All You Can Leave Behind (by Alice)

        9 0’clock in the morning. Kids are out, at school. Three lovely little imps that as usual have reduced the kitchen as a battlefield, managing to spill milk and orange juice all over and leaving sticky traces of jam everywhere. Though you smile remembering them enthusing in their fanciful childish talks. Suddenly you hear Sarah, the four-months-old little queen who rules the house, crying. But she stops immediately, as she does always when someone picks her up. After a few minutes someone appears in the doorway, “Morning Alice… God what a mess!” Tousled hair and a drowsy face, Julia stares at the disaster, holding the little girl in her arms. “Morning dear, come and sit and have your tea, don’t worry I’ll see to tidy up later…” She sits and you pour her a cup of tea. She says, “You’re really spoiling me, aren’t you ? I don’t know how I’d manage without you, with the house, the kids and the baby and Robert always abroad for work… I’ll never be able to reward you properly for your help and company…” Before you can say anything she’s finished her tea and she stands up, saying she’s going to get dressed. You smile while you watch her walking out the room, thinking no Julia, *I* will never be able to thank and reward you properly for what you did for me. Julia, so much more then a good friend. Asking you to go and live with her and her family six months ago, taking you away from that little *nowhere* in which you were living and where the air had become unbreathable, she gave you the chance to start again, to look to the future without anguish…
  
     As usual to recall what you’ve left behind causes you a lump in your throat… last year, a year you’d rather obliterate from your mind… and partially you’ve done that… you losing your work, unsuccessful searching for another, all the financial troubles that that gave you, the eviction… memories fading away day by day. There’s still something – the worst – you can’t. Samuel. Your painful, complicated two years story. The horrible way in which it all ended up. That night. The fear and the pain. The trial. People pointing at you in the street. That night…
  
     Coming back in the kitchen Julia finds you as petrified, leaning against the wall, your eyes staring at he void. She embraces you, starts to handle you as she does with her baby and whispers, “Still hurting so bad, isn’t it?”. No need to say what, you both know what she’s talking about. “I’m so sick, tired. I fear that it won’t never go away”, you say, a sound of tears in your voice. But your eyes are dry. You’ve not been able to cry. Since… 
        In the afternoon, you head to the bookshop in which you’re working part-time. Rose, the owner, is an old friend of Julie and she’s become also a friend of yours. Hyperactive, talkative, a heart of gold, one can do nothing but love her. You enjoy working with her and you love that cute, old shop… As soon as you get in, Rose assails you with a torrent of words, as usual. Today, though, she seems much more excited then ever. “Hello sweetie… I must tell you this very moment, I can’t believe it myself… oh god you don’t know who passed that door yesterday, before I went home. Guess! No you can’t barely imagine! Oh me myself I can’t believe it! Think it’s been a daydream or something you don’t know…”
“Rose, please calm down and get your breath back”, you interrupt her laughing. “At this rate I will never know. Tell me, who was it then?”
“*Drumroll*… the one and only James Dream Bradfield!” she says, arms open, posing as she was introducing someone on a stage. “James who?” you mock. Your unconditional love for the Manics has been the strongest point of contact between you and her. “No use trying to take the piss, babe” she says, sticking her tongue out “I know you fancy him as much as me and that if you’d been here you’d have drooled as much as I did… god I’ve never been so close to him in all this years! It was so hard to behave and not grab him… And he’s really nice and cleaver and he said I am too! And he said he loves my shop, indeed he said he likes MY shop and he bought a dozen books and…” “So he was out for a bit of slumming yesterday, then?” you interrupt her with an ironic voice “Slum… what? What’s the matter with you, Alice? Another of your *all men are scum* days today?”. She knows something about the troubles you had. Not everything though. “C’mon, Alice he’s not *a* man…he’s JAMES! Anyway you’ll find out by yourself how *special* he is… as I was saying before you interrupted me, he said he would have come back… today!”. You shrug and try to distract her from the matter by asking if she’s thought what to give Julia for her birthday next week and it works ‘cos she grins grasping a book off a shelf and shows it to you. “I was wondering…do you think she’d like this?”. You look at the book and burst into laughing “god Rose I don’t know…*a richly colour illustrated new edition of the Kamasutra*…you naughty girl!” You both are laughing your head out, trying to guess if she would like it more then Robert would and making silly comments about the pictures. Suddenly Rose stops laughing, looks at the doors which are behind you and says, “OH MY GOD…here he comes!”. You turn yourself to face the door. A man is walking in and as soon as you realize he’s James your heart start beating fast…you’ve never got the chance to meet him, not even at a sign-in and, though the indifference you were pretending with Rose, you feel really excited…
  
