I don’t know how long I stared at it before my brain kicked into gear again. By that time the plane was already airborne, the seat belt sign had blinked off, and the cabin was filled with the hum of the engines and usual noises accompanying an international flight. I grabbed—actually grabbed—the wrist of the first stewardess passing by and demanded water. I felt desiccated, my throat turning into parchment. When the water arrived, I gulped the entire bottle in one go; it only served to upset my stomach. All this time, the pass was clenched between my fingers, protruding like a label dutifully detailing the salient features of the corresponding curio, and when I looked at it I quivered as if from an electric charge, feeling ready to throw up. It took an enormous effort to hold down the contents of my stomach, but then my intestines launched a truly unbearable assault. I leaned back, prepared to surrender to the next convulsion, but the spasms ceased as suddenly as they’d begun, giving way to a feeling of complete relaxation, which released the tension and turned my body into a docile, amorphous mass. Though helpless, I liked it better than balancing on the verge of puking, although now I was entertaining the possibility of being possessed by an unknown entity making itself at home inside me.
The thought of it made me shudder. I wanted to fight the implausible intruder despite the apathy that enveloped me, but I didn’t know how. A minute or two passed, and nothing changed. I remained in physical torpor, my mind clear, but my body incapable of voluntary movement. Now I believed the condition was my own doing, a ridiculous concomitant of my impressionability. And then I asked perhaps the strangest question I could think of in that setting. I asked it literally, pronouncing the words softly and clearly, and my own voice sounded so melodious I could hardly believe it was mine:
The hum of the engines continued unperturbed, and this detail invigorated me. Moved by a profound appreciation of my fortune, I slid up against the back of my seat, ignoring the fact that I was once again in control of my body, closed my eyes and, abandoning rationality, dove into unchecked contemplation of the lethal weapon still clenched in my left hand.
As courageous thoughts burgeoned in my head, I saw Martina’s face, her demonic, deceitful face, framed by curly blonde hair—a detail that always made me view her as innocent. As I kept staring, spellbound by this phantom, the image grew eerie. It took me a moment to figure out what was wrong at first; then I realized that her eyes were no longer hers. In fact, they weren’t eyes at all but two pools of radiating light, as captivating as they were blinding. Then the image of her face began to recede, a thin cloud of golden specks shimmering around her. Once she had moved far enough for me to lose the sensation of her body heat, I realized that she was completely naked.
I hate to make this confession but I have to, to at least attempt to steer you away from misunderstandings: I’d never allowed myself to have sexual fantasies about Martina. I had envisioned us together countless times, but none of those involved intercourse or even its prelude. Employing women for imaginary sex was an unusual thing for me to begin with, and Molly had been taken out of that equation completely, though not in tribute to her nonexistent chastity. It was exactly the opposite: I believed she was so superb in bed that a mere fantasy wouldn’t do her justice.
She had to be. Promiscuous women come in two types: those who do it out of insecurity, and those who do it out of confidence. The former type is as ubiquitous as the latter is rare, so most men are unaware of this dichotomy. The women of the first kind exude sexual power even if dressed as nuns; the second type exchanges a fraction of sexual power for a profusion of sexual flavor, which elevates them to the venerable position of sexual artists. Theirs is the most exquisite touch imaginable, and all they do is idiosyncratic. Those women are so special that, no matter how unspeakable the sexual practices they engage in, their inimitable magic turns that silly and laughable business into a worthy act. It is only with them that one can have the sex of a lifetime, yet when they leave you they brush off every memory of you, often forgetting that they’d even slept with you—for them, you had already become just another grain of alleged masculinity that was not worth getting wet for.
With this preamble, I want to warn you about what followed on that plane, my fingers clutching the pass like a ticket to another universe. Which is precisely what it turned out to be. But at that moment, while losing every bit of my sanity to a monstrously real vision, I knew only what I saw, although this kind of seeing had nothing to do with the eyes.
It was a dream, but I was wide awake. I heard everything; in fact, my audial perception sharpened to such an extreme I could map out the entire cabin, its animate and inanimate contents, by the noises filtered from beneath the drone of the engines. And yet all that input blanched in comparison with the spectacle unfolding before me, in which I was also a most active participant.
It’s hard to describe where we were. We seemed to float in a space pierced by a multitude of incandescent threads issuing from a world-renowned painter’s acid trip. Paradoxically, the intensity of the colors was in no way distracting; on the contrary, it felt integral to the moist tangle surrounding my darling and me. I promise to keep my language reasonably discrete, but if you are afraid of your sensibilities being affronted, do skip to the words “When I opened my eyes”.
An astute man once said everything in this world is about sex, except sex. Molly and I proved this a lie. What happened between us in that mental projection was nothing but sex for the sake of sex, even though the word “sex” was a euphemism. The two of us fucked like the two insatiable maniacs we were, first fucking until it hurt, then fucking while it hurt, and finally fucking so that it would stop hurting. She lost herself as soon as I pulled her hair, running my knuckles down her neck, and when I reached her chest she went berserk, daring me to tear her to shreds and laughing in my face, implying I would never be able to. I relished the challenge, oscillating between the animalistic and the superhuman, equilibrium evading me. I knew that my only chance was to strike a rhythm in unison with her, an impossible task given how fitful she was. I myself had been notorious for changing rhythm in sex, but she was something out of this world. Perpetually in motion, wriggling and squirming, constantly shifting between fast, faster and fastest, she flowed like quicksilver, enshrouding me and estranging herself in one move, ever a step ahead of my next thought. Then I realized that matching her uncontrolled madness was tantamount to self-destruction and, empowered by this epiphany, grabbed her by the throat, her lower half contorting and undulating, and began setting my own tempo. She fought ferociously, doing her best to disrupt me with uncensored chaos, but it crushed against my intent while I held her in an iron grip. Worn down by my unyielding determination, her convulsive, unpredictable movements slowed until I was flooded by a spectacular sensation. I felt my body dissolve into Martina’s, her feelings blending with mine, before I saw that we were no longer two people; in fact, we weren’t people at all. We had become a tight knot of energy linked to every incandescent thread, and the mere awareness of that fact filled me with an unimaginable ecstasy that cancelled notions of time and space—I knew nothing other than the uniform bliss I was submerged in, a constant that had always been and would always be.
When I opened my eyes, I was panting. My lugubrious neighbor was solicitously offering me a napkin from beneath her wineglass. While she must have thought I was fighting the flu, I now knew that I was possessed: I had no other explanation for the phantasmagoria that had played out in my head. I couldn’t even call it a hallucination: as far as I was concerned, what had just gone on in my brain was more real than the plane I was on and the universe that surrounded it. The latter seemed a travesty of the incredible realm I had had at my fingertips a moment ago, and the notion of having lost it filled me with such beastly sadness that tears flowed down my cheeks while bitterness clotted inside my throat until there was no more strength in me to regret anything.
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