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.”

“What?”

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.

“Anna..”

“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.

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