Christmas in Venice


Copyright 2012 © Michele Christie
Published by Michele Christie
ISBN 978-1-909512-15-3
(3000 words)

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organisations or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental

This story contains explicit acts between consenting adults. It is not intended for minors under the age of eighteen.

I was back in this beautiful place; back in Venice where Mark and I had got married and had spent the most wonderful honeymoon. But Mark wasn’t with me; I was alone. Mark dead and buried, cut down in his prime. My heart broken into a million pieces and my body exhausted from the months nursing him through the cancer. With Christmas fast approaching, I could not bear to see the happy faces around me, the memories crowding me, mocking me. And so I found myself here, alone in the cool air, my senses assaulted by the beauty and magic of this exotic place. No one here knew of my pain, no one here needed to tip toe around me, no one here would smother me in sympathy. I felt strangely free for the first time in months but equally, close to Mark, enveloped in his smile and his laughter, echoing from the water surrounding me. I closed my eyes, the feeling that I had stepped into a Canaletto painting strong and insistent. I inhaled deeply of the familiar smell of damp and sewage and mist. I could almost feel his arms around me, the weight of his body pressing into me. I let out a sigh, a wistful longing for what had been but would not be again. Wrapping my thick red cloak around me, a gift from Mark, I melted into the side streets, seeking out our special places.

The sun was setting, glowing through the mist rising ethereally from the Lagoon; the colours magnificent, fragmented by my tears. I found the bridge just as the sun finally sank down, the street lamps casting eerie pools of light, glinting on the water from the canal; the mist, gentle and creeping inexorably over the pavement and swirling around my feet. I pulled the cloak tighter around me grateful for its fur lined warmth, shielding my face in the hood. A couple brushed past, their laughter ricocheting from the close packed buildings, sending stabs of pain into my bruised soul. That should have been Mark and me, arm in arm, heads close, sharing some private joke. We were so in love, soul mates, he completed me; made me whole. Without him I was lost, adrift without a compass. I could not see my way forward in life. But for the first time in weeks standing there on that bridge, Mark’s ghost surrounding me, I could feel a faint stirring of my old self, re-emerging from a darkness that had consumed my very soul.

A movement caught my eye and glancing up I saw him, smoking, leaning languidly against an archway, half shrouded in the evening shadow; the glow of his cigarette sharp and bright in the greyness. He seemed to be watching me, no doubt wondering what a woman in a red cloak was doing, alone and melancholy staring at the water from the bridge. I turned away, determined not to be deflected from my memories but the hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end. I was fully aware that he was still observing me. I felt an anger rising in my throat, not wanting this intrusion here in our special place. I swung around to confront him. He was still shrouded in shadow, the smoke from his cigarette hanging heavy around him on the moist evening air; close enough for me to catch the aroma. kağıthane escort I stood confrontationally facing him. Willing him to give in first and leave me alone there to my musings but instead he stepped out into the lamp light. He was wearing a mask; a typical Venetian mask, covering the top half of his face. The effect was surreal and I was slightly taken aback, perhaps he was on his way to a party and had just stopped for a smoke? I would never know, for instantly he was gone, melting into the side streets, leaving me alone once again.

A bell started to ring, a deep throaty church bell, no doubt calling the faithful to pray and unsettled by the masked man, I was overcome with an urge to join them. To mingle anonymously with them, to let the foreign words wash over me, to immerse myself in their faith and hope. I followed the general direction of the sound through the dim atmospheric streets. The noise growing louder with each turn until I came upon a small square with the church looming majestically ahead of me. I caught sight of him then, my smoking man, still wearing the mask, striding ahead of me. I noted that he was tall and muscular, his clothing light and out of place for the time of year. I was doubly sure that he must be on his way to a party as he turned right and away from the church. I climbed the steps to the door and joined the throng of Venetians inside, sitting near the back, grateful to be in out of the cold.

