By Blood We Live Page 89

There was more to it than that. Of course.

I’d been dreaming when his knock woke me. The dream. Mercurial sex with him that alternately bloomed and went into darkness, sharpening at moments into distinct images that had the feel of archetypes—my fingers wrapping themselves around his cock; his dark head working between my legs; his hands (the two of us reflected in an oval mirror) coming around from behind me, one caressing my breasts, the other sliding down over my belly to my cunt—but bled into and superimposed on by the image of the twilit beach, the dark sea and scatter of stars, him a few paces ahead, the little rowboat, barnacled and half-buried … Strands of the dream had still cobwebbily clung as I’d crossed the blue and silver rug to the door, until I was at the door, and opening it, and (knowing it would be him) seeing him standing right there in front of me.

Superficially he was as I’d remembered him. No taller than me, longish dark hair and light brown skin. A black-eyed face full of the ability to stand back from everything—himself included—and smile. Superficially, he was the same.

The difference was he looked absurdly healthy. His skin had a new glister, as unreal as a woman’s in a suntan lotion ad. His fingernails shone. But it was the eyes. They had a rinsed, delighted look, a fresh, excited presentness, as if a faint, ancient glaucoma had been removed. I thought of the Johnny Nash song, “I Can See Clearly Now.”

For what felt like a long, long time we stood looking at each other. Letting what was happening happen, until the silence between us became a solid, seductive, coercive third person. One that would have its way. He stepped close to me and put his hands on my waist, and in what felt like infinitely slow increments leaned towards me and—the increment that stopped time altogether—kissed me.

What I felt—above or beyond or burning deep in the heat that flooded me (one frail filament of self-consciousness like a veil or ghost floating alongside me, negligibly, noted that my cunt was wet and aching, aching)—was joy, his joy, pounding out of him, solar, overwhelming, unarguable with. What I felt was that I’d never—not even with Jake—been wanted like this, with a force that was beyond him. It was as if something the size of a universe opened out behind him, that he’d been carrying its weight—that he was bringing all its weight to bear—on this moment, here, now, with me, that I was an inevitable end-point. And that I’d been waiting all my life (All my life? It felt older than that, made my life seem a blink, a heartbeat, a breath, surely there was a time before it?) for exactly this, for his hands and mouth on me and the mass of darkness flowing out from his back like an endless black cloak.

The kiss was an immediately addictive certainty.

Never let me go. Never let me go.

I don’t know if that was him or me. Whichever of us it was it wasn’t spoken aloud. My negligible filament-ghost was scrambling to re-gather the threads of the negligibly real world—wait, wait … But we were moving, not, apparently, with our feet on the ground, in accordance with the deep gravity that demanded something to lie down on, demanded him inside me, close, close, as close as it was possible to be, and his body fit mine perfectly, a shape I’d known before birth and forgotten, that defined and perfected my own. The room blurred. From what felt like a long way away I heard myself say Oh God … Oh God … Reaching in the insistent prosaic realm through clothes and buttons that at every touch threatened to rupture the blur and break the fall into darkness until I felt my bare flesh on his and how was it possible for everything to fall away so fast, so completely my life even my children a million miles away and at the same time the sound Oh God Oh God the sound of someone in the room the sound of someone—

“Oh—I’m … I’m sorry.”

I’d never known anything uglier and more desolate than the wrenching away at that moment, the all but unbearable reality of having to lift my head and look over his shoulder (already starting to push him from me though my legs were wrapped around him) to see Olek standing in the doorway, his hair still mussed from sleep, his hands patting the air in front of him in apology, a gesture which made me want to kill him.

“I’m so sorry,” he said, the cheeky schoolboy smile for once deserting him, leaving a nude, alarming version of his face I’d never seen before. “I was just—”

He didn’t get to finish. Remshi had him by the throat in mid-air for a split-second (while I was still registering the loss of his warmth and weight on me) then Olek crashed into the wall.

“Varmu!” Olek shouted. “Varmu va mor! Remshi! Varmu!”

Remshi was standing over him, hands raised, dark cock still absurdly standing proud from his undone flies. Energy poured off him, packed the room, forced me up against a confused memory of the dream I’d had here, of lifting my arms and seeing instead of my hands two amputee stumps.

“Manyek da gorgim,” Olek said, his hands wildly placating the air. “Manyek va fennu da gorgim. Enyuchin, Remshi, enyuchin.”

For a moment I was sure whatever that meant it wasn’t going to make a difference. Violence was right there at the edge of him. If Olek says another word, I thought, he’ll rip his fucking head off. (I wondered if there was something between them—a betrayal, a long-held grudge. Then knew there wasn’t. It was just my lover’s fury at being interrupted. A rage with the same force as the desire. It was nothing more nor less than how badly he wanted me.) Maybe Olek intuited the same thing, since he kept his mouth shut, although his face went erratically through its calculus of submissive expressions, unable to settle on one.

“Leave us alone,” I said to him, getting to my feet. I was dressed only in what I’d slept in: panties and the black cotton t-shirt. My panties were soaked, but I didn’t care. Superficially there was the detail-sharpening desolation of interrupted passion, of passion’s rug being pulled from under it, but at a deeper frequency the knowledge—utterly beyond question—that we were going back there. My whole body screamed to go back there, the known place, the remembered place, the place out of time.

“Leave him,” I said. “He took care of you. He probably saved your life.”

We knew—we would always know—when we were speaking to each other. I felt his rage drop a little. There were sounds of movement from downstairs. The sun had been down for … I had no idea. Time had gone dreamily AWOL. But in any case some of the nocturnal household was up. There would be questions, petitions, explanations, recaps. We’d have no peace.

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