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Mieko: A Catalogue

Tags: desire, pain, lust, sex, art
Portrait of the artist

The Great Kings of Persia

“A phrase keeps going through my mind: The Great Kings of Persia.”

“What is it? Is it a story? A poem?”

“It’s nothing,” she said. “Nothing at all. Just a phrase. A title.”

“Storm drift. Something. It could be something,” said Dash. “That’s how ideas work. That’s how inspiration works, right? Something out of the blue. Unconnected, arbitrary. Unrooted.”

“I get it,” she said.

“Serendipitous.”

“I said, I get it,” she whispered. Her head lay on his chest. From there she could see out the room’s only window and its slatted blind, and through it the branches of an unruly lilac drooping with its pendulous white clusters, against the background of an old, gnarled, grasping black cherry. The tree’s trunk forked into two almost symmetrical branches, like arms raised to the spring sky: a supplicant.

She thought about the day before when her own arms were similarly splayed, pinned to the bed, her wrists gripped hard in the strong hands of the dark young boy from the market who delivered her groceries. He held her outstretched arms fast as he fucked her. He was broad and beautifully muscled in the arms, shoulders, and chest. His skin reminded her of chocolate. She considered his large, handsome face as it loomed above her, his white teeth a pearlescent inlay in a darkish mask. His eyes were closed as he pounded his thick, hard cock in and out of her. She grunted from the force of his thrusts; they were purposeful and urgent. She told him to feed it to her. Only then did he release her arms to move up to straddle her chest and push his glistening dark member between her lips.

He said his name was Rez. She’d only finally asked him what it was after he’d come in her mouth. The volume seemed generous and potently thick but she swallowed it effortlessly though her throat burned slightly afterward. Rez dismounted her and lay down to catch his breath. She saw the thick artery in his neck twitching rapidly, his heart still pounding. She liked the idea of a heart pounding like that for her; she would have touched herself to bring herself to orgasm, but she knew she didn’t have much time with him now.

She left the bed to take up her sketch book and a charcoal stick, and sat in the straight-back chair near the window to draw Rez. She first sketched him as he lay. She worked in quick, broad strokes, framing out the figure. Flat on his back, he looked like a body on a morgue slab.

She flipped to a new sheet. She told him to sit up against the headboard and bend one leg at the knee. No, the other leg. Thanks.

The low natural light of her bedroom and his brown skin made Rez’s body a collection of dark, gradient shapes, adjoining and overlapping.

She flipped to a new sheet. She told him to look away from her, toward her dressing table. His neck was also thick and strong, corded. She stared at his large hand, topographical with veins, resting atop his bare thigh.

She sketched parts disconnected, vignettes: his turned head and neck, his veiny hand, the dark mass of hair and flesh between his legs.

The Great Kings of Persia. It wasn’t at all serendipitous.

 

Mornings

The mornings were for writing and drawing. Both activities required a stillness and concentration, and concentration like that required some amount of rigor and stamina. Writing and drawing were stimulating and enjoyable until they weren’t. She never tried to write or draw beyond the lunch hour, even if she wasn’t feeling fatigued from it, even if she thought she could continue. If she worked at those things until she reached the point of fatigue, then it spoiled the satisfaction she got from it. She would feel sour, wrung out, and displeased with what she had done, even if some of the work was good.

 

Her Hair

It was black, and very thick, very dense, a little coarse, and somewhat unruly. Dash was always brushing it away from her face when they were having sex, combing it back with his fingers. But he wouldn’t let her put it in a tie. Or, that is, he asked her not to. He said he liked the way it fell about her face when she sucked him off, and he would brush it back, brush it back, over and over, while she stroked him and licked him and softly sucked his cockhead.

She knew he was about to come when his hands went still, when he stopped fiddling with her hair.

 

Afternoons

She painted in the afternoons, after she had drawn as much from the well of the morning as she could. This was also concentration, but a dissimilar kind: more liberating, sensual, and tactile in a way that was different from drawing or writing.

