I do not use the word slut.
At least, it is not a bad word.
I call myself a slut,
with my emotions
"the sluttiest virgin in the world"
that’s what my ex called me
the night I met up with her
in London and kissed her
so hard when in wine
and said, “I’ve missed these lips”
even though she had a boyfriend
and we had broken up
originally because she’d cheated on me.
I’m a bad friend when I’m infatuated.
In college I monopolised my time
on the current object of my affections
and hurt my friends and barely realised.
I am a slut, in thought and feeling.
I do not use the word slut.
But sometimes, in jealousy, I want to.
Because I can’t ignore that she is small
fits in the palm of your hand
and her femininity would suit your masculinity
and possibly already has
that slut- no.
It is none of my business.
That word has been hammered into me
between the ages of eleven and now,
right between my eyes and not between my legs.
Perhaps that’s the problem.
I do not use the word slut
but sometimes the word slut
The first and the last
He’s broad and dark-haired and has a Scottish accent, and despite all the things he used to say about Scotland, Bond does love a Scottish accent. Even more so when that Scottish accent belongs to a beautiful man saying that he would like to see more of him. Bond replies that he hopes he will.
And he does.
There’s something so quaint about London teashops. Even when they’re commercialized and crowded, or tiny with peeling paint on the walls and a bad food hygiene rating, there’s still something nice about sharing a pot of tea with someone on a November afternoon, with your phone off, feeling like a normal person. Just for that hour.
“I wondered if, maybe if you aren’t busy on Friday night… if you’d like to go for dinner?”
His smile is so charming, slightly lopsided, and his lower lip is redder than the top one from nervous biting.
Bond says that yes, he would like that very much, and returns a version of that wonky smile.
One dinner becomes two, becomes the night back at his flat for coffee. And when the coffee sits steaming on a tray, and Bond has finished looking around the possessions the room holds, somehow Bond’s wandering hand gets lost on the pale expanse of the skin of his chest, another in his hair, tongue between his teeth. Tenting tight suit trousers as his fingers spider up Bond’s thigh, and stumbling to the queen-size bed to do this properly, because Bond firmly believes that anything worth doing is worth doing properly.
Bond sleeps through the night without a single disturbance from the things that come out to play when he dreams, and when he is still there in the morning, the space next to him still warm from body heat and he can smell coffee and—are those scotch pancakes?I—he thinks, well this is new. He doesn’t report that day, and gets an earful from M the next morning, but he just casually observes that the world didn’t end, and by God the sex was worth it.
After a few months, they move in together. Bond doesn’t have much—a few DVDs, a few more books, few things that hold any sentimental value.
“God, what did you do in your spare time before you met me?” he asks with a laugh.
“Why would I want to do anything other than you?” Bond smirks in reply, and soon every room has been christened. Loudly. Some twice. Exactly Bond’s intention.
“Boyfriend” is an experimental term, and it goes through a lot of preliminary testing before they can consider bringing it into use. It is certainly favoured over “lover” “partner” and “significant other”, all of which Bond despises. But he isn’t a fan of “boyfriend” either and not, he is eager to explain, because of something internalized and not dealt with over his own sexuality—he would never call a woman his “girlfriend” either.
“What do I call you?” he asks.
“Call me James,” Bond replies. The first name is enough of a privilege, he thinks.
“But what do I call you in terms of—us?”
Bond looks at him. His stomach swirls. It’s a good feeling.
“If you must call me anything… call me yours.”
He curls a finger gently under Bond’s earlobe.
“And are you? Mine?”
“Yes,” Bond replies, and kisses him before he can taste the lie that the existence of MI6 puts into his mouth.
Bond can’t tell him what he does. He says he is involved with the police. Special operations. Top secret. He says officers have gone to their graves having never been able to tell their wives what their job really entailed.
“And is that what I am?” he flirts, sliding his hands up Bond’s thighs, “Your wife?”
“Absolutely,” Bond replies, smacking him lightly on the arm. He places a hand on the side of Bond’s face, and is suddenly serious.
“You are safe, aren’t you, James? You’re not in danger?”
“Of course not,” James replies. Of course I’m not safe. A finger is trailed down his cheekbone.
“Good,” he replies, “I like you in one piece.”
Bond quirks an eyebrow and makes a joke about keeping himself together, and laughs along with him.
