West Coast Eisteddfod Online Short Story Competition 2017
In its most exquisite form, adultery must be planned with meticulous attention to detail. When I cheat on my wife it must be in an unparalleled act of precision. It’s gotta be carnal shaggin’ lubricated by sweat and flatulence, fuelled by promises nobody intends to keep. It’s gotta be as real as you can get, because I ‘ave to get caught.
When Boyo text me, I knew the opportunity had arrived. It read: “Fuckn fredm. InDpendince day party 2night. Woods by rez. B ther fucka.” In a way, I was glad I didn’t have much time to think about it, for I was already hearing her voice in my head. I abandoned my search for Gortex trousers to match my jacket and justified my impending infidelity by reminding myself how difficult it was to be married to someone who is perfect.
The weight of the cider cans in my rucksack and the distance I had walked from the road were making me wish I had chosen a more comfortable subversion, when Boyo stepped out of the trees waving the stars and stripes and leaning heavily on his brother.
“Happy Independence Day!” His speech slid already slurred between his teeth.
“What’s with the American flag?”
“Well, I went on Pinterest, innit, and I typed in ‘Independence Day Party’ an’ all the photos had Yankee flags like”
“You went on Pinterest for decorating tips? Tha’s gay as fuck, butt.” Looking directly at Boyo’s brother I asked, “Wha’re you doing ‘ear?”
“Nice to see you, too,” Alun replied as I glanced at the military surplus shirt he had painstakingly and symmetrically adorned with badges to express his weather resistant and flame retardant views on the world.
“I jus’ mean it’s not really yer crowd like.”
“My mam said she wouldin do my washing fer a year if I didn’t bring my brother home alive in the mornin’.”
“That sounds like a pretty good bargain to get shot of this bastard, but if yer stuck ‘ear you could lose the face like a slapped ass an’ try in enjoy yerself.”
“I suppose enjoyin’ yerself is all you can do when the world is falling apart. This morning I slept in, jacked off, and went to work late,” he proceeded to inform me with dire seriousness.
“He did in all,” Boyo confirmed with equal solemnity, “This wanka made his hoighty-toighty job wait fer ‘im while he polished the ol’ Glamorgan sausage.”
He tried to lean into to confide further particulars of the matter, but stumbled on the mocking root of a conifer. Alun left him where he was.
Boyo looked up as he pulled the rusted needles of the pine from his palms, “This bastard is ‘avin a massive strop ‘cause of the results.”
“Yer a twat.” His brother’s knee sent Boyo sprawling again. Alun stepped over the nearly incomprehensible carcass and put his arm around me grinning like a serial killer and said as he slowly swept his free hand to indicate the dark spaces between the mute trees, “Sticky Davies, welcome to the funeral for the nation. Step this way to sample our finest celebratory cannabis mixed with the most crystalline shards of glass. Or perhaps Sir would like to try our renowned cocaine cut with only the finest of rat poison?”
“Now yer talkin’. The missus is workin’ in Bristol and when the cat’s away the mouse will – ”
“Vote to forfeit billions in EU subsidies annually?”
As he led me into the woods away from the moans of his vomiting brother, I returned his smile, “At least my mam doesn’t make me go to parties.”
The music was deafening, but it worked its way into my veins. As I headed to the fire that served as the main heat source, I was accosted by a girl wearing a tattered shirt upon which she had written, “I FUCKED ENGLAND,” in thick Sharpie letters. Thigh-high leather encased her legs and a pretend penis protruded from beneath her tartan skirt.
She spread her arms saying, “Quick, cwtch for Cymru, mun,” with a type of sincerity. I obliged, but mentally checked her off my list of candidates. She laughed when her inflatable prick got tangled in the straps from my rucksack.
“Sorry, I’m not used to having two dicks between my legs,” I explained as I dislodged her blow-up balls.
“You seem able to handle a pair and a spare. Perhaps I could return the favour later?”
“Oh, I’m married.”
“Where’s she to now?”
“Bristol. But have fun, yeah?”
As I pressed deeper into the dancing, drugs, and debauchery, I began to wonder how to start acquiring some mind altering substances. I was gonna need all the help I could get.
