What to do. What a to do.
First thing, get out of bed. This involves sitting upright on the edge, in the darkness of the shut blinds, contemplating a bit and mustering the courage for the day.
Normally, when Adrian is by himself, that is followed by leaning forward and letting rip a joyous and manly trumpet of a fart, the kind which ripples the skin on his buttocks and echoes as a proud smile on his face, as it propels him into a standing position. This was perhaps his only lapse in an otherwise demur life.
But not today.
Today, there was a lady in his bed.
He turned and stared adoringly in the direction of where she might be amid the ruffled bed linen. He could make out a muddle of dark hair strewn about what would be her gentle face; a bare shoulder showed as a lighter patch in the dark.
What to do. He wanted to tell her that he liked her, really liked her. He wanted to summon the daring to ask her to stay longer, to stay for good. To move in with him. He wanted to proclaim to her his love for her, his enjoyment of her company and his gratitude for her generous intrusion in to his tidy bachelor life.
But he figured you can’t rouse a sleeping love for that kind of conversation. She’d be too drowsy to focus. And besides, she’d probably like to sleep in. It was Sunday; they had enjoyed a long and happy night. Best let her sleep some more. So he clenched and rose quietly on to slightly unsteady feet, leant over to pick up a t-shirt and tiptoed out of the room, down the hall to the back bathroom, where he, if furtively and decorously, underwent his morning ablutions.
Finished, teeth crystal clean, mouth clear, face washed, (body degassed), he paused outside the bathroom door and listened intently. No sound. So he returned to the bathroom and showered, efficiently, in case she woke and was left without the courtesy of his company, but long enough to let the memories of last night wash over him and gurgle into the drain with his suds. Dried, he popped the t-shirt back on (it smelled fresh enough) and paused again outside the bedroom. Still no sound.
How long should/could he let her sleep? How long would she like him to let her sleep? He figured he might fill in the time by making tea. She might like that. Waking up to a fresh brew. Sitting up with knees to her chest, covered in the sheets while he looks for a glimpse, the two of them chatting admiringly to each other. And toast, he thought, that’d be a thing. Breakfast in bed. Scrambled eggs – no, she prefers them poached – two steamy orbs on golden rich sour dough, a mug of terracotta leaf tea on a tray with silverware and a rose. Well, there were no roses, but the rest he could do. And set about doing with happy gusto.
Yes, he adored this one, and wanted to tell her he thought she was divine. It’s all in the timing. Boil the saucepan of water, and the kettle. Two spoons of Darjeeling into the antique delft teapot, plus a spoon for the pot. He was confident with her, unashamed about his quirks or shyness, she gave audience to his jokes, and engaged in direct and straightforward conversation. Reduce the water in the pan to a simmer and stir it with a slotted spoon to form an eddy so the eggs don’t stick to the bottom. He felt feelings of rapture, adulation even. Crack the eggs on the side, but not too hard so the yolks are whole, and drop them into the swirling water. (Some white slid down the side and curled like a fingernail with the heat). She had a buoyant sense of humour. Warm and welcoming, but not large or domineering. Push down the bread in the toaster – when it’s done so are the eggs. She was spirited, at times even transcendent. Pour the boiling water from the kettle into the pot, being careful not to splash when you’re not wearing any pants. (Don’t want to spoil the old todger, especially when there is a prospect of some morning action). And her looks, that plump body and the cascade of hair. My god she was, what, like the Birth of Venus. Put on the colourful knitted tea cosy they bought at the craft shop one weekend. Yes, she was glorious, this one. A goddess if he thought about it. She was angelic, but playful, elegant, but cheeky. He was totally enamoured of her. Which always struck him as a strange phrase, like being enameled. He was enameled with her.
Toast out, and buttered on the good china plate. Eggs displayed gently on top like a sacrament, tea poured as a libation, cutlery, a serviette, and all arranged on an elegant Huon pine tray. Pity about the rose, but she would forgive.
And after this indulgence, who knows, and after that they could talk. Good plan.