Sometimes it’s very difficult. When Bond’s leaning over the sink spitting blood into the basin, bent from the bruised ribs and squinting through one swollen eye, and “I was mugged” just isn’t enough of an explanation anymore.
“What did they take? What did they take?” he asks. Bond holds the blood in his mouth for a while before spitting, so he doesn’t have to reply.
“You weren’t mugged,” he says, and he doesn’t sound angry, just sad. “Why can’t you tell me what happened to you? Where do you go?”
“I was mugged,” Bond repeats, hating himself. He sees the other man’s look of disgust in the mirror, before he is left alone in the bathroom. He balls a hand into a fist and beats himself sharply on the thigh, gripping onto the sink tightly with the other hand, teeth gritted in pain and remorse.
Bond has been sleeping on his front, because his back has been aching, from physical exertion or the weight of the stress of the secrets, he isn’t sure which. He wakes up one night feeling fingers on his back, tracing the outline of a scar on his shoulder.
“How did you get this?” the other man asks softly. It’s a stab wound. It’s millions of pounds worth of tech, it’s two months of physical therapy, it’s a constant reminder that sometimes, still, he’s just not good enough.
“I fell out of a tree when I was a kid,” Bond replies. Lips brush the twisted tissue soothingly.
“I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Knowing that this is the truth hurts more than every lie.
Bond kisses him on the forehead before he leaves.
“Says you,” is the scoffed reply. His eyes break Bond’s heart. It’s getting harder every day. “Please. Just tell me the truth. Whatever it is, whatever you’ve gotten yourself involved in—God, James, if it’s drugs, if you’re fucking other men, whatever it is, I don’t care! Let me help you!”
“Is that what you think?” Bond yells in a flash of anger at him, at himself, at everyone else. He looks shocked at the outburst, and Bond instantly regrets it, “God. Fuck. I’m sorry. Look—” He pauses, and in an instant makes a decision that he has no right to make, “Tonight. I will tell you everything tonight. I promise.”
“I really do love you, James,” he says quietly, “And I really… really worry about you.”
Bond nods his head, to acknowledge this, but doesn’t know what else to say, not yet. He leaves, reaching down under his suit jacket to wrap his hand around his concealed gun, like it’ll sooth him somehow.
He watches in horror in the second of silence before the explosion. And then the whole block of flats goes up in flames, spreading hungrily up the structure, merciless.
“NO!” he screams out, forgetting all procedure and protocol, “PLEASE, GOD, NO!”
God does not listen. He has never listened to James Bond.
The day of the funeral is sunny. He hates that. He feels like it should be raining, like a grey sky and black umbrellas would numb him. He feels like the entire world should be mourning with him, or London at the very least. He can’t sleep, because every time he shuts his eyes he plays out every different scenario. Sometimes he wishes he’d taken him with him. Other times he wishes that he’d stay, and the flames could have taken him together. He curls into a ball in a bed that is far too big and longs for absolute darkness.
M’s hand is on his arm, just for a few moments, and he knows this is it. Weakness over, no more mourning, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, what’s past is past, the sun will come over the hill; every fucking little saying that doesn’t help a bit when you’re the one it’s happening to. And he knows he can’t carry on this job as long as he lets himself remember. So he packs it all away in a corner of his mind, something that’s there but isn’t look at, like a misplaced photo album.
He craves something to make him forget. Next mission. Istanbul. He’s ready.
Silva slides his hands up Bond’s thighs, and whilst it’s reminiscent, it’s not the same, not at all.
“There’s a first time for everything.”
Bond lets himself remember, and finds himself smiling.
”What makes you think this is my first time?”
That summer was lonely, and seemed dark. A week jaunt to Germany numbed the pain a little, but couldn’t block it completely. The days were filled with sunshine and a shade of happiness: but a shallow joy, one with the constant threat of dismay behind it. When night fell, and I found myself alone and awake in the dark, writing letters in my head that I would not be able to send, I found myself crying again, trying to stifle the sounds with my pillow, wishing somehow I would suffocate myself with it, and yet have it be a tragic accident. Morning would come and find me still alive, and I’d wash and dress thinking that perhaps I was getting better.
Trigger warning: eating disorders.
I’m beginning again.
