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Staked Out

(296 words)
by Neil Anthony


I am high up, seated astride the branch of a tree. Below, on a small patch of sand surrounded by tall, waving grass, a woman is stretched out, naked. Her hands and feet are pulled apart, tied to stakes. A man stands, fully clothed, beside her. Two more men stand on the other side of the naked woman, one wholly naked and the other naked from the waist down. The woman's soft pubic hair fascinates me. The fierce and ruddy erections of the two men horrify me.

That's all I can remember. Probably, I climbed down from the tree and went away. Possibly, I stayed and watched, and the memory did not take hold for one of many reasons. I was about five years old, maybe six.

I remember why I was there. It was a picnic at the place where we often went for picnics in those days, up on the dunes behind a beach that was so long you could not walk from one headland to the other. These days it's a suburb. The dunes and the tall grass are gone.

The man wearing the clothes was my father. He has long passed on.

I never knew the identity of the two men with the erections.

The woman staked out naked on the sand was my mother. Is my mother. I visited her only yesterday. She's frail, but well enough.

For some reason, as I sat and talked to her, the image of her staked out, her pubic hair black and lush, came to my mind. I didn't ask, of course, although there is little time left to ask things of her. As an adult, I understand the complexities of sexual behaviour. But I remain her son, and I cannot ask her about them.



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