by Sandrine Lopez
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News, good or bad, travels fast but these were head on, a train wreck of colliding ideals.
For Sol, it was something to believe in, made redundant in the recession. For Vix, something giving meaning to their relationship, of a few years. Sol had grown distant, distracted by job seeking, feelings of worthlessness, not even interested in her, emotionally or intimately. She hoped it didn't mean he'd met someone else, in widening social circles of career centres and interviews.
That evening, they both reached their flat together. Vix could see a renewed light in Sol's eyes. Has he guessed, she thought. Or perhaps he's finally got a job!
As they got in, both started, "I've got something to tell... " before stopping and laughing.
"You first." said Vix, glowing with anticipation.
"I don't know how to explain..." Sol started, smiling. The first time Vix had seen him genuinely happy since being jobless "I met these people a while back, and we got talking. They were from church, and seemed so friendly."
Oh, thought Vix, who was a humanist, an atheist.
"I'd never really thought much about God but what they said made sense after all I've been through. I... gave myself to God today." He beamed the smile of someone who had seen the Light. "I'm a born-again Christian."
"Right... " Vix replied slowly, uncertain of how to take it.
"Isn't it wonderful?" Sol looked in her eyes for confirmation. Vix tried to nod, then shake her head, rolling it bewildered.
Sol tried to break the awkwardness, "What's your good news?"
Vix opened her mouth soundlessly, a tear rolled down her cheek.
They sat at opposite ends of the sofa. Vix tried to make light of Sol's news with a half joke, "I suppose that means a celebratory shag is out of the question?" She felt like she hadn't been touched, let alone held, kissed or fucked in years, instead of weeks.
Sol frowned. Bad move, Vix thought. Shit, another girl is bad enough but how do you compete against God!?
"I thought you'd be happy for me." Sol broke the silence.
"Yes... " Vix replied, meaning no, "You're happy, I can see that." More tears rolled down her cheeks. "Are you happy about... ? " She held her stomach, the weeks old baby-to-be within.
Sol couldn't return the sentiment. "I need to pr... think... about it." The aborted word was pray. For what, Vix thought? Her lost soul? Forgiveness? That they never got involved?
"Fine." Vix said, standing. "I suppose I... we.... should go." The change, including the young life within her, was intended to cut. Back to my parents, she guessed. How the fuck do I explain...
Sol stood and held open his arms, realising he wasn't meshing his new Christian outlook with reality. Reluctantly, Vix fell into them, sobbing.
"I still love you Vix... " she heard him say, "Perhaps more now than ever, but... "
But, Vix thought, I'll always be second fiddle to... Him.
She still had no option, tearing herself away to pack a bag, and face the music of her Mum and Dad.
"Don't worry dear, I'm sure he'll get over it." Mum said, as she plonked tea in front of a tear-stained Vix.
"For pity's sake Mum," Vix replied, "It's not an illness, like flu." Sick in the head maybe...
Dad was more pragmatic. The death of a young nephew years back waylaid his faith. Difficult to believe in an all-knowing, all-loving God when a beautiful, lively child had died tragically. Vix had followed in his footsteps, recalling the wail of despair at the news... the only time she had seen him cry.
"You two need to talk." He said, "I mean, it's not like he's done anything bad, is it?"
Bad? Vix recalled listening to a Richard Dawkins lecture, about delusions of God people held. What made them cling to superstition, believing in myth and creation over truth and evolution, against overwhelming evidence. She could only see Sol in that misguided light now. Until otherwise, she couldn't bear telling Mum, let alone Dad, that she was going to be a parent too.
That night, in her old bedroom, she hugged herself, wishing Sol was his old self. That like her small, unborn child he was buried inside her, feeling her deep love for him. As had been habit of late, deprived of his body, she let her hand wonder between her thighs, delighting in the sensations before frigging herself to dark, lonely sleep, wishing of him.
