They walk hip to hip, knuckles brushing, as they measure their potential in the rhythm of their feet.
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.
“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.”
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.”
“So. Henry has this fetish….”
Marjory swirled her martini around with a naked swizzle stick. She’d already eaten the olives.
“Okay,” Jackie replied, waiting for the ellipses to run out. They didn’t.
“So, is he into feet or something?”
Marjory shook her head.
“Breast milk? Teddy bears? Tell me it’s not corpses.”
“No, no. It’s none of that. Besides, Henry’s too squeamish for dead people.”
Jackie downed the last of her cosmo and signaled for another.
“So, what’s he into then?”
Marjory blushed and looked away.
“Yeah. You know… Greek statues.”
“Like…the kind in museums. With boobs and missing bits?”
“Yeah. Like those.”
“Huh. That’s interesting.”
Marjory had always played it kind of straight. Jackie was the one who’d gotten around. She waited for her sister to say more, but wasn’t surprised when she didn’t.
“So what’s the problem? It could be worse. It could be corpses.”
“Stop with the corpses. This is serious.”
The bartender set down Jackie’s cosmo. She tossed him a wink for the extra twist.
“So,” she said, toying with the little curl of lemon. “Tell me why it’s serious. Can’t he get it up? Can he only fuck in the Met? Museum fucking is hot….”
“No! I mean, yes. He can get it up. But he really, really wants me to do this thing and I’ve never done anything like it before and I don’t know if it’s normal or not.”
“Sweetie,” Jackie said, “there is not such thing as normal. There’s just stuff you’ve done and stuff you haven’t. So what does he want you to do?”
“He wants me to…you know. Dress up.”
“Like what? A statue?”
“Yeah,” Marjory said, chewing her lip. “Like a statue. He even bought me an urn.”
“Aw! He bought you an urn? That’s super sweet!”
“Yeah, but is it? Sweet, I mean? Isn’t it kind of weird?”
“I don’t know. What does he want you to do with it?”
“While he fucks it?”
“No. Just hold it. While I watch.”
“Yeah?” Jackie smiled. It was a smile she knew Marjory hated, but only because she’d never smiled that way herself. “Watch what?”
Marjory leaned in and dropped her voice.
“He wants me to watch him…masturbate.”
Jackie slapped the bar and laughed.
“That’s it? He wants you to hold a vase while he wanks? That’s great! Oh! You know what you should do? You should wear, like, a sheer toga thing and expose one breast. That would be lovely! He’d be so surprised!”
“Jackie, I’m serious!”
“Marjory, so am I! Of all the fetishes in the world, this one is pretty sweet. Random, but sweet. It’s not like he’s asking you to cut off your arms for authenticity. Besides, haven’t you ever watched a guy get off? It’s fucking hot!”
The bartender glanced over and pretended to straighten the cocktail napkins. Jackie pounced.
“Hey! Sexy guy! Am I right? Isn’t being watched by a woman you’re into hot?”
“Uh…yeah. Actually, it is.”
The bartender smiled. Jackie grinned.
“See? It’s hot! And the only other thing he’s asking for is that you hold a thing and stand super still while he does it. My vote is that you go for it. Expand your horizons. Embrace the new.”
“I don’t know….”
“Of course, you don’t. You’ve never tried it. Go on. Be a statue. Live a little.”
“Okay…if that’s what you think.”
“That’s exactly what I think,” Jackie said, scrawling her number on a napkin and sliding it to the bartender. He took it and tucked it into his pocket. “You’ve already got the urn. Now all you need is something sheer.”
“I don’t have something sheer.”
“We’ll go shopping for curtains tomorrow.”
He watches me approach, wary and very proud.
“You will learn to hate me, I think.”
The words drop into the silent room, as dense as mercury. My voice is strange. A stranger’s voice. I almost never speak.
I get closer. He tenses but doesn’t look away. They never do, not at first. He smells hot and metallic, like coal-covered iron. Sharp ribs. Sharper hips. There is a beautiful vein in his neck. Beautiful and thick.
