Christened

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Gina told us her news in the frozen section of the supermarket when we ran into her that Saturday.

‘Gerry is painting the spare bedroom,’ she said.

‘Congratulations!’

Ber hugged her.

‘You’re the first ones I’ve told.’

Both women looked at me, Ber in hope, Gina with an archness I couldn’t interpret. Was she trying to tell me something? I remembered what she had said about flushing her pill, a vice-grip tightening around my balls.

‘How far are you along?’ said Ber.

‘Eight weeks. It must have been Languedoc in June. Wine…’

‘Paul would love a little brother. Or sister.’

‘No, it’s a boy all right. I can tell…’

‘…She’s mad having another child. At her age,’ said Ber.

We were in the car on the way home.

‘Why?’

‘She’s not cut out to be a mother. Too selfish. Look at Paul.’

I had to agree with her. The boy, six that year, was a nascent psychopath. Gina and Gerry didn’t believe in smacking.

Ber was pre-menstrual and horny. I knew by the way she kept touching my leg on the drive home. She looked better since she had changed her hair, having replaced her lank anti-style with something resembling Gina’s when I had first met her. It made her look like an adult woman for the first time in her life. Although she had matured a great deal in the time we had been married, she was still the same chaste and pious girl at the back of it all. When it came to sex, I needed all the help I could get.

We went upstairs as soon as the shopping was put away. Saturday after the supermarket had become a ritual, even though we still acted like it was a spontaneous thing. Ber always drew the curtains which suited me fine. It made it easier for me to pretend she was someone else.

She stood still as I undressed her. I felt like I was stripping a mannequin. When she was naked, she got into bed, pulling the duvet up until only her eyes were visible.

‘You’re getting tubby,’ she said.

‘I need to start running again.’

I threw my t-shirt on to a chair and sat on the bed to take of my trainers.

‘Hurry up. The sheets are freezing.’

I jerked myself to semi-hardness before climbing in beside her. We embraced without animation. I concentrated upon her silhouette, her new hairstyle helping me to evoke Gina as she had been on that first night. Ber gasped as my cock swelled against her thigh.

Two months…I thought back to June, the Sunday before Gina had gone to France. We had met in a forest of young pines overlooking the lake. Perfect isolation…It was as if nothing else existed apart from our bodies and the desperate pleasure we wrung from each others flesh. Was that the day it had happened? It had to have been…

I rolled on top of Ber and entered her with a surge of elation. It’s a boy all right. A son. Our son…

‘Oh baby…’

When Ber said things like that it was simply wrong. And what was with the American accent?

I thrust into her slowly, raising her body towards mine. She clung to me, pleading heatedly against my ear. Baby…

‘…I might skip mass,’ said Ber.

We were curled up together afterwards, her favourite part.

‘I’ll make us chips,’ I said. ‘Do you want to go out?’

‘No, I want to stay here with you…Right here.’

‘Chips in bed, then.’

‘Chips in bed.’

*

We obsess about birthdays but pay no heed to dates of conception, a much more significant occasion. If Gina had conceived on that close and airless day in the woods, then that Saturday was the day that Ber did likewise. Or so I figured. Gina, pregnant with my child, had inspired the sex that resulted in Ber’s joining the club. There was a neatness to it all that appealed to my ego. I was the common denominator. Progenitor – it was a good word.

We celebrated our good news in the staff-room one Friday afternoon. There was a bottle of brandy and tuneless Irish tunes courtesy of Father Boyle and his uillean pipes. My male colleagues bought me a box of White Owls. Gina, who was starting to show, blamed her sullenness on fatigue, although she was curious as to the names we had in mind.

‘We haven’t thought that far ahead,’ I said.

‘Gerry likes Emmet if it’s a boy,’ she said, pointing at her bump. ‘Or Pearse. I’d like to name him Edward. After my Dad.’

‘Not Gerard junior?’ I said.

‘I never liked that name. But don’t tell Gerry I said that.’

‘It’s vain calling children after yourself,’ said Ber. ‘Like branding a cow.’

Gina and I were speechless.

*

Fucking was difficult while Gina was pregnant but we found a way. Our respective changes in situation restricted our mobility. And she was having a bad time physically, both with her health and her self-image. Some women burgeon during pregnancy. Gina saw it differently.

I have this thing growing in me like a tumor. Feeding off me like a parasite. You’ll never understand what it’s like.