With the money from the Biennale and a show at the Lisson Gallery in Manhattan, she bought a 3,000-square foot semi-ranch in a bucolic borough in the hills above the river, still close enough to the city that she had views of it if she climbed up on her roof, which she’d done a couple times before the accident. Then, with the money from the accident, she’d built a large shed-cum-studio on the property’s fenced-in north lawn; more like a detached two-car garage with skylights and sliding barn doors. That’s where she painted and worked with whatever other media happened to engage her.

The front of the studio had a southern exposure. When the weather was warm, like now, she could leave the two big sliding doors open while she worked. She worked in the same dirty canvas sneakers and well-worn painter’s bib overalls that she’d been using for years, sometimes with a t-shirt underneath and sometimes not, depending on the temperature. No one could really see that part of her property without coming all the way down the drive to the end of the driveway.

Painting was stimulating; it always had been, it never changed. She couldn’t remember if the creative act had stoked her physical desire, or if desire had led her to the canvas. But it didn’t matter anymore, it was all of a piece. The movement, the adrenaline, the tactility.

Sometimes if Dash could get free he would stop by in the afternoon when she was painting and fuck her. She never found it to be an interruption. She welcomed it. Painting always put her in a state of arousal, like a low-grade fever, and the moment she saw him coming down the drive, her need seemed to suddenly spike and all she could think about was having his cock inside of her.

Most times, now that this had become a thing, they often didn’t say anything to each other. She knew why he was stopping by and he knew why she wanted him to stop. She would unhook the bib of her coveralls, undo the buttons at the hips, let them drop to the floor, and bend over the long work table against the shed’s western wall while he undid his pants. She didn’t need any foreplay, she’d already be wet. She would pull her panties aside with one hand and grab the vise bolted to the table with the other, and Dash would fuck her.

He would fuck her so hard that the heavy table shook and the pegboard of tools on the wall above it rattled. He would fuck her so hard her knees would start to weaken and only her tiny waist in his rough grasp would keep her from sinking to the concrete floor. Sometimes she told him to come in her cunt. Sometimes she told him to shoot his load all over her ass, or up her back. He would fuck her so hard that sometimes she couldn’t rise from the table for several minutes after because he would be pinning her there, slumped over her back, winded, spent. She would hand him a rag—a remnant of an old cotton t-shirt, decorated with paint splotches and fragrant with linseed oil—and he would mop up the ropes and dollops of cum on her ass. And then, solicitously, he would pull her overalls back up for her, because it was still difficult for her sometimes to squat and do it herself.

 

Some Afternoons

On occasion, when Dash hadn’t stopped by for several afternoons and she felt fairly certain that she would see him on a particular day, she would engage in some small preparation before heading out to the studio. On those days, bent over the work table, she would look back at him over her shoulder, through her thick mass of unruly hair, and tell him to fuck her in the ass.

She was thirty-five and had slept with a lot of men, but Dash was the only one she had ever let fuck her ass. She had fantasized about it when masturbating, and used her toys on it many times. Something about Dash, though. They were both aggressive people, and the sex between them could be raw, but beneath that she felt his solicitude of her. It was there long before she ever fucked him, which was why she fucked him.

After Dash fucked her ass for the first time, he hadn’t believed her when she told him she’d never let anyone fuck her there before. It had all been so… unfraught with any kind of fear or trepidation.

But it was true. It had gone that way because she wanted it, and wanted it from him. It was slick and lustful and long anticipated by her, and the uncommon sensation of his cum pumping into her ass prompted an orgasm that was itself unlike the kind she normally experienced.

And now she couldn’t imagine ever letting anyone else fuck her ass. Though she knew that someday someone else probably would. Dash wouldn’t be around forever.

 

Mornings II

Up at 6:30. After she acquitted herself, peed, washed her face, and tried to brush some sense into her thick, black bedhead, she boiled water for tea and immediately sat down at her desk to draw or write. No television, no radio, no phone or Internet. She didn’t want to read anything. She was scrupulous about avoiding the world’s disruptive noise before she managed get to pen to paper. Even tiny, useful bits, like the weather forecast, required some effort to clear from her mind. She usually sat down to work at her desk in the same t-shirt and panties she’d slept in, her good leg tucked up beneath her on the chair.

