The Stalemate Hours (18+ only)
Today’s story is a bit different in a number of ways. It’s soulful, but it extends beyond the erotic only, touching on other themes. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s an important story to me.
As always, do feel free to give me your feedback, here in the comments section or by contacting me another way. I always value your thoughts and opinions.
Happy reading! x
My head’s banging by the time the train collapses into King’s Cross. Through the rain-splattered window, the ghost grey hood that encases the station stares back at me, as the hour creeps ever closer from one day to the next. It deadens my bones.
I wish I didn’t have to leave the carriage. My dream had been enough to keep me asleep forever: A scorching day outside, with the heat causing the brilliant blue sky to look ripply and white when I stare long enough. Me, laying on the table without a care that all I have on is a towel roughly fastened around me. The door is wide open and, as I shut my eyes, a flickering breeze plays on my face, creating the feel of ice crystals from the tiny beads of sweat. I sense a shadow over me, the hot lips just above my breasts. Fingers inside the towel, easing it open, until the soft breeze kisses all of my flesh. I let my knees fall open, the coolness playing a smooth overture to the burning roughness of the tongue between my thighs. Moans mingle with the breeze and grope the walls, as I begin to writhe on the table, a thumb teasing the back of my entrance, and fingers rolling against my hard little clit. And I thrust myself to meet all of it—as the train’s brake jerks me off the edge of the seat, and brings me to those wee, dead hours. The stalemate hours.
I played the game, as usual, didn’t I? I’m pretty good at it as a rule: have a strategy to follow, always queen of the game, moving only when necessary. Stay guarded by the trivialities of flirting: the carefully chosen words, the coy glance, the kisses that trail up his neck and into the back of his hair, leaving him as dough to be shaped to my delight and desire, to be pulled onto me to satiate it, or else to be pinned by my knees while I satisfy it for myself. Guarded by the impossibility of it all. And—and this is important—never, never give in to that end move. Don’t let it catch you out, no matter what.
But this time the game’s gone awry. I check my texts. There are only the last two, sent as I got on the train. His: “What do you expect me to say to that, right now, seeing you with that in your hand?” Mine: “I want you to be honest with me. Like I am with you.” There’s nothing else. The next move is his.
I walk the seemingly endless length of tarmac, past the platform numbers and the signposts, and the black boards bulging with the digital tangerine of incoming train times. Every one of them pregnant with instruction, pointing the way for someone. On the tiled floor now, I walk with each foot inside the square of each one. The queen can move anywhere she likes here. Within the boundaries of the station, of course. There are always boundaries, aren’t there? Lines you mustn’t cross. A few times I try so hard to stay inside them that I feel dizzy and nearly fall over.
“You all right?” a guard asks; he points me towards a café that’s still open across the street. I check the time on my phone. Just the time. Nothing else to check. It says it’s not today, but tomorrow now. And I feel sick to read that the phone knows what the future is, and I have to rely upon it to tell me.
Inside the uncharted territory of the café, and the phone bings against my groin. It stirs a familiar, tingly ache that travels on one side, front to back, between my legs. I gasp, not expecting such a feeling, so out of place as I stand here, weary and alone. I fumble to find the vibrating article in my jeans pocket; it drops on the floor, and people leave their pieces of multi storey cheesecake and stare at me, fork in hand. Just an update notification. Bloody phone. I sit down at a corner table, out of the way, where cushions line the bench seat under the window, and I can use them as camouflage. I try to look out, but it’s too dark now and there are no lights beyond the dingy yellow spot that lurks over the dustbins.
“Do you want anything?” The waitress stands there, bored, tired. Waiting.
“Anything?” I haven’t had anything since the three choking sips of coffee and the half piece of toast he burnt. I settle for a hot chocolate and the remaining piece of cheesecake. What I’d love is the repeat of 7am, the feeling of his breath in my hair, and his arm pulling me tightly to him as his fingertip toys with my nipple until he elicits a long, slow moan from me as consciousness begins to overtake sleep. I’d love the feel of his morning hardness pressed in between the cheeks of my backside, his balls tickling the very tops of my legs, as he sandwiches himself between my body and his. But I have a waitress who rattles my food and drink on the table and startles me back from my reverie. At least I look like everyone else now. I can’t taste the drink, and I poke the crusty edges of the cheesecake with the fork. I feel an affinity with the dessert as I toy with it, break it in half.
I imagine, suddenly, that you send me a message. The imagining comes out of the blue, and I track it to see where it will lead. I should know by now. Your message says, “I have something to tell you.”
