Well, here I am again, debating categories. I decided on “First Time” but I considered “Mature” and “Romance”. All those facets, or so I hope, can be found here but the heart of the story is a young man’s first time. So, here it is and if you disagree with my choice of categories, I offer my apologies.
I sent this to my friend, LarryInSeattle, more than a year ago, the first few pages anyway. It’s a completely different story now than the one I thought I was writing and then set aside, first for Matt, then for Jess and Jon.
Comments, even constructive negative ones, are both welcome and appreciated.
Thanks to LarryInSeattle.
I hope you enjoy.
It’s strange isn’t it, how memories rise, unbidden, for no apparent reason? I’ve noticed that often the memory itself is so insignificant that I’m not sure why my mind has clung to it over the years. Such is not the case with this memory. There was nothing, no detail, that had not been and will not always remain, significant to me. What interests me on this chilly early morning, is what has triggered the memories. They are never far from me. Yet, this morning they overwhelm me. I find it hard to keep my place in my own story, my mind racing back and forth between then and now with hundreds of stops and detours along the way.
I clutch the heavy quilted robe closer to my chest with one hand and reach for my mug of tea. It’s too early for the gulls. The only sound is surf and the wind that carries the chill off the water. I’m amazed, having lived most of my life inland, that even this far south the water carries a chill. I would have to move to the tip of Florida or even further before I would be able to abandon my old, heavy, quilted robe in the morning. Not that I would do so in any case. Ray gave it to me, that last Christmas, before he fell off his kitchen chair and never got back up. No, I’ll wrap myself in the patched, threadbare, cozy warm ruin until it’s my turn to fall and not rise.
I was never an early riser, not until the morning I had no one to share my bed with. That’s not to say that Ray was one to lounge in bed with me. Mind you, he was happy to spoon and snuggle, but in the evening, not the morning. In the morning, he’d be up and cajoling me to join him, ‘come on, Marta, come with me, you’ll love it’. I tried, even Ray conceded that I tried, but no, not even with him beside me, I never enjoyed running, not in the godawful morning nor later in the day. While he ran, I’d pull his pillow close and doze, lost between sleep and wakefulness. The morning after Ryan and I had finished signing papers at the hospital I had woke and he wasn’t there, with that irritating, cheerful, ‘come on, Marta, come with me, you’ll love it’. His pillow was there, still smelling of his hair, his shampoo, and sweat. I hugged it but without its owner, its magic had fled. It was a strange moment, even now, so many years later, I don’t understand it. I drew that pillow to my chest and face, expecting to smell Ray and cry and cry. I smelled him but I didn’t cry. Perhaps, I was all cried out from the horrors of the day before; I don’t know. I smelled my husband on that pillow but the scent no longer had the ability to excite me or comfort me. As I said, it wasn’t even able to bring tears to my eyes. His pillow was as dead as he was. I climbed out of bed, pulled my not yet worn out and patched robe on and made my way downstairs. I plugged in the electric kettle and brewed a cup of tea. With Ryan off with his own family and Ray about to be turned into ashes, there was no one left in the house who drank coffee. I looked at the coffee pot setting there and the cold black coffee with its oily surface sheen. Ray always set the coffee maker up to brew his ritualized two cups every morning at six. The coffee maker had done its duty. I stood there looking at the evidence of its faithfulness. The coffee had been ready but for some reason, Ray had chosen to set down at the table that last morning, rather than pour his first mug of coffee and snap open the paper. He hadn’t brought the paper in either. He knew, had to of, that something was wrong. He couldn’t have been on the floor long. Of long habit, I had gotten up and thrown my robe on over my nakedness, even though we were alone in the house, and headed down to have my tea with him while he cooled off a little from his run before breakfast. Breakfast would have been the same, unless we went out, it would’ve been a single over easy egg for Ray, slathered in hot sauce, and a half a bagel and Jalapeno cream cheese for me. Black coffee for him. Tea with hardly more than a drop of milk and half a teaspoon of sugar for me. He couldn’t have been on the floor for very long.
I grabbed the phone and punched in “911” with the presence of mind to put it on speaker. I dropped to my knees and rolled him over. I remember being struck by how hard that was to do, roll him over. Ray was not a large man but it was like trying to roll a hundred and fifty-pound ball of jello. I had to roll his shoulders first, then his hips. illegal bahis I’d checked for a pulse and started CPR by the time the 911 operator answered. We all did what we were supposed to do, even Ray. It’s just that what he was supposed to do that morning was to be dead.
