31 December 2005

The Smell of Grief

A quickie about sex and grief. It was on the ERWA site a couple of months ago.

The Smell of Grief
(c) Keziah Hill

“Are you OK?”

No, not really.

“I’m sorry, Anna. What can I do?”

I stared at Chris, unable to take my eyes off the fast-beating pulse in his neck. Proof of life. I hated it. His skin had a slight golden sheen and he hadn’t shaved closely. Lines were around eyes that watched me, waiting for something.

The underground parking lot was dark and stuffy, full of petrol fumes. I leaned back against the wall and closed my eyes, wanting Nick so badly, every cell in my body screamed in outraged demand. My cunt felt as if something had been severed from deep inside. After two months, I still couldn’t comprehend Nick would never be in me again. I would never feel the way he pushed the head of his cock into me, then stilled, wanting to be sure of his welcome. Sometimes it irritated me, his tentative politeness. Just do it, I’d silently plead. Don’t make me give permission.

But now I’d give anything just to have him over me again, feel the slow slide of his skin against mine and taste the curve at the base of his neck. And his smell, like nothing I’d ever come across and never would again.

I found a T-shirt and a pair of his sweatpants at the bottom of his gym bag a couple of weeks ago and collapsed against the washing machine, weeping, not able to add them to the load. I clutched them to my breasts and rocked back and forth, wanting him so much I didn’t think I could survive. A strangled noise made me look up to see my son David, standing at the laundry door, terror on his face. I forced myself off the floor, wiped my tears and smiled at him. That marked my first moment of stepping away from Nick, stepping toward the living. I wanted to howl in protest, beat my fists on the floor. Couldn’t I have more time?

But now here I was, in this dank underground hell, with my dead husband’s best friend in front of me, alive. I reached up and placed my hand on his cheek, feeling the harsh prickle of his stubble against my hand. I raised my other hand to cup his face and stepped toward him to put my lips on his mouth. He jumped as if he didn’t know what to do – run or humour me. When I pushed my tongue between his lips, he decided to stay. He placed his hands on my hips and pulled me to him, gently. I was suffering after all. I pressed my mouth harder against his. His tongue touched mine softly, reverently, which sent a bolt of pure rage through my body. I dropped my hands from his face and cupped his buttocks, pulling him hard against me. I stabbed my tongue into his mouth and thrust my vulva against his now growing bulge.

“Fuck me,” I murmured. “Fuck me now.”


The uncertainty in his voice fuelled my rage. I let go of him, lifted my skirt and ripped off my hose and panties.

“Anna, don’t you think …”

“Stop. Just do it.”

I grabbed at his fly and undid it, pulling out his cock. He was half hard and I pumped him, desperate now.

I think then, he saw something in my eyes, something he finally understood. He grabbed my buttocks and lifted me, pinning me against the concrete wall. I wrapped my legs around him and he thrust hard into me.

I wasn’t very wet, so it hurt a bit, which felt fine. He started moving hard and fast, and every thrust made the base of my spine hit the wall behind me. I knew I’d have a dark bruise for weeks. My cunt started burning from the friction, and I struggled to get air into my lungs.


“Keep going.”

He dropped his head into the curve of my neck and came with a muffled groan. We stood there for a while, me with my legs around him, my cunt on fire. He, head bent, wondering I think, what had just happened.

He eased away and lowered me to the ground. I smelled the embarrassment oozing from his every pore.

“I don’t know... I’m sorry...”

“You know what happened, don’t give me that. I made you fuck me. Don’t get all chivalrous on me. My husband’s dead, I’m not. But ...”

My voice choked with tears. He put his arms around me and held me, stroking my back.

“I can’t feel anything, Chris,” I whispered into his chest. “It’s like a foggy pane of glass between me and everyone else. Nothing feels right. I smile at the kids but I don’t feel anything.”

“Shhh, Anna, it’s okay. Don’t worry. It’s only been a couple of months. Nothing will feel normal for a while. Come on, I’ll drive you home.”

