She wasn’t lonely. That wasn’t why she did it. It was the heat, instead, as well as the dirt of the city accumulating in the folds of the stairs, the corners of the front door. The grey breathing through the cracks, settling on the books. Clinging to her during sweaty, sleepless nights, it wouldn’t wash away in the mornings. It just made her very much aware of her body and of those of the people around her.
He worked at one of the many coffee bars in the area, and when he smiled, his face creased into dimples, narrow tracks around his eyes, broad white teeth. He was attractive, in a safe way, or so she thought at the time.
They talked. He asked about her work, she wanted to know what his plans were. She also wanted to know how old he was, but didn’t dare ask. He, in turn, didn’t ask about the ring on her finger, the child who called, interrupting their conversation.
One Saturday morning hoping to get a coffee, she showed up at the shop only to find him closing.
‘Don’t you know all public servants are on strike today?’ he asked her. She looked around at the rubbish piled up in the streets. The city would soon be smothered by its own stink. He looked at her as though he were sizing her up.
‘I’m planning to drive down to the coast today,’ he said. ‘A friend of mine has a house there. Fancy coming along?’
She had plenty of reasons not to go, but she nodded, got into his car wearing the clothes she was wearing, not even bothering to collect her toothbrush. They talked about all kinds of things along the way, but sometimes all thoughts paused, moments in which she was pulled into the deep and held her breath. When she detected a hint of his aftershave, for instance. Or when he told her a story, flapping his hands enthusiastically: strong fingers with broad nails tapping on the steering wheel. Later, steering with his left hand, he placed his other against the back of her seat. She felt his touch right through the backrest, the leather, her clothes.
They never made it to the friend’s house. Instead, they were stranded at a hotel for business travellers and people with small dreams. The place was deserted, or so it seemed. The bored-looking girl at the counter gave them a room looking out onto a soulless pool and a handful of white plastic deck chairs. ‘The bar is closed, but there’s an all-night shop on the corner. And the chef’s gone home for the night,’ the girl said, pointing to a vending machine.
‘You go upstairs and freshen up, I’ll get some wine,’ he said.
When she wondered why she’d
decided to have sex with him, it was
because of this kind of detail: hands stimulating her imagination, purposeful
instructions, the unsuspected glimmer of a dominant nature.
That night, the world existed only in their room, where they sat together drinking wine in the circle of light provided by a faded table lamp. She had settled down on the bed when he grabbed her ankles. Surprised, she didn’t know what to say, uncertain about what would follow. He looked her in the eye, wordlessly asking for permission. She nodded ever so slightly.
His grip on her ankles tightened immediately and slowly, effortlessly, he pulled her towards him. Her T-shirt rode up her body, got stuck underneath her breasts. She was aware of her nakedness, the softness of her stomach. Of how vulnerable she was. He remained poised above her, leaning on his arms, his body close to hers without touching it. Softly breathing on her mouth. There was no skin-to-skin contact, only an increase of tension, of energy, as with magnets, opposite poles, the air between them charged, thick, pulsating. Sooner than she intended, and more passionately than she had expected, she lifted up her face to his and kissed him.
Good sex is this: the self dissolving into the other. Breathlessly disappearing into a stream in which everything is equally warm, equally wet. What remains are the wisps of a memory. His hands under her shirt. Two fingers touching a nipple, pinching it hard, briefly. A suppressed scream. How he listened carefully to her breathing while pulling aside the crotch of her underwear and pressing a fingertip to her labia. How they opened up so willingly, all moist. His gasp in discovering the undisguised horniness of her body. His cock in her groping hands, much too big. Her fear and desire seamlessly merging. How much time he took to discover her, his fingers kneading her, as if he were looking for the perfect form before penetrating her.
And then, eventually, as he finally, slowly entered her, he stopped when the tip of his shaft was only halfway inside her body. She moaned as a result of how tight it felt, but he didn’t move. Instead, he licked her throat, slowly moving upwards towards her ear, whispering, ‘Say it.’ Her confused desire clawed into his shoulders, pushed up her hips towards him, but he remained motionless, his cock just a few inches inside her.
Not sure what he wanted to hear, she begged in desperation, ‘Fuck me.
Fuck me, please.’
He groaned and pushed and it was more, it was deeper, more intense than she could have imagined.
He might have been friendly, but he turned out to be dangerous in bed. A man who dominated, who punished.
A man who said he usually wasn’t this rough, but that something in her was asking for it. ‘Your skin,’ he said, it’s so creamy, so soft. Your cunt, so beautiful, your butt, so round, your waist…’ He sucked the air between his teeth. Silence.
Then, ‘If it’s that beautiful and it isn’t mine, it needs to be ravaged.’
Leaving her lying on the bed, he walked to the other side of the room, his cock large and stiff between his legs. He bent down to pick up his trousers, turned around to look at her – solemnly, full of lust – and calmly, terribly calmly pulled the belt from the loops and took it to the bed.
That night, the world inexplicably melted into one. She knew this wasn’t love, but no one had ever taken possession of her body as fully as he had, in that dirty, grim city demanding surrender or defeat.