Happiness is Not a Constant Thing

(Hold onto your hats – this one has sexual content)

You sit on the edge of my jacket, with your back to me, doing up your shirt buttons. I look at the way your hair is cut around the back of your ears and want to cup my hands around your skull and draw your warm face towards me. I need you to spend more time with me.
‘Happy?’ you ask, half-turning so that we can almost, but not quite, see each others’ faces and patting my bare thigh in the absent-minded way one might pat a dog.
‘Mmm, yes,’ I answer quietly and then offer a small gentle laugh as evidence.

‘Happy’?
Happy? What? Right now? Happy with that quick hump?
Or happy with life? With this situation?

Six months ago, on the bitterest of January days as we bent over hot cups of coffee, when you first touched my fingers across the table, I felt a warm, fluid flush of life to my belly. I felt desirable, passionate, obsessed, was always laughing. In the next three months I enjoyed the excitement of secrecy and of being wanted.
‘I NEED to see you,’ said your texts. ‘I WANT you. I have to be with you NOW.’
But when did I feel happy?

Am I happy now? No.

My body is betraying me. It tells me to reach for you, to plead with you, to get you back inside me. As you were heaving up and down on me, sweating at the neck and breathing your hot breath onto my face, your pheromones swam up my nose and into my brain, flooding my limbic system with messages of desire and pleasure. I delighted in your even features as your glazed eyes looked at me, but didn’t really look at me, in the throes of your orgasm and the animal-me wanted to scream, ‘Yes! Stay inside. Give me your sperm. You are a good mate.’
Now my groin aches with unfulfilled sexual need and I want to push my hips into yours and squeeze you into me but you are gone. Done.

Now I don’t like you.

I stare at your back. The back of your shirt. Your stupid, grey shirt – you silver-backed gorilla, turned away from me, so at-ease with yourself, so pleased with yourself. So happy with yourself and your pulling success, your leadership success. It won’t last though. Happiness is not a constant thing. Maybe when you get back to your car, someone will have keyed a big scratch along the bodywork. Maybe back at work there will be mutiny in the ranks or the stocks and shares won’t play ball in your favour anymore.

An aching left buttock draws my attention to the fact that half my bare arse is on the wet ground while you are as neat and dry as when we arrived.
I feel damp and messy from the deed and the location and even though it is a warm July afternoon, I shiver and hug myself.
‘You’d better get dressed,’ you say, slipping your shoes on and standing up.
I shuffle into the middle of my ruined, grass-stained jacket and feeling suddenly self-conscious, wrap my cardy quickly around my shoulders before reaching for my underwear. My clothes are crumpled and scattered. You didn’t care where you threw them as you undressed me. Yet your clothes are neat and won’t betray you.
I want you to stay and hold me, warm me, talk to me, but you are waiting to go. The moment was over for you the second you groaned ‘Oh yes!’ and looked up for your pants.

When did that, ‘Oh yes!’ start? I wonder… Was it about the same time you did away with conversation, eye contact and hand-holding?
And when was the last time you said my name? Asked how I am?
These days, if a quick tongue in the mouth and a simultaneous two-handed tit and arse squeeze hasn’t got me damp in the first minute, you don’t take your time with looks and words, you simply push my knickers down and lick you finger.
You sure are a man confident that your needs will be met…

I say I won’t get a lift with you this time – I will walk along the canal. I see surprise in your face, but the relief – oh, the barely disguised relief!
I’m up, half-dressed and feeling awkward as you kiss me politely on the cheek and leave, jiggling your mobile phone at me, as if to say, ‘I’ll be in touch.’

The canal path is quiet and empty but for a short round man walking his short round dog. The man has a large bent nose and no hair and swings left-right-left-right as he walks towards me. I’m tall and wearing city-clothes and I’m suddenly concerned that he hates people like me. My legs crease as I approach a bench and wait for them to pass. I want to look occupied, so I read your crude text from 2 hours ago:
‘Your [omitted] smells divine and turns me on. Fancy meeting in the woods by the canal?’
I text a reply:
‘You smell divine, but so does bacon and I’ve given up pigs.’
I don’t send it.
I get to my feet and hurl the mobile phone into the canal.
In all those six months, he didn’t even bother to find out my address. The idiot.
I don’t want to turn and see if the phone sinks in case I see it floating on the surface all grimy and unwanted. That would be awful.

