It

“I got it through an arrangement,” the man told the doctor with a scowl. “But it’s defective. It just lays there, giving me dirty looks. It barely does anything at all.”

The doctor appraised it. Wearing the too-short hospital gown, it had long black hair, dark exotically shaped eyes, and big breasts.

“It’s pretty,” the doctor said with a friendly smile, lending a hand to help it onto the examination table. “Does it talk?”

“No.” The man shook his head. “It’s dumb, I think.”

“I see.”

Gently, he placed his hand on its shoulder and pushed, encouraging it to lie on its back. When it was lying flat and he reached down to place its ankles in the stir-ups, it apprehensively tried to scooch away.

“No-no-no, Dear,” he reprimanded, easily snatching a slender ankle and snapping it into the restraints. “We need you still, so we can examine you.”

In response, the dark eyes glittered at him with resentment.

When he went to push up the gown, it tried to push his hands away.

“No,” he snapped firmly. “We need to see if anything’s wrong. If you get in the way, we’ll have no choice but to restrain your arms as well. Is that necessary?”

Though its bottom lip plumped out in dissention, its arms went to its sides.

“Thank you,” he smiled.

Peering between its legs, he was greeted with a thick, yet well-groomed, black bush. The two perfectly symmetrical pubis lips jutted out from beneath the thatch of hair were a healthy purple.

As he smoothed back the hair and pulled the lips apart to get a better look, he asked the owner, “What exactly does it do when you attempt to copulate with it?”

The man groaned. “When I first got it, it was practically feral. It spit and made unpleasant noises. It even scratched me, so I had to cut its nails back. After that, I bound its hands and feet. It didn’t like that very much.” He smiled meanly. “So, over time, it settled down.” The man ran an agitated sigh over the stubble of his head. “But mostly it just lies there and doesn’t do anything at all.”

“Does it make any sounds? Any indication of how it feels? Is it possible that intercourse causes it pain?”

“Sometimes it grunts or sighs.” The man looked down, embarrassed. “Once it yawned. But mostly nothing. I don’t think it works right.”

“How does it feel inside?”

“Alright, I guess. But it doesn’t get as squishy as I like.”

“There, there,” the doctor crooned spreading the soft black pubic hair back and gently peeling the lips apart. “It’s alright. Let’s see what you have going on down there, so we can help you.”

Beneath his fingers, he could feel how tense it was. To calm it, he pushed his finger into the soft thatch of hair to find the hooded nub. Though it was tiny, he found it and began to rub in gentle circles. When he did, he felt it jump and let out a surprised gasp. When he looked up, its dark eyes were looking down in confusion.

*Interesting.*

As he continued the examination and continued to rub the little nub, it grew harder, stiffer, and larger beneath his thumb. A longing mewl even escaped its lip.

“Do you prepare the area before you penetrate it?” he asked even though he already suspected the answer.

“Um. No,” the man stuttered defensively. “That wasn’t mentioned when I got it. Nor was it in the manual. I was made to believe it was coming to me fully functional. No step up required.”

“I see,” mumbled the doctor, running a calloused finger down the thickening lips where fluid was gathering around its breeding hole. “Sometimes it just needs a little help . . . makes it more agreeable. Some of them are more fickle than others.”

Though this one didn’t appear to be difficult at all. In fact, it was lubricating faster than most and showing all the signs of arousal. Quickening breath. Dilated pupils. Erect nipples. It seemed to be on its way to orgasm.

“Come over here, Mister Dodd,” the doctor nodded his head to the man. “I want to show you something.”

When the man was standing behind him, looking over his shoulder, he said. “You see how I’m rubbing this little gland with one hand? It prepares the area. You can also use your other hand to stroke and manipulate the outer and inner lips. Look how they darken in color and get slippery? These models respond very positively to external stimulation. They are self-lubricating. A little work before penetration goes a long way to produce that squishy feeling you mentioned.”

Underneath him, the thing undulated its hips, bit its bottom lip, and moaned.

The man’s brow furrowed. “I swear, Doc. It doesn’t work this way at home! It twists its lips like it ate something rotten and stays dry as a bone.”

The doctor laughed. “Like I said, some of them can be a little fickle.”

“Can I try?”

“Sure,” the doctor said removing his hand, but admittedly with regret. He liked the way this one responded, the way it looked, and the sounds it made. His feelings were unprofessional and left him feeling uncomfortable. He had an overwhelming urge to see how fast and how much he could make it orgasm. He found himself smugly liking that while its owner could not arouse it, *he* could.

When the man got between its legs, instinctively, it flinched. And while the stirrups held its legs apart, they shook with the exertion of trying to close. The man mashed his hand between the pubic lips and pushed a meaty finger into its breeding hole, moving roughly back and forth, causing it to let out a pained cry.

“See what I mean?” the man said with an aggravated puff. “It just clamps down and doesn’t let me in. It’s so frigid. There’s something wrong with it.”

Annoyed, the doctor huffed and pushed the man away. “Here. Just watch.”

Rubbing his hands together to make them warm, he placed them first on the thighs, caressing them. When he felt it begin to relax, he slid his hands down and massaged either side of its outer lips, moving them gently, but firmly, between his thumbs. When he moved on to rub the little nub, it let out a cry and gushed a half a teaspoon of liquid.

“You see, Mister Dodd, you don’t just stick your fingers in the breeding hole right away. You have to get it ready first. You have to relax it. If you forth a little effort before penetration, they respond favorably.”

To prove his point, he reached into his pocket, and showed the man a medium-sized plug. After squirting some lubrication on it, he addressed It. “I’m going to put this inside your anus. I want you to take a deep breath in as I do. Do you understand?”

Though its eyes widened with worry, it took a deep breath. Slowly, he slide the lubricated plug into the dark of its rosebud. It was a tight fit, and he felt it stiffen.

