By Remittance Girl
When I was invited to collect my stories into a single-author anthology for Coming Together, the ACLU seemed like the perfect choice as a destination for the proceeds. I feel there are two opposing forces in society today. On one hand, there are very few products or services that don't, either directly or indirectly, use sex as a part of their marketing. We've gone from a society who could not mention sex in polite company to one that is inundated with sexual images, and this has, in my view, served to trivialize the human erotic experience. On the other hand, many publishers have become so scared of the cost of litigation that it is very likely that if Nabokov wrote Lolita today, it would not see the light of publication.
You often hear erotic fiction writers complain of censorship, but in reality there are many, many examples of explicit sex in literary fiction. Martin Amis, Jonathan Franzen, Philip Roth, Michel Houllebecq… it's perfectly okay to write explicitly about sex as long as you don't set out to arouse your reader. Make sex ugly enough, decontextualized enough, emotionless enough and you can be as explicit as you like and will probably be nominated for a Man Booker Prize while you're at it. Conversely, you're perfectly welcome to write as many hot and kinky scenes as your little heart desires, as long as you bed it in a romantic plot. True, you probably won't be recognized as high literature, but your book sales will take the sting away.
Somewhere in between the extremes of dystopian sex nightmares and high romantic adventurism lies the reality of most people's sexual lives. Sometimes ecstatic lust-filled experiences, sometimes nights of sexistential angst, sometimes a bit of both. This is where I write, because this is where I find the greatest opportunity for insight. In the interstices between our aspirations and our fears. I find that nothing magnifies the erotic fertility of that intersection as placing my characters on metaphorical foreign soil. Whether it involves an exotic setting or placing my characters in sexually uncharted territory, I enjoy watching them find their ways around. I hope you do too.
The excerpt I'm offering you today is from the story "Shellshock" which appears in the Coming Together Presents Remittance Girl anthology. Suffering from the culture shock of her new life in Asia, the protagonist trolls the backpacker district of Bangkok in Thailand, seeking the comfort of the familiar. She takes her unsuspecting one-night-stand back to a hotel room haunted by the ghost of a dead American soldier who may or may not be there.
My meal paid for, I lead him wordlessly by the hand back up Kaosan Road, through the smoke from outdoor grills and throngs of brightly clad tourists. The hotel doorman smiles. The boy at the reception desk doesn't bother to ask for the English boy's passport when I ask for my room key; they don't do that to foreigners. But I wonder if my soldier boy had trouble getting his girl up to the room. Did they ask for her identity card and a 50 Baht tip?
I know that Gary (that's the English boy's name) is more than a little surprised. I kiss him in the elevator to calm him, and my hand snakes down to his crotch. He's surprised but not, it seems, unwilling.
Someone's been in the room. The bedside lamp is on, the bed is turned down. The clothes I so carelessly left on the toilet seat are now sitting neatly piled on the desk. I start pulling off the ones I'm wearing.
"Wow." Gary doesn't succeed very well in his attempt to hide his confusion. "You're not even drunk."
Jesus Christ, I scream in my head, at least my soldier boy didn't have to deal with this. There's something to be said for making sex a financial transaction.
"Just take off your clothes."
And Gary does, because he's a sweet boy and he's obedient and it has probably dawned on him that, if he pisses around, I'm going to put my clothes back on and find someone else. I don't want to talk about his last year at university, or his heartless father who won't wire him a little extra cash. I just nod and rummage through my bag for a condom.
His body is pale and almost hairless and his skin is soft. He's carrying an extra ten pounds and when I push him down onto the bed, I feel it break my fall. The bed squeals in protest at this rough treatment, but it can't fool me. It's had a lot worse than this.
It's been more than a year since I've lain skin-to-skin with anyone. The soldier-boy too, because I can see him now in my head, climbing on top of the sweet Thai thing. Did she giggle the way Gary does?
He's trying to remember all the things he was told about making a woman happy. But he doesn't know me. He doesn't know this woman at all. And, as he fumbles with my nipples, I slide off him just long enough to roll the condom down onto his erect cock.
"Don't you want to fool around a bit first?"
"Not really." I climb astride him, pushing myself down onto his dick.
"Wow." He opens his mouth to say something else, but I stop him.
"I'd really like it, Gary, if you'd just be quiet and fuck me."
In the next bed, my soldier boy is possibly more polite. But perhaps he doesn't have to be. I can see him, between her legs, pushing his cock in and lowering himself on top of her sweet, brown body.
To Gary's credit, he doesn't sulk. He grabs my hips and pumps up into me. All the pretence of social niceties is gone, and I am glad, indescribably glad to be sharing skin with anyone.
It's the truest of all true things that I see in Gary's face as I ride his cock. That beautiful serenity of absolute pleasure that changes only in shades with every thrust. He reaches up and makes handfuls of my breasts, and I let him now, because I know it's out of need and not of duty. Besides, it feels good when he loses himself in sensation and squeezes hard. It keeps me from drifting over to the other bed and into the body of the soldier boy who is pounding himself into the girl like his life depended on it. Perhaps it does.
I can feel my orgasm long before it arrives, a plane in the distance and my body the control tower. The landing lights in my belly light up to guide it in. Gary's cock has grown huge inside me and there's a pleasant dull pain each time he thrusts upwards.
"Fuck—this is too good." he says. "Yeah, I know exactly what you mean." There are sirens going off in my head. All my neurons fire at once and I start to come. I hear echoes of my soldier boy; his grunts keep time with his hips. Wordless and animal, the inhuman stuttering of being alive and absolutely human.
Gary gets it. He can feel it around his cock as I orgasm, and he holds my hips still for the last few thrusts it takes him to get to the same place.
I sleep in a stranger's arms. But he's not strange because he's been inside me.
We've all been strangers sometime and we know what it feels like to feel the sand shift beneath your feet. But with that sense of strangeness also comes an interesting liberation: borders evaporate and roles lose their clarity. Have you ever been a stranger in a strange land? Literally or metaphorically?
Come on, tell me your story.
The e-book I am donating to the "Share the Love Blog Bash" is my novella The Waiting Room, published by Republica Press. Leave me comment (don't forget your email address) and you might win.
Bio: Remittance Girl lives and writes in exile in a small Southeast Asian country, where she teaches and grows orchids in a house with a large mango tree and a cat called Seven. She holds a Master of Arts in Writing.
Driven by the conviction that eroticism is an overlooked but essential part of human nature, Remittance Girl believes that examining this important part of our lives is essential to gaining insight into what motivates us, frames our social interactions and forms our interior sense of self. Erotic fantasies, even very dark ones, give us clues with which we can decipher the symbolic language we use to express who we are and how we fit into our society.
Her novellas and short stories have appeared in electronic format on her own website, at www.cleansheets.com and in the Erotica Readers and Writers online gallery. A number of short stories have appeared in print anthologies. Visit her at remittancegirl.com