Roisin Dunnett


ISSUE 92 | CREDIT | NOV 2018

Image description: Turn of the twentieth century drawn print of a bunch of colorful anemones under the sea. Looks like an anemone party.

Image from Meyers großem Konversationslexikon 6th ed., published 1895-1900 by the Bibliographisches Institut in Leipzig.

Once or twice in moments of what seemed, at the time, to be great financial need, she had contemplated selling her used underwear on the internet, or selling her voice, selling things callers would induce her to say over the telephone. She never did. When she met her husband, he was not a man of particular means. In fact, quite early in their relationship, she paid him cash-in-hand to help her move some furniture out of her parents’ house.

It was his colleague who went out first: he spoke at a conference, attended by the directors of a new company on the other side of the world, and they liked his style. Their candid interest suggested serious money; the opening offer was already three times the salary of what anyone made at the small non-profit enterprise he and her boyfriend worked at. She had met the man before, for drinks on Thursday or Friday evenings after work, and at her boyfriend’s office Christmas party. He hadn’t struck her as very exceptional, but then, why should he have? Her boyfriend did not know the man well, and though they worked in the same department, their jobs were not similar. He betrayed no jealousy that she could detect in the other man’s selection.

“I suppose it’s an expensive place to live, that’s why they’re offering so much,” he said. “Plus accommodation’s paid for. They need to provide incentive: he’d be uprooting his whole life.”

The colleague had taken advice and requested that the company fly him out there before he reached his decision. He returned home with tales of trips to expensive restaurants, to markets and museums, swimming in the gorgeousest hotel swimming pool. He brought back sticky sweets for the office, in a gold box. Her boyfriend sent her a picture of the box and two of his colleagues, eating the sweets and miming excessive delight.

“Would you go if they offered you a job?” she asked.

“Of course not,” he replied. “There would be nothing for me out there.”

Though he did not mention her explicitly, she understood that she was included among the many things that would not be “out there” for him. Anyway, of all her few concerns about their relationship, she did not worry that some exotic opportunity would separate them.

The colleague did not take long to reach his decision, and in due course he was swept off to the distant city. The couple would sometimes discuss the life awaiting his colleague in this place neither of them knew much about, except that it was hot and seething with money. “Will he be able to drink out there?” she asked, eyeing the cordite blue-and-orange design on a can of beer one night,

“Yes,” replied her boyfriend, sipping on his own drink. “But only in certain places.”

During a long train journey to where her parents lived, she asked, “What would it take for them to get you to go out there?”
He wasn’t fond of rhetorical games, and was (rightly) tense about lunch with her parents, who would question him closely about his recent achievements over a meal of lightly seasoned chickpeas while she gripped his leg under the table. “I don’t know.”
She watched tiled rooftops zipping by the window:”What if they offered to have me out there too?”
“Like, a job?”
“No, like if they said they’d do my flights, and find somewhere for us both to live.”
“Well,” he said, and his hand didn’t move from its accustomed position on her knee. “Obviously it would be better to have you out there than not.”
She was satisfied with this answer and continued to watch the roofs and the high windows––a plastic carton of milk balanced on a windowsill, so close she could read the writing on its red label before the track split, the buildings slipped suddenly further away and she was no longer looking down into front gardens with rusting trampolines but spied a distant balcony with a bike resting against its railings, another crammed with insectile pot-plants in plastic tubs. She stopped thinking about her question entirely and was surprised when he said,”If they paid for you and me to go out there, and they paid for us to live comfortably for a year. And then we would save enough to not have to worry when we got back––like, have a house. Maybe then.”
“And what would I do?”
“Whatever you want. You could work on whatever projects you wanted, study. It would be an investment for you. An investment in your future.”
“Yes,” she said. “I see what you mean. It could be an adventure.”
“I don’t know how much of an adventure it would be.” He did not say this unkindly, but only with his habitual and measured loyalty to truth, which she sometimes found deflating. Nonetheless his answer to her question touched her deeply for two reasons: one was his faith that she would find a project worth pursuing, that she had a future in which she could be trusted to invest. The other was her implied necessity in his life, in any decision that he made. When, several months later, they became engaged, it was this answer, and others like it, which soothed her when she woke up in the night, which helped her believe that their union was correct and inevitable rather than, as sometimes at 4am it seemed to her, a totally random collision of souls.

