Tag Archives: exhibitionism

Flash Fiction: Auction Sale of Clothes

Black and white photograph by Cartier-Bresson of a woman standing on a stage in a auction house modeling a dress in front of a full room

Auction Sale of Clothes by Cartier-Bresson (Berlin, 1951)

“Do you like it?”

“What? The model or the dress?”

“The dress…and the model, I suppose.”

The woman cocked her head. The dress was the sort of thing you’d wear to a cocktail party. The model was the sort of thing you’d bring home from a cocktail party.

“Yes,” she said, thoughtfully. “I do.”

“Which?”

“Both.”

The man raised a brow but failed to look surprised.

_______

Standing on a platform in a dead woman’s clothes wasn’t Laura’s idea of high fashion, but it was a paycheck and paychecks were good, especially when you liked to eat.

“Lot 398. Christien Dior. We’ll start the bidding at….”

Laura ignored the auctioneer. She didn’t want to know. It made wearing the dress depressing, like sampling a pastry she couldn’t afford. Laura hated not affording so she canted her hips and ignored the bidders too. These days the bidders were worth ignoring.

There were two types of people at auctions like this—collectors and ghouls. Ghouls, with their shabby collars and hard mouths, came to watch a rich person’s things get sold off. Collectors were different. Collectors went hunting for very specific things, but what made a thing special was anyone’s guess. Just the week before, someone paid $500 for a soap dish with an impeccable provenance…whatever that meant.

Laura pivoted and tried not to yawn. At first, the keen, avid eyes in the audience had turned her on so much that her thighs would be slick by the time she left the platform. Once or twice she’d even come (quietly, of course). It didn’t matter if she was modeling last year’s lingerie or someone’s ridiculous hat, being scrutinized felt good. But that had been ages ago. The novelty was gone. Now she barely noticed.

Laura unhooked the dress’s train, revealing an obscene amount of leg for 10am. Suddenly, the soft hairs on the back of her neck prickled and she looked up.

A couple was sitting in the middle of the room. They were young and golden and bright as if they’d gathered up all the stray light. Now that she’d seen them, she couldn’t look away.

Laura’s center of gravity dropped into her hips. She did a half-turn as the nerves in her belly coiled. She wanted the couple to notice. She wanted to make them bid. Laura moved to center stage, rolling her hips. She knew she looked like a woman begging to be kissed. Then the golden woman winked, and she almost fell off the stage.

The woman scanned Laura’s body, from her hem to her face, with the kind of cold interest she was used to in men. Every nerve in Laura’s body clustered between her legs. The woman smiled like a collector. She smiled like she knew. Laura squeezed her thighs tight, felt how plump and wet she was. She swore the woman knew.

Silver shoes peeked out from beneath her hem. The woman met Laura’s eyes and raised a brow. Without thinking, Laura raised the dress so the woman could see the shoes. Ankles, knees, halfway up her thighs…she would have kept going, right up to her waist, but the woman gave her a tiny nod, so Laura stopped. She didn’t lower the dress. The woman looked pleased. Still, they didn’t bid.

Laura squirmed, unwilling to drop the hem as the bids rose higher and came faster and the pressure built. She squeezed her thighs together as tight as she could. She could come like that. She had before. She would come and the woman would watch her. She would come and the woman would know.

But the woman shook her head.

Laura went still.

A Catalogue of Very Specific Things:

Silver dress. Silver shoes.  Twitching fingers, shifting hips. A trembling mouth that makes a quick but perfect O. The flush of a lip, a swollen lip, soft between hard teeth. Wide eyes. Young skin. Impulses waiting to spill….

The woman whispered to the man.

The gavel cracked.

“Sold, to the gentleman in the middle of the room.”

__

The woman sighed.

“Thank you, love.’

“Have you got your eye on anything else?”

“No,” she said. “Let’s collect.”

Flash Fiction: Looking Glass

Side view of a man and woman having sex in a window for Flash Fiction: Glass Houses by Malin James

Image via @A_man_within

They haven’t been dating for all that long. Two dates. Maybe three if coffee counts. Three dates…. Is that dating? It’s hard to tell. Who knows.

Two dates. Maybe three. Some kissing. No sex. But the kissing is good. Really, really good. Quick tongues. Swollen lips. Nails on his neck. Then he says goodnight like he’s closing a door. She stays cautious and light on her feet.

