They walk hip to hip, knuckles brushing, as they measure their potential in the rhythm of their feet.
It’s a few days before Christmas and I love Christmas. In fact, Tim Minchin pretty much summed up all of warm, cosy feelers my atheistic little heart has about Christmas in this song (which totally makes me cry, by the way. Big feelers).
I normally do at least one Christmas story for the blog, but December’s been crazy and I haven’t written anything that didn’t make me want to stake myself with mistletoe, so I decided to post a story I wrote for Rose Caraway a few years ago for a Christmas edition of The Kiss Me Quick’s Erotica Podcast.
This story, “Christmas Yet to Come”, is an unapologetically romantic take on Scrooge’s redemption in A Christmas Carol, one of my favorite Christmas stories, especially when performed by the Muppets (don’t judge). And, if you’re looking for a distraction while you’re wrapping presents or baking or cooking food for an army, you can listen to Rose Caraway read “Christmas Yet to Come”, as well as her own sexy take on the Dickens story (this one involving candy-striped knee-high socks), by clicking here.
“Christmas Yet to Come” by Malin James
“If I have to say merry Christmas again, I’m gonna kill someone….”
Mark adjusted his glasses and picked up the invoices he’d been trying to file all morning. It was Christmas Eve—the world wouldn’t end if he left them. But that wasn’t the point. The point was that Claire was about to leave early, so he was stuck on the register saying “Merry Christmas” when he’d rather be in his office ignoring the holiday altogether.
“Are you sure it’s okay?” Claire, asked as she shrugged on her bright red coat. “You don’t look good, Mark. I hate thinking of you here all alone. I mean—”
“It’s okay. I know what you mean.”
Mark ran a hand through his rumpled hair, frustrated to a degree he knew was unreasonable. The divorce had barely gone through, and his ex, Bethany, was spending the holidays with her new fiancé—their former marriage counselor, Travis Dean. It was the first time in five years she wouldn’t be with him at the store on Christmas Eve.
“Look, Mark,” Claire said, straightening the bookmarks in their little, metal rack, “why don’t you come to my sister’s house? She made goose! And plum pudding…whatever that is.”
Claire’s brows crinkled beneath her fluffy white hat. Mark tried to smile. He knew she was only trying to help. Everyone and their mother was trying to save him from a lonely, miserable Christmas. The only problem was that a lonely, miserable Christmas was exactly what Mark wanted.
“Thanks, Claire. Really. I just want to keep it low-key. Go and enjoy the goose.”
“Are you sure? I mean…it would be great if you to could come.”
Claire met his eyes and blushed. Despite everything, Mark’s stomach flipped. For a moment, they just stood there, looking at each other. Finally, Mark shook his head.
“Yeah,” he said. “I’m sure.” Then he handed handed Claire an old umbrella. “Here—you’d better take this. The storm is getting worse.”
Claire smiled, but couldn’t quite hide her disappointment. Mark turned back to the invoices. Her pretty, blue eyes were almost enough to change his mind.
“Okay, then. If you’re sure…” Claire said, as she headed to the door. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow. Merry Christmas, Mark.”
“Merry Christmas, Claire.”
Despite the busy morning, the store remained empty all afternoon, thanks to the massive storm hitting the Bay. They’d always stayed open on Christmas Eve to catch any last minute business. Needless to say, he wasn’t up for that this year. This year, Mark’s big plan for the holiday was to bury himself in paperwork and turn off the Christmas music. Now that would be nice, Mark thought, contemplating the silence. More than anything he just wanted Burl Ives to shut up.
Mark flipped the Closed sign and locked the door before eying the Christmas lights Claire had insisted they put up in the window. He was itching to turn them off, but that would have required rummaging through a tangle of cords and power strips, which wasn’t worth the hassle, so he left the lights blinking and headed back to his office.
His office. Not his and Bethany’s. Because Bethany was in Peru with Travis Dean.
Mark pinched the bridge of his nose, torturing the headache he’d had for months. Bethany loved Christmas, and she was missing it because Travis Dean loved Peru. Fucking Travis Dean…. Every trip they’d never taken twisted Mark’s gut as he shoved past Bethany’s chair. Then he shook a handful of Tums out of an industrial sized bottle and tried to get work.
Mark squinted, trying to make sense of the inventory screen, but the numbers kept bleeding together. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. He was so goddamned tired. He could have slept for days….
Mark heard something, but chose to ignore it.
“Dude, wake up.”
There it was again. Mark shifted but didn’t open his eyes.
“MARK! WAKE THE FUCK UP!”
Mark sat up and slammed his head on the shelf above his desk.
“OW! Fuck! What?”
“There you are! Finally. You’re a super heavy sleeper, huh?”
Mark blinked and rubbed his head. There was a girl sitting on his desk. She was wearing a pencil skirt and cowboy boots and a leather jacket over a Metallica shirt, but despite the thrown-together look of her clothes, her hair was glossy, and her cat’s-eye make-up looked airbrushed on.
“Who the fuck are you?”
“I’m Marley,” she said, kicking her feet.
“Marley? Like Marley in A Christmas Carol?”
“No,” Marley said, rolling her eyes. “Don’t be a dumbass.”
“How did you get in here? Did you break in?”
“No! Of course not!”
She looked indignant, as if he’d really offended her. He almost felt bad, but then he remembered she was sitting on his spreadsheets and he still didn’t know why.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, before standing up and whacking his head again.
“OW. Never mind. Just go.”
“I can’t go,” the girl said. “You’re my assignment.”
Marley smiled and patted his arm.
