Authors: please check list below
Cape Town, 2008
Soft cover, 13x20 cm, 224 pages
Just imagine what would happen if:
• you ran into an old flame on a deserted beach
• you happened to spy the boy next door pleasuring himself
• the date you had been sensually preparing for turns out to be the love of your life
• ‘Die Nutsman’ barged into your marital boudoir and showed you what his drill was really for
• you got caught in a changing room with a woman who wants to show you exactly how that dress should fit your body
These short stories – alternately saucy, touching, hilarious and arousing – explore love, lust and sex in its many forms. This anthology showcases some of our hottest contemporary writers indulging in the pure joy of erotic expression. Go ahead, open it; you’re guaranteed a good time!
Lauren Beukes is a Cape Town-based journalist covering a broad beat that regularly brings her into contact with the likes of reluctant base jumpers, teenage vampires, electricity thieves, AIDS activists and film stars as well as live and kicking maverick women. She’s written for Colors, Dazed & Confused, The World Health Organisation and The Hollywood Reporter as well as most of the major glossies locally. She’s currently finishing her MA in creative writing at UCT under André Brink and has had short stories published in various anthologies including Oshun’s 180˚.
Helen Brain has published 14 books in English and Afrikaans for children and young adults. They include the best-selling Fly Cemetery and other Juicy Stories and Tamara, which won the 1999 ATKV Prize for ages 13-15. She lives in Cape Town with her husband and sons and teaches drama part-time.
Tracey Hawthorne has written and/or contributed to nine non-fiction books and edited upwards of thirty. She writes prolifically on a wide range of subjects for a variety of publications, both locally and abroad.
The Boy Next Door - Tracey Hawthorne
The Wedding Feast - Dawn Garisch
Love Changes - Nicole Whitton
Mrs Habib's Hypothalamus - Suzy Bell
Kadra's Decree - Palesa Mazamisa
Princess - Lauren Beukes
Meeting Dylan - Joanne Fedler
Taking Zoe to Play - Elizabeth Pienaar
Tremble - Henrietta Rose-Innes
Die Nutsman - Helen Brain
The Beginning - Marita van der Vyver
The Milkwood Forest - Alison Campbell
Inside - Makhosazana Xaba
The Sea for a Lover - Helen Moffett
Confessions of Karelina - Lindiwe Nkutha
Seven Saucy Smokelong Stories - Liesi Jobson
Personal Shopper - Sarah Lotz
Reprise - Mary Watson
These Things Do Happen - Megan Kerr
marital psalm - Antjie Krog
About the Author
Here - here's the path, he said.
Ahead of them, almost obscured by the brilliant light of the far beaches and the surge of mid-morning heat, she could see the dark sparkle of the main road where it bisected the rough track they were on.
The track meets the road - the German had said - and you just follow it down to the beach.
She hesitated, glancing down the white sand path to her right, where it tipped off the track and ran through brackish bushes into a low forest of milkwood. Parallel to the road, it was bound to lead to the beach.
This would be a magical way of approaching the sea, as she had done as a child. In that time, behind the dunes of the eastern ocean, the interior silence of the sub-tropical forests bore down on her small body with a huge and tranquil weight, while at the same time exciting her senses to a giddy degree.
On the down-ward pull of the path a small girl could easily disappear into the quiet wallow of the sand and lie there, coolly buried. But if the sea kept calling, kept sending out its rich fresh breath from beyond the dune, then a small girl could pull free from the forest and push herself heaving and panting up to meet the extravagance of the ocean.
Why not? She shrugged invisibly and stepped off the track.
The sound of the sea dipped to a murmur as they descended the path, but it didn't smell good, and she wondered fleetingly why she was in the lead. She sensed the maw of low milkwood ahead and felt the unease of entering a place where someone might be hiding. But his eyes were on her back, so she opened her face to the sunshine and swung her shoulders carelessly as she rounded the bend that cut them off from the track and committed them to the forest.
