A Change Of gender And Beyond
by F.W. Hinton
Maureen's husband John, a nonplussed man of sixty four,
owned a run-down thousand acre farm and tried hard to keep a
home going for himself and two unmarried daughters. From the
local Hotel he bought a bottle of scotch, a carton of beer
and a bottle of sherry, and had another idea which was not
To cheer up his wife, a cause he had not yet abandoned, even
after six months of married life and her continued
depression. He decided that this year they would all spend
Christmas at home. He invited his family, and wrote to Shaun
pleading with her, for the sake of her cousin to come and
stay over the holidays. She refused at first, but after
learning of Maureen's melancholia changed her mind.
Maureen had been all right most of the morning, even though
her husband had forced her to attend early morning mass. On
her return from church she began cooking the Christmas
dinner. John's two daughters, who were a few years younger
than their stepmother, refused to help, believing that their
father had only married Maureen to look after them and the
house. She looked out of the lounge room window when she
heard a car stop and watched her husbands relations pour out
of the car. Seized by sudden panic she ran upstairs to the
bedroom and locked the door. John told his three sisters
and two brothers that his wife, whom they had never seen had
a headache and hoped she would join them later in the
evening, perhaps mistakenly, trying to minimize their
He thought that if ever the news got out that his second
wife tried to commit suicide on Christmas eve, as his first
wife had on Christmas day seven years ago. That both women
had tried to gas themselves by sealing off the kitchen,
putting their head in the gas oven and turning on the taps.
He would never be able to hold his high again. His first
wife he put in a nursing home where she died six months
later. Maureen he had managed to save and threatened her
with a similar fate.
Shaun arrived during the afternoon. John told her that her
cousin was in bed and could not be disturbed. He answered
his relatives unspoken question, telling them that Shaun
Maclaren and his wife had been very close for a number of
" All right if I go up?" she asked when he offered her a
glass of sherry, which she refused. " She'll come down in a
minute," he mumbled, not wanting to be left on his own with
his family who might ask awkward questions.
Shaun sat down and waited. When John went into the kitchen
she ran upstairs and knocked on the bedroom door.
" Maureen It's me," there was no answer, " Maureen, open the
" Go away Shaun. I don't want to see anyone."
" Why? What's wrong with you?"
" I'm frightened."
" You Frightened? I don't believe that-who are you afraid
" His relatives. He threatened to put me away, said they
would help him, same as they did with his first wife."
" They can't put you away. I wouldn't allow it. You know I
" You don't know what I tried to do."
" Then open the door and tell me. You don't have to go
downstairs. I'll look after you." Shaun heard bare feet on
the wood floor, the key turn in the lock. Maureen was back
in bed by the time she opened the door. She sat high in the
bed, a blanket around her shoulders shivering with the cold
or fright, Shaun was not sure which.
Maureen told her she was being treated more like a servant
than a wife. That he had hit her a number of times, and
showed her cousin the deep weals on her back thighs and
chest " He wants me to see a special doctor. He says that
anyone who attempts to do away with themselves ought to be
put in a home." Maureen pulled the blanket tightly round
her, as if it were a form of protection.
" I'm here now," Shaun told her, kissing her, rocking her
back and forth as she cradled her cousin in her arms. " I
won't let anything happen to you. You're not losing your
mind, you're not mental. Although looking after that lot is
enough to drive anyone off their head. I can't understand
you letting anyone hit you like that. You were always the
one that was tough."
" About ten days ago he came home drunk. He swore at me. I
told him I was going to bed. He dragged me down the stairs
and took his whip to me."
" What about his two girls?"
" When I asked them to help me, they said I deserved all I
On Boxing day John's two daughters went away with their
aunts hoping to stay with them for the remainder of the
holidays, leaving Shaun alone with Maureen and her husband.
Feeling extremely tired Maureen went to bed immediately
Shaun cleared the table, washed the dishes and sat on the
settee in the lounge room intending to discuss her cousin's
attempted suicide. Although she felt that the problems
between Maureen and John were really none of her business
she could not allow her cousin to be so cruelly treated by
John sat next to her and when she mentioned her cousin he
told her that what went on between husband and wife was
nothing to do with her, that Maureen was a lazy bitch who
did not look after his two girls properly.
