Vaguely erotic short story
n the complete darkness a lamp switched on. Although it's only a little bedside lamp, most of the bedroom becomes clearly visible - the heavy curtains, from ceiling to floor, completely covering the window, framed landscape photos hanging on the walls, delicate furniture pushed to the walls to leave space for the bed, dominating the room majestically - even to the point of making the two persons in it seem helpless, like drowning, in a sea of pillows and a fluffy eiderdown quilt.
The woman by his side in the bed, Catherine, has got her arm around him, trying to hang on to the embrace they have been engaged in.
The quilt covers her body up to the armpits, her bare shoulders revealing that she wears no nightgown - it is in a bundle on the floor by the foot of the bed. Catherine's face is wrinkled, her hand on Will's chest is bony, revealing her age to be well over fifty.
With a soft and gentle voice, Will says:
"I have to see what I'm doing. And I have to see you."
He starts very slowly lowering the eiderdown quilt, gradually exposing more of Catherine's body to the lamplight. Her face shows a discomfort, which she is trying to suppress, as inch by inch of her chest is revealed.
Will stares at the slowly moving line between the quilt and her body. When in a glance at her face seeing Catherine's discomfort, he lifts his hand from the quilt to stroke her cheek, with as light a touch as if it were made of silk paper.
Will's voice gets even more soft:
"I know how you feel. I can see it, too, see it clearly in your eyes, and in how your body is sinking deeper into the bed, like a whale preparing to dive underwater."
What was left of her smile disappears altogether, her face is tense and her eyes look straight at the ceiling.
Will goes on:
"But you're so wrong, so wrong. The years treat you almost as lovingly as I do."
He looks straight into her face, while she continues to stare at the ceiling.
"Sure, you're getting wrinkles all over, your skin is sort of loosening from your body - as if one is growing and the other shrinking. And your hair is kind of drying up, like crops in the field in late autumn... But it's your hair, your face and skin. The years don't change that - no, they even make it stand out more. It's like they keep on making you more and more... you."
Will smiles, his eyes returning to the line between the quilt and Catherine's exposed skin.
"Your breasts too."
He uncovers them with a short, sudden pull of the quilt. Catherine twitches, halting her first reflex to pull the quilt back.
Will strokes her breasts, with both his hands, in movements similar to a sculptor smoothing out a clay surface.
"They don't spring out to meet my hands, like they would on the body of a young woman. But really, it's so much more of a triumph for my hands to go after them, and upon contact feeling them succumb without any resistance."
He pokes the breasts with the tops of his index fingers, sinking in to the second knuckle. Catherine is staring at the lamp, as if willing it to go out by itself.
"Really, when your body is gradually succumbing to time, the real conqueror is I. You're giving in to me, more and more as time passes. What husband wouldn't be overjoyed by that? What more proof of loyalty is there?"
He moves his hands away from her breast. Instead, they return to lowering the fluffy eiderdown quilt - ever so slowly.
"Aging sort of turns you into a nun, throwing off her worldly goods and garments, to devote herself to the worship of her lord and master. You're bringing a sacrifice to my temple, the sacrificial lamb, to have its throat cut open on the altar, its life juices offered for the god to drink - and that lamb is you. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
She nods, her face still turned toward the bedside lamp.
"Until death do them apart... You dedicate your life to me, and there's no turning back. Of course I feel like the conqueror, like Caesar coming, seeing, seizing... Every year, tearing your face and body, brings you more and more exclusively into my domain. How could I but love it? How could I but love you for it?"
Now, he has pulled the quilt so far down, she is exposed all the way down to the bottom of her belly, her pubic hair starting to appear, her hip bones visible, pointing like arrows to the sides.
In one move, he rips the quilt away from the bed, sending it flying, like a bird spreading its wings and flapping them, escaping from its nest. The quilt hits the wall and falls to the floor.
"Now, I will pierce my property, seal my treasure, enter the domain which is exclusively mine. I'll mount you, my Kate, and impregnate you with my scent, my juices. I will take what you have offered to me. Open your doors, your master approaches!"
Will begins to roll on top of her, his cheeks blushing, his breath quickened, his muscles tense. Then he stops, all of a sudden. He exclaims, with more surprise than pain in his voice:
He stares at his left hand. There is a small cut on his ring finger, and tiny drops of blood emerge. He repeats, this time as softly as a whisper:
Catherine looks straight at his face for the first time, enquiring:
He is staring at his finger, holding the hand up in front of his eyes, so near that they squint when focusing on his finger.
"I don't know. Look!"
Catherine looks at his finger, but does not move.
"You cut yourself."
Will replies, both irritated and worried:
"I know that, but on what?"
He searches the bed with his other hand, frantically, even lets it slide over Catherine's body, but finding nothing. He pauses, puzzled.
Catherine softly suggests:
"You'd better put on a band-aid."
Will gets out of the bed and steps toward the bathroom, holding his finger up, still staring at it. Apart from the T-shirt, he is naked.
"I'll just wash it in cold water. That should do it."
As soon as he has disappeared into the bathroom, Catherine finds her nightgown and puts it on.
n the bathroom, Will turns on the light, which is so bright he has to blink repeatedly, before getting used to it.
Leaning on the sink, he lets the water flow from the faucet while examining himself in the mirror, even posing slightly.
When the water is cold, he sticks his finger into the stream, and relaxes a bit. The look of confusion fades away from his face.
Catherine calls from the bedroom:
"Are you all right, dear?"
Will replies in a murmur, barely audible into the bedroom:
WavesA man, the sea, and a distant woman.