Third Prize, Nathan Carr Milivoy Webber writing competition 2020

Lock and Key by Amy Toledano

Molly was from Bathurst and had moved to Sydney to get away from her “crazy Christian Mother”. As I lay beside her, my hair matted into hers, I wondered what it must be like to have a bad relationship with the person who brought you into the world. I wondered if Molly’s hair was as golden as it was now when she was a baby, or if she had come out a slick, squishy hedgehog of brown.

She had filled up my wine glass three times before she finished her shift at the pub. Afterward, she slipped a bottle in her bag and grabbed my hand. She lived down the other end of the beach and her flat was actually a room that she had partitioned off into sections. When she opened the window and popped the cork in her tiny kitchenette, the smell of salt and dark cherries made my head spin.

As she poured some into a plastic tumbler for me, a little spilt over the edge and trickled down her brown thigh. I moved towards her and kissed the wine away, the taste of honey and alcohol taking over my senses.

Molly had a scar on her abdomen from when she’d had her appendix out at fourteen. She told me the tale as my fingers danced over the bumpy mark. She nearly didn’t make it, her Mother had told her it was just menstrual cramps and to have a peppermint tea. “My brother basically threw me in his car and took me to the hospital after I had text him about it. Thank God he was on his way home or I wouldn’t be here right now”. I shivered at the thought.

Her pink hair had been an act of rebellion, along with the tattoo of a jacaranda tree on the inside of her upper right arm. When I had unbuttoned her shirt and seen it, my heart caught itself, and I realised I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life.

Molly rolled toward me and placed her hand on my bare hip. She smiled and gave it a squeeze, then asked me why I was drinking alone tonight.

The question sobered me immediately, and I told her without a second thought. “I am in mourning.”

She moved closer, the hazel of her eyes tiny starfish, floating in a pool, clear and bottomless. Instinctively I slipped my arm around her waist and pulled her toward me.

She was a promise I hadn’t broken. She was a gift that I didn’t know I needed. She laughed that same laugh that had hooked me in at the pub, and the smell of her radiated off her cheeks and hair. She was my saviour in that moment, even if she didn’t realise it.

Somewhere on the other side of the room my phone started to buzz and I knew it would be Tom returning my call. He would be starting his day now, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, his hand grazing his cock as he slid out of our bed naked and lean. Tom would be thinking about me and wondering what I was doing.

But what I was doing was unlocking a tiny part of myself. Turning a key in my soul. What I was doing was just for me.

“I think that’s your phone” Molly whispered. Her voice was a whimper, begging me not to answer it, to stay in bed with her, caressing her, our shared space a planet among the stars. I smiled and leaned down to the pink of her nipple. As my teeth clenched on to it she moaned, a guttural sound coming from deep within her. I had the power, I was the ring leader in this game. As I flipped her over and moved between her thighs, the tiny blond hairs of her legs softly tickled my shoulders. She looked up at me panting, noticing my face, and I pretended that the tears slipping from the corners of my eyes were just the breeze floating in from the window, hitting me the wrong way; a reaction to the change in temperature.

I was in mourning. But for who I wasn’t sure.

Amy Toledano is a bi-sexual writer, producer, actor and director from Sydney, Australia. Her first full-length play Submit?/Us was performed in 2017 at Theatre Utopia, Matthews Yard. In 2018, she launched Within Her Words, a website dedicated to supporting the work of emerging artists through reviews, interviews and editorial writing. Amy has had her writing performed in scratch nights for Stitchin’ Fiction, CASPA Arts: The Scratch, and Maiden Speech: Coalition. Amy’s work centres around queer female stories and what it means to be “not queer enough” for society.