On the train she had asked, very idly indeed: “How much do you think that would be?”
After some thought he named a figure, which she somehow stuck in her head, the way unattended words and numbers sometimes do, with a tenacity un-met by more useful numbers like internet banking passwords and the birthdays of relatives. The figure remained clear, even at some distance, like the bike on the balcony.

One day he opened an email on his phone and quietly said, “Woah, Okay.” For him this was an extravagant exclamation, and she looked up from where she was on their soft white duvet, scrolling on her own phone. The summer was long and boiling that year, and she couldn’t face putting anything on but what she already had: stretched-out black pants and a t-shirt of his she had located on the floor beside the bed.

“What?” she said, fear gripping her.

“It’s those guys,” he said. “Out there. They’re offering me a job.”

In the bedroom together, in the high stink of another heatwave, she asked him what they were offering. The number from the train journey returned to his lips. They were both kind of awestruck by this seeming act of prophesy, and the power of the foretold figure was such that they immediately accepted that he would take the job. She wondered if this wealthy company had found some way to discover the number, but unless her fiancé had been loudly proclaiming it at work, which seemed unlikely, or unless the company had bugged the flat or his phone, even the speculation of which was mad, she had to dismiss it as coincidence, or laud it as fate.

When he asked, as his colleague had, to be flown out, he stipulated that she should come. Although neither of them knew if this really was necessary, they decided to pretend that they were already married. They went, and it was just as his colleague had said––they too ate at expensive restaurants, went to markets and museums, and swam in the gorgeousest hotel swimming pool. It was like a weird honeymoon. It was not a honeymoon they could have afforded. One thing the colleague had not mentioned was a trip to the beach––they were driven for half an hour out of the city to a beautiful beach of pale dry sand and languid waves. She was terribly afraid of the sea and always had been. The noise was worst of all. She remembered seaside holidays as a child, staring up from her bed in the dark, her sleep poisoned by the incessant roaring of waves.

They had been to the sea together more than once, although both preferred cities for holidays. He loved to swim, though, and the few times they had visited the beach he would heave his shoulder into the waves as though forcing open a door, popping his head joyfully up from under crash after crash. She, teeth bared with fear, went in up to her ankles, pretending to enjoy the feeling of the water on her feet. Once when she began uncontrollably, with great humiliation, to cry with terror, she pretended to have stepped on something sharp.

“Let me see,” he said, curls of hair stuck to his chest with salt.
“No, no.” She cringed away from his hands, his briny torso. “It’s fine, I don’t think it broke the skin.”

Why she hadn’t told him she was afraid, not in pain, she didn’t know. It was one of several pointless secrets she cherished. The secrets were delicious and tart.

On the beach beside the city, rich and foreign, that they were being welcomed to, they stared together at the waves. The water was stained gold by the sun that was lowering itself ponderously into it. He took her hand. “Let’s do it,” he said.

His prospective employers easily agreed to include her in the “deal.” They got married quickly to simplify things––they made a vague promise to each other that there would be another, more lavish, wedding when they returned (the cost of which would be covered by the fabulous promise of this salary). In fact, she was happy that the ceremony itself was brief and mostly administrative: privately she considered the contract reversible. She did not wish, especially, to be divorced, but the thought didn’t trouble her all that much. She did love him. Her husband, for all she knew, felt the same about the marriage. He, for sure, had more integrity than her, and in her opinion was all-round less crazy, but he was also less sentimental. She had bigger doubts than that about the move. Mostly she feared loneliness, and after that boredom.
“What are you going to do?” her friends asked her. “Will you try and find a job?”
“No need,” she replied.

She had long, mousy hair that she dyed black and tied up into tall buns, twisting them into lopsided towers that bobbed along when she walked. That was the kind of girl she was. But how long would that girl, in her androgynous pinafores, survive in this city on the other side of the world? She thought of all the places she had been to visit, her internal and triumphant map of skies, all the places she had left to explore. This place was not on the list.

But anyway they went, with astonishing and gleeful speed, actually. It was surprising how delighted she was by the neatness with which their whole shared life could be folded down, packed up. Looked at that way, it seemed so small. Her fear of flying was not a secret: it was her husband who first introduced her to Valium for flights, silently taking her hand one dawn coach to the airport and slipping two pills tenderly into her palm. That moment had made the 4am list. She slept almost all the way through their flight, as she had all the others they had taken together. The company had booked them into business class, so she was a little sorry not to be conscious for the whole thing, but she kept the washbag with the tiny shampoo, the hand sanitiser, the sleep mask. As she had been falling asleep her husband leaned over and took her hand:

“I’m so happy,” he said. “I’m so happy you’re my wife.”