It was the weekend before Vix plucked up the courage to return. Sol wasn't there but astonishingly, the flat had been tidied, polished, even hoovered. That was so unlike him. Had they brainwashed him? Drummed in an Eleventh Commandment... thou shall do the housekeeping? A single good thing out of bad.
Being 'home' made her needy... too many happy memories returning. Wanting Sol badly but it was unlikely he'd be up for a shag. Ever. If out for his usual Saturday wander, it'll be hours before he returned. Not even caring to undress she got her vibe out and threw herself on the bed.
On her back she teased its shivering length over her drenched panties before tugging them off and pushing it gently in. Its shaking sensations were no substitute but you make do. Thighs widening, skirt hitched up, she fumbled inside her blouse, tore inside her bra to massage her nip, as the other hand guided the vibe around and in. She hadn't used it in a while, preferring the natural warmth and skin of her fingers, and the batteries were dying, a low throbbing but that was better than its high, bee buzz, setting. She imagined Sol inside her, vibrant, hard, hot, losing herself to fantasy. Her 'God'... passionate, full of fire, creating worlds, a whole universe, of pleasure within...
Her urgency to be hammered gatecrashed any modesty and, grappling the skirt zip to loosen it, ripping open her blouse and tugging the bra free to rub her breasts, she thrust the vibe deep inside her wet cunt, ground it over her clit and in, over and in, over... in... She lost control almost instantly, ripples of raw ecstasy shuddering over the rubbery shaft, cries and squeals torn from her throat. As her orgasm crashed through her, Vix pulled the vibe out, letting its warmed, wet shimmies play on the sensitive skin above her muff... more dirty dreamings of Sol cumming on her, the hot spurts sizzling and arousing. Fuck, that used to be so horny...
Tears of bittersweet relief streaming from her eyes, she tossed her head to one side and saw...
Sol was in the bedroom door, holding a shopping bag, watching with shocked expression. Dizzy from her climax, she struggled to sit, pull her skirt down, her blouse together but by the time she had, all that was left of Sol was the loud slamming of the flat door. Gone.
Shit'n'fuck! Vix swore inwardly. If religion hadn't built the coffin for their relationship already, that had nailed it for sure.
Tearful, Vix waited on the sofa all day, and it was dark by the time Sol returned. No lights on, he assumed she had gone, and started when he realised she was there. She stood and pressed her shaking body against his.
"I'm sorry," she cried, "I don't want to lose you. I miss you that much."
Sol held her gently, "I miss you too." And Vix could feel, against her stomach, that he did. "But we need some... self control."
She nodded an understanding she didn't have. Make it work, she thought, do what he wants. For now. Don't throw it all away...
As he wiped away her tears, she asked, "What can I do to make it up to you?"
Sol realised he was almost asking the impossible but she had to have faith in him, his new friends. "Would you... come to church with me? Tomorrow?"
Vix sighed. It meant nothing to her but, yes, for him... she agreed.
It wasn't so much unpleasant as just lost on Vix. A community church, evangelical. What they called low religion, less ritual and more social. Lots of hugging and smiles. But there seemed a blind, sheep-like following to the leaders, the elders. Do as you're told. It clashed with her ideas about questioning. Parrot-fashion recitals from a book two millennia past its sell by.
After the lessons, there was fellowship. More mixing and hugging people you didn't know but had common faith in God. Trying to smile alongside Sol, they became a faceless crowd to Vix.
Except one among the milling multitude that suddenly shook her. Oh my god... him!
She had a vision... flashback a few weeks.
Andi's party. Sol was working late, bless, so she'd gone alone. Too much drink, uppers and pounding tunes were potent uncaring aphrodisiacs. Vix slammed her body round the lounge dance space until she collided with his... Nick, mate of a friend of Mel's. Gorge, deep blue eyes and a dark devilish goatee. Wasn't long before they were wrapped round each other on the sofa, snogging like there's no tomorrow. Her hand slipped inside his jeans, stroked his massive dick, while his clawed up her dress, inside her knix and pummeled the pounding wet heat of her vaj until suddenly, she came on his fingers with loud urgent pants, smothered by his tongue and drowned out by the music. No-one saw or cared, each lost in their own dances, highs or smoochies...