Shaun became irate. Told him that an attempted suicide
should be reported to the police. That Maureen should have
been taken to the hospital or at least have been examined by
a doctor. Her eyes now blazing with anger, she stood up and
told John that she would be leaving in the morning with her
For an older man Maureen's husband moved quickly. He caught
Shaun by the arm, slapped her across the face grabbed her
around the waist and pulled her down onto the settee.
" I'll teach you who is boss here," he shouted.
This was the first time in years she had worn a skirt, and
had only bought it to pacify her mother. Now she wished like
hell she had stuck to wearing slacks.
" Let go of me!" she screamed as she fell on top of him, "
let go you rotten bastard."
Shaun struggled, trying to prize herself off him. The weight
of her legs and hips excited him, he pushed himself into
her. She wrestled, violently. It seemed that everything was
happening so fast. With one hand he gripped her wrists. With
the other he tore at her skirt and wrenched it upwards.
" No!" she screamed, her body writhing. She got one hand
free and hit him in the face.
" Stop it! - Stop it," she gabbled, fighting for breath, "
Maureen! Maureen-she's coming down the stairs."
" Scream again you stupid cow. She can't hear you. I spiked
her drink," he laughed, " she'll be out for hours."
Too frightened to cry, Shaun gritted her teeth as he tugged
at her skirt, pulling it higher. His hands seemed suddenly
extra large, but he still found it hard to hold her wrists.
Wishing she had half his strength, she bit his hand, here
mouth tasting the blood as she broke free. In one move she
was by the door.
Blood pouring from his hand he caught her again. She kicked
him in the shins and broke away. He swore with the pain of
the blow. Breasts heaving Shaun ran across the room. The
settee between them, she screamed and pushed it into him. It
served only to increase his anger and determination.
She looked around for something to hit him with, could find
only a few books. She threw them at him. He crouched as the
books rained down on him. Shaun made a break for the other
door at the far end. His agility amazed her as he grabbed
her again and she tried to smash her fists into his face.
He lifted her up as though she weighed no more than a
cushion and threw her onto the settee. All fire and fury,
Shaun flung herself upwards almost breaking away. His arm
shot out stopping her. He pulled her head up onto the arm of
the settee, pinned her shoulders down, ripped her skirt slip
and panties and started stroking her thighs.
Now that her legs were free of her skirt, she struggled more
vigorously than before. Seconds later she brought up her
knee with all the force she could muster, hitting him in the
groin. He screamed with the pain of the blow and fell to the
floor writhing in agony.
Shaun moved quickly she forced open the locked door and ran
upstairs to her cousin's room. Once inside she bolted the
door and wedged a chair under the handle. Maureen was still
fast asleep. At first Shaun thought she was in some kind of
a coma. She lifted her cousin up, screamed at her, shook her
then slapped her face as hard as she could.
Maureen opened her eyes, there was a silly look on her face,
Shaun in her panic dragged her from the bed and walked her
up and down. Dawn was breaking when her cousin was at last
able to understand. Shaun told her her husband had tried to
" That's hard to believe," Maureen told her when she had
recovered, " he can't even satisfy me. We've only been
together twice since we were married ."
Shaun, her faced flushed with anger pulled off her skirt,
slip and panties. " Here!" she said throwing them at her
cousin, " do you think I ripped these myself? I can't
understand you. He's beaten the hell out of you. Tried to
rape me. Drugged you. Through him and his two bloody
daughters you almost killed yourself, and you still won't
Gradually Shaun's words began to make sense. It was then
she realised why her husband sneaked out of bed in the
middle of the night when he thought she was asleep. Why both
his daughters were always fussing him, why she was always
the butt of their jokes.
By midday Shaun and Maureen were back at the cottage on the
coast. Shaun argued that they should have gone to the city.
" He'll come down here, drag you back and have another go at
me. I still think we should have told the police."
" What can they do?" Maureen asked her. " I'm his wife.
It's your word against his. Then it will come out that we
were living together. Think of the problems that will cause.
They could even lock us up."
"What about his daughters? Don't they call it incest?"
