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One September Day

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It begins with a casual utterance of ‘fuck’ on a Tuesday afternoon.

The one word is cathartic and deemed appropriate for the current situation as it forms firm on the edge of Elizabeth Marston’s lips, because, frustratingly, the ribbon of the typewriter situated before her has ceased from being, dying with a rather depressing faded tone of ink and a metallic click as the keys spring back from beneath her fingers, refusing adamantly to go no further.

Elizabeth sighs and sits back in the chair, shifting. Her eyes glaze over the piece, the deadline for which is steadily dawning, because - strictly speaking - she’s working from home – something which is rather unusual – and yet another obstacle has delayed the act of her flowing words. The last typed characters look faded and washed out, and the irony does not go missed because there’s an almost mirror image staring back at the paper; Elizabeth’s eyes. Bill and his stories of an Amazonian warrior princess and her invisible plane are no doubt responsible for the lack of life left in the ribbon or maybe Olive is equally accountable for its downfall. Another article for Family Circle or the ramblings she often corresponds to and fro about the family.

It’s afternoon but it feels like night. The office is a little dusty. Bill’s habit of smoking in the room has created a near permanent smoke-in-sun-rays effect, the smell lingering across oak furniture, casting a yellowy haze across the pages of books. The sun shimmers in through a window, sneaking past curtains, leaves barely covering the trees outside and Elizabeth knows that if she stops writing now, her recently lit wick of energy will cease to be. So, she must type.

The ribbon is replaced somewhat messily as per usual and the addition of fresh ink falls fittingly into place as a catalyst for creation. The words flow loose once again - Elizabeth has always been a strong typist - and less than half an hour later, she is able to sit back and stretch her fingers with satisfaction.

The blissful moment is disturbed not a minute later, however, by the sudden crash of noise and an apologetic echoey call of “I did not mean for that to happen!”

It’s Olive and she’s in the kitchen or, at least, from the echo of Olive’s shuffling it sounds like she is. The noise of Olive pottering around the house had been the complimentary afternoon backdrop against the thick click click click of typing. Elizabeth leaves her finished piece of writing in the typewriter carriage as she gifts herself an overdue break. She slips into the kitchen, an eyebrow arching at the scene her eyes take in. On one side of the room is a small step – Olive has been using it to access an elevated cupboard – and the very makeshift step ladder now lies on its side, up turned, a dishevelled Olive lying adjacent and a trailing weave of pots and pans scattered at her heels.

“On reflection, I may have missed a step.” Olive admits, staring up from the floor. She’s feels a little foolish, the hint of amusement in Elizabeth’s features instantly recognisable in the immediate meeting of gazes. Olive’s cheeks flourish with a pigment of pink at the exact moment her side pangs with what she deems will be a bruise. Her fall from the stool had not been subtle. A brief moment passes between them before Elizabeth extends a hand, a hearty hint of laughter cushioning Olive’s brief flutterings of embarrassment. A domestic incident, Elizabeth thinks, how very 1940s.

Olive accepts the offer of help as she’s eased to her feet. “You may.”

“I should have realised the avalanche of utensils this cupboard was hiding. I was the step against a fragile mountain of snow.” Olive says, dusting her mauve tinted apron down. She tucks a loose strand of her hair behind her left ear, gazing at Elizabeth with a lot more than solely dented pride. There’s an exchange of words – silent words – traded by a flip-flop of attraction which has only grown with time. Elizabeth’s touch lingers on Olive’s sides and she knows that Olive is fighting the very urge to pull her in.

“I was looking for a distraction.” Olive admits, trying to live up to her words, to distract herself. “Because I cannot write a word. My hand is as dry as a bone.”

“Are you alright?” Elizabeth asks, tilting her head as if she expects to find a truer answer hidden within the fine pools of Olive’s eyes. “Looks like you had quite the fall.”

“I’m embarrassed more than anything.” Olive admits, gaze drifting away from Elizabeth’s to the mess lying beneath them, at their feet. “For both my clumsiness and for how I left this cupboard. If Bill was here, I could lay blame on him and he would happily accept with a few curt remarks but he is-” Their eyes meet again, suddenly, and Olive almost laughs at the mirroring movement. It feels like they’re always in sync.

“Promoting an Amazonian warrior princess amid the midst of a comic book crisis?” Elizabeth adds.

