The Re-Awakening 01: The Sleep


She was the same; she’d changed.

Her long, dark, gently wavy hair – it was still silky and voluminous, but now bore the first traces of grey. Yesterday, she’d worn it – as she usually had – in a pony tail. Now, it was loose, tangled, and haphazardly draped around her sensuous shoulders.

Her mouth was also changed but the same. Those decadent lips were as broad and full as ever, but now gentle lines adorned the corners of her mouth, testament to the passing of time.

Lined, too, were her eyes – beneath, and around. The first sprouting of crows’ feet. Her eyes themselves were still closed snugly in sleep, but yesterday I had seen again their familiar depth and radiance, with those soulful hazel irises, almost opaque.

Of course Emily had aged. She must now be…forty three, I calculated. She was eleven months and three days younger than me. I’d never forgotten that. But she’d aged no more or less than was natural, for that passage of time.

I must have looked older to her, too. How much, and in which ways, Emily hadn’t yet said. I knew I was craggier and more overweight than before. The sheer slipping by of the years had seen to that.

Together, separately, time had done its work.

Too many joys and too many despairs. Too much love and too much loneliness. Too much red wine. Too many cigarettes – now my only remaining indulgence. All had conspired to make us different. But so much remained the same.

I gazed at her. She was still beautiful, in that unorthodox way I’d never quite forgotten. Her strong nose. Her oval face. Her elegant neck. Beneath her stillness lay a loving heart and fiery spirit. Beneath the duvet lay her voluptuous figure. However long had passed – and in spite of everything – it seemed she could still make me feel things that no other woman could.

Emily had a maturity about her now – at least, physically. I wondered if the same was true of her character and behaviour. There was so much I didn’t yet know. But if nothing else, she looked healthy, and she was still alive, and here she was, sleeping next to me.

She turned slightly in her sleep, sending a ripple through the bedclothes which released a waft of her perfume. She had always liked to make her own, from essential oils, and I guessed she still did. Bergamot, sandalwood, pepper: scents I’d always associated with her. I could discern each one – just – through the complex miasma which hung about the room.

As if approaching wakefulness, she twisted again, and the duvet slipped from her shoulders and down her body.

Emily’s breasts were still as full and heavy as they’d been in my memories. Gravity had taken its toll, and they were saggier now, but I didn’t mind that, and last night they’d felt perfectly firm and ripe in my hands. Her nipples were darker than before, but still had that rich, crinkly, texture, and those large but delicate teats which had always felt so satisfying between my lips.

Her upper body was illuminated by a bright shaft of light which forced its way through a gap in the curtains. I had no idea what time it was, but from the sunlight’s strength and angle I guessed it was well past dawn. Morning had broken. The morning after the night before.

It was unsurprising I’d woken before Emily. I always had done, when we were together. I would rise early, preferring efficiency and purposefulness. She’d stay up and lie in as late she pleased, disdaining structure and stricture.

So here I was, once again, awake and watching her sleep.

Even in her sleep, that different sameness. Emily was snoring softly. I didn’t recall her ever doing that before. I couldn’t quite be sure, but I’d good reason for haziness of recollection. After all, it was fourteen years since we had last spent the night together.

In bed with Emily. This was where I once belonged. And belonging had been so important to us. Could I really belong here again? Did I really belong here now?

Fourteen years. It may as well as been a hundred years, or two days. Sensory memories, little details, searing emotions – they all jostled for primacy in my consciousness. Reminiscence and reality collided. In the turbulence, the logic of time seemed to collapse. If Emily and I could be here together in the present, did the past lose its meaning? And what, now, was our future?

Doubt duelled with certainty. Lying here, being here – with her – it might mean everything or nothing. In the white noise of that discordancy, reality blurred into remembrance, their dividing lines neither fluid nor distinct.

Through the fog burst sunbeams of certain familiarity.

Most of all, the sheer physicality of us, when together. It was pungent and primal, as strongly now as ever. We always left our footprint on a room, on a bed. Now we’d made one on *this* room. On *this* bed.

Alone, I was clean and neat and discreet. Together, we made a mess.

All around us, damning evidence of our carnality. Underwear liberally scattered to all corners. The mattress askew. Pillows and tuzla escort sheets in chaos.

The surviving bedclothes were damp and smelly, saturated with our desire and release. I ran my fingers down the duvet cover, then across the sheet, feeling how wet they still were. I’d almost forgotten quite how much Emily squirted – although plenty had flowed from me, too.

