As it quietened he slept again, a deeper sleep with dreams of Katya. He was already in her bed when she came in, laying her sleek body close to him. He stroked the soft skin and kissed her beseeching mouth and groaned and rolled as the sound of heavy gunfire echoed through the city. He took her in his arms and saw her eyes bright in the flashes lighting the room as shells exploded. She kissed him in turn, his mouth and his eyes and his belly and his penis which reared up at the touch but all he could hear as they clung together was the guns like thunder, crashing around them in a roaring crescendo. He stared down into her dark eyes, his face a grimace of passion and he saw the momentary look of fear at his fierce lust. He couldn’t help himself and ground deeper into her so that she cried out but the cries changed to ecstasy and she came soon after him, the sounds buried in the greater violence of the shell that burst in the street outside.
The earth moved for them that night, the street shook and the window blew in, showering the bed with glass, small shards peppering his naked back as he lay on top and sheltered her with his body. Jesus, yes, the earth moved — rocked by high explosives — and the crater in the street filled with water from the broken main. Every window in the house was smashed and half the wall had gone in the cafe downstairs, every glass and piece of crockery destroyed and now they had no water to add to the lack of gas and power.
The earth moved and she wiped the blood from his back and the semen from his wilted penis with a towel from the shattered bathroom. They lay together quivering from fear and spent passion, for him it had been the worst and the best, overwhelming intensity with the horrid intrusion of the war and the proximity of death.
He awoke trembling, crying her name and heard the noise of the guns still banging overhead. He lay listening in terror to the sounds of the night and gradually came to the reality that he was in France and the banging was a thunderstorm. He got up to open the window and watched the lightning move further away with every flash, the loud cracks of thunder which had entered his dream fading into a distant rumble. It had rained heavily during the storm and the street smelt pleasantly fresh. Steam rose from the pavement in the light of the street lamps which gleamed on the wet leaves of the plane tree opposite. He felt sad and drained and filled with longing for Katya, not just for her body which he adored but for her, who’d accepted his love so gratefully and given worship in return. He went back to bed wondering if there would ever be a day when he didn’t think of her.
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