“It’s alright,” he assured. “Just keep breathing.” As it did as it was told, he pushed the plug in further until it was completely in. “I know it’s a little uncomfortable at first. But it builds a sensation of fullness that you will grow to enjoy the more you practice.” When the plug was snug and fully inserted, slowly he began to move it in and out. The thing let out a little animal noise of pleasure and writhed its sexy hips.

“See?” he told the man. “It wants things inside it. It’s what it’s made for. You just have to prep them a little.”

The creature’s cunt lips were so swollen and wet, he couldn’t keep his eyes off them. Needing to know what it felt like inside, he looked to the man, trying to keep a professional tone though his cock was hard as a rock.

“May I demonstrate?” he asked.

The man let out an Hmph, clearly not thrilled with the idea, but in the end shrugged his shoulders and said meanly, “Be my guest, Doc. But it’s a horrible fit. They must have sent me a used model.”

Cocking a skeptical eyebrow, the doctor unzipped his trousers, pulled down his boxers, and fisted his hard cock in his hand. The thing’s mouth parted as it watched him, its gaze sliding down to the hard cock he was gripping in its hand. He couldn’t help it. He stared into its dilated eyes, knowing his own were also dark with desire. It wanted him. He wanted It. He couldn’t wait to feel it from the inside. Slowly he slid himself between those thick wet folds, working his length into its channel. Both he and It gasped at the penetration. It was so sleek and so warm—such a snug fit. Everything an animal cunt should be. It was so beyond good, he let out an unprofessional groan as he pulled back and slid back in. Underneath him, the thing accepted and gripped his girth; its breasts heaving with arousal.

 

Trying to keep his voice steady and his thrusts even, he rasped, “Are you watching, Mister Dodd? Do you see how its accepting me?” When he said it, its walls begin to pulse around him like it was ready to release after just a few thrusts.

OhmotherfuckingGodinHeaven. Where did he get IT? I have to get myself one!

He liked the way it squeezed his cock so much, he couldn’t stop from putting his finger on the nub and rubbing it as he steadily pumped. It mewled and its hands reached up to touch its nipples as he pounded. So responsive. Reaching down, he thrust the plug in time to the thrusts of his cock. Beneath him, the response was immediate. It shook and gushed liquid that dripped down his balls. Though ejaculation wasn’t a part of standard exams, he couldn’t help it. His balls tightened and he shot his load inside it with a growl.

Wiping a bead of sweat from his brow, he looked at it beneath him. This man’s property wasn’t defective. It was perfect.

Next to him, the man shifted uncomfortably, reminding him they weren’t alone. His face was red with anger. “Well, of course, it has to take it when you have the legs restrained! But it won’t suck your cock, Doc! It wrinkles its nose and acts like it’s going to vomit!”

Though he didn’t want to pull out—it was so tight and warm–he did. Besides, he was curious now. Moving so he was standing next to its head, he gripped and examined it’s long, slender throat against his fingers. Though the eyes widened in surprise, it didn’t fight him. Pushing its head to the side and closer to the edge of the table, he held out his softening, but not completely unaroused cock. Rubbing the head against its plump lips, he told it, “Put it in your mouth.”

It opened immediately and took him.

Staring into its eyes, he asked the man behind it, “Do you hurt it?”

“What do you mean?”

Gripping it tighter around the throat, he raised his other hand and smacked it in the face. Though it flinched, it dutifully moved its lips up and down his shaft faster. There was the swirl of a tongue. What a good wet mouth it had. When his hand print began already showing on its cheek, he felt a sudden surge of possessiveness.

“I see it likes to be hit,” he muttered.

“I suppose. But it won’t swallow,” sneered the man. “It vomits instead. It doesn’t appear to like the taste. Thinks it’s too good for it or something.”

Looking into its dark eyes which were fixed on his, the doctor asked, “Do you think you’re too good for my seed? Nod your head if you think you have a say in the matter.”

It continued to look up at him, greedily sucking. Even trying to shift on the table to take him further down its throat.

“It wants it,” he told the man, not breaking eye contact. “I have no doubt of that.” Then he paused, “I don’t think it’s the right fit model for you, Mister Dodd. I suggest you send it back and get another one that better suits your needs.”

“But I don’t want to!” whined the man. “I like the way it looks! I just want it to do what I want!”

The doctor sighed, regretfully pulling his cock from the sweet suctioning mouth. As he did, it made a popping sound.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” said the doctor. “I’ve examined it. I can’t find a thing wrong with it. And I’ve examined hundreds of these models.”

“Well,” the man huffed. “Maybe I need to take it to another doctor who knows what he’s doing! Not some quack!”

The doctor let out another sigh. “Alright, alright. I have one more test. But I’ll need you to leave the room, Mister Dodd.”

Suspiciously, the man arched an eyebrow. “What are you going to do?”

“Please,” said the doctor patiently. “You have my word. It will be fine. I need to be alone with it.”

After the man left the room, he looked down at it lying back on the table, looking up at him nervously. Removing its ankles from the stirrups, he helped it sit up.

“I suppose you know how to speak?” he asked, closing and tying the gown over its breasts.

“Yes.”

He smiled.

Shyly, it smiled back.

“Would you like me to tell Mister Dodd you are defective?”

Without hesitation, it nodded its head.

“I’ll come get you after the exchange is complete, and it will please you.”

It nodded.

“Good. It’s decided. Now bend over the table. I’m going to hurt you.”

It appeared to glow.

And did exactly as it was told.

Dear Noel

Dear Noel,

You don’t know me. We met only briefly 45 years ago.

The day we met, it was my birthday. I was wrapped in a pink blanket when they handed me to you to hold.

I know our meeting was short lived, but from my understanding, you and I had been through a lot together.

You’re probably wondering how I know your name. Because back then, adoptions were handled with the utmost secrecy. There were no loopholes like there are today.

Let me explain.

The only thing they gave me when I left the hospital was a single sheet of paper. It had basic information about you: your age, height/weight, hair color, ethnicity, education, career, and general health information.

From it, I can see you and I have the same physical build. But whereas you have dirty blonde hair and brown eyes, I have very blond hair and blue eyes. I probably look a lot like him.