Beyond the bed, debris from the unexpected evening we’d spent together. Alien to me normally, such slovenliness. But Emily had given me licence – if only briefly – not to care.

I surveyed the litter of mild debauchery and sexual reunion. On the kitchen table, discarded pizza boxes – the forlorn white triangles left with only the unwanted dips for company. Two empty wine bottles. Overflowing ashtrays.

Nearer to us, my bra, hanging over the chair where it landed. On the floor, Emily’s knickers, hastily discarded. On the bedside table, two wine glasses, two vodka glasses, another ashtray, Emily’s hairband, her earrings, my earrings, a lighter, tobacco, a tube of filters, and a packet of Rizlas. Next to those, a soggy handtowel, a pile of scrunched-up tissues, a tube of lubricant, and the strap-on.

Emily stirred, openly her eyes momentarily, before slipping back into sleep.

A part of me wished she would sleep forever.

I was content just lying here and gazing at her. That was the easy part. When she woke, we would confront reality. We *had* to. How would it be? What would we say? What would happen now? I didn’t even know what I *wanted* to happen.

I stared at the ceiling. I looked at Emily, again. I ran over the events of the last eighteen hours and how on earth I’d ended up here.

Trying to make sense of it, trying to process it – my mind ran aground on jagged rocks of irrationality. All good sense, all good judgment, overpowered by forces beyond my control. I would soon have no choice but come to terms with the decisions I’d made. But for now, it was too daunting a struggle.

I found an easier way to occupy my mind, as Emily slept on. My eyes drifted down from the ceiling, and began to meander around her cramped, crowded, studio flat. A bedsit, as my parents’ generation would have called it. The flat was essentially just one long single room, brightly decorated but shabby underneath, with worn fittings and cracks in the ceiling. At the far end was a rather dingy-looking kitchen. Only the bathroom was separate. I presumed Emily rented rather than owned the place.

Before yesterday, I’d never been here. On arrival, I’d been too preoccupied with what was happening to form more than basic impressions of our surroundings. But now, with little better to do till Emily woke up, I lay back and took it all in.

Everything was exactly as I’d have imagined. Clutter and havoc, noise and colour, eccentricity and indiscipline. All so different from the white-walled space and minimalism of my own home, where a laptop and iPhone were the only items you’d find on open display.

Here, there was too much of everything, in too small a space, with nothing put away. Magazines and newspapers, strewn around. Unstable-looking towers of CDs, books and notepads. A crooked spire of storage boxes, filled to the brim. A stack of letters, mostly unopened. Bags of shopping, not yet unpacked. Clothes drying on the rack. Heaps of other clothes awaiting laundry. Saucepans and crockery scattered across the kitchen. Washing up in the sink. A cluster of empty microwave meal trays. An overflowing bin.

Emily’s flat was like her mind. I wanted to tidy it up.

Every spare inch of available surface was occupied by something or other. Lamps, clocks, pot-plants, reed-diffusers, photo-frames, ornaments, knick-knacks and bric-a-brac all competed for space on overcrowded shelves.

Elsewhere – a pair of bongos, a cycle helmet, and a collection of (Inca?) facemasks, all shoved atop a chest of drawers. Leaning against it, an upturned toolbox and a tennis racket. Hanging on their straps from a nail in the door were three camera bags. On the floor – a tripod, a pair of binoculars, and the box of little bottles, tubes and pipettes of a perfume-making kit.

Her belongings.

Belongings and possessions. Emily’s flat groaned under the weight of hers, emitting a collective but silent scream of confinement.

A sewing machine, a globe and an old-fashioned record player, squeezed onto a chest of drawers alongside spirits bottles, board games, two hair-dryers, a roll of wallpaper, and a shisha pipe.

Spread across a table: a half-embroidered cushion, a cluster of cotton reels, assorted pieces of fabric, a flood of ribbons, multi-coloured – and a cairn of pebbles, all painted purple. Nearby, the desk – yet more furniture – was awash with papers, pencils, brushes, palettes, pastels, oil tubes, watercolour pads, pastels, spray-paint cans, and a pair of easel stands.

Disorganisation and excess. Exotic and mundane. Curiosity, and creativity – often incomplete. All around were reminders of why I’d pendik escort loved Emily, and what had driven us apart.

