I do not like old rooms that are brown with the smell of time.

The ceilings in my husband's house were too high. They ran away from me. In the night I would reach up my hands but I could not touch them. When Edward asked me what I was doing I said I was reaching my hands up to touch the sky. He did not understand. Were we too young together?

Once a week he would remove my nightdress and make love to me. Sometimes I moved, sometimes I did not. Sometimes I spoke, sometimes I did not speak. I 'did not know the words to speak. We quarreled. His stepmother, would scold us. She could hear. In the large, high-ceilinged rooms voices carried as burnt paper flies, rising, tumbling, falling. Drifting.

The doors were always half open. Sometimes-lying in bed as if upon a huge cloud-I would play with his prick, his cock, his pintle. Pintle. I do not like the set in it. Sometimes I would turn and he would rub it against the groove in my bottom. I liked that. I lay with my nightgown up, my back to him, and had my dreams. The rubbing was nice. My cheeks squeezed tightly on his cock.

The night before I left we quarreled. Our words floated about, bubble-floating. They escaped through the door. His stepmother netted them. She entered and spoke to us. The oil lamps were still lit.

'I will bring you wine-you must be happy,' she said. Her nightgown was pale and filmy. I could see her breasts. Balloons. I could see the dark blur of her pubis, her pubic hair, her wicked.

'Wine, yes-'twould be splendid,' Edward said. He was pale and thin. Like his pintle. I had nursed it in my palm even while we quarrelled. It was the warm neck of a bird. I did not want it in my nest.

I heard his stepmother speaking to the maid downstairs. The maid was always up. There was clinking- bottle sounds, glasses sounds. We lay still, side by side. His stepmother returned and closed the door, bearing a tray. She poured wine. We sat up like people taking medicine.

'Angela, dear, lie down,' Edward said. His father had married her when Edward was fourteen. During the past months then of his father's absence in India, she had encouraged him to use her Christian name. I judged her about forty. A woman in full bloom.

Wine trickled and spilled on the sheet as she got in. Edward was between us-between the betweening of us. The ceiling grew higher. The sounds of our drinking sounded. The wine was suitably chilled. My belly warmed it. We were people in a carriage, going nowhere. We indulged ourselves in chatter. The bottle emptied quickly. We must sleep, we must lie down, Angela said. 'I will stay with you until you sleep:'

I heard her voice say that. The ceiling came down. It had never done that before. I passed my hand up into it and it was mate of cloud. We lay down side by side on our backs. Our breathing came. There was warmth. Edward laid his hand on my thigh. He moved my nightgown up inch by inch. He touched. Into my fur, my nest, he touched. The lips were oily, soft. I did not move. His hand on the other side of him moved. I could feel the sheet fluttering there.

Our eyes were all open. I did not look but I knew. Soft, wet sounds. 1 tried not to move my bottom. Would the maid enter to remove the tray? Edward's fingertips found my button. 1 felt rich, forlorn, lost. My legs stretched down and widened. My toes moved. On the other side of him the sheet fluttered still.

Edward moved. His finger was oily with my oily. He moved on his hip and fumed towards me. I felt the pronging of his prong. His hand cupped my nest.

'Kiss goodnight, Beatrice.'

His voice was above me, yet far away-a husk blown on the wind. I moved my face sideways to his.

'Yes, kiss goodnight,' Angela said.

Her voice was far away -a leaf floating on the sea. His mouth met mine. His charger quivered. against my bared thigh. Fingers that were not my fingers ringed the stem of his cock. His finger entered me. I moved not. Our mouths were pasted together, unmoving. 1 was running through meadows and my father was chasing me. My mother and my sister, Caroline, were laughing. I screeched. Their voices drifted away on to the far horizon and waved there like small flags.

Moving my hand I encountered Angela's hand-the rings upon her fingers that ringed around his cock. I moved my mouth away from Edward's and stared up at the ceiling. It had gone high, gone high again. Birds drifted through it. Edward's hand eased my thighs wider. I lay limp, moist in my moistness. The bed quivered as if an engine were running beneath it.

I found my voice.

'Kiss goodnight,' I said. My mind was not blank. There was coloured paper in it. A kaleidoscope. I watched the swirling, the patterns. Would love come?

Edward turned. His knob burned in his turning against my thigh. His nightgown was fully raised. His lips fell upon Angela's. Her hand held his cock still. At first she lay motionless. The sheet moved, tremored, rippled up and down. In her breathings were the secrets of the passageways at night.

Edward groaned in his groaning. The meshing of their lips. I heard their tongues. Voices.

'Edward-no, not now!'

They were speaking in ordinary speech.

'Oh, you bad boy!'

The shit became tented. I felt the opening of her thighs -the warmth exuding from her thick-furred nest. Her bottom shifted, rucking the sheet, smack-bounce of flesh to flesh. Her knees bent. Between her thighs she encompassed him. Small wet sounds. Slithery sounds. 1 held my legs open. I was gone, lost. They did not know me. The bed heaved, shook. I turned my head. I looked as one looks along a beach at other people.

Did I know them?

Her nipples stood like tiny candles in brown saucers, laved by Edward's tongue. Her hands gripped his shoulders. Her eyes and lips were closed as if she were communing. Between her thighs his loins worked with febrile jerkings. Tiny squishing sounds. Her bottom began to move, jerking to his jerks.

Expressionless I moved the sheet down with my foot. It wrinkled, crinkled, slid away, betraying the curves of her calves. His mouth buried her mouth beneath his mouth. Her hands clawed his back. Their movements became more frenetic. The pale pistoning of his pintle cock.

Moaning in the night. Bliss of it. Was there bliss of it? I wanted to be held down. I. wanted a straw to chew or a piece of long sweet grass whose root is white.

Angela was panting. It was a rough sound. The squelching of his indriving, outsucking. His balls smacked her bottom. The, sound pleased me. Through their puffing cheeks the working of their tongues.

'Ah! dearest, let me come!'

Edward raised himself on forearms, loins flashing. Her hands clutched his arms. I was looking. Sideways along a cloud, a beach. The lamps were lit still. Had they forgotten the lamps?

'Oh, Edward!'

Kiss goodnight.

He collapsed, he shuddered, in his quivering quivered. Her calves rose and gripped his buttocks. A final thrust, indriven to the root. He seeped in his seeping, his jetting done. Like balloons bereft of sir they collapsed. They were quiet. I could hear the ceiling. The floor creaked. Was the bed coming undone?

Edward rolled between us and was quiet. The night was done. The limp worm of his penis-pole lolled wet against my thigh. Sticky. It oozed. It was too small now for my nest.

In the night he slimed and mounted me. Drowsy in coils of sleep I did not resist. The oil lamps flickered low. Did she watch? From moment to moment 1 jerked my bottom in long memories of knowing. I wore drawers in my dreams. My bottom was being smacked. It was being smacked because there was a cock in me. In our soft threshings my legs spread. My ankle touched hers. She did not stir. Our feet rubbed gently together. Our toes were intimate.

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