The service began, bells and incantations, the murmuring of the congregation, the smell of the incense soothing me, lulling me into a soft belief of security and promise. People kept turning and furtively looking me over, the girl in the red cloak, standing out against their more sombre attire, an air of sadness surrounding me, no doubt palpable to their probing gaze. I stayed hooded and snug, memories of our wedding assailing me. The joy that I had felt saying, “I do” to Mark was reasserting itself in me, gladdening me for the time that we had shared. My reverie was interrupted by the hairs on the back of my neck once again rising, despite the warmth in the church. I glanced around me and was shocked to see the masked man, behind and diagonally opposite me, mysteriously leaning against a stone pillar in a dark recess. What was he doing here? What of his party? He met my gaze, a small smile playing on his lips; this man was beginning to intrigue me. I looked ahead once more, the service drawing to a close and glancing again to see the masked man I was surprised to see that again he had disappeared.

The priest was shaking the hands of the people leaving the church as I shuffled along, awaiting my turn. I proffered my hand but he ignored it, instead pulling me to him in a hug, muttering in Italian as he kissed both my cheeks and making the sign of the cross on my forehead with his thumb. I thanked him and he nodded to me. Had he realised my loss, had he seen something in me that warranted this special treatment. He had certainly singled me out and extended his blessing to me. I felt warmed by his attentions, his love for a fellow man, for his giving me his benediction. I left the church feeling quite different. Venice was working its magic, healing me, taking my grief and turning it inside out. Allowing me to remember Mark more clearly, not confused with sickness and death but uncluttered and pure.

As I left the church there was my masked man again, away to the left, looking back at me as I descended the steps to the square. What was he doing? Where was he going wearing that mask? I liked the şişli escort idea of a party, to be with people, to interact with people who knew nothing of Mark, people who could know me for me. I determined to follow him and gatecrash; I did not want to be alone tonight. I started to walk purposefully towards him but he had disappeared down an alley, so I quickened my pace to keep up. Each time I turned a corner he would be just ahead, I would see the flash of his gold mask as he passed a street lamp. The mist was swirling around us, I could feel Mark with me but I was happy and purposeful as I was led a merry dance through the warren of Venice streets. I was sure that he was deliberately guiding me on but my vulnerable grief ridden state needed a distraction and this was proving to be quite entertaining.

On and on we walked until I grew physically tired, so I stopped on a bridge to rest. Leaning on the balustrade I looked down on the canal, the gondolas tied up, rocking gently in the faint light, glistening with dew; the mist hanging thickly around them, emanating upwards into the night air. I breathed deeply of the smell, my masked man momentarily forgotten, transported back to when Mark and I had stood and watched the boats, our bodies close. I closed my eyes, letting my hood fall back as I raised my head, eyes tight shut, memories replaying against my eyelids. Then I felt him, felt him close to me, heard his breath on the air, the swish of his clothes. Then his arms were around me, pinning me to the stonework; his weight preventing me from turning to face him. I froze, confused, Mark? No! It must be the masked man! His body pushing into me, I could feel the warmth of him, the hardness of him pressed into my back. I relaxed, I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t upset or angry, it just felt right; like a memory made flesh. He moved slowly, gauging my reaction, his hand moving my hair aside, his hot lips making contact with my neck, his teeth gently nipping my earlobe. I moaned, a moan of deep longing; my body, starved of sex for so long, responding to this masked lover. My mind wondering if this was being unfaithful to Mark, but concluding not, for Mark was dead and nothing that I did or didn’t do would alter that fact.