The morning that the boy Rez came by with her box of groceries, she’d forgotten she’d placed the order the night before. She was in her kitchen brewing a fresh pot of tea when the doorbell rang. She was going to ignore it, but then she remembered.

Normally she would have taken the box at the door, but the boy was so handsome and dark that she asked him to come in and take the box to her kitchen. He hesitated; she wondered if perhaps he wasn’t allowed to go into a customer’s house, but maybe did it anyway when he saw her leg. She’d had her right leg amputated below the knee after the accident, and so these days wore a transtibial prosthesis. She was usually fine carrying heavy or bulky things, though it was something she had to learn how to do after the accident. Callie, her visiting therapist, had taught her that.

The boy followed her. Her t-shirt barely covered her ass. She pulled the back of it down past her bottom as she led him into the kitchen. Not of out modesty but just the opposite: she wanted to make sure he was looking at it.

The boy had thick, black hair, like she did, but unlike hers, his was fine, smooth, glossy, and brushed straight back. It was luxurious and wet-looking. She would later dwell on the image of a thick, lustrous forelock of his hair falling across his brow as he loomed over her small, slender body, fucking her: the dark skin of his face satiny like sweated chocolate.

While she was sketching him in her bedroom that morning, Rez asked her about her nationality. She told him that she was half Japanese. She didn’t tell him the other half. But she knew that was the half he was interested in because of her features—what an old lover had once described as watered-down Asian.

The boy placed the box of groceries on the kitchen island. There was a bone-white porcelain teapot on a hot pad. There was a slender cylindrical vase, also bone-white, with fresh asters she’d clipped from the beds along her back deck—deep purple puffs atop pale green stalks. The boy didn’t know where to look. Or, rather, he was embarrassed to fix his eyes where’d he prefer: her bra-less breasts beneath the white t-shirt; her good leg, smooth and slender and bare almost to her groin; her artificial limb, with its hard plastic socket and nylon sleeve, gleaming aluminum pylon, and small rubberized foot. He finally settled on her face.

She asked him how old he was. He told her he was twenty, in college studying engineering, working part-time until finals were done and he could start a summer internship.

“I want to give you a tip,” she said. “My purse is in the other room.”

He followed her out as far as the entryway and stopped to wait there. She smiled and shook her head.

“No,” she told him. “You should come back here.”

 

Jouissance

She never felt any regret or unhappiness or depression in the aftermath of the accident. The majority of the numerous possible other outcomes, starting with death at the very top of the scale and descending through a series of lesser horrors made her loss not only endurable but something of a relief. Actually, death wasn’t the worst possible calamity, when she thought about it.

Recovering, she felt herself suffuse with a powerful but indistinct hunger, a longing that often spiked into spells of sudden voraciousness. It seemed intertwined somehow with the pain. It came and went, it seemed—the pain, that is—uncontrollably and without pattern. And when it came, her impulse wasn’t to numb it (she had a small device that allowed her to self-administer morphine), but to complement it. Grimacing against it, twisting up her hospital gown, she jammed both hands in her panties and masturbated furiously, the pads of her fingertips rubbing rapidly at her clit like she was trying to rub out a smudge from a pane of glass, and the two fingers of her other hand pumping in and out of her pussy. She orgasmed but continued, trying to make herself come again as quickly as possible, no pausing, like an onslaught, a self-assault, trying to feel a pleasure that was as nearly unendurable as the pain sluicing through her. The pain itself contributed: it was the tips of a whip, a slap, a nipple between clenching teeth, two cocks too big for her petite cunt and tight ass but pressing forth nonetheless. She came again, her body cold with sweat, and continued.

 

Her mother and father drove in from Philadelphia. Her younger brother flew in from Boston. Her younger sister—the middle of the three siblings—was in Japan for several months for her job, but flew back, bringing their 90-year-old grandmother from Tokyo, as soon as she heard about the accident. They all stayed at the house she’d only recently bought. They all visited her every day. Her sister asked her what she needed from home.

“Do you want to sketch? Do you want me to bring your book, some tools?” Regina asked. The second daughter got an Italian name as the result of parental compromise, even though she turned out to look more distinctly Asian than her older sister.

