She slaps me with the flat of her hand. My cheek blazes, she rests her hand on it and then gently strokes her fingers towards my ringing ear.
‘Don’t waste my time. Don’t be careful with me,’ she says.
‘But I thought…’ I stammer.
Another slap on my face, a little harder now.
‘Don’t think. Own me! Really, I want you to fucking own me.’
She is sitting on top of me, her free hand on my crotch, so I can hardly pretend there’s something I’d rather be doing. We are not together at a book club. Of course I need to forget that this is the Vondelpark. No one will find us here at night, in this sheltered corner.
‘Do it. Own me!’ she says again, and then, suddenly sweet: ‘Will you do it?’
High time to leave the civilised world behind. The shift needs to happen quickly now, from the head to the body. Unfortunately, I don’t have a switch, first I have to climb over a wall and pass through that grey area, an endless no-man’s-land, where I can leave all my shame behind and then go through the last of the fog, to the place where I am free. Far more dominant, impulsive and streamlined than my soft, cautious appearance suggests. Strangely enough, I would say: much less Dutch too. As if I have finally embraced the passion and firepower of a part of me that I normally restrain out of self-preservation, covering it with a respectable veil of eloquent humility and feigned clumsiness. That’s the thing: I secretly know damn well what I have to do. She saw that right away, earlier this evening when she came to sit in the seat beside me at the open-air theatre. I recognised that look: she could see straight through my wall and she liked what she saw.
Again I feel the flat of her hand on my cheek. ‘Own me, now!’
She holds her mouth half open, slowly rolling her tongue over her upper lip and then pushing it into my mouth, short and rough, then wet and sloppy, even her tongue is saying: own me. I strike, tasting sea, sand, vodka, slightly sweet, bitter, gin and, through everything that reveals the traces of her day, I taste her, her body, sweet as dates, salty as if we are already naked and tired from play. Hungrily, I let my eyes glide over her face in the light of the night: from her lashes, black with smudged mascara, to her pupils, huge as if at a techno party, surrounded by bright fawn. Her gaze languid, submissive and murderous, all at the same time, ready for a night on the edge. Everything about that face glows and sparks, being allowed to look at that alone sends my head spinning so much that it shoots sideways and back again.
‘What?’ she asks.
‘Everything. Your freckles,’ I say.
‘Eat them up. Lick them off my face!’
I climb over the wall. I take hold of her face, grasp her cheeks firmly between my thumbs and index fingers, squeeze them together. I run as fast as I can through the grey area. With my other hand, I grasp her hair and pull her head back, playful and determined, right on that thin, dangerous line between hard and soft enough.
‘Ow!’ she says, but then immediately: ‘Yes. Please. That’s just right.’
She lifts her chin, as a queen might greet you, my tongue slides up along her neck, skims her lips, I come out of the fog, lick all the freckles from her face, skip a thousand beats. The grass is cold, but as soft as downy feathers, I push my pelvis up.
Our hands are multiplying over our bodies, which are now completely naked. I want to be everywhere at once: slide from hips, breasts, past the soft hollows of her lower back, which herald the beginning of her buttocks, smooth and soft: so many perfect lines invisibly interlocking. I want to devour this body, but so that it remains intact, because the hunger – I already know this for sure – will remain insatiable. With my fingers, I trip teasingly between her legs, across the inside of her thighs, to just beneath her navel, but always precisely along her lips, can I hear my heartbeat?
Another thousand beats later I hang over her, lift her legs onto my shoulders, in an impetuous movement that conjures up a headshaking little smile on her face, which disappears immediately, after just two seconds, as if lust has made our faces soft and fluid. As I enter her, I become even harder, everything around is wet and tight: I wish I could feel her and taste her at the same time. I slide deeper into her, lean my weight against her legs, pushing them towards her face. When she suddenly closes her eyes, I slap her cheek with my left hand, much more gently than she did to me, controlled, but hard enough: instantly I feel both barrels of those pupils trained on me again.
‘Keep your eyes open,’ I say. ‘Do you hear me?’
‘Yes,’ she says and then lays her hands on my face. I hold back for a moment. She sees me, everything that I am and ever was: a man, afraid and fearless, hard and soft, a greedy little boy. I begin gradually, with deep, slow thrusts, she bites her lip with each one, I hear her breath briefly stopping, jolting, and we fall silent, as if someone has forbidden us to make any more sound, but soon I dictate another rhythm and – how many beats later: one thousand, two? – she groans: ‘Never stop! Never stop!,’ she keeps repeating it, almost furiously, like a mantra. I don’t ever want to stop either, because if I do, I will leave gaps in the fog, through which my thoughts will slowly seep into my consciousness again, so I continue, increasing the pace, as if we are being pursued by a death foretold, and I talk to her: jagged, in short, staccato sentences, in the imperative, in a lower tone than my daylight voice. I clasp her hands, push them up above her head, until her arms are completely stretched out on the grass, her wrists caught in my clenched fist, just as my body is entwined in hers.
‘Who owns you?’ I ask and just once she says: ‘You. You own me!,’ but then she quickly reverts to those two words, the supreme, exhilarating enchantment. Never stop, no, even though I know it is a lie. That as soon as I have come inside her, I will be that boy again, on the other side of the wall.