They have their third date (maybe fourth?) on the hottest night of the year. Dinner and drinks. Maybe dancing. They both like dancing. They talk about dancing a lot. It’s a handy metaphor.

Do you dance? Where? What do you like?

Oh, you know…depends on my mood.

She wishes they’d just have sex. 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. Normally, it doesn’t matter so much – sex has told her a lot and it’s not always good. But she wants to see with him.

They have dinner and drinks. They talk. A lot. But she can’t stop watching his mouth. Good conversation. Great wine. Killer food. Enjoy the evening for this. She addresses herself in the ladies room but she knows it won’t do any good.

He pays the check (he insists, which is lovely), but dancing is a no. Early morning, he says. Brunch, work-out, weekend routine…. Sure. She has one too. They head off down the street.

The night is brown and murky with a filthy, electrical buzz. The grid is overtaxed and the city’s power is low. No air conditioners. Sluggish fans. People tumble around the street—it’s too hot to be inside.

They’d parked their cars several blocks away in a tall, glass monolith. As they walk, their knuckles brush, comfortable and easy, but he doesn’t take her hand. That would maybe be too much. After awhile, she pulls her phone out of her bag so it has something less awkward to do.

The parking lot is deserted. He hits the button and they wait. The elevator takes ages and their easiness drains away. A thick, gray silence expands and takes its place. It’s not a sexy or promising silence. It’s dense and pre-emptively sad.

Cool sheets, breakfast, dancing, fucking…she imagines these things while the elevator drifts…slow, slow, slow…considering the universe at every floor. For one irrational moment, she wishes they’d never met.

The elevator arrives. It’s steel and glass and disturbingly hot inside. Like a greenhouse, she thinks, which would make them the plants. It’s a weirdly appealing thought. She swipes her hair off her forehead and hits the button for level six.

“I’m on six too,” he says.

She smiles. “That’s good.”

“That’s good” is not what she’d meant to say. She’d meant to say something clever but she’s tired and hot. Her grid is overtaxed too.

Flickering lights. The elevator stops. It jerks and she stumbles. He reaches out – reaches out but doesn’t touch her, as if he’d brace her with the Force.

“Power outage,” he says.

She feels heat coming off him. The nape of her neck is salty and wet, and her cunt is a swollen ache. He’s close. Too close…and not close enough. She’s stupidly wound up and now they’re stuck in a small, glass box.

“Fuck, me,” she mutters.

“Sorry, what,” he says.

She watches his fingers skim over the phone. Blunt tipped. Strong. Decisive.

Fuck it. She wants to see.

“I said, fuck me.”

He looks up. Her cultivated, quippy, clever voice has dropped into her chest. She sounds like a woman again. Not a placeholder or a diplomat. She sounds like the woman she is.

He puts his phone away.

“Hello,” he says.

His teeth catch her bottom lip.

“Hello.”

She leans in and bites him back.

A generator kicks in and the elevator fills with a dim, green glow, but it’s still dark down on the street. People wander around, checking their phones, waiting for the light.

“Someone could see,” he murmurs.

“Yeah,” she says. “I know.”

They lean back into the glass.  If anyone looked up they’d see him lifting her skirt. She smiles and tilts her hips.

“Jesus fucking Christ.”

It’s a breath against her neck. She’s wearing nothing underneath. No knickers. No bra. Just the dress and her favorite heels. Maybe she’d hoped a bit….

Sweat drips between her breasts as he crushes her close. He’s stronger than she thought. Then his hand is on her warm, bare hip and his mouth is hard on hers. Her legs want to spread. She kisses him back and turns to face the street.

The glass is soft beneath her palms. She’s wet, so wet she can barely feel his fingers until they’re deep inside her cunt. Little sighs. Little moans. Her hips begin to thrust. She’s hoping, hoping someone will look up. Then he’s in her, fucking her and she’s fucking him back. Their eyes meet in the glass. Intense, happy…she likes the view. She had a feeling that she would.

Erotic Fiction: The Gift

Black and white photograph of vintage decadence at a black tie party for The Gift post by Malin James

Photograph by Marco Sanges (2014)

On the evening of her birthday, Sabine’s husband gave her the gift of a slave.

