One of my favorite films of all time is a gem called The Pillow Book. It’s not an adaptaion of Sei Shonagon’s famous diary, although the book is central to the story. In the film, a model named Nagiko enjoys sex and fine calligraphy — together. She meets a British translator. They end up writing all over each other and having lots of high-low-medium-slow sex off camera. The film is right up there with Wild Orchid in terms of imagery and way past it in terms of plot. Nagiko is supposedly Sei Shonagon’s real name and in the film, her aunt imprints the ancient classic on a young Nagiko by reading from her observations of beautiful things while her father paints good luck characters on the child’s face. By such innocuous practices, fetishes are born.
Mr. Tungsten unknowingly reminded me of this film last night when he wrote on the small of my back. Doomsday Preppers was on and I wasn’t thinking about D&S or anything in particular when he told me to lie down on the couch. Of course, after the order, I was thinking of nothing but.
“Do you want me to mute it?” I said, hoping that he would. There’s nothing so banal as TV intruding on sacred sexual practice.
“No. You should have something to watch,” he murmured, “to stay still.”
His tone was enough to put a stop to any comebacks that might have passed my lips. That and the fact that Mr. Tungsten was hovering above my bare back with one of the calligraphy pens he gave me for my birthday years ago. They’re from Japan. They’re meant to mimic a brush and the user is meant to hold them vertically. I had used one to tattoo myself for a Hallowe’en costume and he was reminded of it then.
The tip felt oh so gentle as it lined my skin. There was no clue as to whether he was writing or drawing, only that he was claiming me in yet another way.
He took pictures when we were done. He said I looked beautiful. I doubted that. The picture seemed to have been taken at an odd angle, however, when I saw it later there was no denying that the portrait was flattering. In it, I’m looking to the side. My gaze is soft. My dress is pulled up above my jeans so the Property Of sigil with his initials below it is plainly visible. It’s quite symmetrical for something drawn freehand, especially since Mr. Tungsten doesn’t draw. He doesn’t even hold a pen that much.
Later, on the dog walk, I was feeling iffy. On one hand I liked it. On the other hand, I was worried about liking it too much — that old fear about losing myself. Mr. Tungsten heard and encouraged me to keep being open about my feelings as we continue on towards wherever it is we are going.
I don’t know where we’re going. But I do know that I’d like him to write on me again.
Featured and inline images by Peter Greenaway.