◊ This isn’t precisely smut, but there’s an eroticism running through the whole piece that has compelled me to share it… –X
A roaring explosion woke her from her drugged slumber. She stepped on a half-empty goblet on the way to her closet, but she was so scared she didn’t register the pain. Her sour wine breath filled her walk-in as she cowered on her pile of high heels.
Jesus God it’s been a while I’m so sorry I don’t want to die I’ve changed my mind –
She plucked the gold cross from between her breasts. The imprint of it on her skin ached, so she rubbed while she prayed.
This is unreal a bad dream if I wake up I promise I’ll-
Faraway blasts shook the walls. She stopped praying and strained to hear through the din of the sirens. There was the steady repetitive booming again, and a muffled voice. The police! She ran to her front door trailing blood. It was only a man.
“Mother of God!” he exclaimed as he ran by her into the dark, trembling.
“Hardly.” A sister siren wailed even more insistently.
“‘Thanks fer openin’. Nobody else would.” He panted in her tiny foyer.
She was still numb. When she crawled back into her closet, her sheer nightgown rode up and he saw her smooth bottom. Her thighs glistened, and he temporarily forgot about the bombs.
“Shut the bloody door, man!” Something clicked, and there was light. She settled on her shoes again but he stood in the middle, wringing his hands. He looked blue-collar – familiar territory. She rolled her shoulders forward so her breasts would pour out of the top of her nightgown. “Why don’t you sit down?” A spaghetti strap fell off her shoulder and there was a crescent of camel areola. He sat down with a thud. “Good.” She rubbed his knee, and he saw her scar.
“That looks like it ‘urt.” He was monotone with terror. She rubbed her wrist.
“You’d think so, right?” She covered her forearms with the hem of her nightgown.
“I was just ‘ere ter see me mum,” he said, hugging his knees.
“Is that so?”
“The sirens started when I was ‘alfway up the stairs…then I remembered she’s at my bloody sister’s across the fuckin’ country.” His teeth chattered. “Thank fuckin’- I mean, thank God.”
“You religious?” She wanted to talk about God. Or even gods, or Buddha. He smiled wistfully.
“Me mum’s a strict Catholic. She’s always telling me ‘I’m praying for ye Billy…I want to reach heaven first and eventually be joined by all me brood.’ That’s me mum for ye.” He slipped back into a brogue as he reminisced. “‘I knew ye were trouble since I carried ye,’ she’d tell me.”
“My grandmum was the same way. She was a mantilla-wearing Catholic and proud of it. Said the Church had been taken over by thieves. Father McConnell was terrified of her.” She winced at the memory. She hadn’t meant to be so dire.
“Aye, some tarnished the name of the Church, but there’s a lot o’ good people too…a lotta good people.” The floor trembled. She extended her legs in front of her. She had a little birthmark on her left kneecap. He wondered whether it tasted like it looked.
He cleared his throat. “You still go? To St. Andrews?”
“No, I don’t. I haven’t been since First Communion. I started to live with my mother after that, and she doesn’t believe in anything.” She tugged on the cross around her neck. “My grandmum gave me this before she passed.” He leaned in to look at the delicate gold cross, but his eyes skidded on the tops of her breasts. She took a deep breath, a reflex.
“I got one too – got it First Communion, like you.” His had a crucified Christ on it, spindly limbs twisted in agony. She repressed a shiver. He tucked it back into his shirt and patted his chest, tucking Jesus in. “My Dad gave it to be before he left.” His face was suddenly flushed with emotion.
“Sounds like you still have your mum.” She said it with the same accent, and he smiled.
“Damn straight.” He ran his fingers through his hair. “You think this’ll pass?”
“I don’t know. It has never gotten this far.” She looked at the ceiling of her closet as if she could see the sky through it. He extended his legs so they crossed over hers.
“This is bollocks. It ain’t even our issue, but we’re still gonna pay for it.” His boots scratched on the wall. Any other time, she would’ve been upset. It didn’t matter now.
“Isn’t that the way life is, though?” Her head hung over her lap and her dark hair pooled on her thighs.
“What’s your story? Why you living alone in a wee basement flat?” Her head shot up and he shrugged his shoulders.”You look like a classy bird that’s used to better than this.” She was beautiful, even with her dirty hair and the dark circles under her eyes. She tried to chuckle, but it came out a breathy hiss. Her pain filled the room, made him feel giddy. “I was just making conversation. You don’t have to say anything if you don’t like.”
Her broad mouth curled into a sardonic grin. “Repent, confess your sins, and you will enter the kindgom…” She lisped in a German accent. He pulled a sweater from a hanger and wrapped it around her. She smelled like wine, something he only tasted in church. She was no lower-class broad. He could see, hear … and smell it.
“I don’t think we got enough time for that,” he said. His joke fell flat.
