It was Sunday morning, Edie's day off. She decided to go to church; something she had hardly ever done in her life. She had not seen Farleigh since Thursday night but she knew he would be in church. Beth insisted. Her Ma was not like that. She always said if you did not go by choice then there was no point. Even Palesa never went to church unless it was a funeral or a wedding.
She only wanted to go so that Farleigh would see her there. She did not know why she was making so much effort to encourage him. He was so totally hooked already but apart from his social standing, she found nothing really attractive about him. And yet the feel of the power she had over him excited her. At the same time she had a genuine soft spot for his total need of her.
She put on her best dress with her crocheted shawl and her only good pair of stockings. She borrowed a head scarf from Palesa and tied it over her hair. It was already a bit late so she took the short cut through the graveyard. It usually spooked her a bit, but it was not so bad on a sunny day like today.
She was half way across the graveyard and could see the people thronging the steps, when something caught her dress. She turned carefully not wanting it to tear and found Salem crouching in the bushes holding the hem of her dress. It never ceased to amaze her how quietly he moved and how gently he handled small fine things.
"Eish! You are so beautiful today."
"Are you coming to church?"
"No thanks. You know how those people think of me. Come with me rather."
She took his hand and he led her off to the side of the graveyard where there was a gap in the hedge. There was a footpath there leading to the kitchen garden at the back of the house. He turned off before then and climbed the hill. They came round a bend and, climbing a small rock face, she found herself on the patch of grass where they had fornicated the Friday afternoon.
She sat down while he wriggled through the gap in the rocks. After a couple of minutes he called to her. She peered down the rocky stairway and he passed her two mugs of beer and brought the bottle with him. They sat in a patch of shade against the rocks drinking beer. She enjoyed his silences. Occasionally he would look at her in her Sunday clothes and remark again how pretty she looked.
"You don't have to be a christian to go to church y'know. Nobody asks you like."
"I don't wanna go. It's just, I like waitching. I don't know. Even I like listening. It's like a movie where you know all the people. It's just so unreal."
"I know what you mean. That's why I was gonna go today. So I can be a star for a while. But you wouldn' wanna become a christian?"
"No! Or a moslem either. They're both fucked up. 'Snot even that I don' believe in god. It's just that their ideas about god are so loony."
"So do you believe in god?"
"Yeah, well it's not like anyone can really say for true but I'm quite sure god never said any of the daft things that religions claim. They just using god to control people. If there is a god it's like it's Earth. Every living thing on Earth is god, plants as well as animals. I don't believe this crap that people are better than any other species especially trees. And even mountains I reckon are closer to god than churches."
"Yeah, especially this mountain," she giggled.
"Wena! There's another bottle downstairs in the fridge. Will you get it for us?"
"You've got a fridge?!"
"At the bottom of the steps there's a flat stone. Look under it."
She ran downstairs intrigued. Under the stone she found a thick plastick crate buried in a hole in the ground. The bottle of beer was ice cold next to a large chunk of slowly melting ice. Looking around the room she noticed that all his furniture was made from poles and cow-hides. Last time she had noticed two cow-hides stretched out against the mountain drying. He obviously still had connections at the abattoir.
They watched the people drifting home from church. Farleigh and his mother were walking sedately towards the front gate while Anna was slipping through the back door. She always helped with lunch on Sundays.
Edie felt totally detached from the scene below her. It really was like a movie. Salem had overcome his awe of her beautiful dress and had opened the two buttons at the back of her neck. With amazement he eventually found the zipper under her arm. However this was not the kind of dress that just slipped off once all the fastenings were opened, so she knew she was safe for a while. She was not going to allow him to remove her stockings either but she started unbuttoning his shirt.
By the time he was down to his shorts she ushered him downstairs. She did not want to hear about it again in the evening. Once her eyes had adjusted to the gloom she could see Salem sitting on the side of his bed. In the shadows beyond him she could make out a large hide hung up like a hammock. She climbed onto Salem's lap and pushed him down onto the bed. Standing over him, she crossed the bed and climbed into the hammock.
