A Day with Suzanne


[This is the first in what may become a series, an homage to my papa’s favourite singer-songwriter. If you know, you know, if not, it ought not to hinder the fun. PH]

It was four in the morning, the end of December – the lowest time of the day at the lowest time of the year. The world was quiet. I felt stranded, far out on night’s old ocean. I had started to write to her. I wanted to know if she was better. She had seemed so much older when, by chance at the station, I had caught sight of her. That raincoat, the blue one I had bought her early in our relationship, looked frayed and worn; I thought it might even have been torn at the shoulder. She did not look happy with him. Let it go.

It was cold. I turned on the gas fire. From somewhere out of the street there were the sounds of music; maybe there was another insomniac in the apartment block?

It all came flooding back: her tears; his protestations; their departure; my tears. And yet. Yes, there was always a “yet;” life was, unlike my novels, messy. Was that how I had known?

For some time Jane had seemed unhappy. I had noticed the trouble in her eyes, but I had become so used to it, that I accepted it. Was that it? Should I have tried? I thought it was there for good, which was why I had not tried. She had slowly sunk into a sullen sort of depression from which there seemed no rousing her. Until she was roused. Until the troubled behind her eyes vanished. Until it was replaced by something else. Guilt? Perhaps, but tinged or overlain with something else.

I had seen him only that morning, I later realised.

“I am going to the station, so I can’t have coffee,” he had said.

Well, he was my agent, not my partner, and I had vaguely wondered why he’d made an excuse. Sometimes we’d have coffee after talking over a contract or a chapter, and sometimes we would not.

Then I got the text from you.

“Held up. See you Monday.”

No kisses. But they had stopped a while back. About the time the trouble had occupied that joyful space that used to be in your eyes.

I kicked my heels.

I had lunch out, but ate little.

I’d wandered down to our place by the river. I’d spent the afternoon watching the boats go by, as I had done earlier. Was that what had stirred the silt in which these old memories had been buried. I’d made myself some China tea. I’d had one of those easy peel oranges. I’d wondered what had held you up.

I crossed out the “how are you?” I tore the page up and threw it in the bin.

He had done it. He had taken the trouble from her eyes. I’d thought it was there for good, and had never really tried.

Is there anything in nature as stagnant as a failing relationship? What did that even mean?

I’d known you were the one – that’s what I’d written to you at the time, at that bright, confident morning when all things were made new by our love.

I’d been struck by your look – that strappy mini dress which accentuated the curve of your butt and the perfect symmetry of your small breasts, had attracted others. But you seemed to have eyes only for me. I reciprocated.

“Suzanne,” you had said, “can I call you that?”

I’d said, lame as hell, “you can call me what you like as long as you call me often.”

You’d laughed.

“Has that ever worked?” You had asked, your blue eyes shining with mischief.

“Has it worked now?” I’d bantered back, holding my breath.

As I relaxed in your arms later in my hotel suite, all I could think of was that lame as it was, it had worked.

From the moment I had fallen to my knees and helped you out of your panties, to the point at which your squirt had drenched my hair and face, I’d been unable to resist you. After your third orgasm, we’d fallen asleep.

That morning could have been one of those “shame” ones, where, on waking, you wondered what the hell you had been thinking; except it wasn’t. As I looked at you there, next to me, your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm, I knew I was smitten; I never wanted to say goodbye.

And yet. Yes, again, that word. You had said that you were not sure. Yet you had spent the next night beside me. You had said that you were not sure about the “L” word, whether you had any to give me. But then, as we came together, we were on the same wavelength, and we went with that flow. Like the river, we flowed together – a high tide raises every boat.

The apartment, Ağrı Escort here on Clinton Street, became our love nest. On Saturday nights we’d sit out on the balcony and listen to the music, drinking white wine and laughing, before, overcome with passion, we’d go inside and make mad passionate love.

As you asked me to raise my arms so you could pull my dress off – you loved me with messy hair you said – I’d shiver with passion. You said you liked small breasts – my titlets as you called them. Not needing a bra, my nipples would be stiff and engorged by the time they were exposed to your gaze. By the time your lips were sucking on them, I would be lost – utterly on your wavelength, letting the river answer that you had always been my lover. You had touched my mind with your perfect body.

That look, that cute, sexy, wicked grin as you told me to part my legs, and as you patted my pussy – “YOUR pussy” as you called it – would make me so wet that would try to grind on your fingers. Sometimes you would let me, others not. The uncertainly kept me on my toes, sometimes literally.

And then I’d please you. I loved that your bush would rub my face red. Somehow it made me even more “yours.” The tart, tangy taste of your evening pussy would send me to the edge, where you would keep me, even as I took you over it with my tongue and fingers.

And then, on Sunday, after church, you’d meet me, and we’d walk, deep in the green lilac park, and I’d hold onto you like a crucifix as we giggled and kissed and made silly faces at each other.

Damn and damn. Why did I write all that down?

I looked at the clock on the radio. It was close to five. I should sleep.

When had it gone wrong?

You’d looked so much older. Were you still happy?