Holding his offering aloft he strode bare buttocked into the hallway where the morning sun split through the stain glass diadem on the front door into an iridescent glissando of coloured light. It blinded him with its rainbow haze, and he staggered unseeing down the beaming corridor. Then, like a blind acolyte, he entered the hot sepulchral gloaming of the bedchamber. He stood in the dark with his tribute held in front, waiting for his eyes to adjust, sensing a slight breeze on his testicles.
Somewhere, in the dim recesses of the bed he heard a snort. The kind of sound an animal in the rear of a cage might make; he thought of the Minotaur in the labyrinth. Sheets rustled, followed by a groan, then a sigh. The room began fading into light.
“Zat you?” her voice called.
He felt a bit nonplussed by her waking, but announced with cheer, “I’ve made you breakfast.”
There was more shuffling in the bed and he could see her sitting up, the sheets tucked up as he had imagined. She brushed a dark tress of hair behind an ear.
“Oh sweet man. Thank you.” She looked about herself to the bedside table, which he approached with the tray of hot food.
“I’ll pop it here for you,” he said.
“Half a mo’,” she replied and fished out the handkerchief he had bought her on their last weekend away. She blew loudly into it, twice, and wiped her nose.
He retreated to the other side of the bed and offered to open a blind.
The light jumped in, disturbing a cloud of particles suspended like plankton in the air. He turned and saw she had risen. She was naked and white in the lustre of the morning light. She stretched up, her breasts pert in front of her and her back in a graceful arch. Her elbows were raised and bent into her rib cage; she scratched her underarms with her painted nails, as if each hand was strumming a guitar. And with that action, she morphed from a beautiful Edwardian nude, plump and pale beneath a smiling torrent of dark hair, to a plucked chicken, before roasting, its wing tips folded into a hairless and pallid torso.
Then he heard a clear and sonorous rattle emerge from between her buttocks. It was a long and ebullient rush of wind that blew an ostentatiously high-pitched note. It seemed interminable. Just when he thought it might never stop, it lifted her on to her toes and reached a noisy, almost succulent, climax.
“Ooh that’s better,” she said as she dropped back on to her heels. “I feel thinner now. That’s what you men like, isn’t it? Farts and thin women? Gotta pee.” With that she turned with a wink and he watched her buttocks lope out of the bedroom. Something winked anyway.
He stood in the bedroom, aghast. He was stunned, simply stunned. For a start she had completely ignored her eggs. But the, the, flatulence was what rocked him. How could anyone be so crass as to fart in such an unseemly manner in the presence of others? And she appeared to enjoy it, even be proud of it. And in front of a lover no less. At the very moment intimacy may have been (nay was!) warranted, to let fly with such a flagrant – although, he noted with some relief, not fragrant – expulsion of wind. What if he had moved to embrace her? To kiss her? Or more? Didn’t he deserve better than that? And, to add insult to grievous injury, he had been just about to make one of the biggest announcements of his life, which involved her. How could she be so insensitive to his feelings? Did she not have reciprocal thoughts?
No, no, this would not do. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever had the pleasure of being with. And now she was soiled. The goddess had clay legs or whatever the saying was. She was inconsiderate, rude, crass, and downright gauche. She had ignored his eggs, farted in front of him, snorted and scratched like a pig in a pen, and was utterly oblivious to his heightened emotional state.
Flummoxed, he strode to the bathroom and put his ear to the timber door. He heard gargling, spitting, the tap squeak and a swish of water. The toilet lid being put down, and the sound of a garden hose sprayed against a wall. My god, he thought, she pisses like a horse. The toilet flushed and the tap and water again. The door swung open.
“Ooh, hello, lovely,” she said. “Come for a kiss?” She urged her puckered lips to his with an eager and minty kiss, and at the same time snaked her fingers about his penis. Despite his best resentment, it sprang to life, and, like Fred Astaire in reverse, she danced him backwards into the bedroom.