He’s always been your dream man, you had thousands of his pics on your bedroom walls… He comes close, smiling, and greets Rose, shaking hands with her then turns to you. Rose introduces you “James, this is Alice, my precious collaborator here and my really good friend”. As your hand touch his you feel a wave of electricity running through your spin. Your eyes are chained to those wonderful deep dark eyes…”I’m really pleased to meet you, Mr Bradfield” you manage to say, trying to look as calm as you can.
“And I’m really really pleased to meet you, but please call me James…”. You eyes are still fixed in his and you think that, though he’s smiling, there’s a deep sadness in them, a sadness he can’t hide completely…he’s gorgeous and you can’t turn you eyes away from his face and the attraction might be reciprocal ‘cos he’s still holding your hand, looking at you with a meaningfully amazed expression on his face. Then he glances at the book you still holding in your hand and his kind smile turns into a cheeky, amused grin and he says “Highly entertaining book, isn’t it? And educational too!”. He giggles, Rose starts giggling too. But you feel something breaking inside, the smile disappears from you face, you draw back your hand from his abruptly and your look become glacial. You’ve never been shy talking and joking about sex with men before what happened last year, and probably in the past you would have replied with a spicy witty remark, but now even James’ quite innocuous, cheerful hint makes you feel bad. He’s noticed ‘cos he looks at you embarrassed and sorry, runs his hand across his hair several times and starts to apologise “I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you…just a f**king stupid joke, please…”
“Never mind” you interrupt him with a cold voice. Then you throw the book on the counter, grasp your bag and say, “Sorry Rose I have to go. I forgot I promised Julia to go and do some shopping”. Then you add, “It was really a pleasure…*Mr Bradfield*” and you rush out…
  
     In the evening, you’ve helped Julia to put the kids to bed. After wandering for hours in the afternoon you’ve come home looking quite upset. You can’t hide anything to her so you told her what happened at the shop…James, his words, your exaggerated reaction…she said “I’m really worried , now Alice…I’ve tried to help you as much as I could, but now I think you should start a therapy or something…you just can’t go on like this forever…you must convince yourself that *that* is gone, that not all men are like that…that beast, that f**king son of a bitch…” She can’t even pronounce Samuel’s name. “Alice, you know how much I care…and I think that now is time for you to start living again for real…” You reply that you are fine like this that you can perfectly live without a man… and another of your endless discussions begin again. Rose has phoned three times already, worried for you, telling you that your reaction has left James really upset and sorry, that he’s asked her insistently how to contact you to apologise and that she *had to* give him your phone number and you had a little argument with her about this ‘cos you said you didn’t allow her to do anything like that…So when the phone rings again you ask Julia to answer, and when she calls you telling you it’s James you refuse to speak with him and go to your room. Though you can’t help yourself remembering how gorgeous he look, his eyes, the sadness deep inside them, his sweet smile… but you can’t do without your sleeping pills to keep nightmares away and you fall into a dreamless sleep.
  
     Next morning, a courier small packet for you. A book. The sender is James. At first you’re tempted to throw the packet away without opening. A book? That book? How dare he? But then you realize that this might be another ‘cos it’s smaller then that one, so you open the packet. It’s a collection of English translated Englyns, those short, beautiful, intense Welsh poems you like so much…there’s an hand-written note inside “Someone else’s better words to try and obliterate my stupid ones. Englyns should be read aloud. Please allow me to do that for you tonight. 9 o’clock at “XXX. Phone me. My numbers are…Love James. PS Let the answer be yes. Please”.
  