I bring my face to his. He bares his teeth and lunges against the chains. They pull him up short, but he catches my bottom lip. There is blood when I step back. Laughter tumbles out of me, clean, like ice.
He doesn’t expect the blow.
It lands across his cheek, meant to sting more than hurt. The second one hurts. The third cracks his head back against the wall.
I search his eyes, but they are empty. And like that, my interest fades. Had there been something of his presence in that single word, had he shown me something true…. But his more is a hollow defiance. His more will break. I don’t care about his more.
He snarls and rattles his chains. What a sad, ridiculous show. This time, when I hit him, I deliberately draw blood.
He’s still shaking his head to clear it when I chain his legs to the wall.
What follows is routine. There are implements on the wall and I bring one down. A knife with an ivory handle. A slender, elegant thing, sloped like a woman’s back. I bring it to my friend. Now, he looks away. Now, with the blade in front of him, he grasps the position he’s in.
I can tell he’s about to speak.
“No. That’s quite enough.”
I no longer meet his eyes, though he’s frantically searching mine, looking for reassurances I don’t care to give. Not when they’re a lie. I kneel and consider the knife.
Very gently, like a mother, like a woman made of grace, I slice through the rags that hang off his hips, loving the nervous ripple of his skin as the clothing falls away. His defiance is in stasis. The vein flutters in his throat. He’s a delicate, crushable thing.
I should say this. Warn him. A good woman would. A good woman would, but I don’t.
I smile and rest the blade against his skin, skin no blade should touch. The metal will be cold against such a tender place. His breath gives a lovely hitch….
His cock stirs, making a final appeal. I wait for him to shift and rattle and beg. It’s what generally happens next. But he doesn’t. He’s quiet and very still. I press harder with the blade. I want to see what he’ll do.
His skin begins to sweat, but the response is autonomic. There’s nothing but silence from him.
I look up and meet his eyes. They are waiting for mine. His breathing is shallow, but otherwise, he is calm. He has great respect for the knife. His eyes tell me this. His eyes tell me things, things that drop through the silence, dense as mercury. There is a person in there now.
And, like that, my interest is piqued.
What May Sound Like a Stand-Offish NB: Though the trajectory of this piece was unexpected, I both stand by and am proud of it. That said, I am not personally into castration fantasies. While I respect them as a kink, please don’t feel obliged to send them to me.
I want to go somewhere together. I want you to make me come – in a bathroom or a bookshop or in the middle of a film. I want you to make me come. Press against me hip, to hip. Touch me in a crowded room. Fuck me somewhere civilized, where people shouldn’t fuck.
I want to pull you into an alley and suck your cock. I want scuffs on my knees when I stand. Fuck me in a window where the neighbors will see, or high on a balcony in the warm evening air. I want someone to see us by chance.
I want to watch you with other people and I want you to watch me. Surrounded by other people I’ll still pick out your scent. I want mouths on our mouths and skin on our skin, tangled with other people and other people’s limbs.
I want you to fuck me, hard and fast, in the kitchen while we cook. Fuck me from behind just as company is due. Cup my breasts while I bend forward. Lift up my hem. Come inside me, fill me, make me wet. Then kneel and lick me clean.
I want to share a secret. I want to taste us when we kiss. I want to cross the room and feel your eyes, narrowed and hungry and sly. I know you with that look on your face. You’re waiting to gobble me up. Clever Fox. Big Bad Wolf. I promise I’ll gobble you too.
The blonde opens her mouth, but nothing comes out. Her face is painted with so much care…it makes her easy to read.
The woman cocks her head.
“Don’t you want to kiss him?”
The girl collects herself. Sits up straighter.
“Yes. Of course I do.”
The woman smiles, all red meat and wine. The girl wants to be taken seriously, but it’s impossible. She looks like a confection, with her candy floss hair and peppermint lips.