" We've no proof of that. They have never complained. We're
safe here. No one knows about our cottage."
" Do you think he'll try and find us?"
" No Shaun. He'll just assume we've gone away together.
Eventually, maybe in a year or two I'll get a divorce."
The Sandwood Hotel was full on New Year's Eve. There was a
dinner, a fancy dress party with balloons and funny hats,
all, Shaun thought a little archaic. Different kinds of
people were there. Middle aged men and girls with glossy
switches in their hair, that seemed to be the wrong colour
for their skin.
There were families who appeared to have more money than
sense. Girls in long dresses with long-necked men who wore
glasses and tried hard to look sophisticated. Barrel women
in mink capes, with gastric-mouthed men who had been told by
their doctors it would do them good to let their hair down
before they passed on.
Shaun recognised a few of the regulars. The Colonel and his
Lady. The Cabinet Minister who tried hard not to be seen.
The lady who broke her hip two years ago and the old man in
the wheel chair with a nurse who appeared to be very fond of
him, but kept going away, to somewhere in the hotel that
that no one seemed to know about.
Then there was Robbie. An older man, who had never married.
Most of his life had been spent pouring over accounts for
various companies. Now he had decided to become a writer,
and had arranged a life style to get it in perspective from
a writer's point of view.
This was the first time Maureen had been out since her
marriage and was delighted her cousin had suggested it. They
danced together as always, with no funny looks or remarks
from anyone, and they knew they were safely back home.
It was almost midnight when Robbie spoke to them. Maureen
seeing he was on his own, thought it would be a good idea if
the three of them were to see in the New Year. Shaun agreed,
and on the stroke of midnight she kissed Maureen then
Robbie, who thought it was something more than just a New
Year kiss. It made his heart beat faster than ever. The
lights dimmed again. He closed his eyes. thought he must
have been dreaming. When he opened them Shaun and Maureen
All his life Robbie Cockran had been a spectator of other
peoples joy and sorrows. Now, all at once, he was the actor.
He was aware of individuality and sudden personal wishes
that were almost passionate in their strength. Of
rose-coloured dreams, not for others, now for himself.
It seemed like an incredible, absurd fairy tale, that he,
Robert Edward Cockran, who was getting to regard himself as
an elderly man, should have found a woman. A woman, who he
wanted, a woman he was determined to make his wife.
He sat in his study gazing out of the window thinking about
her. He turned back to his typewriter, hammered out a few
sentences, ripped the paper from the machine, screwed it up
and threw it into the waste basket. It was no good. He
" Shaun!" he shouted, " Shaun Maclaren," wanting her to hear
him, knowing she could not, " why do you torture me?" he
asked. He thought she was more than attractive, he wished
it was as simple as that. She had vanished, entered his life
for a few brief moments and vanished.
She had kissed him on the cheek. He touched the spot where
her lips had caressed his skin, it was as if he could still
The barman at the Sandwood Hotel told him they lived in a
cottage somewhere along the beach.
" Is she married?" Robbie asked.
" The thin one, Maureen-I think so. She used to work here.
Before my time."
" No, she's not married. Nice sort of-person. Someone said
she writes books-you know what a weird lot they are. Two
women-on their own, always together. You saw them. They even
dance with one another. Sisters I suppose-could be cousins.
Robbie not wanting to listen to any more gossip gulped down
his drink and left.
He woke late the next morning, lay on his bed listening to
the sounds in the house. He heard his housekeeper calling
him for breakfast, someone in the distance chopping wood. He
felt reluctant to move. Most of the night he had lain awake,
Shaun Maclaren on his mind. He tried to grasp the hidden
meaning behind the barmans remarks. This was the day he
made up his mind to see her.
He got up, shaved carefully, dressed, and after breakfast
sat on the beach, near to what he assumed to be their
cottage. In the late afternoon he saw her. His heart
skipped a beat. With Maureen she was walking towards him.
He started to panic, wanted to run, hide, anything except to
sit there on the beach waiting for her to come up to him.
He saw her in a haze of special beauty that her strong,
almost unfeminine physique subtly increased. With a low
forehead, long eyebrows, straight nose and a neck that
appeared to be a little thick, he thought her head was
ancient Greek. Her breast was almost flat. Dressed in slacks
and shirt she did nothing to pull in her waist. Even when he
saw her at the Sandwood Hotel she wore no make-up or
jewellery, although he remembered seeing a pearl necklace.
He walked along the beach next to Shaun, after her cousin
invited him to join them.
" What do you do for a living?" Maureen asked breaking the
Shaun blushed, squeezed her cousin's hand.
" You shouldn't ask things like that," she whispered.
" It's all right. I don't mind. I used to be an accountant."
" And now?" Shaun asked, trying to show some interest.
" I've gone back to writing-full time."
" Successful?" Maureen interrupted.
" Well-yes. I suppose I am really. I have been published."
They reached the gate by the cottage. Robbie told them he
had to get back.
" I'm going to the Sandwood for dinner tonight. I'd love
both of you to join me, around eight. I've booked a table."
" We'd be delighted. Wouldn't we ?"
After lunch Maureen told her cousin she felt sick, and
really didn't want to go out to dinner. Shaun wanted to stay
and look after her. Maureen argued that it wasn't fair to
let Robbie down, that she should go as arranged.
" I'm not going on my own," Shaun told her cousin crossly, "
I don't know him, and what's more I don't really want to."
" He's booked a table. It wouldn't be right not to go. He
" Most men are-on the surface."
" It is you he's interested in."
" I don't want his interest. I don't like being with men.
You know that. Look what happened with your rotten husband."
" Forget that bastard. Not all men are like him."
" Most of the ones I've ever met," Shaun interrupted.
" That's all behind us," Maureen told her angrily, " I think
you should at least go to the Hotel, tell him I'm sick and
you have to get back to look after me."
All afternoon Shaun thought about Robbie Cockran. Trying to
put him out of her mind she picked up a book, read a few
pages. Found it impossible to concentrate and went for a
walk along the beach on her own. It seemed that no matter
what she did, he would not go away. She decided her cousin
was right. That if she did go and see him, it would at least
get him off her mind. all she wanted out of life was to be
with Maureen. If she couldn't have that, then she didn't
Robbie Cockran was seated at the bar waiting for Shaun and
Maureen. He stood up and greeted her when she came through
the swing doors. In slacks and close fitting jacket, he
thought she had dressed with a neatness that to him was
Shaun told him that her cousin had developed a cold, was in
bed, and she had to get back to the cottage to look after
" Have you called a doctor?" he asked.
" Not yet," she answered sheepishly, feeling it wasn't any
of his damn business anyway, " Maureen was asleep when I
left," as soon as the words were out she realised she had
said the wrong thing.
" Please stay," Robbie asked, " a table has been reserved
for us. I hate to eat alone."
The look in his eyes made it impossible for her to refuse.
" If your cousin was asleep," he continued, " I'm sure she
will be all right. Sleep is often the best cure."
He took her hand in his. She wanted to pull away. There was
something in his grasp, his smile that stopped her.
" I should be getting back," she said weakly.
The Maitre'D showed them to a table by the window. Minutes
later a waiter began serving the meal. Robbie apologized for
not having consulted her, and hoped the meal would please
" My tastes are simple. I spoke to the chef," he continued,
trying to explain, " he told me you were a frequent visitor.
I ordered as he suggested."
During dinner, Shaun found it easy to put all thoughts of
her cousin out of her mind as the relationship with Robbie
Cockran grew. She had sudden bursts of humour about books
that amused and delighted him. He encouraged her in every
possible way as he turned on his charm.
He saw her every day for a month. Away from her cousin, she
had abrupt whims, which at times, he felt were absurd, even
though he respected them. There were exactions on his energy
that left him baffled, miserable, joyfully expectant and
His restlessness gradually wound up like a coil that was
about ready to spring. He found it impossible to work. Threw
his half-finished script across the room, believing that if
he did not marry Shaun Maclaren he would go out of his mind.