Olive smiles because, for all of the statement’s absurdity, Elizabeth’s words ring true. Charles Moulton is deep in the heart of New York City and – most likely at this moment – sitting in an office with a billowing cloud of creativity and defensive words lying low on the edge of his lips. He loves his creation with all his heart. Olive can sense Bill’s enthusiasm clearly in the back of her mind; the exact way in which his expression overflows with passion when discussing Wonder Woman; the unshakeable fondness known only to a few.

“Did you finish your paper?” Olive asks, dazed, her eyes glinting.

“They are schedules, Olive.” Elizabeth answers, a little condescending. She had been prescribed what to write. Nothing of note just black and white text formalised from a loose set of notes which, disappointingly, lacked much creativity. She was, admittedly, a secretary but isn’t that how Diana Prince maintains a living in these trying economic times?

“I can read proof read them.” Olive offers. “If you wish.”

“You are implying that I concluded.” Elizabeth teases. She assumes that she’s being smart, playing Olive at a word game, a sort of vocal flirtation they often trade with each other in quiet moments. Sometimes, however, Elizabeth underestimates Olive’s ability to decode the complex personal mainframe she’s happily amassed since she was old enough to read. This is a minor blip; however, a weakness Elizabeth has not yet ironed out. The iron is still hot. “The possibility is quite high that I have not.”

“No.” Olive says, biting her bottom lip, after a moment of deliberation, of reading Elizabeth’s soul through her eyes; an effective gateway to the vastly layered entity she has grown to understand through the passing years. Her eyes are imposing yet they are gentle and Elizabeth, as much as she tries, cannot conceal herself from them. “You have.”

“What a presumptuous thing to say.” Elizabeth huffs, dramatically, invisibly crossing her arms. Olive, however, is not deceived by the words or the act of defence. In fact, if anything, her curiosity only quadruples. Elizabeth attempts an eye roll, one which comes off a little weak in execution. “For you to assume-”

“No.” Olive says, sharply. “There’s a twinkle, a sparkle in your eyes.” Olive’s voice is tinged with awe and a brushstroke of bashfulness. “It says… ‘I have accomplished something’. A sparkle and one in which you cannot hide.” Olive’s cheeks engulf with warmth, the familiar pigment of pink flourishing deeply into form. It lights up her face, the bright circuit reverberating towards the centre of her eyes. Elizabeth attempts to glance away – if only for a second to ground herself – but her eyes remain magnetised and drawn back to the fixed point set wholly in her vision; to Olive. “Not even from me.”

“A… twinkle?” Elizabeth’s voice paints the term as if it’s as absurd as Bill’s fairy tales of invisible planes and a secretarial Diana ‘Amazonian warrior’ Prince.

“Well…” Olive says, exhaling with a sense of admiration. It’s not like she can pretend otherwise. She smiles, brightly and simply, her words lacing with honesty and sincerity. “I’d describe it as a glimmer. It’s almost linked with your smile, an almost glaze. Like your eyes are watery but only when-” Olive’s lips grow thin, weighing up the words before they fall from her lips. It feels like an admission – a scandalous secret - and one which settles into place deep in the depths of her heart. Olive inches closer, timidly; until Elizabeth’s small breaths are ghosting in sync with her own. The closeness is not unfamiliar. “Only when you look at me.”

“Only when I look at you?” Elizabeth vies for humour, vies for borderline absurdity at the statement, but on deliverance arrives firmly at the avenue of intoxication. She knows very well that Olive has won today’s friction of words and only wishes, if anything, that the loss didn’t feel quite as unjust. Olive, as a weapon, is a source of light; a light which is blinding and spellbinding in existence. She shimmers with honesty and sparkles with sincerity, and that’s by no means an exaggeration or a thwarted expression because Elizabeth knows it to be true.

As her hands graze across Olive’s waist, over her apron, lingering on the edge of her hips, Elizabeth realises that it’s a preposterous argument all around - something over nothing - yet it has transported them to where they are now. Where there is honesty shimmering in glazed eyes, there is love. Where there is feigned annoyance, there is genuine attraction and a spark of flirtation which has struck the match of fire to dry and waiting metaphorical dynamite. All in all, Elizabeth is affronted because as much as she might protest the latter, she never stood a chance. Not with Olive.

“Very much so.” rings Olive’s breathy reply, arms moving to tangle around Elizabeth’s neck. Elizabeth’s dark hair feels smooth, a tad itchy as it grazes against Olive’s skin.

“Olive Byrne, are you… flirting with me?”

