The Piano Man Project


‘Don’t you think there’s something sad about buying yourself a new vibrator for Valentine’s Day?’ Honey picked up a lurid pink model and eyed it with distaste.

‘Why?’ Tash laughed. ‘My last one was the best boyfriend I’ve ever had. When it gave out I buried it in the back garden and planted a phallic cactus over it as a tribute.’

‘How the hell did you break it, anyway?’ Honey frowned at the hunk of neon plastic in her hand. It looked pretty indestructible.

‘Overuse, probably,’ Nell chimed in on her other side. With her big brown doe eyes and smooth chignon, she was a study of tidy perfection.

‘We can’t all lead cookie-cutter lives, Nellie,’ Tash chided.

Nell sniffed. ‘I don’t hear you complaining when those cookies end up in your kitchen cupboard.’

‘True,’ Tash laughed. ‘Just don’t go looking for your next cutter in here. Although actually, maybe you should. I’d pay good money to see your mother-in-law dunking cock-shaped shortbread in her tea.’

Nell shot her a sarcastic smile, privately needled by Tash’s good-natured teasing. Had her life become too cookie cutter? Looking at the alien things on the shelves around her, there was every chance it had. A frown of concentration crumpled her forehead. She’d read enough magazines and books to know that a stale marriage was a step away from disaster.

In both looks and life, Nell and Tash were polar opposites, and Honey knew that her place in the world was somewhere between them. If they were traffic lights, Tash would be green; all flashing emerald eyes and come-hither grins that had men falling at her feet. Nell would be red: stop; don’t cross; clear and direct. For Honey, the amber light. Warm, never quite sure, approach with caution. Or perhaps it was closer to ‘don’t approach at all’, if the lack of decent men in her life was anything to go by.

‘It went rusty.’ Tash scanned the shelves with an expert eye, her riotous red waves swishing around her shoulders. ‘Don’t ask. Oh thank God, a waterproof one.’ She grabbed a gleaming turquoise vibrator and kissed the box. ‘Hey there, handsome. I need you in my life.’ She dropped it in her basket with a grin.

‘How ’bout you, Honeysuckle? Something for the weekend?’ Tash waved towards the army of vibrators lined up on the shelf like a platoon of soldiers ready to spring into action.

‘Not for me.’ Honey slid the pink vibrator back into place on the display.

‘There’s no need to be so sniffy,’ Tash said. ‘I mean, it’s been quite a while since your last, er …’

‘Not that long, thank you,’ Honey snapped. It had been more than twelve months ago since she’d split from her last boyfriend – not that Mark had ever really qualified for the title. She seemed to have a knack of attracting the wrong kind of men, men who were more interested in football and beer than romance or flowers. Or orgasms for that matter, besides their own.

Her only long-term boyfriend of note had been Sean at uni, a biology student who’d treated her body like an extension of his textbooks, something to study for cause and effect. It was little wonder that her body had refused to perform under such intense scrutiny. She’d eventually given him the push when he’d pulled a magnifying glass out of his bedside drawer before unbuttoning her jeans.

‘Honey?’ Nell said, and she realised that both she and Tash were looking at her and waiting for an answer.

‘I don’t know. A year or so, maybe?’ She shrugged and looked away from her friend’s raised eyebrows.

‘Fuck! A whole year without sex?’ Tash threw a second vibrator into her basket. ‘I’m buying you this. It’s a gift. You need it more than I do.’

‘Ha-ha.’ Honey took it back out of the basket. ‘Thanks, but don’t waste your money. They don’t work for me.’

‘They work for everybody, Honey.’

‘Not me.’

‘Have you ever tried?’ Tash asked.

‘I don’t need to, okay?’ Honey turned away, uncomfortable with the turn the conversation had taken. ‘I just don’t … well, you know.’

Tash and Nell grasped an elbow each and turned her back around to face them.

‘You don’t what?’ A frown rumpled Nell’s smooth brow. ‘Orgasm?’ She whispered the question.

‘Don’t stare at me like I’m a criminal,’ Honey muttered. A sex shop was so not the place to discuss this. She felt like an atheist in St Paul’s cathedral.

‘I’m no prude, I like sex. I just never have an orgasm. It’s no big deal.’

Tash stared at Honey as if she’d