The man watches me walk away. ‘Bloody hell, Missus!’
I have shocked him. He chuckles. It is a contagious chuckle and I smile without looking back.
‘Bloody hell indeed,’ I giggle.

Happy?

Ecstatic.

But it won’t last.

N.B.
The title for this came about after listening to an interview on BBC Radio 4 last week with the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. When Jenni Murray asked if, despite a challenging life, she was happy, the Duchess paused and said slowly, ‘Happiness is not a constant thing.’ I knew that she was going to say that and said it out loud along with her and then wrote it down.
I’m not sure she would have been happy to have inspired a story about sex though!
(It wasn’t entirely what I intended- the characters kind of took over!)

23 thoughts on “Happiness is Not a Constant Thing

  1. wow, this showed the unravelling of a coupling expertly and with a lot of powerful feeling. In fact I’d go so far as to say it’s brutal! Guess the pheromones got diluted in the effect they had, kind of like how a drug addict needs higher dosages just to stay at the same level. Great stuff.

    marc nash

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  2. Excellent story Rachel. Oooh I was hating that man by the end, you made me feel the character’s emotions.
    It is beautifully written.

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  3. Hi Rachel,

    This is great!
    I love the conversational style.
    It’s powerful, emotive and real and has great pace.
    I just read it and loved it.
    Haven’t got a bad thing to say about it actually!

    Another Rach x

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  4. I really like your style and the way the writing flows. I can just ‘feel’ the words and the emotions of the narrator in the story by the way it’s told. I think it’s a story any woman can relate to all too well.

    I also just fell in love with the title the moment I saw it on twitter.

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  5. My subconscious & Muse wrote my story this week as well, but took me in a much stranger and darker direction. This played well in my mind and the emotions sounded true to life.

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  6. This is so good. Such vivid writing and characterisation – exactly what you need in flash. And the ending is so satisfying. Despite having got into a situation she probably didn’t ought to have, she turns a corner. Ace.

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  7. This is really great. I suppose like so many tales it’s one that we are familiar with but you handled it magnificently. I just loved the line ‘offer a small gentle laugh as evidence.’ It’s these astute and sharp observances that make good writing great and you have that ability. I was consumed by the journey and the flip was wonderful, the ‘silver backed gorilla’. The ‘I don’t like you’. So much to enjoy here, great job.

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  8. Fantastic stuff Rachel! You conveyed her decay of the relationship with such depth. I love how this line sums up her feelings: “I don’t want to turn and see if the phone sinks in case I see it floating on the surface all grimy and unwanted. That would be awful.” Unwanted, just like she feels.

    Bravo!

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  9. Loved this. It captures that niggling feeling of having realized that you’ve given a lot and gotten….not so much in return. You need to read Sian Hughes’ poem ‘Delete’ from her book ‘The Missing’ (just won the Seamus Heaney prize).

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  10. Quite excellent writing here. Many wonderful images/lines. Laughed at the ‘You smell divine, but so does bacon and I’ve given up pigs.’

    That was brilliant! 🙂

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  11. An extremely well written piece, I took her side and really felt for her, and her reaction to how she felt used, and trivialised.

    From a male POV, this is not the way to a successful relationship.

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  12. Thanks folks.
    Totally terrific comments. It’s a bit scary writing saucy stuff and waiting for it to be received (or not!).
    I’m Very impressed with the men who have commented here or on Twitter to denounce such behaviour. Hooray for intelligent, sensitive men – we love you!
    Mary – I will go look for that ‘Delete’ poem, thanks x

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  13. Hi Rachel, thank you for the post on my blog, I’m writing this to let you know that blogger did let you through this time. 🙂

    And I think women need to know that not all men are rats, (I think most men are actually hurt by the way they are often typecast) I don’t subscribe to the battle of the sexes, we were put on this earth to complement, and not to oppose each other. 🙂

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  14. The title reminds me of another aphorism I learned long ago, “Happiness is a method of travel, not a destination.”

    You wrote the male character so well that I hate him.

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