Love without locks

Wrote a thing using the prompt photo for Round 7 of the 2019 Smut Marathon…


Camille reads in Le Monde that they’re planning to cut the locks off the Pont des Arts. About time, she thinks – it’s been clear for ages that the damn thing is collapsing under the weight.

It is May 2015, and she crosses the bridge every morning on her way to work at the Institut de France, where she is embarking on two things, both of which are new to her. The first is a career in academia, the second is an affair with a married man.

He – Xavier – is older, nearly thirty years older, but Camille is somehow attracted to him nonetheless. She likes his hands – he plays the piano exquisitely – and the fact that his stocky frame makes her feel especially lithe and petite. Plus, the sex is surprisingly good – he pins her wrists above her head as he thrusts into her and grunts appreciatively when she wraps her legs around him, encouraging him to go deeper. Besides, even if she doesn’t always get off whilethey’re fucking, he fingers her afterwards until she does, every single time. Some of her friends have boyfriends their own age who can’t be bothered to do that, and those boyfriends don’t buy cute tokens of affection from Dior, either.

The whole arrangement suits Camille perfectly.

Later in the year, the metal panels are on the bridge are replaced with plywood, then with glass and, predictably, there’s uproar, as if the whole rest of the city isn’t a historical monument stuck in a time warp. Can’t people find something else to go and look at? Don’t they have bigger things to worry about? It’s just a bridge, putain.

No, it isn’t the glass that bothers Camille, it’s the selfies. The selfies that the mayor’s office is encouraging by putting up #lovewithoutlocks signs all over the place. As if there aren’t enough photos of smug couples on her social media already.

She doesn’t let that stop her. She persuades Xavier to take her for a drink one night, at a bar near the Louvre – it’s been several months now and, aside from work, they’ve spent barely any time outside her flat – even outside her bed, for that matter. So she throws a little tantrum about how she’s a person, not just an inflatable doll for him to fuck, and he agrees that they can go for a glass of wine, although she can see that he’s wary – he won’t let her hold his hand, and he doesn’t want to stop for a romantic kiss on the bridge, either.

‘A selfie, then?’ she begs, pouting.

‘Must we?’

‘I won’t share it on Insta,’ she says. ‘It’ll be just for us, like the photo you sent me the other day.’ The photo he’d sent her the other day had not been worth the effort she’d put in to get it. She’d had to send step by step instructions by text – he still hasn’t got Whatsapp – on how to attach a photo to a message, and when the picture did finally arrive, he’d taken it from directly above, giving the impression that his dick was wearing shoes. It didn’t get her off.

‘Fine, fine, but let’s be quick.’

‘We should use your phone,’ she says. ‘You have a better camera.’

This isn’t strictly true.

She makes him take several. In every single one, she’s looking at him with puppyish, smitten eyes.

‘Thank you,’ she says, afterwards. ‘It means a lot to me.’

At the bar, he lets her order the wine while he visits the Gents. He leaves his phone on the table. He leaves her alone with it all the time. Fool.

She knows his passcode, too. He isn’t careful, doesn’t tilt the screen away from her when he taps it in.

She has time.

She unlocks the phone, opens the Photos app. She knows he has a family shared album, she’s looked before to see how frumpy his wife is – although presumably he didn’t set it up himself.

She moves three photos from the main album into the shared one. Two of the two of them on the bridge, and one of his shoe-clad penis. It should be enough to raise suspicion.

It took 45 tons of padlocks and at least ten years for the Pont des Arts to start to crumble. Camille weighs less than 54kg and can make everlasting love fall apart in less than six months.

The thought makes her smile.