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Authors: Florence Dugas

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Notes

1.The only person who inadvertently profited from the spectacle of Florence's marked skin was a friend of mine staying the night with her. Without it being an accident—that is to say, very intentionally—Florence paraded about nearly naked the following morning when she emerged from the shower. My friend was so horrified she was at first unable to say a word; then she was so fascinated that she bombarded her with questions on who, why, how, and if it hurt. She touched each one of the welts, and neither one of them dared to say how excited she was. When Florence told me about the scene, it pleased me a great deal.

2.Nathalie usually wore very sophisticated Italian lingerie, mixing the pieces, like a very fitted brassiere, or a bodysuit sheathing her bust in complicated lacework, with a negligible pair of panties—a mere formality of satin. When we appeared astonished at these expensive fripperies, she laughed and offered to give them to Florence to make her shut up. Now that she is no longer with us, I often ask Florence to wear these silk souvenirs for me, and for her—as if we could resuscitate her in an imperfect mirror.

3.Everyone knows, obviously, that there is something phallic in the lens of a camera—especially when, if you're using a zoom, it suddenly lengthens toward the object of its desire. There is no doubt that photography was a substitute for Florence. As for me, my fascination with photography was more complicated. Why had I always associated it with the taste I had for a woman's ass—as if I only dared to be homosexual with women?

4.Nathalie was left-handed, and as soon as they were intertwined, it was like seeing a doubled image, as if one were approaching the other from the other side of a mirror.

5.As long as Florence thinks of Nathalie in the present tense, she is still with us. Nathalie is in her, in her head, her heart, her belly, like an immortal fetus one is never rid of. She is there, at night, between her empty hands. She skims over her skin, always, the phantom vessel of her memory. She is in the least of her silences. And sometimes, in mine.

 

Chapter V

November, Continuation

J. P. would see me sometimes, either in order to fuck me or to work with me on the Sophocles text, as I have already said.

“Why Sophocles?” he asked, and never, “Why Oedipus?” "Because Cocteau is too simple and Seneca too dark. Sophocles is a pure tragedy, one of misunderstanding and recognition—but Aristotle said that well before I did."

He would see her, too, but I heard only bits and pieces of what happened.
1

I had given her a set of keys, telling her she could come and go as she liked. She would drop by, sometimes between classes, whether I were there or not.

I would find a rose in a metal vase, an open book on the bed, or simply the unreadable imprint of her body on the comforter. Or else I would be there, and she would come by fresh from the rain and kiss me, or ask me sometimes, in very crude terms, to make her come. Standing before me, she would lift her skirt. I would drop to my knees, take off her underwear (when she was wearing any), and eat out her ass. Very quickly her cunt would weep with pleasure, and I would make her come, my thumb bored deep in her vagina, my fingers on her clitoris, my tongue
buried in her asshole. She would have strong anal contractions that would push me out and suck me in by turns. Then she would leave as quickly as she had arrived.

She would sometimes disappear for a whole week, and no one would run into her. Then she would show up one morning, her hands full of croissants.

"Your hair smells of the sea," I said to her one day. "Really? It's possible."
And I never knew more than that.

Twice she arrived very late. The first time, she forced herself not to wake me—the discreet princess who did not want to disturb her sleeping beauty. I had fallen asleep while reading, and by the light of the reading lamp, through the hypocritical filter of my eyelashes, I watched her undress in silence and slide in next to me. Taking off her skirt and sweater, she had the grace of a cat. There was a movement in her arms I always found captivating because each time her breasts seemed to burst forth like snow.

This time, in the uncertain light, I thought I had not seen correctly. But when she leaned forward to undo the straps of her shoes, I realized I had not been wrong: she had been beaten on the breasts with a brutality I had never dared. Deep horizontal stripes, the proof that someone had slept with her before beating her. One nipple, darkened with blood, was nearly torn off. The creases of scars, the rectitude of gashes, evoked the imprint of a hard lash: a riding whip, perhaps.

She laid down next to me and kissed me lightly on the temple. The instant afterwards, she was asleep. For a long time I remained awake with my nightmares.

She did not try to hide the marks the next morning. "What? Oh, that. Who did it? It's not important." But ten minutes later, I surprised her in the bathroom looking in the mirror with an evident satisfaction at the gouges on her skin, touching the swellings of her laminated flesh with her fingertips.

I knew who did it when, three days later, J. P. treated me in the same manner. But with me, he took care to tie me up head-to-toe first. I cried out; I begged like a madwoman for him to stop. He struck me twelve times, very hard. Then he came in my mouth. He loved that—after he had made me cry, he loved giving me his cock to suck, knowing I was half strangled, between his dick gagging me and my nose stopped up with tears.

One afternoon...

I needed her so much, had so much hoped she would come by that I leapt upon her as soon as she entered and, laughing, she let herself fall to the bed. I lifted her skirt, took off her underwear with an authoritative movement...

The black lace was sticky with fresh sperm, as were her sex and asshole. I lifted my head.

"Who was it?" I asked.

"J. P.," she said. "At school. On a table, between classes. Without even locking the door."

He had once taken me the same way, stretched me out upon a desk, my ankles around his shoulders, my skirt hiked up to my waist, my panties hanging at half-mast from the heel of my sandal—and him passing, with an insouciant air, from my cunt to my asshole. He did it often, and each time I would try to guess where he would come, even tried to provoke him, through the contractions of my sphincter, the suction of my cunt, to forbid him from moving from one to the other, from making me pine even longer. Come where you want to, but come!

When Nathalie opened her thighs before me, I had the impression he had found the strength to ejaculate in both her cunt and her ass.

I slapped her on principle, then was immediately ashamed, asked her to forgive me, took her in my arms...

That was one of the only times she took power, briefly. She sat astride me, squeezing my face between her thighs, and made me lick her sex and ass for a long time, telling me to miss
nothing, to forget nothing, to bury my tongue in her as far as it would go. Her cunt tasted like seaweed.

***

During this period, I whip her nearly every day. Why, then, do I think I didn't want to kill her? I would like to kill her; I could die from wanting to kill her so badly.

***

Moments like these were a constant with Nathalie, and became more and more marked as we neared the end: moments when I would confusedly sense the end coming without having decided anything. It was like hearing a blues fragment that echoes on the last note and refuses to let itself be reduced to silence.

The blows, the humiliations, even the tortures I made her suffer, were for her, each time, new opportunities to be more tender, more sweet. She was my negative reflection, or rather, the positive reflection of the negative image I had of myself. The whip revolted me. My whole body rebelled against the blows, yet seemed to ask for more, as if to punish me for an ancient rebellion of uncertain origin. Nathalie, however, seemed to grow more perfect under the whip, as a river stone will be slowly polished until it arrives at its definitive form—a pure oval, a grain of sand, nothingness. Her torn flesh would bleed, and she would keep that half-smile, completely interior, that fourteenth-century Italian painters tacked on the faces of their martyred saints. I only struck her harder; I only loved her more; and I hated myself for loving her so, yet tearing her apart.

***

"You know," she begins, "for a while now I have been studying the Way of the Body as a Japanese scholar might the Way of
Wisdom or the Way of Tea: in order to isolate myself. At the end of all perfection, there is solitude and night. Others live in order to be filled: with love, money, alcohol, memories, and so forth. I live to be emptied. When I feel men come in me, when I feel them both proud and ashamed of having filled me with a tea-spoonful of sperm, I feel myself grow emptier each time, until I become almost a perfect hollow, a champagne glass, an exquisite piece of porcelain, nearly immaterial. What you call my masochism, because there is no other word for it, ends up engulfing me, relieves me of the condition of being."

We have drunk a great deal. Her voice, marked by that drowsy drunkenness that precedes sleep, is of a frightening whiteness.

"J. P. whips you—he tells me so," she continues. "And you also beat me. But they aren't the same. You look for yourself in the pain, but I like it for what it takes away from me: my skin, desires, dreams. To no longer be only flesh, because flesh is nothing. Pain puts me somewhere else. Everything becomes blurred. Sometimes there is even a moment—maybe you have noticed this—when the pain itself fades away. I become plea- sure, pure pleasure—in other words, nothing."

"What about us?" I ask after a short silence.

"You mean because I say I love you? With you, I give you all of myself, my body, my cries, my tears, because I don't care about them. I give you everything I don't want. That's the para- dox, you see: at the end of the Way of the Body, the body is no longer there. Only the egotistical sensation of emptiness remains. It's not for you that I let your fingers bury themselves in me, not for you that I touch you. I could just as well touch a statue. That would be less involving, that's all. Less varied. Marble can be learned—slowly, but nonetheless learned. A body is a composite of metamorphoses, and with each gesture, at every instant, you have to be attentive to the modifications of the body of the other, to its undulations, its flights..."

