The only way out is through. That’s what she told me. I didn’t believe her at the time but now I do. So here goes. I push my way through the curtain-like fronds and the lights blind me; they twinkle and blur the people so I can’t see them as people. But I know they’re there. And that terrifies me. I have no idea what I’m going to say. I walk to the mic as if I do. The cheering dies down slowly, like a fire burning out. Expectancy fills the space left by the exiting sound.
“When I first came to power I promised you three things,” I look around the stadium at the endless sea of people. The lights have dimmed and I can make out their forms: heads, shoulders, arms. Everyone is facing me.
“It is time for me to deliver that promise!” A cheer erupts. I smile and bow my head. As I look up again the noise abates.
“You don’t know what it’s like,” it was just a whisper. Did they hear it? They’re still looking at me expectantly. Perhaps not. I want to beg their forgiveness.
“I need your support in the changes that are going to have to be made.” It’s the reason I was placed as leader. I speak to them as an equal. I’m someone they can understand.
“We’re all going to have to make sacrifices. We can’t live a dream life without investing in it.” I shrug my shoulders to press the point. It’s a given. They’re muttering a little.
“I know you understand that we’re all in this together.” Then why do I feel like I’m doing something to them? I sigh and hang my head. Time for the truth. I take a deep breath.
“Truth is the shit’s hit the fan.” A huge gasp sucks the air out of the stadium. I’d better speed it up a bit now.
“Yes, the Party is actually going to make the changes regardless of whether you want them. We just don’t want a massacre. I don’t want to lie to you any more. I’m their puppet. Always have been. What do you think of that? Ha ha ha ha… oh, here they come!”
Two men in grey suits have appeared on stage and are coming towards me. I jump into the audience. Might as well be with the masses when we all die together. They part and I hit the ground falling into a forward roll and crawl through legs until I’m surrounded by them like a forest of young trees. Crawling, crawling, crawling, nudging the legs and finding ways through them. Twisting and turning; no idea where I am. Muttering sounds drift down from the tops of their legs; they sound confused. Odd comments fly into my ears, “joking…” “no, he can’t…” “what is this?” Their confusion is palpable – I feel it vibrating up my hands and into my arms as I make my way across the floor.
Gazing across the Thames is one of my favourite things to do. The light is slowly fading and yellow electric ones twinkle showing me windows in places unexpected. The river snakes its way darkly. Streetlamps add orange hazes here and there to the picture. I sigh. A small smile on my reflection’s face seems out of place. I turn away from the window and reach for the glass of wine being handed to me.
“I’m glad you were in.”
“I should say so. You were in a bit of a state.”
“Thank you for helping me, Rebecca.” I smile at her.
“What’s going on?” She cocks her head slightly. Attractively. I smile wider.
“I’m in a little trouble.” I grin at the minimisation.
“Okay.” She glances quickly at my lips and then back to my eyes, “anything I can help with?”
“You’re the only person I can trust right now.” Her eyes are blue. They have little flecks around the pupils that look like stars. She literally has stars in her eyes. They twinkle at me.
“That’s a line! It’s got to be! Come on!”
She laughs and stalks away to her favourite chair: a bit worn and ragged in places, red velvet. She bought it in a charity shop for fifty quid, she told me when I came for dinner last week. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the apartment, with the glass walls looking silently down on the Thames, or the cream leather sofa and oak coffee table, or the reclaimed timber polished enough to make it nice to walk on barefoot and retain a slight distressed look. Curling her legs up under her she grins again.
“Come on, Steve, tell me all about it.” Raising her glass in the air she winks then sips her wine.
“Did you ever get yourself into a position that was impossible to get out of?” I walk towards her and sit on the couch, facing her, my eyes raking her face.
“No. Did you?”
“Then how come you’re here?”
“That’s why I came to you, Rebecca. You point out the bits of truth I miss out. It reminds me- oh!” I turn my head quickly and look out of the window wall; darker now, the Thames glistens threateningly.
“What? What does it remind you of?” She’s leaning forward now.
“Who. Not what. My mother.”
“Oh, come on, Steve! What are you doing?”
“Why do you think everything I say is a line?”
“Because you have that charismatic air that suggests you’re a love rat!” She says this so calmly and matter of factly that I nearly spit my wine out. I cough and take a moment to recover, shaking my head. I can’t help but smile.
“A love rat. Nice. Thank you. Ha!”
I stand, glass in hand, and wander around the room, touching things as I pass them, the bookcase, chest high, piled with books on their sides. Does she actually read them? The dining table, white, circular, gleams at me. I place my wine glass on it with the barest of sounds. She has a cleaner, of course. I want her.
“I’m not a love rat.” My voice has an edge to it and she must have heard it because she puts down her wine glass and crosses the room quickly. Putting her hand to my face she strokes it gently; I shiver and my lip trembles. I pull her into my arms before she can see the emotion in my face; burying my face in her hair that smells so good and clean, I wait for the trembling to subside.
“Steve, I can feel you trembling. What’s up?” Her voice, muffled, sounds like baking bread. I loosen my grip and she pulls her head up. She looks me in the eye. My belly lurches. I want to kiss her. Her hand moves up and slides around the back of my head pulling me towards her soft mouth. Her tongue darts in and out of my mouth and over my lips in mini kisses. She sucks my bottom lip and pulls away with a squelchy sound.
“Mmmm, I’ve wanted to do that since I met you,” she smiles and stalks away again.
“Where are you going?”
“To change into something more comfortable. God! Did you ever feel like everything you say sounds like a line from a cheesy movie?” She laughs and disappears into the bedroom.
“Yes, but only because you keep telling me that!”
Seizing up my wine glass once more, I sip and walk again, stopping at the bookcase to read the titles. I don’t know any of them. Oh, hang on, yes I do. Charles Dickens. A Christmas Carol. Reaching forward I slide it out and pick it up. A bit dog eared; this book is well loved! I smile and open it. It’s not well loved at all. It’s a fake book. The pages have been glued together and a compartment cut out. For what? I slide it back in its place. Hope I haven’t dislodged anything.
“How long are you going to be?”
Startled, I jump, dropping my wine glass. “Oh, shit!”
“Leave it and come and find me!” Her voice, mellifluous through its impatience calls me and I attend to it, leaving the mess on the floor.
Standing in her bedroom doorway I dig my toes into her cream carpet, so soft after the hard wood floor. Laying on the bed on her tummy, she is wearing nothing. She turns her head, eyes me sleepily and says, “you were ages. Would you stroke my back?”
It’s hard not to gallop but I manage to walk sedately across the carpet and I kneel on the bed. Her body is brown in places, from the sun: her shoulders and calves and arms and a patch on her back near her neck. Her long red hair bends around her neck and falls in a straight plane to the bed, her head raised and resting on the palm of her hand. Legs bent at the knees, she crosses and re-crosses her ankles slowly like a kinaesthetic purr as I run my fingers across her: shoulder to shoulder, back to centre, follow the line of her spine down, down to her sacrum and the top of the crease of her bum. Two beautiful buttocks, peachy and asking to be kissed, await their turn: I trace a finger slowly in circles over her buttocks and she moans softly, raising them very slightly in the air. I feel the throb of my hard-on, restricted in the tight space of my trousers but it isn’t urgent enough yet for me to remove them. I lean and kiss her shoulder as my fingers slip into the crevice and discover a wetness; she trembles. That’s it; my trousers have to come off now. I stand, undo my belt and drop them to the floor. Lifting my boxers over my cock, I kick them off and walk back to the bed, cock hovering in the air. She giggles and looks at me over her shoulder. Is she going to let me do her from behind like that?