A dream I had. Scattered with musical and literary references. Stream-of-consciousness. Bear with me, or skip it.
The funeral ran over. It didn’t start, per se. And I wasn’t a friend or family or an acquaintance, as such. But I was most definitely supposed to be there. There in the lecture hall. What? No, not a student, or a teacher. A funeral! I said, a funeral. Didn’t I? I’m sure it came before this. Anyway, it was a funeral and we dressed in black and I was acquired to serve drinks, or perhaps hand out canapés. Did they pay me? Did they fuck. Not a penny. It ran over. I supposed that this was the lecture hall I ought to have been in anyway, for my lecture on post-colonialism, or was it Chaucer – except of course it was every other week and this was the odd numbered week, so it wouldn’t have been a lecture at all, but a seminar wherein the Swede might have winked me over to sit with him and then refused to touch me beneath the formica table and that would never do. But this funeral was inescapable; I walked in circles many times and there was no way out, only Escher’s staircase. Resigned to being uneducated. Or some other term that inferred a loss of education rather than a lack of it. My head spun. Rose Kennedy took a glass of champagne. At least she looked proper in her black; suppose she has a lot of it.
They offer breakfast at work like that. “Do you want coffee Carol?” – “Does Rose Kennedy have a black dress?”
I don’t have a black dress. Or at least not one without an obscenely tucked skirt. And a low neckline. Perhaps the corpse might have appreciated that. No judging though given how little I knew of the man who had died. Perhaps he was a she. I shrugged and ran down the street.
What? The lecture hall was grey; so is the concrete of the streets. One and the same. It all bleeds together at the edges anyway. Grey sky, grey streets, grey chairs, grey eyes, grey rain… but he wore beige. It’s not dull adorning such beauty with his sandy hair and his golden skin and his fast feet. Fuck, so fast. I ran.
He walked faster, but I could tell he was playing. His grin was sideways and halfway hidden as he looked at me behind him. Why would a tutor tease? I felt seven again, pushed over in the schoolyard by confused little boys. My insides said “argh” and he skipped lightly down the spiral staircase into the water. There’s this break above and below.
Dry. Dusty. Air. Streamlined.
Wet. Slippery. Sea life. Adorned with anemones.
His trousers weren’t even damp when he emerged and I caught up with him on the corner, by the sweetshop that sells sweets from jars like you see in old movies in pharmacies, but that had been closed down. Perhaps it was the cigarettes sold to seventeen-year-olds. Damn shame. But then the place wouldn’t have been the same without it’s under-the-counter secrets. Es with ease at all hours. Of course, without Mr Gordon’s illegal escapades you could always nab class As from Jimmy the Spoon. Or Jackie. She was a whore of all proportions.
Where was I? Oh. On the corner. Where Jackie worked once in a blue moon. But on the corner, I clasped at his old man sweater – only fair given his years and years spent studying; poor man had no cash for new clothes. Nor I. Where had I got this ‘appropriate’ black dress? Never mind. I caught him. My nail snagged a hole. He smiled like Tim who had pulled my chair out. The bruises lasted a week.
I caught him. Fisherman and fish. Cowboy and bull. Roped. Hook, line and sinker. He grinned. “I’m not giving you a B+.”
I stumbled. First, two-one, two-two. What? B+. I would never. Nor beg. Nor spread my legs for a grade. I could have both without the connection.
Shook my head. “No. Luke! I’m sorry I missed the seminar.”
A sneer! a SNEER! like my education mattered so little; like he had barely missed me. A sneer of confusion. No no no. I would settle for this; later that is. Not in the moment.
“It was the last seminar! I missed it. I’m so sorry.”
“You’ll have more.”
“YOU won’t. You’ll be a Doctor and we’ll never see you any more, in your beige.”
Statuesque he stood a little taller. Doctor Luke Alders. Years of work; volumes of knowledge. I grew wet between my legs.
“I’m not giving you a B+.”
“It’s a degree course.”