It was obvious Nick recognised her too. Not knowing where to look...
Shit you're amazing, Nick mouthed to Vix, and half-shouted in her ear, let's fuck! They dragged each other through the loud, writhing party, past couples wrapped in half-dressed ecstasies of their own, floor, stairs, landing. One empty bedroom over the lounge shook from the hellish sound system below, the beats an anthem for their bodies. Vix fumbled with Nick's condom but gave up, lust overwhelming her, just wanting him inside... animal with need. Naked... carnal... savage... Over and over, each fuck mixing with the next. Sun peeking through curtains as the sound system fell silent and they collapsed together, heaving with damp burning exertion and exhilaration...
No words after... just looks. A secret, one-off night of abandon. Forgotten...
Vix had got back to the flat by Sunday afternoon. "How was it?" Sol asked. She recalled Nick rocking her world. "Fucking A!" Then she dragged Sol to bed and fucked him too, with every unbound inspiration Nick gave her. "Musta been some hell of a party... " Sol panted as Vix's thighs finally released him. She just nodded, the biggest, silliest, shit-faced grin ever behind her hanging curtain of red hair. That week, Nick was laid off... they hadn't fucked since.
Nick whispered to some other guys, all looking at her. What were they saying? Then she lost them in the crowd.
"What did you think?" Sol asked, beaming, his faith renewed by the service.
Vix was distracted, replying half-heartedly. "Yes, very nice... "
Someone beside pushed paper into her hand. A glimpse of Nick walking quickly away. She couldn't read it with Sol there. It was probably his telephone number. She was left bemused... why would Nick want her when Sol didn't?
At home, while Sol cooked lunch... another good new thing... she opened the crumped note.
It just said, in bold red marker, WHORE!
A terrible accusation but it hinted at the truth.
Vix could barely eat. Sol could sense her tension, even if the threatened tears were not obvious enough. He reached over and held her trembling hand, caringly. "What's the matter, love?"
She had thought the church of ignoring the truth so she had to come clean herself. Confess. She showed Sol the note, and told him the whole sorry, sordid story about Nick. No holds barred. If their relationship was over, perhaps this was the best reason for him, not just her, to say so.
If Sol was angry or saddened, he didn't show it openly. But Vix knew him well enough to know it hurt, deeply. Like those statues of Christ with an open heart, or crying tears of blood. There was a long, contemplative silence before Sol rose slowly, and hugged her. Still caring, loving.
"I forgive you." he told her. "Perhaps I neglected you too much before, working long hours, and then..."
Vix sobbed her heart out, tears of thankful joy for him mixing with the sadness of her betrayal.
In the week, just as Vix was thinking things might just be alright, she bumped into Nick and some of his mates again. Christians they might be, friends through faith of Sol, but they hissed "Whore!", "Witch!" and "Adulteress!". One picked up a stone and aimed it her, slashing her cheek. Vix bit her lip, held her head high, and ignored them as more pebbles bounced off her back. Sol mattered more to her.
That evening, he saw the cut, the blood on her blouse as he sorting the washing. "Nick?" he asked. Vix's tearful silence confirmed it.
"Come to church with me on Sunday." Sol requested. Vix shook her head. "For me?"
Vix sighed. A vague nod.
It was obvious Nick had been spreading the word. Chairs emptied around Sol and Vix, isolating them. Accusing, persecuting glances and stares through the sermons and lessons. When the Leaders and Elders welcomed open prayers from the congregation, Sol stood.
"It's come to my attention that..." he looked around, briefly singling out Nick, "Certain people here have been saying unkind things about Vix." And his hand fell to find hers, resting on her shoulder. "She may not be with us in God, but is this how we welcome people? Make them want to find God, in their own way?"
A lot of eyes followed Sol's gaze to Nick. Surprisingly, he stood defensively.
"Do you know what we... she... did? She forced herself on me" His eyes burned into Vix. " She tempted me."
