Yes and Yet
I said Can we be lovers? He said Yes. When we sat together with cocktails in a dim lit bar. Our eyes aglow with the thought of what was to come. I swivelled my straw and said I loved him. He gasped; caressed my fingers; stared right into me.
We went back to my place, lay stretched toe to toe on my quilted bed. He on me then I on him. Kissing wet, and deep. A lock of his hair straddled damp against his face. He reached the rim of my knickers, ran one finger along the elastic as though getting ready to pluck the chords of a violin. My tension at its height. Then he ran the finger back again, this second strumming spelling closure. Withdrew his hand.
Ok. He was showing me this wasn’t a fast one-timer. Over and done. Showing me what we had meant something else. Is what I told myself when we parted later, said goodnight. I wouldn’t allow myself to feel confused.
It’s a day of sun. We are going to the Botanical Gardens and we’re sitting in a smart cafe near the station having breakfast before we leave. He is holding up a chunk of brioche to my mouth. I take a bite. He watches closely while I chew. As though he wants to paste my lips with his tongue but can’t. This is a public place. He’s so close I feel his breath. We hold one another, our bodies taut as wire. In the afternoon we are slow and sensuous sloping across the grass. We gaze at the green fish fountain in the ornamental pond. Hear the rush of water spurting from the open mouth. Our emotions stir to passion point. We feel one another’s need. Yes, he says to my unasked question. He knows what it would be. I look at him.
Then all at once he has to go to the toilet. Says he’ll see me in a minute at the outdoor cafeteria. He looks urgent yet distracted and he starts to run. I see another man running too, going in the same direction. Someone I’d noticed earlier hanging about by the entrance gate as we’d come in. They’re running side by side down a bushy walkway which leads towards the toilet block. A strange little shape is forming in my head. It looks like a question mark.
I’m walking around the half-empty tables with the last of the birds. It’s growing late now and the rest have flown. There’s suddenly the screech of a siren and park police vehicles go rushing past. Blue lights flash between the trees. And then they stop. Disconsolate is the word which comes to me. I apply it to myself as I study the timetable. I’ll be leaving on the next train out.
‘Oh hi Cath,’ he says, appearing through a gap in the hedge, his voice unsteady. ‘I’m sorry I’ve been so long. Was just feeling a little bit under the weather but I’m alright now.’
Jay Merill is published or has work forthcoming in 3 AM Magazine, Berfrois, The Bohemyth, Epiphany, Hobart, Per Contra, Prairie Schooner, Toasted Cheese, Thrice Fiction and Trafika Europe.. She is a 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee and the winner of the Salt Short Story Prize. Further work has appeared recently in Anomalous, The Citron Review, Corium, Crack the Spine, Literary Orphans, SmokeLong Quarterly, Spork, tNY, Wigleaf and other great publications. Jay lives in London UK and is Writer in Residence at Women in Publishing. She is the author of two short story collections published by Salt – God of the Pigeons and Astral Bodies — which were nominated for the Frank O’Connor Award and Edge Hill Prize.
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