I wanted to hate the bastard.

And yet – yes, yet again, even on that Monday night when you told me what I did not want to hear, I could not hate him. I’d noticed that joy had returned to your eyes. Maybe that was why I had been stupid enough to ask the question that had been nagging at me for months.

“Where were you on Sunday morning when I was at church?”

“I was shopping,” you’d said.

I could always tell when you were lying. You were too glib.

Now I think on it, that had been the case with the “love you too,” for a while. There was never an “I,” never the first to say it, always like an autonomic response to my saying it.

And yet the lovemaking? Or was it love? Was it just fucking? Had it always been “fucking,” which, needy little bitch that I was, I had transmuted into love? The sex had been so good. Was it love? Was it lust? Had I asked myself? Or had I fallen into the habit of doing what I knew would please you? Why had you not said? Hell, I was the writer, so why had I not noticed?


Yes, the way he would linger with you at the parties. The way he would touch your arm, your hand, even your hair. The way that, on greeting and parting, his hand would linger a moment too long. The way he looked at you. The way you looked at him.

Well, Jon was tall and handsome, with a deep brown voice and a charm to which many a literary editor had fallen prey. He knew I was gay, so never tried it on with me. So he flirted with you. He flirted with anything in a skirt between that ages of eighteen and thirty, as long as it was not a Scotsman in a kilt. He made a joke of it. We all did.

“It’s just Jon, being Jon.”

Even his three previous wives had admitted that he was hard to resist – I say even, because he had been unfaithful to all of them, and yet, even after the divorces, they’d fucked him. “Loose knicker elastic syndrome,” a friend of mine had called it – an apt description for the way in which panties seemed to take themselves off in his presence.

So what had I been thinking? Had I been thinking?

You were Jane, you were my girlfriend. I loved you. You loved me. The sex was still great, even if it seemed, at times, that gulfs might be opening up.

“It was nothing,” you had said.

“It was one of those things,” he had said.

He had treated my woman to a flake of his life – and when you came back, you were nobody’s wife.

“It was nothing?” What sort of answer was that?

It was a lie. And yet – yes, yet – it concealed a deeper truth.

You’d said you were shopping. The vicar had been taken ill that morning. The service had been cancelled, Ağrı Escort Bayan so I had gone to the supermarket. You were not there.

“Where were you?”

“It was nothing.”

We were not only not on the same wavelength, we were not even in the same river.

I knew, I knew, I knew, that if I went there, if I asked, “what was nothing?” then nothing would ever be the same again; never glad confident morning again.

I did not want to go there.

I wanted to pretend.

Pretend what and for how long?

Pretend there was nothing wrong, and for ever.

I had not stopped loving you.

I had the horrible feeling that even after you told me what I thought you would tell me, that I would not stop loving you. I could not stop loving you. Your perfect body still touched my mind.

Screw that.

Another piece of paper into the trash.

It’s turning six.

I put the coffee pot on the stove. I wanted it dark and black as the ace of spades. I wanted it bitter.

“What is nothing?”

I’d gone there. The words hung in the air, heavy with portent. Somewhere my heart was sinking, knowing what was coming.

“Fucking Jon,” you had been straight with me. Yes, fuck you, you had been straight with him too.

“How the fuck could I resist her?” He had gone there. “You, of all people Suzanne, you know what she’s like.”

Yes, me, me of all people knew what she was like. Except I didn’t. And yet? Yet, yes what?

Yet she had never said she was a lesbian; she had never said she would be faithful; she’d never even been the first to say “love you.” She’d never said she had love to give me. She’d enjoyed fucking me. She’d enjoyed fucking Jon. She enjoyed fucking.

And when I had seen Jon, what could I tell him?

“Yes, I know what she is like. I know what you are like.”

“She likes cock too, Suzanne, what you gonna do about it?”

There was no answer to that.

The coffee was read. It gave me the hit I needed.

I had wanted to travel blind, to trust to the journey and to love. I had noticed the trouble behind her eyes; I had done nothing about it. I had noticed the gulf opening; I had ignored it; I had noticed the flirting: I had ignored it. I had noticed the change in her needs; I had ignored it.

“Would you fuck me with the strappy, Suzanne?”

I’d been taken aback. Artificial cocks had played almost as small a part in my life as the real thing. You knew that. You knew that the same condition which had stopped me growing at the age of twelve, had also sabotaged puberty and the elasticity of the vagina that comes with it. Penetration was not my thing; oral was.

Should I have tried? Could I have? Ignoring it seemed to work. I would, occasionally, put the strappy on and take you. You never complained. But then you never did.

Had his cock given you what you craved? Was that worth more than us?

And yet.

Yet for more than a month, you had been happier. That troubled look had gone. Maybe I should have thanked Jon for standing in the way?

The numbness. I still recalled that.

The shower felt good, the hot water stinging my skin, falling from my hair, washing away the night’s detritus.

Stepping out, I looked at the unfinished letter on the desk. The dawn was breaking across the rooftops. It must have been after eight now.

You had looked at me.