“What a presumptuous thing to say.” Olive murmurs, mimicking an echo of familiar words with an exaggerated and pseudo accent. Elizabeth thinks in her most abrasive of words about the adept delivery and acceptance of realising that her own words have been so perfectly utilised as a weapon against her. Olive Byrne and her words, and her being, are drifting closer, breath falling tantalisingly across her lips and her cheeks. It’s a cocktail of intoxication and Olive is there to stir, stir, stir. The hangover, Elizabeth thinks, is sure to be a strong one.

For you to assume…”

Their lips graze, the brief collision almost swallowed whole by a mutual intake of breath, and Olive can no longer suppress a growing smile from swallowing her face. Elizabeth tugs her lips away and the action is reminiscent of contrasting sides of a magnet because, as Olive goes to bridge the gap between them once more, Elizabeth eases her back, just out of reach. There’s an invisible magnetic field – control – inching into gear and as Olive’s eyes flicker open at being so ruthlessly denied. With a pressed finger to her lips, she can no longer deny the power, the dominance, rearing so brightly into light.

“Ah, ah.” Elizabeth whispers, her finger firm against Olive’s lips before it glides to the edge of Olive's chin. Olive is trembling with impatience, the realisation of which injects a soft warm chuckle into Elizabeth’s tone. The figurative rope, now, is being wound around Olive’s wrists, and her shoulders, piece by piece. The thought sharpens with a fine heat in the air and there is no rope. Not yet at least.

“Should you think I am so easy, you will haste be reminded that I am not.”

Olive whimpers, attempting in vain, to draw Elizabeth’s lips back to her own. Predictably the wish is denied and the minor sense of defeat is reluctantly accepted with a swipe of tongue to a set of very dried lips. The kitchen around them has ceased to be. The fallen pots and pans lay abandoned on the floor and Olive’s vision just manages to clear when Elizabeth begins to lead her from the room by a tugged hand and a mischievous smile. Olive loses her apron in the hallway, the mauve tinted material falling limply to the floor, reminiscent of the forgotten pots, but there’s a steadily rising feeling that she’s about to lose a lot more.

Elizabeth pushes Olive into the bedroom, drawing her closer as fingers fidget to encase the buttons of Olive’s cream blouse. It had been handmade, woven from the finest strands of silk, and the lack of care Elizabeth is partaking in her effort to remove the material would surely draw a tear from a glass eye of the writers of those “Respectable Housewife Etiquette” lists, the lists in which Elizabeth shares a fondness for stubbing her cigarettes out on (“Someone ought to get use out of something so mind-blowingly primitive”) Housewife? The word alone makes Elizabeth shudder.

The buttons of Olive’s blouse snap apart and Olive pulls Elizabeth in, closer, lips betraying a desire they both feel. Olive’s cream blouse is the next fallen victim to the floor as they backwards sidestep towards the four poster. Elizabeth’s hands are everywhere. Guiding Olive, grasping Olive’s face as she cements another searing kiss to her lips, the remnants of which Olive will be feeling for the next few days. It’s dizzying, completely; an injection of vibrancy and of passion which flow freely and almost endlessly. So, when Olive’s legs collide with the edge of the bed and she falls back, she swears that the room around them has been tipped on its side. It’s a snow globe but without the snow.

Elizabeth draws back, slowly, a hand pushing through her hair. Olive is gazing at her with unquestionable eyes and a heaviness of arousal spreading deep from her lips, shifting against the crumpled covers colliding with her bare back. Without another word, Elizabeth crosses across the room. She finds the thin, familiar silky ropes in their residency; in the disguise of the back of the oak dresser. The ropes are gold in appearance, Elizabeth’s personal version of the loosely termed Golden Lasso.

“Hands.” Elizabeth instructs and Olive understands. She inhales a deep breath as she centres herself on the bed, lifting her left hand up as close as it will go the parallel running post on the left hand side of the bed. Elizabeth kneels as she winds the first rope around Olive’s wrist, twice, before concluding the gold piece in an all too satisfying knot against the thick wooden frame. The bed dips as Elizabeth shifts, Olive stretching as she offers her right hand to the right post before the demand is made. Olive’s eyes drift to a close as the second part of her restraints are tied tightly into place. She tests the rope, predictably, with two tugs and finds – unsurprisingly – that she’s being held firmly in place. The realisation is almost as bold and bright as Elizabeth’s lips pressed against her chest, sudden but faint. When the touch drifts away, Olive’s senses heighten. It scares her sometimes, this desire, this need. The ropes are bindings of the physical bond which entwines around them, reminiscent of the spreading ivy they have growing on the very edge of the garden path.