Almost immediately, they came upon a brutal cascade of concrete - inexplicable for a moment but, yes, it was a small dwelling place, now destroyed. Not decayed, but cut down suddenly: brickwork plastered and painted, lying flatly angled, like playing cards atop the rubble. She fought off the instinct to glance around for the perpetrator of the sudden violation. She didn't stop to say, 'Hey, look at this', because already there was something else.
The square black open mouth of ... what?
A large manhole, its depth invisible, lay exposed on the edge of the path, just below the wreckage of the dwelling. It was natural, she quickly reasoned, for it to be there. Just the sort of thing that would have fascinated her in childhood explorations of the bush, where the unlikely detritus of unseen men appeared from time to time - boots and bags and bottles disrupting the quiet regularity of nature like the scorch marks of recently departed UFOs.
Her gaze slid reluctantly along a finger of light that pointed out a pipe, an iron rung and an oily darkness that repelled her and speeded her to step finally, with a small shiver, into the full gloom of the milkwood canopy.
Inside, it was empty; she could almost fancy the sand had been brushed. Light and shadow moved abstractly through a riddle of smooth trunks and bare, low-curling branches that fell away before her and then rose again on the far side of the hollow to the crest of the dune. From there, she thought, they would see the beach and the sunlight again. The urge was strong to topple into gravity - to tear downwards - before ripping upwards again into the open air.
She felt, rather than saw, the bulk of the figure that lay between her urge and the ocean, that disrupted the rippled rhythm of the sand with a squatting, intrusive presence. Her pulse knocked hard in her throat - she looked again, half convinced she had conjured this threat onto the swept stage of canopied sand. There he was: she felt smitten with embarrassment for him, for his vulnerability.
She turned around quickly, but her companion was no longer behind her. He had stopped at the mouth of the tank and was peering into it. There's a guy up ahead - he's ... She didn't quite know how to say it.
What? Come on! He didn't seem to understand the problem - he walked briskly on down the path ahead of her, his sandals sending up small white fans of sand. She hurried behind, already seeing the man standing where before he had been squatting. His tall body hovered as they passed, and he regarded them with opaque eyes set in a long, golden face. She wondered momentarily if he was afraid - but there seemed no proper way of reassuring him other than to pretend he wasn't there at all. And when she glanced back, he was gone.
At the crest of the dune the forest had been gashed open by walkers, and a slide of sand offered to deliver them from the forest. She felt a welcome sense of nonchalance at having finally arrived, and she allowed herself to stand and enjoy the midday blaze of the horizon. The sea breeze reached out to them. It was a moment she thought they might reflect on when they were old and lost in places far away from one another.
But entry to the sand slide had been blocked with a hedge of thorn branches. Beyond that was a new fence of taut barbed wire as high as her head, which gave onto a large empty sweep of tarmac marked out for parking, an orange-brick public toilet, and patches of trodden grass arrayed with litter bins and litter. In fact, the tarmac wasn't empty An old Volkswagen van was parked at the far edge with its doors open, and some distance away, a man dressed in city clothes stood slightly skewed to the wind.
She saw suddenly where they were - the seedy, exposed end of the beach where it widened into the sandy plain of the lagoon, where families came in droves to picnic on a Sunday Beyond the car park, another long march of nude and scorching dunes lay between them and the sea. Fuck!
Their hesitation, here, was impossible to sustain or discuss. She forced her way through the thorn branches like a boy, launched herself down the sand slide, heaved herself over the fence where the wire met the post, and he followed her. They crossed the car park without comment, and stood together again, surveying the dunes that still lay between them and the sea.
She had last walked the inner landscape of the dunes in winter, with the small boy. They had started a kilometre away from where she stood now - at the far end of the beach, at the Milk-wood Cafe, where the playground was, and where a metallic trickle of water from a concrete pipe marked the end of the family beach and the start of a grand geographic sweep: kilo-metres of peninsular sand and shark-patrolled ocean that ended beyond where the eye could see - except at night, when the lighthouse signalled its improbable position in the far dark ocean.