The man shifts as the woman bends, brushing her cheek against the girl’s. She inhales. The little blonde smells like vanilla. Of course. Of course, she would.
“Then,” the woman says, tipping her voice so it surrounds the girl like honey, “kiss him.”
The girl’s caramel scent surrounds the woman as her cheeks grow flushed and warm. Then she nips across the room and tips her face up to the man’s.
“Not there,” the woman says, laughing.
The girl turns and looks at her questioningly. The woman laughs again. The blonde understands. At least, part of her does. No one is as innocent as that girl is pretending to be….
The woman’s eyes drifted over the man, drawing a picture for their guest. Torso. Waist. Hips. Thighs. The thing she’s meant to kiss. The girl’s eyes widen but it’s part of the act. A tiny smirk mars her spun sugar face.
The woman looks at the man and the man looks at her, as something more subtle than a wink passes over the girl’s head. Then he ambles towards the couch.
“C’mon,” he says, sitting down and spreading his legs.
The girl jumps. He hasn’t spoken before, and she responds instinctively, moving across the room as if someone’s flipped a switch. Then she kneels between his legs and waits, looking from him to the woman.
“Good girl,” the woman says, settling in beside the man. He wraps an arm around her and pulls her close. His other hand stays on his knee, deceptively still.
“Unzip his fly and take out his cock.”
The girl does as she’s told, all hints of sugar and innocence gone. She’s practically panting by the time she pulls it out of his pants. The woman’s lips quirk in a half-second smile. She understands the girl’s interest. He has a beautiful cock.
“Kiss it,” she says. “And then suck him off as sweetly as you can. Let’s see how much of that lipstick survives.”
The girl nods, licking her lips like the caricature of a whore. For the first time that night, she looks beautiful to the woman. Her predictability is beautiful…. The woman touches the man’s hand as he strokes her neck, just enough to wake her spine.
The woman kisses him then, a light touch of their lips as the girl takes him into her lollipop mouth. The understanding at the foundation of their relationship wraps itself around them. They have a good love. She kisses him again, absorbing his heavy pulse as he slides his cock down the blonde’s open throat.
They kiss as the girl sucks him off like the professional she is. They kiss, round and wet, as he grips the blonde’s hair and brutally steers her head. They kiss when the woman’s fingers join his in manipulating the girl. They kiss as he gets closer, thrusts harder and hungrier. They kiss as he bares his teeth. They kiss, eyes open, when he finally comes all over the girl’s ruined face. The lipstick doesn’t survive.
The woman reaches down and runs her thumb down the girl’s sticky cheek. His cum is still warm when she licks her fingers clean.
The woman smiles at the deliciously ruined blonde.
“My turn for dessert.”
To see who else is kissing and telling, click pretty lips.
It will be different with me, she thinks as he presses her down to her knees. Silk rustles as she bends like a young rose on a fragile stem. He smiles, and she takes heart. He is gentle with her now, this great man, larger than life, with hands like paws and a mind like jagged trap. He will be different with me.
Green groweth the holly,
So doth the ivy.
Though winter blasts blow never so high,
Green groweth the holly.
He removes her wedding gown and she bows before him. He is already undressed. His vast, bear-like body, once wrapped in velvet and fur, fills her vision like the sun. She shivers. His fingers, so gentle with the outer casing of her gown, bite into her skin. He wants her, she knows. He has told her as much. He has written and told her so.
As the holly groweth green
And never changeth hue,
So I am, ever hath been,
Unto my lady true.
He is impatient and entitled as he grips her head. She opens her mouth and complies. She is no prudish Catholic, but neither is she a whore. Her cousin was a whore, an incestuous whore. She betrayed him and lost her head, spilled her blood all over the block, red as the holly he wrote about. Red blood on a dark green dress.
