Stone-coloured pillows

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Chapter 5


The time between their conversations seemed to Julia unbearably long. The conversations themselves over in an instant. Though it was a poor imitation of the way she had felt when with him that night, the buzzing of her phone now brought with it a fluttering excitement.

“How are you?”

“What are you up to today?”

Both Julia and Christopher avoided the elephant. They also avoided talk of Jamie. Christopher would find himself forgetting Jamie existed, until Julia would hurriedly say “I have to go now”, and Christopher would know he had just entered the room.

He was not the jealous type, in fact, Christopher resented the feeling. Jealousy makes people weak. And bitter. And Christopher had discovered that he was much happier without that emotion in his repertoire. But those times on the phone: feeling like Julia was his girl, or at least he wanted her to be, and then knowing that she was disappearing into the blackness of the ether only to reappear next to another man...that did not feel comfortable. He found himself shaking slightly after exchanges with Julia that ended in this way, where Jamie’s presence was apparent, and it was unclear whether it was frustration that caused the shaking or simply a desire to be rid of the image of Julia with someone else.

Though it had only been once, and they had only spoken as friends since, Christopher felt a surging energy, a tension, that passed through Julia’s mouth down the phone and straight into his ear. The words “I miss you” and “I want to see you again”, always lingered somewhere on the tissue of his tongue; one exhale away from being audible.

Looking out of the window at the omnipotent greyness of the

October sky, Jamie thrust the gear stick into reverse and parked up in the driveway of the house. The driveway was at an incline such that, when he first learnt how to drive, the bumper of the car often found itself in intimate contact with the bricks of the house itself. But that had been a long time ago. Since then he had driven a boat-laiden trailer across Europe to Italy. He had also taught Julia how to drive. He chuckled to himself slightly as he remembered the exchanges they had in those weeks of lessons: Julia was so desperate to pass the test quickly that, no sooner had she purchased the Micra, keys still warm in her pocket, had she booked herself in for a driving test. Despite promises made by Julia’s father, the responsibility of teaching her had somehow ended up falling on Jamie’s shoulders.

Two evenings prior to the test itself, there had been a strop in the parking bay a mile from the house. Julia, so cross with parallel parking and the lines of the car park and the heaviness of the steering, and the world, had gotten out, and vouch that she was going to walk home and not show up for the test. In spite of this she had passed. 1 minor just four weeks after first sitting behind the wheel.

Jamie had felt a huge surge of pride; he had done such a good job. People had since told them that if their relationship could stand Jamie teaching Julia how to drive, it could stand anything. Back then it felt like they were right.

He let himself into the house and climbed the stairs. It was unusually quiet for a Saturday afternoon; his family must be out walking Bailey. He wondered if Julia was in. He hadn’t had a chance to talk to her about last night: how happy it had made him, how he had a spring in his step as he went to work this morning. How he hoped it would happen again. Now. This thought brought with it a tingling that commenced in the pit of his stomach and extended down to his pelvis like a warm, rich sauce.

“How about next Sunday?”, he heard the jovial tone from downstairs, “okay, yeah that sounds good...well, let me know - I’m not busy.” A pause. “Okay, you too. Enjoy your ride.”

Jamie mounted the last few steps to the bedroom, making his chestnut hair visible above the bannister of the stairs.

“Who was that?”, he tried not to sound put out.

Julia was sitting on the small wicker chair that they had brought up from the kitchen cupboard of unused paraphernalia when she had first moved in. Now it served as a desk chair. It was small. Like it was meant for a child. Julia’s limbs were twisted in a contortionist fashion so that her whole body could fit itself upon it.

“Oh, it was just Christopher. We might be meeting up next Sunday. That’s alright, isn’t it? You’re busy anyway, right?”, Julia smiled sweetly up as she said this and Jamie felt a sting replace the warm tingling sensation.

“Only in the morning”, Jamie responded with a tone that mimicked that of a sulky child. “I thought we could do something after that. Go for dinner or something?”

“Yeah that would be nice”, Jamie thought he heard dismissiveness in her voice. “It wouldn’t be for the whole day anyway; I’ll only meet Chris for lunch.” She dropped her gaze then and went back to her work. Formulae and scribbled notes littered the little mahogany fold-out desk and as Julia highlighted another line, Jamie felt an anger rising in him. The highlighter was dried out and screeched as she ran it across the paper.

“Do you even love me anymore?” Jamie spat the words at her.

Julia looked up once more. The expression on her face was surprised, uncomfortable, exasperated. “Why would you even ask that? You know I love you.”

He crossed the room in a few strides of his long legs. As left leg outdistanced right, one emotion overtook the other. By the time he reached the desk and the little wicker chair and the girl, the tingling was back. It was fueled by the other thing, by the heat.

Jamie reached down and seized Julia just beneath the jawline, his thumb and forefinger extended over her ramus, turning her head towards him. The act of holding her like this, her little face in his hand, sent another wave through him. The bulge within his pants was unmissable now. “Prove it then.”

In her surprise, Julia did not respond, and even as he leaned in and plunged his tongue into her mouth, her internal struggle was such that she could not figure out if she should submit or defy.

During her conversation with Christopher her heart had soared. Jamie’s presence now brought an unbearable bathos. The anticlimax of her happiness led Julia to feel leadened and it was with a heaviness within, that Julia allowed Jamie to undress her and lay her down on their carpeted floor.

As he fucked her she watched a fly make its spontaneous path along their carpet. In that moment, she wished she was the fly.

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