It was almost thirty minutes before she realized that she had been lying still for a while.
She didn’t know how long.
The stillness of the present contradicted the movement of the past so much it felt like time wrapping itself around itself.
She stirred. She was not sleeping. She was just still.
Listening to the sound of her breath trying to find a rhythm to match. The drip, drip, drip of the toilet cistern was too fast. The blowing wind too slow. And no other sounds offered for synchronicity.
She had no choice but to listen to the beating of her heart. And the intake and uptake of her lungs. There was a heightened sense of awareness of where she was.
Two beds. Red pillows. White sheets.
She rolled onto her stomach and placed her hand on her pubis.
She realized that it throbbed to the rhythm of her heart. She’d found a present rhythm. She lay there.
She smelt sweat. And sex. She craved more.
She sought the same movement that had been a moment ago, but that was gone. Any movement now would have to be her own.
But the thing with that is your weight is never enough-another’s weight is always more, always enough to push your nerves to feel that little more that makes all the difference between finding and getting.
She parted her lips and found wetness.
She was not sure whether it was hers or hers. Whether it was old or new. She swirled her fingers around her clit and brought up some wetness to her lips.
Subtle, sweet, salty. Not hers. She sighed. And moved her hand away. There was a wet patch on the bed.
Sweat, cum, tears?
She didn’t know.
She never would.
She rolled over onto her back, her breasts softly sagging. Nipples somewhere between hard and soft. She looked at the ceiling. The empty hook above the bed where the mosquito net was missing. Or wasn’t it? Maybe it had never been there. Maybe it was a hook for the sake of being one. Not because it was supposed to hold a net.
Sometimes a hook in the ceiling is just that.
A hook in the ceiling.
The absence of her presence was large, and loud. The duplicity of sounds made by two bodies in one space was not there. It felt weird. The way it would if one hand went suddenly missing.
She took a deep breath and got up off the bed.
Then sat back down. Then lay down again. She wasn’t tired.
She was just stuck in the present.
What was missing?
Was it the muted moans offered into pillows? Was it the sound of slick desire filling spaces of passion and release? Was it the laughter? Was it the exchange of gifts of surrender to an energy bigger than the hurt of the past and the fear of the future? It was the now-ness of everything.
How things happened in the present. Was that it?
She heard a shuffling sound outside the door. She had to leave. Summoning strength from the need to leave, she got up. Dressing was hard. Putting clothes on felt like covering the past. Her body was a canvas covered in invisible art. Marks, splashes and strokes were etched onto her skin and into her being.
She didn’t want to cover it up. It felt beautiful.
Her scars felt beautiful for the first time in a while. She wanted people to see. But no one could. Only she saw the art that she had felt time and time again. Each time the brush strokes wider and bolder. Each time the etches deeper, testing boundaries of exploration and new ways of expression, making new what was old and misunderstood. Doing what art does-makes things beautiful, gives meaning to meaningless things, gives purpose to the purposeless. She decided to wear what she could.
A shirt and her jeans, anything else was too much. She collected her things. Her head echoed her breathing, her murmurs, her touch, her skin, her hair, her eyes, her laugh, her presence.