Without her knowledge he told Maureen of his intentions, and
swore her to secrecy when he showed her the diamond
engagement ring. With her blessing he took Shaun to a
special dinner at the Sandwood Hotel. Over coffee and brandy
Disgusted, Shaun rose from the table intending to leave. She
sat down only after he begged her to stay. She told him
that the mere thought of an engagement, followed by marriage
was outrageous and abhorred her. He pleaded with her, told
her how much he loved, how she had ruined his life. He
begged her to give his proposal consideration and eventually
persuaded her to accept the solitaire diamond ring.
An hour later Shaun was back at the cottage. In the safety
of her cousin's they talked late into the night and made
love. The following morning Maureen told her that marriage
to Robert Cockran was the obvious way out.
" It will stop a lot of gossip, and solve a few problems of
my own," she told her.
" What do you mean," Shaun asked tearfully, " we're
together. How can you have any problems? You-it's you I
love. Nothing else matters."
" We've got to be honest with ourselves, and each other,"
Maureen continued, tears flowing down her cheeks, " I love
you, as you love me. But Shaun darling I need much more."
" More! What more can I give? Isn't my love-our
" How can I tell you-I need the wonderful feeling of a
man-deep- deep inside me, that will bring me to complete
fulfilment. I know we make love-a wonderful love. It's just
not the same. I desperately need the satisfaction that only
a man can give."
" I'll get an operation-there has to be a way."
" That's ridiculous-It just isn't possible."
" I don't believe that," Shaun argued, " men turn into
women-surely-there is a way. I know there is. One day it
will happen. I'll make it happen. Then I'll show you
love-real love." Shaun began to sob as if her heart would
break. Maureen held her close, stroked her forehead.
" The truth is Shaun Maclaren, there is nothing like the
love and feel of a man. You-you're still a virgin. You've
never been loved by anyone-except me. You need a man. It's
something you have got to experience. It will put an end to
all our problems-with me. Your brother George, Aunt Rachel.
It will put an end to the gossip, and speculation of that
bloody barman who took my job at the Sandwood Hotel."
" What would I do if I suddenly got pregnant? It could
" Don't be silly. You know what the doctor told you after
your operation, that you can't have any children. Besides,
even if anything did go wrong, I'm here. Didn't I look
after you when you came out of hospital last time?"
For hours that night Maureen lay awake listening to her
cousin sobbing in her sleep. She stroked her forehead, tried
to soothe her, blamed herself for causing someone she loved
so much misery. This was the second time she had caused her
cousin pain, and Maureen vowed it would be her last.
When Shaun awoke the sunlight coming through the window hung
shadows on the wall, and everything seemed to have changed.
Maureen told her Robbie was waiting to see her. She looked
at the ring on her finger, turned it round and round. last
night the mental process that warned her not to get more
ensnared was completed by the relief of knowing he was
Robbie Cockran stood at the foot of the stairs. He found it
impossible to sit patiently waiting in the lounge room any
longer. He stood feeling the excitement, that anticipation
of seeing her always stirred.
The discomfort, the restlessness was only part of it. This
morning-she would give him an answer. He knew it would be
'No' he prayed it would be a whispered 'Yes'. His dismay
vanished, enthralled, he watched her walk down the stairs on
her left hand she was wearing his ring. There was something
-almost magnetic about her that drew him to her.
" I will marry you Robbie Cockran," she whispered, " but
please I don't want a long engagement."
The whirlwind events of the following weeks swept Shaun
along, almost unthinking. It had become a dream, something
beyond her wildest imaginings. She thought about Morris and
Sons. Never again would she have to run the presses or do
boring jobs like collating. She wouldn't have to continue
trying to please her mother, or put up with her brother's
It was Shaun thought a chance to enter a society that she
could never attain on her own. He was after all a published
Author. Marriage to Robert Cockran, Shaun knew was going to
give her a life of security a life of complete happiness.
Robbie arranged the church, the hall and catering for the
reception, and Maureen bought her a white wedding gown.
Shaun pleaded with her to be Matron of Honour. Rooms were
booked at the Sandwood Hotel for her mother, two sisters and
The wedding breakfast went off to perfection. Pauline
decided that she wanted to make a speech. She had consumed
more wine than normal and ignored her mother who pleaded
with her to be quiet.