“Why don’t I start from the start. Strictly speaking, I’m not here. The only reason you can see me is because you’re asleep—see?”
Mark looked down. His body was slumped over and his head was on the keyboard. The screen was filled, appropriately enough, with zzzzzz’s. He didn’t look good. He might have been drooling. Embarrassed, he tried to shake himself awake, but his hand passed right through his body. Marley smirked.
“Sorry, dude. You can’t touch yourself.”
“Then why could I hit my head?”
“I dunno,” she said, shrugging. “It’s your dream. Look, I just need to give you the skinny on what’s about to happen. Then you can go back to sleep for real. Okay?”
“Sure,” Mark said, edging into Bethany’s empty chair. It took his weight with a groan. He gave Marley a look.
“Seriously, why can I sit in this chair but not shake myself awake? Is it dream logic…? Or something else?”
“I told you I don’t know. It’s your dream. Jeez, you think too much. Anyway, like I was saying, I’ve been assigned to you. Every year I get sent to someone who needs a little perspective. You’re my someone this year.”
Marley paused, swinging her legs back and forth. Mark shifted uncomfortably. She had really good legs.
“Thanks,” she said, grinning. “They’re not my best feature, but they’re all you’re gonna see!”
She gave him a wicked grin. For the first time in months, Mark felt his cock stir. All of a sudden, Marley jumped down off the desk and into his lap. Mark tried to shift away, but his cock only got harder.
“Aw! That’s super sweet! I haven’t given anyone a hard on in ages! Yay me!”
Mark stared at her, vaguely horrified.
“Don’t worry, dude. I’m older than I look,” she said. “So anyway, here’s the deal—”
“Let me guess,” Mark interrupted. “I’m going to be visited by three spirits.”
Marley rolled her eyes.
“God, you’re such a dork. No. They’re busy with people in way worse shape than you. You’re going to have a dream.”
Mark shook his head.
“I thought I was already having a dream.”
“You are having a dream, but not the real dream. Pay attention to the real dream, because the real dream is going tell you something you need to know. Plus, it’s gonna to be good, if you know what I mean.” She wiggled her brows suggestively. “You’re going to wake up happy.”
Marley ruffled his hair and jumped down off his lap. Mark tried to ignore the fact that his dick missed the curve of her ass. He wanted that hard-on gone. Suddenly, Marley shoved a finger in his face.
“Keep that hard on. That hard on is good. I swear you’re gonna have a merry Christmas if it kills you.”
“Okay, okay,” he said, warding her off. “Take it easy. Why do you care?”
Marley cocked her head. Suddenly, she looked serious, and much, much older than she’d first appeared to be.
“Because I get where you are. I remember. And because I’m assigned to you. Okay?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Okay.”
“Cool. Don’t flake on the lesson thing. And don’t think too much—you think way too much. Just have a good time. But learn something. I don’t want to see you next year.”
“Sure,” Mark said. He was starting to feel drowsy again. It was getting hard to process what Marley was saying.
“Poor guy,” Marley said, softening. “You’ll be okay. I promise.”
The little clock on the desk began to chime. Mark squinted at it, but couldn’t see the numbers straight. It looked like midnight, but that didn’t make sense if he’d only closed at four….
“Oh shit! I gotta go! Good luck. And Mark?”
Suddenly, Marley was gone. Mark looked down at his body, but even as he did, things got blurry and he drifted back to sleep.
Mark heard something ringing. At first he thought it was the clock on his desk, but it was too insistent for that. Groggily, he sat up and wiped the drool off his chin before stumbling out of his office. His head ached like a sonofabitch, and the ringing didn’t help.
Outside, the storm had picked up—the wind was rattling the windows, and it would have been dark as midnight if it weren’t for Claire’s Christmas lights.
The chime rang again. Mark looked around, rubbing his head. The phone wasn’t ringing and nothing was on. He couldn’t tell where it was coming from. Then he heard a knock at the door and peered through the gloom.
Claire was outside, stomping her feet and blowing into her mittens. Even through the glass he could see that she was soaked.
Pushing his glasses up, Mark turned the lock and let her in.
“Claire, what are you doing here? I thought you were at your sister’s!”
Claire took off her sopping woolen hat and wrung it out before stepping over the threshold.
“Jeez, Mark. I wish you’d listen to messages. I forgot my sister’s present so I had to come back. Then is started to rain and there were no cabs, so I had to walk but when I got here, I didn’t have my key, so—”
“I got it, I got it,” Mark said. “Come on in.”
He was just about to close the door when the wind snatched it and slammed it shut.
“Whoa. It’s bad out there.”
“Yeah. I’m soaked.”
Mark glanced at her. It looked like someone had shoved her into the Bay. Her blonde pixie cut was plastered to her head and red woolen coat was soaked through. He didn’t usually notice how little she was because she was such a dynamo, but right at that moment, she looked like a miserable fairy. Then Claire started shivering and Mark’s protective streak kicked in.
“C’mon. Let’s warm you up.”
“Thanks,” she said, teeth chattering like a wind-up toy.
“The heater’s on in the office,” he said. “Take off your coat. I’ll dig up some towels.”
Mark went into the tiny stockroom and brought out a bath towel leftover from who knew what.
“Here,” he said, passing it to her. “It’s old, but I think it’s clean.”
“Thanks,” she said, giving him a lopsided grin. “I don’t suppose you have any spare clothes too?”
Claire plucked at her ruined leather pants.
“Uh…,” he said, noticing her figure for the first time.
She usually wore layers, but in tight pants and a wet sweater, he could actually see her proportions. She looked like a dancer—tiny breasts, slender waist, hips like a champagne flute…. Mark’s cock stirred. He wanted to see more, but he wasn’t about to con her into getting naked.