She was staring into the tiny bottle of body wash, champagne-coloured, watching the sluggish meniscus move up and down the sides of the bottle as she tilted it.

“Yeah, babe, she said. “Me too.”

They caught a taxi from the airport to the new apartment, which his employers had recommended. They had previously only seen it online but it looked exactly as it had in the photographs: roomy and characterless, with white walls. It was basically furnished, and someone had been sent in to make up the bed, crisp sheets and a plump white duvet to fend off the discreet chill of the air conditioning. They both promptly fell asleep. When they woke up, hungry, they went to a local restaurant, which they had looked up on his phone and found to have good reviews. They walked for a long time until they found a shop that sold milk and coffee. He was due in to his new office the next morning. She meant to wake up with him and see him out, but when the alarm went off in the morning she was too exhausted to do much more than kiss him goodbye. They had bought a coffee press in their luggage, and he left a steaming cup beside her with a kiss as he left. She fell into a dreamless sleep, and when she woke up the coffee was cold.

There was nothing much in the way of unpacking to do on that first day––none of their things had arrived yet. After some googling she summoned an Uber, which plucked her off the burning street outside her apartment and took her to the nearest supermall. The streets that zipped by looked exactly like the streets of the most newly built parts of all unknown cities: anonymous and disappointing, frightening in their lack of flavour. But the mall was amazing!

She wandered, dazzled, among the infinitely ejaculating water features, up and down the innumerable escalators, beneath mammoth ceiling lights of crystal and neon. Shining plastic bodies sassed at her through every shopfront. She bought an iced coffee and walked into an artificial garden, staring at the moving electric billboards all around her that advertised candy and shaving kits. Eventually, tired of wandering and sipping, she went and found a restaurant selling chunks of jewel-coloured fish on fat white grains of rice. She ate peacefully, looking around her, needing no distraction. She felt content. She thought of her husband, at work while she sat here with her gorgeous food, watching people come and go. She wondered if it was going well for him. Probably this day was overwhelming, challenging. She decided to buy him a gift for when he got home.

She found him a notebook, the cover red and tight like the skin of an apple. He’d owned one like it in the past, and she’d been fiendishly curious about what he wrote in it. Mostly lists, it had transpired, and a couple of quite sensitive doodles of his family dog, Bootsie. As she was queuing to buy the notebook, it occurred to her that she was buying this gift with her own savings, which had dwindled rapidly during the move. They had discussed an allowance for her, a conversation she found surprisingly demeaning, before deciding to open a joint account. “I won’t spend all your money on bags and shoes,” she’d said, unable to disguise her anger. But what about bags and shoes for him? Soon, if she wanted to buy her husband a gift, it would be out of the money that he was earning. The thought was weird, and it occurred to her that she was about to reward him for taking an opportunity that she had facilitated. She had given up her job to come here with him while he did this job. And now she was buying him this fucking notebook? As she ran through these ideas, she also reached the front of the queue and paid for the notebook, which was wrapped, placed into a bag, and handed back to her.

She thought about keeping the notebook for herself, but in the end she enjoyed handing it over to her husband, who was indeed exhausted after his first day learning the ropes, and seemed genuinely touched to have received it. They went to bed early, and he fell asleep with one hand gently cupping her ass. Jetlagged still, and having spent a largely inactive day, she lay awake for an hour before turning the light back on and reaching for a book.

Their larger items arrived over the course of the following week, and during the day she was able to occupy herself quite easily with unpacking and arranging things in their apartment. She wasn’t bored- she played music, dancing freely across the unobstructed floor. They didn’t own much furniture between them, and had bought even less over in the move. The coffee table, shining and inscrutable as an eye’s pupil, which they had both prized so highly at home, looked odd after its long journey: boring and obtuse. She covered it in smaller oddments, cups, a lamp, the shiny red notebook. She began listening to books she’d always thought she would never have time to read, books she had entirely given up on ever having any sort of encounter with, like Anna Karenina and In Search of Lost Time. She also listened to educational podcasts and began to get her bearings with a selection of scientific and philosophical concepts.