     When you reach the little cute restaurant in the evening you’re in a weird mood. You phoned James late in the afternoon, after both Julia and Rose had driven you mad, trying to convince you. You were doubtful, not because of James – that really sweet gesture, that book of poetry he sent you has moved you and fully convinced you he’s absolutely special – but because of your bad behaviour… But he sounded so really pleased when he answered the phone, so deeply stirred that all has become easy and you accepted to meet him in the evening. He’s sent you a hired car ‘cos he was busy doing an interview but promised to meet you at the restaurant in time. When you get into the place though he’s there already, waiting at the bar. He walks toward you and takes your hand, smiling. Your heart is beating so fast and hard you think that everyone in the room might hear it. To try and regain a bit of control you say, “Was that interview shorter then you thought, then?” He giggles, “I made that shorter I guess… think I’ve annoyed that journalist massively by looking at my watch every ten seconds so we stopped earlier then it was planned…I didn’t want to be late…to disappoint you again”. You think God, this is not happening to me. This is not for real. Please don’t wake me up. But his hand that keeps yours, leading you to the table reserved for you two, tells you that it’s not a dream. He’s there with you for real, telling you he was yearning to meet you, that he’s really sorry for the bad start at the book shop…you apologise for your exaggerate reaction then you start to talk about a lot of things, books and music and dogs and… the food is delicious, the fresh white wine too, he’s brilliant and fun, clowning a bit to make you laugh ‘cos he says he loves to hear you laughing…you start to flirt openly, you’re so relaxed, never felt so good…someone discretely coughing brings you back to reality. There’s a waiter beside your table saying, “Excuse me, closing time, I’m afraid”. You realize that the restaurant is empty; everyone’s gone except you. You get out. While waiting to your taxi you say, “ I brought the book you sent me… but now I’m a bit disappointed ‘cos you promised to read some verse aloud for me and you didn’t…” He smiles shyly and says, “Oh, but I didn’t mean in the restaurant…nahh, I’m too shy for that…I thought about a quieter place… my place, for example” and he swallows and looks at you a bit worried again, as he was expecting another outburst of rage from you. But that is exactly what you were waiting to hear so you say, “I think your place will be perfect”.
  
     You’ve reached his house, he’s poured himself a whisky but you’ve refused one. He’s put a CD on… sweet soul ballads, ‘cos you’ve told him you love that old stuff… the book of poetry forgotten in your bag, you start to dance alone following the music, closing your eyes… you feel him close to you, whispering, “Would you like to dance with me?”. You nod affirmatively and he holds you in his arms. You lean your head on his shoulder and you dance together for a while. Then you look at him and lose yourself in his eyes again. His mouth searches for yours. And you respond to his sweet kiss. Soon his tongue become more demanding, he holds you tighter, running his hand over your back, you feel them hot through the material of your dress… something clicks again in your brain… a wrong switch… must’ve been the slight taste of whisky in his mouth… or feeling his hard on pressed against you… or his hands trying to unzip your dress…You start shivering and roughly push him away. He looks at you stunned then says, “What’s wrong? I thought you wanted it as much as me… but if you don’t feel like it that’s ok, maybe I was going too fast…don’t want to put any pressure on you…” You stutter “No…it’s…it’s not you…it’s me…there must be something…something wrong…in me…I can’t sleep with you…can’t with anyone…I’m better go home now…sorry” and you head to the door. In a second he’s close to you, holding you and whispering, “Please don’t go…there’s nothing wrong with you, babe. But there must be something terrible in your past, someone must’ve hurt you horribly… Am I wrong?” You look at him stunned, how could he…? You’re sure that neither Julie nor Rose have told him anything…Then you understand. The deep sadness in his eyes… this man knows what suffering is, what pain is, his heart must be crossed by scares even wider and deeper then yours, so he can understand…his eyes that now are looking at you, begging you to trust him, telling you can rely on him… you let him lead you to the sofa and you both sit down. He says “If you want to tell me about that I’m here for you…but if it’s something that still hurts you so bad that you can’t, it doesn’t matter…I can wait. I have lot of time…*we* will have loads of time…if only you won’t keep me away from your life”.
“Oh, I won’t”, you say ”and I want to tell you all… but hold me, please…” He embraces you and you and you cling to him and start to recall…
  