“No,” she said. “I don’t want to draw. In my nightstand, get the Pocket Rocket.”

“Are you serious?” Regina whispered.

“Desperately,” she said.

“Um… okay. I’ll bring it tomorrow.”

“No,” she said. “Today. I need it today.”

“Okay, well… I’ll get it today. Anything else?”

“Extra batteries,” she said.

 

Graphomania

As she began her rehabilitation, she developed a graphomania compulsion.

Since it would be a number of months before she could stand and work at an easel for any length of time, she instead began with pencil studies in her sketchbook. This was nothing new to her. Everything that ended up on canvas began with sketches.

What was new to her, during that time, was the anxiety she suddenly felt the first time she contemplated the blank sheet. The absence it represented was yawning, vast. She needed to do something, anything, to fill it.

The work began as a series of delicately rendered glyphs, densely collected, starting in the center of the page and expanding concentrically. She first worked in graphite, then switched to pen and ink. She wasn’t sure why she was doing it. It seemed to flow from her unconscious. The repetition of the shape she was drawing, the nearly obsessive compulsion to keep repeating it, assumed a transcendental aspect. As the adjoining and overlapping shapes expanded into a larger patterned shape of its own, she almost felt like she was absorbed into the work in progress, into the its two-dimensionality.

Not the shapes but the act of making the shapes was the theme: repeated obsessively until the entire page was covered to its edges. It was meticulous, close-in work. And, again, a fully tactile engagement, an analog pleasure.

Despite this world, this life of vast, digital, immersive ghostliness, the only real pleasures were analog pleasures.

And, she realized, she was also erasing a great absence.

 

 

Joiussance II

She was in the hospital for ten days. She slept a lot during the day when her family members visited. Part of her fatigue was the result of her body’s healing, but part was also because she spent a good portion of her nights—the only time she was mostly alone in her room—masturbating against tides of pain. Her pain dissipated into something less chronic, and with it the need for complementary stimulation lessened, but not her desire for it. By the fifth night, her Pocket Rocket was losing its efficacy. She needed more than just orgasms at her own hand, so she looked to one of her night nurses for relief, a forty-something man with a slight paunch and trim ginger beard.

He was not unhandsome: average looking, but neat and kind. He wore a plain gold wedding band. He came in, as he did every few hours, to check on her and take her blood pressure and vitals, and when he asked her how she was doing, she told him what she wanted.

If he was surprised, he was good at concealing it. He maintained his patient, kind nurse’s tone as he fixed her in the blood pressure sleeve. She swung her arm so her fingers could find the crotch of his scrubs, and he gently placed it back on the bed.

She pushed aside the bed sheet and pulled up her hospital gown.

“I’m really wet,” she said. “I’m ready. Touch it. You’ll see.”

“I can’t do that, Sweetheart, you know that,” he said, his eyes flicking over her exposed groin, lightly shaded with emerging growth since she hadn’t been able to shave down there since the accident.

“Please,” she whispered. “I just need your hard cock in me. Just fuck me until you come.”

His unfastening of her blood pressure cuff crackled like driveway fireworks.

“I’m just going to raise this up a little bit,” he said and adjusted her bed so she was more upright. She sat up and he carefully drew the front of her gown to partially expose her chest. She inhaled sharply, expectantly, but he only warmed the chestpiece of his stethoscope against his palm to listen to her heart and breathing. He eased her forward to listen to her back and she tugged the gown down past her breasts.

He didn’t adjust it. Her breasts were full and round and tipped with small, dark nipples. He eased her back against the bed to listen to her heart. She closed her eyes and put a hand between her legs, began touching herself.

“Your BP is higher than normal and so is your heart rate,” he put a hand on her forearm. “You need to take some deep breaths for me and try to relax now.” His tone was patient and his voice was soft.

“I told you what I need,” she breathed.

The nurse began fixing the front of her gown to cover her breasts and, in the process, discreetly pressed her infusion pump to administer a dose of analgesic. Almost immediately the sharpened edges of her pain and lust began to soften. She sighed. Her hand stilled. She let him finish adjusting her gown. He laid a cool hand on her forehead and told her to try to get some rest.

