As he leaves the bedroom, he tells me to get undressed and lie on my stomach.
I take off my leggings and my socks, then my knickers and my jumper.
I sit on the bed, looking at my vast pale flesh.
The toilet flushes, and I hear a thwump as his belt hits the bathmat. I know that when he comes into the bedroom, he will be naked and I will look at the tiger which sits above his nipple, and the paragraph of text from Brothers Karamazov, sliding over his bicep.
I am fleshy and white. My areolas are a light shade of rose, but otherwise, I am colourless.
He comes into the bedroom and he is naked.
He says, ‘Come on. We’ll do it like this, if you want.’
He rubs my back with sandalwood oil. His fingertips create waves in the fat, like little tsunamis.
Francesca watches us. Paolo’s Francesca, I mean. She hangs in a frame above the bed, red-headed and voluptuous.
Francesca reminds me that I look like her, and that if she is good enough for a son of a lord, I am good enough for this man from Wyoming.
Francesca shows me her body:
I worship the deep dimples in her knees
the soft roundness of her stomach
her white, ice skin.
Francesca King has been engaged for years in writing prose which considers ‘lost’, ‘strange’, or ‘abandoned’ spaces. Her last novel, ‘The Cello Hospital’, (shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2017) is set in the dark underbelly of Paris, and is concerned with spaces such as the catacombs and Le Petite Ceinture – the abandoned railway which loops around Paris like a ‘little belt’. She is currently writing a novella which considers Iceland’s ‘hidden people’ and the mythical spaces they inhabit. When not writing, she likes to spend time with her two cats.