My imagined self—or maybe the real one—feels sick. Another make-believe one bings in. “Can I phone you?”
All at once, I feel that toast rise up from the pit of my stomach and invade my throat. It fills it with a rock of starch, and I can barely breathe. The imaginary me replies: “I’m scared. If you’re going to upset me, don’t phone.” I delete; try again. “Don’t talk to me, fuck me.” Delete. Try once more. “Tell me in a message.” All I can hear are the words in that text, and they go round and round in my head until the words become a nauseating roundabout, spinning the rock of burnt bread. I delete. Send “No.”
My eyelids are raw, the burn of salt tears lingers as my imagined self holds onto the phone, unsure if it will ring or not, bing or not. I send another: “I love you.” Why do I do that—say it again—even in my imagination? Show my hand, again?
My imaginary self waits; so do I. I can’t bear to look at the screen. The silver casing and the gleam of the wordsmith machine appals me, so I semi-hide it under a cushion. Nothing. But it’s late. He may be—I don’t know. My mind wanders to the dark, to a strange pair of shapely legs wrapped around his thighs, his face brushing against a perfume he doesn’t recognise; the bedding that I left this morning crumpling underneath her naked form as he thrusts his frustrations into her until they explode, and his anger at me gives way to—what would he feel then? My ribcage is drumming and I bite the inside of my mouth to dislodge one pain and replace it with another.
I’m not sure how long I sit, but no one seems to care here, as long as you buy a drink every once in a while.
He will reply. He will. Soon.
The taxi pulls up outside the shop. Instinctively I look up towards the kitchen widow. Someone has left it open again, so the midges can feast on me. But I need strong coffee now, midges or not.
I see the driver twitch his nose at the woodworm-riddled frontage to my current third floor accommodation, at its historical façade to be admired by tourists. The Council expects it. Poor Henri wants to spruce up the front of his ground floor unisex hairdresser’s so he can attract more of the creatives and media types, he says. Poor Henri, with his Savile Row suit and his desperate comb-over plea to Mother Nature to leave him alone; defeated by history and the Council Planning Department. And those tourists, they take their smiling pictures and flit past to the next building with a plaque on it, as if history means nothing. But it’s everything. It’s how we learn to play the game; to get better at it; to not make the same mistakes over and over. I never was much good at history at school.
I let myself into the pitch black tunnel that masquerades as the hallway. The light bulb’s not working again. Up the first flight of stairs where the accumulated shared dirt in the threadbare carpet prevents my soles clacking on the boards beneath. Kitchen light’s still off. Good. Next floor. No one’s in, or no one’s awake. I don’t know which. I don’t care much. Up again, and squeeze past Carlos’ huge suitcase that commandeers the landing, to my room in the corner. Everything looks just how I left it: clean, tidy, just a bit sterile. My nostrils flare involuntarily; the curdled stench of a constantly drying bath towel lingers. It never quite disappears, no matter how I try to disguise it. Home. A stale towel in a stale room in the stalemate hours.
I lay on my bed in the dark, just a new moon and a tiny, scuttling mouse for company. There must be a way to ease this sadness inside me. Just something—undoing the zip on my jeans, my fingers pressing against the dampness that appears in the crotch of my knickers just at the thought of him—oh, I can make myself come at the memory of him throwing me against the bed and wrapping his fingers in my hair while his teeth graze on my back and he plunges his cock deep into me. I can—come—I can, oh! And I do, but there’s something wrong; I’m left with a dead feeling inside. I should just forget everything and curl up. Fall asleep. But I’m a glutton for punishment.
I lock my bag in the room that I don’t own, and head back down the curling stairs to the kitchen.
My fingers twitch at phone; I may have missed something. Notifications empty. Of course they are. I stand there in the dark; head over to the window; flick the kettle switch as I go past. Watch people living their lives among the neon lights and the clink of pink glasses and laughter, while I wait. Make a coffee and try to prevent my hand shaking, burning the tops of my feet with splashes of boiling water while I remain, perched on an old bar stool illuminated from the side by someone else’s light, not mine. He’ll be in bed now. And he’s ahead of me by an hour anyway. Four o’ clock over there. Warm and cosy in that duvet I left this morning. His head on the pillow that I hurled across the room before I left. On his own? He will be. He will, won’t he?
