Copyright 2008, S Hartwell

“Where were you last night?”

To be honest, I was surprised he had even noticed. He doesn’t normally notice, or at least if he does he doesn’t remark upon it. Oh, I was there all right, there in body, but as usual my mind was elsewhere.

We’d followed the usual evening rituals, those familiar and automatic end-of-day activities that take little thought. Wash, brush teeth and climb into bed. Just as automatically, his hand stroked my breast, a little too hard as usual, mashing the flesh with no regard for pre-menstrual tenderness. With the usual lack of finesse his hand travelled from breast to crotch, not even bothering to stop along the way for a few caresses. His fingers mashed my outer labia in the mistaken assumption this was an erogenous zone. They bypassed the sensitive, aching-to-be-stroked nub of flesh nestled within and located the target orifice. Thirty-five seconds from breast to bulls-eye.

He grunted and climbed aboard. Having located the target orifice, penetration was dryly accomplished without preliminaries. Not even bothering to support his weight on his arms, he commenced thrusting, snorting with effort into my right ear.

There are 12 cracks in the Artex of the ceiling, at least there are 12 cracks within my field of view beyond his right ear. Two of those cracks radiate from the light fitting where the paint has shrunk back a little. A total of 5 cracks define a roughly rectangular area where a previous occupant put a clumsy foot between the joists of the loft and had to replace the ceiling. Though the Artex matches, the cracks define the new section of ceiling: two long sides, one short side and the fourth side comprises 2 shorter cracks.

His full weight is on my ribcage. No matter how often I’ve suggested – tactfully as he believes he is the world’s most considerate and accomplished lover and regards any suggestion on my part as criticism of his technique – he support some of that weight he doesn’t bother. I’ve suggested a few other positions, but it always boils down to this – safe, unadventurous missionary position. The thought of trying anything else seems to scare him, perhaps because it highlights his shortcomings (which are stylistic rather than physical).

The remaining 5 cracks are random and result from paint or plaster shrinkage. Though I’ve seen those cracks almost every night in the past 12 years I have never checked them at close quarters. They are old friends, existing merely to distract me from his interpretation of hot sex.

I make the requisite noises, the ones he mistakes for enthusiasm. Since I started counting, I have moaned “yes, yes, yes” two thousand and fourteen times and gasped “Oh God!” about half as many times. I don’t bother to count the panting and inarticulate gasping.

In response to my evident enjoyment he increases the rate of thrusting. Fifty-five seconds have elapsed since intromission. After 12 years, I know exactly when to make the noises that speed him to a hasty conclusion. I used to buck and wriggle a little, but he complained it made him lose his rhythm and besides, he’s gained weight in the last few years and it’s as much as I can do to breathe with him heaving on top of me.

The bed makes 7 distinct types of creaking and squeaking. There is the squeak of headboard against divan base; the creaky leg at the bottom left corner; the groaning creak of the divan base itself and various squeaks from the mattress in response to the motion. The squeaks of the old mattress were familiar friends, but this new mattress plays a different tune in response to our duet. Except it’s not a duet, it’s an inept solo on his part and I am the audience rather than a participant.

One minute and twenty five seconds have now elapsed. The lubrication is not so much due to arousal on my part, but self-preservation. These days he never waits for me to be ready to accept him and even if he did wait there’s little chance of becoming aroused at the prospect of another night of passionless passion.

My ancestresses allegedly lay there and thought of England. For me it is the cracks in the ceiling and the squeak of bedsprings (each enclosed in its own pocket according to the sales blurb). I make a few more encouraging noises and his belly moves slickly on mine as he works up a sweat.

We are running short of milk. I make a mental note to pick some up after work the next day. Some mango juice would be nice and maybe some salad: tomatoes, Iceberg lettuce, cucumber, celery and peppers. I’ll drop my black court shoes off for re-heeling as well. I make a few more noises, increasing the rate to encourage him to his climax. There’s no point prolonging this travesty of lovemaking.

Two minutes and ten seconds into the act. I let my mind wander. Would I achieve the monthly sales targets? Had I submitted the capital expenditure requests in time for the monthly accounts? Would that troublesome supplier deliver parts late again? Had I shipped that consignment to the right address in the USA – the customer had so many shipping addresses it was hard to keep track of what went where.

Almost too late I remember to gasp and groan as though approaching my own climax. The clock on the bedside table is as good as a shuttle launch countdown – fifteen seconds to go … ten seconds to go … I clench my inner muscles – might as well do some pelvic floor exercises - and right on cue he peaks and becomes a dead weight on my ribcage.

