A Dream of an Eclipse of the Sun by virtual_vic



A Dream of an Eclipse of the Sun


There is something slightly sad about any airport, with its constant stream of departures and separations; of friends and relatives making their way back to the car park after the emotional drain of saying goodbye. And none more so than the airport in Harare, where the parting is for longer and further and - after liberation - so often for good, as the brightest of the young leave for better prospects somewhere else.

At least that was my thought as I sat reading the newspaper for the third time in the departure lounge on a Sunday afternoon, waiting for a new engine for the 747 to arrive from Nairobi. The rest of the passengers were relaxing, courtesy of British Airways, in the air conditioned comfort of the Monomotapa in the centre of town but I, courtesy of that damned South African Passport and a one-shot entry visa, was condemned to sit in the boiling lounge with the green plastic seats on the air side of customs and immigration.

And it had seemed such a close run thing. In the air, on the way home to London for a two week rest from the project when the announcement came over the PA: engine problems, return to Harare. And later, a minimum delay of twenty four hours, hotel accommodation, free drinks etc. etc.

Except, of course, the issue of reentry for South Africans had been brutally confronted by the 'Security Consultant' who now snored, thanks to the free drinks, on the bench near the door. The third occupant of the lounge was female. About sixty five with thick, horn rimmed glasses and what looked like beige imitation leather sandals. And then there was me. Not even able to go back into town to join the friends, who had seen me off, or the party I'd had to miss to go back to London.

We had been there since 1030. It was now two forty five in the afternoon and, as the sun came round to shine through the windows, the temperature was soaring into the nineties. For entertainment we had had the departure of the lunchtime flight to Joburg and the brief appearance of a pair of cleaners who had spent half an hour in the toilet with no visible impact on the cigarette butts and papers that littered the floor and floated in the urinals.

I leaned back in my chair and tried to keep absolutely still to avoid getting any hotter than the stifling room when a sound drew my eyes to the entry partition. Around the corner came the passport officer who had finally refused us entry, accompanied by one of the air hostesses from the flight. I recognised the blonde who had done the safety demonstration before the abortive take off and she looked at us in some surprise. The elderly lady was engrossed in her book and the security man snored so that it was as if we were alone in the room. Our eyes met and I smiled.

"You're from our flight, aren't you?" she asked. "Why are you still here?" Her voice was slightly husky, quite low pitched. The sort of voice that sends a shiver round the base of your spine. "S.A. Passport." I replied, "And you?"

"Total carelessness" she laughed. "I left my purse on board and I only discovered it when I got to the hotel." and she followed the immigration man out onto the tarmac.

As they walked out to the plane I could see her talking to him. In the stifling heat of the brown aerodrome her uniform seemed to be perfectly fresh and clean and she looked as cool as a mirage. The tall immigration officer, his black face in shining contrast to his white uniform seemed like an old friend of hers as they walked. I wondered that he had been so helpful. He had certainly shown another side to his personality in the reentry arguments with my compatriot.

When they returned he came over to me.

"Mrs. Edwards has asked me to have another look at your passports," he said. He took my passport and the passport from the elderly lady and then walked over to the security consultant. "May I please have your passport?" he asked.

The security man sat, waking up, his back wet with sweat where it had been in contact with the plastic cushion of the bench. "No bloody way!" he said. "I've had enough of this bloody country and legally I have now left it so I am keeping my passport on me."

"Please yourself sir," said the immigration man, with a grim smile and left the room. Five minutes later he returned and handed us our passports.

"I am exceedingly pleased to inform you" he grinned broadly "that I have spoken to the chief of station and he has granted you a reentry visa. You may now return with Mrs.. Edwards to the hotel, if you wish."

"Now just wait!" it was the man in the safari suit. "You can't just give them a visa. Here. Take my passport too."

"I'm sorry - it's too late. My chief has gone off duty."

"Now listen here!"

As the security consultant and the immigration officer started their second argument of the day, I caught the eye of Mrs. Edwards, the stewardess, who was standing at the door, doing her best to keep a straight face. As we walked out through the entrance into the departure hall, the two of us collapsed into helpless laughter.