It was worrying when she talked izmir escort bayan that way. And it puzzled me because pregnancy suited her. Everyone agreed. When I looked at her during those months, as autumn turned to winter, I knew for the first time what ripeness meant. My desire for her became confused with a salivating hunger for fruit – the plum of her hair, the Golden Delicious of her flesh…

One Saturday morning during the Christmas break, I dropped into the school to do some overdue correcting in peace. I wanted to to be able to work without distraction; get it over with quickly. Anything rather than bring it home.

I parked in front of the new extension which had been officially opened by the Minister and a murder of clerics the previous December. Gina was missing that day – her mother had died two days earlier. She took it badly, much worse than I had expected. She had been wishing death on the old lady for as long as I had known her but when it finally happened she was overcome with guilt, as if her morbid longings alone were to blame. I tried to comfort her but it was no use. She wouldn’t be reasoned with and I let her rage – at Gerry, at God, at the Board of Management for not cancelling the opening as a mark of respect. It took her a few months to get over it.

I ran into the contract cleaners – a settled traveller and his son, a teenager with Down’s Syndrome – as they were on their way out and promised them that I would set the alarm and lock up after me when I was finished. Wary of strangers, they seemed dubious at first but eventually consented. I watched them loading a floor buffer into the back of a red HiAce van, my bones full of dread for those as yet unborn. The boy’s hands were like enormous claws…the womb was so safe and yet so hostile. Its occupant so vulnerable…

Emptied of inhabitants and purpose, the building was unnervingly strange. They had gone for height and space in designing the atrium of the new extension, aiming for a cathedral ambiance but ending up with one that was entirely lacking in sanctity. My soles squeaked upon the chessboard tiles, a Bishop’s diagonal taking me to the foot of the stairs. I thought I could sense Gina’s presence as I climbed the dirty white marble steps, even though I knew this was impossible. The building was empty. Nonetheless, I checked her office – her new office, a five-star suite compared to the last one – and found the door locked. From our point of view, this was its most welcome feature.

I worked in the staff room, hopped up on cup after cup of instant Nescafe. I had a craving for good schnapps as an accompaniment, a little gravity to oppose caffeine-induced weightlessness. Perhaps it would have made the lousy second-year’s compositions I was wading through more tolerable. The boys who got to do languages were the bright ones, apparently…

At first I thought the footsteps were a hallucination, my caffeinated heart become audible. But I knew Gina’s gait, the machine-gun staccato of a driven woman, and that was the pattern I heard upon the stairs. I stood up, breaking out in gooseflesh. The handle of the staff-room door was loose in its setting and required some negotiation. I watched its rattle and depression, the shiver I felt pooling in my groin. The door opened and there she was, wearing faded jeans and a man’s cream shirt as a maternity blouse.

‘I saw your car outside,’ she said. ‘What are you doing here?’

‘As you can see.’ I gestured at the copybooks on the table. ‘What about you?’

‘What about me?’

She didn’t express pure joy very often but that was what was what I saw upon her face. Her smile was genuine, free of its habitual scepticism, even extending to her eyes.

‘I was going to try yoga,’ she said. ‘In my office. It’s supposed to be good.’

‘The cleaners are gone,’ I said.

‘I didn’t see their van.’

She shut the door and leaned back against it, resting her hands upon her bump.

‘What’s the word for this type of thing?’ I said.

‘Serendipity,’ she said.

‘Sounds like an aftershave,’ I said.

Her pupils swelled as I approached her.

‘Don’t…’ she said. ‘Not today. You can be sweet when you want.’

I touched the collar of her shirt.

‘One of Gerry’s,’ I said.

‘It hides the damage. I’m a disgrace. Don’t look at me.’

‘You could have had one of mine. If you’d asked.’

‘I might ask yet.’

‘How can you talk like that?’

I held her face, stroking her eye sockets with my thumbs.

‘Like what?’

‘Not to look at you.’

‘It’s easier if you don’t.’

She avoided my eyes as we kissed but I could taste the lust in her mouth. It was a month since we had last fucked – too long. She had blossomed in the meantime, the new contours of her body strange and fascinating against mine. Her breath on my cheek was superheated and I imagined the difference I sensed in its force and essence as belonging to the child – the by-products of furious development. escort izmir

‘I want to see you naked,’ I said.

‘I’m not sure you do.’ She laughed and so did I as I held her stomach against mine. ‘Not here.’