Her husband’s colleague invited them for dinner, and they had more colleagues over to their own apartment. She cooked a more elaborate meal for them than she would have bothered with at home, lovingly soaking lentils and elaborately seasoning a joint of meat. She even baked a cake, studded with fruit and tasting faintly of roses. By the time she served the food, she felt so exhausted and disgusted by the enterprise that she wasn’t able to eat much of itself, but their guests seemed pleased with the meal.

Though she supposed she was lonely––she messaged with her friends back home a lot––she wasn’t particularly interested in these social occasions. She agreed with her husband that it was good to be getting to work on a social life. Inwardly, though, she had already resolved that intimacy in so short a time was impossible. She had him, her own company, and they would be back with their real friends in no time. When they’d planned the trip, she’d expressed excitement at the opportunity to meet new people, perhaps embrace a new culture and a way of life. But once she arrived she understood immediately that this would not be how the trip would play out for her. She resolved to waste no energy trying to make friends, even as she listened while her husband, with uncharacteristic eagerness, outlined their social calendar for the weeks ahead. They were all people from work, the people these arrangements were with but, he said, soon they would start to incorporate “her people” as well. Where, she wondered, did he imagine she would meet these people?

Perhaps she would meet them in the course of the pursuit of the future she was meant to be investing in. But so far, all she had done was nap and unpack, cook and go to the mall. In a fit of self-disgust, after a fortnight or more of this, she Ubered to a well-reviewed independent bookshop and bought a stack of real books. She was making great progress with her audiobooks, but the experience felt too light. She wanted to create a pile of things she’d completed. Surprisingly, the reading went well––she found a patch of sun in the apartment, sat in a cheap yellow beanbag, and followed the light, inching like a snail with a book in her lap, all the way over the floor. Her husband came home and asked, “What are you doing scrunched up in the corner like that?”

He was exhausted when he got home most days, and while he made an effort to speak to her, to help with dinner and tidy the dishes, most nights now they watched an episode of something on the laptop before he fell into a log-like sleep. She would read for an hour or so, then lie down with headphones on, playing music or a podcast. Just as she was truly dropping off, around one or two am, she slipped off the headphones so she could properly rest her head under his chin. When she placed his arms around her body, he instinctively tightened them against her breasts. She woke up every morning to the cup of cold coffee, which she placed in the NutriBullet with ice, listening to the roar of the cubes becoming a smooth, creamy purr.

He was always too tired for sex when they first moved, and while this offended her a little, she wasn’t frustrated: she had the option of masturbating literally all day long. She didn’t do anything very elaborate to herself, but mentally things got very colourful. Once, in her busier days, she had been keen on pornography, but the limitless choice and the ruthless erotic efficiency what she had been watching before started to feel exhausting. Instead she devised long elaborate scenarios in her head, something she hadn’t done since she was a young teenager with a family computer and slow dial-up. She also played music and thought about landscapes and impossible animals, which would become flushed with violent hues by the force of the endorphins she sent crashing through her body when she came.

She joined a gym.

In the gym she bent and stretched, encouraged by the voices of the trainers––sometimes soothing, other times stern or even angry, like parents wanting the best. She saw muscles standing out on her arms as she forced them out in front of her. She tended to the little muscles like houseplants, nourishing and encouraging their growth.

She brought frozen berries and popped them into her mouth from a small bowl as she sat on her beanbag with her books around her. She ate them straight out of the bag when she walked (rarely) around her neighbourhood. Summer was approaching, and everything was beginning to fry––there were areas of the city which had been declared “technically” uninhabitable, whatever that meant. There were still plenty of people living in those areas, as far as she could tell. She took air conditioned taxis through them to a hotel swimming pool, rolled like a manatee in the blue chemical waters. The roof was made of glass, and from the limpid waters of the pool, the nuclear intensity of the hot and cloudless sky seemed pale and benevolent, like the spring skies of home. When she got back from the pool, she stood in her underwear at the kitchen counter and popped berries, straight from the freezer, into her mouth, closing her eyes in pleasure as Middlemarch boomed into the kitchen. She preheated the oven for her and her husband’s dinner, laughing to herself at the thought that she was a good little wife.

She had all this time on her hands. Her brain had started to shuffle back through her memories, like a person, left alone in someone else’s living room, might look through a magazine or study albums of family photographs with unusual intensity. As she was walking through the botanical gardens alone one day, listening to a program about an eighteenth-century composer and eating chunks of frozen strawberries, she remembered being in a park with deer and being given strawberry milk in a pink carton when she was very small. She was thrilled with the pointless little memory, turned it over with delight. There was nothing more of it than that; it offered no special revelation. But the fact that it had resurfaced, after all this time, practically untouched. So wonderful, she thought.