So kind, you might be thinking. So generous to give his wife another man to fuck. Sabine’s husband was, after all, several decades her senior, and the possessor of certain appetites that did not suit his foreign wife. The gift was surely a generous act, especially at that time, when flesh cost more than gold.

Generous, so generous….

Generous. But not kind.

Sabine’s husband trafficked in humans, a practice she abhorred. The gift, presented with torturous ceremony before a roomful of guests, was an insult—one so subtle that her husband would look like a king while delivering a barb she couldn’t ignore.

Unhappy but silent, Sabine watched a handler lead the blindfolded slave to the center of the room, trailed by a clutch of cilevore—sentient bonds that resembled the vines of a thick, tenacious plant. Another cilevore bound his wrists, making itself both the manacle and the leash by which he was led.

Sabine eyed the creatures, which brought to mind a cluster of eels with their slithering, muscled strength. Swallowing her disgust, she turned her attention to the slave, who was tall and blond, like the men of her faraway home.

They had brought him in naked, of course. A leather cord—the sign of his station—encircled his scrotum and cock. It was a pretty picture he made. Against her wishes, Sabine’s body quickened. The slave was beautiful and masculine—the most masculine thing she had seen since she’d come to her husband’s house. Her husband liked boys and soft, young girls. This slave, with his hard, uncompromising frame, would never have been bought if not for her.

“Well, my darling,” Sabine’s husband said, pitching his voice to the room, “care to try your new toy?”

The guests tittered. A slave such as this was only meant for one thing. Who wouldn’t want to watch?

Sabine lifted her head, winter pale and calm, as the handler sat the slave down in a carved wooden chair. Then he signaled to the cilevore, which slithered up over the slave, coiling around his ankles and wrists and binding him in place. Unable to see through the blindfold he wore, the slave flexed against his bonds. The cilevore tightened in response. Noticing the shift in the bonds, the handler slapped his cock. Once. Twice. The slave’s jaw tightened. Satisfied, the handler stepped back.

The slave’s breathing was deep and even; his face calm beneath the mask. But to the watchful, (and Sabine was watchful), the man was in distress.

The cilevore flexed, addressing the strain his body could not hide—pulse, heart rate, nerves…. He vibrated, clearly longing to rip the creatures off. And yet he continued to sit, unchallenging and calm. Disciplined, she thought. Or experienced. He was either very skilled or used to biding his time.

“Come, my dear,” her husband continued. “He is fresh from the auction block.”

“Disciplined, then,” she murmured, as her husband’s voice echoed, bluff, indulgent and utterly false. Still she did not move. Her husband’s face took on a look of gently wounded pride. He is losing patience, she thought.

“Well,” he said, as if he were coaxing a cat with cream, “I suppose if you don’t like it we’ll have to send it back.”

The handler stepped forward, unsheathing a knife.

“No,” Sabine said, surprising herself.

The guests went silent as they watched the awkward tableau. She could almost hear the slave’s pulse. It would be stressful. Very stressful. The knife was very near. One needn’t see to know. That, at least, she understood.

“I accept your gift,” she said, denying her husband the reaction he’d paid the flesh-price for.

His smile faltered but did not fail. Sabine approached the slave while the guests clapped politely, like the spectators they were. Sensing the change in the room, the slave’s fingers twitched though he did not challenge his bonds. The cilevore tightened regardless, rustling organically as Sabine came near. She ignored them. She wanted to see his face.

His white-gold hair curled softly, like feathers. Silky. Like her own. Suddenly, almost violently, she wanted the blindfold gone. Reaching out with a cool, steady hand, Sabine removed the mask, revealing an angular face with a scar along the jaw. Then the slave opened his eyes. No blinking. No panic. Just a pool of angry blue.

I am sorry, she wished to tell him. You were not meant for this.

The slave narrowed his eyes and nodded, as if he’d heard her thought. All the while, his cock rose thick above the leather thong.

To her shock, Sabine’s nipples peaked and she grew instantly wet. Without removing her gaze from his, Sabine acknowledged his nod. Then, lifting the heavy silk of her dress, she mounted him, gracefully, without revealing her arousal to anyone but the slave.

Sabine’s body flushed as she slid her swollen cunt along the length of his shaft. Her breath caught. His jaw tightened. She struggled for control as the scent of him went to her head. Then, thighs trembling, Sabine sank down, taking him into her body as her fingers knotted in his hair.

