The rotting of summer, or, The Natural Heat of the Woman
The days seemed to melt only into the slender hours of evenings as she skipped along the pavement, sashaying her delicate feet over the cracks as if standing upon an instep of air. People passing seemed to respond intrinsically to her smile – allowing a watery reciprocal of an upturned mouth to which sometimes made her laugh and clasp her hands in a kind of ecstasy.
All the men of the city held her in high regard – that she was a beautiful sweet creature. There was something in her presence which seemed almost rural, as if not capable of being accustomed to the relentless lights and late-night drawls on jazz emerging from cramped corridors in downtown London. It was that type of mystery which people cared for. It was somehow refreshing to the see an untamed red flare beneath the skin, compensating for the heavy powders and sharp rouges of the archetypal high society women. These type of women looked down at little Summer West, some remarked that she was ‘far to American’, despite her being as English as they were. This true shared similarity, along with Summer’s exceptional ability to beguile at least one gentleman per evening, often left her the subject of a perfect, sought-after envy. This generally irritated other women even more.
Ah, yes, little Summer West! Her true escapades are only known to a select view – for she is generally succinct at preserving the most marvellous façade of smiles which extend beyond artificiality. She once told me, a young man of twenty two at the time, that she found me ‘pretty’ and ‘wondered why it is not classed as the suitable provincial adjective for describing men, for I like it oh-so-much!”.
I told her I didn’t know – the answer most men gave.
They were the same words uttered by Edward Flynn, last Friday night – one of the usual young men standing upon a bed of euphemisms and uncontrolled young lust. I can only imagine the strange sensation running through his veins as he watched Summer West – the little girl so many men attempted to get – dissipate in front of him, layer by layer. Then dress went first, but then, and perhaps most crucially, the face. She would peel away the shock of colour across her lids, the thick dark lashes which intensified the pupil beneath, smearing and wiping until all was gone. The lip salve would be swiped away in an instant, whilst Edward’s mouth likely dipped open – watching the for forced form of woman suddenly relax into a bent back and strangely protruding stomach now the corset was peeled away. And she would always sigh and face the men, only her long languorous hair still taped in a bun behind her head, her feet now heavy on the floor and the words thick on her lips –
For we’ve all get cold at some point in ourselves. It’s bittersweet.
Memoirs of a lonely clerk
I don’t know what I’m doing, scarcely conscious as to the reason I am writing this, ink seems to break on the paper as if emerging from an old wound – you could call it loneliness, despite the flushed warm body of another human being lying less than a foot away from me, the languorous odour of sleep still baked into the pillow. She is a beautiful thing – and I do not mean that in the sense of objectification – for this morning seems to surpass human definition, as if everything is somewhat alien. I made coffee as quietly I could – now it collapses to a kind of acid on my tongue. I wonder how our thoughts compare as she pulls the sheet more tightly around her so the a slight pink of pressure surfaces against the skin, whilst I wonder aimlessly into the white walls.
I envy her state of sleep, not really because of the perpetual tiredness – although that could be considered a factor - but because it may stop me envying anything more. I am a dreadful person, although eventually my eyes will truly open with some form of stimulant and I will forget.
I absorbed in envy towards this girl last night, I still am, even just moving the child-like curve of her mouth with lips so full they appeared to be some beautiful casualty of exhaustion. There is an aspect of disturbed beauty only certain faces can perfect.
She talked in a certain way, I think that was it. I remember, even though the thickening vapours of alcohol in the bloodstream and the breath, watching her cross Trafalgar with a precision that was telling, one hand clutching a single silk handkerchief as if were a revelation. A pure brilliant white fluttering against dark hair emerged as if a pre-planned contrast. She had been one of late-arrivals for the tour – tours I lead around London in the hours I can, what can say, it pays the rent – but I was almost stricken as she strode up to me and almost forcibly intercepted my stunned palm. Her hand was so cold and delicate, perhaps with nerves, and her cheeks flushed as if the delicate skin was hiding some grave injury, I almost winced.
“I’m so sorry I’m late,” She gushed “I’ve been having a bit of trouble.”
The content of her speech was thick with a vagueness I typically despise and turn away from, but there was something about the execution of the syllables – almost cruel, and thus close to the literal meaning of the word, which seemed to suspend my mouth open in the urgency of a reply.
“Don’t worry, don’t worry.”
It seemed drawn from me, almost medicinally, from a significantly feeling part of myself I have yet to identify. I had no time then, for I was soon lost beneath the accumulation of tourist traffic - the horrible grating combinations of accents and exclamations, the sickly swell of human sweat abounding air. It was the typical recipe I had grown accustomed to, allowing the familial façade to project from within me , losing any sense of my personal distaste –
“Right, ladies and gentlemen – now for some sightseeing!”
I had not noticed how close her body was to mine, but I felt the very undulations of her breath in my ear as she whispered in a tone dripping with an innocence that was almost suspicious –
“ I don’t want to see sight, sight is the only thing I see.”
I did not ask her what alternative she believed on, like most attempting to survive in the clot of living – I assumed it. I told myself I would let her see the opposite of sight, almost a blindness – the kind of darkness only inherent to familiar rooms, strange hands and human pressure. It was needless to say I invited her home after the tour, almost with a kind of urgency, the lines of my palms seemed creased with an ache I was uncertain of. It was the uncertainty of both or parts which was necessary, it induced darkness. As we tumbled in, the white walls of the flat were empty, the fanged shutters of the blinds allowing lone rays of light to traverse like silken chords in the hurry of people.
And now it is only light which permeates the pillow, seems to sew mocking spiracles within her hair. It was only a night, I guess. But here she is, still bathed in it. But lost in the perfect absence of sight, the absence she so wanted.
My starched suit aches as I pull on my shoes, deducing my threshold of permitted sound from the rise and fall of her breathing. There is a certain precision, like the distinction of the light. It wakes all eventually.