She looked better than she had in years- the gym, the berries, the sleep. She had time to put herself together in the morning, though she rarely went anywhere. When she and her husband did go together, to dinners, to drinks (in certain places), to the cinema with friends of his from work (he and the guy from his old job had gotten especially close), she was charming and easy to be around. She got on with nearly everyone because she no longer cared what anyone thought of her. She didn’t care who liked her, who didn’t. She was her own best friend. She read Ulysses, and a couple of books about the economy, and feminism, and a brick-like fantasy series. She read Judith Butler and Nabokov and a biography of Spinoza. She read a book about modernism with hardly any pictures, and another about brutalism by the same very serious publisher, and after that worked her way through a heavy set of hardbacks chronicling the history of architectural movements from ancient times to the present day. She read about plants, and science fiction classics, and the latest best sellers. Those she couldn’t get hold of she listened to on her headphones as she walked through the parks and the malls, as she ran on the treadmill or stretched her leg out behind her on a slim pink mat. Vivid pictures of her past continued to appear to her in even greater detail, sometimes with the sensory quality of hallucinations. One day she did something she hadn’t done since she was a teenager: she cut a long, thin line in her flesh with a blade dug out of a razor: she used kitchen scissors to cut the three bladed pink Venus shaver apart and retrieve a single clean slice of metal. The feeling of the cut re-ignited all the old pleasures of that habit. She had given it up largely because it was such a hideous cliché to which she was not that committed, but now she thought what a harmless indulgence it was, totally ruined for everyone by soap opera kids whose parents were getting divorced and women in movies who really wanted to be spanked by their partners or whatever. Her husband didn’t notice the single red line, which might have been that made by a biro. She would happily have sliced skin all over her body, but to avoid discovery she limited herself, waiting until one cut had healed before making another, somewhere else. The cuts were treats, like chunks of frozen fruit.

“What the hell is that?” he asked her one day when he got in. It was a weekend: he hadn’t been at work, but to brunch with a friend. She had declined to go, which he was quite used to. It was good that they still had their own lives out here, though he had to admit he had no idea what hers was.
“It’s a windchime,” she said, running her fingers over the vortex of tinkling bars.
“It’s ugly,” he replied, also running his fingers over it to make the sparkly sound come out.
“I know. But it sounds beautiful.”
“You’re getting so weird,” he said with affection.
She looked amazing. He’d been thinking that for a while. She’d always been good looking, of course. His wife was beautiful, but definitely in a wooly way, generally: clumpy mascara, thick jumpers, sometimes venomously coloured lips. Not that he minded that, no more than she minded his limited but reasonably tasteful rotation of shirts. Just now she had her long hair down, salon-dyed and super shiny. She was wearing a long, coral dress tied at the sides with slim ribbons. Her legs were smooth, her face looked amazingly clean. Her eyes were limpid, a bit glazed in kind of a sexy way. Like she’d just knocked her head or had a few drinks.
“You look lovely,” he said, giving her a hug. She was definitely slimmer, and wearing a new perfume, delicious, like grass.

Now that her husband had adjusted to the rigours of his new job, and was less tired in the evenings, they were having sex again. Her sex drive was totally depleted, she guessed by long days of masturbation, which she didn’t tell him about because it seemed vulgar and unarousing––she didn’t think he would be interested in those creamy afternoons of hers, which now often were interspersed with naps and fascinating dreams which could stretch well into the dusk, until she was woken up by his key in the door. She would brush her teeth while he changed out of his suit into comfortable clothes, scrubbing the sleep out of her mouth. While they had sex she would re-embark on the long fantasies with which she entertained herself during the day, sometimes sexual and sometimes those more abstract collages of colour and memory. Music she had loved for one week when she was twenty, a kiss in a club with green bars of light crashing all around. Scenes from books she had read, although she was reading much less now, and spending more time staring into space. She didn’t feel coerced into this passionless sex with her husband. She felt that perhaps it was a way she could return to him some of this joy she had discovered, joy that she never would have if he hadn’t brought her here and left her to her own devices.
“I love you so much,” he said to her one day.
“I love you too,” she replied, as always but it wasn’t true anymore. She supposed that she lacked the capacity to love anyone else these days. She now loved only herself, this person she spent all day with, eating frozen fruit and touching herself and remembering more and more of a dreamlike past. Or did she even? Love herself? She was nothing, just a thing, a beautiful simple thing like an anemone.