"That really served him right." she said when she recovered. "Before take off he was so unpleasant, complaining because the passenger next to him was the wrong colour and then because he couldn't fit all his luggage in the locker."

"Yes, and I think it was his attitude that convinced the immigration man to keep us locked up in the airport in the first place." I rejoined. "But really, I can't think how to thank you. How did you manage to persuade him to review it?"

"Well, he asked if there was anything else he could do to help, and I felt so sorry for you sitting there in the heat." she smiled, and I had some idea that she smiled specially at me. I searched for an appropriate reply. "I can understand exactly why he was so glad to oblige. I only hope you never ask me to do anything immoral. I could never resist."

"Oh, I would never ask you to do anything you didn't want to." she smiled again. This time quite mischievously.

At this point we arrived at the courtesy car and the problem of getting the old lady, who had been with us unnoticed all along, and her trunk into the car took over. Eventually she was seated in the front where there was more leg room, leaving Mrs. Edwards - Helen - and me together in the back.

"What will the crew be doing during the delay?" I asked. "Not wearing yourselves out with wild parties, I hope. We wouldn't want the service level to be prejudiced when we finally do take off." I looked over at her. She really was extraordinarily attractive. Slim, with short blonde hair, a firm figure. I looked away as she caught my glance.

"Not me, at any rate. Some of them were going out for a drink but I felt tired so I came out to the plane mainly to fetch my book to read by the pool at the hotel." she didn't seem to mind. "At least the hotel is air conditioned."

"Actually," I said, "I was thinking of going to an "eclipse of the sun" party a friend of mine is holding, if I have time. We were at college together and I looked him up when I was sent out here for this project."

"What exactly is an 'eclipse of the sun' party?" she asked, "And aren't you afraid that you'll tire yourself out before the flight?"

"Oh no. In the first place, the rules are different for passengers. We're allowed to sleep on the flight. And secondly, we're tough, so a little party won't faze us."

"Oh don't underestimate the party stamina of air crew, boy." she laughed. "We put up very well with the odd party."

"I'm not so sure. I was going to invite you along, but I think you might be better off resting by the pool at the Mono." I could feel the beginning of a touch of tension. She was an extremely attractive lady and I supposed she thought of me as just another pushy passenger, but the conversation had progressed so naturally that there must be a chance that she would rather continue it at the party then laze by the pool with a book. I waited for her response to give me a clue what she was thinking.

"Better off. Yes. But you'd have to invite me if you wanted to find out whether I'd take the risk of going to a party with a person like you." She wanted to go! She wanted to go! Suddenly my tongue was dry in my mouth. I had to calm down, so I looked at her levelly, and paused. "I don't know. I shouldn't really do this, but you clearly don't need beauty sleep. So at the risk of having you nod off on the flight and forget to serve the drinks, why don't you come along?"

"Cheeky pup!" she laughed, "Put like that, it's a challenge one can't really turn down. But there is the problem of my friend, Sandy. Does the invitation extend to her as well?"

"Has she got your stamina?"

By the time the taxi dropped us off at the party, the serious eclipsing of the sun was already well under way. On the front lawn - brilliantly green after the first rains of the season - guests were gathered round the barbecue, made typically from half an oil drum. This was no tenderfoot two bit affair but a real African roast, with half a dozen experts tending the meat, and a pot of Sudsa - the traditional Zimbabwean maize porridge - steaming on the edge of the coals.

A couple of trestle tables held the booze - a bring-your-own mixture ranging from expensive South African wine to the serious boozer's bottle of Cane Spirits - and piles of plates and cutlery. No problems with the washing up, even in the new Zimbabwe. The piano was out on the verandah and someone - later found to be a German aid worker who doubled as a nightclub entertainer - was improvising a tinkling accompaniment to the eclipse. We grabbed drinks and walked in through the house. None of the guests seemed perturbed by three unknown faces and we set about finding our host. Stopping in the kitchen to ask a group of people (in deep discussion of the quantity and quality of the rains) where he was, we lost Sandy who was invited to spend her next stopover at a game ranch near Marandellas.