She slept briefly, and when she woke a couple of hours later, moaning softly from freshly encroaching pain and desire, her nurse was standing next to her bed, only half-seen in the weak light of monitor screens and the illuminated outdoor hospital grounds that glowed past her partially curtained windows. He was staring at her, and brushing a thick, dark tangle of hair from her face. She turned her head toward him and, as before, pulled down the front of her hospital johnnie.

This time, he didn’t try to cover her. Instead, he lowered the bed rail, then reached to cup one of her breasts. She could smell the faint chemical floral of hand sanitizer. He took both of her breasts in his hands, palming them softly, then bent to her and began to lick and suck at one of her dark nipples. She drew her fingers down the small dome of his belly until she found the hardness pushing against the front of his scrub pants. He reached to them himself and hastily yanked at the drawstring. She pulled the front of them away and down until his cock and balls were free, and began to slowly stroke his erection. His breath came fast; he was panting at her breasts, panting and sucking.

She tried to turn herself, to get her head to the edge of the bed so she could taste his cock, get her parched lips around the bulging, spongy head, but she felt weak and it was difficult.

“Help me,” she whispered.

He left off her tits to help her change her position. But instead of bringing her head to the side of the bed, he carefully, carefully rearranged her until she was crosswise, with her hips toward the edge.

“We have to be careful,” he whispered.

“I’ll be quiet,” she said.

“No, I mean your leg.”

He held her high on her thighs, just below the curve of her ass. He placed her good, left leg over his shoulder and, pulling her wounded limb to the side to spread her slightly, he moved forward until the head of his cock was touching between her legs. She reached down and guided him between the lips of her very wet cunt and told him, “Fuck me.”

He pushed in slowly. She was petite, barely a hundred pounds, and tight to everyone who had ever been inside her. She began rubbing her clit quickly, already turned on to be getting what she wanted, and hoping to come at least once while his cock was inside her.

“Harder,” she said. She knew he wouldn’t last long, even going slow, and if was going to be brief, she would rather have it rough and fast. “Do it,” she said through clenched teeth, rubbing herself hard. She closed her eyes and concentrated on the feeling of this stiff cock pumping in and out of her.

He managed to fuck her silently and steadily through her first orgasm as she pressed her fist to her mouth and shuddered on the hospital bed. She thought he might take that opportunity to finish, but he kept going, much to her surprise, not changing his pace. It permitted her to rub herself to a second, even more vivid orgasm—a steeper, more precarious climb, and one she feared she might not be able to achieve before he came or grew tired and had to slow or stop thrusting. Only then, panting and beginning to feel a soreness, did he finally stop. She found herself suddenly, dismally empty, at the same moment she felt the first warm stream snaking up her belly. She opened her eyes and looked down, saw him looking down at the cock in his fist; she looked at it too, watched the dimly glistening head spurting warm semen over her skin.

“You could have stayed in,” she said. He didn’t say anything. Silently, he cleaned her, rearranged her on her bed, fixed her gown, and left.

 

When he next came to her room that night, he behaved like he had prior to their encounter. He spoke to her gently, took her vitals, checked her dressings, tried to make her comfortable. He didn’t seem nervous or shy. He didn’t touch her in any way as he’d touched her before. When she reached out to touch him, he patiently took her hand and placed it back on her bed as he’d done earlier. She wondered if she had dreamed the whole thing. Maybe she had.

 

Deliveries

She loved working in her studio on the very hottest of days. Sun swinging across the southern sky flooded the space through the open, barn-style doors. She wore, every day, those same painter’s bib overalls, varicolored with a thousand streaks and smudges of bright oils: smears of carmine and saffron, chartreuse and ocher.

She sweated, and paced back and forth in front of a large canvas, and squinted at it through the smoke of a cigarette clamped between her teeth. Sweat ran from under her arms and down her ribs; it trickled from her throat and down between her breasts, which hung free beneath the bib of her overalls.

She dropped her cigarette and ground it out on the concrete floor when she heard the delivery van coming down her drive. After he stopped, the driver stepped into the back of the van and rummaged around before emerging with a box of art supplies she’d ordered, and walked across the yard to her studio.

