Innocence invites protection, yet we might be smarter to protect ourselves against it...
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The Path of Innocence is a story about the complexity of love and its contradictions. It follows the ups and downs of Fiona and Roger, two young innocents treading a turbulent path towards self-awareness, especially sexual.
Idealistic Fona is headstrong, but even she cannot live up to her own standards and her naivety leads her from one compromising situation to another. Roger, on the other hand is already emotionally scarred by an unhappy childhood, devastated by the death of his mother, but his encounters only serve to gouge ever deeper wounds until, that is, he eventually meets Fiona.
The happiness they find together is a sharp contrast to the backlog of pain and disillusionment they have each experienced. Yet, neither is aware of the powerful struggle Debbie, Fiona's mother, has with her own conflicting emotions, caring for an invalid husband whilst wrestling with a burning sexual desire.
Can their love survive a final cruel twist of fate?
In the darkness, Fiona could feel his tongue circling the areola of her nipple and she shuddered at an involuntary tingling inside. Then her juices began to flow and she willed them to stop, knowing it was no more than a reflex reaction, yet her response repelled her. She took a long, deep breath of air and concentrated hard, but the movement of a hand across her abdomen, feeling its way over the contours, made her stiffen again. Her heart skipped a beat, then slammed to a halt as he reached the crossroads of her limbs and a pair of straightened fingers began to rub up and down. Instantly, her mind splintered with confusion. She went to push him away, but his reactions were quicker and he grabbed her hand to pull it down on to his arousal instead. She heard the sound of air sucked through his teeth, then felt his hot and steamy breath plunge on to a nipple again.
Her stomach tightened, then an odious stench of stale urine wafted up on a gust of wind, suddenly seeming to overpower all other sensations and her insides began to churn. Swallowing against an acid taste in her throat, she was unsure what was worse, the foul reek or the equally vile sensation of touching him. Revulsion rapidly turned to panic and she tore her hand away. She stared down at the mousy straggles of hair splayed across her breast and it struck her how his physical attributes had never been particularly relevant before, but how now, in this dark bus shelter, on this cold, wet and windy night, they seemed overwhelmingly significant. “Stop it!” A cry erupted. She then yelled more emphatically, “Just stop, will you!” and pushed him away with sudden force.
“What’s up?” he muttered crossly.
“I can’t do this. It’s not right,” she flustered. “I must go. It’s very late, anyway…”
A passing car temporarily cast a shaft of light over his face accentuating the fire in his eyes.
“Bloody hell, Fiona, what’s the matter? Why stop now? It’s not as if we’re kids, we’re both consenting adults. I’ve got condoms, if that’s what’s worrying you.”
“No, it isn’t that.” Wrestling awkwardly with her bra, she hastily fastened it again. “I’m sorry, Jeremy, I shouldn’t have let things get this far.”
He pulled back and folded his arms across his chest, viewing her sulkily through the narrow slits of his eyes.
She adjusted her blouse, studiously avoiding his gaze. “I must go.”
“All right. If that’s what you want.” His lips curled into a snarl. “Just don’t expect me to come with you for the rest of the way.”
Standing up, she briefly caught the snapshot of a spiteful, petty, little boy, but then, barely with a muffled bye, she raced away from him. Rain whipped against her face painfully, like a shower of pins stabbing into a cushion, stinging her eyes so that she could hardly see the pavement in the blurry glow of streetlights. Gasping for breath, she forged on regardless, following the familiar route by instinct rather than sight. Her heart pounded in her ears, tears mingled with the rain and she wiped them away with the back of her hand, blindly battling through the haze until she found herself outside her own front door. Staring at it, she rocked unsteadily on her feet, not knowing what to do next, and with a sob, she fell against the wall, trying desperately to rein in her emotions. How could she have been so stupid? How could she? She kicked a foot against the doorstep, then anger gave her the strength she needed to fumble for her key and push it into the lock. She prayed that nobody would be around, and, as if in answer, silence met her. With a short gasp of relief, she darted upstairs.
Tearing off her clothes, she tossed them like dirty rags into a heap on her bedroom floor and threw herself on top of the bed to stare unseeingly upwards. A wave of exhaustion overtook her and sleep tempted her. Instinctively, she resisted the urge to close her eyes, fearful of the images lurking behind them in her mind, still disturbingly vivid.
* * * *
Debbie heard the sound of the door clicking open and closed last night. She rarely slept until she knew Fiona was safely home. Not that she was often late. Must have been a good night, she smiled to herself, cupping her steaming hot mug of coffee closer to savour the heady aroma spiralling upwards.
Early mornings were a time of the day that she revered, a time she could call her own. They were her slot for a little self-indulgence when she could reflect upon wherever her thoughts took her, a warming-up period for recapitulation and regeneration, in preparation for another day.
It was a ritual for her—freshly ground coffee and a warmed croissant always eaten on her own before the others surfaced, reading the daily news or just generally doing whatever she wanted…for herself.
She idly picked up the compact paper and glanced at the headlines. The Royals dominated again. Always a good selling tool. It was extraordinary how the Diana story could still lead, even after all this time, but Harry was on the front page today. More scandal, she supposed. It was so easy to condemn, but whose life could bear such scrutiny. Certainly not hers.
She gazed down into the gritty residue of her coffee as though searching for mystical guidance. She knew how complex her own needs were, how sometimes she had felt incapable of controlling her actions, as though taken over by a powerful external force that defied rational behaviour. No. She brushed some errant crumbs from the tabletop, pitted and scarred with the grind of daily life. Things were never so clear-cut. And, patting the wooden surface like an old friend, she rose to wash the dregs from her mug, smiling at the muffled sound of Fiona’s voice chatting to Jack, her husband and Fiona’s beloved father, in the other room. Automatically stepping back into her circumstantial stewardship, she heard herself call out a chirpy, “Ready for breakfast?”
“Okay, Mum. Coming.” Fiona responded and, with a light kick, she opened the door to push the wheelchair through and place her father in front of the table.
* * * *