Olive hears a shuffle while her eyes remain closed. The bed dips again, a moment later, followed up by a determined tug of her pants (Elizabeth calls them 'trousers') and ghosting touches which are nothing but teasing and aching in delivery. Touching Elizabeth is a priority but a forbidden fruit when, as now, Olive is reaping the consequences of having her wrists bound in a way which makes her feel oddly like a starfish. The ropes binding her wrists are resting on just the right edge of uncomfortable, slightly itchy, emerging as a reminder that right now she’s not in control. Elizabeth is.

Elizabeth, who, in the next instance, exhales a deep breath of sheer appreciation at the removal of layers and distractions. The buzz of control begins low in the pit of her stomach, crossing across her skin like a domino effect full of goosebumps. It feels like electricity, this hold, this dominance, one which shifts so rightly into place. Elizabeth gazes at Olive like she’s the sun, the first glimmer of sunlight, after a week full of rain. She drifts on the thought, shifting as she moves to straddle Olive, weighing up exactly what she wants to do and stumbles on tease.

Pushing closer, Elizabeth leans down as she pulls Olive into a kiss, the buzz filtering down and around her body in transference from the impact. Olive moans as Elizabeth grants her affection, pushing over lips and devouring delayed gasps for air. Olive’s skin glows with warmth against Elizabeth’s fine fingertips as the kiss develops, teeth brushing lips. The collision alters, Elizabeth’s movements eventually drifting from Olive’s lips. Untouched territory is discovered in the form of Olive’s jaw, a span of skin that is all too tempting to overlook, and Elizabeth’s lips are soon pressed against it. Scaling in descent, lips brush pale warm skin on the pathway towards her shoulders. Olive is tugging on the ropes again, eyes firmly shut, as her body fully absorbs the oddly soft way in which lips are brushing against her, the deliberated manner in which Elizabeth is inflicting upon her. There’s presence but it’s teasing, and the patience previously gathered in the preluding moments have all but cracked and shattered like glass. Olive’s patience is normally strong, resolute in existence, but never when like this.

As Elizabeth presses a firm kiss towards the middle of her chest, Olive feels strands of gentle hair trickle across her skin, encouraging an overwhelming sensitivity that triggers around her in a chain reaction as Elizabeth gets lower. Inching her hands down, Elizabeth eases Olive's thighs apart. The sense of anticipation is building and reflected in Elizabeth’s own eyes because Olive is tugging, almost arching her back up and away from the bed, desiring contact. The addition of restraints has never created such allure. Elizabeth is teasing, Olive is quite aware, the realisation only dawning on her with both titillation and unease. Elizabeth has never been amiable where teasing is concerned. Olive knows the sentiment all too well.

Elizabeth’s attention is sparked as she inspects the wetness below, ghosting a finger across it with a deliberate caress. Olive’s head rolls back, pushing further into the plushness being offered by a pillow, the action almost too much. Easing forward, Elizabeth takes Olive's thighs in each hand as she nuzzles in, tongue out stretching for its first implicit impression, a motion which causes Olive to cry out and claw fruitlessly at the air. The ropes wrapped around her wrists have begun to grate against her skin, a bold reminder that she is unable to touch or caress. Elizabeth’s desire, it seems, is to tease out the very wish; to graze her body with sensations as warm as the burning sun.

The touch is vexing again, yet soothing. Elizabeth draws her time, savouring the sensation and the addictive qualities that Olive’s wails of lust offer up, as she nuzzles in, tongue ever teasing as it slips past Olive's folds, lingering with a soft promise that the best is yet come. Olive can feel droplets of sweat beginning to trickle from her forehead with the rich heat that’s threatening to engulf her being. Elizabeth’s tongue is the match, striking crimson flames as Olive surrenders herself to the feeling and to the touch.

That is, until, Elizabeth abruptly draws away.

“Fucking in the afternoon.” Elizabeth says, airily and coolly, with a touch of humour, directly against Olive’s thighs, a cruel timing and execution of words if there ever was. Olive shudders, restrained wrists shaking. The words cut through her like a cold winter chill and she exhales. Elizabeth’s cursing, ever blunt, sharpen a deep heat within herself. There’s a possibility that she’s going to get more than she wishes because cursing normally arrives as a prelude to something pleasurable - if Olive is patient, of course. She struggles to dull or numb the unquestionable realisation that Elizabeth’s casual utterances of 'fuck' strike a light and crackle as they flicker into a fully-fledged fire.