“Mieko Rossi?” he said.

She smiled and directed him toward the work bench.

He handed her the bulky little tracking tablet and stylus. She glanced up at him as she signed, caught him staring at what he could see of her bare, sweaty breasts behind the bib of her overalls. He was a head taller than her and looked, she thought, a little quaint in his uniform of brown shirt and shorts. His hair was cropped close; his face was smooth and flush from the heat and maybe, probably, something else.

Instead of handing back the tablet, she set it on the workbench and undid the button-and-loop clasps of the bib, let it fall to her waist. A box fan was droning from across the space with a loud, zurring sound. Strands of hair that had escaped her ponytail fluttered at her ears. She took one of his rough hands and placed it on her breast.

“It’s so hot today,” she said as he fondled her, first with one hand, then with both. She found the tab of his zipper and lowered it, reached inside and caressed him through his briefs, felt him start to thicken beneath her touch. Then she found the flap of his briefs and pulled his cock through it and out the zipper, into the warm thrumming air of the studio.

It was difficult for her to squat and even if she did, impossible for her to hold that position for very long. Instead she turned slightly sideways and bent at the waist to take him into her mouth. She formed a ring of thumb and forefinger and slid it back and forth, in concert with her lips, over the head of his cock. The driver leaned back and braced himself against the workbench with one hand, used the other to continue kneading one of her full, dangling breasts.

He was fully erect and flexing in her mouth and she enjoyed the pulsing feel. Her lips and hand glided smoothly, firmly over his glans and shaft. When his legs began trembling she hummed her approval, a murmur of permission. Her other hand was down inside the front of her coveralls, inside her underpants, fingers working at her slit. The driver thrust his hips, pushing more of his cock into her mouth; she felt it spasm violently against her tongue as he grunted, followed by a second which this time delivered a warm, thickish gush that filled the remaining space in her mouth. He continued grunting, shooting cum. She swallowed and swallowed, but some still escaped her lips and plopped to the concrete floor between his feet.

 

Incubus

The experience with her night nurse over her remaining days in the hospital was eerie and erotic in a way that was wholly unexpected and so even more satisfying. As with the first night, he attended to her on his scheduled rounds, taking her vitals, checking her dressing, speaking to her in the same soft, gentle tones, rearranging her pillows and bedding to make her comfortable. She accepted his ministrations and made no advances She lay in the quiet dark once he left, sometimes drifting off, sometimes not, until shortly thereafter he slipped into her room and, with barely a word, had some sort of sex with her.

On the second night, she opened her eyes and saw him standing next to her bed, slowly stroking his erect cock that he’d already pulled out of his scrubs. She rolled onto her good side as he lowered the bed rail and then lowered the height of her bed until he could comfortably slide his cock into her mouth. Which he did, stroking in and out between her lips while she worked her fingers over her pussy. Fucking her mouth as she came once, twice, before spilling his load over her tongue and down her throat.

The third night, he fucked her like he did the very first time, holding her legs up and apart as he thrust in and out of her. As before, he took great care about her injury, but fucked her much harder, his balls vigorously slapping the cheeks of her little round ass. He came more quickly this time for some reason, emptying inside her. But after he pulled out, he went down on her, tenderly sucking her clit and licking her clean. Lick my cum-filled cunt, she thought. Lick it. She wanted to say it aloud but didn’t want to violate the strange wordlessness of these encounters, the dreamy otherness of it all. She came very hard against his wet and slightly prickly face, the space between her legs a brackish swamp of seed and desire.

The fourth night, she awoke from the motion of the bed; he’d actually climbed atop her and began fucking her while she was still asleep. She pulled her hospital johnnie up past her breasts and then stretched her arms back behind her and gripped the headboard of the hospital bed. He fucked her with slow, deliberate strokes, his eyes fixed on her mostly naked body, lithe and only slightly less pale than the sheet in the room’s half-light. She could only see the top of his head. He wouldn’t look at her face, and she realized she was feeling relief in that, afraid of seeing his eyes just now, afraid she might catch a flash of something demonic in them, something befitting the odd nature of these carnal visitations. After he’d made her come, he pulled out and straddled her chest. She held her breasts together to surround his slick tool as he fucked them to his climax, strings and dollops of thick semen spitting from between the soft clench of her tits and decorating her chest and throat—a non-abstract expression, as it were.

