Finding the End

> • <

Amanda Bauer

> • <

This is only the second piece of fiction I’ve written since leaving school over twenty years ago. It’s a work in progress, which I hope could become a short story, or a chapter in something longer perhaps. In the meantime, I thought it could use an airing in its present form.

> • <

As she shifts, pulling her feet up onto the windowsill and half turning her face away, he is suddenly ambivalent in his desire for her. He wants to feel her, and the sex they used to share, but there’s something about the dignity of her refusal that causes him to pause.

The world on the other side of the window is black as eternity; they’d walked back from the wake barely able to see each other, drunkenly bumping along unknown lanes one step at a time. The kiss, not long before they’d left the pub, had been familiar, yet raw and unkind. A predictable end to a day of emotional tension, crashing through veins carrying regret and unarticulated fears. Despite this, neither wishes it hadn’t happened. He left her only a couple of months earlier, but they both still care about each other and remain friends. Why else would she travel all this way with him to come to the funeral?

The only place nearby for them to stay is with friends of his family. There is a twin room with single beds at angles from each other. The room is small though, and the day has been large. They got in to, or at least on to, their separate beds, but they were both restless.

> • <

She looks back at him again now, a brief glance, without turning her head toward him, and he needs her all over again; he knows she feels the same. He tells her so, and as he starts to speak her hands begin to move, finding distraction in small objects.

“Of course I do,” she says with fierce quietness, imagining their voices carrying through thin walls, “but I want it to be because you love me. And you don’t.” Her eyes widen as she tilts her head back slightly and she pushes the nail of her middle finger deep into the flesh of her thumb. “How would that be any good? Why would I do that?”

She still loves him, he knows that. He didn’t plan this, but once they’d got back to the room, after that storm of a day had whipped up and set down again all the grief and memories and stories… And after all the drink, and the kiss, and then the dark, lonely intimacy of the walk back. Coming into that small, dimly lit room, it seemed inevitable that they’d end up in bed together. Their sex had always been good, and he still finds her attractive, still cares about her. He just doesn’t want to be with her any more. The truth is he’s in love with someone else. She doesn’t know this was why he left, but fate led him down a cul-de-sac anyway, so here he now is, letting her internal battle turn him on and push aside his feelings  of guilt. Trying to win the battle.

He’s always been persuasive when it comes to words and women and sex; he feels there’s still a chance, so now he’s reminding her how it used to be. She looks away to the window, finally unable to keep the tears from their freedom. She stares into nothing, hoping to will them into abating. He’s still talking. She doesn’t need reminding; she knows keenly the pleasure they gave each other, recalls the first orgasm he gave her, how sometimes just thinking of his touch, would arouse her. Fresh tears fall, and she fights a sob by contracting her stomach so hard she has to stop breathing. She closes her eyes slowly, opens them again, half turning. Repeats once more, patiently, barely audible with emotion, that it would be no good. Would do no good. Her hands hold her shins now in a bid for stillness, but they find no rest, and grip tensely. They agree once more that they both want to, but again she counters him as she searches the endless darkness outside. And again, and again. Until the darkness grows a pale edge, a soft blur finding its end after all.

> • <

Eventually they both wear out. The drink and the emotion have created concentric circles of their voices. He realises she can’t be won, and suddenly something shifts as the blur outside the window finds definition. His mind is hazy but he recalls something about her that he’s always been drawn to. He remembers that in the midst of their first, radiating attraction for each other, she wouldn’t even kiss him until she’d finished with her current partner. He’d mangled her heart, moved away without a thought for her, left her in a small-town spotlight  for everyone else to watch flail as their relationship decayed. Yet still she’d insisted. Do the right thing.

And now here she is again, taking some sort of stand. As if she needs it; is trying to tell herself something.

It’s late and they both know there will be no sex now, but they feel raw still and in need of each other, or something, at least. So they pass out together in one of the single beds, pressed into each other’s heat like children trying to forget a painful memory.

> • <

In the morning, head whirring a little, he brings tea. As he hands one to her, she smiles, “Thank you.”

 > • <


First drafted 6th December 2014



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: