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Authors: Florence Dugas

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BOOK: Dolorosa Soror
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He was holding in his hand a sort of small bulb at the tip of which shone a needle. He pushed on a button. In three seconds, the needle was red hot.

I leaned towards the executioner: "Pierce both breasts, please. Just behind the nipple."

Nathalie started; the man hesitated. I slapped her gently. She quieted herself.

The salesman passed a soaked cotton over her breasts, and her nipples hardened in front of us.

"That will make it easier," he said. "Keep very still, miss."

There was a slight scorching smell. An odor vaguely like grilled pork mixed with the smell of alcohol.

"If you want, you can install the rings immediately," he said.
I had foreseen this. I took out of my purse two gold rings,
about three quarters of an inch in diameter. I hoped to make the
nipple stretch, but didn't want to have the metal take up too much space.

"Put these in," I said.
His dark fingers touching her white breasts looked obscene. With my fingertips I played with these new ornaments.

Nathalie had not stopped looking at me.
"Get up," I ordered. "Lift your skirt. What do you have on
underneath? Take off those tights; the cold is no excuse for parading about like that. Your underwear, too. Good. Sit back down. Lean back more. Put your thighs against the armrests. That's good, my beauty. My beautiful girl."

The man waited, frozen with excitement, his eyes riveted on Nathalie's shaved sex. I leaned forward, spread her labia and exposed her clitoris, then pressed my finger there.

"Pierce her here," I said.

He got on his knees between her spread thighs, his cotton in one hand, the red needle in the other. Nathalie did not stop staring at me. Suddenly a tear appeared at the corner of her eye. She made no move to dry it.

"I don't want to use alcohol there," said the man. "She's going to scream."

"But no," I said, "of course she isn't going to scream. You won't scream, isn't that right?"

She had a sort of spasm, then breathed openmouthed, like a fish, when the guy passed his cotton over the delicate mucous membranes. She shuddered when he spread the delicate lips and pinched a little wedge of flesh between his fingers.

"Wait," I said.
I leaned over Nathalie and kissed her softly. She kept her. eyes open and held my lower lip between her teeth. "Go ahead," I murmured.

She shuddered. Nathalie bit me until my blood flowed—and yet I suddenly had the impression I was tasting her blood, not mine. She closed her eyes, finally, and big tears rolled down her cheeks. She let go of my lip. Our blood, still mixed, welled up again, a bit congested this time.

"We can put a ring in," he said with effort.
I gave him one, a little larger than the ones for her breasts. "Do it," I said.
He leaned over again, groping about for a long time. "Spread your legs more," I told her.
She obeyed. How could she have done otherwise?
The gold ring gleamed incongruously in her shaved sex.
I picked up her tights, underwear, and brassiere, rolled them
into a ball, and put them in my purse.
"Put your sweater back on," I said.
She got up, the skirt falling to her knees.
"I'm going to look odd with my legs naked in this weather,"
she said.
"For all of five minutes," I said. "We need only cross the
Seine, and I'll buy you stockings and a garter belt. That'll be pretty, you'll see."

I turned to the man.
"How much do I owe you?"
He looked as if he had just woken up.
"Nothing," he said, with effort. "You owe me nothing. I
have already been paid in full." I did not smile.

"Fine," I said. "Good-bye."

It had stopped raining. Nathalie headed straight as an arrow for the Rue Dauphine. Then suddenly she turned towards me. "You go too far," she said.

I smiled at her. My lip was hurting horribly. I licked it; it seemed to have tripled in size. I felt full of a ferocious joy.

"You're right," I said, "I go too far. And you will be punished for being so ready for it."

We went to the Samaritaine and after a while I chose a white corset and very sheer black stockings.

I made her try on the corset, which pushed up her breasts
without hiding either her nipples or the rings, and called to the saleswoman to come give us her opinion. The sight of Nathalie's pierced breasts, emphasized by the lace armature, left her speechless. It was very amusing. "Let me pay," said Nathalie.

At the register she held out two brand-new five-hundred-franc bills.

"God, where do you find all that cash?"
"Odd jobs," she said, averting her eyes.
We descended to the basement of the department store.

Household goods.
I bought chains.

"...heavy chains, for you, my love," I recited in a low voice. "What are you saying?" asked Nathalie. "Nothing, my beauty, nothing. Come on, let's go home. I need you very much."

The strange and delicate sensation of sucking a breast and, with the tip of your tongue, playing with a ring piercing the nipple. The even more delicate sensation of playing with a pierced clitoris, of feeling your lover groaning and coming right under your tongue...

For her, she told me, the torturous feeling of my mouth teasing her perforated, burned flesh....

"I belong to you," she told me.

***

Ten days later, it was Christmas. I telephoned her early in the morning, to catch her just as she was getting out of bed, to make sure she would be there. "Yes?" she said, her voice still heavy with sleep.

"What are you doing tonight?"
"Tonight? What's tonight?"
"Christmas. You know, presents in the stockings, turkey
with chestnuts, mass at midnight—"
"I don't celebrate Christmas," she said. "Not with my family, anyway."
I made a promise to myself to go visit these people who so deliberately ignored Christmas. "Well, are you free?" "I had sort of planned something."

"Cancel it. Can you be ready at eight o'clock? I'll come get you in the car."

"What should I wear?"

"Something warm," I said. "A big sweater. A coat, a short skirt, and stockings."

"Where are you taking me?"
"To mass, my dear, to mass. It's the night for it. But we're going rather far, so if we want to be there by midnight—" "I don't want to go," she said.

"Oh, yes, you do," I answered. "Eight o'clock, your place. Be outside."

A sordid ghetto just south of Paris.

She darted out suddenly—beautiful from head to foot in a symphony of white—an off-white wool coat, a pure white angora sweater, the crushed white of the skirt's thick fabric, white lace stockings—and red pumps that made her feet look tiny.

She hesitated an instant at the building's door. I heard a hysterical voice fall from the heavens. She shrugged her shoulders as if worn out as she lifted her eyes to the black sky.

Nearly all the streetlights were broken. I parked under the only one still working, and all the while that Nathalie approached, enjoyed watching the vertical shadows transform her into moving sculpture.

She gets in, kisses me lightly. She smells marvelously good— a bouquet of flowers in light blond. "What is that? It's new, no?" "Guerlain," she said. "Jardins de Bagatelle." At her ears and nose, she had put in three diamond studs. "And elsewhere?" I asked. "I left in the rings," she said calmly.

I skirt Paris; the highway around the city empties almost instantly, and on the road to Bretagne there isn't a mouse stirring.

"I love highways," I say.
"Why? It's deadly dull, if you're driving."
"Yes, but I can leave the car in fifth gear and with my right
hand caress your thighs until you can't take it anymore."
Up to where the stockings and skin meet...
"I didn't put on any underwear," Nathalie says.
It's true. For two hundred miles, my hand agitates against
the raspy nylon covering her knee, the softness of her thigh, the moistness of her cunt.

We had to refill the gas tank a little outside of Le Mans. We stopped at one of the rare gas stations on the highway that was not yet self-service. The guy working there came towards us with the enthusiasm of someone spending his Christmas smelling carburetor emissions. With that sense of tranquil provocation I so much envied and for which I reproached her, Nathalie kept her skirt hiked and her thighs spread. I thought the service-station attendant was going to have a stroke at the sight of her milky thighs above her stockings, her shaved sex, and the gold ring gleaming there with an incongruous shine.

"Why did you do that?" I ask. "It's Christmas," she says.

We stop at Le Mans. "We've got time to get something to eat," I said.

"Why spend Christmas in Le Mans?"

"We're going a bit farther. But I need the calories, and you do, too."