The paper told me very little about you, but said you were artistic and loved animals. I really like knowing that about you.

Since that piece of paper was the only thing I had remaining of you, you can imagine how upset I was when it got misplaced during a move. So, I sent a request to the adoption agency asking for a copy.

I was not prepared when I walked to the mail box that day to find a thick, yellow package from the agency. Inside, there was over an inch of papers containing the detailed information leading to my birth and adoption.

I was stunned. I didn’t think I was entitled to that. Though identifying information was, of course, blacked out in marker.

But whomever prepared the package was careless. They didn’t strike your name out very well on page 12. I was also able to decipher your birthday: December 25.

Noel is a beautiful name. I like it very much.

I sat on my bed and read all about you for hours that day. When I was done, I felt like I knew you. The case worker was very thorough in her notes.

You were 20 years old and working as a secretary at an army base when you met my biological father. Before that, you had done some modeling in New York City. You weren’t able to make a steady enough income to support yourself, so you took a typing class and landed a government secretarial job.

The case worker’s first impression of you when you walked into her office that first time was very complimentary. She said:

“This is an exceptionally beautiful, bright, and capable girl who has already made considerable arrangements on her own.”

When she asked, you told her my biological father was a good-looking lieutenant with an Ivy League degree. She noted the roll of your eyes when you described him as an “All-American Golden Boy” who was very concerned with his image. But you were initially impressed and flattered by his interest. When he asked you on a date, you accepted.

He took you out to dinner and bought you a lot of drinks. You don’t remember much about that night. All you know is you woke up in his apartment the next morning.

And you had a bad feeling.

When he avoided you in the days that followed, you were secretly relieved. You found him shallow and uncaring. You wanted to move on and forget you ever met him.

But then you missed your period.

When you called and asked if he had had sex with you that night, he denied it.

You, of course, knew he was lying.

There were no over-the-counter pregnancy tests back then, so you made an appointment with the family doctor. When the test came back positive, he called you a bad name because you weren’t married. He threatened to call your parents and tell them what you had done.

That enraged you because, after all, you were over 18 years old; he had no legal or moral right. You threatened him right back and told him if he did, you’d come to his office and tear it and him to pieces. You were convincing enough that he backed down.

Your family was strict Irish-Catholic. You were one of five girls. Your mother was prone to hysteria. Your father was a violent drunk. You knew you would get no support from them; only shame and blame. So, you did what you had to do.

You went to that lieutenant’s commanding officer and told him about your pregnancy. With the support and push of your female boss, a legal agreement was drawn between you and he. He was forced to provide money to cover the cost for adoption and your stay at a home for unwed mothers.

He wrote a check for $1245.00 and was relinquished from any further responsibility.

Because your boss was sympathetic to your predicament, she lent you additional money, so you could afford better care at one of the nicer homes. The cheaper ones were known for strictness and sub-par care; you were independent and didn’t want to be treated poorly. You also knew you were prone to depression and wanted to make sure you were safe and in good hands.

The commander and your boss decided the last four months of your pregnancy, you would tell your family the government was sending you to Washington for work detail. After the baby was born, you were promised your job would be waiting for you.

No one would ever have to know.

The caseworker visited you at the unwed mother’s home every two weeks. Despite your initial fear of going there, you adjusted surprisingly well. You met other women who were going through the same thing. You became close to a few. You felt a sense of family and acceptance you had never experienced before.

Mischievously, when asked, you told the case worker you knew you were having a girl. But just as quickly, your expression turned sad, leaving her with the impression you might be having second thoughts.

The biggest source of anxiety for you were the physical examinations. The first time the doctor put you in stirrups and touched you, you thrashed and screamed hysterically for him to stop. After that, they gave you tranquilizers to keep you calm during exams. You said you did not like to be touched that way and, with a self-deprecating laugh, added it wasn’t surprising you had to be intoxicated to the point of unconsciousness in order to be impregnated.

You blamed yourself for that night. You shouldn’t have had those drinks. It was all your fault.

You’re wrong, Noel. You are SO wrong. It was NOT your fault.

Your labor and delivery went well with no complications. I was healthy, and you smiled when they told you I was a girl.

Two weeks later when you signed legal surrender, you were very emotional. Even though you were assured I would be fine and go to a good home, nothing seemed to console you.

You asked, “But what will become of me?”

Then you looked away, signed the papers, and walked out the door.

The case worker was worried about you and tried to keep in touch. She was able to get you to meet her for lunch twice.

You were back at your job. By all accounts, things were back to normal and going smoothly. The lieutenant had been transferred to another base shortly before your return. But rumor had gotten around about your pregnancy.

When asked if you minded, you shrugged and said, “It will pass.”

You were more concerned that you didn’t know what you wanted to do with your life.

The last time she talked to you, you were in school to become an airline stewardess. You always wanted to travel. You always wanted to see the world.

After that, you stopped answering her calls, She never heard from you again.

I’m not writing to disrupt your life.

I’ve never had an overwhelming desire to find you. Strangely enough, since the time I can remember, I’ve always felt a quiet peace–a knowing–that you and I are on good terms.

Maybe in those precious, few moments you held me, you whispered everything you needed me to know in my ear, and I remembered every word.

I’m proud of what you did and how you handled yourself. You did it all on your own during a time when the world was a very different place for women in your situation.

You were so brave.

I hope you did travel and see the world.

I hope you found love, and it gave you a little girl you could keep.

I don’t want you to feel guilty about what you did. What you had to do.

You did well, Noel.

I’m alright.

I hope you are, too.

Always,

Bill

An Awkward and Truly Uncomfortable Conversation

Some conversations with kids are awkward and truly uncomfortable.

But I swore that wouldn’t stop me from having them.

The most surprising thing to me about all this BDSM stuff is what I thought I was going to educate myself on (and did) was not all I wound up being educated on.