“Good girl. I missed your comments and your nails digging into your hands as you grow frustrated, but there will be other seminars and other tutors.” His arm went round my shoulders and I thought nothing of it as we walked. Friends did this. My tallest friend did this not two nights ago, singing “lean on me, when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on”. No big deal after all. My arm was limp. It hung between our bodies, useless and awkward. So I put it round his waist.
His watch on my shoulder looked like a stopwatch, or a pocket watch. Like bookshelves and grandfather on the landing. Ding ding ding. Tick tick tick. Do cuckoo clocks tick? Annoying enough without it. The tick of his “watch” was like a pounding in my head. No intensity of feelings; after all, lusting for teachers is a dream nor a reality and nothing to get excited about or write odes to. Still my fingers itch to say “the tick of his “watch” was like the pounding of his heart” because poets can’t help but get stuck between our ears; especially the bad ones. A melancholy crop. Like pop. Songs that is. Ooh baby baby. He’d know the reference like he knew everything else, but sneer at them with contempt which was why I lusted for him, on my own, in my bedroom. Not on the street in broad daylight, no matter how many of his arms wound round my body.
We walked. Each shop as dusty as the one before. At the end of the row – the row of brown, golden glassed shops – he stopped and we awkwardly slipped from each others’ grasp. Had I ever touched him before? How extraordinary to know such people for so long and to never have shared any physical contact before today and the funeral and the missed seminar and the strange attempt at, whatisit? comfort.
We disengaged in cumbersome difficult terms and he leaned in to kiss me, my lips. My body fluttered. It was unexpected. It wasn’t altogether pleasant. I suppose nothing is quite the way we expect. But we sank into it and he took me back to his warm, golden room, where he dwelled and slept and we slipped together as though caught on celluloid. It was coloured by a technician who distorted the otherwise dull, cold light. Like a fifties living room in a fifties movie. Golden skin on golden sheets on a golden bed beside a golden nightstand upon which stood a golden decanter holding golden wine sipped by my golden smiling lips. He was ever so bohemian in his educated poverty. He liked missionary so that he could feel my breasts on his chest and ensure that my nipples grew hard while his hands were busy in the flesh of my buttocks. It wasn’t romance as such, but passion in it’s primal way. He reasoned with his eyes that missionary is standard because it’s convenient.
“Some stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason.”
He fucked me. Let’s leave it at that. Not to dismiss its glory. I pulsed with every movement. He inflicted all the pain and pleasure and agony and desperation I could have begged from seven towering sadists, and all with the simplicity of lovemaking. Endowed with magic was my idealised, dreamed lover.
At some point, or another, the splashes outside and the screams grew too loud and cut into my ecstasy. Did I mention the battlescape? He lived in London, but by the sea at a navy base. I escaped his clutches and peered behind the curtain. He frowned in the daylight. Outside in the harbour my friends were shot down from warships and fell into the water, only to climb out and risk their lives again. I understood it as a giant board game, against an invisible team. And even as they played they died too.
I wasn’t at all sure.
So I went back to bed and let him put his stiff cock inside me again. I was satiated after he had spilled his hot seed into my womb three times more. And then I rose from the bed and felt it seep from the close, tight folds of my cunt and I went to the window again. I shouted at them, as though they had always listened to me and would now.
Somehow they were still all alive, but dying at the same time. I had seen corpses floating in that steely sea, haloed in red. I didn’t have it in me to be sad; when lust burns you up and eats your heart there is left behind very little space for mourning. And I wanted more. I felt thoughtful and he filled me as I thought, and claimed me as his in the most brutal, tender terms. Strangely unspoken for a doctor of words he told me I would never leave his golden side. I rode his hardness until he burst inside me again. And to the window. Playful, playground, ground, battle ground, no-man’s-land.
The ship had sunk. The survivors couldn’t swim and they waved their hands above their heads as they sank. Poor souls. My tallest friend stood on the pier and shook his head, his arms crossed. I couldn’t save them; and he deemed such stupidity no loss at all.
Why must all my champagne be tinged with seawater?
Rose Kennedy shook my shoulder. “You look like you’ve been for breakfast at the heartbreak hotel.”
Blinked. Blinking. I looked at the black coffins in the grey room full of grey faces. Damn my friends. Damn my fickle mind. Give me gold.