“Let me go check,” he said. “I might have a sweatshirt somewhere.”
“You know what,” she called, as he turned away. “It’s okay. I’m already warming up.”
Mark looked back at her, surprised by the husk in her voice. Claire was not a flirt. She was bookseller. Not that a bookseller couldn’t flirt, but she wasn’t that kind of girl–
the kind with a come-hither voice, who stripped down in her boss’s office. Except apparently she was.
Mark watched as she drew her fingertips down over the little metal button at the top of her ruined pants. Then she popped it and drew the zipper down, before working the wet leather slowly down her legs. He’d only just noticed her pink satin thong when Claire lifted her sweater up and slid it over her head. Mark caught his breath. She wasn’t wearing a bra. Naked, her breasts were as beautiful as he’d thought they would be—sweet and round with little pink nipples that were puckered from the cold.
Mark wanted to fill his mouth with her. He wanted to slide in between her slender thighs. He’d have given anything to see her without the useless little thong.
Claire smiled. Then she wiggled her hips and kicked her panties off as if she’d read his mind.
“Merry Christmas, Mark” Claire said.
The playfulness was gone, replaced by a lovely, sweet softness he was starved for. He wanted softness from her. He was tired of hard edges and strain. Mark cleared his throat.
“Merry Christmas, Clai—”
Before he could finish saying her name, Claire closed the distance between them and fit her hips against his, pressing his now massively hard dick into the hollow between her legs. Then her mouth was on his, gentle and sweet, despite the insistent push of her hips.
Mark, the man who never stopped thinking, stopped thinking then. Every ounce of his awareness sank into the silky chill of Claire’s skin. He felt as if he’d been asleep for years, and that her mouth was waking him up. He wanted to touch her everywhere, he wanted to touch every inch of her, but she broke the kiss before he could push her back against the shelv
“So,” she said, grinning as she unbuttoned his shirt, “all I needed to do was drown in a rainstorm and strip in your office? If I’d known it was that easy, I’d have done it months ago!”
“Well, the leather pants didn’t hurt,” Mark said, grinning as he shrugged out of his shirt. Then she sank to her knees and his smile faded.
“You don’t have to do that,” he said
“Do what,” Claire asked, clearly confused. “Suck your cock?”
Mark didn’t know what to say. Bethany had hated oral. On the few occasions she’d done it, it had always been part of a “gift.” He was used to his partner not wanting to suck his cock, so the fact that Claire was kneeling in front of him, unbuttoning his fly with the intention of doing just that made him feel a bit gun shy.
“Uh, yes.” he said. “That.”
Claire slid his boxers down and stroked shaft, slowly, from base to tip. Mark’s knees almost buckled.
“Of course I don’t have to, silly,” she said, angling her head. “I want to.”
Then she kissed his cockhead and slid it into her mouth. She sucked once, then twice, long and slow, before she released him with a smile that said she could have sucked him off for hours.
“You don’t understand, Mark,” she said, working his dick with her hand as she settled herself more comfortably on her knees. “I’ve been wanting to do this for years, but you were married, so there was no way. Now though…it’s okay, right?”
Mark’s pulse throbbed.
“Yeah,” he said, trying to see straight. “Yeah, it’s okay.”
“Good,” she said, licking the tip of his oversensitive head. “Then I’m going to get back to it.”
Mark braced himself on the doorframe, and began to thrust cautiously into her mouth. His ex had hated having her face fucked, but Claire seemed to be urging him on, pressing her fingers into his ass, and moaning when he began to move with less restraint.
“It’s okay,” she said, glancing up at him, before going right back to it.
She tongued his shaft and sucked him back in so hard that her mouth pulsed around him tighter than a cunt. He felt the tip of his head nudge the back of her throat, but even as the muscles contracted, Claire softened and pressed him deeper. Suddenly, Mark couldn’t stand it. He hauled her up and kissed her before she could protest.
“I need to fuck you. Now.”
He’d never said anything like that to a woman. But then he’d never needed to fuck anyone like he needed to fuck Claire.
She smiled as he picked her up and carried her back into the office. Her hair was a mess and her lips were swollen. She was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. Suddenly he knew he’d been waiting. He’d been waiting for this. He’d been waiting for Claire. Claire’s heart-shaped face was the only thing wanted to see, and he wanted to see it every second of every day.
Mark backed her up against the messy shelves and lowered her onto the desk. The keyboard and a pile of invoices fell to the floor, but Mark didn’t care. Not when Claire was spreading her legs and tilting her hips with a dreamy, peachy smile lighting up her face. Mark reached down and touched her clit, rubbing gently as she whimpered and ground against his hand. Then he slid into her sweet, wet warmth.
She was an impossibly perfect fit. She was made for him, he thought.
“Are you okay,” she whispered, stroking his back.
Mark pressed his face against her neck and thrust in long, languid strokes, as if fucking her answered every question he’d ever had.
“I’m happy,” he said, smiling against her neck.
“Me too. Now, answer the door, okay?”
Mark looked at her, confused.
“Answer the door, silly. I’m standing outside. Let me in so we can do this for real….”
Mark’s head began to spin. He squinted, trying to control the vertigo that was twisting the space around him. Then it stopped.
Slowly, Mark opened his eyes and saw the computer screen blinking like a Christmas tree. Mark rubbed his jaw and grimaced. He had drooled. He hoped the keyboard would be all right.
Very faintly, he heard a knock at the door. His cock was still hard. So hard, he was amazed he hadn’t come in his pants. Marley hadn’t been kidding—it really had been a good dream.
