jolts from their bodies; it crackles and sparks and
ricochets through the commuter crush. Others turn
from them, but I'm jammed in close. I divert my gaze
to the landscape outside, the warehouse husks and
shipping containers engulfed by purple flowers, the
graffiti and the littered banks. I focus, I try to
focus, but the image of the two strangers is inescapable
as it reflects back to me in the glass. Inside me,
a week’s worth of frustration builds up. The pressure
pushes against me. I cross my legs and squeeze them
tight. This morning I told Evan I want ‘him’ out.
If he's there when I get home tonight, I’ll be leaving.
It’s up to Evan to decide – his Uncle Jules or me.
night Uncle Jules arrived; Evan and I were in the
middle of a game. I knelt on the floor; Evan hovered
above me. He rocked back and forth, pulling away from
me then inching closer. My tongue extended, trawling
for a taste of him. He ran his fingers through my
hair, tight enough to hold me back, firm enough to
anchor me. With my hands tied behind my back, I'd
otherwise be likely to topple face down in my frenzied
gulping for him. Evan nudged me back onto my heels
and, when I became good and quiet, he brushed the
tip of his cock toward me. As it quivered against
my lips, I strained to touch him. My tongue lapped
around him like waves, drawing him to me.
He pressed his cock between my lips. I wrapped my
mouth around it, gripping it tight, mooring it inside
was then we heard the knock at the door. I lost concentration
and Evan broke away. He pulled on his pants despite
my pleas. No one good ever knocks at your door after
10 o’clock at night.
went to the door.
mass of dreadlocks and tie-dye stood on the doorstep.
I willed Evan to donate a few bucks to save the whales
or feed the poor, or whatever, so we could get back
to our game.
Jules?” said Evan.
come in.” And in he came with his battered backpack,
his bongo drums and his impermeable smell of sandalwood.
He smirked at me as I wiggled free of the ropes.
Evan cooked him up a feed, I headed back to the bedroom,
hoping Evan would follow close behind. Uncle Jules
lectured on the evils of sweatshops as I closed the
kitchen door. I waited two hours for Evan.
envelopes me. I sense a drop of sweat developing on
the back of my thighs. It trickles down my leg, but
I keep staring out the window. Only three stations
to go: South Yarra, Prahran, Windsor, and then home.
The boy opposite lifts his girlfriend’s indigo hair
and nips at her neck. Their legs entangle. It reminds
me that everyone else in the world is fucking, except
for me. Every person on this train – him and him and
her, even the woman huddled in the back corner who
looks like she gave up smoking ten years ago and misses
it every single day – all of them are going home to
screw. At least the others have the decency to conceal
I got up the next morning, Uncle Jules was showered
and sprawled at the breakfast table. He had a bandanna
wrapped around his head and a sarong around his waist.
I doubt he wore anything beneath it. Long grey hairs
wisped against his leathery chest, and he beat out
a mono-rhythm on his drum. He looked at me with a
recently showered, the smell of sandalwood clung to
him, not fresh and newly applied but ingrained into
his skin. His presence squashed me into a corner.
I took tiny nibbles of my toast and drew patterns
in the crumbs on the table.
quiet this morning, aren’t you, Lizzie?”
way he said my name made me wince. I collected the
toast crumbs on my fingertips, not wanting to look
up but could feel him. Staring. I wrapped my robe
tighter around myself. I thought maybe I was being
paranoid but, as I stood up to put my coffee mug in
the sink, he made a noise part way between a sigh
and a plaintive cat’s meow. A perfect imitation; he'd
been listening to us fuck. Uncle Jules chuckled as
I left the room.
rocking of the train reverberates between my legs.
Its regular pounding mocks me, teases me without release.