To recap, a year or so ago, I finally admitted I enjoyed many aspects of masochism and wanted to safely and responsibly integrate them into my life. My motivation was, essentially, I wanted to do freaky things with people and have them do freaky things to me. In truth, I felt rather guilty about it. With so much to do and so little time as it was, it seemed rather self-indulgent to put time into something purely sex related and that was just for me.

I did figure out the freaky part. But what surprises me the most is how it made so many things I struggled with more clear.

Like for example, I’m pretty sure I can say “No. I don’t like this. Stop now” and stand by it with conviction.

Pathetic, maybe. But that’s not time spent self-indulgently. It’s rather important.

It confounds and angers me that at my age, I had to come here of all places to fully grasp that concept in crystal clear terms.

Though it’s unfortunate to learn it later in life, I’ve found it to be a timely lesson in raising a nine-year-old girl.

A few weeks ago, Little Bill and I were waiting to be seated at Steak and Shake. It was peak dinner rush hour. An older man walked by us to grab a menu from the hostess stand. Though there was a wide berth around us, he walked close enough that he brushed against Little Bill. Instinctively, I put my arm around her and pulled her close into my side.

It’s one of those split-second happenings that, on some level, feels off but your mind doesn’t fully register or go there.

Once we were seated and put our order in, we started to work on her homework. We were engrossed in long division, so I didn’t notice the man again until our food came and I looked up. He was seated in the booth on the other side of us.

If you’ve been to Steak and Shake, you know they have that old-fashioned diner motif going where glass panes separate the booths.

He was staring at her through the glass.

My creeper radar instantly went off.

When she felt his stare, she looked up, smiled back shyly, and looked away. When she looked back again and saw he was still staring, she smiled again, fidgeted in her seat, and moved closer to me.

While this was going on, I stared at him intensely enough that he would feel my eyes boring holes through his skull. When he noticed, he flashed a friendly smile. I smiled tightly; though it didn’t reach my eyes.

He looked away.

After what he considered was a safe amount of time, he looked at her again.

Again, I glared at him.

Again, he gave me the friendly smile.

I didn’t smile back.

He looked away.

When our food came, he got up to use the bathroom and attempted to make conversation; something about how the onion rings were his favorite, too, blah, blah, blah; all the while, looking at Little Bill. Asking her what homework she was working on. How he always hated school.

Nervously, she giggled and smiled shyly.

Seriously, Mother Fucker? You don’t think I don’t see you for what you are?

I stared at him unsmiling and unreceptive to conversation.

He finally gave up and slunk away.

In the car on our way home, I asked, “What did you think about that man in the restaurant?”

She hesitated, “Oh, I don’t know. He was nice, I guess.”

“Really?” I commented mildly. “How was he nice?”

Unsure where I was going with the conversation, she said, “Well, he was smiling and trying to joke with us.”

“How did he make you feel?”

With a shrug, she laughed, “What do you mean? I don’t know. Okay, I guess.”

“Did he make you feel comfortable or uncomfortable?”

“Uncomfortable.”

I nodded. “Me too. What about him made you uncomfortable?”

“The way he kept staring at me,” she conceded.

“A little too long, right? I mean, it’s ok to smile at someone. But especially if you don’t know someone and you just stare, it’s creepy. He wasn’t a little kid. He knows better.”

“Yes,” she nodded. “He was weird.”

“I’m glad you noticed that,” I told her. “When something feels wrong, that’s your gut warning you to be on guard. That nagging feeling is there to keep you safe. You should always listen to it.”

“You looked sort of mad at him in there,” she said.

“I was. His staring was inappropriate. I was letting him know I didn’t appreciate it and he should stop. We don’t have to be nice to someone who makes us uncomfortable just because they smile and act friendly. I don’t want you to ever think you have to be nice to someone who makes you uncomfortable or who scares you.”

“Even if they’re an adult?”

“Yep. Even if they’re an adult.”

We’ve discussed sex before. I’ve been open about the basic technicalities since she was young. Body parts have never had cutesy names; girls have vaginas and boys have penises. We talked about what’s inappropriate touching from another person. I’ve told her that no one has a right to touch her in a way that feels wrong or hurts her; not even me.

But this was new ground. I couldn’t have had this conversation a year ago.

We talked about the expectations you have as a family member, student, friend, and citizen. In summary, we do our best to be kind, helpful, and hard-working. But on the flip side of that, there are people who may attempt to draw on and manipulate our kindness, politeness, and willingness to be helpful. They cross the boundaries that make us uncomfortable; that have our gut telling us something doesn’t feel right about them. When they push us and make us uncomfortable, they are not entitled to our smiles or chit chat. We have the right to ignore them, walk away, and remove ourselves because our safety comes first. We keep ourselves safe by being firm. Is that isn’t enough, we go for help.

At one point, she asked uncertainly, “Mommy, is this all tied to . . . sex? Did that man stare and smile because he was thinking about sex?”

I don’t want her to think behind every stranger who talks to her, there’s a rapist.

I don’t want her to be afraid and think the worst of people.

But there is a reality. Denying it won’t make it any less true. Denying it won’t keep her safe.

“Maybe,” I answered. “He gave me a bad feeling.”

“Did anyone ever make you feel uncomfortable when you were young?”

“Yes. I want us to always be able to talk. No matter how weird and hard it might feel. I swear I’ll try to make it as unweird as I can. I just want you to be safe.”

She nodded and turned the radio up.

It was an uncomfortable and horribly awkward conversation. But in the end, I think we both did OK.

Only Truth Gets Spoken Over the Fence

We really only spoke over the fence. But she was more of a friend than friends were at the time.

She lived in the house behind mine. All those years ago, a carport stood where my master bedroom now sits. If you walked to the back of the carport, past the rotting wood eaves, peered through the dirty screen and over the chain link fence, you would stare into Jane’s backyard.

She was a mail carrier and worked odd hours. We met briefly over the fence line when I moved in. She was pleased I wasn’t a renter because people in the neighborhood had a tendency to come and go. She’d been a resident for 16 years.