Knock, knock, knock.
“I’m coming,” he said, shaking his head to clear it. The dream was still vivid in his mind—he could practically smell sex and Claire’s sweet, violet scent. Shoving it aside, he hurried out to the tiny sales floor.
Claire was standing in the window. The rain had stopped. She was dry but her nose was rosy from the cold. Mark’s heart slammed hard enough to break his ribs. Telling himself to pull it together, Mark adjusting his glasses and opened the door.
“Hey,” he said.
He felt breathless. He felt like he was going to pass out.
“Hey,” Claire replied.
He stood there for a second, taking her in. This was the Claire he’d known for years—not the soaking wet minx wearing leather pants, but the bright-eyed sweetheart with her hand knit beret….
“Hey, wait. Are those leather pants? You have leather pants?”
Claire gave him a quirky little look.
“Sure I do. I wore them to work last week. You said you liked them…remember?”
Mark nodded. “Yeah. Now I remember.”
He remembered her looking hot.
They stood there awkwardly as something fragile passed between them. Mark wanted to pull her into the store and wrap his arms around her. He wanted to kiss her. But the dream was just a dream. He couldn’t assume….
“Hey, Mark? Look up.”
Mark looked up. Dangling over the doorframe was a sprig of mistletoe.
“Where did that come from,” he wondered.
“I hung it up the other day. Silly….”
She smiled shyly and leaned into him. Her hand was cool and sweet on his face.
“Is this okay,” she asked. Her mouth was a whisper from his.
“Yeah. This is okay.
Then her lips were on his, as soft as they’d been in the dream.
“Merry Christmas, Mark,” she whispered.
“Merry Christmas, Claire.”
For more on the holiday theme, check out the links below. An most importantly, Merry Christmas. May it be full of all the best feelers a holiday can bring.
In the Bleak Midwinter (nonfiction)
Photo courtesy of Sex is My New Hobby
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This post isn’t really about naval fetishism, but it is the written, real time version of my realization that my relationship to my belly is far less ambivalent than I previously thought.
I don’t really have a thing with bellies…actually, that’s a lie. I didn’t think I had a thing for bellies until I wrote this post. Hands? Yes. Nape of the neck? Obviously. Collarbones and shoulder? Fizzy, little sigh.
But tummies are different. Unlike napes and collarbones, I don’t sexualize them…at least, not beyond the fact that they’re a lovely expanse of sexy, touchy potential. Round, flat, muscled, soft – if my partner has a tummy, I’m going to want to touch it because it’s part of that person’s body. Odds are that if I’m having sex with someone I want to touch their body, belly included.
My apparently long-standing but newly discovered thing with bellies has less to do with other people’s and more to do with my own. When I was young, I trained at the SF Ballet. Even as a little person, emphasis was placed on how fit and strong and flexible our bodies were, and I was taught that my stomach muscles had a great deal to do with that. When I was dancing, I developed an intuitive awareness of my core muscles and how they engaged. They were my tools and I took care of them. They made me feel strong and capable, but that had nothing to do with sex.
When I got older and more aware and, as a result, more consciously guarded, I became protective of my belly in a largely symbolic way. Traditionally speaking, it’s a vulnerable place and “showing your belly” has never come naturally to me (massive understatement). The fact that getting people to “show their bellies” was one of my ex’s favorite pastimes probably didn’t help. In fact, my hyperawareness of it as an emotionally vulnerable place (and the protectiveness that came with it) may be why I’ve never thought of my belly as an especially sexual part of my body until I actually sat down to think about it.
Much to my surprise, it is.
After years of habitual maintenance, my core muscles are literally and figuratively the center of my strength. I engage those muscles when I run, when I pick up my daughter, and oh, damn do I engage them during sex. A really good kiss is enough to make them tighten up for go-time. I bend and flex and stretch from my belly. I use it for leverage. I sit and stay grounded from there too. Without getting too sentimental or spiritual about it, my belly has become my seat of strength in both body and mind.
While I might be naturally attracted to certain body types, a person’s belly doesn’t register when you compare it to any number of other things, but my relationship to my own belly is surprisingly less generic. My belly is strong, and that makes me feel strong, and yeah, that actually is sexy.
Stretching out long, like a cat, in bed; curling up beneath someone, anchoring myself on top of them, bending this way and that. My belly lets me do all of those things. Even better, it helps me feel present with my partner when I do them. I had no conscious awareness of that before now. It’s kind of lovely that writing this helped me figure that out.
For more thoughts on bellies and naval fetishism, check out Kink of the Week or click the lips.
She thinks of his voice, his soul-grinding voice as she drifts off to sleep in a bed that’s far too big. His voice, that voice, drips through her. Its echo coats her skin, like frost on the windows of the winter dark room at the top of the narrow house.
Humming, lilting letters tumble down her spine and slide into her hips. In his mouth, her name is the drip of melting ice, fragile and quiet, a secret dark and deep. It’s the forest in a poem, his mouth and her name, in the snowy, winter dark.
What is it about the way some people, one person, says her name, her name, the name she gave herself, that makes it the language of home? Not her physical home in the too-wide bed at the top of a narrow house, but the home where her pulse rests deep in her belly, buried between her thighs.
She thinks of the language he makes of her name as her hand slips past cotton, down to her skin, skin that strains to meet her. Her name on his tongue is the country they create, the map of her slippery soul. She arches, placing the whole of herself in the cup of her capable hand.