Memories, everywhere. In front of the wardrobe, a mountain of shoes. Suspended from its door, an army of frocks and coats on coathangers, too bulky to fit inside. A pink-and-white checkered rockabilly dress, a Union Jack trumpet skirt, a lime-green jumpsuit with scarlet polkadots, a pair of yellow, patchwork dungarees, an Afghan coat, and a faux-fur jacket. Perched precariously on the wardrobe’s roof, a shoal of hats: a Breton cap, a Baker cap, a Fedora, a beret, and a straw boater.

I remembered all the weird and wonderful outfits Emily wore, variously raided from second-hand shops, or even made by hand herself. I remembered how lovely she always looked, and the attention she drew, and how dull and dowdy I must have seemed by her side, in my plain old t-shirt and jeans.

My gaze drifted away from the wardrobe and returned to her, next to me, in the bed. I watched her as she slept, and snored, her nipples slowly rising and falling with each breath. No gaudy or eccentric fashions adorned her now. It was just her. Unclothed. Natural. Eternal. The way I’d liked her best of all.

I let my eyes wander downwards, tracing the contours of Emily’s body – over the swell of her breasts, across her stomach and along the curve of her waist until her body disappeared under the duvet. I followed its hem, as it led across to my own waist. Suddenly, as if I’d forgotten it, I now became acutely aware that I was just as naked as she was, my crotch only inches from Emily’s, and still infused with her essence.

I pictured – and remembered – what lay hidden beneath the bedclothes. I had half a mind to peel them away, there and then, so I could see all of her. From the angle at which she was lying, facing me, her thighs generously parted, I knew I would see everything.

Sensory memories – distant, recent – fought their way through my mind. I tried to resist them but was helpless against the knowledge of what I would see between Emily’s legs – and the power I now knew it still held over me.

I surrendered to the memories, savoured them.

Our first ever night together.

Her underwear falling to the floor. The breathless moments of discovery, as I took in the sight of her. Her full, plump mound. Her dense forest of pubic hair. Her smooth, sumptuous lips. And then watching, mesmerised, as Emily reached down with her fingers and opened herself to my avid gaze.

Inside, Emily was so pink and delicate, but so ripe and womanly too, her beautiful clitoris proudly erect and awaiting my touch.

I remembered how she glistened. I remembered how her entrance was opening for me. I remembered her smell.

And then, last night.

Her underwear hurriedly pulled away. The unimagined moments of rediscovery, as I took in a sight I’d never been able to forget, no matter how hard I’d tried.

She was unchanged. The same luxurious bush. The same ornate, silky labia. The same scent – musky, tangy, and dark.

Again, she opened herself to me, hurriedly this time – wanting me to see inside her, knowing I wanted to see. I saw. I almost gasped. She was swollen, succulent, already very wet.

Emily was wet for me. For *me*.

I had a thousand reasons to turn away. A million reasons to call a halt. All failed. Primal instinct claimed me, made me its dominion.

The last of my clothing dissolved. We converged, and stood before each other in our nakedness. I watched Emily’s eyes wander across my body, hungrily. She smiled. But beneath her smile I could see her hope, her desire, her urgency. I took all of her in. Her strong, fleshy thighs. Her supple arms. The rosy flush across her heavy breasts, her nipples fully erect.

Emily’s hands returned to her cunt, and my eyes followed, as if drawn in by a forcefield. She opened herself wider, leading my eyes inside her. telling me where she needed me.

I looked at what awaited me. I smelled her. Powerless amid the onslaught, I felt heat and tightness between my legs as blood rushed to my core, preparing my own body for Emily.

I shivered and quivered, knowing the moment had arrived. Knowing what I was about to feel, and taste, for the first time in fourteen years.

Suddenly, a sensation jolted me back to the present, Emily asleep beside me. Fabric, on my fingers. With a start, I realised my hand was now on the hem of the duvet, about to pull it down. So I could see her again – see the glory hidden from view.

I hesitated. I lingered. Then I came to my senses, summoned what remained of my self-respect, and withdrew my hand.

Maybe I would see Emily’s cunt later, for one final time.

But no. I should leave now, and escape with at least a semblance of dignity. I would write a curt but polite note, wishing her well, and creep away before she awoke. And then look back at it simply as a crazy mistake which ended before either of us got hurt.

I willed myself to rise from the bed. aydınlı escort I could dress and steal away while I still had the chance.

I dithered. I failed.

I couldn’t stay. I couldn’t leave. Another five minutes, perhaps, and then I’d definitely go.