I fumbled in my bag for some tissues, grateful no one could see us in the dark corner. I wiped myself hurriedly and got into his car feeling sore and dirty, wondering if I was going out of my mind.

* * *

Six months have passed and the dull ache is pierced occasionally with moments of feeling so intense, I’m paralysed with shock. I start out on the drive to work feeling almost normal, then as I pass the university on Parramatta Road, I can barely operate the car through my tears. By the time I get to Wattle Street I’m fine again.

I try and hide these moments from my children, but sometimes I can’t. They are growing up fast. My beautiful thirteen-year-old daughter now knows the taste and smell of grief. She sees how I go away from her, when I stand in the supermarket with a bunch of basil in my hand, remembering the first time Nick and I made a salad together, twenty years ago.

I come back to her when I feel her hand on my lower back, her head on my shoulder and her small voice asking me if we need more grapes. I put the basil down and hold her, breathing in her teenage girl smell of patchouli and school, her scent a lifeline back to the present.

We stand together in the fruit and veg section remembering lover and father, friend and mentor. The shopping can wait.

23 December 2005

Idea, books, summer

I've started a short story! Yay! Ideas feeling like they're flowing again. Not surprisingly, I had story ideas running around in my head while I was having a facial (not that kind, the massage kind). I get a neck and shoulder massage as well which is essential if you write a lot. But as I was lying there, the woman doing the facial was called out to some minor emergency at the foyer and I got to thinking about what I would do if if something happened to her. That sparked off a whole train of thought about being trapped with no clothes on and green gloop on your face in an emergency. We'll see where it goes.

In 2006 I’m going to keep track of what I read. I admit this is partially because my memory is not what it used to be (neither are various parts of my body – gravity is kicking in big time). But I also want to pay more attention to why some books work and others don’t.

I finished Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro a few days ago. I found I couldn’t put it down, but I’m hard pressed to understand why. The bare description sounds sensational – a group of young people bred as clones to be organ donors, gradually discover the truth of their situation – but, really, nothing much happens. Their lives are pedestrian and ordinary. The minute depiction of this ordinariness is what makes the book so compelling. Every gesture and glance are events of major significance to the protagonists and Ishiguro is able to make this both interesting and believable.

From that to Suzanne Brockmann’s Over the Edge is quite a difference. I was reluctant to read Suzanne Brockmann, not sure that I’d like her brand of gung-ho American military heroes, but it’s a rollicking good read filled with action and romance. Her heroes are alphas without being jerks, a fine line which some romance authors cross. Mmm, sounds like the subject of another post.

This being the time of year that it is, I’m off to the Big City today to see friends and family and do last minute shopping. And it’ll be hot. Summer Solstice kicked in yesterday with a vengeance. Water restrictions are still in place so my garden is a little wilted, which is my own fault because I haven’t mulched it enough. When I get to Sydney today there’ll be a smoke haze over the city. Typical Sydney Christmas. At least drinks by the sea at Bondi this afternoon should be a blessed relief.

20 December 2005

Writing slump

My writng slump is still with me. I’ve been in one before and it usually happens because I’m pushing my writing to a place it doesn’t want to go. That happens because I get obsessed with “the market” and start believing that everyone who puts pen to paper in erotic romance gets published so why can’t I?

This insidious thought process kills my creative juices. As soon as I start writing for the market I’m dead in the water. Not that I should ignore it, but it can’t be the sole driving force behind my writing. So, I’m going to relax, watch movies, garden and generally stop obsessing about how I should write and just see what comes.

It could have something to do with the season as well. At this time of year there’s a general slow down and lack of enthusiasm for anything as people start packing up for the holidays. Australia from Christmas to the end of January is dead time as lots of people are away on summer holidays.

I have very ambivalent feelings about Christmas. I like seeing my family, even with all our neurotic patterns and troubled history, but I’m so used to hiding myself around them, for self protection reasons, it becomes exhausting.

Three more days of work then I’m on holidays until the 3 January. Maybe if I relax and give myself some more dreaming time, I’ll get back into the writing flow.

17 December 2005

Orhan Pamuck - update

The trial of Orhan Pamuck has been put off until February.