As the holly groweth green
With ivy all alone
When flowers cannot be seen
And greenwood leaves be gone,
There will be no blood with me, she thinks. I will keep his love. I will keep it evergreen. He grips her head harder, guiding her mouth as she sucks his cock with a skill that she learned as a girl. That skill would not betray her. That skill, and the gift of a pliant throat and an equally pliant nature, will keep me queen, she thinks.
Now unto my lady
Promise to her I make,
From all other only
To her I me betake.
Her eyes stream as his cock batters the back of her throat. She feels the bulk of his body tense. He’s getting close. She wills herself slack and feels the drool dripping down her chin onto her pretty white breasts. When he comes, he comes like an animal, grunting and thrusting into her mouth as if she were a thing. I will be his cherished thing, she thinks, gagging on his spend.
Adieu, mine own lady,
Adieu, my special
Who hath my heart truly
Be sure, and ever shall.
He tastes overly sweet, and beneath that a bitterness that makes her gag again, but she swallows and swallows and swallows. Then she smiles as she knows he wants her too, and lavishly licks her lips. I will do what I must do, she thinks. I will survive the love of this man.
The italicized poem is called “Green Groweth the Holly” by Henry VIII. The lady whom it addresses is unknown but, for the sake of this piece, I imagined it to be his ill-fated 5th wife, Catherine Howard, cousin to Anne Boleyn and the second of his six wives to be accused of treason and beheaded.
The story was inspired by “The Holly and the Ivy” – a traditional Christmas carol and one of the prompts in Exhibit A‘s Awesome Christmas Erotica Meme. A new song title goes up every day between now and Christmas so click here to catch the prompts and participate (you should!). And click here to see who else is making merry this December.
She smells cigarettes and knows it’s him. Even now, years later, her body knows the scent of Marlboro Reds. She can hear his voice if she tries to, in dreams, in her own…it disturbs her to hear his voice in her own. Lilting aural shrug. Sardonic, slanting grin. She learned that smile from him. She uses it all the time.
He is in her house in the dream, working, building. She comes in prepared, having smelled the Reds. He is so tall in her dream, much taller than in life.
“Hey,” she says.
He tosses the word like a stone.
She steps closer. Approaching him is like approaching a wolf, but she does it casually, accepting the risk. She is bigger than he is. Now she is.
“It hurts to see you,” she says.
“Yeah,” he replies. “Good.”
She smiles. Of course he said good. It’s a good sign, that good. He’s angry and it shows. He showed her so much in the time they were together, things he didn’t see and didn’t know. But she did. She knew. She knew and she left. She remembers him hurt and cold.
“I’m sorry,” she says.
He lights a cigarette with the lighter she gave him. Brushed, stainless steel worn dull. It slips back into his pocket as if the denim holds its place. Narrow hips, like a knife…. She leans into the edge, loving the risk, loving the heart’s blood she feels beneath her skin.
She puts her arms around his waist. His cock hardens as she presses her hips to his. Her own soft and narrow hips. He resists. She knows he will. He resists anyone’s terms but his own. But he wants her. She knows he does. And that’s why he gives.
She thinks of their first kiss, in the hall of her old place. Sunny hall, sunny day, he caught her in his arms, playful but they knew. When they kissed, they knew. It was better than sex, that kiss. It held the promise of their relationship. Mutual evisceration.
He tosses out the cigarette. She rest her cheek on his.
“I could kill you,” he says.
“I know. I know. That’s why I love you.”
They are pressed, hip to hip. He wants her so much. But there is a reckoning still.
He brings his hands up, gentle and lover-like. His fingers circle her neck. She thinks of the knife he once put there, and the calm that she felt when he did. He could kill her. She knows it. She loves him because he could kill her. It would be a relief, in a nihilistic sense, and he is dead enough to do it. She is dead enough to want it. She sees parts of her in him.
He squeezes her neck and she lets him. Eyes flat. No feeling. Cold, dead eyes. She places her hands over his. They are scarred and rough. Familiar. She knows them like her own. Her palms cradle his knuckles as he squeezes her throat.
