Interlude: The minor movement

HAT’S the movement of love?’

‘The movement of love.’

‘Yes. You know how people attribute colours and tastes and personalities to different emotions.’

‘Affection is a warm orange. Hatred is bitter tasting. Like that?’

‘So what’s the movement of love – of all emotions? What directions do they go in? What shapes do they take?’

‘I don’t know… Anger is a violent vibration, maybe, but rooted to the ground. Delight is a little explosion of energy in all directions.’

‘You’re getting good at this.’

‘Fear is slow, tentative. It’s something small and defenceless scuttling around in the dark.’

‘And love?’

‘What kind of love? Platonic love is a broad, sweeping gesture. Familial love is solid and relentless. Not relentless, that sounds too harsh; it’s vast, it’s unending. It moves because it must move. As for erotic love…’

‘Ssh. Come here, and I’ll show you.’


heir room is cool and darkening, a breeze billowing the curtains. Dusk is falling, and they are both naked. An electric fan helicopters in a blurry spiral on the ceiling. He lies on his back. One arm draped across his belly, one dropping towards an ashtray on the ground. She lies on her stomach, dying amber light a gentle patina on her hips and buttocks. She rests her head in one hand. The sheets cling to the end of the mattress, crumple on the dusty wooden floor.

He inhales cigarette smoke, swallows saliva, his Adam’s apple bobbing under bristled skin. She smiles and leans across, kissing his throat. He coughs – the smooth progress of the smoke disturbed. She gently bites his shoulder, the ridged muscle at the front. He squirms away, but not too convincingly; an ambiguous invitation. She bites again, and he blindly mashes the cigarette butt into the ashtray. He ducks his head into a mass of curls, closes his eyes. Dust and inexpensive shampoo, that sweet chemical scent.

He squeezes her hair, coiled handfuls, as she kisses his chest. He tastes vaguely like saltwater and Asian food. She smells the lingering trace of their earlier congress. She smiles and draws herself onto him, her breasts brushing his hipbone, the hollow of his side. She pulls herself along his body, a tingle of soft skin, pricked hair follicles, moist but powdery-dry. He moves in response. They move together.

wanted to get a tattoo once. I chickened out, I got scared. Couldn’t stand the thought of that needle drilling into my skin.’

‘Do you not like it, then?’

‘I like it on you. How the colour ripples when you move your arm. Like the dart of a tropical fish.’

‘What design were you going to get?’

‘A Chinese character, a pictogram. I know, it’s a cliché now. But it wasn’t then. This was many years ago.’

‘What character?’

‘I can’t recall the word in Chinese, but it stood for “outside”. Something bare and cold about it, unmoving. …It was still.’

‘Cold and still. Like a snowswept field.’

‘Yes. I felt very still back then.’


ancing in sharp sunlight, pelvises pushed together by thoraxes swaying to soft bossanova rhythms. The pollen, summer anti-matter, drizzling through a beam of light. She closes her eyes and hears. Muffled melodies and insistent beats. Feet shuffling quietly in random patterns. He kisses her on the mouth; she laughs. Music for the heart and groin. Loose movements, drowsiness. The overture and the event at once.

Her sweat on his mouth, on his lips and tongue. He tastes her acrid sweetness. Senses the infinitesimal hairs rising along her spine. The slope of her spine, that elegant architecture. The arch of her body in the half-dark. Blue nightlight and pliant shadows on her skin. He places his hands on her hips, that cello curve; she smiles at him over her shoulder. He savours the rising of desire.

Her body pressed down, her head to one side, eyes closed. She tilts her hips, an unsaid summons. He moves, his weight heavy on her, joined in warmth and rhythm, a fleshly fusion. He laughs and licks her ears, her neck, burrowing into the softness of her shoulder, and she squirms. He whispers, ‘I love you, I love you.’ She smiles, murmurs into her pillow. Nonsense endearments. Pungency and dreaminess, distant rustling noises. She reaches for his hand; fingers linked and bodies locked. They cherish the moment, then move together again.

ove moves like a pulse. A sonar pulse, in huge waves, throbbing its silent way through space. It’s the heartbeat of the universe.’

‘And how long before this pulse reaches our planet?’

‘No, it’s an electron. It’s everywhere and nowhere at once. Hot and oscillating. This sublime energy.’

‘Everywhere and nowhere. Like God?’

‘I don’t know… I suppose so. And God is love, right?’

‘I think you’re wrong. I think love moves slowly and deliberately, but with a sort of recklessness. It isn’t worried about losing control, about spiralling away into the emptiness. Love is confident in its movement.’

‘I’d agree with that. Love is confident. It’s cocky, relaxed. It does what it wants.’

‘Yes. That’s it. Love moves any way it wants.’

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  1. Dr. Hurley’s Digest: Week 11 « Dr. Hurley's Snake-Oil Cure
  2. Dr. Hurley’s Digest Volume I: Fiction « Dr. Hurley's Snake-Oil Cure

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