A buzz in my pocket, and I gulp the coffee, balance the cup on my knee and clutch the phone tightly. I look at the email and I want to pelt the phone out the window. I don’t need a cheap holiday, neither do I want to know where my dreams can take me. I never have been one for succumbing to that. Truly. I haven’t.
The phone is on vibrate now. I don’t want to hear its noises anymore. I’m exhausted, hovering here between attack and defence. Sleep tries to envelop me, the last dregs of my strong coffee dribble down my inner thigh as the mug, too, resigns itself to the stalemate of the hours between darkest night and the first mist of ghost blue. But it’s never really dark here. Too many neon lights. All sorts of things going on where the neon lights shine: hands sliding against willing flesh, finding cock-tip wetness and cum-slathered folds to prove a need exists for the fucking that happens in the back rooms. And where the lights don’t shine, thrusting and groaning against the walls, as tiny bits of brick dust crumble and stick to the sweat on the bodies that grind together in the blackness of a more hidden desire. But that blue must be there somewhere; morning must be soon. Daytime, and everything will be better.
Sleep is brief; full of darkness and dreams. And almost a broken mug. I get up and boil the kettle again; use two large teaspoons of coffee granules this time; attack the now cold fluids on my inner thigh with a dishcloth. The kettle boils, and a new game plan simmers in the back of my mind: I’m not restricted, I can move—left, right, diagonally. I can move backwards. Or I can choose to move forwards. Just for the briefest moment there’s a feeling I’d forgotten existed. And this feeling, it makes me smile, so it must be good, mustn’t it? It must be.
I think—there’s a better game. Like Snakes and Ladders. I mean, you can’t misunderstand the rules. You’re coming up or you’re slithering down. No strings; just up and down, enjoying the ride until you get to the end. There’s a winner, yes, and a loser, but with this one it’s fun from start to finish, and you often choose to play again. Either way, you know what the moves mean. It doesn’t hurt your head. With Snakes and Ladders, you don’t have to keep buying painkillers and sleeping tablets. Or pregnancy test kits, like the one in my handbag. A secret strategy—until this morning. But I’m not playing strategically now.
Vibration against my thigh. Text. I ignore it, but the feeling throbs in my pussy and I moan out loud, trying to forget the way it feels when he rubs my clit hard and finger fucks me until the tingles build to a delicious, ripping ache that radiates from between my legs and through my thighs. I look at the neon lights and the man who’s trying to bend in limbo and balance a pint glass on his belly where his shirt has become untucked. Sit there at the window, clinging to my still hot coffee, until my palms get that shiny salmon pink glow, and the stinging becomes an almost-numbness.
The vibration doesn’t stop this time. Stirs my groin; makes me put down the coffee. An incessant masturbation of my body, fucking with my mind. But I don’t answer the call. Just stare at the steam coming out of the cup as I press my head up against the grime pocked paint on the frame of the sash window. And the game hangs there in limbo like the man in the street.
And then. Then. I’m not playing alone anymore. The one that jumps squares. Jumps planes and Tube trains. That voice.
“Does nobody ever shut that fucking window?”
I didn’t see it coming. But I do, just at the sound of him.
The steam stops rising from the cup, abandoned there on the sill of the open window, amid the sky that can’t make up its mind whether it signals the end of night or the beginning of day. The coffee goes cold, and Henri unlocks the unisex hairdressers with his clunky key. You can hear him beginning the day—like every other day—with his soliloquy on why history isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, no matter who tells you that, if you learn your history, you won’t repeat the same old mistakes. Poor Henri. I could shout out of the window, “I’m with you, Henri. People never learn.” But I’m not at that window, looking out on the game of life, am I?
My adversary knows the way to that top corner, and I follow blindly. My light bulb doesn’t come on. As he pushes the door shut behind us, he rams me against the wood and removes my coffee-stained jeans. His fingers are desperate; they yank my top over my head, his palms push at the rounds of my breasts, kneading, grasping, unhooking my strap and flinging the bra to the floor. The mouse scurries to a hidey hole under the bed as he draws my breast to his lips and his hand cups my pussy, his fingers pressing against my entrance. As he slides my knickers aside, I hear the sound of his zip. The head of his cock presses against my folds, slides back against my slick cunt. I wait for him to attack, to bring down my defences with his swift, empassioned manoeuvring. And he pummels me; I have no chance. I know just what move he’s making, and I fall for it, headlong, breathing my moans into his chest as I delight in being captured. Because he finds his endgame.
“I love you, too.”
Knight takes Queen. Checkmate. Isn’t it?