“Oh.” She deflated. The jagged part in her hair was pale and glossy. He wanted to rub his lips against it, feel the hairs against his tongue.
“You can tell me anything you like. Doesn’t matter, especially if we don’t get out of ‘ere.”
She paled. “I was just kidding around about confession. There’s nothing worth telling,” she said. He followed her eyes to her lap, and both of her wrists were scarred. Understanding made his heart beat faster.
He held her closer and tried to think of the right thing to say, but nothing came. They heard the roar of planes. “Me da was a police inspector. Well, maybe he’s still an inspector somewhere…” he started. She turned to look at him. Her red-rimmed eyes were lovely. “After he left, I nicked my first bicycle.” She fidgeted in his arms but she didn’t look uncomfortable. “After the first time it gets easier. My heart doesn’t even pound anymore.”
“Why’d you do it? Peer pressure?”
“I never gave a damn about what anyone else thought. I didn’t grease me hair and had to wear my older brothers’ clothes to school … I’m not afraid of fighting for respect.” Now that she got a good at him, he was handsome in a wiry way. She felt safe in his arms.
“I can see how such a travesty can cause bullying.” She laughed.
He puffed his chest out.
“Oh they tried, but they didn’t call me ‘fast hands’ for nothing.” He showed her his broad palm, then clenched it into a fist. His knuckles were red and silver with scars. She traced a long scar on his ring finger. The building trembled with a blast, and they clung to each other. He breathed into her hair.
“Anyway, it wasn’t just for my fighting skills. Nothing was safe if I wanted to get my ‘ands on it. Nothin’.” His face was just a couple of inches away.
“I’m huddling in a closet with a brawler and a thief? Ha!” Her laugh was genuine. “You’re no stranger to hard luck stories then.”
“I make my own luck. That being said, it hasn’t been so bad thus far… I manage to help my mum out and stay out of jail. That’s enough for me.” His eyes softened from jade to gold. “She did the best she could for us, you know.”
“That’s wonderful.” The corners of her mouth turned down. “My dear mother, on the other hand…” she couldn’t finish, so she changed gears, speaking fast. “I nicked a car once. I didn’t know what do but what my friends had told me, but I damn well did it. He was passed out on cham and I did the wire business and Vroom! the engine roared. The police caught me before long, though.” Her body tensed with the memory.
“It was the same way the first time I did it. I was fourteen and me and me best mate were walking in the cold. We saw this old bike, one of those American numbers with the shiny red paint and the long seat. I point to it and I says ‘Let’s take it. They can afford to buy another one.'” He laughed and rubbed his flat belly. “He looked at me as if I’d gone ’round the bend. At the time, I’d never done anything that I thought would get me in trouble. He teased me a lot for it, called me a ‘mamma’s boy’ and a bloody fag-” He stopped, but she waved it away.
“It’s alright.” The lines around her eyes had faded a bit with amusement.
“Anyway, me mates used to call me a poofter because I sure as hell wasn’t going to find a bird being worried about facts and figures. You see, I always had me nose stuck in some book since the local parish started up a little lending library. My dad called me his magna cum laude.” He lost the thread of the story. She squeezed his limp hand and put it to her chest and he continued. “…he was always pushin’ me, but then he just left us.” His lips were pale with sudden indignation.
“It was like that with my mother…sort of.” Her cold fingers clenched his hands. “She said I could make a lot of money off ‘my talents.'” The lightbulb swung with another blast. It was closer now. It was a wonder it was still on.
He was curious.”What talents was your mum speaking of?”
“Mother. She was never my mum. ‘Mum’ is a term reserved for someone who loves and protects,” she said bitterly. He let out a high, wavery whistle.
“True enough.” He instinctively felt she wanted a hug and wrapped his arms around her. After a couple of moments, she hiccupped with a sob. He buried his face in her hair and clucked at her.
“Let it out … just let it out.” His eyes started to water with his own sorrows. She touched his face gently and pressed her hot cheeks into the hollow of his neck. Her scars looked ugly up close, cruel. He pressed his lips against her wrist and her tendons tightened.
“It’s okay,” he whispered into her skin. “We all got scars.” She took her hand back reluctantly.
“It’s not what you think.” More plane engines roared overhead. They shook dust from the ceiling. This time she didn’t wait for him to ask. “They put me in a girls’ reformatory school after I nicked that fellow’s car. Anyhow, a stupid cow thought I was messing with a special friend of her’s, so she drugged me, slit my wrists, and left me to die in the communal bog.” She expected him to wince, but he didn’t. Even with the roaring overhead, the silence was deafening. He nodded into his own hands, temporary lost in his own thoughts. She feared she’d put him off.
“What a cunt. ” He said it with gusto. After a couple of seconds, she snorted. He looked to see whether he’d offended, but her eyes shone with mirth.
