Fic: A Stillness, a Measure

He’s a quiet one, and Miranda needs to stop doing that. If she needed someone to be forty-minutes-off, one-minute-on telling her her trouser leg’s caught in her sock, she could go home to Dad.

It’s not like there’s anything cosmically wrong with having your trouser leg caught in your sock. Or with getting the hiccups at the table, or with doing telemovies for the money.

But that’s not to do with Marton.

Marton with an “on”, she didn’t know that for a long time.

The first time he said anything, she was itching her wig. “I just got out of drag. What’s your excuse?” he said.

She turned, and there was a man, big and dark-eyed, in her space like a tree over a child. They were all men on that set and she hadn’t worked out which one he was yet; she had had no cause to notice the easy, older man’s bulk of him, the Slavic strength of his features, the smile lines. Now here he was up in her face, and she had a little moment of damn.

Later she saw the dailies and thought, Oh. He hadn’t been kidding about the wig. What was Casting thinking?

No, she knew. He had a stillness, a measure about him that said he could act.

She managed to grin at him, it might have been stupidly, and hide her gunked up fingernails behind her hip.

One man’s stupidly is another’s stillness and measure, she supposes.

What was he even doing on set that day? She thinks of it now with half resentment, half elation. Where does she keep finding these people, anyway.


They go to lunch, to a nicer restaurant that she’s used to, and it’s completely empty, undisturbed white-clothed tables marching in ranks.

“Has there just been a funeral?” she says in an undertone. He bends his head toward hers, raises his eyebrows and smiles, heavy features gone nimble. And there’s a thrill, another thrill; a cheap one — doesn’t she know by now that you read people’s silence the way you want to? But still, but still.

There’s one table in the centre with a red rose in a vase. They sit there because it seems impossible not to. When they’re settled Miranda can’t help but point at the next table and say, “But what if we were to sit there instead?”

Marton shrugs. He leans forward on his elbows and says, “Do you think it’s a listening device?” He touches the rose delicately with the back of a fingernail.

Her cunt likes him. That liquid flutter you don’t recognise till it’s over, like the elation of calf muscles after a run. She can let herself remember now that it happened too when he pulled her chair out, unaffected (and she hates that from some men – hates it).

“No,” he says, “no.” He straightens in his seat. “Notice the rose,” he says, stage-voice.

“I’m noticing it,” she says.

“Silence,” he says. “Notice the rose.” He strokes one of the outer petals of the rose, eyebrow ridiculously high. “If you take this rose, you cede all control of yourself to me tonight,” he says. “You will do nothing unless I specifically tell you to.”

When the waiter comes, her order comes out of her mouth high and overventilated. That’s before she realises that the waiter can see she’s taken part of the table setting into her possession, and she can’t speak at all.


There’s sun through frosted glass into his hallway, and he is very direct, refreshingly direct, or else terrifyingly direct. She can never decide if she likes direct — it makes her a moth in a lampshade.

He holds the base of her skull firm in his hand to kiss her, the other hand planted in the small of her back. She’s quite immobile. Then he takes her throat, a lion at a doe.

That’s chest hair in his shirt collar. His cologne has already become familiar, back-of-the-neck-warming.

Why is she wearing a dress, he already has the zipper halfway down.

“Hey, no, you are so not seeing these underpants,” she says urgently.

“I so am,” he says softly. He leaves off with the zip and starts chafing her hem up the back of her thighs. “What decadent delights are under here?”

“Shut up,” she says, and struggles for a second for real.

“Hey,” he says, “hey. Hey.” He has her face in his hands, like she’s the barrel of binoculars.


Afterwards, she sits up in bed to look, and then remembers her underpants are still out on the rug in the hall — in the hall.

Her voice starts off joking. “What I want to know is,” she says, “it’s three in the afternoon, we barely know each other, and I’ve got no pants on. How did this happen?”

He looks so offended that she leans down on her elbow and kisses him. He doesn’t answer, but they never do.

No comments

No comments yet. Be the first.

Leave a reply