‘I’ve been thinking about your question about the jumbo jets’ says Alison as I make myself comfortable for our next session.
‘747s. Why don’t we just fly you all in?’
‘Oh. Ok. What did you come up with?’
‘I asked around...’ she takes a sip of her mint tea. ‘Nobody knows for certain but actually I think the answer’s obvious, given the way things work here.’
‘Or don’t work.’
‘Quite. I spoke to Matthew about it. He said, can you imagine trying to keep an airliner flying in this place? Can you imagine getting hold of the fuel, finding the spare parts?’
‘Radar, flight plans, computers...’
‘There’s no way we could maintain that kind of complexity here. Lorna – one of the engineers, she told me that she thinks the technology here is unlikely to progress beyond the point where a regular mechanic with an ordinary set of tools and a fairly general knowledge of engineering is able to work out what’s wrong and fix it.’
‘So, no microprocessors in the afterlife.’
‘I have no idea what that means.’
I smile and shake my head. Maybe I’m going to like it here after all.
‘How did your parents react, to you going off to Spain?’
I take a moment to refocus.
‘It was strange. I don’t know if I felt better or worse that they didn’t really say anything.’
‘What, not at all?’
‘They just shrugged, like it was just another of my ridiculous ideas, and I have to say it felt a bit like that to me too. I guess none of us took it very seriously.’
‘But you called Lorraine.’
‘Absolutely, I got her at work and she had a phone number in Linares for me to call at the weekend. I asked what she knew and she said not to expect too much in the way of wages or mod cons but he was a good mate, this bloke, apparently. Phil his name was.’
‘And you called him.’
‘On the Saturday morning.’
‘Well it sounded amazing. Apparently he had this place up in the mountains he was doing up – no mains water or electricity and three miles from the nearest shop but there was a moped to get into town and a reservoir near by I could swim in and basically he just needed someone to keep an eye on the place while he was away.’
‘Apparently there was a lot of watering but not much else. He was planting fruit trees.’
‘And what about the money?’
‘He said he’d pay me enough to get food and a few beers.’
Alison shrugs and nods a little – a ‘fair enough’ sort of gesture. I shrug too. I couldn’t believe it at the time either.
‘What did Yve say to all this?’
It takes me a long time to answer. I don’t want to answer, or rather I do want to answer but none of the answers help.
‘You didn’t tell her did you?’
I sink a little into my seat. This is where it started, I think. This is where it all started.
‘I thought it was too soon to be worrying about all that.’
Alison doesn’t react.
‘We’d only just met. I didn’t even know if we’d last ’til the summer.’
‘So it was just a fling.’
‘No...’ I sigh deeply. No it wasn’t. It seems silly to say she was my First Love but she was. I could hardly concentrate on anything else that entire spring. I wanted to see her all the time. I bought her flowers and records and chocolate.
‘I suppose I just didn’t want to be thinking about breaking up with her before we’d even got started. And also I didn’t really believe Spain was going to happen myself, not seriously. I just wanted to be with her and enjoy the moment. Do you see what I mean?’
She’s been looking doubtfully at me but accepts my explanation. ‘So what happened, with this next date?’
I smile broadly at her, with relief as much as anything. The memory is still very fresh. It was excellent. The contrast now, with all the years of uncouth fumblings and disappointments in my pasts to compare it with makes it doubly excellent. ‘We had a very good time’ I say.
Alison struggles to suppress her curiosity. ‘Go on’ she says ‘Let’s not be shy about it. Did it happen?’
I give her a dirty grin. ‘Her parents were away that weekend, and...’
‘And yes, it happened, in her parent’s lounge, which was very bad I know.’
‘Was she a virgin?’
‘No. Certainly not, but she wasn’t as old as I’d thought either, only nineteen’
‘Only nineteen?’ she repeats, enjoying my squirming. ‘And she knew what she was doing?’
‘Absolutely. But that’s the good thing, so did I. It all came back. I mean, I was a seventeen year old, but...’
‘And God knows what ten years of nothing but pornography does to a man’s sexuality.’
And I go off into a reverie, remembering the havoc we wrought on her mother’s soft furnishings. I remember finally getting down and looking at a real live vagina for the first time and thinking how extraordinary it was. And yet it was like a long lost memory too, when you peel the knickers away and there it is, still closed, those tender fleshy segments like a freshly peeled pink satsuma, and just subtly moving my finger up between them, along the seam and feeling them come apart and all that silky soft wet yummy pink stuff inside. I think of that first time I touched it with the tip of my finger and found that tiny, hot and aromatic pool, on the brink of overflowing. I looked up over her neatly trimmed pubic hair on its soft little hill, and her cute white belly, and then over the remains of what she’d been wearing that evening, pulled up around her ribs. She told me later it had been like watching a kid faced with his first ever crème brulee and she was sorry she laughed but I understood. I must have looked hilarious down there, marvelling, but I didn’t care. In any case, I thought, I’ll show you, and I leaned forward and kissed it and she gave a little gasp. I suppose she was expecting me just to climb on and hump away like the other boys, but I had other ideas. I looked at her face again and she looked very seriously back at me. I kissed it again and then began to work my tongue up between the folds to her clitoris and there I worked on her and her head fell back. We had been out all evening and then writhing together on the sofa for some time so she had that powerful visceral taste of a real woman and I wanted to bathe in it. I wanted to burrow into her and be in her and fill her up, but my older self said wait - wait and savour this. I knew from more distant parts of my past that I would previously have felt self-conscious and would have tried too hard or attempted to be cool even at a moment like this but I didn’t need all that pretence now. That way lay mere performance. I was beyond that. I had the abandon of a man much older who knows that his best trick is merely to love what he does and I loved this. I gripped her arse with both hands dug my fingers in and pulled her towards me. Then I used my fingers to find her G spot. I used my lips to suck on her clitoris when I knew she was close to coming.
When she did come she came quickly and wetly and I knew she was not acting, or if she was it was a very innovative choice of noises to make. After a moment I looked up at her with my face still slick with her juices. I couldn’t wait any more. I stood over her and peeled my jeans down and she pulled her dress over her head. I looked down at her body, soft and pale, and wondered some more. She was really very beautiful. She shifted up further onto the sofa and watched me undress, looking down at my body, which was hard and lean back then. Then she sat forward and took my poor inflamed cock in her hand and kissed the end of it, looking lewdly up at me. I nearly came then and there. Then she smiled and lay back again. I looked down on her and could tell that trying to do it on the sofa would be awkward so I grabbed her hips and pulled her down onto the rug, spread her there and moved up into her, all the while with our tongues writhing together and my hands working at her breasts and belly and hips. I came almost immediately and loudly, pushing her across the polished floor on her back until she slapped my arse for me to stop. After a moment to get our breath we both began to laugh and I collapsed on her and we lay like that, on the floor with our heads under the piano, giggling merrily, making a wet patch on the rug. I was ready to go again almost immediately. I loved being seventeen again.
I look over at Alison. I can’t bring myself to tell her everything. I suppose my expression says it all.
‘I suppose’ she says eventually ‘having the experience of a much older man but with the body and energy of a teenager is quite a thing.’
‘It is’ I say, nodding emphatically, ‘quite a thing. Also this was just before the whole AIDS thing really hit the fan and she had an IUD in so we could really enjoy ourselves’
‘And I take it you did’
‘I am truly overjoyed to hear it.’