Their mouths are close. He is taut. But she is soft. She is soft, which is why she will win. His hands tighten around her neck and she holds them there, calm, inviting, through shiny, bursting stars. Stars in her eyes and she smiles. He could kill her now. He should.
She kisses him then, while his hands squeeze her neck, bruising her obstinate pulse. He tastes like he always tasted—cigarettes, mint, whisky, death. He tastes like fucking death. He squeezes harder. She tightens her grip, forcing his fingers into her swollen, beating pulse. Pushing him. Daring him. Do it. Please.
Suddenly, the pressure lifts and he is with her. His reckoning is done.
They are on the floor as she yanks at his jeans, hungry for his cock. Split open like fruit, sticky with juice, she cannibalizes herself. She fills herself with him in a slow, slick stab. She eats her painful heart.
She is lonely, so lonely…. Her hands go around his throat, the way he’d wanted then. But she was sunny and young, blue skies and white clouds. She hadn’t found her night…a swirling black sky punched through with starlight. But he’d seen it. He’d wanted it. And she’d kept it from him.
She gives it to him now.
Her fingertips drift over his throat and press, harder than he had, harder than he’d dared, though she can already feel the bruises forming on her neck.
“I could kill you,” she says.
She is riding him and crying it feels so good. So right for her with him.
“I know. That’s why I love you.”
He fucks her ache harder, the grinding ache, deep and bruised with years. She is lonely. So lonely. And he is lonely too. He’s lonely and he comes. He seeps into her edges, miles and miles of edge. It’s the part of her he wants – the night sky with its blackness and its cold, pretty stars.
He wants the thing. The monster. The mirror. He wants not to be found. That’s what she wants too.
She comes ugly and feral. He bites her and she bites him. They draw blood from each other and lick it like juice. They would. Of course they do. There is so much blood between them. Drops spilling into years…. One day they will kill each other. One day it will be done.
She is naked, kneeling above him, straddling his legs while he strokes his cock, trying not to come.
She wants to photograph him.
She wants his widening eyes, the flash of his teeth, the sinking into himself. Small transformations, complex and quick, moving under his skin. They are who he is when he is with her like this. Deep water currents. She wants to capture them.
She picks up her lens and frames his face. Just his face, not his body, chest up. She knows his body, his salted scent; touching his skin is like touching her own. It’s his face that changes. His face holds a world, a fluid, changing landscape she cannot fully know.
She sways above him and angles the lens. She wants his face when he thrusts, when he tries to stop, when she tells him not to come; the serrated edge when he starts again, the veins in his neck, the strain of his jaw, the throb and pulse of who he is now, and now, and now. She cannot get enough.
She hates impermanence. She would freeze time if she could; catch slivers in an icy sphere and hold it in her palm—magic for when reality beats too hot against her skin. But there are no spheres or magic. Only now, and now, and now. She cannot take it in. Not everything at once. But freezing him in glass and pixels and plates brings something like permanence close.
She’s wet and getting wetter, flushed and hot – too hot for frozen spheres. Her hips move like he’s fucking her. Like she’s fucking him. Her lens captures what it can. They are close, so close his knuckles brush her damp, trembling thigh. She pants like he’s panting and burns through film.
“I can’t,” he says. “I have to come.”
She doesn’t know how many times he’s said that, or how many times she’s said no. She’s captured his face every single time with her icy, clinical lens. But she cannot capture this—the rolling, feverish fullness of where they are now.
“Wait. Just wait,” she says.
Her cunt brushes his cock as she sets the camera down. She can’t hear through her pulse, the rushing, liquid heat of the blood beneath her skin. The heat drips out of her, onto him, into them. She leans down and strokes his face with her burning fingertips.
“Look at me,” she says.
He does, and she sinks down. She keeps her eyes open, though god they want to close. She wants to see his face, caught between her hands. She is still taking pictures. She wants to memorize his face. Now and now and now. She watches and he comes. That one, that picture, is hers alone.
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