     “Since last year I had a boyfriend, Samuel. We’d been together for two years or such. It’s never been easy to deal with him ‘cos he was really rough…he thought nothing to slap me when I *didn’t behave*…me stupid, I thought I could make him change… but then I reached a point I couldn’t stand that anymore, all the violence, the way in which he was treating me and I said to him that it was over. He phoned me the day after, crying, saying he couldn’t live without me and all that sort of things… he asked me to meet him, just one more time he said, to sort things out… and I made the biggest mistake of my life…I agreed to meet him at my place in the evening. When I opened the door and let him in, he was deadly drunk and he started to smash up everything, abusing me… then he started to hit me, furiously…I felt on the floor and he continued to hit me…kicks and punches all over…I thought he was going to kill me…but he didn’t…he…he raped me instead and left me unconscious on that floor… Neighbours called the ambulance… When I was discharged from the hospital there was the trial…he had money and a really good lawyer…they appealed for a momentary insanity due to alcohol… got a few months…people pointed at me in the streets, back home…a small village… they said I asked for it… and I was so tired, tried to kill myself… then Julia brought me here with her… and that’s it…”
       
 It’s been like a catharsis, you’ve been like disconnected, as you were talking about someone else. James didn’t interrupt you at all, holding you and caressing your hair. Now he hisses, “Wish I could have that beast at my mercy for a while”. You look at him. There so much hate into his eyes that you stare at him with a scared face. He notices your expression and his furious look turns into a sweet, sorrowful one. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have… it’s just that’s been so hard listening to you telling those things and feeling so f**king powerless…” He cups your cheeks with his hands and says, “I can’t do anything to change the past…but I promise I’ll do everything to help you to forget that”. You’ve never felt like this before, so safe in his arms when he was holding you, so loved… tears start rolling down your face, all the tears you’ve not been able to cry since that night…he holds you again, rocking you sweetly, caressing your hair then he starts to kiss your face, drying your tears… your mouth searches for his, salty taste on his lips, your finger running through his hair… you want him now, you’re sure you won’t stop him.
  
     He stops the kiss and stands up, pulling you by the hands and making you do the same. His hands reach your back once again and start to unzip you dress. He’s looking into your eyes as asking for permission. You smile and start to unbutton his shirt. You undress each other slowly, always keeping eye contact. When you are both naked you start to explore each other’s body, with slow, sweet caresses… his hands on your neck your breasts, your hips… you feel your blood running faster and faster, your frozen senses awakening… your hands on his broad shoulders, his chest, his belly… his huge cock, hard and hot. You run your hand over it, he shut his eyes…he pulls you closer and kisses you, then makes you lay down on the sofa. He lays upon you and says, “I want to kiss and lick away all the pain and fear, baby…no matter how long it will take, I want to heal every single cell of your body”. He kisses your face again all over, searches for your mouth, his tongue so hot and sweet, you respond to his kisses as if your life depended on it. You know your new life will depend on him… Hot, sweet, slow kisses on your neck, your breast, your nipples… you’re moaning and panting, it’s never been like this… he kisses and licks his way down your body, doesn’t forget a single inch of your skin down to your feet and up again…your eyes are closed, you feel him opening your legs slowly, kissing the inner part of your tights…his mouth on your sex, his tongue… oh his tongue is so sweet, licking your clit, probing into you… your mind flies away again, to another place again but this time it’s heaven… Your hands on his head, fingers running through his hair, pushing your hips upward, following the rhythm of his tongue which is digging deeper and deeper….you scream as you cum, grasping his hair. He’s on top of you now and you look at him smiling. He smiles back, hair tousled and sweaty. You cup his head and pull it closer to yours. Another sweet long hot kiss…you feel his cock hard and hot pulsate slowly against your body… your hand reaches it and you guide him into you…he fills you completely, an amazing sensation that leaves you breathless… he starts to move inside of you slowly at first and you wrap your legs around his hips…he bends his head backward eyes shut, mouth half-open, moaning loud as he thrusts faster and faster…you’ve never believed such an intense pleasure could exist, and it’s growing and growing and growing… and then an overwhelming, amazing orgasm hits you and you scream his name, arching your back and at that very moment you feel him cuming too, hot spurts inside you, with a loud groan, before collapsing on top of you…
  
     Next morning. You wake up in his bed. The night before, after that first time, he lifted you up from the sofa and carried you to his bedroom. And he made love to you again and again and again till you were both exhausted and fell asleep, clinging to each other. You look at him sleeping, so vulnerable and strong at the same time… The past is gone. Forever. Your wonderful present is here. Your whole world is here, sleeping beside you. Your future.