Friday, 26 August 2016

Geriatric Or Treat? - Flash Fiction

He knew he would never ski again. Nor ever take a swim in the sea. No more playing football, not even kicking a ball around in the garden with his grandson, doddering versus toddling. And tonight, he gathered, was to be his last occasion of carnality. 

As the woman divested herself and confronted him with her nakedness, though hardly a mirror, her quailing, failing flesh reflected his own. She looked no less ravaged than he did, even though he adjudged her considerably less advanced in years. Her rot was presumably more protractedly drawn out, the pain more blunted than his own onrush. Nudity presented her scars, both surgical and unqualified corrective and regardless that he himself currently had no wounds, he knew his senescent body was beyond any ability to heal itself.

Prostitute propriety had proscribed kissing which probably represented a joint reprieve. A mocking respiration as each would be moiling to breathe some life into the other. His mouth usually so dry, was now brimming precipitantly with a necrotic bubbling of mucus and deliquescing squamous epithelial cells. She had her own earthy tang, but he certainly didn’t want to be trajecting his own inhumation reek into her mouth. 

Incrementally he winched himself atop his mount like a chainmailed cavalier of old. Immediately his body protested the (im-)posture. Muscle memory evacuated his tissue like vermin from a holed ship. Fluid drained from the interstices around what was left of his sinew definition. Blood fleeing his capillaries going god knows but where. Replaced by rheum and serum. Watering him down. Diluting his puissance. Depleting him. Swelling skin and tumescence everywhere except where it was required. He was drowning from within. Saturated and suffocating. He wheezed an appeal to swap positions, if she might otherwise mount him. Wordlessly she hoisted her dimpled flank and allowed him to burrow beneath. 

Perhaps this had all been a fiendish plan by his son. To kill off the old man. An Oedipal closing of the circle, from when he himself had inducted him into the art of lovemaking by taking him to a prostitute on his 18th birthday, as many fathers were charged with back then. Now returning the favour in full knowledge of its likely fatality. If the blue pill accelerant he had slipped into his hand wasn’t fit to burst his heart, then the exertion against the rockface of the woman might see the endeavour through. Dying while on the job, passing over with a smile on your face, wasn’t that supposedly the dream of every male of the species? His facial musculature so atrophied, that a smile was beyond it, rather it being set firm in a permanent rictus. But how could his son possibly possess such precise knowledge of the extent of his physical decay? Could he have precociously gleaned the indignities that come with age? He hoped for his sake he did not. 

She was jouncing costively over him, with each crush landing buffeting his legs as though he were on a Medieval torture rack. Her pigmentation atop him never altered a jot, while he felt his own becoming pallid and bloodless. He looked down at himself and saw the spreading bruises. His body was collapsing. Putrefying before he had actually died. He imagined the bones of his skeleton becoming disarticulated, no longer bound together by sinewy ligatures. Her hollowness was so stark, he couldn’t ascribe to her any intentionality, but it was if her movements were trying to shuck him from his body. In a quest to leave what, to distil his soul? He snorted mordantly, or perhaps it was his own inner corrosion that eructed forth the snort. 

Tears filled his eyes but were too insipid to break over the levees of his reptilian folds of skin. Tears elsewhere on his rind, stretched taut by desiccation until the rolls and wrinkles of his puckered ancient parchment rent. Where there were lesions he could only picture writhing worms. Where there were blisters he envisioned scurrying flies laying their eggs. He conceived his own stench to be even more flagrantly putrid now, beyond the parochial hook of his own nostrils. None of this exhumed any lust. Liquid discharge from every place on his body except the essential, focal one. His own member was the ultimate recruit to the army of worms, mucilaginous, shrivelled and blind. He closed his eyes. 
The best (?) sex was that in which you surrendered awareness of your body. Either your mind was so transported in bliss that it could no longer register its containing husk. Else your whilom wrapping had melded with that of your lover so you could not tell where one ended and the other begun. But here he was utterly conscious of each grievous corporeal symptom. And not because it was borne out of the commercial nature of the congress, nor down to the lack of intimacy through being two complete strangers to the precise nature of each another’s mien. The best (?) sex could either peel you or melt you sweatily clean away. But always at the agency of the other’s body rather than your own. Yet gravity’s grubby force was archly engineering this cast. A geometry of failed configuration and solipsistic arrangement. Two incongruent bodies, blankly bearing neither surfaces nor curves, instead succumbing wholly to the pressures brought from within. Mutual self-absorption without any design on autonomy. Lacking any stout tensility, his vermicular organ kept squirming out from her shaved crevasse. She must have been sensate enough to register this slippage as she bevelled her pelvis to try and handlessly re-inter it into her catacumbal vault. But her stubbled apron only served to triturate and thresh, as if his stub were a cigarette she was grinding extinguished under a booted heel beneath her lamp-post. Sometimes in the past, sexual agonies could be thrilling. Tonight they were just annihilating.

The brain would be the last thing to go. But then it would be forever persecuted by the constant realisation and acknowledgement of each preceding deficient organ and wanting apparatus. Of all the activities its courier was no longer capable of. Lashing it cruelly by constantly revisiting unobtainable memories. His ausgespielt body was too decrepit to sustain his rage against it. It shouldn’t be like this. It was never like this. The act of coition which ceded life and germinated cell reproduction, now disintegrating his cells and culling into death. 


Katherine Hajer said...

I wonder how often "senescence" gets used as a tag in blogdom...

It's interesting that in this case the brain is the last thing to go, when so often it's the first. Hope he finds the transcendence he's looking for one way or another.

Adam Byatt said...

What I love about your stories is the need to unpack the layers, from the language choice to structure to meaning. And it is evident here, too. So much to sit with, but the overall effect lingers long.
Well done.