4AM

More than 100 of you en­tered our erotic-fic­tion com­pe­ti­tion ear­lier this year. Win­ner Ash­leigh Tordiffe was se­lected by our judge, au­thor Thabise Mahlape, owner of Black­bird Books. Here’s an ex­cerpt from her steamy romp

Cosmopolitan (South Africa) - - EROTIC FICTION -

Istrug­gle to sleep. My mind presses against things, prac­ti­cal­i­ties – like what are we go­ing to do about the low step off the stoep? How can I make the kitchen more ac­ces­si­ble for him? What will we do about the shower? For a place that ad­ver­tises it­self as wheel­chair-friendly, they haven’t given much thought to how wheel­chair oc­cu­pants are sup­posed to get clean – there’s a brick lip be­tween the shower and the rest of the bath­room, and there’s no seat or ledge in the shower at all.

Next to me he sleeps like the dead, rum­bling gen­tly. I nudge him. The snor­ing stops. I doze and wake and worry and doze again. 4am ar­rives. I wake again. This time, there’s a nat­u­ral rea­son, and some­thing I can do about it. I creep out of bed and qui­etly open the bed­room door.

Be­ing in the desert, with scant risk of rain, the de­sign­ers of our lit­tle hide­away opted for an open-air bath­room. As I sit on the loo, the only thing sep­a­rat­ing me from the sky heavy with stars is a low stone wall. I walk back to our room, not­ing how in­cred­i­bly quiet it is. Noth­ing moves or sings. Not an in­sect. Not a bird. And as I crawl back into bed my brain fi­nally shuts up too. That’s when I re­alise how loud my body is. Ev­ery nerve is taut. I be­gin to re­live, sen­sa­tion by sen­sa­tion, what had hap­pened ear­lier. The ur­gency that had driven me onto my hus­band’s lap, un­der his clothes, onto his cock. What is hap­pen­ing to me? Per­haps be­cause it’s 4am, the ques­tion doesn’t de­mand an an­swer – just seeks my at­ten­tion. Some­thing dif­fer­ent about you, it says. I see that, I note. My hand seeks him un­der the cov­ers, crav­ing con­tact with his chest. I al­low my­self to play – gen­tly, idly – as the sky be­gins to lighten. His breath­ing changes. He mur­murs. Rolls onto his back. Opens his eyes. Look, I say. I ges­ture with my head through the floor-to-ceil­ing glass sep­a­rat­ing our bed from the pre-dawn glow be­gin­ning to out­line the stark, des­o­late val­ley – our refuge for the next few days.

Our test­ing ground. How much will this change things? Will we sur­vive? He turns to­wards me a lit­tle, then drags his body up with his arms, prop­ping him­self higher on his pil­low. My hand stills. The way he’s moved was so un­con­scious, so un­planned. So un­nat­u­ral for him. And I’m con­fronted again with the dif­fer­ence. Aware how much my hus­band has been hid­ing in an ef­fort to shield me. The kids. Per­haps him­self. He’s valiantly fought change. But change is win­ning.

He no­tices me watch­ing. His mouth twists into a wry gri­mace. Some­thing un­coils deep in­side me. Some­thing that makes my gut twist, and my heart thump, and my vagina wet. I cup his face and kiss his fore­head. He smiles, but then looks away.

He goes back to watch­ing glow­ing pink light play­ing over shad­owy hills far, far away. I watch too, but I slowly go back to my own play­ing. My fin­gers find the waist­band of his pants. I slip them in. Coil them in the curls at the base of his al­ready thick­en­ing cock. He sighs. His eyes close. I groan.

Next to me he sleeps like the dead, rum­bling gen­tly

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