“Anymore tabs about?” I asked a man with neon pink hair and dilated pupils.
Reaching under his appropriately pink Alice band, he pressed something into my hand. “I was saving this for later, but you look like you need it more than I do.”
“Thanks, butt.” I jerked my chin at him as I swallowed his offering, “Cheers.”
“To whatever comes,” he replied raising an imaginary glass as he walked away with an unplaceable smile.
“Aye, to whatever comes,” I echoed.
I shook my head as I watched Alun trying to chat-up Knob Bird across the field. I sat in the already wet grass to crack open a cider chaser for my mystery drug. Having chugged that, I lay back in the grass and stared at the moon. I wondered what would happen if the moon decided to sever its thraldom to the sovereign earth. Then there’d be fuckin’ a fuss.
Back on earth, my gaze fell on the only girl still dancing near me. I was surprised at the muscles on her; every bit of her was at once both smooth and hard. She had surprisingly broad shoulders, round breasts covered only by two daffodils, and the type of womanly hips that made me think that I could fit my palm nicely beneath that curve of bone.
I sat back up, transfixed by the subliminal swirl of the girl. She danced the way I unconsciously wished I could dance – the way I told myself I could. We dance the same, I thought, and nobody in the world dances like us – certainly not my uptight wife, not anymore. The girl told entire stories as she danced, and I listened intently to them all.
I moved to her, against her, and she moved into me. It bothered me that, even pressed against her, I couldn’t figure out how the flowers stayed on her nipples. I could feel the rhythm of the pounding music in the heart beating against my chest.
“Yer intoxicating,” I spoke into her ear, “you’ve entrapped me here.”
I released her to spin her web away and follow its spiral back to my arms. I stayed there with her, kneading trails and tales of creation into the earth.
“How are you feeling, lovely dancing girl?”
“Feeling? It seems as though I’m making love during an Air Raid siren. It’s alright, very life affirming.”
The drum and bass permeated every organ. I went to relieve my pounding bladder in the trees, but when I got back she was gone.
The aluminium footprints of fizzy pop and cider cans led me down the track to the shore of the rez. Despite the drugs, I was tense and angry at everything. Angry at my wife for being herself, angry at Boyo for not havin’ any problems, angry at Alun for being a pretentious knob, angry at myself for being such a dick that I couldn’t even have a tidy affair. Loads of people do it; it’s like part of the vows – I promise to love and cherish you and not tell you about anybody else I shag.
I was so worked up that I didn’t see her at first, but when I did there wasn’t any room for the turmoil.
“I thought you was another drowned sheep.”
“Charmin’.” Only her face was visible above the moonlit water. She moved, but then fell back with a slight splash. “Ouch. I cut me blood-dy fum,” she mumbled around the digit in her mouth.
She rose from the water then, still sucking her thumb. Her pale hair was heavy with water. Darkened and dripping, it hung like slick and saturated kelp, clinging to her skin in indecipherable runes.
Her feet had no need to be guided by her eyes as she moved wraithlike over the stones between us. She looked into me as her thumb parted her mouth and wrote a sign of longing on her lip in a language I couldn’t read. I fell inside myself as her flesh entered my own mouth.
“I want you,” she whispered over the taste of iron on my tongue. And I wanted her. And isn’t that the worst part, worse than actually doing it?
I woke alone in the depression between the standing stones. Admiring the silhouette of the two stones still erect through somewhat hazy vision, for a moment, I tried to smell the blood of my ancestors but could only breathe the damp moss mocking my sacrificial questions.
My contemplation was cut short by fumbled footsteps.
“You can’t piss on the ogham stone.”
“Wha’ the fuck is an ogham stone?” Boyo inquired slowly and incredulously.
“Piss off the pair of you,” I warned, “I’ve got a crackin’ headache.”
The morning fog that day was what I call milk mist because it fills the bowl of our valley so thick and sticky like. It erases us from the world we never belonged to. What little light there was when I woke was coyly teasing of a sunrise. Sitting on a stone, shadow-faced waves moved toward me, inconsequential in the ashen light and burdened by their indigo task. My pulse matched the inconsistency of the water and my thoughts the incongruous play of dark and light.