"So, not with me more than J. P.?"
"You a little less than he. J. P. is profoundly egotistical; he
lives in a state of self-absorption you're still far from. He is already nearly completely empty. Maybe he has always been: it's a gift."

"Okay. And what will you do when you are finally a master in your Way?"

"I will kill myself," she says. "Death will be just a completion. The perfection of my annihilation. Nothing new: an organ note."

She brings the bottle of champagne to the foot of the bed and, her mouth open, empties the last drops onto her tongue. I lean over and manage to steal several of these last tears from her mouth. She lets herself be kissed with compliance, but without passion. Am I really nothing more than one of the many tongues that have come to gather honey from hers?

"There's no more champagne," she murmurs.

She throws the bottle against the wall with a violence I never would have suspected. The glass explodes, then falls to the floor.

I look at her. She is completely drunk, lying down, her eyes closed.

Lose her? No. I don't want to lose her. I don't want to.

She turns on her other side. The mass of her long curly hair consumes her face. I look at her for a long time, in the void.

I shiver. I take a bedspread and cover her up again. I get up, telephone J. P. "Yes," he says. I take a shower, dress, and go out.
2

Horizontal delirium. Drunk with blows.

"Keep it," he says, giving me the whip. It is a long bullwhip1, very fine, made of black lambskin. At the end, a short nylon tip that ends in a knot. "Go home," he says. "I have work to do."

Notes

1.Their relations were so completely dual that as soon as we three got together, which happened rarely, the silent protocol stipulated that Florence alone had the right to beat Nathalie, and that I would never whip Florence in front of her. However, as soon as I was alone with one or the other of them, I was exclusively the master of the game. I treated them like twin sisters in masochism, without seeing very well what was specific to either one of them.

2.I know that in writing these lines Florence re-experiences her former sensations, as when she takes the same streets, or rides the elevator up to my place, knowing that in the moments to come she will be a pure wellspring of cries, and that she will leave with her buttocks on fire. Up to my door and beyond it, she could have always returned untouched, but she rang, entering as if for a doctor's appointment. She would come by on a whim, silently imploring her ration of pain.

 

Chapter VI

December

“The
two sexes are perpetually at odds," as the saying goes.

There is such a difference between how men and women make love. A woman is opened, and she opens you. Each time I am under Nathalie's mouth and fingers, I have the impression of unfolding, as a Chinese paper flower unfolds when thrown in water. I give of myself. Pleasure dilates me.

With a man, it's not the same. Pleasure contracts me. It gags me, plugs me up, shuts me up, closes me. When a cock plunges in, a door closes.

Not that the sensation is unpleasant, since there is also pleasure there. But the meaning is different. There is no competition with Nathalie: just an understanding, a marvelous understanding. With J. P., I know I am going to end up broken, torn to pieces. I resist as much as I can, but pain and fear end up carrying the day, always. Whereas I leave Nathalie's arms more broken, perhaps, but more whole each time.

I never really knew the degree to which she could be opened. I am neither petite nor small-boned, and my wrists are, shall we say, a tad lacking in finesse. But that evening, I fuck her like a
man, with my hands, and she opens up for me better than she would have for a man. My whole hand is engulfed by her sex; I make a fist inside her, then pull it out. "It's like a baby's head," she says, and she bites my lip very hard as she kisses me. I also bury my hand in her ass (with more ease, besides), go up to the middle of my forearm, my fingers digging into the depths of her belly, feel the terrible contractions of her anus around my arm as I masturbate her at the same time. Fist-fucking, as gay men say...

Apparently, the most painful part is when I pull out my hand after she comes.

She grabs my wrist and lengthily, lovingly, sucks each one of my grimy fingers.'

"Who taught you to open up like that, Nathalie?" She drags dreamily on her cigarette, leans toward me, and exhales the smoke on my breasts. "You did," she says, laughing. "Stop—"

"It's true," she says. "No man has ever penetrated me like you."

"Have there been many?" "Men? A fair number, yes." "How many?" "I don't know." "How many?"