We eventually tracked down my friend sitting in an enormous cardboard box which had once held a refrigerator. watching a pinhole image of the eclipse projected on the ground. "Come in and have a look at this," he said, handing over a decidedly irregular looking cigarette. "As you can see, the eclipse has already begun." I looked cautiously over at Helen to see her reaction to the cigarette but she simply took it and inhaled. "Now come on over here," our host continued. "I need you to help me focus the telescope." and he dragged us over to where a Heath-Robinson contraption made out of a shaving mirror and some magnifying glasses projected the image of the sun onto the wall of the garage.

The whole thing was supported by a series of stools and piles of books and, as the sun moved, these needed careful adjustment to maintain the image. Ken - our host - gave directions as the two of us and one of the farmers from the kitchen moved first one stool then another in an attempt to find the best image. This complicated task was made less, rather than more, manageable by his instructions, and soon a crowd had gathered to help with advice and supervision. Eventually as Ken contradicted himself for the fifth time and the farmer and his stool fell over amid howls of derisive laughter the local physics teacher who had devised the apparatus came over and, in two minutes had a perfect image projected on the wall.

Helen, Ken and I wandered round the side of the house and onto the front verandah where the tireless pianist was still tinkling out his unspecified improvisations. "Hey, Bernd," said Ken, " Etwas dance music please. And you, fair lady, would you like to waltz?" With which he gallantly took Helen by the hand and led her sedately across the red polished verandah to the Blue Danube Waltz, his flowing beard, jeans and tee shirt contrasting wildly with the elegant white dress into which she had changed. Ken - like me - was no dancer but Helen was obviously a natural. She followed his movements, compensating for his false steps so that together they seemed strangely graceful.

Finally the music changed and, Ken having danced his fill, they rejoined me where I sat on the verandah steps. He moved off to greet some new arrivals and Helen sat beside me on the step. "I like your friend," she said. "He seems a real character."

"Yes. It's funny really, but it's fifteen years since I've seen very much of him and in many ways we have taken completely different directions. He worked for ten years teaching English, and then he gave it up to write. Now he lives as a real hippie. No fixed job. He earns a little pocket money as a sub-editor on the Daily Record, writes some poems, plays Jazz in a club, composes some songs and seems to live from day to day. I work nine to five fighting like hell to get people to do things they'd rather not, wife and three kids, company car and half an acre in Egham. Who is more successful?" Just then he returned. "Come on you two." he called, "You have to come round the back and inspect the vegetable patch." and he led us round the back of the garage where he seated himself on an upturned wheelbarrow and began to roll a herbal cigarette.

"Sorry to have to bring you out of the way," he said, "but a few of the people here this afternoon have grave moral reservations about this type of activity and one wouldn't want to offend them when there's an eclipse going on." We passed the joint around. The mix was mild but I certainly wasn't used to it any more and I found myself mellowing towards Ken and Helen and the Eclipse of the Sun and the incongruously well manicured lawn and the whole damned world. We walked back onto the grass and sat in a row watching the image on the garage wall as the eclipse edged towards totality.

As the afternoon darkened, I suddenly felt the mystery of the moment. "I can understand how primitive people were frightened by this when the sun turned its back on them." I said. Ken laughed, "Yes, something completely out of the normal, almost unreal and completely separated from the day to day concerns, like strangers being stuck together in a blizzard and then coming out as friends." "Yes," said Helen. "One feels completely cut off from the rest of the world, as if no-one else existed and all the normal rules and ties didn't apply."

"You could understand," I said reflectively "that some people might start a religious revival in anticipation of the end of the world."

"And some," Ken continued, "might start and orgy."

"But only if they had some of your strange cigarettes" Helen rejoined, "and then only while the effect of the eclipse lasted."

The afternoon was golden and green as the strange half twilight contrasted with the day's heat. I lay back and looked up into the sky, stretching to infinity and Helen and Ken lay back as well. her hand brushed mine and she held it. On the other side she was holding Ken's.

"Strange." she paused "It feels almost as if this is forever, like sleeping beauty in the beautiful palace with the world stopped in a dream."

I don't know how long we lay there looking up. Perhaps five minutes; maybe half an hour, but then suddenly the moment was past and we went inside. Ken picked up his guitar and began to play. It was something I recognised but could not place.

"What is that?" I asked. "Don't you remember? It's something I wrote when we were students together in Pietermaritzburg. A chord sequence really, but listen, you can hear the tune, and I have never found words for it." I listened and suddenly I was back in the room we shared in residence and it was as if the years meant nothing. I picked up the tune and started to sing.

Round and round and round we go, Remaking connections we made long ago. Completing a circle we know never ends; Remeeting, remaking, remaining old friends.

I sang on and the words came out right, more than I can remember today, but the gently repetitive tune drew others into the singing and soon there was a group of singers going round the words, improvising harmonies. Of course it can't really have been as good as it seemed at the time, and I am sure that an outsider, stone cold sober would have seen a sentimental group of ex- colonialists wallowing in something slightly decadent but at the time, and in memory, nothing could have felt better.

We sat and talked on the lawn. About life and music and love and sex. We ate a little - though we were really too engrossed to care much as, gradually, the party thinned out until there were just three of us sitting in the dusk as the piano in the background tinkled on.

This time it was my turn to dance. As we moved across the lawn, I felt her body close to me. the music was slow and we moved together as if I were an expert dancer. So that we seemed about to melt into each other. Again I felt that dryness in my mouth and I pulled away a little embarrassed by an uncontrollable physical reaction, but she pulled me in closer so that I could feel her thighs up against me.

When the music stopped we stood together in the middle of the lawn, holding each other. "Could we stay here just a moment, please" I asked, "I think that walking back to the others at this point might constitute indecent exposure."

"Well, it's nice to know that I'm not the only one feeling a touch wobbly in the knees." she replied, looking up at me, half questioning, her mouth slightly open. I felt an urgent impulse to kiss her, but resisted manfully and after a moment we walked back to join Ken on the steps.

The pianist walked over to join us. "Hi, Ken," he said. "Are you coming down to the club now. We have to start the set at nine."

"Is it that time already? We'll have to close up and go." Ken replied. "Would you two like to come down to the best Jazz club in Harare?" Helen and I looked at each other. Nothing could have been a better conclusion to this golden day, but she shook her head. "I have to get back to the hotel." she said. "The crew were supposed to be back for a briefing at six, so I'm probably in difficulties already, and you" - she looked over at me - "had better get back too, in case we get to leave this evening."

So a taxi was called and the four of us set out down town. Ken and I sat in the back with Helen in the middle. As the taxi pulled up at the club the pianist hurried inside, no doubt to make his apologies for being late, and Ken looked over at me and the girl. Abruptly he seized her and kissed her passionately. I watched them kiss and then they broke off, both slightly flushed.

He turned to me and, slightly hoarsely, said "I do not know exactly what your relationship is, to this beautiful woman. Should you, however, make love to her at any point, I would like you to add something extra from me because I find her extraordinarily attractive." Then he stepped out of the car and walked swiftly into the club.

The club was slightly out of town on the airport road, so the Monomotapa was perhaps ten minutes drive and as the taxi moved off Helen settled back into the opposite corner and straightened her clothes and hair.

"Your friend is very direct." she said at last. "I hope he didn't offend you."

"On the contrary. I wish ..." her voice trailed off and she folded her hands in her lap. The silence stretched until at last I couldn't stand it. "What do you wish?"

"Nothing."

"Were you wishing that he were here instead of me?" My heart sank. Ken had been right. She was marvelously attractive. And, as always, she fancied the other guy. "Oh no. Just that we were having rather a nice time together and it seems such a pity to have to split up." I looked at her in the darkened interior of the taxi. Her lips were slightly parted. "Will you really be in trouble back at the hotel?"

"I shouldn't think so. They were expecting a new engine for the plane to arrive from Nairobi this afternoon, but it will still have to be fitted. The pilot said he would give us any news at six, but I don't think there will be a problem until late this evening. I'll just have to go and check what is happening and whether we are likely to leave tonight."

I leaned back, silent, in the darkness of the taxi, watching her in the flicker of the street lighting as we drove. She sat there, perfect woman: beautiful, slim, elegant. I could smell her perfume and the thought of her body moving smoothly pressed against me in the pseudo intimacy of the dance; the thought that she seemed to like me; the perfect balance of her face, her breasts, her legs made me long to hold her close, slowly to explore her body, to feel the touch of her skin. And yet. Did she think I was just the pushy passenger? Perhaps, like so many other girls, she thought I was mostly harmless.