I looked at the coffee maker and the ugly cold coffee and discovered I’d not been all cried out after all. I took my mug onto the back porch and sat, watching the dark fade from the sky. The back yard was large by city lot standards. It was well landscaped, a lovely garden that was more Ray’s joy than mine. I sipped my tea between sobs and got myself under control. By the time the mug was empty and the sky a light pink, I’d made up my mind: I’d sell the house.
I made sure the new house I bought had a deck that faced the water. It was a small house but it was on the water. We’d talked about that, retiring somewhere we could hear the waves, the best laid plans etcetera. I clutch my robe and my mug and watched the edge of the horizon begin to blush purple. The gulls won’t start their ruckus until there’s some pink in the sky and, after the gulls, the pelicans line up and buzz the surf. By the time the sky has moved from pink to blue, the robe will need to be draped over the extra chair, but not yet. I need it still.
I sing a song softly. I don’t recognize it at first. When I do, I smile. It’s part of my memory. It had been playing, and not softly, that morning.
with the lights out, it’s less dangerous
here we are now, entertain us
Marta can’t help swaying to the music. The music is cranked so loud that the floor is vibrating. She knows that, like her son Ryan, Nathan finds it amusing that someone that he’s filed away as “old” loves rock music. Marta loves what she considers ‘real’ rock, not that One Direction, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift drivel. She was a soft spot for rockers that share her gender – Joan Jett, Patti fucking Smith, Winehouse, Janis et al. She loves rock music – guitars, bass, drums. She’d been raised on the Stones and the Beatles, Bowie and Dylan. A song better have music or words that had a bite to them or she had no use for it. When a song bit you with words and music, well that my friends was pretty fucking cool in Marta’s view. She pauses, not believing that Cobain, that dumb shit, has been dead twenty-three years already. In actuality what gives her pause is the fact she’s just turned thirty-eight, old enough to have a son that will leave for college in a few weeks. It’s not possible. When she thinks of herself, she’s twenty, twenty-one tops; she cannot be old enough to be the mother of a high school graduate. Kurt Cobain can’t have died twenty-three years ago. It’s not possible that John Lennon, fucking John fucking Lennon, but for the intervention of a religious lunatic, would have soon been turning seventy-seven years-old. None of these things felt possible to Marta, yet they were. She gives her head a shake to clear it. She should have asked Ray to help her but didn’t think of this addition to her morning’s plan until after he’d already left.
Her cut-off shorts are too tight to accommodate the old burned out bulb in one of the pockets. She cradles the bulb in her fingers, steadies herself with one hand against the wall, and mounts the top step of the step ladder. She really should have someone helping her, that part of her scheme is true enough. At the bottom of the narrow stairs leading to the attic, she unscrews the perfectly fine bulb from the old porcelain light socket. As she always does when forced to consider the old light socket, she wonders if its old, yellowed pull string is original. Can a piece of string last a hundred years of tugging? She screws the burned-out bulb in and climbs down without mishap, smiles at her handy work, folds up the ladder and closes the door leading to the attic stairs. She returns the ladder to the garage, first peeking carefully out the windows and listening for the sound of the lawnmower. She does not want Nathan seeing her carrying the ladder.
Nirvana gives way to Franz Ferdinand. Apple may be a greedy, soulless monolith but in Marta’s opinion being able to Blue Tooth her phone to the receiver and randomly go through thousands of songs is awesome. Her parents had attempted to school her on the glories of vinyl, but she was never convinced they really missed vinyl or the disc washers or the scratches or changing needle cartridges or flipping an album over. She doesn’t believe most people when they claim they were able to hear the difference between digital and analogue. She finds them, in general, to be the same people who wore a badge of honor for having never eaten at McDonald’s or having never watched Star Wars. In other words, pretentious, Kafka quoting (not Kafka understanding) douche bags. Ray tells her, when she makes such pronouncements, that she’s too sweet to be so damn harsh. To which Marta has a ready reply, “honey, there’s already enough bullshit in the world; I’m just being honest.”