Sounds, not words, filled the room long ago, and fill the room again. His breathing, her breathing, catching breath, bitten moans. They melt ice and salt the bed. She strains and falls open, longing for home, his voice, her name, the ache of an absence, the weight that isn’t there. Her mind is somewhere dark and deep, slick with dripping frost.
Her mouth parts like a shell. It is round and full of a name, his name, the name he has given himself. They tumble down her spine, her voice and his, tight, pulsing echoes in her shuddering bones that crack, like ice, in her chest. And then she is home, for a moment, for now, in the country they once made.
Frost limns the window, but she is warm. Her breathing deepens and slows. Memories, murmurs, whispers on skin, so many years ago…she rests in the language they made for themselves, a secret dark and deep, long ago in winter dark room at the top of a narrow house.
I wrote the original draft of this post a few months ago. Suffice it to say, a lot’s changed since then. One of the ugliest presidential elections in history is finally over and, after months of contention, the results were pretty hard to swallow.
It’s not that Hillary Clinton lost—she’s a complicated figure and the reasons for her defeat are equally complicated. What disturbs me is that Donald Trump, an openly racist misogynist who never held public office, handed people a fantasy wrapped in violence, and enough people swallowed it to win him the election.
Many of the people who voted for Trump would not consider themselves to be racist, xenophobic or misogynistic – a lot of them voted for Trump “despite” certain issues, but that “despite” is still a problem. What happened last Tuesday can best be described as a reaction to a package deal. Sure, Trump’s (freaking chaotic) platform included a ton of racist and misogynistic rhetoric aimed at women, Muslims, Latinos, queers, trans people and pretty much everyone who isn’t cis, white and male, but he tied all that hate up in a promise to Make America Great Again, and that promise resonated with a lot of people.
Make America Great Again. It’s standard political rhetoric – a phrase that sells a vague ideal, one a candidate can define flexibly so supporters attach based on their own personal contexts. In this case, Make America Great Again harkens back to the conservative golden age of post-WWII America. This period in U.S. history has taken on a nostalgic sheen, one in which the economy thrived, people had jobs and everything was safe. And white. And run by men. In essence, Trump promised his constituents Pleasantville, and that promise was enough to outweigh the racism and hate he wrapped it up in.
For those of you born in the 21st century, Pleasantville is a Toby Maguire movie from 1998. The citizens of a fictional town called Pleasantville live in squeaky clean, 1950’s black and white world until social and sexual revelations turn everything technicolor. It’s a clever send up of the nostalgia we have for a past that was, under the glossy surface, repressive, judgmental and deeply homogenized.
Trump evoked this nostalgia with his bonkers, often illegal promises to Make America Great Again. The wall he’s going to build along the Mexican border? That’s a promise to keep foreigners out of Pleasantville. Threats of deportation? Same. His plans for a “Muslim registry”? Yeah. That too. Every bit of xenophobic bile is a brick in the foundation of that promise, and that’s not even counting his treatment of women.
Here’s what disturbs me. People wanted the Pleasantville he was selling enough to overlook the violence, misogyny and human rights violations that would inevitably come with it. Whether or not his voters liked the whole packaged is irrelevant at this point. They didn’t mind the ugly enough not to vote for that nostalgic, deeply traditional throwback to a “safer” time, despite how literally un-safe it makes half the population.
That’s the thing about Pleasantville. It’s a lovely, seemingly safe place – seemingly safe because the safety it promises is contextual at best and a lie at worst. It’s a place full of social masks and people passing for “normal” in a traditionally straight, sexually conservative, patriarchal society. It’s a safe place to be if you’re vanilla, straight and white, and it’s the promise Trump ran on. It’s the promise he won on. Which means, it’s the thing we have to be careful of in the next four years.
Sex, race, gender and sexuality. These issues have always been political and, as exhausting as it is, this is normal. This is good. This is the opposite of homogeneity. As long as our bodies remain deeply contested political entities, it means they remain deeply contested political ground rather than territory conquered in the name of an imaginary past.
Trump and his rhetoric—both the hate speech that appealed to the Klan and other marginalized whites, as well as that promise of a newly “great” America—would normalize the homogeneity that we, as women, immigrants, minorities, queers, trans people, liberals, allies and anyone else who fails to toe the line, defy by existing out in the open and without apology. Now, more than ever, we are the body politic, and that means we need to engage, and stay engaged, long past when the disgust, disillusionment and anger wear off. The socially safe America Trump promised doesn’t exist. It never has, and the promise of it shouldn’t be normalized as an unfortunate side effect of a disappointing election.
Human beings can only live with stress for so long before we grow numb to the stressor. It’s seen most often in cases of domestic abuse, a comparison I do not make lightly. Trump’s own lawyers testified that he gaslights them so routinely they have to meet with him in pairs. With Trump’s newly vetted influence, people will eventually get used to the idea of his presidency. It will normalize as an exhausted populace digs in to wait him out. And that’s the real danger now. What he proposes is not normal and, while I know his supporters feel otherwise, the values he’s espouses in conjunction with his vision of a “great” new America cannot be normalized, not without a lot of people paying a very high price.
I’m not saying this to scare people. People are scared enough. I’m saying it because there are still things we can do to keep moving forward, rather than sinking openly and gleefully into black and white.
- Donate to charities and institutions aimed at helping people under direct threat. Whether it’s time or money, they’re going to need all the support they can get. The ACLU, the Trevor Project, Planned Parenthood and the NAACP are good places to start, but there are lots of others too.
- Subscribe to reliable news outlets – the New York Times, the Washington Post and Bloomberg News are about as reliable as it gets, but there are a bunch of others too. And if you like your news in audio form, check out NPR. Wherever you get it, vet your news so you know what’s actually going on. Read things you disagree with. It’s the only way you can reliably decide what to believe.
