She led me by the hand into the bedroom. Yellow sodium lights on the dock road filtered through the Swedish nets Linda had brought with her when she moved in. We kissed again in the middle of the room amongst a scattering of books, papers and clothes. Collins sprang up from the nest he had built for himself out of my quilt and regarded us with supreme feline contempt. Suddenly Sarah broke off our embrace but held on to my hand.
'Look, U. I don't want to fuck you up with this. I fancy you, but I don't know if I like you. This may be a way of finding out, or it might not. If you think this may be wrong for you, then we can stop now, have the tea and no hard feelings.'
Her face was solemn as she spoke and her solemnity affected me. I felt that I was on the edge of a great big abyss of betrayal but I couldn’t tell who I was betraying, Linda or Sarah. I attempted to shrug the feeling off and failed miserably.
‘I’m easy. Stay or go, it’s up to you. But there’ll be no biscuits if you leave’
'I knew you were easy or else I wouldn't have wasted the taxi fare down here.’
Her face broke into a broad smile and she pulled me back onto the bed which bounced beneath us. Collins immediately leapt off and disappeared into a reserve napping spot on a pile of unwashed clothes in a corner of the room.
We kissed and touched, alternating our lovemaking with the removal of clothing. She unbuttoned my shirt and her hand snaked down to the front of my jeans and tugged at my belt. I pulled her T-shirt over her head, fumbled briefly with the catch on her white lace bra releasing her breasts. I bent forward to hold and kiss them. She lay back across the bed. I followed her down. I heard two thumps on the floor as she kicked off her DMs. I unbuckled her belt and pulled down her jeans.
Her panties were high-waisted with a lace insert which matched that on her bra. They contrasted with the masculine functionality of the Calvin Kleins' Linda had worn. The contrast pulled me up momentarily. I was back at the abyss of betrayal. She sensed my pause and then redoubled her efforts with my belt. She released the buckle but couldn't manage the button on my waistband. I knelt up and undid it myself with both hands. She tugged at my flies and the remainder of the buttons opened easily. I eased them and my jockeys down as far as my knees and my erect penis bobbed upright. She took it in her hand and for a moment seemed to examine it clinically. I recoiled from the unfamiliarity of her touch. She stopped and looked up into my face.
'Apart from this thing, what's up?'
'Nothing.' I lied 'I'm just concerned about getting my boots off, that's all.'
'Fuck, I thought you might be more of an altar boy than you let on.'
She stroked my back, caressed my head, and scattered kisses across my neck and shoulders as I leaned forward to unlace my boots. I pulled them and my socks off. My jeans and underpants followed. I kicked the latter across the room. I didn't want them open to inspection in daylight. I couldn't remember if I'd changed that day or the day before.
As we fumbled through the mechanics of sex with a first time partner, I thought of Linda and the last time we had made love before she left. I hadn't consciously known she was to leave, but I had known in my heart it was over. For Linda, if not for me. What is it that they say about the heart and its reasons? I tried to focus myself on the physical act and push these feelings to the periphery of my consciousness. We changed position and Sarah came to orgasm astride me. I continued my own battle between body and mind for a while longer and then surrendered. There was more than alcohol and lubricated latex between me and orgasm. My erection began to subside inside of her. We disengaged and lay back hand in hand facing the ceiling. After a while, she propped herself up on her elbows and looked up into my eyes.
'Did you come?' I considered lying but the look in her eyes told me she’d know.
'No. Too much booze and the old wellington boot. You know how it is when you get to my age.'
She laughed. 'I did. Twice. What a greedy girl.' She giggled in satisfaction at the thought and then quickly turned onto her back. She took my hand in hers, raised it to her lips and kissed my fingertips gently. A tsunami of despair washed over me and I knew I was still hooked on someone half a world away. Sarah was the first to break to post-coital silence
'Speak to me in Irish, U.'
'What?' She repeated her request with greater emphasis.
'Speak to me in Irish. I thought sex was supposed to make you blind, not deaf'
'That's wanking, not sex.'
'Whatever. Just speak to me in Irish.'
I'd learned most of my Irish working on building sites as a student. Words for tea and concrete figured highly in my vocabulary. But I remembered a poem I'd half learned once to impress a girl from Kerry I'd had a crush on. I spoke it slowly, struggling to capture the rhythm and recall each word
Níl agam aidhm ná dúil
ala le hala
ná uair le huair
a gceangal ní heol dom
ná a léamh
sa mbláth eascair
dá ngairmtear an saol-
As I spoke the words haltingly she moved down my body and released my now flaccid penis from its rubber envelope. She encircled its base with the finger and thumb of her left hand and began to massage it lightly. I paused in my recitation, a spasm of tension traversed my groin. She sensed it, looked at me and spoke.
'Carry on. It's beautiful. Ignore me.' She resumed her carnal activity and my penis slowly began to harden.
'mar go bhuil agaibh
aidhm 'gus dúil
bhur scéimh féin b'fhéidir
- amhail gluaiseacht coillte is crainn
don chonfairt ag fiach
gluaiseacht lae agua uaire daoibh
By now I was erect and enclosed in a circle formed by her fist. I continued to recite.
'ach níl agam aidhm ná dúil
ná níl agam aga-'
I stopped unable to remember the last few lines. She seemed fixated on her task. What she was doing felt good. For the first time I relaxed and flowed with the sensation, emptying my head of anything but Irish. I tried to think of some more lines of poetry. I could think of only old sayings and greetings. Stock phrases and the occasional curse. She maintained a steady up and down motion with her hand, kissing and nuzzling my chest and stomach as she did so. My Irish began a terminal descent into gibberish.
'Is Éireannach mise, Ulick is aimn dom, rugaidh mé sa Béal Feirste ach táim i mo chónaí sa Learphoill. Tá cailín deas, túse, agus is maith liom an rud tá tu ag dhéanamh. Ná stoppa. Tá mo bod crua ach tá an moirteár chomh caite le cú. Ba mhaith liom pionta Guinness, mas é do thoil é.'
Snatches of nursey rhymes, curses and blessings. Soon the only thing that mattered was the warm sensation of her hand around my penis. She continued to pump steadily with her fist and my pelvis moved in counter-time to her rhythm. I moved faster and faster, still mouthing nonsense in Irish. I felt seminal fluid spurt and a warm, once familiar glow radiated through my groin.
'Go raibh maith agut. Go raibh maith agut. Go raibh míle, míle maith agut' were my last words as the unfamiliar feeling of relief spread through my physical being.
Her breasts brushed my chest as she reached across me and pulled a tissue from a box beside the bed. She used it to wipe the spilled semen from my stomach and groin.
'I get the feeling you liked that.' she said.
'Just a little bit.' We smiled at each other and I leaned forward to kiss her. Not passionate this time, just warm and intimate. The sudden familiarity of it scared me not a little.
'Thank you' I said seriously, trying to find some trace of deceit in the penetrating blue of her eyes. 'All part of the service'
She snuggled into my side and I pulled the quilt over us. Her handed rested on my pelvic bone, her head on my shoulder. The street lights outside had extinguished and we lay there in darkness. After a few minutes a gentle snoring told me she was asleep. I looked over at the alarm clock. Its red LED read five past five but but what I saw looked more like SOS. The sleep perfumed heat of her body beside me felt oddly familiar and I wondered what she'd be like to wake up with.