She’s sweating, having turned the AC off earlier but not as much as she’d illegal bahis siteleri like. The armpits of her tee shirt are damp but that’s about it. She pauses at the kitchen sink to get a drink of water. Finished, she runs her fingers across her boobs. Her erect nipples are easy enough to see through the threadbare old tee shirt of Ray’s but not as easy as if she’d worked up a good sweat. She cups her boobs and smiles. She’s a solid B cup, plenty for Ray to have fun with but not so ponderous that they’ve begun the inevitable surrender to gravity, well, not much anyway she decides. No, her boobies still mostly ride high and her nipples face the world’s hungry eyes. She considers doing some quick jumping jacks or squat thrusts, anything to get the sweat flowing enough to dampen the front of her tee shirt. She rejects the idea when she realizes she no longer hears the roar of the lawnmower.
Nathan is the same age as her son, Ryan – eighteen. Their birthdays are only a week apart. His parents, Millie and Lee, had moved next door when the boys were both three. They’d learned to ride their bikes together and gone to Cub Scouts and Boys Scouts together. Ray and Marta had grown just as close to Millie and Lee as Ryan had to Nathan. The boys’ friendship had survived until high school. It pained Marta to admit it but Ryan had become a bit of a dick. He was a good-looking kid. If he took in a deep breath he could stretch his height to an even six-feet. He was broad shouldered and thin-waisted with a mop of thick wavy brown hair and eyes so dark they’re more black than brown. To look at him, you’d imagine he was a swimmer but baseball was his passion. He was a good-looking kid, a varsity athlete and fun to be around. The combination had gone to his head. He was a ‘big deal’ in the insular world of high school and he knew it. It was a pity. Marta took comfort in the fact that her son wasn’t cruel, not that she’d ever been made aware of anyway, but he had grown a little too accustomed to being the center of attention. He didn’t enjoy sharing the stage, including with Nathan.
Marta was as biased as any mother but when it came to looks, Nathan held his own. Straight light brown hair that faded to dirty blonde over the long summer and green eyes instead of dark, but there was an intensity about him, to those who bother to pay attention, that was becoming, extremely so in Marta’s opinion. Nathan was as much a natural athlete as Ryan. They’d played on the same teams. If she was honest, Nathan was likely the better athlete, or at least more well-rounded. Ryan was very good at baseball but Nathan was good at baseball, football, and track. The only difference Marta could see was that Nathan, rather than craving attention, could not only do without it, he preferred doing without it. He was wicked smart and gravitated toward goofy nerdy tee-shirts like, ” …and it was delicious”. As more and more of Ryan’s time and attention was devoted to baseball and baseball camp, Marta and Ray had turned more and more to Nathan for yardwork and help around the house. A one-hundred and ten-year-old Queen Anne made for a steady supply of work that neither Marta or Ray could find time for. For spending money, Marta suspects Ryan is selling a little weed on the side. She wonders, not for the first time, if she should say something to him, or Ray or continue as she has been and keep her suspicions to herself.
The sound of footsteps on the back-porch steps followed by the yowl of the screen door spring that had resisted all efforts to oil it, wakes Marta from her reverie. She’s glad of it. She spends too much time worrying about Ryan. She knows that he’s more than capable of being a decent, wonderful human being. She finds that knowledge both a comfort and a worry. A comfort in that it allows her to hope that one day Ryan will find his way back to his better self. A worry in that if he doesn’t, the knowledge of what’s being wasted will break her heart even more.
She leans to look out the back door, which she’s left open in hope of catching a bit of breeze. Nathan has stopped at the top of the steps to take off his grass covered tennis shoes and brush the worst of the grass clippings off his ankles and legs. He’s wearing basketball shorts. His tee shirt is tucked into the back of the waist band. She forces herself to stop ogling his young body, slick with sweat, before he looks up and catches her. She leans away from the door.
“Nathan, sugar, you want a glass of ice water or ice tea?” Her mother, far more worried about being from Alabama than Marta, would have corrected her with a “It’s iced not ice, dear”. Marta, the proud owner of a PhD Cell Biology from ‘Bama, couldn’t care less.
“Yes, ma’am. That’d be great,” Nathan calls from the back porch. The screen door squeals again as it closes. Unlike Ryan, Nathan holds the door, easing it closed, not letting it slam. Marta gets ice and water from the door of the fridge. She wanted an old house but is happy enough to have new appliances. She crosses the kitchen. Nathan has pulled his tee shirt free and is getting canlı bahis siteleri ready to put it on.
“Leave it off, sugar. It’s as hot, maybe hotter in here than it is outside.” She sees a moment of hesitation before he nods. “You can hang it on one of the hooks there by the door. You want to have your water out here on the porch or inside? I have a few more projects I was hoping to get done. You sure you have the time?”