She wasn’t an attractive woman. She bleached her hair platinum blonde, and it contrasted harshly against the pockmarked, tan leather of her skin. No nonsense and coarse talking, she lived alone. When I first moved in, my hair was long and blond. Her appraisal of me that first time over the fence immediately let me know Jane was an unapologetic lesbian.

The next time I saw her, two months later, I was bald.

When that happened, my new favorite spot became the back of the carport. I placed a rocking chair, a small plastic table, and an ashtray there. At night, I’d rock, hidden in darkness with no head covering, and chain smoke my way through nausea, night terrors, and insomnia.

It was 2:00 a.m. when she appeared over the fence.

“What happened to you?”

“I got sick.”

She let a low whistle out from under her breath. “Now, that sucks balls. Big time. You’re in for a long, hard haul, Baby.”

I smiled because I was accustomed to commentary along the lines of “Oh, you’re going to beat this” and “God has a plan,”and my favorite, “Try to see it as a gift to make you realize what’s important.”

#Stupid-stuff-non-cancerous-people-say-to-make-themselves-feel-better-because-they-think-they’re-making-you-feel-better.

“You’re a hot bald chick. And I hang out with a lotta bull dykes, so . . .”

Again, I smiled. A rarity those days.

“Well, you know where to find me. If you need me. We ladies have to stick together.” And she walked back into her house.

***

A storm was brewing out in the Gulf. Our city hadn’t taken a direct hit since the 1930’s, but the news said it was headed our way. The night before, I walked outside because I couldn’t sleep. I was thinking about the tree in Jane’s backyard.

It’s called a Costa Rican Monkey Ear Tree, and it’s got to be at least 200 feet tall. The monkey ears refer to the hard fig shells attached to the branches. They’re black and shaped like a monkey’s ear. When they fall, they’re hard enough and high enough in the air that if they pelt you in the head, they hurt.

In a neighboring city, there’s a tree that’s 200 feet tall and is listed on the register as historic; Jane’s tree is much bigger and thicker in diameter than that one, and it’s not listed on any registry. When the windows are open, I hear eerie screeches and growls, which lead me to believe there are species of animals and insects living in it that have yet to be discovered. It reminds me of the Swiss Family Robinson Tree house. If it falls, it will take out the surrounding houses. But it’s more than that: the roots are so far reaching, they break through the cement of the sidewalks down the street. If Jane’s tree goes down, it’s taking half the neighborhood with it.

It was 3:30 a.m. the morning before the storm. Giving up on sleep, I left bed and went outside. I found Jane standing underneath the tree, looking up at its colossal vastness in the darkness.

Over the fence, in my night gown, I said quietly, “I can’t sleep either. I can’t stop thinking about your tree.”

Without looking at me, she said, “There’s nothing we can do. Worrying won’t change it.”

“I’m still worried.”

“It’s been here for a hundred years, Baby. It will be here long after we’re gone. The tree will win.”

Slightly soothed, I went back to bed.

The storm would take a turn and hit the middle of the state. We would still get residual effects. The next day, when I looked out the window through the sheets of rain and wind, every tree in Jane’s yard was down.

Except her Monkey Ear Tree.

Luckily, our houses wouldn’t sustain damage. Though Jane’s wooden deck was destroyed. When the rain stopped, four of her girlfriends—burly, no-nonsense ladies–came over with a chain saw and cleared out the damage. Jane sent them over to clean up my yard as well.

She would rebuild that deck herself. While she measured and cut the wood boards on her work table with perfect precision, I watched her over the fence, wishing I could love her like I sometimes loved men.

***

I was in the carport getting tools out of the utility closet.

I heard that low whistle and then, “Jesus, Baby. You got FAT.”

I smirked at the familiar voice and looked up. “I’m pregnant.”

“No shit. How did that happen?”

“A pitcher of margaritas.”

She paused, “I don’t mean to intrude. But didn’t Progesterone try to kill you?”

“Yes.”

She was quiet, as she leaned down to pick at some weeds through the fence. Throwing them behind her shoulder, she said “Well, I guess some risks are worth taking.”

“I’ll go back on treatment after she comes.”

“Sounds like a plan. A girl . . . Woot. Good for you. Well, you know where to find me if you need me. Us ladies need to stick together.”

***

I was pushing the stroller in front of her house. The walks were the only thing that calmed the girl down. She did nothing but scream for the first eight months. She wouldn’t sleep through the night for two years. I was back on treatment, working full time, exhausted, and sick all the time.

“Wow. She’s got some lungs. Come up here. Let me see her,” Jane yelled from the swinging bench on her front porch.

I pushed the stroller up and sat down next to her on the swing.

“She sure is a pretty thing,” she cooed, peering into the stroller.

“She has reflux. Bad.”

“You look horrible, Baby.”

“I’m exhausted.”

“He doesn’t help you.” It wasn’t a question.

“No.”

We sat in silence, swinging; Jane taking occasional pulls from her can of Budweiser.

“Let me watch her for a little while. Go sleep.”

My voice broke, and tears pricked my eyes.

“I can’t, Jane,“ I said. “She screams. She turns blue sometimes. She projectile-vomits. She’s the fucking Exorcist.”

“Meh. She sounds like my mother. Go get some sleep. You’re sick.”

Three hours later, I was at her door. Guilty. But feeling better.

“Was she horrible? Did she scream the entire time?”

“Yes,” said Jane. “She’s a beast. Worst. Baby. Ever.”

But her smile was so wide, it made her face look like a puckered leather hand bag.

***

I was getting in my car.

“I sold the house today.”

I froze. Looked over the fence. She was standing underneath the tree with her hands on her hips, looking up.

“Oh no.”

“My mom’s sick. I’m moving her in with me. Closer to where she lives and the hospital. It will be easier to get her in and out of a condo. Less maintenance. I love this house. But it’s too old. Renovations to make it handicap accessible would cost too much.”

A lot of people have left. I’ve never asked one to stay.

“Don’t go.”

She looked down at the ground. Kicked one of the huge roots of her tree.