Sawyer looked at what he had written, and immediately saw the lie in it, and sighed. It didn’t matter how prettily he wrote it, in his neatest handwriting, in real ink in a new journal, to try and claim that this was a beginning was a big, fat lie. What was he beginning, exactly? A rise or a decline? He knew that to abandon recovery wasn’t a beginning, but a dead end.
To try to recover was a beginning, not to avoid doing so. When he was ill, everything was an ending, and ultimately would lead to the last ending of all. But when he was fighting, every day, every smile, every mouthful was a new beginning.
He marked a straight line through the sentence, and sucked on his pen in thought, staining his pink lips blue.
Once upon a time there was a girl named Hannah. She had the most beautiful long hair in all the land, and wore clothes made by the nymphs, spun from sunlight and well-wishes.
One day, Hannah was walking through the forest when she heard a crying sound. This greatly distressed Hannah, as she was so loving and kind that she hated to see any creature unhappy.
She came to a cave at the edge of the woods, and realised that the crying was coming from inside. Bravely, she walked into the darkness of the cave, calling out,
"Hello? Who’s there?"
Suddenly, the crying stopped, and there was a silence.
"I didn’t mean to startle you," Hannah added, as an afterthought. There was a sniffling, followed by the noise of someone moving in the darkness. "Why are you crying?" she asked gently.
"I’m crying because I’m ugly," said a sad, deep voice. Hannah’s pure heart wrenched to hear such an unhappy voice.
"I’m sure you’re not," she replied.
"I am," sighed the voice, "I’m a monster. I’ve never left this cave in my life because I don’t want people to be scared and run away. I wish I could go outside, because it’s scary and lonely inside this dark cave."
"But," Hannah began, confused, "If you have never been into the forest, you can’t have been to the silver pond in the Faerie Glade. How can you say you are ugly if you’e never seen yourself?"
"Because all monsters are ugly," said the monster sadly. Hannah still couldn’t see the creature, apart from a large pair of yellow eyes glowing in the darkness.
"Come outside," Hannah urged, "The sunlight and the trees will make you happy, and the magical creatures who live there will be your friends."
"They will run away," sobbed the monster.
"There will always be people who run away," soothed Hannah, "But that is because they are narrow-minded and don’t understand beauty. The enchanted creatures are my friends, and they see the beauty inside someone. They will want to be your friend too."
"Really?" the monster snuffled hopefully.
"Yes," Hannah smiled, "Follow me."
Hannah led the monster out of the cave. When they stepped into the dappled sunlight, Hannah looked at the monster. She wanted to gasp but didn’t, as she knew the monster would think she was horrified, and he would run back into the cave; but the biggest smile spread across her face.
"Come to the pool in the glade," she said, to him, "I have something that I want to show you."
Together, Hannah and the monster walked through the bright forest, until they reached the glade, where the faeries sat on the banks of the pond, eating sweet nectar, brushing their hair and dipping their plump legs in the water. Hannah took the monster to the water’s edge, where he bowed his head and looked at the surface.
"What is that?" he exclaimed in surprise. For what he saw was a majestic creature: he had the beautiful golden head of a lion, with a thick shiny mane. He had the strong, handsome body of a stallion, and a tail like that of an elegant rattle snake. Hannah smiled and stroked his mane.
"Is it beautiful, do you think?" she asked him.
"Yes," he replied.
"It’s you," Hannah told him. And the monster laughed with joy, and all the faeries were so happy that they laughed with him, until all the dew turned to rainbow light, and lit up the entire forest.
I don’t want to seem like I’m just jumping on the bandwagon after Everyday Love in Stockholm, but I’m getting a copy printed for myself anyway, because I’ve always loved Lulu. Would anyone like a bound, book-like version of my series?
We barely speak anymore. A polite nod or a quiet “Hello,” when we pass in the white and turquoise corridors; the floors we walk, tinged with despair and loss and shiny wet eyes brought on by something other than the strength of the cleaning chemicals. Every time we cross paths I study him in the few seconds I have, taking in what he’s done with his hair, if that’s a new shirt, if he’s lost weight. It sometimes seems astonishing that for five years of my life, I knew him in his entirety. Every fear now realised. Every hope now dashed. Peter is a man broken.
I’ve finished The Beggar Shan’t Have’e, and I hate it. Does anyone actually still want it?
Should I watch a Michael Fassbender film, or should I get drunk and finish The Beggar Shan’t Have’e?