It could never be explained to the outside world without sounding scandalous: “I slept with my dad last night.” What she meant, of course, was that she had been led into a sleeping arrangement without warning. Traveling through France to visit their number of relatives scattered throughout the non-likenable to any shape land. They had managed to encounter primarily luxurious accommodations that permitted for separate bedrooms. But not on the leg of their tour that found them in Toulouse. Toulouse which had somehow suddenly gotten too expensive in the summer for Arnaud’s once previously more robust budget.
Alas, while retirement had been kind in allowing him more time, it had also seen fit to drain him of his money more quickly than he anticipated. That was the unfortunate aspect of his taste for taking younger women “under his wing.” Which was to say, taking them into his bedroom. Céleste, for her part, tried to ignore this more unfavorable aspect of her father’s personality, defined as “winsome” and “charming” by most women he hadn’t provided DNA for. And it had nothing to do with the death of her mother, Mathilde, when Céleste was eight years old. For Arnaud had engaged in his affairs even as Mathilde lay dying of cancer. He was still, after all, a man. Not merely a father. And as the sins of the father are only societally permitted to visit the son, Céleste didn’t feel she was doing any wrong when she subsequently adopted Arnaud’s behavior in her own marriage.
Of course, when a woman did such things (particularly a French woman), it was not ignored or brushed under the rug. This was precisely why Céleste had opted to join Arnaud on his journey. She was running away from her divorce. And her soon-to-be ex-husband, Gustav, who was not content to let bygones be bygones after being cuckolded so many times over. No, he wanted something for his shame. And that something was money, finally able to give Céleste her comeuppance for making more than he did all these years. Though she didn’t tell Arnaud that the core reason behind her separation was her infidelity, she was sure he had surmised as much and it made her feel even odder about this sudden need to share a bed with him. And not a very large one, at that.
Arnaud appeared nonplussed by the scenario, as though there were no traces of the Electra complex in it at all. Céleste, on the other hand, was having difficulty even appearing in her nightgown–which she knew was too scanty–in front of him. She couldn’t even remember a time when she had seen her father at night during her childhood, the tucking in left to Mathilde or some au pair du jour. In fact, his ephemeral presence was so rooted in daylight for her that she almost tended to believe he disappeared into the ether at night. And, in a way, she supposed he did–into some woman’s vagina. It was his retreat from reality (she later came to understand as she herself did the same with men): the company of other women.
It was only when Céleste herself began to experience the same sentiments that she could empathize, after herself feeling so unsatisfied with just one man. Maybe this was why she could never fully begrudge her father as most daughters were prone to for disappointing them so with their overt philandering. But, if anything, a patriarch was only doing his female spawn a favor in setting the stage for what was sure to be her own husband’s eventual bout with adultery. This was likely why Céleste couldn’t fault him the way other daughters might–because she chose to cuckold rather than be the cuckquean. For there was nothing queenly or dominant in that role. And Céleste was nothing if not dominant. At least she had inherited that much in terms of positive traits from Arnaud. Otherwise she might have been eaten alive by the cruelty of the world decades ago. No, there was no nobility in being “feminine” or a “good woman.” For it ultimately got one (with a pussy) nowhere in life. And the only place Céleste wanted to go was somewhere.
Or, in her present case, anywhere that wasn’t Paris, where Gustav seemed to be lying in wait at every corner to kill her. No, even the thought of seeing distant relatives she had barely anything to say to other than “hello” and “how are you” sounded more appealing than the risk she ran in staying in the same town as Gustav at the present moment. Gore-prone Gustav. What had she been thinking with him anyway? Upon reflection, it had to be her attempt at “being average.” That’s all she had ever wanted to be despite knowing that something within her–specifically her father’s genetic code–had instilled her with the philanderer’s disease. And there was nothing “normal” about that when contained within a woman–whose loins were meant only to be stoked by men, not fiery of their own volition.
As she surrendered to appearing in her barely-there pajama ensemble in front of her father, who had already gotten into the bed and seemed to be watching her with more intentness than he ought to be while she turned out the light, she sensed that she was somehow doing something wrong. Crossing a line that should not be crossed regardless of being both European and an avid fan of Bertolucci films. She ignored it and crawled into the bed.
She opened her eyes at the usual time–seven a.m.–feeling a wetness that was being propelled by the presence of her father’s finger on her labia. Her father, who was ostensibly in a sleep coma and instinctively assumed this girl next to him was not his daughter but just another young ingenue he had wrangled into his bed. Céleste didn’t know quite what to do. Because, on the one hand, it felt too good to stop, and on the other, waking him up might jar him and alert him to what he was doing in the first place. If she let his finger run its course, maybe he would never know, and they would never have to speak of this awkward and highly taboo incident.
So she lie there, half pleasured by the physical sensation, half pained by the emotional fallout. He finally stopped when she climaxed. As she breathed heavily in her euphoric state of satisfaction, she was horrified to glance over and see that he was looking directly at her with a grin on his face.
She jumped out of the bed in disgust at how he had preyed upon her. He shook his head at her suddenly morally outraged reaction as he smelled his finger and assured her, “Don’t worry. It’s our secret. We’ll keep it in the family.”