“You can say that again.” She giggled. “a silly, dumb cunt.” She burst into laughter. Suddenly, the were both laughing and crying so hard they couldn’t hear the ominous din.
“I bet she got the surprise of her life when you showed up a couple of days later,” he said as he wiped his eyes. Her smile hadn’t faded.
“She didn’t because she’d been sent to proper jail.” she said. “She forget she was of age and about to get out. She might still be in.” He didn’t ask why she’d been in a reformatory. He was content that she was alive and that she’d opened her door.
“I don’t fancy girls that way anyway,” she said. Her long eyelashes were stuck together with tears. Her lips were rosy and swollen.
“I do.” There was a new tension in the air. “What’s your name?”
“Does it matter?”
“Of course it matters.” The sincerity in his voice made her ache.
“Call me Maria then.” She fiddled with her crucifix.
“Hello, Maria. The name’s William, but my mates call me Bill. Billy, actually.” He held out his hand for her to shake. When she took it, his grip was firm and warm.
“Hello, Bill.” She didn’t let go. “Billy, will you say an ‘Our Father’ with me?”
“No better time, I reckon,” he said and pulled her up to her knees. Another explosion made them clench each other’s hands painfully.
She leaned her forehead against his. “You start.”
“Our Father, who art in heaven.” he started. “Hallowed be Thy name…”
He let go of her hands and hugged her to him.
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven.” She hugged him back as she recited.
He felt her heart pound through the softness of her breasts.Their voices rose above the sirens in entreaty.
“Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors…”
The lightbulb flickered over their head, then died. She cried out. He rubbed her back and tried to soothe her. Her skin was silky and warm – warmer than any woman’s before her. She wrapped her arms around his waist underneath his shirt. Her fingernails were painful crescents on his back. He was panting.
“You know that silly question ‘what would you do if you knew you were gonna-” he started, but she shut his mouth with a kiss. He was so eager he didn’t taste the wine, just her sweetness. It was pitch dark, but his other senses were sharp. He felt her quickening, smelled her wetness.
“Where are you going?”
She had moved away, but the heat of her mouth on his belly made him groan. She undid his belt and wrapped her mouth around him before he could pull his pants down. She was so eager it hurt before it felt good, but she moaned so desperately into him he didn’t budge. She was sucking for a taste of him, he could tell. He bucked into her mouth when her musk wafted up to him. They both traced lips ears nipples belly buttons hips knees until their skin was moist with each other’s sweat.
They were set on remembering.
Every kiss caress thrust and orgasm came back in full flower. They were young again, innocent and carefree. When he finally entered her, she moaned like she did the first time she was entered in love. He wanted to pierce into her very soul, she could tell. They became a living tangle of arms and legs clinging and clutching; a tight ball of concentrated energy emitting a heat that made the brick hiss and steel melt. Her fragrant hair was in his mouth, and he sucked the perfume out of it. He tasted the copper in it, sunshine autumn leaves salty metal-
The room was suddenly blinding bright with a mingled emotion that consumed them both.
Men in black and yellow slickers crawled over the rubble like wasps on a nest.
Two friends worked alongside each other to pass the time. Their slickers glistened with a late morning shower. Their wet hair bobbed underneath their helmets like antennae.
“I don’t know why they don’t just get a bloody bulldozer for all this, Cam. They’re all dead. All stone-cold, bloody fuckin’ dead.”
Cameron patted his buddy on the shoulder to calm him. He’d lost a brother during the Blitz, and he was still sullen with suffering.
“You know they want to make sure to find and identify all the remains if they can, mate,” he said. “For their families.”
“What does it matter? This was a God-awful shite part of town.” He heaved aside a big piece of rubble, and there was a little tunnel. “Fancy a small adventure, Kenneth?”
Ken’s red bristly eyebrows were bejeweled with rain. They both looked down into the darkness. It smelled alive. “Dunno. Looks right creepy.” That was a yes.
They called for a torch.
They’d been digging around for an hour when they found the remains of basement unit.
“There’s nothing here. Let’s go back-” Ken’s voice faded.
“Cam! Come here.” He lugged his bones over the rubble to his friend’s side. For a full minute, they stood beside each other, silent. They clutched each other’s hands like schoolboys.
“Will you look at that? Can you just look at it?” Ken’s normally brassy voice was hushed. Two skeletons clung to each other hip to hip. The crucifixes they had worn in life had melted together in the fierce heat of the fires after the bombs fell.
The gold was still bright against their charred bones.
“Hmm, looks to me like these two died very happy.” Kenny looked at his companion for a chuckle, but he shook his head solemnly.
“Have a little respect, man.” The sun broke through the clouds above them. A dusty shaft of sunlight shone through some broken glass to light their way. “Let’s get to it then.”
They moved the rubble and ashes from around the remains as carefully as possible, the only sounds their panting breaths and the click and grind of crumbling concrete.