Perhaps the best way to find out was simply to kiss her as Ken had done, but the risk seemed incredibly high. Just being with her was sheer delight. Watching her breathe and the fall of her blouse over her breasts. Her hand lay on the seat between us and I thought of touching it but that seemed so weak and yet we were approaching the hotel, and if nothing happened she would just walk away and rejoin the crew. I could not bear the thought.

"I would like to ..." I started. She looked at me. "What would you like?" she asked. "Now I think that I might be in danger of offending you."

"No." She looked thoughtfully out of the window and continued, "I don't think that anything you are likely to say would offend me."

"In that case," I said, "I think that you are just about the most attractive woman I have met today and I have a burning wish, after you have made your peace with your job, to take you upstairs to somewhere completely private and make slow and deliberate love to you until sunrise." She smiled mischievously "And what about the more attractive girl you met yesterday?"

"Oh her? Well I don't want you to take this all too seriously and start getting big headed, but I have to admit that I didn't meet a girl as sexy and attractive as you yesterday. Or even this side of Christmas, or maybe even longer." So I took her in my arms and kissed her, and I felt her respond, her tongue gently exploring. I felt her hand on my leg, pulling us together on the seat of the taxi until our knees crossed. I released my hands from around her shoulders and caressed the back of her head and her neck and ears. Then she pulled away. "Those strange cigarettes" she said, laughing apologetically, "make me feel rather naughty, I'm afraid."

The taxi drew up outside the hotel and we paid the driver. "Do you really have to see the pilot?"

"Yes, I'm afraid so."

"I'll wait for you down here, if you like."

When she returned and we found ourselves alone in the lift I looked at her again. Elegant, slightly angular face, beautiful. No, more than that. She had a sort of independence, as if she could stop the lift and walk away at any moment. We opened the door of the room and went inside, standing face to face, unsure how to make the first move.

I kneel down and pull her knee to my mouth, lifting her foot so that I can take off first one shoe, then the other. She sits on the edge of the bed and I begin to kiss her feet, then her calves and her knees, my hands stroking the outside of her thighs. "Stop it, you fool." she laughs, "You're tickling me." and she pulls my face towards her so that we kiss again as she unbuttons my shirt. On my knees before her, I run my hands over her body, feeling her waist, the generous contours of her hips, her taught stomach and her breasts. Her silk blouse has escaped from the band of her skirt and I seize the opportunity to kiss her bare stomach, licking with my tongue in her navel, pushing the blouse up to expose her breasts, unsupported and firm, the nipples tan, relaxed but protruding deliciously to be kissed.

First one, then the other, I take them gently between my lips, feeling them grow firmer beneath my tongue. She pulls me forward and lies back on the bed then, moving suddenly, she is beside me, opening my trousers and stroking me. She takes off my shirt and drops it on the floor, then her own blouse. Pushing me onto my back she kneels over me, brushing her breasts over my chest. She leans forward and runs her tongue up and down my nose and over my eyes then, laughing, she licks juicily in my ear.

Convulsed, I feel under her skirt, cup my hand over her pubic bone and gently stroke my middle finger over her closed lips, so that she too loses concentration and rolls over onto the bed. We take off the rest of our clothes and I move towards her but she holds me at arms length, inspecting me carefully.

"Lie down on you back please and close your eyes." she commands.

A shiver runs down my spine; "You don't have an ice pick hidden in your handbag?"

"No. Now lie down please." I lie down and she checks that my eyes are properly closed, then she runs her hands over my body, lightly touching my stomach and nipples. Then she kneels beside me again and gently places the tips of her fingers on my foreskin, pulling it back to expose me completely. She runs her tongue around the exposed tip of my penis, now flushed and hard.

She sits astride me and rests herself on the shaft. I feel her wetness as she slowly and rhythmically starts to move her lips up and down along me. I look up and see her eyes closed too, as she slowly moves backwards and forwards. Her breasts sway slightly in time with her movements and I reach up and cup them in my hands. I can feel the nipples, hard against my palms and I spread my fingers to allow them to peep through so that I can move my hands and see them flush and harden. I pull her down towards me and kiss her.

