mutually exclusive. And whatever it was he had at his family home, it was not love. And he felt bad, not just for himself, but for those who depended on him. What he provided them with was wealth, advantage and status. They needed love, affection and attention. He did not provide this. Worse, he had perverted the idea of love for them. He had stolen something from them that he now realized was important. His progeny were incomplete, his spouse was uncherished.

And worse still, it transpired, it seemed, that the best sex was love. What he had done with Joy was no different physically than what he had done with many others. It was emotionally different though, in that it was laced with love. It glowed with the heat of common surrender. It was unlike, monumentally different from, anything he had ever experienced with his wife. He didn’t care about his wife. He supposed he would never see her again. It wasn’t this that devastated him though. It took little coming to terms with. What saddened him were the forty loveless years he had had, and the further forty that perhaps awaited him.

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I am an amateur novelist, an aspiring tax advisor, a cycle commuter, and a graduate of philosophy, politics and law

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Posted in fiction, short story

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