" He's married my sister, that bloody fool. She's a Lesbian,
don't think he knows it. That's the reason Maureen left her
husband. I wish them both luck. They're going to need it."
The silence that fell over the reception was deadly as Shaun
felt the cold air of reality awake in her the nightmare of
her sister's remarks.
She took Robbie's hand, smiled at him, determined that the
ghosts of her past would not haunt her future, and begged
him to leave the hall immediately with her.
The coldness which had ascended through her sister's efforts
to spoil the reception remained to ruin the rest of the
night. The dream that Shaun had lived for the past weeks
should have become a reality, but the past had intervened.
Alone with her husband in the bedroom of his cottage, Shaun,
trying to forget the past made up her mind that everything
would be perfect. That this, their first night, her first
time with a man would be a success. She tried hard to please
him. Wore the new nightgown Maureen had bought her, similar
to the one she had bought her cousin a long time ago. Shaun,
wanted to look beautiful, only for him.
Even with the distance that had now come between them, she
thought he was disturbingly handsome.
She watched him undress with a shiver of anticipation. He
looked at her, his eyes seemed shadowed, his expression,
He got into bed took off her nightgown, wanting them both to
be nude. In the frenzy of first holding her to him his hands
moved everywhere. He had not touched a woman's body in a
very long time.
Shaun put her arms around his neck. After a minute his hands
returned to her hard nipples but he found no softness behind
them. From the waist up he thought she was almost a boy, and
he so much wanted a woman.
He forced her legs apart and entered her, his kiss stifling
her cry of hurt-disappointment. He closed his eyes,
untouched by her response, oblivious to her pain. She lay
with a sense of appalled detachment, as though it were
happening to someone else.
He grunted and move off her.
She was left with overwhelming feeling. Is that all it is?.
Is that what they rave about? Is that what Maureen seeks so
desperately? Is it for this that her cousin forced her to
marry Robert Cockran?. If she had not felt so let down she
might have laughed at the absurdity of the moment. She
wished now she had listened to her own intuition and
remained, as she had wanted to, a virgin.
" Well-did you?" he asked.
" Did I what?" His question took her unawares. She had no
idea what he was talking about. He lay beside her, looking
pleased with himself, stroking her with a leisurely hand, as
one might have stroked the cat.
She pushed him away abruptly, drawing a hand through her
hair, staring at nothing.
" Is this all there is?" she said at last, her voice barely
audible. " I-gave up my freedom-for this?"
He sat up, moved closer, pulled the bed sheet off her. He
kissed her, lowered his lips to her breasts. His hands
caressing the soft skin of her back.
" Is Pauline right? Are you one of them? Would you rather
sleep with your cousin, and make love to her?"
" Do you believe her?' she retorted.
" It's obvious you have never had a man."
He took her by the shoulders, stroked her arms. As the
sheet fell lower he began to fondle her thighs.
" No! Not again," she protested, " It's too painful. It
gives me no pleasure."
For a frightening moment she thought he was going to rape
her. There must have been something in her eyes that
convinced him she was in pain. Angrily, he pulled back the
sheet and stared, his eyes transfixed by the scarlet stain .
" You bloody fool," he muttered, as he turned away, pulled
on a dressing gown and stormed out of the bedroom.
It was raining when Shaun awoke. She lay on the edge of the
bed remembering she had cried herself to sleep, cold,
uncomfortable and bleeding. She had been hurt beyond belief.
Her sister had shattered the dream. All romance had fled.
She knew he believed the things Pauline had told him.
She dressed went downstairs expecting to see her husband.
She wanted to explain about Maureen, anxious to tell him
they could put all that behind them. That if she really
tried they could live happily together.
In every room she searched for him. When she turned the door
handle, she knew he would be there. She sat in the kitchen
expecting him to walk in. She set the table for breakfast,
waited, not wanting to eat alone.
The shed! She remembered the shed at the end of the garden,
knew he would be working on his book. He had told her it was
his haven, his refuge, a quiet place where he could work.
She decided to go to the shed, go to her husband. Smile,
smile dangerously, throw her arms around him, tell him
everything would be all right. Plead with him to teach her
how to love him. Teach her how to be a good loving wife.
from the hall stand she pulled on a raincoat and hat.