Three minutes exactly. After so many years of this charade you could time an egg by him. Give him ten seconds to get his breath back and he’d roll off, roll over and fall asleep snoring. Except this time he doesn’t – for once he looks into my eyes. He must have seen the vacant expression, the emptiness behind my eyes as my body did its matrimonial duty and my mind went elsewhere. Specifically, my mind is tracing the muscles of the big blond Aussie guy on the lathes, wondering if he would make the bedsprings sing a different tune and whether I’d finally get to see something other than the ceiling.

He said nothing about it at the time of course, he just wanted to roll over – facing away from me as always – and fall asleep, having performed his nightly duty with as much finesse and imagination as that other nightly duty of brushing his teeth. But he didn’t forget.

Thus came the challenge the next morning: where were you last night?

Copyright 2008, S Hartwell

“Where were you last night?”

Lately I have noticed her absence during our lovemaking. Not physically, obviously, but mentally. While I am expending my energy, her body responds, but it’s as though her mind is elsewhere entirely.

It wasn’t always like that. In the early days she was as eager and enthusiastic as I, but as the years rolled on she found other things to interest her – her career, her charity committee meetings and the evenings out with her socially inferior friends - and we had less time for each other. Sometimes I wondered if she was seeing another man, if someone else was getting the benefit of her moans and groans of pleasure, but she seemed weary of the whole sex act. These days, sex is just an afterthought, something that happens between brushing our teeth and falling asleep.

Each evening I try to arouse her. Running fingers around her nipples until they stood up like the proverbial chapel hat-pegs. Apart from that, my caresses elicited little response and I even began to wonder if my approaches were welcome. I stoked her belly, teasing her labia and stroking her fur, but wary of touching anything that might be excessively sensitive. I have always considered myself a sensitive lover, responsive to her needs – if only she’d tell me what those were!

It was never right though, at least not after the first heady years. Touch here, don’t touch there, that’s too light, that’s too hard, ouch don’t do that and finally a sort of “get on with it” attitude. Whatever I did she found reason to criticise it until I didn’t know what she wanted and she seemed content to let me “get on with it”. At least her moans of pleasure meant I was doing something right, though it was usually over all too soon.

Finally my fingers explored inside her, not too hard I hoped. She shifted position to let me enter and, though I had envisaged more foreplay, I obliged, entering before I was really ready.

She lay beneath me, an inert lump, barely responsive beyond the moans and gasps. Her mews of pleasure told me at least I was doing something for her. I braced myself on my elbows – I may not be the most inventive lover, but I am considerate. I used to rise up on my hands, but she seems to like the closeness of my chest against her breasts, my mouth against her ear, the heat of my breath on her neck ….

She doesn’t make it easy for me. She doesn’t raise her knees or tilt her pelvis to give me more freedom of movement. The missionary position seems designed to reduce passion by making the angles awkward, but she’s never had the patience to persist with doggy or Viennese oyster or Stagecoach to Lyons or any of those other positions Alex Comfort describes in his Joy of Sex. They take a bit of co-ordinating with regard to height and angle and rhythm and after a few half-hearted attempts it’s missionary or nothing these days.

One thing I know is that, in spite of the missionary position rut (please excuse the pun) and the unadventurous nature of our lovemaking, I turn her on. Her gasps quickly speed up into moans as she approaches her climax. It’s as much as I can do to keep up with her so we both get there simultaneously. The magazines put great store by simultaneous orgasms. I’d happily give her much longer, but once she’s building up to it there’s no holding her back and I just have to hope I can match her.

Finally I feel her muscles spasm and I don’t hold back any longer. Unlike a woman, who can fake it (though I’m certain she isn’t) I can’t easily fake my climax. For a short while, she lies passive beneath me. I am dripping with sweat from the race to climax and can barely support my weight on my elbows any longer. I am, to put it bluntly, knackered.

As soon as the haze has cleared from my eyes and my heart rate has steadied I roll off of her and lie beside her. She lies on her back staring at the ceiling. Maybe she needs time to recover from her own peak. Last night, as we disengaged, I noticed her expression was vacant, her eyes empty. I wondered where her mind has flown off to? As the song says: where do you go to my lovely?

Lately it has become such a thankless task I wonder about an affair. Would she forgive me if I stopped making overtures every night, stopped doing my duty? Would it make her feel less desired? But seeing the emptiness, the lack of spark in her eyes I wonder where her mind has fled to and how things ended up this way.


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