Elizabeth finds herself forced to reconsider her definition of love, commitment, and responsibility—a process that finally releases her from the shackles of her past mistakes and shows her the way to her own happily-ever-after.More info →
—Nothing. A photograph.
I’m not blind, lover-mine, I know it’s a photograph. Of whom?
—Everyone. Family. It’s from Christmas.
Now there’s a facet of you I did not know about. Nor suspected. Such sentimentality. Sweet.
—My sister-in-law had them printed. Gave it to me the last time I saw her, I guess. I slipped it into the iPad cover. It must have fallen out when you were rummaging through my bag for condoms.
Ha. That’s more like the Elizabeth I know and fuck. But the one in this photograph doesn’t look like the Elizabeth I know at all. Jeezus. What’s wrong with your face?
—What? Nothing. I’m smiling. I’m just smiling.
Grimacing. Grinding teeth. Almost in physical pain. I’ve seen you smiling and in ecstasy and in pain, Liz, and—well, there’s no pleasure in any part of you in this picture.
—It was a hard night. You know. Christmas. Family. High tensions. Stresses.
Tell me about it. About them. Who are all these people? My God, did you cook for all of them? In an apron? Tell me you wore an apron.
—Talking about my dysfunctional family is not going to put me in the mood to fuck again.
It doesn’t have to. That’s my job. Come on. I’m curious. And, isn’t this what all women want? A lover who’s passionately interested in the quotidian details of their excruciatingly boring, dysfunctional lives—as well as skilled with hands, and tongue, and cock?
You have. And if you tell me the story to my satisfaction, you will again.
—You really want to hear this?
Absolutely. The tension is palpable—it jumps off the mildly fingerprinted surface. Just look at your face again. And the man next to you—is that your husband?
—That’s Brian, yes.
He looks like he’s restraining you, keeping you from running out of the frame. Terrified you will leave. The photograph or his life? I’m full of wonder.
—You’re reading too much into a grip on an elbow.
Then correct me. And that? That’s your daughter? What’s her name?
—I prefer that you don’t know her name.
Interesting. Understandable. But it will make telling the story cumbersome. Let’s call her… Alexandra. She looks happy.
—She is. She was—it takes a lot to spoil a child’s Christmas.
Next to her is?
—You insist on this?
I insist. Indulge me. Here, I’ll reward you. You may keep one hand on my cock as you tell the story.
—Such a reward.
I’ll put both of my hands between your legs. Stroke you when you please me.
Name-calling does not please me. Who’s next to… what did we call her? Alexandra. Who’s next to Alexandra?
—That is Brian’s ex-wife. Zia.
Gorgeous. Egyptian? And may I say, lover, your lack of jealousy pleases me. I reward you, a little.
—She’s as Egyptian or Arab as I am French. Canadian, in other words. Born here. As for lack of jealousy… well, it wasn’t my idea to have her there, for Christmas. It was the first time that’s happened in 15 years. But you’re pushing ahead of the story.
Indeed. I’m impatient. You know that. Still. We should do this properly. Continue with the cast of characters. Kneeling at her feet? Love that pose, of course.
—That’s Stefan. He… well, that’s hard to explain. In that moment, in that photograph, he’d be Zia’s… boyfriend.
Such a juvenile word when used in relation to a man fucking a 50-year-old woman. Lover?
—Well… that depends on what you understand by the word.
I can’t wait for you to explain that part of the story. The wife, the husband. The daughter. The ex-wife. Her—ha!—boy toy boyfriend. This angry young woman—the only person in the picture in more pain than you, lover—this must be the daughter of the first marriage?
—Yes. That’s Brian and Zia’s daughter.
They called her Destiny. But she… she changes her name, later. When Alexandra is born. To Sasha.
Destiny-Sasha. And I get to know her real name? Mmm. Fascinating. I’m allowed to know the stepdaughter’s real name. Does she hurl accusations of favouritism and evil stepmotherness at you?
—All the time.
As she should. Now, this woman? She’s the reason I’m forcing you to tell the story, you know. As soon as I looked at the picture, she jumped out as its centre, focus. And yet, there she is, at its edge. Almost out of frame.
—I have to stop fucking artists with high EQ. Yes. That’s what she is. The centre. The focus. That’s Annie. My sister-in-law. Brian’s brother’s wife. She’s the reason—she was the glue that made us a family. And the catalyst… Fuck, I don’t know how to explain it. She’s the reason—the reason everything unfolded as it did, I think.
Catalyst? Everything? This gets better and better. And you wonder why I want to hear the story. But wait. There’s Brian’s brother’s wife. And where, I must ask, is Brian’s brother?
—Oh… you’re right, he’s not there. He was there, I’m sure he was there. He must be taking the picture.
Brian’s forgettable brother. Does he have a name? Wait—don’t tell me. Not yet. I like him nameless, behind the camera, in the shadows. So. That’s the cast. Now put the picture over there, in that bowl of walnuts… and now, both hands on my cock. And tell me everything. I won’t distract you too much. Except when you get to the really good parts.
—I have no idea where to begin.
At the beginning, of course. At the photograph.
—That’s not the beginning. That’s practically the end.
Well. Then begin with the thing that’s most important to me. When you met me. It must have been around that time. I recognize the haircut. And those shoes.
—We met a few weeks later, yes. But you’re not part of the story. Not at all.
You’re so wrong. Every story before you met me is the backstory to… well, why you’re here. In my hotel room. Naked. Beside me. Beneath me. With me. So it’s, really, all about me.
I prefer sociopath. Still. I’ll indulge you. Never mind me. Start with her.
Yes. She is the catalyst, you said? Anyway. She is where you should begin. I want to know her intimately.
—I don’t. I didn’t.
But you do, don’t you? So. Talk. But keep in mind… I’m easily bored. And I only really like one type of story.
—Am I telling a story to you or to your cock?
We are fully integrated. One and the same. And what a perfect feedback loop you have. Now. Impatient. Begin. Tell me about you and Annie.
—Then I have to tell you about me and Brian. Brian and Zia. Zia and Annie… All of them, all of us.
Hmmm. All right. Go ahead. But start the story with something hot.
—How about another photograph, a thoroughly inappropriate one, texted to the wrong number?
I love it. Go.