It really scandalized them at Le Mans, those two dykes who couldn't keep their hands off each other during the meal. For dessert Nathalie wanted strawberries and champagne. She put them delicately between her teeth, one after the other, giving me a taste, each time, of strawberry and lips.

A great to-do in the restaurant...

We headed towards Nantes before forking off towards Sable\ It had to have been about eleven-thirty.

Solesmes is a Roman jewel of a church revamped by Gothic goldsmiths, as they say in the guidebooks. The Benedictines taking care of it dedicate themselves to the practice of the Gregorian chant, and the masses at Solesmes are so sought after that reservations must be secured well in advance.

The near traffic jam in the middle of the countryside at that hour seemed rather strange.

Plainsong...

As the hours passed, Nathalie's face was transformed. Her resemblance to the statues of the female saints enshrouding the body of Christ became more clear. Her face, white striated with white, emerged from the large neck of her sweater like a pale flower, and the diamonds appeared nearly carnal against her flesh. The colorless locks of hair that grazed her cheeks were the sole points of light.

Of course, there were breaks in the singing between mid- night and five o'clock in the morning. Each time Nathalie seemed to emerge from a macabre dream. She would come back from the world of the dead with a visible effort, as if everything were pulling her ceaselessly down below. My God, why did I bring her there? In a single blow, an evil moment of clairvoyance, I saw I was going to lose her soon.

I also realized that the libertinism with which I had camouflaged my love for her was a clumsy mask for the fever now mounting in me—the anguish of feeling myself completely chained to her.

I leaned towards her, taking her in my arms.
"I love you," I told her. "I love you so much."
Contrary to what is usually the case, my feeble words did
not ring false.
The statue turned her head towards me without smiling. In
her expression there was such sadness that I was disconcerted. "Never say that again, Florence. Never!"
"What can I do? I love you as I love the sun or moon, as I
love the stones, or the music that makes the stones vibrate. I say I love you because I don't know any other word for it, because I've never felt this way, and because it must be what people call love, this thing that tears at my belly when I touch you, when I look at you, imagine you."

"Are you done?"

In her voice was a deadly irony and in her eyes, unexpectedly, tears.

We left at around five o'clock, the choir still reverberating with the echoes of the monks chanting.

From the grassy moat of the Chateau d'Angers, a great deer, bizarre at that hour of the night, stared at our headlights with the sovereign suspicion of a slave.

We found without too much difficulty the little hotel in the
oldest part of the village, behind the chateau, where I had reserved a room. We had some trouble getting them to open up for us, but the room was a comfortable jewel; an overheated, delicate alcove.

"If you like," hesitated the night attendant, "there is one remaining room with two twin beds."

"That's not necessary; this will be fine."

I bestowed upon him a generous tip, returning him without comment to his masturbatory slumbers.

I turned to Nathalie.
"I love you, you know."
I went to her and pulled off her white angora sweater. It
was like skinning a rabbit. I buried my face in her breasts; the flowers of Guerlain still lingered, if feebly.

It was a short and exquisite night, full of caresses, touches, little valleys conquered and reconquered. At a certain moment, as she hollowed her loins under my fingers, a line from Racine came to me and would not leave. I covered her with kisses for two hours, all the while repeating, like an idiot, "her haunches curve in tortuous folds..."

Monstrous love. Later, as she slept, a statue from head to foot, I stared at her for a long time, and insidiously my gaze would stray beyond her body, beyond her curves, and fix obstinately on the double curtains that kept out the gray day. In that Christmas dawn, I experienced as never before the feeling of loneliness that grabs at your heart when you are in love in order to remind you, in black and white, that there are more ferocious pains than those imposed by physical torture.
1

I stretched out beside her, her buttocks against my belly, my hand cupped around one breast. A thick silence rose from outside. I no longer heard her breathe, but the heat of her skin inundated my belly—as if she might have died, yet remained burning long after death.

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