“I’ll miss you, you know.”

“I’ll miss you, too, Jane.”

I got in my car and cried all the way to work.

***

I rarely talk to the new neighbors. Though they’ve lived there for years.

Call me irrational. Silly. Pigheaded.

But I don’t like them.

Because it will never be their tree. It will never be their fence.

Day 13

“How soon will I lose my hair?”

“Between day 12 and day 15,” the chemo nurse said. Then her eyes lifted, skimming my head in assessment.

“For you,” she added. “Day 13.”

I don’t know how she knew. I didn’t ask. What I’d learn is that chemo (and hospice) nurses are a different breed. They see, feel, and know things normal people don’t. They are also the best needle stickers on the planet: deft and precise. When you know what you’re doing, the stick should never hurt. When your port moves accidentally underneath your skin and flips, those nurses can turn it around from the outside of your skin so quickly you won’t register the pain until after they’re done.

I will always hold chemo and hospice nurses in the highest esteem.

After my first treatment, I was determined not to be sick. I would NOT be a patient. I would continue to do the things I had always done. And when it was done, I would go on and live the life I had always led. Nothing would change. It would be an unfortunate blip on the radar. I’d do my time–the treatment–and when it was done, it would be over. I’d go back to my old life as if it had never happened.

Back then, obviously, I was a fucking fool.

On the night of day 13, I was sitting on a bar stool, buzzed and flirting.

This was business as usual. The object of my affection was particularly good looking, and our chemistry was off the charts. He had an amazing body and a confident sexuality that made my pulse roar in my ears.

That was my forte: Find physical attraction and engage at light speed. Suck every sigh, gasp, and orgasm out of the relationship. Fuck and fight in equal and epic proportions for maximum intensity. Provide lousy or close to no communication outside the physical. Crash and burn the relationship into the ground, and do it all in a three-months—tops–span. Then onto the next.

I was an expert. Maybe I still am.

He was leaning into me and looking down into my eyes with huge promise when I unconsciously ran my fingers through my hair. When I placed my hand back in my lap, I happened to look down.

I know it sounds stupid, but my first thought was that it was cat hair. There was just so much of it, and it stood out so starkly against the back drop of my black tights. At the time, I had three in-door cats and kept a rolling lint brush within reach at all times to “de-feline” myself before walking out the door. My first thought was, “How did you NOT notice all this before you left the house?”

Maybe it’s also because I believed it would come out in strands.

I didn’t know it fell out in clumps.

I didn’t know when it begins, it’s sudden. And rapid.

When I realized what it was, I excused myself to the bathroom. I studied myself in the low-lit mirror, unsure and afraid. Then I gently ran my fingers through, not wanting to cause more to fall out than was necessary.

Despite the light pressure, when I pulled my hand out, it held a clump.

I can’t tell you exactly how that felt. Surreal comes to mind.

I returned to my bar stool and attempted to continue flirting. I tried to pay attention to what he was saying, but soon all I could register was that his lips were moving. I didn’t want to give into the reality of what was happening. I was trying so hard to grasp onto the last vestiges of that life . . . that person I was getting closer to losing with every second.

But my hand would inevitably, despite itself, find its way to my head. When I’d see the hair, I’d quickly brush it off against my leg and let it fall to the ground underneath my chair. Hoping no one would see. I can only imagine how much was there when I left.

When I could no longer focus on what the guy was saying—in defeat–I downed my drink and told him, sadly and regretfully, I had to go.

He was shocked. Didn’t understand what had changed so quickly when it had been obvious we shared such mutual attraction mere minutes before.

I walked out the door and sat in my car, which was parked in the front. Through the large picture window adorned in the blinking neon lights of the bar, I could see him and the chair where I had sat. I watched for a few minutes, not able to start the car. Eventually, another girl sat in my chair. They began to talk. To flirt.

She had long, blonde hair.

In that moment—completely, bitterly, and irrationally—I hated her.

She stole my chair. My sex. My life.

My hair.

The next day, it was worse. I woke up to clumps all over the pillow case, in the sheets, and in the shower drain. No one tells you that it’s a somewhat physically painful process. The top of your head burns, aches, and is sensitive to the touch as the roots begin to die. And it itches like hell.

I had been in denial, thinking maybe I’d be one of the lucky small percent who would get to keep it. I had put off getting fitted for a wig, which had to be ordered.

I was running out of time.

I called my boss and told her I wouldn’t be going into work. I opened the yellow pages and scanned. I don’t know why, but for some reason, I did not want to stay in town. I treated it like some covert operation. As I looked down the list, a name of a business jumped out, and I wrote down the address on a blank envelope. Then I got in my car and drove 45 minutes three towns away.

The shop was in a strip mall sandwiched between two businesses with dingy, ugly storefronts. There was a tattoo parlor and a head shop advertising drug paraphernalia and porn videos.

The bell chimed when I walked through the door. The shop was empty except for a beast of a man who sat at the cashier counter, flipping through People magazine. He glanced up and greeted me. I acknowledged him with a small smile and walked to the far wall that was full–floor to ceiling—with wigs.

I stood there. Just staring. Letting my eyes take in the overwhelming amount of colors, styles, and lengths. I didn’t touch or pick any of them up off the stands. I felt rooted to one spot.

The beast of a man walked over. He was well over 6 feet tall. He was bald with two small, gold hoops in each ear. His shirt, a tropical print with pink flamingos, was opened to mid chest. Two heavy gold chains circled his bulging neck, and their hanging medallions nestled in his thick chest hair. The hands that fluttered when he talked were covered in chunky gold rings.

In contrast, when he spoke, his voice was soft and feminine with a slight lisp.

“Can I help you? What are you looking for, Hon?”

When I didn’t answer right away, he asked, “Do you have a party to go to? Or are you just looking for something fun for a change?”

It was mid-November, or I’m certain he would have assumed it was for Halloween.

Mutely, I shook my head; not looking at him directly, continuing to let my eyes flit over the wall of wigs.