I scratched some lichen with an index finger as the nails of my other hand pressed into the flesh of my forearm. I could hear the sediment grinding as I disturbed the surface. A frightened ewe bleated and ran from the sharp breaking of dried sticks in the forestry behind me. Turning, I quickly dismounted the rock and began to hope that whatever drug I had taken in the night had an unimaginably long half-life thus rendering me still under its influence for there, being led by a castrated Knob Bird, was my wife.
“What the hell is goin’ on?” she demanded.
“Oh, hiya babes. Wha’ a pleasant surprise. Hope the journey was fine. I’m alright, thanks for asking.”
“I come home to an empty house with no note. I have rung you repeatedly and it goes straight to answer phone.”
“Oh, well I’m sorry, yer supposed to be in Bristol like.”
“Lucky Mrs. Jones called in when she seen the light on goin’ home from her shift and said she thought you might be up ‘ear with her boys,” she paused, “What is goin’ on, Stephen? What happened last night?”
“I come ‘ear to a party, tha’s all.”
“You went to a party did you?”
“Tha’s wha’ I said.”
“The thing is, Stephen, almost nobody remembers seeing you at the party.”
My wife’s indignant posture was mirrored by her dickless and dishevelled counterpart.
“Were you fucked by this man?”
She was looking directly at Knobless Bird who reached between her legs and quizzically smelled her fingers, “I was definitely fucked.”
“Wait, hang on a minute! I’m allowed to go to a party any damn time I want and you arrive home unannounced and come up ‘ear and accuse me of cheatin’ on you.”
“Then tell me wha’ you were doing last night…”
“I don’t really remember much, I took a pill see. But I think I was ‘ear by the rez for most of the night.”
“Were you alone?”
“Um, I don’t think so. I was with a girl I was.”
“It was him!” Knob Bird cried in epiphany.
“No, love, look…”
“No, not you,” she was pointing behind us, “him!”
“I see you found him,” said Alun Jones. I was gobsmacked but managed to ask him if he knew where I girl I was with had gone.
“Nah, mate. I didn’t see you with nobody. You was alone last night, unlike me,” he almost growled at Knob Bird, “Come on then, sexy, where was we?”
She giggled and started back to the forestry and Alun turned to us as he followed, “We may have divergent political opinions, but they say opposites attract, eh? Tarrah.”
“See ya, Al.”
“So, were you with someone or not?”
Apparently, even if our marriage was over, this conversation wasn’t.
I sat down, “I thought so, but then… She looked a lot like you and she was wild like you used to be. I wanted to cheat on you. Well, I dinna want to, but I came here intending on it. I couldn’t do it when it came down to it, but that was my plan.”
She sat beside me with greater gravity than the standing stones. “But why? If you didn’t want to…”
“To set you free. You’re too good for me, I’ve always known that. I hold you back,” the thought sunk down through my stomach and rooted my body to the grass. All my other senses drifted from me to wash with the fishes away, and concealed, from her. “Yer the most talented person I know and there is a whole world out there that I am keepin’ you from. I knew tha’ havin’ an affair would be the only way to get you to leave me.”
Her voice was low and mathematically precise, “You wanted me to leave you?”
“Yeah, because I could never leave you.”
“But you will insult my judgment by sayin’ that the person I chose to love is not worthy of that love?”
“I’m thirty-two years old and I’m gettin’ high in a forest. What if we had a sprog? What could I do for either of you?”
“I have never asked you to be anything other than yerself, and I never would.”
“I just don’t want you to be eighty and think that you could’ve done more”
“I am pissed with you, but I tell you what, when I’m eighty, I’m gonna remind our grandkids about the time you tried to ‘ave an affair, but couldn’t.” She paused, “I am glad about one thing though…”
She smiled with one side of her mouth, “I’m relieved it wasn’t tha’ girl in the skirt.”
I started to relax, “Would you ‘ave left me if it ‘ad been?”
“I dunno, should we have a referendum about it?”