In this seaside conservatory, running with rain, I sit with Cordelia and her sisters, smoking cigarettes and eating fruitcake and wondering what it would be like to be kissed by them.
Cordelia, who dresses like a man with good intentions, winks her one true eye at me. She has her reasons, I am sure. She blows smoke rings at me across the glass room, and beckons me to sit in her lap.
'Come here' she whispers, hoarsely, and hitches up her skirt. Her knees above her men's socks are white and scarred.
'I will feed you chili cup cakes so that your mouth will taste both sweet and hot.'
Awe flips into fear. Or is it the other way around? Cordelia's mouth is old and dry with crumbs sticking to it. She is nasty in the way all tainted things are. Even the breath of her is as sweet as a sucked pastille.
Once I am on her knee, she rocks us, and makes me fish down the front of her bodice for the photo she keeps there of her blind lover. They had, she tells me again and again, but one good eye between them. 'Kissing him' she says pursing her antique lips into the memory, 'was irresistibly bad.'
I look at the creases of him, try to puzzle out what is being erased.
He had begged leave to bring her flowers, roses perhaps or passion flowers. Chinese lanterns or crysanthemums.
'Flowers.' She spits into the fire 'I'd much rather he had pinned me against a rough wall and delivered me a big bunch of shuddering thrills.' And she pinches my leg.
It is an almost belligerent way of being happy. Think what you will, but when Cordelia and her sisters light each other's cigarettes, in this conservatory, overlooking the sea, I close my eyes and breathe it all in, and I think nothing could be sexier, more cheerfully wicked than this.
The copyright of this post belongs to Claire Steele