Because she slept so much during the day, she was awake well into the night. Sometimes she got up and walked around, folding herself back into her heavy sleeping husband when she was done. Sometimes she opened one of her books and read until dawn, or scrolled through her friend’s lives on her phone. Most often though, she just lay there for hours, as she now did during the day, watching the astonishing show inside her eyelids: corruscations and galaxies, scenes from films, scenes from her own life, from that very day. She would remember something seen on the ground on one of her walks, or recall a meal she had eaten at lunchtime in a restaurant by herself. She composed long strings of rhyme in her head, or ran through old conversations. Of these, at first she had returned most often to those she regretted, a couple in particular with her mother that had gone very badly. But soon she had begun on more mundane exchanges, like when she and a pregnant co-worker had discussed names for babies during a biscuit break. She remembered the sounds of rivers, of wind in leaves. She remembered climbing a green and grey mountain covered in purple heather, sprawling at the top under a mackerel sky, the paw of a dog on her knee, a scene on a television show she had watched many times over because of the way a woman with a fringe said, “In a way, yeah.”

Her husband increasingly wanted to experiment sexually. As she always acquiesced to whatever he wanted, he stopped asking before rolling her over or tying her up, he stopped asking if it was too hard or too fast. Nothing he did was especially kinky in her opinion. She was totally and unrestrainedly accepting of all his new desires and positions. She made the right noises even––she was happy to give him this, even to strain a little her hard new muscles, happy to be giving him something. She neither enjoyed it, nor did she not enjoy it. During and afterwards, him asleep in her arms, she was occupied with her inner journeys, so much still to be explored. Some nights it felt like she could see through her eyes into the bedroom, all the usual furniture and clothes neatly folded, and the desk at which she sometimes wrote emails to her friends and family. But shadows, too, through her lids, moving shadows dragging themselves or hopping round the room. She wondered if she was developing second sight, if a third eye was emerging out of her fertile brain like a flower blooming. One night, real eyes open, she wrote to a friend: ‘It feels so good to have just given up.’ But she deleted it, because it looked so bleak, and that wasn’t what she had meant at all. Her husband had given her this freedom, he had given her back herself. How could she repay him for that; for herself? Fucking was not so arduous, nor was tidying up the small rare heaps of clothes he left behind. When she fell asleep, especially in the day, her dreams were always so vivid and interesting; only occasionally were they nightmares that made her scream in her sleep: silently, widely, like a yawn.

One day she got a driver to take her to the beach. On the way there she felt sick with unease. It wasn’t just that she was as scared of the sea as ever; this was also the furthest she’d been from the apartment in months––she didn’t know how many because she’d completely lost track of time. Keeping count of the days would be like a prisoner scratching lines into the wall, a meaningless portrait of a system obsolete to her. She wondered how she would cope when they got home. Maybe she would get pregnant. Her discomfort rose as the city fell behind them and she saw the blue line of the sea reaching up to the skyline in front. Her husband had talked of visiting the seaside, making it a daytrip with friends. No daytrip had yet materialised, and it would soon be too hot to go anywhere. But she wanted to face her fears, just in case her husband made good on his plan. She opened the door, and the vacuum-packed sound of the AC and the radio gave way to the regular beeping of the car and the terrifying, infinite sigh of the sea. She slammed the door shut behind her and went down to the sand.

She really liked the feeling of sand between her toes––she always had. If only she could have that, without the sea. But the sand was the outcome of the terrible strength of the waves, that which made her so afraid. She went to a beach cafe and ate some ice cream to steady her nerves. The rich goop filled her veins with sugary energy. She kind of felt horny; it was so rare now in the daytime that she needed to call on even the slightest amount of sexual restraint that she had to stop herself just sticking her hand into her clothes. “For goodness’ sake,” she said to herself sharply. “Stop behaving like a fucking animal.” She stood up shakily and made her way towards the water.

That morning he had rolled on top of her, and she had automatically spread her legs, but that wasn’t it. He brushed her hair tenderly away from her forehead.
“It’s quite nice here, isn’t it?” he said. “For a bit. It’s nowhere near as bad as I thought.”
“It’s wonderful,” she said, before wondering if that was a bit strong. Sure enough, he looked concerned with her reply.
“Are you happy?” he asked his beautiful wife.
Was she happy? What an odd question, she thought. Was an anemone happy?

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