As she moves forward, my penis escapes and stands behind between her legs. I turn over so that she is beneath me and kiss her all the way down her body. Her neck, her breasts, her stomach and down the inside of her thighs. Then I part her legs and open her with my fingers so that I can see the detail of how she is made. The lips simple, with not a surplus fold of skin, slightly flushed now with the clitoris running neatly down the centre. I pull back the skin to reveal the tip, a tiny red button with a fold in the middle and I lower my mouth and breathe on it. Holding back the surrounding skin so that the tip stands out clearly, I begin to lick with my tongue. First down along the shaft, feeling it through the skin like a tiny muscle, and then back up.

Carefully I avoid touching the tip while, with my free hand, I feel along her body to her breast. I can feel the central core of her breast through the skin and I squeeze gently, pulsing the pressure. "How does that feel?" I ask. "Very reasonable. It feels as if there is a direct connection between your hand and your tongue." She moves beneath me and takes me in her mouth again. I can feel the pressure of her lips and tongue pulsing over the bare surface. "Please. Don't do too much of that," I pull away, "unless you want to bring the whole show to a grinding and premature halt."

She turns around so that we lie facing each other on the bed. We kiss. Only our mouths touch, the tongues tasting each other and ourselves, then gradually we begin to explore each other again with our hands. I lick her breasts, taking the section around the nipple into my mouth and rubbing my tongue over it with a circular motion. Her nipples are erect, moist, flushed. Now they are stretching, the surface irregular as each part of them reaches out to be caressed. I rub them under the palms of my hand, firmly, almost roughly and she cradles my penis in her fingers.

The foreskin is still pushed back and she moistens the tip of her finger with saliva and rubs it round the base of the glans, where the inside of the foreskin is stretched by my erection. She takes the head of my penis in her lips and flicks with her tongue on the point. With her hand she rubs up and down on the shaft. I use the forefinger and thumb of my left hand to pull open her lips, exposing her clitoris again. Its shaft stands out slightly, sloping delicately up to the tip. Now it is my turn to moisten the tip of a finger. I trace the outline of the shaft. Up the one side and down the other, then back.

Suddenly I realise that what she is doing to me with her mouth has gone beyond foreplay. Rhythmically she moves her hand on the shaft of my penis, her mouth pulsing in synchronisation on the head, her tongue flickering along the fold where the foreskin attaches underneath. I try to control myself but too late, the crescendo of orgasm is unstoppable and I push towards her, feeling the hardness of her palate: not comfortably amorphous and satisfying like coming inside her vagina, but more intense and precise, like a sort of super masturbation shivering through me.

She sits back and smiles, like the cat that got the cream, then suddenly she puts her hand to her lips and fills it with sperm which she rubs over her breasts and her stomach and into her pubic hairs.

"Rotten cheat! You tricked me into coming like that, but I shall be revenged." And I reach down with my mouth and begin to lick firmly along her clitoris, rotating my tongue on the tip each time I reach it. She begins to make small moaning sounds and I stop and look, seeing her eyes half closed, her expression oblivious to the rest of the world.

"Don't stop now." she whispers. Her self-absorption is incredibly exciting and I realise that, even though I have come, not five minutes since, an erection has returned, like a miracle. I turn round and, moving onto my back, I pull her over and onto me. As I slide inside her, I feel myself harden and I realise that, despite its intensity, my first orgasm is a precursor and not an end. I place my thumb on her clitoris and begin to move it.

She responds and we start to move together. She is rubbing herself onto thumb and penis. Her hands go up to her breasts and she begins to massage the nipples, groaning softly, her eyes closed and her mouth half open. Suddenly she tenses and her rhythmic movements become disjointed as she presses down, taking me right inside her and squeezing my thumb against her pubic bone. I can feel the pulse of her vagina as she comes.

Then she begins to move again, but this time purposefully up and down on the shaft of the penis. Long slow strokes at first, but gradually more quickly and I begin to respond. Her hand goes down and she begins to caress herself as we move together. "Oh yes!" she says, with concentration and feeling, "Oh! Yes!" This time I can feel my orgasm beginning to build and swell within me until it explodes inside her. She leans forward onto my chest and I put my arms round her, feeling her back arch and undulate, her breasts and stomach moist, even in the air conditioned cool of the room, and we lie together, spent, speechless, breathless and exhausted.