- Most importantly, support each other. Have useful discussions. Advocate for equal treatment under the law. If you see someone struggling, help them. Community is one way to set a foundation for changing things between now and 2020.
Some of us will slip under the radar because we’re white or middle class -because we can “pass”. A lot of people don’t have that luxury. If nothing else, it’s become obvious that there is a deep longing for the illusion of safety in the promise of Pleasantville, an illusion that people voted for, regardless of the cost to others. Whether you wave your freak flag loud and proud, or quietly support a charity while protecting your job or family, please try to stay engaged as much as you can. Educate yourself. It’s going to take a lot of of well-informed fuck off‘s to the lure of Pleasantville to get though the next four years.
I’ve always split my writing time between fiction and essays. Recently, though, the balance has tipped and I’m leaning into fiction as I focus on a collection I care a great deal about. That said, project-love isn’t the only reason for the shift in focus.
While there is, inescapably, a lot of me in those stories, there’s a distance in the writing that I need right now. Fiction is, and always will be, fiction, no matter how much of the writer informs the narrative.
The nonfiction I tend to write, especially for this blog, doesn’t have that natural buffer. Everything I write here takes on an inherently personal bent, whether I’m ranting about sexual history calculators or exploring different aspects of non-monogamy. Even when I don’t draw directly from my own experiences, my opinions and history inform those posts to a massive degree. While I usually lean into that level of transparency, my boundaries are higher right now, which makes that transparency hard.
I’m going through an odd time. Things that are fundamental to who I am as a person are shifting and changing, like the young woman and the crone. I grew up affected by a trauma I couldn’t process, and the effects of that trauma unknowingly molded my childhood, my relationships and even my sense of self. Over the course of the past 10 months, I’ve begun to unpack the issues I’ve avoided for 35 years. As a result, my internal landscape is shifting, sometimes quite suddenly. It’s terrifically destabilizing – on some days. On other days it feels great. But the swing between the two is both constant and erratic, so I’m extremely hesitant to write about it. Yet.
In order for me to write well, I need distance and perspective. Venting feels good (oh, so very good), but if I don’t broaden my understanding I run the risk of ranting aimlessly or navel-gazing or, even worse, both. No one likes a ranty navel-gazer so I try not to mine myself until I’ve gained some insight. That’s why I didn’t write about this or this for more than a decade, even though I did (and still do) have plenty to say.
That’s the key, for me, to writing personal essays. While nonfiction takes a thousand different forms, my natural approach is to mine myself for material and (hopefully) create something that connects with a reader in some kind of meaningful way. This often means that the most immediate, difficult or overwhelming situations (the ones I tend to want to vent about) are best left alone until I understand the lay of the land.
At the moment, my emotional landscape is the sort of primordial jungle that guys in pith helmets get lost in. Except for scrawling in my journal, writing about any of it would, in the end, make me feel worse. The young woman and the crone might use the same hand, but they write from different perspectives. Anything I say now will very likely shift given time and emotional clarity. Writing is a way to pin my thoughts down. That’s a hard thing to do when they will very likely change.
Eventually, I’ll put enough distance between myself and this mine of material but, for now, there’s little I could say that would be of use to anyone but myself. I admire writers who produce beautiful, cogent essays in the middle of great stress. It’s a magnificent talent, one I quite notably lack. My strengths lie in hindsight, and hindsight takes time, so I’m leaning on fiction and quiet…at least, I am for now.
On Mining Yourself was inspired in large part by this post by Honey at Happy Come Lucky. If you’re looking for perspective and clarity, there are few bloggers as gifted as she is. I wholeheartedly recommend you check it out.
About three years ago, I had a story called “Open Me” published at a now defunct site called The Erotic Woman. Recently, a lovely reader let me know that the link to “Open Me” no longer exists (neither does The Erotic Woman). He then asked if I might have a copy of it somewhere and,as luck would have it, I did.
“Open Me” is a pretty old story about an exhausted tax auditor and the woman whose suitcase he grabs by mistake. Hijinks ensue (as they always do) involving a pair of expensive lace panties and our hero’s camera phone.
I wrote “Open Me” when I was still cutting my teeth on erotica, so it’s a bit rough around the edges. Still, it’s a fun romp and one of the first pieces I ever wrote featuring a female dominant. I’m reposting it without any edits or improvements so forgive its (many) flaws. If nothing else, I hope it’s good for a laugh.
“Open Me” by Malin James
The day Will flew home to New York, (which was, incidentally, two days before he was supposed to fly back out), he felt more than gritty. He felt more than tired. He felt existentially exhausted. His life, his career and his prospects were not where he’d hoped they would be. Even his sex life was stale. He was in and out of town too routinely to engage anyone but a call girl. Even that had become it’s own under-whelming routine.
Will stood listlessly at the baggage carousel, barely paying attention as bag after bag lumbered past. Black with wheels…blue with wheels…fucking ugly tapestry…golf clubs…battered gray. Will’s hand shot out. That was his—battered gray with wheels. He hauled it off the conveyor belt and rolled it out the door, right into a wall of rain.
Feeling put upon and victimized, Will hauled his luggage away back into the terminal. He kept a small umbrella inside his suitcase. He’d have to dig it out. Sitting down on a flimsy chair in a bank of flimsy chairs, Will flipped open the lid. That’s when he realized that he’d snagged the wrong bag.