The slave’s body tensed and the cilevore shifted, sensing his impulse to touch her. She could feel his need to touch her vibrate through his skin.

“Release his arms,” she whispered.

She’d assumed the bonds would ignore her, but they dropped away, only to wrap around his waist. Wrists or no wrists, he would not be permitted to move.

Sabine grimaced. Even the manacles in her husband’s house were perfectly trained. But then slave’s hands gripped her through her dress and she fell into her body, light as snow. A sigh escaped her and gentle laughter filled the room—teasing laughter at her husband’s expense. Her thighs grew slicker at the sound.

Sabine began to move, slowly at first, then more quickly, working his shaft as she rose and fell, loosening her limbs and warming the body her marriage had turned cold.

Her focus narrowed. The room, the guests, the handler disappeared. Only her husband’s image remained sharp in her mind, and even that wavered when she looked at the slave. He was silent, watching her, hands just beneath her breasts as his thumbs rubbed her nipples through the bodice of her gown.

He is not a slave, she thought. That was not something that slaves did. Slaves followed instructions. They did what they were told. But this slave was watching—watching and responding. He did not need to be told.

Sabine rocked her hips, taking pleasure in her body as she took pleasure in him. And all the while he watched, muscles working in his jaw as his hands cupped her neck and steadied her waist. He was taking his pleasure in her. Her lips parted, lush and hungry, as her head tilted back. He was taking his pleasure in her.

Sabine moaned as he strained against his bonds, seeking her mouth with his. Had they left him his tongue, she wondered. Please, let him have his tongue. They muted slaves so often…she had not kissed him yet to know.

But she wanted his mouth. She wanted his kiss even though she feared the hollow she might find. It was defiance – of her husband and his culture and her own shameful fear – that drove her to his mouth. But all that fell away as he touched her tongue with his.

She lifted herself, rising up above his body until the tip of his cock rested at the opening of her sex. Her cunt clutched and ached, desperate for his girth, but she held herself suspended as the slave bared his teeth, squeezing her waist so hard she feared she would break.

He could crack her in two with those strong, scarred hands. He could snap her like a stick. Thoughts of her husband filled Sabine’s head. His cruel tastes. His lie of a smile. Her husband who trafficked in flesh. What might he do if confronted with such large, disciplined hands?

It was that thought, as much as the strength in his hands, that pushed her over the edge. Her legs buckled and Sabine sank back down. For the first time in her life, she gave her body free rein and she writhed like a whore, but Sabine was well beyond caring. She writhed and savored as the slave beneath her moaned. It was a sibilant sound, low and sweet—a sound for her alone. It shuddered over her skin.

Sabine arched her back and came, filling the room with a shriek so rich and obscene the slave’s handler flushed. It’s me, she thought. I am making that sound. Her cunt clutched harder and she came again, imagining herself soaked in his seed.

“Come,” she whispered into his ear. But the slave shook his head.

It was only then that she remembered he was not allowed release. She could fuck him all she liked, but he could never come. Slaves didn’t. Not male ones. It was taboo. She looked into his eyes, into his anger and need. Then she reached down between them and unknotted the thong that constricted the base of his cock.

“Come now,” she said. Her voice filled the room. “Come now for me.”

There were gasps of genuine shock. Ignoring the guests, Sabine began to move, splaying her body as he bucked and thrust against the cilevore at his waist.

Sabine’s husband said something. The handler shifted. They were running out of time.

Sensing the handler’s approach, the slave crushed Sabine to his chest, pressing her down and securing her with every single thrust. For a moment, all she heard the rush of her pulse. Then the slave’s breath hitched and he groaned as he soaked her with his cum.

Slowly, their breathing evened and their bodies calmed, and Sabine became aware of a buzzing, like wasps, in the room. No, not wasps. Nothing so dangerous. Just her husband’s guests.

Swallowing her apprehension, Sabine brought her mouth to the slave’s. She lingered a moment, drinking in the taste of ice and snow and home. Then she rose and straightened her skirts as the cilevore slivered back to his wrists.

“No,” she told the handler, who stood awkwardly near.

The handler looked to her husband, eyes weak and small as a pig’s. Her husband did not respond. Her husband, she thought with his grim, angry face, lined hard like the cracks in a bowl. Before either could respond, Sabine cut them both off.