On the next night in the hospital, her last, she had a different night nurse, a jolly, broad-hipped blond girl who smelled of almonds. Still, she waited in the dark, her heart pounding, thinking that yet he would still come to her, would sneak in after the blond nurse’s routine visit. Since every visit had been slightly different, how would this one be? Would be fuck her ass this time? She’d never done that before but she was ready, knew that she would let him if that’s how he wanted to take her.

But he didn’t come. She never saw him again.

 

Gait Training

Dash was her physical therapist at Harborlight, the rehabilitation facility she transferred into from the hospital. He helped her build strength in her joints until the time when she could be fitted with an intermediate prosthesis, once the edema around the amputation site passed and the muscles there began to contract. When she could finally bear the artificial limb, he helped her learn how to walk with it—gait training—in a manner so her disability could not be detected by her stride.

Dash was tall and very thin. He had a runner’s body, seemed to her to be all bone and sinew. He had a prominent Adam’s apple. She was attracted to him but had no designs. She was just going to rehabilitate. Still, it was difficult. So much of their work together involved his hands on her, gentle but firm, insistent, manipulating, like a lover’s hands, one who knows you, arranges you for the giving and taking of pleasure, pressures and prompts that won’t meet resistance: the guiding touch that says sink to your knees now, spread your thighs…

She valued the touch, the physical contact. But she kept herself in check, willfully. Though, in hindsight, she couldn’t remember why she did. Maybe she was concerned that sleeping with him would get in the way of things, slow her progress. She had a life she wanted to get back to, her work: especially now, now that something so significant had changed. She was someone different now, and knew she would make new and wholly different things.

She also didn’t want to do anything that would contribute to his further discomfort, because it was obvious to her from the start that he was nervous around her. Only when they got to work, got involved with the exercises and therapies, did he seem more at ease.

She asked him if he was married or had a girlfriend.

“I’ve been seeing someone for a couple years,” he said.

“It’s serious,” she said, then immediately regretted it, knew what it sounded like. “I mean, that’s nice.”

“It’s steady,” he smiled. “Unwavering.”

“Unwavering,” she said neutrally, disappointed. Disappointed because it struck her as that minimizing thing that men always did when they were around attractive women. They never told you they were madly in love with someone else.

“You were married before,” she said.

“I was. Can you tell somehow, or are you just guessing?”

“Educated guess, maybe. Forty-something, seeing someone for a couple years. Probably someone with an ex as well. There’s no rush for the two of you. Happy to maintain the status quo. You’ve both already done that sort of thing, and you’re not sure what you think about a second go-round.”

“Not bad,” he said. “Pretty close.” But his voice was flat, toneless.

“I’m tired,” she said, hoping it might be interpreted as an apology, if she’d actually said something, unintentionally, that required one. She rested her forearms on the parallel bars and focused her weight there. “Can we stop now?”

“Two more times down and back,” he said, all business.

“I can’t not limp when I’m tired.”

“That’s the point,” he said and, after a brief pause, took her upper arm and pulled her to a standing position.

 

Graphomania, continued

The glyph drawings proliferated, whole large sketchbook sheets of nearly identical shapes, drawn to full bleed. Sometimes she would arrange the filled sheets into triptychs, or a four-square pattern. But that never looked right, she didn’t like that, so she began taping blank pages together to form a single large sheet. Sometimes one long row of four or five, like a scroll. Other times fixed them together more canvas-like: three-by-three, four-by-four, five-by-five. Worked a continuing pattern across the entire blank surface.

The larger works were even more compelling to her. The multiplicity of it all was strange and hypnotic, felt like a fever dream, a darkness in her blood. The large format drawings might take days, but she never tired of working on them until one was finally finished. Then she was spent, her entire body aching with fatigue. Sometimes after she would fall directly into bed, exhausted and ink-stained, too tired even to remove her leg, and sleep for hours.