‘Not the office,’ I said.

‘Why not?’

‘We have the whole school.’

‘I know.’ She took my hand. ‘Come on…’

Rain beat against the glass dome above the atrium as we ran down the stairs. She led me from the Marian blue and white of the extension to the sombre corridors of the old building, newly waxed and slippery beneath our feet. We laughed like the giddiest of first years, the emptiness of the building massively amplifying our voices. Breathless, we stopped outside the woodwork room and kissed.

‘He kicked,’ she said. ‘Too much commotion.’

‘He’ll kick some more, then.’

I touched her stomach as we kissed again. Her hand was at my crotch, its ball kneading my glans through my jeans. Her eyes were wide, malicious, all of her earlier modesty forgotten. When I started to undo her buttons, she pulled away, holding together the sides of her shirt in a parody of coyness.

‘Catch me,’ she said and turned to run.

‘Careful…’

But she was already falling. Her feet gave way upon a patch of wax and she came down heavily on her side. My throat closed over as I ran towards her.

‘Fuck…’ She was laughing. ‘I’m fine…No, its ok, I’m fine.’

She sat up, clutching the hip that had taken the worst of her landing while I caressed her all over with fretful hands.

‘You’re white as a sheet,’ she said.

‘You should probably rest,’ I said.

‘Rest my hole. When will we get this chance again?’

She made to stand up but her hip protested.

‘Here,’ I said.

‘What are you doing?’

I squatted alongside her, one arm hooked beneath her knees, the hand of the other sliding beneath her buttocks.

‘Put your arms around my neck,’ I said.

‘I’ll break your back.’

‘Shush.’

She wasn’t lying. Previously, I had only felt the weight of her during lovemaking, and that was without the passenger. There were good reasons why I had never tried to pick her up. But I did it somehow, in spite of the screaming of my bones and sinews. I couldn’t have done otherwise.

Bandy-legged, I struggled down the corridor, constantly shifting her weight to maintain my grip. When she slipped down, as gravity and my puniness ensured she did every couple of seconds, her jeans scorched the flesh of my arms.

‘Stop laughing,’ I said, somewhere between a wheeze and a croak.

‘I’m sorry. You’re gone a funny colour. My man…’

She would never let on but I could tell she was touched.

When we reached the sliding door of the assembly/PE hall, I toed it open and carried her inside. Fading badly, I took her down the stairs next to the stage and along the length of the creaking wooden floor to a door set in the the back wall where I set her down with no little haste.

‘Are you all right?’ I said.

‘Are you?’

‘I need to lie down, I think.’ .

‘I haven’t been in here for years.’

She opened the door and turned on the light. It was a storeroom for sports equipment – nets, a vaulting horse, a pile of foam gym mats. I took her hand and we went inside.

‘How’s your side?’ I said.

‘Better. You know Gerry didn’t even carry me over the threshold?’

‘His bad back,’ I said.

‘So is yours. But you carried me.’

‘I’ll always carry you. Both of you.’

She blushed as I undid the remaining buttons on her shirt.

‘It’s horrible,’ she said.

I sank to my knees and kissed her uncovered stomach.

‘It’s so tight,’ I said.

‘More stretch marks…’

She massaged my scalp, stepping backwards towards the pile of mats. They were mint-green, the rubber of their undersides arranged in a honeycomb pattern, sighing underneath the descent of her body. I crawled towards her, my face level with her swollen navel. The nearer I came, the more I could feel the heat generated by a frenzied metabolism, her blood sustaining both her and the one in her midst even as it thickened her cunt. The curve of her stomach was poised like Earth in space. I traced its length with my tongue, releasing a thread of saliva at its apex which trickled down and broke around her navel.

‘What did we do?’ I said.

She didn’t answer and prevented any further awkward questions by crushing my face against her cleavage. I unhooked her bra one handed, its extreme tension giving out with a sigh.

‘You’re allowed to touch them, you know.’

She smiled at my incredulity, taking my hand and placing it on her left breast. My fingertips sought after a familiar equilateral triangle of moles but found it distended.

‘You look…’

My voice was quavering.

‘Like a cow.’