Rather than a pile of stale shirts and boxers, the case was full of silk and wool…all of which smelled amazing. The case’s owner must smell fucking amazing. Resting on top of that amazing smelling stuff sat a broad, flat box. Hanging off the side from a silver bow was a tag that read, “Open Me.”
For reasons unknown even to himself, Will’s cock stirred with the first hints of real, spontaneous sexual interest that he’d felt in weeks. He wanted to follow the box’s instructions. He wanted to open it. Without even realizing he was doing it, Will pulled at the silver bow.
“So, not only did you take the wrong suitcase, but you opened it and prowled through my things….”
Will snatched his hand back before looking up. Then he looked up some more. The owner of the voice, which was female and sexy in a Marlboro kind of way, was tall. Really tall. And extremely comfortable cocking her hip in a pair of stack-heeled boots. Will’s eyes traveled up her extravagant length of leg, which was covered by a pair of snug black jeans. Craning his neck like a supplicant, Will tried to see her face. It was pretty but not remarkable. He’d seen prettier faces, but none with so much natural self-possession. That’s what flustered him. The woman was a force.
Feeling like an idiot, Will stood up. The woman raised her brow. Uncomfortably, he stood his ground.
“I’m, uh. I’m sorry. I was distracted,” he said, adjusting his suit jacket to hide his sudden erection. The woman grinned.
“Don’t bother, cowboy. I can see what you’re packing.”
“Uh. Right. Okay. So…you want your suitcase back.”
“Of course. But first, you owe me for poking around.”
She crossed her arms over chest. Will looked at her. She was serious. Really serious. But her eyes crinkled around the edges, as if she were laughing…at him. Will straightened his back.
“Uh, I don’t think—”
“Open it,” she said, indicating the box with the silver bow.
“Open it. Now.”
“Yeah. Okay, sure.”
Will pulled at the ribbon, feeling like a Neanderthal as he tugged the delicate bow. Holding the box in one hand, he set aside the top. Then he parted a layer of tissue, revealing a wardrobe of delicate lace panties. Will flushed, unable to look at the woman.
“Take the first pair off the top. Then put everything back the way you found it,” she said.
“Without thinking to question her, Will did was told. When he was done, she plucked the box out of his hand and tucked it back into her suitcase. Then she looked at Will.
“Those were meant for my girlfriend,” she said, indicating the scrap of ivory lace Will held in his hand. “But you get to have them instead.”
Will flushed harder. “I couldn’t, I mean—”
“Stop. You’re going to take those very expensive lace panties home, and when you get there, you’re going to check your email. Now, give me your card.”
“I don’t have a card.”
The woman gave him the most skeptical look Will had ever seen. Any more skeptical and she’d have been a cartoon.
“Yes, you do. Look at you,” she said, waving her hand at his rumpled suit. “Of course you have a card.”
Will handed her his card. He had no idea why he was doing what she said, but he felt compelled. And he was curious…or rather, his cock was curious. His cock could sense an adventure a mile away and it was ready to go, like a dog cooped up in the house too long.
The woman took his card, glanced at it and then put it in her pocket.
“Okay, Will O’Neil. Check your email. Since this is New York and I don’t know where you live, I’ll give you two hours.”
The woman threw him a wicked grin. Then she picked up her suitcase and rolled away.
By the time Will got home, the panties were burning a hole in his pocket. All through the drive he’d felt them—soft and gauzy, made from the kind of lace you’re almost afraid to touch. Briefly, Will considered jerking off, but the fact that he was so insanely turned on, (and that it had nothing to do with what a call girl was charging him to do), felt too good to cut short, so he pulled out his laptop instead. Five minutes to go. Will’s cock strained a bit in his pants. Fuck it, he thought. Ignoring his nervousness, Will logged in.
At the top of depressingly thick stack of work related nonsense was an email whose subject was Open Me. Clearing his throat for no one but himself, Will did as the email said.
Welcome home, Will O’Neil. Take the panties I gave you and put them on. Yes, on you. Then take a picture of yourself masturbating. No face—I’m not trying to ruin your life. When you’re done, send me the picture from a non-work account. You’ve got thirty minutes. –K
Will read through the message twice more. Then he slowly shut the lid. It was bullshit, really. There were no consequences. After all, the worst thing she could do was email him again…and yet. He was tempted. Really tempted. By now, his dick was straining miserably against the zipper of his pants. He was clearly going to jerk off, and if he was going to jerk off, he might as well do as K asked. Or said. Or commanded. Or…whatever. At any rate, he was going to do it. A thrill of arousal ran through his body as he pulled the panties out. Goddamn, he thought. They were small.
Will stripped down to his boxers, and then kicked them off so that he was standing, naked, in the middle of the room. Then he slid the panties on, stretching the lace as he drew them up over his thighs. They barely covered his dick. In fact, there was so little to them that his cockhead jutted up out of the waistband, which was, granted, cut pretty low. He knew he looked ridiculous. He knew he should feel humiliated. But all he felt was aroused.
Walking gingerly, so as not to fall out, Will headed to the couch. He set up the timer on his cellphone’s camera and sat down, spreading his legs wide. If he was going to do this thing he might as well do it right. Angling towards the camera, he tried to ensure the best view. Then he began touching himself through the lace. He began gently—he didn’t want to rip the panties or mess them up somehow. But the more he stroked, the better it felt, and the better it felt, the rougher he got. Finally, hungry and frustrated, he pushed the panties aside, so that, while he was still wearing them, his dick was free. Then Will laid back, enjoying full access to his shaft while feeling the rub of the lace against the base of his cock. Cupping his balls and fingering the panties with one hand, Will pumped harder, pausing only to spit into his palm before picking the rhythm back up. Distantly, he saw the flash go off as his phone took a picture of him, and it pushed him over the edge. With a final thrust, Will lifted his hips and came, milking himself as he shot all over his belly and chest.