Uncomfortably, he cleared his voice, smiled, and said, “Well, if you need any help, just let me know” and started to turn away.

I needed help. But I didn’t know how to ask.

I lifted my hand and dragged my fingers through my hair. When I pulled it out, I extended and showed him the clump in my palm.

“It’s falling out. It’s going to be gone soon,” I explained. I stopped, knowing my voice would crack if I didn’t.

His eyes widened in understanding. Then lowered and locked onto the implanted port protruding out from under the skin near my collar bone.

“Oh, Honey” was all he said.

I pulled the insurance paperwork out of my purse and handed it to him, pointing at my budget.

“This is more than enough,“ he said. “We can do a lot with this. Let me help you.”

We went through the lines of wigs and some he had in the back. There were so many to choose from. He asked if I wanted to go with something completely different and have “fun” with it. Or did I want to find something close to my current style and color.

I told him the more I could look like me, the better.

He chose some different lengths and tried to match the color the best he could. He explained the benefits and cons of synthetic versus human hair. None of them were an exact match, but he found a few that might work.

He took me in a backroom that had a hairdresser’s table with lit mirror and chair. When I sat down, he gathered up my shoulder-length hair and tucked it into a nylon cap. Then he began to place, adjust, and show me each wig.

He tried to make it fun. Really he did. With his whooshy, animated hand gestures. Even complimenting the ones that looked ridiculous. Despite my wish to keep the color close to my own blonde, he insisted on showing me what I’d look like as a red head, a brunette, and a pink-and-blue-haired punk rocker.

He was kind.

He was so very kind.

Somewhere between the fourth and fifth fitting, I noticed the top of the electric razor peeking out from one of the table’s drawers.

I stared at it for the longest time.

And realized why I’d been sent here.

“Will you shave it off for me?”

He stopped adjusting the wig on my head and stared at me in the mirror with surprise. Then hesitation.

Softly, I told him, “It’s so hard to watch it fall out. Like there’s no control. I don’t think I can do it myself.”

His eyes got glossy and started to fill and brim. He turned away to hide them.

“Of course. Hold on.”

He went to the front of the shop, and I heard the latch turn to lock. When he came back, he took the electric razor from the drawer.

He held it, posed over my head, took a deep breath, and said “Ready?”

I nodded.

Buzzzzzzzzzzzzz

He shaved my head in perfect symmetrical strips starting from the back to the front. As each new strip was revealed, he would rub his hand gently over the skin and say something encouraging. I eventually closed my eyes.

I think he cried while he did it.

I couldn’t.

I felt gratitude there was someone who did. Someone who could.

When he was done, we both stared at my reflection. He ran his hands over the stubble and said, “You have a beautiful head. Perfectly shaped. Many people don’t, you know.”

Deadpan, I said, “I’m just relieved there’s not a Gorbachev birthmark I wasn’t aware of.”

We both burst out laughing.

I paid for two wigs. They had to be ordered and styled, so it would take two weeks. He helped me pick out some scarves and a hat to hold me over. He showed me how to tie the scarves into different styles. He stapled the receipts together, so they would be easy to submit to the insurance company.

We hugged when I left, and I thanked him.

I walked out.

The strip mall was the same, but looked different somehow. Maybe it was the sunshine on the window panes. Or how the light reflected off and onto the sidewalk. It was blinding.

No. It wasn’t that.

I walked in a person.

I walked out a patient.

They Sparkled

She acts as if she hasn’t been touched in years.

Maybe she hasn’t.

I wouldn’t know.

I don’t know anything about her.

I know there’s Legos on the floor. I know a Thomas the Train sipey cup is turned over on its side on the coffee table. So, I assume there’s a kid. Which means she’s a mother. Since there’s no wedding ring and she was alone, I assume that makes her a single mother.

She’s older, but pretty. Hell, I wouldn’t have left the bar with her if she wasn’t. When I offered to buy her a drink, the tiny laugh lines around her eyes crinkled, and her blue eyes sparkled with surprise and pleasure.

I didn’t know eyes could do that, you know?

Sparkle?

Beneath me on the floor, she’s quite a sight to behold:

Black skirt hiked up to the waist.

Heavy tits with silver dollar-sized nipples heaving and spilling out over a turquoise, sort-of frayed-with-age bra.

Mismatched peach panties haphazardly dangling from one ankle.

And her thighs spread so wide, I can see everything.

I mean, everything.

I’m fingering her cunt, and I’ve got to admit, I’m mesmerized. I’ve never felt a woman this wet. Above me, she’s moaning and pushing into my finger like we’re already fucking. It’s hot as hell, and I don’t think I’ve ever been this hard.

As if momentarily coming to her senses, I hear her self-consciously try to explain. “I’m sorry it’s not shaved . . . it’s not normally this . . . hairy . . . It’s just I didn’t expect . . . I didn’t plan . . .” but fades off into a gasp when I part her full, silky bush with my tongue.

“Oh baby,” she moans.

I’ve never cared much for pet names of endearment. Especially from women who I barely know. But for some reason, it sounds really sexy coming from her. Like she didn’t mean to say it. Like it was ripped from her throat, and she couldn’t help it.

I fuck her clit with my tongue. As I do, she gasps and pushes into my face. I slide one finger inside that perfect, wet pussy and add another. When I do, I actually feel the muscles clench and bare down.

Briefly, I think of Sandy.

Hot, perfect Sandy with her firm little tummy and perfect round ass. She was my last girlfriend—and God—was she was beautiful. I remember her laying before me when I’d go down on her like this. Above, posed like a Playboy centerfold, she’d moan and eventually whimper, “Oh God, Ronny! I’m coming!” But she never responded like this. She never quivered and melted on my tongue. She never lost herself so much that she rode my face.

In fact, she never seemed to lose herself at all.

And the light bulb goes off: Sandy. You Bitch.

Thoughts of Sandy evaporate, as this girl—no, this woman—begins to beg me: “Don’t stop. Please don’t stop. I’ll die if you stop. Please . . .”