‘Like a…’

Every word that suggested itself seemed trite. Woman, mother, goddess…Why wouldn’t she laugh at the izmir escort poverty of a man’s imagination? So I said nothing. I sucked at one swollen dark brown nipple, then the other, before sliding my mouth up towards hers. As our kiss became more fevered, she knotted her calves behind me, trapping me within the V of her parted thighs. She helped me remove my t-shirt, shivering as my bared stomach touched against hers. I looked down at the point of contact – our flesh, old and new. She still wouldn’t say it but she knew as well as I did.

Gerry is painting the spare bedroom…A man ought to make himself useful around the house. The boy would call him father, but perhaps he would know also that something was off. Perhaps they would ask Ber and I to stand for them. It would be a nice gesture.

She pushed off my tracksuit bottoms with her heels and lay back, helping me to unbutton her jeans. Their waistband was sunken into her flesh, difficult to access beneath the outcrop above it. Our amusement was tinged with frustration, mine giving way to disquiet when the button came undone, revealing the ligature mark in the flesh above her groin.

Kiss it better…

I pulled down her jeans. Underneath, she was wearing gruel coloured granny knickers; comfortable doubtless, but wildly unsexy.

‘I wasn’t expecting company,’ she said.

‘I can see that.’

I licked along the crease left by her waistband to a bruise that was developing upon her hip. She whispered something I couldn’t make out and lay back, raising her arse to allow me to remove her knickers. Her bush was whorled, unkempt, the hairs around the vulva beaded with white. Naked at last, she looked both strong and vulnerable, her radiance somehow tainted with intimations of the ordeal of delivery. I knew intimately the strength of her loins but what faced her was of a different order to the minor convulsions of sex. All I could see was her labia being stretched to breaking; the balls being forced out of the sockets of her warping hips…

I wouldn’t get to be there, but Gerry would. He would get to hold her hand, offer panic-stricken encouragement, receive her screaming abuse. He would get to watch, to cry as the bloody crown of the head breached the lips I bent my head towards. Keep them safe…Who was I asking? Gerry or God? Neither of them was worth a fuck. She was on her own, a prospect that made my guts flip in terror.

Panic made me careless and she squeezed the back of my neck in a gesture that was both comforting and displeased.

Go easy, it said. Mind them nails.

For penance she steered me towards her clitoris, pouting in neglect beneath its veil. Her fingers tightened and I felt her become still; heard her breathing vanish and return in a broken set of exhalations. In the midst of heated blood and ammonia, I could taste an unfamiliar musty sweetness, like old sugar, browned and crystalized on the inside of a disused bowl. It was there in the the new honey she oozed, extending in threads from my tongue; seeping from behind the lips I touched open. The deeper I probed, the more I became aware of her blood, the fragility of the tissue that contained it. Its ruby stained my imagination, diffusing out as if into a white sheet until I was seeing entirely through a filter in red.

The mouth of her vagina twitched as it sucked in the bare tip of a finger. She was close to coming, frustrated at the leisure of her getting there.

‘Put your tongue in. Fuck me with it.’

She was lying back, feet held up in imaginary stirrups, her face hidden behind the mass of her body. I did as I was asked, feeling her tension massing again, this time with a momentum that wouldn’t be denied. The force of the spasm shook me loose. My face slipped down, coming into contact with a portion of mat stained to slippery darkness with her body. Hauling myself back up, I saw veins, stark as forked lightning, tattooed on the flesh of her stomach. She pushed my face back against her cunt and came again, grinding her clit upon the bone of my forehead.

I pulled down my zip, feeling its teeth upon the shaft which had broken free from the confines of my shorts and was as hard as only the taste of her could make me. She was still coming when I stood up and lay its tip upon the hair just above her cunt. Her face was damp, pale, unlike the violent flush of her chest. I leaned forward slightly, allowing my cock to slip down, the bristle of her pelvis giving way to softness, her hand now intervening as, in combination with the rhythm of our hips, she guided me into her with exasperated haste.

‘Tell me if it…’

‘Don’t worry,’ she said, her eyes glistening as they rolled back in their sockets. ‘Do it for real.’

Would he remember this? A trauma to be teased out under psychoanalysis. I felt uneasy at the presence of a third and not only for obvious squeamish reasons. For the first time, there was a witness to what we did. It somehow represented a compromising of our intimacy.

I fucked slowly and self-consciously in spite of what she had said but Gina seemed happy with the lazy pace.

‘I knew you could be sweet.’ Her breath upon my eyes was hot enough to draw tears. ‘There.’ She held me with her thighs. ‘Don’t move…’

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