Their lovemaking was tender and repellant. Her body was soft, yielding, loathsome and gross. Her nose was a cute ski jump and a cavern of expectorant waste. Her rounded buttocks were splendorous curves that hid a foul chthonic fistula. At one time she screamed like a delighted witch and she pounded his shoulders with her heels. It was all he could do to expend himself in a wilted and abhorrent climax before rolling to the far side of the bed.
She turned to face him, her head sunk half way in a cloud of pillow. “I’m sensing something is wrong,” she said.
He said nothing, but stared sullenly at the ceiling. The stolid silence forced him to respond.
“I’m feeling … disillusioned,’ he said.
He didn’t want to say, so asked, “What’s happened?”
“What’s what happened?” she replied. He swallowed.
“You fart.” There, it was out. So to speak.
“Fart, you farted. It was disgusting.”
“You fart too. I’ve heard you shake the shiplap in the bathroom. Men like to. It keeps the wild animals at bay.”
“You snort, you fart, you grunt, you scream, and you piss like a fire hose.”
She sat up. “Is that it?” He didn’t reply. “I fart and snort and do what real flesh and blood people do. You do know I bleed too?”
“But noisily, like an animal.”
“Like a tiger,” she replied.
“I never knew you were so gross. One doesn’t fart in public, okay? It’s manners. Or blow one’s nose loudly.”
“I can’t believe this,” she said. “Are we listing faults all of a sudden?”
“Let me have a go then, Mister Prim and Proper. Socks lined up in drawers, only European underwear, shirts organised by colour, books by category and alphabetical name order, never drinks tea bags, Italian toaster, never eat ribs with your fingers, dances like a brick, uses big words when small will do. Need I go on?”
“But these aren’t offensive,” he protested.
“They make you look like a dick. I’m good for you. I loosen you up.”
“But I don’t smell.”
She ruffled the sheets and a waft of stale sex assaulted his senses. “This is you, buddy boy, and me. And that t-shirt is nothing to boast about.” She got up and began dressing.
“You didn’t eat my eggs,” he blurted out. She stopped mid button.
“Is that what’s really eating you?” She picked up an egg and stuffed it into her mouth, chewing open mouthed and insolent in front of him. “Id dith wod you wond?” She threw the other egg at him. It hit him on the cheek and spattered over the sheets. She grabbed a mug of tea.
“You’d rather eat eggs than fuck your girlfriend.” She took a slug of the tepid brew and he saw her cheeks swell as she prepared to spit it at him.
“I love you!” he shouted.
She stood silently, her mouth bulging with tea, as a tear spilled in her left eye. He sighed, not up to the task of coping with tears.
“You what?” she said through clenched lips.
“I love you. I wanted to say that before. I wanted to tell you all morning, so I made you eggs and tea and I didn’t have any roses, and then you farted and snorted and I think you are divine and disgusting and you and …” he petered out, and slumped on the bed.
In the anxious silence that followed she swallowed the tea, sniffled and wiped a hand clumsily across her nose.
“What do you want?” she asked. “Do you want me to stay or go?”
“Even though I’m gross.”
Adrian nodded, like a puppy. “Yes.”
“I want you to stay. All the time. Farts and all. Do you want to stay?”
She paused a moment, clearing her nose and wiping away the last of the tears.
“I’m nervy right now. Why don’t we make some eggs.”
* * * *
Two weeks later, after a sleep in, Adrian was sitting on the edge of the bed, she had risen to get dressed.
“We’re seeing your parents today,” she remarked. “We’ll have to be on our best behaviour.”
Adrian turned around and looked at her, a flash of white in the sepia of morning. Her elbows were up, like an angel spreading her wings. When she had finished scratching he leaned forward and there followed an effusive cacophony in two tones, his a low baritone and hers a higher alto. “We’re in harmony!” he shouted and they collapsed laughing on to the bed and he turned to kiss her. She snapped back.
“Yuck, morning breath! What did you eat last night?”
“You,” he smiled.
“Ew, gross, have you no sense of decorum?”