At last I'm pleased to announce the publication of The Master of Glastonbury. Thoughts about this story have been lurking on my radar since mid-January, and I started writing it at the beginning of March; other projects intervened (notably Waterlines 15) and I've been working hard at it over the last month, with several final retouches to the text. I'm relieved it's finally complete!
Here are the details, with an extract to whet your appetite:
Medieval erotica: A story associated with The Poor Nuns series.
Agnes, a gifted artist, dresses as a man to achieve her ambition to become a master painter in great church buildings; her sexual frustrations lead her to create private works of erotic art for private commissions. Following a narrow escape from a sexual assault one night, she needs somewhere to hide and is permitted to wear a monk’s habit whilst continuing to work in a remote nunnery, a safe haven. But she craves to become accepted as a woman once more; to be married and raise a family. Can she ever rid herself of her past life?
Agnes spent much of her spare time the next day with Master Edward’s book of sketches, studying the pictures of David - dancing provocatively half-naked before the Ark - and of Judith with Holofernes. Deciding finally on Judith as her subject, she would have her masturbating the drunken Holofernes while she had her knife poised at his neck. This would give her the most sexual pleasure; she could work this theme with a passion, with the kind of driving fury she had seen others apply in their work here when they were totally absorbed. She identified the empty space she would use for her sketch, and would bide her time when she could be left alone to fulfil her growing infatuation.
The evening came; it was still early enough for her to have all the light she needed, although she would have to work fast. As was her custom, she returned the book to Master Edward without raising any suspicion as to her intentions; then, rather than walking out of the church, she made for the chapel containing the blank wall.
First, she sketched the head and sinewy body of the male figure, the Assyrian general Holofernes; bearded and handsome, like the lord of the manor who had released her into the care of Master Edward, he rested with his eyes shut, drunk with wine and desire for the young Jewish widow who held him in her arms. Then she began delineating Judith, her breasts cascading out of her loose upper garment, her legs apart provocatively. One arm reached up, holding the general’s sword at his neck, while the other hand went down to caress his erect penis. She wondered whether the original Judith had actually managed to induce her adversary to climax in the moment of his death; she felt a pounding in her crotch as she viewed the completed work. It was important for her to capture the whole scene in her mind for, one day, she would recreate this picture on a wall somewhere for an important commission, painted to perfection and admired by everyone who saw it.
When she had committed everything to memory, she knew it was time to wash it away. For it must not be seen by anyone; if any of the priests or monks here saw her at work on this - with its erotic connotations - she would be severely punished. It was unseemly for a woman to paint or draw a man’s genitals, particularly a single woman. She would be branded a whore and would be consigned to a brothel at a local tavern to work.
On the verge of panic, she reached for a rag and plunged it in a pail of water that she had standing ready. There were voices outside in the nave, and they were getting louder. Edging against the doorway, she saw three monks approaching. She would have to stop erasing her work and see to her own survival. Then a voice called out in the distance. The monks turned, and she heard a discussion begin. She looked round the chapel, and saw a table-tomb standing in one corner; it stood only two feet high, and probably contained the remains of a former abbot. There was just enough room for her to hide behind it if the monks came through the doorway.
Racing over to her hiding place, she squatted behind it and waited to see if the men entered the chapel. She heard footsteps, and looked round the end of the tomb. Only one of the monks had entered, and he was looking at her work. She heard him gasp, and watched as he shuffled his hands round his robe. Although his body hid his actions, he seemed to be holding something in front of him, although his gaze was fixed on her picture. His elbow moved slowly, almost rhythmically, and she realised that he was starting to masturbate. He had been sexually excited by the image she had created out of her own imagination.
This, to her, was the ultimate accolade; she had inspired a man - through her work - to feel the need to express seed out of his body. And this recognition made her feel sexually excited. If he could make love to himself at the sight of her accomplishment, then so could she. As she began fingering herself, she noticed the monk’s strokes were becoming faster. And her own crotch was soaked with the juices of her pleasure. The monk was interrupted by a call from someone outside, and he left with his pleasure unfinished. She would have to hold her breath when she climaxed. But, as that moment approached, she heard him depart quickly and she could relax, allowing her orgasm its full and unconditional gratification.
No sounds were heard now, but she considered it unsafe to remain. Confident that she could escape unnoticed, she got up and made straight for the doorway into the nave, ignoring her sketch on the wall. Within minutes, she was back at her lodgings.
“Where were you after dinner?” asked Joan when they climbed in bed.
“I went for a walk. It was a pleasant evening,” she replied.
“More like she’s found a man to fill her hole,” laughed one of the sisters. “There’s a curious glow about her face. Can you see?”
“Enough! I’ll tell your father about your filthy mind,” she hissed, and rolled over, hiding her head under the blanket.
Just for the record, there are plenty of instances of women doing masquerading as men - especially during the First World War (1914-1918) - when women went to fight and, hiding their gender, used specially-made wooden pipes to assist stand-up urination when standing next to the men when relieving themselves. We only know of those occasions when the women were killed or injured in battle and they were discovered to be female. How many other women went to war and returned home unscathed, having successfully hidden their secret?
I hope you get as much enjoyment out of reading this story as I did writing it. I shall be making tentative steps to write the next in this series - Return to the Poor Nuns - very soon. It depends on what the Muse delivers into my mind first; I have a nice story already written for Waterlines 16, and am waiting to conceive another two tales to complement it.
Please feel free to write to me at any time - I'm always interested in feedback and, if you're worried about privacy, I can assure you that your identity will never be disclosed to anyone.
cpw (at) restroom (dot) net