Elizabeth starts again. She draws Olive closer by gripping her thighs then inflicts another flick of tongue, one which leaves Olive throbbing and desirous for more. Olive's eyes remain closed – they don’t have to be open to fully be aware of the ripples of pleasure rearing ever closer towards the surface – as Olive submerges herself towards a deeper understanding of the bridged closeness of being.

It begins slow, Elizabeth living up to her sole promise on the delivery of torment, then tangles together to become insistent, pushing Olive towards the finest points of the proverbial edge.

Elizabeth soothes and Elizabeth tastes, altering her movement as she pushes to delve deeper, receiving in response, a noise that's lost in an abyss between a whine and a whimper, and it vibrates through her body like a needle dropping satisfyingly into a groove of a 45. She has pounced on Olive – there is not a more honest descriptor – with the room around them fizzling with a symphony of breathy and whiny pants. Olive cries out, trying to somehow convey that her body cannot endure any more inflictions of teasing - a feeble attempt - because Elizabeth is Elizabeth and she’d quite happily crash a metaphorical car to prove a point. Olive moans sparks of realisation at that very fact; that her fate is well and truly sealed, and lets the waves of acceptance wash over. It’s beyond her control. She thinks she likes it.

Elizabeth’s grip on Olive’s thighs only increase as her movement does, Olive arching underneath her at the graceful touch. The teasing lingers for the next few minutes although Olive swears the ticking sound of time melts away because it feels like a fraction of an eternity. Her perception is skewed by pure pleasure, by adrenaline and by Elizabeth’s soft breathing pattern colliding deep with her centre. Elizabeth is having her fun and Olive is enduring the laborious task of uncovering the real meaning behind the three letter word in a variating form of ways. It feels blissful, for one, and an endless range of words that seem to melt from Olive’s conscious as quickly as Elizabeth is stimulating her within. It’s not enough –impossibly it’s not enough – but the slow, delayed touches and grazing of tongue are flaring up into a powerful fire, and Olive tugs again at the ropes keeping her in place, her body reacting by arching off the mattress, fingers wishing so desperately to touch Elizabeth in any way.

The caressing is cool and smooth and as Olive whines and tugs for more, she feels herself unconsciously rocking into the touch. Olive hasn’t overstepped her boundaries because Elizabeth doesn't draw away, in fact, she does quite the opposite; she holds on to Olive with added emphasis and presses in closer. Olive's arousal increases, doubling when she realises that Elizabeth's tongue is swirling, gathering up the flowing arousal from within. The teasing, it appears, has been surpassed to be replaced by supplementary pleasure which arrives in the form of emphasised caressing. Increasingly meaningful, Olive welcomes it by an airy gasp and a weak hiss for more.

A mist forms between them as it all unfolds, as the room echoes with futile tugs of rope and muffled moans for more. Elizabeth is no longer teasing, a statement which is confirmed by the placement of her lips and tongue, firm and steady, almost relaxing as it builds in weight. Olive feels the development unfold with a sudden trickle of dampness and a pulsating convulse. The licking is continual, delicate but relentless as it steadily builds, shifting into gear and inching across Olive from head to toe. It builds and builds - slowly but mostly fast - the friction drifting towards the scale of too much. The hint of climax materialises in a bright light, trickling past Olive’s navel, her body and breath suddenly stammering in unison. She’s close to the edge of receiving a recognisable type of pleasure – satisfaction - and her efforts lost clawing at the air only increase, white knuckles emerging in the afternoon light.

To reinforce the spark between them, Elizabeth only has to flick her tongue a little harder, which she does; the noise Olive emits sending a fiery chill down her spine. Adeptly skilled in her approach, Elizabeth’s lips tether around the purest source of pleasure, and Olive only realises what’s happening when it’s too late. She stutters, her angled back arching even further from the bed as a pleasurable ripple cuts through the air. With her eyes shut tight, head lying limply back against a crushed pillow, bliss erupts like candlelight in the dark. The gift of pleasure has been given and now Olive relates an oxymoron of a tired energy because, although buzzing, she cannot move.

Elizabeth works Olive through her sex, facilitating her into sustaining her release, watching as Olive convulses, eyes remaining closed and lips parting with pleasure. Olive writhes around in bliss, a pleasure which literally tugs at the ropes adjoining her wrists to the top posts of the four poster. It takes Olive a few long and thought out minutes before she begins to come around. When she does, Olive’s eyes flicker open to find Elizabeth unwinding the ropes from her wrists. Their breathlessness is mutual, both from the intensity and from the bliss.

