Listen, you said to me as hazy crimson light filtered through the flimsy gauze of your dark maroon curtains. Listen, you said again, pulling me close so that my head rested in between your twin breasts. You lay on your back, hands beneath your head as I listened, my ear flat on your brown skin, now flush with activity and slick with sweat. Like a steady beating drum, your heart tapped out a rhythm all its own and though I listened, thoughts flitted in and out like shadowy figures in the dark.
Your hair, long and full then, spread out behind your head like a halo and you played absently with an errant lock, coiling it around your finger. Wisps of hair strayed onto your stomach, the nape of your neck and onto your nipples but I closed my eyes and saw your face, your eyes heavy lidded and your mouth half open as we moved together. Both forward, each rising to meet the other.
You didn’t make a sound when I first burst through. One push, one tear and then relief. I watched your face then, poised as I was. Your eyes were shut tight and your forehead crinkled into so many lines, just awaiting that moment of rupture. Your stomach clenched and the only sign you gave were your lips widening and your eyes squeezing even tighter. I tried to stop but you refused, your arms locking more insistently around my back as if afraid to ever let me go. Then, you opened your eyes and looked into mine and smiled slightly. You pulled me close and kissed the side of my mouth chastely, as if in compensation. It was you who started moving first and I only matched the pace you set. You whispered in my ear and your breath, hot against my skin, sent tendrils of electricity shooting through my spine.
At first, your fingers clung to my back like claws digging deep. But slowly, they gave way. Your fingers moved from my back to my shoulders and then to my arms. You weren’t holding on to me anymore but guiding, not a scared participant but an active accomplice. We moved like boats on rolling waves, like wheels on bumpy roads. First, you said dreamily and I was jealous of your future and you were envious of my past.
Cigarettes and joints were being passed around and beer being swigged from long necked bottles. There was a fire in the middle and we crowded around it like prehistoric men afraid of the darkness. You sat with your hands outstretched and your palms facing the embers, drawing in as much heat as you could to counteract the winter chill. I sat opposite you and although the whiskey burned latently in my bowels, there was a coldness in my arms and legs. Head buzzing and limbs anesthetized, I moved myself and attempted to speak to you. The liquor had dulled my brain and despite my lack of coherence, you responded in kind. You were drinking beer and pulling on a long cigarette, the kind that smelled like cloves. A few of the boys went off to take a leak, some others huddled around and started to sing a song, harmonizing terribly. I fumbled around for your hand and clutched it tight between mine. But it was you who leaned in and kissed me suddenly, with your lips that tasted like cloves.
You pulled me up and led me away by the hand, navigating the chairs and people like mice in a maze. No one gave us a second look. When I closed the door behind me, we were immediately kissing, our hands urgently tearing at each other. When you turned off the lights, I protested but you wouldn’t listen. I only felt around for you as you dropped clothing after clothing, neatly on the floor beside the bed. Under the covers, our bodies felt like furnaces pressed against each other, warding off the cold outside. With your full length on top of me and our mouths melded together, all I could do was clasp you tight as I could. When you let out a cry, I held myself back and despite the black, I could make out your outline, moving slowly in the dark.
You threw off the covers after a while, baring yourself to the cold. I ran my fingers down the length of your arms and across the goosebumps that appeared. Then onto your back, tracing the ridges of your spine as if they were part of some alien snake skeleton. You moved even more stridently and drunk as I was, I felt I could go on forever. But when you stooped low and screamed into the pillow, I thrust my hands into the mane of your hair and fell back exhausted. We lay beside each other for a long time, not speaking, only breathing. Then you turned on your side and I stretched out my arm and you lifted yourself slightly, allowing me under and around you. After a while, my arm went to sleep and so did you but I stayed awake for a long, long time.
