Bill and Jane
Author, The Tryst (Dodo Ink)
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Couples like Bill and Jane are everywhere. Heterosexual, well matched, or so it seems to the outer world. Happy and iconic in their coupledom, the kind of couple others watches, aspire to, like to have in their life. Couples like Jane and Bill are the brick and mortar of the whole system of hetero-normalcy. They keep the planet spinning, hold the status quo in place. They are the real deal, the idea of a hieros gamos, a sacred vanilla marriage: twined souls who’ve met and committed to the sacrament of hooking up for life. How happy they look! How happy they are. Let us look at them with respect and awe and let is honour them. And let us try to be them, too.
And yet, like so many couples, for Bill and Jane, something is wrong. Something they keep secret, and something which troubles them a lot.
Their bed is cold. Cold and unfucked. There is no fire between them. Yup. Common, oh so common, and yet many of these common couples cover this up. Sex carries so much shame and taboo, but there’s nothing like the shame of a celibate marriage or relationship. The ‘no sex’ marriage isn’t a kink or a fetish; it’s something else, especially for younger couples, and yet it’s so so hard to speak about, or it was for me, long ago, when I was a younger woman. What was wrong with me, I used to rail. But back then, I was so invested in patriarchy, I was too meshed in, that I didn’t know where to start or who to go to for help. I only knew PIV (penis in vagina) sex, thought, then, it was the only real sex to have. I was an Innocent, just like Jane, in my new novel, The Tryst.
Therapists say there are always four other people in the bed with the couple, two sets of parents. Creepy idea, eh? Getting it on with Mummy and Daddy watching. Euhhh. And yet there is something here, maybe there is a silent watcher, a judge, and maybe this is one of the problems in the unfucked bed: the parents who crippled us and shamed us at a very young age. For sure, this is true of Bill and Jane in The Tryst. They have sexual instincts, but they are repressed; if you read carefully, the words father and mother weave in and out of their stories. Their marriage is dead till Lilah shows up; Lilah has been living in Jane’s consciousness for some time. Eventually, it’s as if Lilah is actually part of Jane and she is made manifest from Jane’s erotic imagination.
The Tryst, blurb – By Monique Roffey
London, midsummer night. Jane and Bill meet the mysterious Lilah in a bar. She entrances the couple with half-true, mixed up tales about her life. At closing time, Jane makes an impulsive decision to invite Lilah back to their home. But Jane has made a catastrophic error of judgment, for Lilah is a skilled and ruthless predator, the likes of which few encounter in a lifetime. Isolated and cursed, Jane and Bill are forced to fight for each other, and, in doing so, discover their covert desires.
Part psychological thriller, part contemporary magical realism, The Tryst revisits the tale of Adam’s first wife, Lilith, to examine the secrets of an everyday marriage.
Praise for The Tryst
“What makes The Tryst an unexploded virus isn’t just the quality and brightness of Roffey’s writing on sex, even as it uncovers inner glades between flesh and fantasy where sex resides – but the taunting clarity of why those glades stay covered. A throbbing homewrecker of a tale, too late to call Fifty Shades of Red.”
DBC Pierre, Booker Prize winner
Extract from The Tryst
Bored. I could see she was bored the moment I entered the bar. Withdrawn, watching but not seeing much. Bored and unfucked. I could tell that every time, could see it in every fibre: the way the flesh was dead and the eyes were unglowing and the face looked a little doomed. I could read the prig like a book. Always could. The unfucked always watch, looking out for someone else, for they know they’ve made a fundamental error. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I have chosen wrong. I used to see married human females like this all the time, who’d chosen a man who loved them, who was right in all the other ways, a man who didn’t rock the boat, which was why the relationship floated, worked.
