Tuesday Sampler: Fly or Fall by Gilli Allan

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In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Tuesday’s Sampler features an excerpt from Fly or Fall by Gilli Allan. It’s the story of love rising from the wreckage of her life

As one reviewer said: Allan always delivers the best in realistic women’s fiction and FLY OR FALL soars! An emotional tale encompassing motherhood, marriage, sexuality, painful pasts, rugged relationships and uncertain futures.

The Story

Will the fear of the unknown ever overcome the fear of stepping away from solid ground? Wife and mother, Nell, fears change, but it is forced upon her by her manipulative husband, Trevor. Finding herself in a new world of flirtation and casual infidelity, her principles are undermined and she’s tempted.

Should she emulate the behaviour of her new friends or stick with the safe and familiar? But everything Nell has accepted at face value has a dark side. Everyone – even her nearest and dearest – has been lying. She’s even deceived herself.

The presentiment of disaster, first felt as a tremor at the start of the story, rumbles into a full blown earthquake. When the dust settles, nothing is as it previously seemed. And when an unlikely love blossoms from the wreckage of her life, she fears it is doomed.

The future, for the woman who feared change, is irrevocably altered. But has she been broken, or has she transformed herself?

The Sampler

Gilli Allan
Gilli Allan

In her early thirties, Eleanor, or Nell as she is known, has been living in their new house for over a year now.  At first she’d been depressed and lonely. The first friends she made were not really her kind of woman. She found it hard to identify with their girly obsessions. But she’s been working on the bar at the squash club, and despite herself, she’s begun to enter a world previously alien to her – a world of gossip, flirtation and infatuation – where her values are subtly undermined.

Tonight, lying in bed beside her husband, Trevor, she’s begun to conjure fantasies about intimate assignations between an anonymous couple. But then her thoughts wander to her young teenage twins…..

When changing Jon’s son’s bed linen recently, I’d come across a pornographic magazine, carelessly hidden under the edge of his mattress. That he should find sex fascinating was to be expected, though I’d understood that most teenagers went to the internet to feed such urges. I just hoped sex wasn’t his only interest. I’d made sure my children knew the basics from an early age. But for quite a few years now, together or separately, they’d refused to discuss the subject, saying they knew it all. It was impossible to know how much they’d retained from those early conversations, or if inaccuracy and myth had crept in. I made a mental note to ask Trevor to raise the subject with his son, to ensure his knowledge was up to date. I’d put the magazine back, but not before flicking through it.

I saw that my fantasy couple were naked now and beautiful, their gleaming bodies entwined on the emerald velvet turf.

Trevor had been awake when I’d climbed into bed, and his breathing did not suggest he had fallen asleep. After the sudden explosion of passion when we’d first moved, our sexual relations had returned to the ‘once in a blue moon’ variety, which characterised our life before. Most of the time I wasn’t bothered, but tonight a restless need had begun to stir. In the past I’d been sexually reserved, waiting for him to take the initiative, but now I turned close against his back and encircled him with my arms, curling my thighs under his. I stroked his chest, his abdomen, down towards his groin. My husband flinched and pushed my hand away sharply, as if repelled.

Impossible to tell how much time had passed. I was asleep and dreaming. Suddenly I jolted awake to find the situation reversed. He was pressed up against my back, my night-dress was pulled up to my waist, and his hands were forcing my thighs apart. Still drowsy, I grumbled and tried to push him away.

‘Don’t struggle, this was your idea,’ I heard him mutter. His fingers were thrusting, manipulating, massaging till, however unwillingly, he had induced the necessary physiological response. Now he was astride me, crushing my face down into the pillow as he pulled up my hips and roughly spread my legs to accommodate him. Though I kept saying no, the need in me had been revived. My body’s betrayal was in assisting him. He entered me from behind, came almost at once, then rolled off with a grunt. I slowly subsided from the humped position he’d pulled me into and felt, with distaste, the trickle of semen. Nothing was said then, or later.

*

‘Men are odd creatures,’ Elizabeth said. ‘I don’t suppose I’ll ever fully understand them.’

By pretending an intense interest in the jewellery [in her shop] I hid the blush which had risen to my cheeks. Why had I told Elizabeth of all people? What on earth must she think? Had I wanted to broadcast the intimate details of my marriage bed, there’d been plenty of opportunity with Fliss and Kate; sex was a favourite topic. In the past I’d been little more than a bemused audience. I considered their obsessions juvenile and tacky. I rarely thought about the subject. But now? Sex seemed to permeate the atmosphere like a smell. Its images were in my face; in newspapers, magazines, and on TV. No girl could sing a song without stripping virtually naked and writhing around the stage like a lap dancer. I’d discovered a pornographic magazine stuffed under the edge of Jon’s mattress, and had found myself the unwilling focus of a stranger’s masturbatory fantasy. The damned frogs in my pond had even joined in, recently staging a prolonged and extravagant blue movie for my benefit.

Was it something in me, or in the world around me? Had I been worn down by my new friends or by working at the sports club? Had the book and film reviews always been there, the salacious images, the raunchy chatter? Or was it my receptors which had become more acutely attuned to the subject? And where had indulging in lurid sexual fantasies got me? Just shame and rejection, followed swiftly by a resentful sense of being used. My husband’s inconsistency and selfishness was a fresh wound.

I’d needed to off-load to somebody. In the old days it would have been Laura, but she was no longer available to me. I knew why I’d spilled the story to Elizabeth. I’d chosen her as a confidante because there was an exclusivity about our relationship. She’d never met my husband, nor I hers. I didn’t even know his name; she always referred to him as ‘other half’ or OH for short. She was separate from the circle of friends associated with the Downland Health and Sports Club. The fact was, I scarcely knew her, but she was serious and empathetic, and the rapport between us had been so instantaneous that I already felt she was the closest of my new friends.

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