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.


Demandez. It was the buzzword of their relationship at the start.

Ask me. Tell me. No, *beg* me. Say please.

It would help, perhaps, if it wasn’t written on the mirror. That’s how he thinks of the food now as a reflection of him – every roast chicken, every perfect patisserie, every carefully reduced sauce – it’s a slice of him on a plate. 

A slice taken out of their relationship.

Once upon a time, he’d had time for her. Had left the kitchen in fact, that night they met, to ask what she thought of the food. At least, that was what he started by asking. He finished by writing his number on a napkin. 

Napkins are disposable. 

Now, he doesn’t ask her anything, and she doesn’t ask him, either. Not the coupley stuff, like ‘What do you want for dinner?’ (He brings leftovers from the restaurant), nor the ‘Where do you want my cock?’ or the ‘Shall I come in your cunt, or your mouth?’ Where she wants his cock is in the long, stolen afternoons they used to share, not the post-midnight hours they’re confined to now, once he’s showered off the scents of his true love – the garlic, the chilli, the oil from the deep fat fryer.

She might tell herself, one day, that she made a last ditch attempt to save it. She sat in the restaurant, at the table opposite the mirror, and she even dressed like a mistress – all black, red nails, lots of cleavage. 

He stays in the kitchen. 

At six, the first guests start to arrive. She gives up her table to a party of four, and heads home. She should leave a note, she thinks, somewhere where he’ll see it.

When he comes home, in the early hours, there’s a word on the mirror, in lipstick.

Adieu x


The Eurostar is half empty. It’s not due to arrive in Paris till 20:30 – most people’s festivities will be underway by then, she thinks.

She has no particular plans. She’s alone – she has been for three months now, but unlike at Christmas, tonight she’s grateful for the solitude. It doesn’t even bother her than the train has no power sockets; her phone is dead, and she’s uncontactable, at least until she gets to the hotel.

She goes straight to a bar.

At a corner table, she sips a Kir Royale, slowly. A man gestures to the seat opposite her. ‘T’es d’accord si je laisse ma veste ici?’

She smiles. ‘Bien sûr.’

Even once he’s draped his jacket over the chair, he lingers. He was breaking the ice, she realises – there’s a coat stand in the corner. She’s not in the mood to make conversation just yet, and turns back to her book.  He gets the message, and leaves her in peace. It doesn’t stop her checking out his arse as he turns away.

Her second cocktail is on the house. The barman laughs off her attempts to pay – ‘J’insiste, mademoiselle!’ – and holds her gaze as he pours. She hangs out at the bar for a while, flirting with him between orders and in return he shows off – there are flaming drinks, bottles being juggled, and champagne fountains.

Because she has no intention of fucking any of them, no man is off limits. She smiles broadly at a guy with a wedding ring, makes eyes at another while his wife is in the Ladies’. She glances at bulges in trousers, at well fitting black tie, at stubbled jawlines. When midnight comes, she’s not short of kisses – they’re practically queuing up to wish her a Bonne année. 

And it will be. She knows it.

She takes a taxi to her hotel a little after one. She’s tired, but exhilarated, alive with the possibilities that await her in the year ahead. In the elevator mirror, she smiles at her reflection. It’s one of those rare evenings where she can see her own beauty; has utter faith in it.

In her room, she takes off her make up, hangs up her clothes, and lays down between cool sheets. Her fingers find her clit and she rubs firmly, thinking about those men, imagining them without the black tie, without the wives, with hard cocks and eager hands. She imagines going back to the bar, naked this time, and them pushing tables back, making room for her to get down on all fours.

The men in her head are queuing and jostling not to kiss her, but to fuck her. She conjures up one – the barman, with his cheeky grin and deep blue eyes – fucking her mouth, and another – the one with the salt and pepper hair and the gold band on his ring finger – in her cunt.

She doesn’t have to imagine her orgasm.

Satisfied, she curls her knees up to her chest, and drifts off. There are so many potential men out there, she realises now. And they can all wait until tomorrow.