Apparently, I read, people should trust their instincts. They should do this, the article says, because instinct tells us what we desire. And desire takes seven seconds to manifest itself, so it says.
I shut my eyes and splay out my fingers on the bed, next to the box—Pandora’s Box, I call it—the one which holds the only photo of you that I have. I tap—one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and I shove my face into the pillow, allowing this set of tears to seep into the cotton and join the night-time ones. And what I need stares straight back at me from inside my eyelids amid the soggy pillowcase and the feint warbling trace line of salt that proves I was awake more than asleep last night. Again.
The dream, recurring to the point of madness. The way your lips met mine over the table; how we agreed we’d never do it again. And then your body pressed against mine in the dark. Your fingers tracing a path over my breast, cupping it with your palm, as my hand explored the hardness you hid away from me. Squeezed it. You gasped; your breath came long and hot in my hair and you lifted the hem of my skirt to my knee, sliding your hand up higher, caressing the soft inner flesh of my thigh until your fingers brushed the material between my legs. Your eyes widened when you felt the wetness you’d created in me. You told me then that you wanted me. And, as your fingers curled under the lacy edge of my knickers and I felt the whisper kisses on my neck, I believed you.
I need to sit up. Shake the dream away. I actually do it—shake my head, denying you prolonged entry inside of me. The scent of the lilies drifts in the breeze of the open window, over from the vase on the windowsill, encircling my senses. Do you remember our daytrip to Kew Gardens? Those flowers I found that smelled like—what did I say?—like how I imagined the Bacchanalia would smell. Such power, such rich eroticism, so many heady flower scents, and I wanted you to fuck me in that garden, to give the flowers something real to smell. I even turned to you to get you to smell it too, and to reassure me that it’s rare, this incredible scent, only to be recognized by me when you’re there to smell it, too. And you bent me over the edge of the wall to the raised pond and pulled my knickers aside so you could take your Bacchic fill of me as the heat, and the flowers, and my desperate moans empowered your thrusts. But you weren’t there really, of course, were you? I function on the periphery of life, there, in fantasy without you, unable to hold onto happiness even in the most basic of nature’s gifts.
But I decide not to think about this at all. I decide not to think about anything but what I need after counting to seven and concentrating on how I am now. I focus completely on the matter in hand, and it doesn’t matter that my tongue is dry and sticking to the roof of my mouth when I swallow, nor am I overly worried about the pain in my stomach that cries out for food that it’s missed—or the ache in my cunt that screams for its own nourishment. None of this matters. That’s just my body talking. And I’m not willing to give an inch on this; I draw the battle lines on my physical self. Because, unless I am alive, then my body will die. Unless I survive, then the breasts that swell to your touch, the thighs that wind around you, the inner most part of me that drenches itself with life at the hard treatment you give it—all will wither away. It writhes in the pain that wanting you brings, it’s rebelling at the way I die without you. Leave me alone, Body, so my Self can save both of us!
I rehearse ways to tell you. I write full letters in my head. And in them, I talk of how futile this all is; how you can’t give me what I need; that I’m worth more than this. I don’t even believe that myself. What am I worth? If you get nothing back, if you’re treated like you don’t matter, does that mean that you are nothing—do you even exist outside of your own head? I don’t know. I want to be able to have you—to have someone—who will talk to me as if I’m a living, breathing creature, with decisions to make and a life of my own to run, independently of you. But I miss you, and I don’t run independently of you, do I? I’m entwined around you, and you slide in under my skin and torture me there, pummeling away between the surface and my inner self. And so, I no longer have speech to fall back on, either. I have a box of memory.
Open the lid, and the evils of my world escape. The way you take me, freshly showered and shy of you, and lay me down on the bed. Peeling open the folds of my dressing gown, you stroke a line from my navel to my folds with your thumb, and I shiver at your touch, but the shiver burns me; my skin is on fire as your forehead rubs against my thighs and you push my legs apart. The first touch of your tongue sends skewers up my back, impaling me to the bed as you feast on my bush and your fingertip toys with the most intimate part of me. I shut my eyes, only feeling the roughness of your tongue, the flicking of its tip against my hard little mound. I let you in. And when I open my eyes…I’m there alone, with the emptiness, and the sad flowers, and the letter I need to write.
And I tell you—oh, I go on and on about it in this letter which floats in the cavities of my heart between sense and feeling—that I’ve never said ‘goodbye’ to you before, because I’ve never needed to. Or, at least, I’ve never wanted to. I go on and on about how the very utterance of the word denotes the end, and I ask you if you’ve ever even noticed how I say ‘see you’, or ‘night night’, or any manner of words to avoid saying this one. But it’s time to say it now. And I remind you in detail that you’ve always never had time to listen to me, or just didn’t want to know about what I need from you—how it breaks me in two that you’ve locked me in a state of submission with no way out, no safe word—just didn’t reply to the words I wrote if I tried to make you hear. And I’m sick, sick to my stomach, of being bound by you.
The message would come in: “Where’s the photo of your tits?” Another: “Cunt pic—now.” What choice do I have, under your spell? The noise would ring out. I answer, and there you are, laying on your bed, cock in hand. And I have to give as well as receive, and the tears fall down my face, but it’s not my face you’re watching. It never is. The images of my cunt and your cock are everything—everything to you. Seven seconds…I want more, want to be more, than that. I want to kiss your lips, your neck. I want to be able to run my fingertips over your chest when the first strips of morning light illuminate you and ignite the fire that smoulders inside me as I wait for your hands to roam my body, wait for your face against mine, wait for the whispers in my hair, as you lift me onto you and fuck me for real. I want real.
And so, I force my feet to the floor, and pull myself to the seat at the dressing table. I rummage in the bottom of the drawer for the best quality writing paper, the sheets that I only ever used to use for the most important of letters. And I use my best pen—the one you said would be a gift for my birthday, but that I bought for myself, in the end. I pour out my soul through the ink and on the paper, every word releasing me fragment by fragment from the ties that bind me to you. And when all the fragments are there, and I can face them without the whisps of breeze being the brush of your kiss, the sheets being the warmth of your body against mine, or my fingers fucking inside me and replicating the endless empty promises, then—then, I will begin to glue together the broken pieces. I’m a broken fuck. Everything can be mended, given time. But how many cracks still show?
I can live, can’t I, without the way I want to wrap you in my arms? It’s possible to survive without your orders and threats and mutual masturbation in stolen moments so I can please you. I can manage without the pressing of your warm lips against mine, the touch of my hand against your face, the way your hand runs down my back and pulls me close to you. I don’t need to feel the way you slide so easily inside me, the pulsating of your cock filling me as your hands squeeze my breasts and harden my nipples until I gasp. Or how I push harder onto you as you thrust yourself into me and find your own unique way of making those shivers burn through my body. I can live without finding my pleasure through you, seeking my soul in you.
There’s an email. It bings on my phone and there, on a screen next to the letter, are those words. Three words is all it takes every time. I clasp them to my breast, blindly hoping that you can feel my heart beating back at you. Three words: “I want you.”
The message fills the air, encases me with its ethereal arms, suffocates me. One…two…three…four… My fingers grope my body, fill my cunt, as I arch backwards in the moans that satiate the fear screwed deep in me—the fear of losing you. The letter drifts off the desk and drifts under the bed, part-finished. Five…six… I reply with three words of my own; the words I wait to hear one day. And, once more, hesitating in the Pandora’s Box within my bedroom walls waits the tiny, fragile one. One day, Hope says, seven seconds might last a lifetime.