What had you expected? You were the one who had time to prepare for this. You’d fucked him – for months you’d fucked him. Was that why you always took me when you came back? Was that why you always said: “your turn to be pleasured.” Were you afraid I’d see the signs if I did oral on you? Afraid I’d taste him there? Afraid I’d know? But not afraid to cheat on me or to break my heart?

I put on some old, comfortable clothes – my “rags and feathers” you had called them. The city was beginning to stir. It was cold.

I stopped at the corner café we had frequented for so long. Another coffee, this time a cappuccino, with a pain au chocolat and a cheery chat with Jo behind the counter, and my mind slipped back into the day. And there she was.

“Hi,” she smiled, “you’re Suzanne, aren’t you, I recognise you from the dust-jacket of your latest – loved it.”

She was older than me. She was not my type, but I liked that she liked my book. She joined me. We chatted.

“I’ve always wanted to ask,” she finally Escort Ağrı said, “how much of what you write is autobiography? Was there a Jane? Did she betray you?”

It was odd.

It was now six hours since I had begun raking up the silt, and here was this stranger asking me about it.

“I’m Bree, by the way.”

I gave the conventional reply. We chatted. It was Saturday. Neither of us seemed to have anything better to do.

As we paid and stepped out into the brisk, cold air, the late winter sun poured down on us like honey, and I traced my steps down to the river with Bree.

“Is this THE river?” Bree asked.

“Yes, see there, if you look among the garbage and the flowers you can see heroes in the seaweed…”

“… and children in the flowers,” Bree quoted from the poem.

“Inspiration for sure,” I smiled. “I find it in the gaps, that’s where the light gets in,” I said.

“So she did betray you?” Bree asked.

“Odd you raise it,” I said, as the clock struck noon. “I have been thinking.”

“A dangerous practice,” she joked. “But it is autobiographical,” she added.

“Is and isn’t,” I said, “complicated, writers are some kind of liars too.”

“Did she break your heart? Do you ever see her?”

Something struck me.

“Why do you ask, Bree?”

“You are not the only one betrayed,” she said, sounding stark in her anguish. “I thought Jon was my boyfriend.”

“You were the mystery woman!” I exclaimed.

“I was. Jon and I had been together for a couple of months, and it was going well – I thought – then he fucked your Jane.”

“Or she fucked him,” I said. “Was she ever mine? Was he ever yours?”

“She came by the other day, you know,” Bree said, “wanted to collect some things he’d left with me – after all this fucking time.”

“That’s him,” I commiserated, “always sending a woman to do his dirty work.”

“And you?” Bree asked, “still in that wilderness you described?”

“Yes,” I said, flatly.

“Me too, one reason the book sang to me.”

“Sang?” I asked. “People usually say spoke,” I said.

“There’s a lyric sadness there, I felt I was on your wavelength.”

It was too soon, I wanted to say. I had nothing to give her. And yet her mind had touched mine. She hugged me to her on the bench by the river. I let myself snuggle in.

How long we sat like that, I do not know. It felt forever. It felt no time at all.

“Late lunch?” Bree said, leading me to the café down by the weir. I nodded.

I had some more China tea and oranges; she ate a toasted sandwich. She looked at me.

“She looked older,” Bree said, “and that blue raincoat she always wore, was torn at the shoulder.”

“I noticed,” I said, admitting what had triggered my retrospective.

“Is it the betrayal? She asked. “Why does your character thank him?”

I smiled.

“He took the trouble from her eyes, I had thought it was there for good, so I never tried.”

“Trainee saint of masochist?” Bree grinned at me.

“Do they have to be mutually exclusive?” I grinned back.

“Before Jon I was mostly gay,” she said, apropos of nothing – and yet of everything.

“I still am,” I smiled, wanting to tell her that I had no love to give her, or indeed anyone.

Her hand touched mine across the table.

“Don’t,” she said, “just don’t.”

Her touch resonated. I didn’t want to say it anymore. I didn’t say it. That road would not be travelled.

“God!” She said, “it’s already four.”

“You got to be somewhere?” I asked.

“No,” she replied.

“There’s a young woman at the bar on Clinton playing tonight,” I said, “wanna come with me?”

“She pretty?” Bree smiled.

“So so,” I said, but her music and lyrics are good.”

“You’re pretty,” she said.

“You need your eyes testing,” I grinned, my spirit lightening.

We strolled, hand in hand back up the winding path from the river to town. Why? Why hand in hand? It felt good. It felt like the walls of Jericho were tumbling down.

Cate was good, Bree agreed.

It was a relaxed atmosphere. As her arm went round me and I leaned in, I felt in tune with Bree and with the music. Something was melting. Well, there was a wetness.

At ten we left.

It was time to say goodbye.

It was time to say hello.

We kissed on my doorstep. We kissed on the stairs. We kissed in the hallway. We tore each other’s clothes off the moment we were in my apartment.

As we lay together, my body snuggling into hers, I knew our minds had met. I looked over at the desk to the unfinished letter. There was, I reflected, as the town hall clock struck midnight, no need to say goodbye.

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