But then I would never get answers to the questions which pinged through my brain. How many other women had woken up here, like me, next to a sleeping Emily? Had she fucked Jo in this bed? When were they last together? I realised how little I really yet knew about her life or what or who she shared it with or what she did.

I noticed a shelf, just above the bed, on Emily’s side, just as cluttered and chaotic as the rest of the room. Along it were the things she kept nearby her, when she lay here. A snapshot of her life, these days.

From the left: a sketchpad and two pencils. Then books. ‘The Trial’, by Franz Kafka; ‘The Price of Salt’, by Patricia Highsmith; and a biography of Natalie Barney. Further along, a concert ticket, a radio, an old-looking iPad, a couple of indeterminate artworks, and a Buddha.

Following these, a hairbrush. An iPhone charger. A tub of cotton buds. A box of paracetamol. A coffee mug. Half a packet of Hobnobs. An open bag of Monster Munch. A Pot Noodle, presumably eaten. A Coke can, latterly used as an ashtray. A bottle of San Miguel, drunk. An incense burner. A box of filters. A multipack of Rizlas. Umpteen lighters. Several empty pouches of Old Holborn tobacco, and two full ones. A pack of Marlboro Reds. A tin of Cafe Creme cigars. A vape pen and juice bottles. A empty plastic bag which once had weed in it. A bong.

Then, three other books. ‘On Our Backs – an anthology’. Best Lesbian Erotica’, volumes three and five. Beside them, a Jo Malone scented candle. A box of tissues. A packet of wet wipes. A handtowel. A curved glass dildo. A large bottle of lubricant. And a buttplug.

I wondered which women Emily thought about when she used them. Or whether – and how often – she had company here. I remembered the double-ended strap-on, built for two vaginas, sitting stickily on the bedside table opposite, and pondered who else – before me – had shared it with her.

I imagined her entering Jo, and wondered if Emily fucked her like she’d always fucked me.

The same signature moves. Holding the head to her lips, teasing her. Finding her entrance. The glide of her hips as she sank into her. And then Emily’s cry of joy when she was fully inside her woman.

The cry I’d heard, once again, last night.

Last night, too, another memory to harass and confuse me. Another exhibit in our gallery of lust. I glanced at the floor, where it now lay. It looked back at me, accusingly.

Emily had worn it last night, suddenly deciding she needed it – pulling out of me, finding it, stepping into it, hoisting it into place, fastening its straps, all with practised ease, then plunging back into me.

“This way, I can go faster, deeper, firmer. I can thrust into you better. You always liked that”.

Had I imagined it? No. There it was, still – twisted, soiled, and leathery – lying discarded near the foot of the bed. I remembered how I’d unbuckled and removed it from her afterwards, feeling her body still tremble and shudder.

I could only ask myself why, if Emily really was single – if she slept here alone – why she kept a harness in her bedside drawer.

She’d always had a large sexual appetite, as I realised within days of first meeting her. And she’d been very promiscuous before we met, the discovery of which unsettled me. Emily was flirtatious, as well, which often upset me, and naturally gregarious – too much so, for my liking.

But that was then. I’d glimpsed how she lived now. Much was familiar and predictable – the mix of high art and low smut, aesthete and slob, mess and beauty, intellect and base physical pleasure. All had endeared and exasperated me, at turns.

But what I didn’t expect – harness aside – was the sense of solitude. Neglect, even. The room cried out for another woman’s touch

More questions assailed me. Was she happy? Did she have regrets? Had she become who she’d always wanted to be?

And had she missed me?

Looking further around her flat, I noticed for the first time objects I recognised, from before.

Things she’d always had. Things she’d acquired during our time together. Things I’d bought her. And she had kept them.

I couldn’t judge the significance of this. Judging by the state of this place, it looked like she never got rid of *anything*, in any circumstances. For all I knew, presents from her subsequent girlfriends could be staring me in the face from among the hordes of junk all around.

Was there anything here from Jo?

At my own home, there’d be no such ambiguity. When Emily and I split up, I threw out every last item associated with our relationship. Everything we’d bought jointly, I chucked in the bin, gave to charity, or made her take away.

Likewise her presents to me. The antique fountain pen; the silver locket with our names etched inside; the montage of our photos in a heart-shaped frame she’d made by hand. My engagement ring. All went to the dustman, Oxfam, or eBay. I eradicated every trace of her, and us.

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