There was a collective gasp. The church Elders looked at Vix. Their Leader asked, "Is this true?"
Vix nodded but Sol countered, "I say, let they who are without sin cast the first stone. Vix has already confessed her part to me. I say, there was no resistance to any temptation from Nick. Both are equally to blame. Considering who is, and isn't, in God here... which should have been stronger?"
Concerned, the Leader rubbed his chin. "Can all concerned see us afterwards please... "
If Vix was expecting the Spanish Inquisition, she was wrong. Most of the church Leaders and Elders were her parents age or younger, and they expressed a parental concern when discovering she was expecting as well.
She repeated her tale, word for word, with Sol nodding that this was he had been told. No embellishment or exaggeration.
Nick tried to blame Vix for everything. Bumping into him deliberately, touching him down there, even suggesting having sex was her call, her demand. "She was like a woman possessed." The Elder countered why he was at such a party in the first place. That just put him in the way of temptation from anything... drink, drugs, let alone anyone.
There was one consideration Nick knew nothing of. Vix looked at him. "I'm pregnant... what if it's yours?"
Nick went white as death, not having an answer. Sol was equally shocked but held Vix's hand tighter.
"Vix," the Elder addressed her, "You made a bad mistake but you confessed, accepted your blame, and are sorry for it. That counts a lot here. The Good Book says, 'hate the sin, not the sinner'. Sol has forgiven you. As that is his wish, we do too." He smiled at her, and Vix returned it. A sign of mutual respect and understanding across the divide of beliefs. Good and bad on both sides.
As for Nick, he had lied, tried to absolve responsibility, and spread evil words. The Elders said they would deal with him. Vix had visions of a rack before Sol told her it meant serving the community as punishment.
Sol looked at Vix, "What you said... could the baby be Nick's?"
She nodded tearfully, "I messed up. You... him... same day. Could be." She hugged him for dear life. "I've been so dishonest."
Sol got down on one knee. "Then perhaps... I should make an honest woman out of you. Vix, will you marry me, after all this? I'd like the baby to be born inside wedlock, even if..."
"Oh, God yes!" Vix squealed. The Elders looked surprised.
"Oops... sorry." She added. More happy smiles of understanding.
The rest of the year was happier. Vix and Sol came to an understanding not to discuss religion. She let him have his times... grace at meals, time to pray, as long as he didn't ram it down her throat. She even got a letter of apology from Nick.
A registry office marriage was fasttracked, and Sol's church had a blessing ceremony for them.
As Vix got bigger, the Elders invited her in to pray for the baby, lay hands on the growing swell of her stomach.
The baby, a young girl, was born on Christmas Day. Like Joseph before him, Sol wasn't the actual father witnessing the birth. Another miracle, even if the conception was less than immaculate.
Would Sol have forgiven this and Nick, Vix thought, if he hadn't found God? For once she let Him, if he existed, have that one, and said a small prayer of thanks to existence, however it got there - divine creation or big bang - if nothing else...
Victoria Blisse's Sunday Snog
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I can't remember what the exact inspiration for this was... I know I was searching through my own experiences, as I tend to, for story ideas. I have to confess I'm the sort of person who likes to make their characters work for their 'rewards'. And good God, did I put poor Vix, the main character, through a literal hell.
I could write for both sides from real experience. I've been an atheist, a born again Christian, an apostate, and went to Anglican, Baptist and Evangelical churches. I didn't want to paint either side as right or wrong, so there is good and bad on both. Vix, the humanist and atheist, makes a mistake. Nick, the Christian, isn't as good as he makes out. Sol tries to do the right things, according to his new beliefs. The Elders too.
All are human. All are fallible.
In accordance with the submission guidelines, this had to be edited down to 2,000 words. The editorial feedback was positive, as I was '...to be applauded for taking on potentially controversial subject matter' but in many ways it tried to do too much for a short story, even in this, the original draft, running to just under 3,000 words.
I hope you enjoy it.