Fiction Friday: Helena and Robert (July 23, 2010)

Fiction Friday: Helena and Robert

The brothel stank of sweat and rum and sex. Robert ducked under the low doorway and wrinkled his nose as the odours assaulted him. William was nudging him in the ribs, and the first mate Jimmy had come along as well. William was more than a little drunk but Robert was stone cold sober and wishing he was not.

Sounds filtered down into the parlour. Gasps and moans, shrieks of pleasure and pain. Feminine giggles and the occasional male voice raised in passion or ire. After two months at sea the men were well overdue for some worldly pleasures yet Robert’s enthusiasm was rock bottom.

He cast his gaze around at the merchandise. They arranged themselves enticingly, leaning back or kneeling forwards, head tilted to the side. Drapes of filmy cloth barely covered their fleshy wares. Most looked spaced out, a legacy of alcohol or opium, perhaps both. William bounded forward and grabbed a buxom young blonde with stained teeth, while Jimmy spoke to the madam. He turned and waved to Robert, who glanced again at the women. None appealed to him. He grimaced but as he shifted his weight to turn he spied a wench towards the back of the girls, who seemed to have her head down, avoiding notice. Her rippling black hair, shiny and loose, covered her semi-naked body as she hunched forward. He weaved his way through the simpering girls and crouched in front of her. She raised her head and he was startled to see her eyes were a deep crystalline blue. He could drown in those ocean eyes. Slowly he reached out a hand and stroked her cheek. She shuddered involuntarily, but then sat up straighter and plastered a fake smile on her face.

“You find me pleasin’, sir? My name is Helena, I’m at yer service.” Her soft Welsh lilt was all he heard; the sounds of the whorehouse no longer existed. He helped her stand and she followed him as he presented her to the madam.

“Act like a whore!” Sally hissed. She glared at Helena and simpered at Robert. Helena nodded blankly and led Robert up the stairs and into a sparse room. All it contained was a mattress, a wash basin and chamber pot. Helena cast off her skimpy robe and stood with eyes shut. He paused to appreciate her nakedness, then shed his own clothes. Her beautiful eyes opened as he put his arms around her and lifted her onto the mattress. Robert kissed her, and stroked her face again.

“You’re not a slut.” His voice was matter-of-fact. I don’t know how you ended up here, but you’re not very good at it.” Her eyes widened and she shook her head. With a noticeable awkwardness she tried to look seductive and he laughed. “Stop, Helena. I don’t want a whore. I want a beautiful woman, but I don’t want to force myself on her.” He moved his hands to her body and lay next to her. Her back arched at his touch, and she sighed. His hands moved lower. “Will you have me, my beauty?”

She rolled onto her side and touched his lips. “All my life things have just happened to me. I’ve never had a choice. Are you sayin’ that if I say you nay, you’ll leave? Just like that?”

He nodded. “I’ll get dressed first though”. She smiled with delight and his frostbitten heart warmed at the sight. He rolled her gently onto her back and hovered over her. “So what say you Helena?”

She gazed up at him, eyes wide and thoughtful. “Nay”. A shadow crossed her face as she watched him. He sighed and pushed himself up, and began to get dressed. She watched a moment longer and laughed with glee. “Come back here, sailor! I choose to give myself to you!” She stretched out her arms to him. He stopped in the act of putting his shirt back on, wrenched his trousers off and almost fell onto the mattress. Wrapping herself around him, Helena whispered into his ear. “Will you come back to me?” Robert had no words as she pulled him down to her.


He was woken by his internal sailor’s clock. Dawn was approaching, and he rolled off the mattress and out of her arms. He dressed quickly and knelt to kiss her. She woke with a start, and grabbed at him. “Don’t leave me,” she begged with fear in her eyes. He kissed her again.

“I will come back to you. I promise.”


The prompt for this week was pick two established characters, either from your own work or others’. Now write the scene/story of their meeting. I wrote this in a MAJOR rush, so I know it’s very rough, but I decided to write some of the backstory for Helena and Robert. When I wrote the original story The Lottery I had little bits of their past in my head, but this allowed me to get it out “on paper”. And this week I was determined no one would die! This is very much intended as an excerpt, not a stand alone story.


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