You took off your yellow sundress with your back against the open window, letting the garment collect on the floor and around your feet. You stepped out of its circle and moved towards me, your arms outstretched. I lifted you up and into the rented bed while the rented fan spun lazily in that rented room. From the other side of the wall, a steady creaking emanated, punctuated by periodic grunts and occasional moans. We tussled on the bed like a pair of wrestlers, limbs entangled and bodies straining. When you let out an involuntary cry, I put a finger to your lips and for some reason, you started to laugh maniacally. I stopped and stepped to the side while you laughed and rolled around on the bed, your stomach creasing into frowns each time you doubled over. I watched amused as the contours of your body changed shape and outlines, merging and expanding. Your hair, short and cropped then, kept falling into your eyes.
Later, you told me that it was as if I had a thousand hands and a thousand mouths, each travelling over the expanse of your body like a cartographer charting a map. You twisted and contorted when I placed my mouth to your lips, alternatively pushing and pulling me as if you didn’t know yourself what you wanted. This time, your scream was guttural, a sound I had never heard you make. It came as if from the depths of your being, from inside a locked away Pandora’s box of desire. Your cheeks flushed with red and your fingers dug deep enough into my skin to draw flecks of blood.
Afterwards, when I lit a cigarette, you gently took it from me and put it out against the wall, letting the ash trail onto the filthy carpeting. I don’t want you to taste like an ashtray, you said to me.
Your friends were in the other room and they knew exactly what we were upto. I could heard them giggling in between shots of vodka and chasers of sprite. You didn’t make it any less obvious. Everyone knows what you get like when you’re drunk on vodka. Not that I was complaining when you kept rubbing your hand against my inner thigh. The situation might have called for a little subtlety but you were too far drunk. Once in the bathroom, you immediately pulled off your clothes and tugged at mine. Despite being unable to even stand, you managed to take off your shorts and that top that revealed a little too much. You rested against the sink and eventually, sat on it. All the while, I was afraid the porcelain would crack and send you tumbling to the floor in a shower of shards. And there I would be standing with my pants around my ankles. That did not happen but you were drunk and your kisses were sloppy. All the while, I made eye-contact with myself in the mirror behind you and it felt like kissing myself.
Halfway through, I realized that something inextricable had changed. Your back was to me and I couldn’t see your face, let alone your eyes. You had blonde streaks in your hair and three piercings in each of your ears. Periodically, you looked back at me and smiled the smile of the drunk and horny. After what felt like an eternity, you had finished three times and I had yet to even once. Eventually, I simply stopped and you attempted to take care of me, possibly feeling guilty despite the vodka in your veins. I lifted you up from on your knees and kissed you on the mouth. You looked at me, naked in the bathroom, swaying on your feet and said, I know now what your soul looks like.
The very last time, I told you where we go and what we must do. The future, I said, was dark and forbidding. You cried and I placed an arm around you and held you close. Your tears soaked through my shirt and clung to my chest like morning dew. I kissed the top of your head and said everything would be all right. I know you didn’t believe me but I didn’t believe myself either. Outside it was raining and we were in your room. Your parents were away again and the house reeked of artificial sandalwood because we had just been smoking in your bathroom. You were wearing those blue jeans that fit you perfectly and that loose white t-shirt that kept slipping off your shoulder, exposing the pink strap of your bra. I stared at the hollow of your clavicle and thought about how I would never be kissing it again. My eyes traced an invisible line up your neck and across your cheeks but avoided your eyes. I kissed your forehead and you pushed me away.
We talked for long, nestled against each other, intertwined in a way that only couples who’ve been together skin on skin know how to fit together. I don’t remember what set it off or how the talking even turned into tentative kissing. It was like we were on a first date again, shy and ashamed of ourselves. This time, you never threw off the covers. It was fast, painful and a necessity. We brought things to a close, the way we had first started it. Later, we once again lay next to each other like we had done so many times before. Only this time, the covers were up to your neck. We listened to each other breathe. You were heartbroken and I was inchoate. Eventually, I pulled you to me and you placed your head on my chest, letting my heartbeat reverberate through and through you.