Lady, I wouldn’t stop if your seven-foot-five wrestler husband bust in and started punching me in the back of the head.

Her musty scent envelops me—becoming thicker and stronger somehow—and makes me feel drunk; sort of high. Picking up the pace, I flick my tongue over the hard bead of her clit as fast as I can. Her thighs spread wider, begin to shake, and then freeze. Her finger nails dig into my scalp, and she screams.

I didn’t know women came like this. I didn’t know women could come like this.

It’s while she’s still quivering in my mouth that I hear it.

She farts.

For a while, there’s nothing but awkward silence and the sound of her unsteady breathing as she comes down. When I feel her thighs, which are now gripping my head, begin to shake, I wonder, Oh wow. Is she coming again?

But no. It’s not that . . .

She’s laughing.

She’s actually laughing.

“Sorry,” she giggles self-consciously. “It’s been a while. I sort of lost control.”

When I look up, she’s smiling, and her eyes are sparkling.

And I didn’t know eyes could do that, you know?

Sparkle?

Sunday Drive After Church

This is how it starts.

In the back seat of a car. Windows thick with the steam of night, warm breath, and shame.

Your slick, sticky ass peeling off the leather seats as it squirms.

A barely-there caress over the front of the panties; light as a feather, yet electric shock inducing. His murmured encouragement in your ear as your eyes widen then close tightly against the battery of sensation.

“Relax. Spread your legs.”

You know you shouldn’t. It’s not what nice girls do.

Nice girls don’t let men put their callused hands up the skirt of their Sunday Bests. Or run grease-stained fingers over the crotch of their floral-print panties. Or rub that secret spot found under the blanket of night when everyone else is asleep.

Besides, what if he tells?

He might, you know.

Then everyone will know. Everyone will know what you are.

And you know what you are . . . don’t you?

But maybe you’ll just let him for a little while. What harm could it do?

Besides, it feels so good. So much better than when you’ve done it yourself. In fact, it feels like every moment up till now was just building towards this.

“Just do it over the panties,” you beg. “Not underneath!”

He laughs. Then rubs. And rubs. And rubs. Until a steady pulse begins to thrum, as the fabric saws back and forth between the plumpness of your lips creating a dirty-sweet friction.

I’m too wet. He’s gonna know that I like it too much.

You look down, watching his hand as it moves between your legs, mesmerized by the sight as if you’re watching it happen from above to someone else.

He’s watching too.

Studying every expression that flits across your face–the tiny puckered O of your mouth, that lick of the lips, the way your teeth sink into your bottom lip to stifle the groans–as he works that traitorous place between your whorish legs.

“Here.” He lifts your feet and plants them wide against the back of the front seat, making you gasp in surprise.

And suddenly there’s room for his entire palm to cup and push against your sex. And though you’re mortified, it feels instinctual and natural to push back into the hollow of his palm as it cups and pumps, providing a fullness you didn’t know was craved.

“Over the panties. Only over the panties,” you moan in a southern drawl as you feel the tip of a finger sneak beneath the fabric. “Don’t touch it direct.”

But the objection gets caught in your throat as the warmth of his finger meets the delicious warmth of bare skin.

“Shush . . .” he coaxes, creating a friction so addicting you think you might die.

And suddenly you’re tumbling over. Falling into something you can’t see, let alone stop. Thighs quivering. Pelvic muscles clenching and unclenching with a strength you didn’t know they possessed.

“Nonononono,” you hear someone stutter before you realize it’s coming from your lips. Which just causes his fingers to slip and slide quicker with barely any effort at all, they practically glide.

Your entire body lurches and then convulses into his hand. Your helpless moans stifled when they’re covered and swallowed by the hunger of his hard mouth and tongue.

Still spasming, you open your eyes and stare, wide eyed, feeling the puddle collect and drip into the crack of your ass.

His beard stubble is sandpaper against your cheek when he mumbles, “Look at my hand. Look at what you did on my hand.”

So, you do. Your face stains red.

You’re so ashamed.

Not so much from the proof that glistens on his finger tips in the red light of the dashboard clock.

But because you know, you’re going to do it again.

The Crabber (a drabble)

crabber“Dead is dead,” she squawked, taking a swig from her can of Bud; a product she’d consumed every night for over 80 years. “You don’t come back.”

“You don’t believe in reincarnation?” I asked, cracking into the leg of a crab we caught that day.

“Maybe we live on in those we love,” she conceded.

As my uncle emptied her ashes off the pier, a crab crawled up the seawall and climbed inside the ball cap he’d set on the bench.

Sitting next to it, he let it cling to the Bud insignia until the sun sunk into the Atlantic.

 

Three Words That Aren’t Love

Three words were tossed like a lifeline.

Not one of them was “love.”

Though Love was lobbed over the fence–as if some magical cure-all–where it would hit the ground at her feet with a dull thud. They would stare dumbly down at it and then up at the arms that dangled like curtains of dead meat at her sides.

Her dying wasn’t the glamorous kind. It wasn’t a gushing wound where people scramble and call for an ambulance. It was a small, festering boil on her face that slowly grew bigger and uglier until they could no longer stand to look and had to turn away.

If they had asked, she might have told them what hurt the most wasn’t the dying. It was the dying in plain sight and them pretending not to notice.

We love you . . .

But those words can’t be felt by those who wake up crying because they woke.

She held on. For years. Fingers gripping, slipping, and re-gripping that thin, unraveling thread. Holding on not for the fear of dying; dying is forgivable. Weakness is not.

But in the pre-dawn hours, a tiny voice grew louder and, overtime, began to sound more and more like a trusted friend.

Let go. Just let go.

The one who tossed the lifeline barely knew her. But one day, they asked a question no one had asked in a very long time, if ever at all.

And though she was surprised, when she answered, it was in the monotonous tone of someone who has repeated the same answer a hundred times.

Three words were tossed like a lifeline.

Not one of them was “love.”

I believe you.

And the dying stopped.