“I will not have him bound.”

The cilevore receded, curling up on the floor as docilely as cats. The slave watched them settle and then looked at her. She nodded. He rose and crossed the room until he stood just behind Sabine.

Sabine thought of the slave’s deceptive calm and the crush of his hands on her waist. She’d have bruises the following day. A smile curved her lips. Gifts have power. By the rules of her husband’s culture, the giver cedes control of an object the moment it is given. The slave, one of her countrymen—was just such a gift, one that was part of a larger game. For the first time since marrying, Sabine felt that she might win.

“Thank you, dearest,” she said to her husband, who appeared to shrink and age. “Thank you for your generous gift.”

Erotic Fiction: An Intense, Slightly Porny Blowjob

Vintage illustration of a couple at a soda fountain

Yesterday, the wonderful Honey over at Happy Come Lucky wrote a post called Addiction about her love of blowjobs. It’s a lovely, sexy piece of writing, so when Exhibit A shared some inspiring thoughts on a (slightly less educational) sequel to his excellent cock ring video, I got an idea that drew from both – Honey’s post and Exhibit A’s cinematic presence.

I wrote this little love note to giving head in roughly 40 minutes. It’s quick, hot and filthy. What you see if what you get, so hopefully what you get is good, clean (*wink*) fun.

Plug #1 – If you haven’t done so already, check out Honey’s post. It’s incredibly hot. And lovely. And incredibly hot.

Plug #2 – If you’re at all interested in cock rings but aren’t sure how to go about using one, check out Exhibit A’s Cock Rings 101 post and video. They’re really good stuff.

And now….

An Intense, Slightly Porny Blowjob

It’s probably not a good idea. We’re in a restaurant full of happy, not-quite-drunk people and our waiter, Carl, is beyond attentive. I don’t care though. My leg is pressed against yours in the booth and I’m stroking your cock through your jeans. You’re so hard it makes my mouth water. I catch your eye and kiss you. I suspect you know what I’m thinking, but you’re not sure if I’ll actually do it.

I kiss you again, a bit theatrically this time, as Carl pours the wine. Then he’s off and I slide down under the table. There’s no tablecloth to hide what I’m doing but I honestly don’t care. Apparently you don’t either because you slouch down in the booth enough to help me unbutton your fly. Then you lean back as I lick my lips and nuzzle your cock. Teasing. Maybe I’m teasing. I kiss the tip. I can feel you getting frustrated and self-conscious. People can see you. They might see me in the darkness under the table if they look hard enough. You touch my head—maybe a warning. I’m not sure. It doesn’t matter because I tuck myself in between your spread legs and slide your cock into my mouth.

Your body stiffens and I hear you try, unsuccessfully, to hold back a small moan.

“Is the wine all right, sir?”

“Yes. Fine. Thanks.”

I smile as I suck you, encouraging you—your job is much harder than mine. My job is a fucking pleasure, so much so that my thighs are wet and sticky beneath my skirt. I suck up the length of you, swirling my tongue over your head, loving the way you’re trying not to move. I can feel your pulse in my mouth. I can taste your salt and my own tang from when we fucked earlier, before we left for dinner. I lap it up, working you with my tongue in a way that indulges my pleasure as much as yours.

You get harder in my mouth, the way you do right before you come. Your fists clench at your sides, flexing, knuckles flushed. I reach out and put one of my hands over yours, while the other cradles your balls. Everything about you is wound up tight. I keep sucking and suckling, feeding off your tension and how good the sucking feels. Thick veins under my tongue, hard, hot dick…. If I keep doing this, I’m going to come. But you inhale sharply and come first.

I moan around your cock as your cum hits my throat, hot and salty and so fucking good. I keep sucking and lapping. I want every drop. I only stop my gentle, pulsing pulls when you start to go soft in my mouth. You tuck yourself in and button your jeans. Then you touch my head again, to tell me it’s okay. I slide back up into the seat.

I smell like sex and I taste like cum. I smile as Carl drops off our food.

“Can I get you anything else?”

“No. Thank you. We’re good.”

On Watchers & Watching

Black cat watching fish bowl. Source: Creative Commons / WikiCommons

Black Cat Watching Fish at the Bowl by Theophile Steinlen, (1898). Image courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A while ago, I wrote a post called On Prowess. As I did, I found myself having to rein in on a number of other tangents, most notably two – my love of dominant partners, (though I myself am dominant) and, far more central to this post, voyeurism, or watching people and how it relates to control and domination and curiosity and sexual interest.