They had trawled the long beach, leaning against the wind, laughing and shouting, aiming for the approaching promontory of the dune, and then angling along it until it cut the wind from their ears. Once behind it, they had padded along the muffled undulations of sand marked out with ragged hedges of sticks that suggested some long-ago frontier or encampment. They had talked about Australia, about the dead ocean of its interior, and their imagined sense of thirst and isolation had disappeared as soon as they had emerged right here, in the car park, by the urinal - where now, she prepared to reverse that journey to reach the beach.
Stepping finally onto the open sand, she had the sensation of being too late, or too early, for a social event. Not only because there was no one there, but because it had taken so long to emerge that it was hard for them to admit that they had arrived. It became possible, in that moment, for them to forget them-selves, and to keep walking across the expanse of sand towards the breakers, and perhaps beyond, to where the whales lounged like lazy fables.
Which large piece of sand shall we take? she asked, gesturing widely This one - or that one? They both smiled at her talent for ease. Together, they flapped out the towels, which appeared smaller even than they had the night before in the guesthouse bathroom, where they'd been rolled up and tied with infuriating artifice. She remembered loosening them with her crazed teeth at around dawn and laughing and throwing them at him and towelling his body and the bed in a way that did not want to dry so much as to say:
Look! Look at what's been unloosed here! Laugh at the suburban silliness of me: trying to soak it up with a towel! She threw down the bottle of water she had been carrying, and pulled from her cleavage her mobile phone. He pulled his own phone from his pockets, as well as a tube of sunscreen. He took off his T-shirt, she took off her T-shirt, and they sat down together on the small islands of towel that didn't quite touch.
His skin had always been exquisitely pale. It was endlessly fascinating to her, his colouring. Since they'd last met, he had shaved his Irish-black hair to invisibility. And since they'd first met, since she'd first touched them, the fine lines of his tattoos had blurred around the still-sharp edges of his outer arm muscles, though they remained crisp where they ringed the whiteness in-side. As crisp as the new one she'd found - the one that signified his daughter.
His nakedness the night before had been a shock to her. The length and heaviness of his cock springing out from the ghostly brilliance of his skin was like a shout waking her from a long sleep.
She remembered how it had been with him before: the cool, polished dimness of the green stairway that wound two flights up to the door of his apartment on afternoons too bright and too hot to attend tutorials. A long line of books balanced high up on a shelf along the picture rail. In the odd stillness of his kitchen they had drunk beer ripped out of cardboard, and she had banished from her mind her own home, close by, the boy drinking tea there, at his desk in the sunshine.
She remembered lying on a narrow bed in a corner below the books, she remembered the sculpted weight of his body making her helpless in the storm light that had brewed while they were talking, and she remembered the naked difficulty of meeting his eyes up close - the broken hazel of his eyes. She had been carried away by something (the beer, perhaps, the books, the soft electricity of thunder), but she couldn't remember the sex. Was that so surprising? It had been, after all, twenty years.
Her phone rang. It was Michael. How are ya? Cheery Manic, even. Her heart jumped like a criminal approached in public.
I'm on the beach. It's huge. It's hot. There are whales. How are you?
Jesus Christ! It's fucken snowing here. I'm standing on the corner outside the office. Listen - want to talk to you about Lagos. We've put together the office and I wanted to know if you guys want to share it.
She walked around, away from the towels, making large, dragging ellipses in the sand with her feet while she talked. Her blood beat with the effort of containing a sudden assault of sex and memory. Like the hot breath of some voyeuristic god, it rolled in from hotel rooms, bars, doorways and bathrooms in Buenos Aires, London, Johannesburg, New York, Bangkok.
The great black curve of a whale's back broke suddenly out of the water, and the other telephone on the beach began to ring. She became aware that the stark white body of the man had begun roving in the other direction. It was laughable really, the sight of the two of them on the beach - the sound of the four of them on the phone.