For a second, Will just lay there, panting and smiling, fighting back laugh. He was a grown man wearing panties, and he was fucking satisfied. Somewhat reluctantly, Will stripped them off. Despite the rough treatment, they were in surprisingly good shape. Immensely pleased with himself, Will got up to check the photo on his phone.
There he was – back arched, hips thrust, legs open wide. The ivory lace looked delicate and sweet next to the meaty length of his cock. Will’s dick stirred. He smiled. Then he titled the email Open Me, attached the picture, and hit send.
Photo courtesy of Understanding Flutterby
Welcome to Elust 87–
The only place where the smartest and hottest sex bloggers are featured under one roof every month. Whether you’re looking for sex journalism, erotic writing, relationship advice or kinky discussions it’ll be here at Elust. Want to be included in Elust #88 Start with the rules, come back November 1st to submit something and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!
~ This Month’s Top Three Posts ~
~ Featured Post (Molly’s Picks) ~
~Readers Choice from Sexbytes ~
*You really should consider adding your popular posts here too*
All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days. Re-posting the photo is optional and the use of the “read more…” tag is allowable after this point. Thank you, and enjoy!
Thoughts & Advice on Sex & Relationships
Sex News, Opinion, Interviews, Politics & Humor
I wrote a story a few months ago called “Looking Glass”, in which a woman looks forwards to having sex with the guy she’s seeing, not just because she wants to fuck him (though she does), but because
“sex is her looking glass. It lets her see who a person is, (or rather who they are with her). It lets her see who she is with them. She wants that view more than she wants to get off. She wants to see if they fit.”
At the time I wrote the story, I made a mental note to circle back to the idea that sex can be a mirror, not just for you or your partner, but for who you are together. Identity and personality are pet topics on this blog, so I’m not going to waste time saying that personalities are fluid. Anyone with a secret Twitter account can tell you that Secret Twitter You is just as authentically “you” as Dinner with Gran You. It’s just not the “you” your gran is used to seeing…probably.
Instead, I want to look at how that fluidity plays out in sexual dynamics. Most of us slide up and down a sexual scale. Even people who identify very strongly as one thing (submissive, dominant, vanilla, etc.) tend to play that thing out differently with different lovers. Part of what makes for sexual chemistry between any two people is how well you intuit each other, and that’s different case by case.
That’s why I’ve always been curious about what sex would be like with different people. Like the protagonist in “Looking Glass”, my anticipation in the build up to my first time with someone new is rooted in curiosity—who will I be with them, who will they be with me, and what will be together? In other words, what will we bring out in each other?
Ages ago, I was seeing two very different men. Let’s call them A and B. My dynamic with A was emotionally and sexually intense. We went dancing and did a great deal of staring intensely into each other’s eyes. The sex was fucking hot.
My dynamic with B was different. Mostly, he and I laughed. We went to diners and dive bars and told rambling stories. The sex was also amazing, but in a super playful, peaches and cream kind of way.
One day, B and I went to an event and met up with A and his date. Everything was great, so much so that I didn’t give the meeting a second thought until the next time I saw A when he commented that he’d had no idea I was such a goofball.
Here’s how that conversation played out in semi-fictional dialogue.
A: Hey, M?
Me: What’s up?
A: Do I keep you from being you?
Me: (blank stare) No. Why?
A: Because you seemed so relaxed with B the other day. I mean, I’ve never seen you so relaxed and goofy and I was kind of wondering if I was keeping you from that because, you know, I’m not relaxed. Or goofy.
Me: Aw, babe…. (sits on his lap and gently bites his neck) Who I am with you isn’t who I am with him. I’m goofy and relaxed with B because B and I are goofy and relaxed together. I’m pouncier with you because that’s how we are. One isn’t more me than the other. It’s all me. You’re just seeing what naturally comes out with you.
A: (melts because he loves having his neck bit) Okay, so…what you’re saying is…it’s all good.
Me: (straddles him) It’s all good.
The conversation ended there and all was (extremely) good – because that’s how it worked naturally for A and I. Had that conversation happened with B instead of A, I probably wouldn’t have nibbled on him and gone straight to sex because that’s not how it was with us. We’d have had a good conversation, probably gotten philosophical, and then had slow, lazy sex before watching The Matrix and eating take-out.
In either case, the set of impulses I had with A were just as authentic as the ones I’d have had with B, they were just very different. That’s why the first time with a new partner is exciting, even if it isn’t magical right off the bat. It’s not just about chemistry. It’s about curiosity and mutual potential; how we connect, and how defined that connection is. Do we share one wavelength, or do we slide over the scale together?
All of those questions hum along, fueling attraction, chemistry, and sex. And the answers, as variable and context dependent as they are, form a hell of a good mirror for anyone, so long as they are authentically engaged. It’s why relationships fascinate me in all of their brilliant, curious, mind-blowing, toxic, soul-deep, casual variations. It’s one of the biggest reasons I love sex…aside from the obvious.
For months now, I’ve been working on a collection that I’m very excited about. I’m lucky enough to be working with an amazing editor, but life is getting busier and I need to clear more time for it, so, for the next little bit, the blog will be moving to a slightly less regular posting schedule. It’s definitely not going anywhere. There will just be a slightly longer gap between posts.
In the meantime, feel free to dig into the archives and cringe at what a catastrophe of a baby blogger I was. It’s the blogging equivalent of refrigerator art – precious, precious stuff. 😀