Voyeurism operates differently for everyone, I suspect, but for me, it feeds into why I love to write. You see, I create these characters and then let them work on each other while I record and watch. It’s an immensely satisfying arrangement – one that I’ll admit I enjoy in real life as much as I do on the page.

But then I listened to a podcast that made me realize that my relationship to voyeurism and, conversely, exhibitionism, is a bit more complicated than I’d originally thought. On the (It Girl. Rag Doll) episode titled, “Flashers and Peeping Toms,” Molly Moore and Harper Eliot spent an hour examining exhibitionism and voyeurism from a variety of different angles. After listening to that conversation, I realized that, while I don’t consider myself to be an exhibitionist, I do like knowing that I’m being watched, but only under certain conditions. So what the hell does that mean?

Before I could even begin to try to figure that out, I had to take a closer look at what it is that I love about voyeurism. That wasn’t terribly difficult – I’m a people watcher in all aspects of my life, whether I’m waiting in line for coffee or telling a partner to strip for me. I love fleeting moments and human detail. I love watching an old gentleman put his hand on his obviously adored wife’s back as he guides her through a door just as much as I love watching my partner come…okay, maybe not quite as much. But you know what I mean. The point is that I love those fleeting moments; those moments take you beyond what a person is doing to how they feel about it, even when they aren’t consciously aware of it themselves. Those moments make an experience singular and distinct.

There’s a cause and effect element to voyeurism, as well. My presence has an effect on the people being watched, because my presence, (or the presence of any audience), creates a heightened circumstance for the observed. It turns up the volume on their experience, which, in turn, makes it all the more vibrant, dynamic and sexy to watch. I think it’s that element of cause and effect that ties into my own conditional enjoyment of being watched.

One of my oldest sexual fantasies was of my partner being hidden away, watching, while I fucked someone else. In the fantasy, I knew my partner was there, but he didn’t know that I was aware of his presence. What always, always got me off was the knowledge that watching me get off with someone else was driving my partner mad – that he was desperate to join us but couldn’t do so without giving himself away. It was the fact of his desire, (ie: my effect), that turned me on, rather than the fact of being watched.

Looking back on it now, that fantasy is packed with my psychology and my relationship to power, dominance and sex. In other words, my need to cause an effect. As with that fantasy, being watched has never turned me on in and of itself. It’s the fact that watching me is turning the watcher on that makes me smile like the cat that got the cream. It’s the feedback loop that I want – he, (or she), watches and desires, I know this and want more, and so forth….

Does this make me an exhibitionist as well as a voyeur? I’ve no idea. All I know is that the idea of being watched by strangers does nothing for me, just as watching strangers engage sexually is never as intimate or powerful as watching people that I know. Being watched is, for me, an incredibly contextual thing, dependent entirely on who is watching and why, and always on whether or not I want them to want me. I have to want, very specifically, their desire.

It might be tied to the fact that I’m not generally concerned about being “caught” having sex. Aside from feeling a bit smug and pleased with myself, being caught or watched by someone I don’t know doesn’t ruffle me…but if I were to get caught by someone I do know and find out that they liked it? Well, now that’s fucking hot.

So, what does all that mean? I’m honestly not sure. The bottom line is that I want to be desired and I want to have an impact. As Harper Eliot and Molly Moore pointed out, there is something incredibly powerful about being desired, and my enjoyment of being watched is, to some level, proof of how true that is for me. I’m not entirely sure how comfortable I am with that, but there it is.

In the end, it’s far cleaner to set characters in motion so I can watch and record what they do, just as it’s a much simpler pleasure to watch people I care about sink deep into a sexual experience… Life for me as a voyeur is a fairly peaceful, comfortable, black and white affair. If I claim the title of voyeur and ignore the rest, I don’t have to confront my own massively ambiguous relationship with being watched. And yet it’s still there, teetering on the edge of my sexuality. That’s not the most comfortable thing, but then, the ambiguous, shadowy parts of ourselves rarely are. I’m  just going to have to get used to the fact that I am, apparently, both the goldfish in the bowl and the cat that’s watching it.