Olive lies back, limp arms falling to her sides as she watches Elizabeth deposit the gold strands of rope towards the floor, before she whips out a light and a cigarette from seemingly nowhere. Cigarettes after sex? Definitely as appealing in reality as it reads on paper. Olive shifts to tug up the covers to shield her naked frame, her whole body awash with a glow as Elizabeth slinks into her side, taking her first and slow drag from her spontaneous cigarette.

“I was supposed to be writing.” Olive begins, after a moment. Her voice sounds fragile, a flicker of distance. She wears the effects of a recently unearthed contentment, her breath a little unbalanced. “Not… frolicking in the afternoon.” Olive flushes with pink at her own admission, hands outstretching to graze Elizabeth’s arm. Finally she is free to touch.

Frolicking?” Elizabeth exhales, emphasising the word like a curse, smoke billowing against Olive's skin.

“Yes.” Olive says, sharply yet with humour. Her fingers graze Elizabeth’s arm, realisation dawning on her that Elizabeth is still very much clothed. “Frolicking.”

“Well, I shall work from home periodically every now and then. Your bless’d word can be the definition of my recreational break.”

Olive’s teeth sound out “so to speak.”, an eyebrow rising before the action is followed up by a playful push. Elizabeth, all around, is a bad influence; a bad but sexy influence.

Recreational break.” Olive challenges, gently bumping Elizabeth with her shoulder. The mattress dips beneath them. “When did you get so American?”

“It must be the company.” Elizabeth takes another drag. Olive barely subdues the urge to close the gap between them, lips lingering dangerously close as she inhales another cloud of smoke. “Bless’d me.”

When Elizabeth draws her cigarette away, Olive seizes the opportunity with both hands. She leans forward, pressing soft lips to lips, a hand drifting to settle on the nape of Elizabeth’s neck as she urges her closer, Olive’s fingers dancing through the gentle hairs at the back of her neck. They kiss between a haze of smoke, warm lips against warm lips and Olive is still, admittedly, a little dazed so the kiss forms relaxed and delicate.

Olive deepens the kiss, smiling into another brushing and bruising collision of lips. Her attraction is well sated by the time their lips part, Olive’s lips soon making a b line for Elizabeth’s neck. The skin her lips press against is tender and supple; Olive’s kissing falling ticklish and shivery across Elizabeth’s body. The motion causes Elizabeth to very nearly drop her cigarette as she angles her head away from the blinding ripples of temptation. “I should be working.”

Olive presses her lips against Elizabeth’s neck, a swipe of her tongue greeting skin. “I thought this was a recreational break?”

“And I thought you were suffering the wretched predicament of the age-old writer’s block?”

“Then this will be of great aid to the both of us.” Olive says, her lips lingering against Elizabeth’s neck.

“Shall it be?”

“Yes.” Olive laughs, brief and soft. The sound is joyous and Elizabeth’s face gleams with a mirroring quality which is very hard to ignore. “It shall.”

“There is one cure for writer’s block.” Elizabeth announces. Olive’s touch drifts away as she moves to gaze at a set of piercing eyes, delightedly intrigued. “You ought to write about something you know, something unrelated to what you think you should be scripting and the spell, as they say, shall be broken.”

“I don’t understand.” Olive admits, smiling. “I should write something extraneous as a distraction? But that is the thing. I cannot write.”

“It need not be serious.” Elizabeth tells her, eyes bright. “Just something to oust the momentary hindrance, sharpen the mind.”

“Well, I shall…” Olive says, a cloud of inspiration depositing upon her shoulders as if by some out worldly force, a guardian angel perhaps. “…write about you.”

Me?” Elizabeth’s eyes glint. She has the urge to laugh, to exhale yet another vapour of smoke but the energy brewing in the central pools of Olive’s eyes are simply silencing. Suddenly, an idea springs into the focal point of Elizabeth’s mind, one which is calling out too loudly to be ignored. Olive looks at her with the upmost affection and Elizabeth reaps the full effects.

“Interview me for Family Circle.” Elizabeth suggests before she takes another drag. Her words are fiery, are fierce. Olive hears the energy like a prickly surge of static electricity. “We shall turn your readers on to more than blackberry pies and the wicked ways of crochet!”

“Alright.” Olive says, after a moment. A smile grows, spreading into her eyes with enticement, with allure.

