Hi, I'm Justine Elyot and I'm here to talk about my story in Lucy Felthouse's anthology Seducing the Myth.
When Lucy put out the call, I was a little overwhelmed at first. So many juicy myths to be perverted – how could I possibly pick just one? Well, I'm half English and half Irish, living in the West Country, so pondering on that led me to a myth that fits me in terms of nationality – the Celtic legend of Tristan and Iseult.
I first became familiar with this myth in its more well-known guise of Tristan and Isolde through the Wagner opera. In fact, I didn't really cotton on that it was a Celtic myth until later (the only myths we learned about at school were of the Greek and Roman variety). I wasn't even sure that Tristan and Iseult was the same story at first.
Eventually my fog of ignorance cleared and I determined to write an updated fragment of the story focusing on Iseult's wedding to Mark. The situation was sexy yet poignant – and you can't help sympathising with the characters because it's not their fault! The potion made them do it.
Here’s a snippet:
On the way to the river, I think of our journey to Cornwall, Tris and I, in the back of one of Mark's limousines. We hadn't been able to touch each other for fear of what the chauffeur might repeat. Five hours, sitting beside each other, with the heat of our desire burning the air between us, hands fidgeting, eyes twitching, thighs and the inbetween spaces growing pointlessly moist.
We chatted stiltedly, all the time hearing the words behind the words.
"The cake has five tiers but you should see the icing; it's hard as a rock."
Like you, under those trousers. God, I want you.
"Wedding cake icing always is. I suppose it's nice inside."
Inside, inside your thighs, where it's always warm and melting-soft.
"I made them leave out the candied peel and put cherries instead."
Cherries, ripe and red, like my clit, red and ripe under your tongue.
"I like those sticky cherries. I like anything fruity."
I want your fruit, I want to taste you now.
How we made it to Cornwall without fucking like sex was about to be banned on the expensive leather defeats my understanding. It was torture. All the way, I thought we would get out at Castle Dor and sneak in a side entrance, find an empty room where I could lie back and open my legs, have him, bring him inside me, knock the edge off that endless lust, if only temporarily. But Mark was waiting for us and he met us on the gravel drive and I had a long, long wait over cocktails and cheery chatter before I could be alone with my vibrator.
I'd applied it to my aching cunt thinking of Tristan's crinkling eyes and lascivious smile, his questing hands and his thrusting pelvis, the way he turned his rage and despair at our hopeless situation, alchemically, to lust.
He is under a weeping willow. I wonder if the willow weeps for us.
"Mark will wonder where you are," I greet him, but his only answer is to lunge for my wrist and bring me close, so that he bends over me in imitation of the willow branches, arms holding me where I belong.
"This has to end," I say, but I know even as I say it that I don't mean it, and my lips speak the truth, pressing to his, showing him what I can't disguise.
Our tongues say it loud. This can never end. They intertwine, push and force the confession while our lips blister.
"What has to end?" whispers Tristan. "Kissing?"
"I have to marry him."
"I know. But this can't end. It isn't a thing we can pull out of ourselves and discard. It's part of us, Izz. You know that. It's in our blood."