I start to move away. "Don't!" she whispers and we lie together, completely silent. I can feel myself shrinking out of her, moist and slippery, as we lie relaxing; then, uncomfortably, completely tired I fall asleep.

I waken to find her still lying on me. Her weight putting my left leg to sleep and, in trying to move, I waken her too. It is four thirty. She looks at me and caresses my face. "Are you hungry?" She asks. "Famished."

"I'm going to call room service. What would you like?"

"A steak sandwich?" I go and run a bath and we climb in together. I take the soap and begin to wash her, starting from the neck, under her hair and working my way, via her feet and legs to her breasts and stomach. She washes my hair under the hand shower and then the rest of me. Taking the soap she washes the stickiness from my pubic hairs and then, gently peeling back the foreskin, she rinses off my penis.

A knock comes on the door and I hastily dry myself and put on the hotel dressing gown to let in the waiter. Half an hour for room service seemed a long time when we telephoned, but now this is an interruption.

We eat the sandwiches and she looks over at me. "I was just getting interested in what was happening there in the bathroom." she says, opening my dressing gown and examining me clinically. The takes me in her hand. "Do you know," she says, "I think that this is not dead. Look, it rises again for the third time." She caresses me and kisses me, sucking and licking me back to life like a tiger reviving a cub.

"What I want now," she says, " is something classical, face to face," and she lies down and guides me inside her. I begin to move, and I feel myself growing inside her. There is none of the initial sensitivity that heralds ejaculation but the pure physical, rhythmic movement hardens and expands me so that I feel like a piston, moving rhythmically in, out, in, out. "Can you come like this?" I ask. "No, but I want you to." so we move together, gradually speeding up and intensifying the movement until we seem to be sliding the entire distance in and out, with every stroke seeming to risk losing contact but somehow, strangely, not. This time the threshold seems enormously high and we swing together, faster and faster, higher and higher until I am thrown, groaning over the edge, and I cling to her, kiss her neck and rest on her shuddering. "Give it to me!" she says. "Put it right up!" Then I roll to one side and put my hand down between her legs. I rub my forefinger and middle finger along her clitoris and the further down onto the tip. Faster and faster, round and round, harder and harder until she groans and pushes my hand away. Her eyes are closed. She clenches her knees tightly together and although I try to hold her, I can feel myself on the outside of the experience I have helped to create.

As I watch her, she opens her eyes and looks around, as if she doesn't remember where she is. What is she feeling? What happens next? I feel like telling her that I want to stay with her here forever. That this is the best thing that ever happened to me. I say "That was interesting."

"It was, a bit," she smiles.

"I don't know what my relationship to you is," I say, "but do you come here often?"

She thinks it over "I don't think so." she says at last. "I have a feeling that it would be too dangerous. I have a normal life, somewhere out there, with a husband and friends, and a home. This intensity couldn't continue in the same world as that. The two can never be joined up. And tomorrow there won't be an eclipse of the sun to cut us off and separate us from it."

I turn away from her and stand silently facing the window so that she can't see that there are tears in my eyes. Then I go into the bathroom. We wash again quickly and she says, "I had better go to my room. In case I'm called." At seven thirty, the telephone rings. Breakfast in one hour and we leave for the airport at nine forty five. I go through to the bathroom, bleary-eyed, wash my face and shave. At breakfast there is no sign of the crew - they have already left for the airport.

On the plane, I am in club class, upstairs in the 747. We have two hostesses, one of them is Sandy who recognises me and singles me out for extra drinks. Half way through the flight, Helen comes upstairs and she and Sandy chat to me. They thank me for taking them to the party. They both enjoyed it very much. They go to Zimbabwe every now and then, and stay at the Monomotapa. They take my local number in Harare. They will try to call me if I am still on the project the next time they are there.

In London I get off the plane and get in the passport queue at terminal three. The crew passes through the staff entrance. I pick up my bags and rush through customs in time to see her leave. She is with a man who has come to meet her. Her husband? I never found out.