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The trial of best-selling Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk was adjourned on Friday amid mounting concern in the European Union that the case could challenge freedom of expression.
A judge in Istanbul said the trial would restart on February 7, 2006, to give the Justice Ministry time to decide whether the case was in line with judicial procedures.

16 December 2005

Orhan Pamuk

Orhan Pamuk is a Turkish writer about to go on trial for the crime of denigrating the nation. Read about it at Literary Saloon and Maud Newton. I can’t see any specific campaigns for him at either Amnesty International or PEN but you could email them anyway.

Amnesty has this information about Article 301 and an extract is here.

Orhan Pamuk is an internationally-known Turkish author whose novels, including Snow and My Name is Red, have been translated into many languages and have received wide critical acclaim. He is facing charges under Article 301 for comments he made during an interview he gave to a Swiss newspaper (Tages Anzeiger) on 5 February 2005. In the interview, Orhan Pamuk stated, “30,000 Kurds and a million Armenians were murdered. Hardly anyone dares mention it, so I do. And that’s why I’m hated”. The first hearing of his case will take place in the Sisli Court of First Instance No. 2 in Istanbul on 16 December 2005.

Another way to support him is to buy his books.

11 December 2005

Other people's expectations

I've been furiously writing on my latest wip then came to a screaming halt. I'm trying to get my novella finished before Christmas, which was a laudable aim, but came undone by my need to fulfill other peoples expectations, not my own. This is all in my head of course, "other people" hardly register what I'm doing. But I have a bossy internal editor who tells me how I should write. I must write 1,000 words everyday, doesn't matter what else is going on and I should be submitting and publishing, NOW, NOW, NOW!. Her voice silences everything else that enables me to write.

So when I come to a plot problem or a characterisation problem, she goes into a panic because I'm not following the plan (god, I sound like Sybil here don't I?). I become paralyzed and stop writing. I think I'm finally realising that I have my own writing method, which involves a tiny amount of planning, then sitting down and writing a large chunk so I can get to know my characters and see how they react in different situations, and then do some more substantial planning. It seems an inefficient way to write a story, but I suspect is what a beginner has to go through. Get the words on the page then refine, sort, sift, discard. I read recently you have to write a million words before you know what you're doing as a writer. I have a way to go.

All this lack of writing means I've been surfing the net and reading blogs more than I should. Over at Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels there's an hilarious post on terms to avoid in romance. Warning: don't click on any links in the comments unless you have access to a therapist who can provide counselling for post traumatic stress disorder. I mean it.

Mercury has gone direct, which is why I think I'm coming out of my writing dilemma. Mars goes direct today. Thank god.

01 December 2005

Food, blogs and feminism

Yeah, I went to Melbourne and bought earrings and ate. It was fabulous. Prawn and pistachio risotto at Southbank, Malaysian food at Chinta Ria St Kilda and corn fritters with chilli jam at the Green Grocer Fitzroy. Food, sex and baubles. What can I say? I’m a Taurus. I also bought lots of books at Borders in Carlton and a pair of shoes at Peter Shepard. Melbourne is so good for shopping. Didn’t get to Bliss - ran out of time.

Back to the real world which consists of a novella that just doesn’t want to finish - I need another 5,000 words - and a short story on a fetish for the ERWA theme weekend. Which is this weekend so I better get on with it.

But I’ve been seduced by blogs. Bitch Phd has posted a great thought provoking piece on feminism and stay at home mothers which made me despair about the state of the world. Feminism has changed a lot of things and given women more choices, but men seem to be unchanged. I can see why - after all who wants to do more housework?

For me feminism was always about transforming work and private life so that all of us can achieve our dreams. I’ve always been less interested in equality feminism (although seeing it as strategically necessary) because I don’t want to work the way men work. Seventy hour weeks with no time for a personal life is not something I ever wanted. So women continue to walk away from that life and therefore give up power in that world. It’s a double edged sword. You can’t transform something you don’t want in the first place. Or can you?

I also love Sara Donati’s blog and Smart Bitches who Love Trashy Novels. At this rate I’ll never get any writing done.