The English never knew what to make of me, my forwardness, my daring ways. It was like taking candy from babies. It was always so easy to get laid. I took what I needed from whom I wanted. Easy. But mostly from those couples like Jane and Bill, who had nothing going on down below, no desire between them. It’s not a crime or a sin, to fuck a man till he faints, to release some dumb stupid bitch from her own constraints. They never saw me coming, couples like Jane and Bill; they never believe predators like me exist even though plenty of tales of me, and my like, can be found in the ancient books. Modern humans have forgotten them, the impure woman, the insubordinate. I’m the one who ran away. I am there, in their history, those books the moderns no longer read. I often went to bars alone, hunted alone. The English are such hypocrites. Fuck them and fuck their tight-ass Queen. I saw Bill and Bill saw me. Immediately. He already had the memory of me, all men do. But she didn’t notice him noticing me. Didn’t see him glance at me several times over by the bar, didn’t hear him cough, blush, try to cover himself. Amazing how much a so-called second wife can miss. When the wife-pussy isn’t happy, there’s nothing to safeguard, nothing to lose. I could never infiltrate a fuck- happy couple. But so few of these exist.
She thought it was all her idea! That she set up the entire thing, that it was all her doing. Silly little prig. She had been a looker once and some of that was still there. I could see she once turned heads. Great tits. Nice ass. Good legs. She had a kind of grace she did, Miss Repressed, a kind of – ha ha, impenetrable-ness, little Miss Unfucked, an unused sexiness in her polo neck, her hair tied back. But she was beginning to lose what she’d had and never used, beginning to regret this, I could tell, beginning to fantasise she could have it all back, do it all again. I had it over older women: my pearly taut skin, my edible flesh, my curves and humpable bumps. I had all this forever and ever amen. God I turned myself on looking in the mirror!
I liked the look of Bill, a big-boned voluptuous tree of a man, a mature and bearded oak. All generous with himself, I could tell by his loose and supple boughs, the curve of his stomach, the girth of his thighs, his broad arms. His skin was sun-browned, the colour of heartwood. Our eyes clashed in that bar and he was ashamed and then he was uncertain and tried to look away. But I was taken and determined and knew I’d snare him with all my tricks. Another man sat with them, a different type who saw me too, a fellow predator who appraised me quickly and knowingly. He leered. I smirked with disdain.
I watched and waited.
Yes, Bill. We’ve met. I’m the First. I exist in the loins of all men, including yours.
When Little Miss Polo Neck got up to go to the bar I didn’t have to make a move. Both men looked over and smiled at me. Different smiles. Bill’s was tentative, a despite-himself smile, curious, intense, unsure of himself. The other man gave me a well-known-to-me, broad and welcoming grin. ‘Hello, there, Miss Lady Pussy.’
This with an open-armed gesture.
I slid off my barstool and appeared before them, all radiant four foot ten inches of me. Both men were shocked, impressed. My shortness never fails to make men want to fuck me. My girl-womanliness is a fateful mixture. A fantasy. A child with a whore’s smile. The girl-next-door with a cleavage of rare and captivating beauty. Both men gazed at me. I smiled and sat down on the stool the dark-haired man drew up for me. I wriggled, thrusting my tits upward, twiddling my hair. Bill was uncomfortable, I could tell. He squirmed. I loved it all, loved the attention, wanted to take them both to bed, take off my clothes there and then. I opened my legs, just a crack, spreading my scent.
“Greetings, my friends. This is a kind invitation.”
“I’m Sebastian.” The dark-haired man glowed. “This is Bill.”
“Am I at Elysian Fields?”
Blanche DuBois, of course, a tragic Southern belle of American literature, so pathetic, always made me laugh. I would make these men nervous.
“Oh nothing, just a little joke with myself.” I batted my eyelids. The man called Sebastian openly ogled my chest; the alpha human males are so easy to capture.
“I mean I feel fortunate,” I gushed. “To make your acquaintance, I’m always so happy to receive the kindness of strangers.”
The men stared. My cunt scent had already intoxicated them.
Monique Roffey is an award-winning Trinidadian-born writer. Her novels have been translated into five languages and short-listed for major awards including the Orange Prize, Costa Fiction Award, Encore Award, Orion Award and the OCM Bocas Award for Caribbean Literature. In 2013, Archipelago won the OCM BOCAS Award for Caribbean Literature. Her memoir, With the Kisses of his Mouth, was published in 2011. She is a Lecturer on the MFA in the Novel at Manchester Metropolitan University. She divides her time between the East end of London and Port of Spain, Trinidad.
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