I leaned back into him and needing no further consent he moved his hands under my cloak and cupped my breasts. I was melting, melting into him, melting into his fingers as they explored me; my breath showing white in the cold air. He unbuttoned my blouse and then his hands were on my naked flesh, my nipples hard and needy as he rolled them, darts of pure pleasure forcing down into my groin. I could feel his erection grinding into me through the cloak and I wanted him so badly, wanted him deep in me, wanted him to fuck away this grief and sorrow. The cold was forgotten, all I could feel was him, his hands seeking out all my secret places, my body exposed, goose bumps just adding to the desire I was experiencing. I wanted to face him, to touch him, to see him but when I tried to turn, his strong arms stopped me; holding me tight against the bridge. Then he raised the cloak up over my back followed by my skirt, his hands feeling my buttocks and my wetness for him. I stooped and shed my knickers giving him full access.

No man had touched me since Mark but even he was forgotten as I wantonly displayed myself there, all my hurt and upset was concentrated into this moment of divine lust with a masked stranger. I spread my legs, leaning forward onto the balustrade as his hands explored and insinuated themselves into my very soul. I could hear him unzipping himself fındıkzade escort and I panted with the sheer eroticism of what he was about to do to me. I felt his stiffness seeking me out and I pressed back to accommodate him. He slid in and up and I was full of him, my body convulsing with delight as he thrust in and in. Part of me was aware that someone might walk along and catch us but that just added to the wonder of it, to the unreality of it all. I thrust back, meeting him measure for measure, my need driving me on. His hands were grasping my hips as he slapped his strong body into me and then I was coming, spasming and clenching around his cock, choking sobs escaping me as I let go. I let go of all of the horror of the past few months, all of my grief and sorrow and unhappiness. This masked mask pumping into me, there in public, was my unexpected saviour and I felt grateful to him as he followed me, coming in long hot spurts, thrusting himself deeply into my being. I was spent and stood gulping air as he withdrew, as he pulled my skirt and the cloak down. I heard him doing up his fly and then I turned to see him, to see who this was in the mask who had salved my wounds. But he was gone, like a breath of wind he had evaporated, was nowhere to be seen. He had mysteriously melted away into the narrow streets; I couldn’t understand how he had gone so quickly.

I took deep breaths, composing myself after this unexpected coupling, using my discarded underwear to wipe myself clean, adjusting my clothes and wrapping the cloak tight around me. Something had changed inside, I felt different; calmer. I was in control again, my mourning had altered, hope was gently blooming in my stomach; my mind was clearer. My body still tingling from my masked lovers touch, I was alive. Alive and strong and I had love to give. Mark might be dead but we had shared joy and laughter and I did not need to die too. I could rise up and take strength from this, could go forward and live life as though for us both. I could love another man; I could bask in his attention. I smiled; for the first time in weeks I let myself smile, a smile of love and satisfaction and sheer optimism for the future. Had my masked lover imbued me with all this? Had this one act of physical union with another human being really washed away my negativity and so rapidly converted me to give life a chance? Or maybe it was an affirmation of my subconscious desire to grasp life and live it. I had not sought my lover but he had come to me anyway, had seen my need, taken his chance and given me this joy.

And what of Mark, I came here looking for him and in an odd way I think I had found him, here on these canals and bridges where we had spent such happy times. He was with me and always would be, embedded in my heart, shrouding my soul with the love we had shared. But I had a life to live and I would go forward and live it doubly well; I felt I owed him that. Snapping out of my reverie I took in my bearings and seeing that my lover had left me close to the place where I had first seen him, I walked buoyantly back to St. Marks Square. On rounding the corner I saw and heard an impromptu group of masked men and ladies grouped together singing Christmas songs and carols. I joined the gathering crowd as their voices rose in perfect unison and harmony, scanning them to find my masked man but I did not see him. Their voices reaching a crescendo that touched me deeply, thoughts of Mark raced through my mind but now they were happy memories, memories to inform my future not to hold me back, wallowing in self pity. Then I heard my own voice rising clear and shrill to join the singers in happiness, my heart swelling with pride that I had known and loved him and that he had brought me here, now, to this place and that I was saved. I stayed until the end of the singing and joined the group, smiling, as we wished each other, “Buon Natale.”

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