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all the traps we can't see

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Estelle has lost count of how many times the events repeat, how many times she feels like her head will float off, how many times she watches the stalking and the fighting, throws off Inez, pushes Garcin down on his couch before watching him turn on her and call her horrible names. During one iteration, she and Garcin get all the way to ripping her dress off before Inez stops them and Garcin curses them both again.

The universe is a blur of clammy hot air and twisted, bruised mouths and cutting words that feel like dry sand shifting inside Estelle’s stomach.

After some time of disuse, Estelle feels her eyelids retract into her face, feels her eyelashes sticking straight out of her skin like splinters.

She does not exist anymore.

It has been forever, and they have forever left to go.

Inez says to Garcin, slyly, “Want to prove you’re not a coward?”

Estelle finds herself standing behind Garcin, feeling his body heat.

“We can stop the torture for a little while, Garcin,” Inez is saying in a voice like oil. “What do you say?”

Garcin pretends not to hear, and Estelle is suddenly livid. She sinks her teeth hard into the muscles of Garcin's shoulder, and he throws her off with a bellow.

Estelle is glad he’s returned.

Garcin looks at Inez, as he always does at first. Estelle steps around him, her bare feet feeling dirty and sticky against the floor, and intercepts the gaze.

 “Tell him he’s not a coward, Inez,” Estelle says, looking at Garcin and curling her voice over the words.

“Perhaps if he did something worthy of it,” Inez goads.

Garcin steps forward and shoves Estelle to the gritty floor. Slowly and deliberately, he takes two strides toward Estelle, undoes his trousers, and pulls out his prick.

“You think this will make you a man, Garcin?” Inez says. “She doesn’t have anything to give you.”

“But you do. And I can give you her.”

Estelle’s stomach clenches. She can feel the rough floor on the backs of her thighs. Garcin kneels and brushes his thumb over her chin, shamming tenderness. Estelle feels her head return to her body. “Turn around,” he orders.

“If I’m not watching you, how do I know you’re watching me?” Estelle hears herself say.

“You can turn your head if you like. It makes no difference to us.” His mouth twitches, and Estelle hates him.

Keeping her eyes fixed on his, Estelle turns around, feeling her stockings snag on the rough floor.

“Hands and knees,” Garcin orders.

“That’s for maids,” Estelle says, thinking of Inez in front of her.

“Do you want my eyes or not?” Garcin says with a tiny smirk. Estelle lays her palms in front of her. She feels Garcin’s rough hand grasping her hip as the other pushes aside her panties.

She gasps as he enters her roughly.

Inez’s laugh sounds choked. “I guess you like octopus, don’t you, Garcin? Wet and soft.” Then, in a low voice, “Give her to me.”

“Tell me,” Garcin counters, his eyes still on Estelle. He pulls out slowly, then gives a vicious thrust that makes Estelle gasp.

The silence stretches for a few moments as Estelle looks at her reflection in his eyes.

“You’re not a coward,” Inez grits out. “Now give her to me.”

Garcin’s eyes dart briefly to Inez, then back to Estelle as he pins her under his gaze. He grasps her wrists and sits back on his heels, pulling her onto his lap and watching her face so she can’t look away.

“You are a man, Garcin,” Inez says from in front of Estelle. Estelle tries to ignore her, even as she feels the secretary’s heat, hears her ragged, disgusting breaths. Garcin’s thick fingers tighten on Estelle’s wrists just as Inez’s terribly soft ones cup her breasts.

Garcin thrusts up into Estelle and moans. There, Estelle thinks. I’m coming back to existence.

Garcin’s arm comes around her waist, his other around her hips, and he thrusts harder now, rough and demanding.

Without warning, Inez’s mouth finds Estelle’s clit, and Estelle gasps with involuntary pleasure and wishes she could vomit.

Inez laughs. “A man, indeed,” she says against Estelle, and sucks again.

Garcin’s arm comes around Estelle’s chest and grips her shoulder from below, slamming Estelle down as he ruts into her over and over. Estelle feels like a small animal, but at least she is alive at last.

“I like your lips,” Garcin says, his voice cracking with desire.

Estelle can feel the secretary’s lips spread into a grin against her. Estelle wants to push her away, but if she does, then she knows, just knows Garcin will stop moving, stop looking at her.

Garcin’s thrusts grow sharper, more erratic, and Estelle can tell he is close, about to fall at her command. She feels her cunt tighten around him, and she cannot breathe.

With one last deep thrust, he shudders against her, his mouth hot on her neck.

Estelle is on the edge, alive and breathless, so close.

Garcin cradles her body and kisses her, giving her deep little thrusts, and Estelle knows she is about to come. She is thrumming with life.

“Pull out and hold her still,” Inez says, and her awful mouth is still licking and sucking, and before Estelle can protest, Garcin pulls out and Inez twists two fingers inside, angling them just so.

Estelle clenches and shatters, whimpering. Garcin strokes her face and kisses her cheek.

Inez licks around where her fingers are, twisting roughly again.

“That wasn’t so bad, was it, my angel?” Inez coos as Estelle begins to regain her breath.

Estelle looks away, but she can feel Garcin watching Inez. “Good boy,” Inez says with a chuckle.

Garcin’s seed is on Estelle’s inner thighs, already drying at the edges like cracked paint. She feels her eyelashes sticking out of her skin like splinters.

“We had her together, didn’t we, mon petit garcon?” Inez makes a sound that’s somewhere between a laugh and a sob

Garcin chuckles a little hysterically. “You don’t like to share, do you?” he says knowingly, and Estelle imagines the other woman hurriedly wiping Garcin's semen from her fingers.

Estelle feels a smile overtake her mouth.

It’s starting all over again, the cycle of traps both new and familiar.

They laugh, the three of them, until they are breathless.

And then it is silent.

Estelle feels her head floating away.

“Do either of you have a mirror?” she asks from her place on the floor.