There was a window next to the door of the shed. Shaun stood
for a moment trying to look in, her hand on the door knob,
the rain dripping down her neck. She knew he would be in
there working, and pressed her face against the window pane
trying to look into the room. Something stopped her from
turning the door handle. She thought it was stuck as a
shiver ran down her spine.
A bed, covered with a blanket was in one corner. Someone was
lying on it. She assumed it was Robbie and wondered if he
had been there all night.
She stepped back, wiped the drops of rain from her face,
then leaned forward, flattening her nose against the glass.
It was like looking into a fish tank.
She remembered standing for hours watching the fish in the
tank at the Convent, getting into trouble for wasting time.
The shapes on the bed-there were two of them. They were
moving up and down rocking, like underwater creatures in a
funny sort of embrace. She pressed her nose harder against
the glass fascinated by the movements.
Shaun stared at the figures, but she had no idea what she
was really staring at. Robbie's face came into view.
There was flash of a naked body as the barman from the
Sandwood Hotel stood up and pointed to the window. There
were two men. She turned away, wiped the rain from her eyes,
looked back at the figures and cried out. She covered her
mouth with her hands, then ran headlong into the bushes,
stopping only to regain her breath. If only her heart would
stop pounding. She saw the door of the shed open.
" Who's there?" Robbie called.
Crouching, stumbling she ran towards the cottage. A
blackberry bramble tore at her legs making her fall, the
gravel on the path grinding into her hands. Her heart
beating as though it were trying to leave her chest. She ran
into the cottage threw her raincoat on the floor. Upstairs
she lay panting for breath on the bed.
Shaun had heard about men dating one another. A girl in the
Army had said something about her brother.
" How can they?" she screamed. " A man-with another man?.
The back door closed with a bang. Robbie stood by the bed.
" It was you-wasn't it?"
" So now you know. There's no difference. Two men-two
women." there was still that humorous tilt in his eyes, that
was there when she first met him.
" Why?" He shook his head. A terror, like a cold wind
passed through her.
Shaun felt suddenly alone, abandoned. Robbie was not-Robert
Cockran she had married only hours ago.
" I had no idea," she said limply. He laughed. It was a
bitter, agitated laugh. He went to touch her. She twisted
" Don't you dare lay your hands on me," she screamed.
Her mind began to work clearly again. Her heart had stopped
it's pounding. She knew what had to be done. Maureen and
her-that was something different. A man-with a man? She
found it almost unbelievable.
" Shaun, please. Let's talk," he said softly, " at least
you must see that Tony is no threat to our marriage."
" Marriage? What marriage. Do you really expect me to allow
you near me when you've put your-."
She stopped crying. Her tears had turned to anger. She
stared at him, got up from the bed and started putting her
clothes in the suitcase.
" Robbie!" she said coldly, " tell me if you can why?"
" Why! Why what?"
" Why you married me? Why you wanted to marry a female?"
" I wanted it to work. I thought you knew how to love. From
the first time I saw you at the Sandwood I loved you.
Everything-everything about you. I wanted to love you
desperately. I wanted you to love me. But when your sister
told us I was devastated. I went back to my old ways. Please
let's start again. Let me love you as you ought to be
" We'll divorce. I'll give you the grounds," she told him
" No! Shaun. You're calm now. We can stay married. You can
live with your cousin. We can still make love. I can be
with Tony when ever I want to. You can stay with Maureen."
He began to cry. He disgusted her. She threw the remainder
of her clothes into her suitcases. " It's really a point of
view," he said trying to wipe away his tears, " in many
societies it's accepted. Your being with your cousin. We
really could live together-in that kind of environment. Lots
of people like us live that way. They still love one
another. It's not ideal. It happens."
Shaun stared at him. She hated him, wanted to hurt him. If
only she were a man.
" You Robert Cockran disgust me," she shouted.
" Is all you have to say?" he asked taking a step towards
She picked up the bedside table lamp. He stopped a few feet
" I want a divorce. I'll get it," she fastened her
suitcases, " that's all I have to say, except I'll never see
She dragged her cases down the stairs, put them into the
boot of her car and drove away.