“Yes, ma’am. Mom and dad are down in Tuscaloosa visiting my aunt Fran. They won’t be back until late tomorrow.”
“Okay, but I don’t want to ruin your whole weekend. You must have plans with your friends, a movie, or maybe a little skinny-dippin’ over at the lake. Folks still go skinny-dippin’ over there? Lord, Ray and I haven’t been there since Ryan started to walk good.” Marta was happy to dispense with what to her mind were entirely superfluous g’s.
Nathan drains the water in one long gulp, then grimaces. Brain freeze. His eyes squeeze shut, he lowers his head and shakes his head gently.
“You drank the water too fast, didn’t you?” She doesn’t wait for an answer. “Press your tongue up hard on the roof of your mouth and tilt your head back.” Her hands go to either side of his neck and she urges his head back. “You need to warm the blood up going to your brain. The cold water, cools the blood. Your brain, needing to maintain its temperature, relaxed the arteries so it can get more, warmer, blood and that triggers the pain. To stop it, re-warm the blood. If you’re interested, the fancy name for brain freeze, or ice-cream headache, is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. Now don’t knowin’ that make you feel a whole bunch smarter?” She sees the young man’s face relax. She keeps her hands on his neck, massaging the muscles lightly. “Better?”
“Yes, Mrs. Peters. Much. And no, I don’t have plans. I don’t get out much. And, yes, people still skinny dip at the lake.” He raises his head and frees his head from her hands. Marta is surprised at how much she misses the warm skin under her hands. She brushes a few errant strands of grass off the top of his shoulders and chest. He’s tanned, like nearly everyone not a red-head in this part of the world. She notices his areolas are a darker brown than his skin. The touch of her fingers brushing over his skin has caused the nipple to grow hard. They look so delicious she very nearly licks her lips. Around each areola, a half a dozen or so dark hairs sprout; matched by another dozen or so in the center of his chest.
He steps away from her touch, looking uneasy. “Uh, Mrs. Peters you said you had some other chores you need help with?”
“That I do, Nathan. That I do, indeed. First, the damn lightbulb in the stairway to the attic is burned out. I can barely reach it. More importantly, I need someone to steady me. You mind grabbing the ladder in the garage? Not the big one, the four-, or is it five-, step one.” She turns, not waiting for an answer and after a moment of uncertainty, Nathan follows. He’s been in the Peters’ house enough to find his way to the garage. Marta holds the door for him. When he returns, he follows her up the stairs. At the top, there’s a large landing. Just beyond the head of the stairs, to the left is a door. There’s a small narrow passageway that makes a U-turn around the left side of the stairs. At one point, the passageway had led to a second bedroom on that side of the house. Ray had combined the two rooms on that side, the east side, into one large master suite. At the end of the narrow passage is an equally narrow door that opens onto the attic stairs. Like all the doors in the house, this one sports a cut-glass knob. They have no idea if they are original to the house or not. As Marta well knows, getting the ladder set up in the narrow doorway is a pain in the ass. There’s no landing beyond the door. She has Nathan follow her through the door and then pull the ladder in as far as it will go. She’ll have to climb the step ladder backwards, since the top of ladder will barely be past the threshold even if the ladder is hard up against the bottom step. From downstairs, Jimi informs the house that the wind cries Mary. Marta kicks herself. She’s been trying to impress Nathan with the music, trying to show him she’s “cool” or “baller” or whatever is the appropriate idiom these days. She understands now, turning to face the young man standing a couple of risers higher on the stairs, that the right music will never make her cool in his eyes, or anyone his age. And, as much as she loves Jimi, this is not the most seductive music in the world. At some point, she realizes she’ll need to switch to one of the playlist Ray has made, specifically for when they’re rolling around in the bed, or in the shower, or on the rug, or, once, on the kitchen table. That was after watching online porn, in which two disgustingly beautiful people had made the most creative use of a butcher-block island. It was fun but not so fun as to be repeated; the bed was infinitely more comfortable than the kitchen table when it came to fucking. Perhaps a butcher block would have made a difference, she wonders silently to herself. Focus, Marta. Focus, she chides herself. She hands Nathan the light bulb she’d removed just an hour ago, looks over her shoulder, and begins to climb the ladder, back to the door, facing Nathan.