“Interview me.” Elizabeth proposes, between exhales of careful drags. “Interview me, now.”

“Now?” Olive asks. “Like this?”

“Is there a better time?”

Olive tilts her head. There is most definitely a better time.

“Come on, dear Olive. You are a journalist. Isn’t that what you people do, extract?”

“Extract?”

“Yes, is the term unfamiliar?” Elizabeth laughs, soft. “Olive Richard?”

Olive’s eyes widen. The usage of her pen name has surprised, a development which had been unforeseen. Elizabeth continues to confound. Their current dalliance has now developed into role play. Olive must play her hand.

Mrs Marst-”

“We have brushed aside formalities by now.” Elizabeth waves a hand, emphasising the lack of clothes – on Olive, anyway – and the crumpled covers and pillows situated beneath them. The whole scenario is rather amusing and Olive takes a moment to let it all wash over her. She doesn’t normally sleep with her interviewees prior to interview. It appears that there is a first for everything. Elizabeth Marston, ever the rule pioneer.

“Call me by my name.” Elizabeth instructs in a manner which makes Olive suddenly feel like it’s her first day. She doesn’t even have a notepad to hand. A rookie mistake. It’s definitely her first day.

“Of course. I am… sorry.” Olive blushes, clearing her throat. She’s pretending – the situation isn’t real – but her emotions are. They are impossible to draw back and, even for this spontaneous bedroom bound role play, they flare up like Olive’s natural skin glow. All in all, it feels oddly real.

“Extract is a rather… clinical term.” Olive answers, politely, using her ‘reporter’s tone’. “I only wish to write about the magnificent woman you are.”

Magnificent?” Elizabeth’s laugh is exaggerated and hollow, the smoke of her cigarette supplementing her chuckle. Olive might have winced if there had been genuine emphasis in its presence. “Is this the grounds for which you build your technique upon? Feeding your subjects a line?” Elizabeth takes another drag, blowing the smoke out in a way that shouldn’t be as sexy as it is. Olive subconsciously swallows. Elizabeth, predictably, is breezing through the act, this play on words. “All you do is write about my husband. I expect this piece to remain safely within that realm of predictability and no less. Isn’t that what Family Circle builds its upmost foundations on?”

“I will tell you, then, that you are mistaken.” Olive has risen, has found her voice. Finally. At least, she thinks she has.

“Then, tell me, what you are hoping to uncover in this… interview, Olive Richard?”

“I wish only to write about you.” Olive says, sounding about as confident as she had done on her first day. “About…” Olive stutters, thinking on her feet. “…life with a psychologist.”

“Ah, yes. The salacious tale of the woman kept wallowing in his shadow. I am nor will I ever be eclipsed by my husband’s shadow. Or any man’s.”

“I am not here to write a salacious tale.” Olive bites back, frustration showing. “I am here to write about who you are and who you hope to be.”

“Who I hope to be?” Elizabeth laughs. “I did not know this was career day.”

“You are twisting my words!” Olive remarks, curtly and annoyed. “You speak of not resting in the shadow of your husband and yet it is your husband’s name that is known all around. How can that be when you yourself hold a doctorate?”

Elizabeth looks at Olive with eyes that are suddenly unreadable. Holding her gaze, Elizabeth takes another drag. Olive can see the cogs working like clockwork behind those eyes.

“Because gender is not a prison.” Elizabeth declares, exhaling. “And one is as vital born female as they are male. We are human. Our brain cells function as steadily as man’s and yet we have been told that we are mere carriers for reproduction and nothing else. Those who dare defy convection are somewhat mad. Women bleed and men advance. If man bled as woman does, the world would suffer piteous remarks of masculinity and how each was superior at the act of bleeding. We are equal thinkers yet one of us will only reap the shimmering benefits - the heavier wage packets and the instant rub on shoulders with gratitude and respect - because that, my dear, is the power of the penis.”

“It is an injustice that Harvard will not recognise your work.”

Elizabeth’s expression flushes with annoyance. The subject of academic degrees remains a sore one. She inhales a cloud of smoke. Olive decides to change tactics.

“It is my understanding.” Olive murmurs, attempting to inject her voice with its usual flare of confidence. “That you work as a secretary?”

Elizabeth holds her cigarette, masterfully between her two fingers, implying challenge as she holds Olive’s gaze. “My employment status does not define who I am. And, anyway, isn’t it all mere… smoke and mirrors? People observe only what they wish to see. Regardless of concept or ideals.”

Olive sighs. “You may not believe my words but they are true.”