I concentrate on the station names. Prahran, Windsor,
home. I want to get home. I want to get home and find
girl circles her boyfriend’s neck and they lock lip
piercings. As he traces spider-fingers along the lace
top of her stockings, I wonder that the whole damn
train can’t hear the pounding of my cunt. Ba-boom,
night, his laughing face spooks me. We try to be quiet
and it almost works until the waft of sandalwood hits
me. That night I push Evan away for the first time.
try to compress myself into the corner and think of
grocery shopping and laundry and the movie of the
week. Only one station left: Windsor, then home.
can’t stand it any longer. I can’t even work. Today
I just wanted to straddle the chair arm and start
rutting against it. I wanted to run into the broom
closet and ram a handle inside me or lean over the
desk of our 42-year-old cardigan-wearing accountant
and scream for him to rip off my knickers and pork
me stupid; anything to soothe this nagging cunt ache.
I told Evan that I wanted to go to a hotel, a cheap,
sleazy hotel by the highway where we can fuck noisily,
he said we couldn’t even afford a flea pit. But he’s
been buying organic vegetables for his uncle who can’t
eat anything drenched in hormones or pesticide or
white-man land rape. He said to wait. If I am fucked
furiously every day for the rest of my life, it still
won’t compensate me for the fucking I am missing.
I think the desire has become too much: when I get
to the point of blatant disregard for convention or
place, the voyeurism of used-up hippies, when I am
determined to walk in the door and take Evan, mounting
him with hell-bent fury and grinding my lust into
tiny particles - when I get to that point - I walk
in the door, and the smell of sandalwood overwhelms
me. My desire retreats like the outgoing tide, and
I'm left stranded. The train gets steamy hot. Sweat
condenses on my under-thigh. It beads and trickles.
As the train kicks back to a stop, her leg, her Goth-girl
skull-and-crossbone stocking encased leg, knocks against
me. It's hard and bony, with no remorse. She's caught
up in the moment, oblivious to the outer circle of
her lust. The boy’s hand moves up, lifting her skirt,
exposing the bare skin above her stocking top.
hand plays with the strap of my bag. Fidgeting. Frustrated.
Her hand plays with his leg, running swirls that move
ever closer to his crotch.
has to ask him to leave. I know that. It would be
easy for me to throw him out - backpack, bongo drum,
whale music, clove cigarettes and fucking sandalwood
oil – splattered almost the bins in the bluestone
back alley. I'd rub my hands together for a job well
done and slam the door with glee, but Evan thinks
that blood is thicker than water. I think Evan is
just thick. Too thick to get rid of his putrid, freeloading
uncle who makes my cunt dry up and my clitoris shrivel,
who makes my lust distort and warp and reappear, Godzilla-like,
at inappropriate times and places. Evan is definitely
thicker than water. I get ready to leave the train.
Goth girl has gone limp; her boyfriend’s hand disappears
under the hem of her skirt. I try not to look, but
I am aware of every subtle thrust. I strain not to
touch myself; I want to move my hand in time with
his, picking up his rhythm. Her face is expressionless;
only the fluttering of her half-closed eyes betray
her. The smell of arousal fills the carriage. I don’t
know whether it is mine or hers or a mingling of the
two. As I stand to leave the train, she emits a scream
that echoes the squeal of train brakes - she isn’t
afraid who hears her – then she scrambles to gather
her bags. As I walk toward the door, I glance back
and see her suck her boyfriend’s fingers in a gesture
am molten, a mix of sweat and juices, sun-melted and
lust-melted. All except my heart, which pounds inside
my chest cavity like a kiddie’s space-hopper. Every
step along the alley takes me closer to home and I
wonder if I'll have the strength to pick up my things
and leave. I tell myself that he will still be there
but my heart is a fool. My heart feels hope and unfounded
I turn the corner, a cool breeze blows off the bay.
The weather is turning and by night, we'll have a
turn my key in the apartment lock, muttering a prayer.
I enter and all I sense is an absence. Evan has opened
all the windows, and the wind blows heavy through
the curtains. It blows away the heat and frustration
and the lingering traces of sandalwood. I run into
2007 Kathryn O’Halloran