She knew both wives, though not personally. Not that it would have made any difference. These were necessary and welcome wives, entirely whole creatures without whom there would be no whole men. Not for her the skulking brokenness of men who'd made mistakes. Not for her the consoling role. Not for her the illusion of being more than family. After all, she missed her own.
The wind had begun to blow. She was distracted by the sand that stung her feet and flung its fans out in imitation of the spray that was beginning to blow off the back of the swell. But, more than that, she was intrigued by the conversation that she could not hear, that not even the wind could bring to her. She knew the topic: the coastal property close by that he was buying for the family, the details of lawyers and bankers and tenants. She had been eager to get into this conversation right away when he arrived the day before, as one would with a friend of such long standing - why not?
And he had advised her, a single woman, on the wisdom of making small investments in parcels of coastal land. She'd felt proud, as a friend, that he was doing so well - almost as if he really were her man.
Later, she had taken it slowly. Not like a wife, throwing off her clothes, wanting to get done. She had taken a long time coming to bed. She had done all the usual things very slowly, as she took off her clothing, piece by piece. Brushing her teeth, for instance - naked - talking softly at the mirror.
Washing her face, then smoothing cream into her skin while walking around the room in sequenced stages of undress. Making non-sequitur conversation while stretched out on the bed, available to be touched in an abstracted kind of way, but not ready yet. Taking time for herself to sit alone in front of the wide window, on the glamorous sofa, in the light of the moon and the sea, and to think her thoughts. In that, she knew, he couldn't stop her, and therefore could not prevent her from being alone. It was exasperating, she knew that. Yet it was also necessary - to come to bed, finally, prepared for what might be possible.
What might be possible? It might be possible to put a finger on an impossible place, a place untouched in twenty years. It might be possible to hear breath drawn in such a way as to suggest pain, or fear, or love forbidden. It might be possible to hear, in breath exhaled, the permission of pain, of fear, of love liberated, or joy unburied.
It might be possible to entertain the involuntary curl of hand or finger seeking trust along hidden skin. It might be possible to hear shameless impulsive beauty barely uttered. It might be possible to feel the hot, high scorch of secrets bitten to blood on the tongue, and to stoke them with a whisper.
It might be possible at last to feel the tremor of the centre coming loose and to feel it travel through them like a seismic wave. It might be possible to catch the rising swell of their history and to ride the erupting turmoil of unleashed sense and memory It might be possible to be swept, skin to skin, into the giddy, terrifying crest of the perfect, unrepeatable wave, and to let it break open, as brutal as it is, as it is.
It might be possible to be submerged and somersaulted and nearly killed in that breaking open of all their mysteries, and to be thrown down together on the smooth sand of the night. And later, with eyes half-open in the dark, it might be possible to fold inwards on one another - surviving. There was, after all, nothing to be afraid of.
So finally they swam, but separately, and not without guilt at their separation. They emerged, each separately, from the sea into the eyesight of the other, and they felt naked - as though they had eaten fruit from some forbidden vine instead of merely having spoken on their phones. Perhaps it was the light, now harsh, or the wind, now scouring, or perhaps it was simply the sense of imminent departure.
The way back from the beach was the one she had always taken with the small boy - the tarred road that skirted the milkwood forest. As they climbed the hill in the hot sun, they passed the sign they had missed by taking the short cut, the one that said 'Milkwood Forest Rehabilitation Project: Do Not Enter'.
She watched his pale calves trudging up the slope ahead of her and her thoughts turned to the fact that it was a Wednesday, and the middle of the working week, and she sensed her obligations emerging from the heat-shimmer around her.
As they reached the curve just before turning off along the track to the house, a battered bakkie sped down around the bend, a surfboard rattling in the back. She looked up and saw the driver - a young woman, clear-faced and heedless, her rough ponytail playing in the wind - on her way to catch a wave.