“And your name is Ms. Richard?”

Olive’s grasp on this verbal dialogue is diminishing. Clutching her last strand of spirit, she decides to bite back.

“Your husband, a source tells me, often corresponds under a pseudonym.”

“Is that an admission of your falsity?” Elizabeth says, her words supplemented by an exhalation of smoke. “It rather sounds like it is.”

“It is a personal choice to maintain a pen name. The content of what I write about is what matters. And do not dare imply that I lied in exaggeration in describing your vast ability in intelligence and wit.”

“And they will publish this? This… call to arms?”

“I should very much think so. It’s a popular column but if you prefer, I shall write about the changing seasons and how one’s social calendar is affected by such seismic changes.”

Elizabeth sits back on the bed. Olive knows her words have impressed because Elizabeth remains silent, her gaze reflecting a steady intrigue through a waft of smoke which is, in all efforts, a good sign.

“Before we go further, tell me…” Elizabeth leans across the bed, her cigarette twirling between her fingers. “Do you make a habit of fucking your subjects upon meeting?”

Olive leans closer, inching across the bed. Elizabeth doesn’t quite realise what is happening until Olive is smirking back at her, smoking her cigarette adeptly between her lips. She watches with hypnosis as Olive takes a further substantial drag; the smoke billowing from her mouth like Elizabeth’s dwindling inhibitions departing from the room.

“Only the bless’d.” Olive answers, exhaling. Fire erupts in Elizabeth’s eyes, only heightened by Olive pushing her backwards towards the bed.

The answer, it seems, rings true.

 


 

Nothing nears the satisfying simplicity of sipping hot tea on a brisk Fall morning. Earl Grey at its finest and most pure.

The house shimmers with an odd silence. Elizabeth is savouring the final moments of her breakfast, snacking on dried fruit as she prepares to leave for work while Olive enjoys her remaining half hour in bed before having to rise to get the children ready for school.

Elizabeth sips her tea and thinks about her looming working day. It’s Friday, thankfully. Bill is scheduled to return from his week long press outing and all seems right in the world. Elizabeth’s eyes trail around the kitchen, smiling when her eyes come to rest on the space where Olive had fallen on her quest to tidy a cupboard.

Depositing herself on a seat next to the kitchen table, Elizabeth’s gaze falls to – not a morning paper – but to a carefully constructed script on a crisp set of papers. Olive has left her not quite a note, because this piece is more substantial, and as Elizabeth grasps the composition, she realises that this is most definitely the results of her mock evaluation. Her interest is naturally aroused. The note resting on top of the paper is quickly scanned across. Olive’s curvature of ink a skill within itself:

  

For you.

Your method surpassed all expectation. The antidote for a perfect poison, for I am cured.

Much love and all my gratitude,

Olive (Richard)

 

Elizabeth then begins to read:

 

Elizabeth Marston cuts an imposing figure as she meets me on the fresh green lawn of her home.

I am not, however, surprised by the smile and the warmth she greets me with as she tells me, apologetically, how sorry she is that her husband, Dr William Moulton Marston (Family Circle’s resident Doctor) could not make today’s scheduled interview. The Doctor is out of town on business, a last minute development, so I am writing to tell you that this article nearly never happened. Almost, that was, until Elizabeth Marston volunteered to take her husband’s place. Offering to spare an afternoon to speak with me, I did not return home without success. A kindness that I am very much grateful for.

 

 

 

Elizabeth reads further. The “quotes” used are a fraction airy but the smile never quite fades from her face.

Olive’s passion flows free, almost ornate, and the vision of Olive sitting in Bill’s office to formulate such a piece would bring a grin to the most humourless of faces. The pretend article has been executed to perfection and Elizabeth is not the least surprised. She reads the article over with curious eyes and an inquisitive mind as she sips the remainder of her tea. Olive Richard, ever the player of words, may have raised the stakes of this playful charade, a gear change which was unforeseen.

There was, however, still time to level the score; time which Elizabeth planned on utilising to the best of its effects. She places the papers back on the table, eyes scaling over the signed words of for you before she turns away to leave for work. Olive would soon be up to prepare the children for school so Elizabeth’s exit from the home is a ghostly and quiet one.

As she slips across the porch, Elizabeth’s hears Olive’s concluding words of the playfully cast interview piece echo around her head.

Elizabeth Marston is a woman who is not restrained by the prescriptions of society. Social bondage does not exist in her world and it need not exist in yours.

Olive had never been so right.