Salem grinned. He loved the way this girl's mind worked. He got up and pushed the bed up against the wall under the hammock, just in case. Removing his shorts, he joined her. At this point Edie decided to remove her dress before it got ripped. The ensuing tussle between Edie and her dress had Salem in ecstatic hysterics and set the hammock swinging wildly. By the time she finally got the dress over her head, she found Salem all over her and almost in the dress. She pulled it from him and tossed it down onto the bed.
He lay down next to her and turned her face towards him.
"Eish, I love you." He said it so simply, for a moment Edie was in shock. She put her hand over his mouth.
"Hey, don' look so worried. I love you's all.Don' make you oblige to me or nothin'. You can still visit by Farleigh. I don' have a problem like that."
"How you know . . ?"
"Hey, I know bout you and Farleigh. I seen you together but he's just playing. He can't be serious. What would his ol' lady say?"
"What you mean, you saw us?" She was laughing.
"That Farleigh. He never closes the curtains and he keeps the lights so bright. You can see everything from outside."
She covered her face with her hands. "Thank god you the only one roaming around at night to see us."
"And that Daniel, your brother. He never see me the one time. I was watching him watching you and Farleigh. He loves you too."
"Salem! How many times you walking round spying on me?" He reached out and stroked her hair.
"Ah Edie. You so beautiful. I love you. Nobody needs to know about us."
"I don' care who knows. Well maybe's better Farleigh don' know. Maybe he is playing but he never want to let me go. And I do love you too. I love it that you jus' so big but you such a softy."
They spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the hammock and it was after five when Edie left, dressed once more in her Sunday clothes. She thought again of Farleigh who no doubt had not stopped thinking about her since Thursday. She came out from behind the shed and headed for Farleigh's rooms. She would convince him that she had been in church but had to run off as soon as the service was over. She was a bit tipsy too so she would have to invent some girlfriends she had been drinking with.
However, when she found him, he was so agog at the sight of her, he never heard a word she said so she never bothered. She just let him undress her and make love to her, remaining passive and submissive throughout. She felt it necessary to somehow cool his passion a bit. He was in over his head.
She could tell that he felt the difference but was at a loss to express it so, being Farleigh, he said nothing. He wanted to arouse her. See her turn into that passionate being she had been the last time. Her very passiveness aroused him further but before he could take her a second time, the dinner bell rang. He was in two minds about going but then he heard Beth calling him fom downstairs.
"Wait for me here," he begged.
"I can't. I must get back to my Ma. I've got an important message for her." He was too easy. She pitied him. He would never survive the wiles of marriage. She made her exit through the veranda while Farleigh went downstairs to his mother.
* * * * * * *
For the next few weeks Edie spent most of her lunch breaks with Salem in his room. Week-ends she would stay from Saturday evening until Monday morning. They stretched their imaginations to the limit on the hammock and on almost every other piece of furniture too. Sunday and Monday mornings, though, they usually woke up in the bed.
Farleigh had gotten into the habit of waylaying her Saturday afternoons as she was leaving. He had given up trying to make her spend the night but these days he was taking Saturday's evening meal in his rooms, so it was often after nine when she got to Salem. Farleigh still fatuously believed her to be young, innocent and his alone.
Salem was ever the loving one. He too pitied Farleigh in a way. He even remarked one lunch time that she never visits her brother anymore. He grinned at her sheepishly. She knew somehow that he would always follow her around. Yet he was not at all possessive. Sometimes she thought he loved her the way one loves a small child and she loved him the more for it.
She still visited Farleigh after dinner sometimes. At least once or twice a week. She did it more out of a sense of having started something. More and more she wanted to break it off. She knew she did not feel about Farleigh the way he felt about her. But every time she mentioned it to Salem he would insist, "But he needs you. He has no-one else."