"I don't know for sure. One day, when I was seventeen, I was recruited as a 'hostess' for a party organized by the Jaguar-France Club.

"All those obsessed aficionados of beautiful engines, at Bagatelle. There was a pavilion with champagne and petits fours, and behind it thirty or forty models of Jaguars glistened under the moonlight. We were having a marvelous spring.

"The evening dragged on, extended by alcohol. Jaguar was paying, and the company was full of Brits being snobby about
the older single malts and the relative merits of the Highlands versus Islay. I may appear pretty knowledgeable to you, but I learned a lot that night. In short, who knows how it happened? You know how I am when I drink! I only remember that at a given moment, I was lying on the cold and immense hood of a black Jaguar E-type. I was completely naked—and several—the majority, no doubt—of the guys who were there had fucked me in one way or another." "All of them?"

"I don't know. A lot of them. One, whether because he couldn't get it up or because he thought it was a better idea, grabbed a Jaguar statuette—the totem of the evening. It was on a table. It was much bigger than the ones you see on the hoods of cars. He fucked me with it—the front paws and the metal head, round and icy, maybe three times the size of a man's cock, were buried in my cunt. I screamed. He let go, and the statue, which was very heavy, fell out, though it still hung from me by the claws. Somebody else came along and tried to fuck my ass, but the head of the Jaguar took up all the room."

"Lucky for you it wasn't the Rolls Royce Club!" I grimaced.
But the image of the statue bumping between her thighs
was beginning to hypnotize me.
"Very funny," she said. "Afterwards, some of them caught
all the sperm dribbling out of my cunt with a tablespoon and gave it to me to drink. Then I had another glass of Scotch."

I took a deep breath.
"And how was it?"
"Salty," she said, laughing. "Don't you find it salty?" I evaded the question. "Nathalie?"
"Yes?"

"What do you like best, when you make love?" "What do I like best? What all my lovers like, with me. You know me by heart, right?"

"Truer words were never spoken."

"Then tell me: what do my lovers see, above everything else, in me? What are the alpha and the omega of my body?"

I didn't need to answer her. A thousand times I had told her that I loved her buttocks, which were like a marvelous drop of water suspended miraculously under a stem.

"From the beginning," she continued, since I hadn't said anything. "From the beginning. I was young, there was a prof I adored—well, finally, I think, it comes down to the same thing, but in the end, I resolved to seduce him. And it really wasn't too difficult! Anyway, one Wednesday afternoon, when school was out, I found myself at his place, my heart beating. He kissed me, took my clothes off, caressed me a lot, fucked me up the ass a lot. And nothing else happened. For the whole of our affair (two years, maybe), he never took me otherwise.

"Oh! I almost forgot: he also spanked me, from the beginning. The first time he penetrated my ass, it hurt just a little bit—just long enough for me to ask what I had gotten myself into. Then he touched me, tamed me—and spanked me, hard. He penetrated me again, and fucked me for a long time, all the while caressing me. I came, and I had that marvelous feeling you have when it's somebody else who makes you come; plus, it's a bonus when you come with a cock planted in you, to the depths, and not as your mother said you should."

Her eyes took on a singular cast whenever she mentioned her mother.

"Afterwards, it became like a game, a rite. He would spank me—with his hand, or belt, sometimes—then he would fuck me up the ass, and I would come. It became automatic: I was trained to come like that. My ass would be bare, and I would be lying on my stomach, or across his knees, already wet. And when I felt the tip of his cock push against my 'rosebud,' as the poets say, I would already be on the brink of orgasm. He would fuck me while he jerked me off, I would come, and only afterwards would he ejaculate. The majority of the time, I was already so hot, so beside myself, that I did not feel the sperm flow into me. I only knew he had come because he was buried all the way inside me but not moving, and because my anus was palpitating around a cock that was slowly getting soft."

(I had never known anyone who used with so much, nearly naive ease the words most inflammatory to the imagination.) "So who took your virginity?"

"A girl. Strange, no? A year and a half later, during the summer. She was the first woman who ever seduced me. She did it with her fingers. God, how I bled!"

"And since then?"

"Since then, I don't know how many there have been. More men than women, in any case. It's easier. However...I like men, but I love only women. Anyway, you know what I mean."

"No," I say, kissing her.

When we kissed, she was always the girl, and her hips enfolded mine with a moist warmth that made me feel faint.

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