Thursday, 10 March 2011

An extract from The Baptist

Alice reunites with John, her partner from their years in the asylum. She has wrestled and defeated Mary, her alter ego.
I’m in love with him. From the first moment I saw him, way back when.
He didn’t love me the first time round. I was there before him, older and dominant. He was innocent, apart from what he’d done to get there. I was crazy, in a bad way. Now, I’ve evolved into a completely different person.
I know what I am, who I am. I know who Mary is, what part of each other we are. Her special powers versus mine. My hope is based upon the knowledge that these things don’t stand still. Before, we were one. Then we split. I think that’s part of the reason why John hasn’t made the connection with our first time.
With John’s help, with our love for each other, I will banish Mary forever and remain me. We have no need of her anymore, never did.
I’ve set John on the road to County Clare, that great windswept expanse of romance. There’s a place I know, an ideal getaway, where we can nestle and hatch our plans.
The Rock of Cashel looms up ahead.
“Shall we stop a while?” John asks.
“No, best not. There’s always someone local on a visit. We need anonymity.” I squeeze his thigh. “Head on towards Tipp, next exit from the motorway. I have somewhere in mind.”
The mobile is in my backpack. I take it out, look up a number and make a booking. They know me. My working at the tattoo parlour has brought me some good friends and the occasional lover. Alice has a life, unlike Mary.
“That’s us all set, baby. We’ll take a few days out until things have died down a bit.”
John nods in agreement. The muscles in his leg flex under my palm as he changes gear around the twisting roads. I think about all the things that I will do to him, all the things I like and anything he asks. I have to have him totally in my power for what I will ask on our return.
His sedate driving suits this route. We reach the village of Golden.
“Let’s take a break here, John. I’d like to see the river.”
“Good idea.” He pulls the car over just before the bridge. “This looks like a handy place.”
We step out to the sound of crows in the trees. I take John by the hand and lead him across to the middle of the bridge where the castle ruins stand on the river island. We clamber over the wall, past the bronze bust of Thomas MacDonagh on his stained pedestal and amongst the mossy medieval stones of the keep.
I know John’s story. When he stands on the promontory of the island, facing upstream, a warm breeze in his face, I know what he’s thinking. The green and golden weed undulates below the glassy surface.
The flow of water is cool but slow as I step into it. My sandals sink down to the river bed of the shallow Suir, wetting above my knees but not yet cleansing our union from the station. The weed strokes my calves, I imagine in the way that my hair strokes his body in bed.
There’s no need for me to call his attention. He steps down from the rock island and takes me around the waist, looks into my eyes. I manage a nod, close to swooning. He sweeps me off my feet like a child and plunges me below the surface. My limbs are inert. I open my eyes and see his rippling face above me, settling into a clearer picture as the water calms. He looks grave, messianic. Then, the pressure of his arms on my body and a strength that I couldn’t fight if I wanted to.
He lifts me back up into the air. The cotton of my blouse and skirt clings to my skin. I’m cleansed. John’s arms envelop me and I hug him around the chest.
“Hey!” a fisherman calls from the far bank.
John waves a hand to the angler and then leads me back up onto the island.
“Sit here in the sun and I’ll fetch your bag from the car. I won’t be a minute.”
I slip off a sandal and remove strands of translucent weed, entangled in the straps. The thrill of my baptism is still keeping the chill at bay. Water trickles from my hair, down between my breasts.
“Here, sorry I don’t have a towel.”
I take the backpack with one hand and place his palm on my wet throat, sliding it down.
“In there. I’ll get changed in there.” A stone doorway behind him leads to a small chamber in the ruined castle.
Dog roses climb the walls of the keep and yield their pink scent to the late spring sun. John blocks the doorway for privacy. I unpack a simple blue cotton dress and lay it upon the ancient stone table in the room. Then I roll the wet blouse over my head and unfasten the wrapped skirt. It’s very cool out of the sun and my skin turns to gooseflesh.
His hands are warm on my skin as he gives up his guardian post and I pull him to me. I raise a leg, place my foot on the stone table and let him taste me there for the first time since my rebirth.

It’s not all about sex. It’s also about death. But I leave the knowledge of the dead to Mary, and Mary has left us.


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  1. Not seeing erotica here. Did someone claim it was? I think they are highly mistaken if you say yes.

    1. Yeah, Jenny, I had another author decline to include this and my other novel on a group website because he didn't feel comfortable with erotica. Cést la vie ;-]