Lizzy picks an indefinable chunk of food out of the plughole. It puts her in an incredibly bad mood. Instant depression, in fact. She and Enkidu had a big fight last weekend about the blocked sink; she wanted to call a plumber, he wanted to do it himself and then resented her because he had to do it himself, while she held him responsible for the blockage. Running a home can be so unbearably annoying, thinks Lizzy. And just as things had been getting better.
During the first lockdown, she and Enkidu, after twelve years of supportive harmony, enduring physical enthusiasm and sufficient escape routes – the importance of that third factor had only fully dawned on her this year – had almost drowned in a morass of rising dissatisfaction. Scenes had ensued that neither of them wishes to remember now. They had only barely managed to put all that behind them. They had actually entered the second lockdown intimate and grateful, both suddenly overcome by a sexy sense of fun. However, a vague impression of that apocalyptic atmosphere is apparently still lurking in the background. But he had finally managed to unblock the sink and she had just prevented a repeat. The sources from which to draw our optimism don’t always amount to much.
In the aftermath of their argument, they have not yet exchanged many words. Enkidu has gone out to post a letter. Lizzy doesn’t want to dwell on the possibility that, instead of doing so, he is pleasing a lover. Suspicious thoughts of that kind, like a thick fog escaping from the walls of her skull, have regularly plagued her since her world has by necessity become smaller. He, too, frequently descends into a state of jealous antagonism, particularly when she goes for a walk with a male friend. He would never admit it, but she can tell from his bottom lip, which becomes a little pointed. What’s more, he always has to make some kind of comment about super-spreaders or research that mentions seven metres instead of one and a half. Lizzy finds it both irritating and amusing. She hasn’t told him about his lip.
After tossing the chunk of food into the bin with a piece of kitchen roll and washing her hands again, she returns to Edith Templeton’s Gordon, about a woman who allows herself to be humiliated by a psychiatrist. The man eventually commits suicide because she, as a masochist, arouses something within him that knows no end and so he finds it impossible to bear. Well, thinks Lizzy. That’s what you get.
She does become aroused by the passages about the woman being taken hard and deep. But being set about with a hammer until the handle breaks – that kind of thing doesn’t get her wet. She also notices that the protagonist, in spite of all the boundaries that are broken, is surprisingly prudish: masturbation is a sin from the past, anal sex is a nightmare and the suggestion of liking women is cause for indignation. But rapes and hammers are fine. People can be so very different, Lizzy concludes, not for the first time.
Although she has to admit that some rather sadistic men have played a role in her past. The last one briefly choked her while they were fucking. She’d let him do it, as she was confident that he wouldn’t murder her, but mainly because she was aware that his behaviour was based on a misinterpretation of something she’d told him and how embarrassing it would be for both of them if she pointed that out. That man and others like him, all too binary, all in all pretty boring creatures, had disappeared from her life. She doesn’t like to think about them and is relieved that the chance of bumping into them has been slim for months now.
When she hears the key sliding into the lock of the front door, she immediately slams Gordon shut. Enkidu is already home. That makes her suddenly so happy and therefore more fragile. If he’s in a bad mood, it’ll instantly transfer to her.
The way he says hello already promises an improvement in the atmosphere. As he looks for something in the fridge, she takes off her clothes. He does his familiar ‘Hm?’ and when she presses her breasts and mound against the back of his body, against his sweater and jeans, he cups both her buttocks with one big warm hand. He closes the fridge and turns around to her for a slippery game between his mouth and her nipples.
She fondles the bulge in his jeans – happy to see her – and helps him out of his clothes. How beautiful he still is, and she is too – for just a little longer, just a little longer, as she’s been thinking for years. They find each other’s mouths and continue to be amazed at the dialogue between their skin, how their bodies want to cover each other from top to toe with the perfect texture, temperature, the spirit that shines through and knows more than they do. All he has to do is let the tip of his penis rest gently against her clitoris for a short while and she feels hundreds of spiral rays vibrating out from that point and through her body and then calmly ebbing away and back until everything is shaking. He sits on a chair, her on top of him, he comes inside her and he’s so big and hard, and he sounds alarmed, even a little indignant, when he says: ‘What a gorgeous pussy!’ She can’t help laughing. And before he comes, thrusting under her grinding hips, he gently squeezes her labia together between thumb and forefinger, propelling her towards a second, faster climax.
In the pounding, panting moments that follow, she thinks about a friend’s confusion at something her elderly mother said. The daughter had asked her mother if she and her father wouldn’t be better off living apart; those crescendos of annoyance, all that broken crockery, that shouldn’t be happening anymore at their age, should it? The mother had looked at her daughter in disbelief and said: ‘Do you have any idea how much fun we have in bed?’ That’s a possible future for Enkidu and me, thinks Lizzy, and it could be worse.