I don’t know Sommer Marsden. I mean, I know her writing – if you’re into erotica, believe me, you know her writing – but beyond that she’s just someone on my Twitter feed, whose posts I occasionally star. Then I saw this. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and sometimes, even if it’s not going to save the world, it’s worth zero-ing in on those people and doing what you can to help. Here’s my entry for A Snog for Sommer: I hope better times are just around the corner.
“Kiss me here.”
I waited for the accompanying picture to download, my fingers drumming impatiently on the bar. Neck? Tits? Inner thigh? I didn’t care – I wanted all of it. All of her.
To call it romance would be a stretch. Indulgence, perhaps: two adults who should know better, and whose jobs, kids and history were testament to that. But feelings have a funny way of gnawing away at you. It’s like a candle burning slowly through a rope: hours, months, years and then BOOM, the whole lot comes crashing down on your head.
Unfinished business, that’s how I saw it. The girl who got away. My one true love. As for her…well, I think it was mainly boredom, if I’m honest. Two kids, a husband who worked in the City, and the realisation that things were better back then. No, not better, but certainly easier, and more fun. Carefree. Yes, that was it.
Learning each other at 18 was a slow, shy, hesitant process. At 33, there was no shyness; no hesitation. We crashed together hard, and each bruise was a physical reminder of the simple, uncomplicated goodness we’d found; a sly, smug badge of honour – not an emotional scab, to pick at till it leaves a scar.
She had her life and I had mine. I knew which box I belonged in. ‘Fond memories’, that’s what it said on my label. Or maybe ‘escape’. Either way, it was temporary. I was fun, and liberating, and maybe even necessary, but I wasn’t ‘home’.
Still, there I was, in a bar near the hotel, waiting for her train to arrive. One weekend, that’s what we’d promised each other. No more, no less. He’d taken their kids to his parents’; I was ‘at a conference’ and not sure I even needed to bother with the lie. No more lunchtime quickies, no more guilty weeknight lies. One proper weekend together, and then we were done.
Pixels slowly coalesced into something – no, somewhere – I recognised. Of course.
Summer, 1999. The sharp, stark, busy sunlight of a Saturday afternoon, after the soporific haze of the cinema. Only the movie wasn’t soporific at all. It was sexy and smart; adult, in a way that we weren’t, but so desperately wanted to be. It sparked something in us that had been simmering for weeks. Shorted out the sensible, A-grade parts of our brains, and melted the bits of us that said ‘no’, or ‘not yet’.
We were almost back at her car when I pulled her in close, her eyes suddenly forced to look up into mine. The air was still and heavy, but I felt light, lighter than I ever had before. Or maybe since. My lips met hers, just as they thrust up to claim me. No foreplay; no more cautious James, hesitant Rose. Passion, in a way that redefined the word for me, and the knowledge that her lips were transforming my view on the world, from the inside out.
When we finally broke apart, giddy and reeling, I looked up in delight at the willow tree above our heads (if only to blur out the cars and the concrete). Watched it bend and bow toward us, in silent salute.
I knew I’d never forget it.
The willow tree above our heads. Yes.
Of course we weren’t done.