After she completed several, she knew that she had to take it another step, that she had to begin working on real canvas, a much larger stage. This posed some logistical problems, but she’d figure it out.

 

 

Home, Care

She was to have a therapist work with her in her home after she left rehab. She wanted it to be Dash but he said he couldn’t, he was attached to the facility. He gave her the name of a therapist he recommended highly who could come two or maybe three days a week, depending on her progress.

Her home therapist was a woman named Callie, a pale, pretty blonde, probably not as old as Dash, but close. Callie came in what she’d come to recognize as de rigueur for PTs: polo shirt and khakis and cross-trainers. She kept her blonde hair in a pony tail that hit between her shoulder blades. Her eyes were her most memorable feature, a glistening, soft blue: pale and clear and luminous as sea glass.

Callie came three days that first week, while her mother was still staying with her. She helped her with exercises and some occupational therapies. The woman was genial, patient, and—unlike Dash—seemed entirely at ease around her and her mom. After that first week, Mieko felt comfortable enough with her new circumstances that she sent her mother home to Philadelphia.

It was mid-September then—between her hospitalization and rehab, she’d missed the summer, and lamented that—but the days were still very warm, unseasonably so. She resumed her routine of drawing in the morning. The house was disconcertingly quiet. She was grateful that she had Callie’s visits, at least for now. She’d spent so many weeks with people fussing around her day and night that the regained solitude almost felt like a shock to her system at some moments throughout the day. And yet, at the same time, it didn’t quite feel like absolute solitude.

“I’ve been sleeping a lot,” she told Callie. “A lot more than I ever have. On our off days I sometimes don’t wake up until ten o’clock. It’s a little unsettling.”

“I’m not surprised by that. This change in environment is a lot more taxing. You’re on your own now.”

“I am and I’m not,” she said.

“You mean, a boyfriend?” said Callie.

“No,” she laughed a little. “I mean this thing.” She reached down and pinged a fingernail against the aluminum pylon that was now one of her legs. They were sitting at her kitchen island drinking tea. There was a small, pink bakery box with a couple cranberry-orange scones that Callie’d brought from a bakery she said was her favorite, but neither woman was eating. The therapist cocked her head slightly to one side: tell me more.

“You’re probably going to think I’m crazy, but I feel like a caretaker for this. Like it’s my charge. Someone abandoned it here and I had no choice but to take it in, and now I’m responsible for caring for it. It can’t do anything on its own. Without me it just sits there. I open my eyes in the morning and it’s leaning against the chair by my bed and I imagine it feeling sad and lonely and just wishing that I would wake up already.”

“You’re right,” said Callie. “You are crazy. Come on, eat a scone. They’re feeling sad and lonely too.”

 

Her vibrating cell phone woke her. What time was it? The morning was overcast and filled her bedroom with a gauzy, mouse-gray light. She answered.

“Hey, are you okay? Is everything okay?” The caller was Callie.

“Yeah,” she said breathily, trying to clear the sleep from her voice but not succeeding. “I’m still... I overslept a little again.”

“Well, that’s what I figured,” said Callie. “I’m just glad you’re okay, I was getting a little worried.”

“Why?” she said. She was confused.

“Because I’ve been out here ringing your doorbell for ten minutes,” said Callie.

“Oh. Shit,” she said.

She didn’t bother with her clothes or her leg. Just used the crutches that she kept by her bed to get to the front door.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “Sometimes I lose track of the days.”

“It’s okay. I’m just glad that’s all it was.” The therapist placed the leather portfolio she always carried on the entryway table. She smiled at her sleepy, disheveled client, her bed-tousled hair a tumbling black mass. The crutches scrunching the t-shirt up under her arms and exposing the lower half of her black underpants. She felt the therapist’s gaze and knew it, knew it wasn’t a disinterested look, and she felt a certain quickening.

“Let’s get you ready for the day,” said Callie.

 

She slipped the crutches out from beneath her arms, handed them to Callie, and sat down on the edge of her bed. The therapist propped the crutches against the wall and looked at the prosthetic limb leaning against a nightstand. Then she knelt on the floor in front of her and touched her damaged leg.

“Let me take a look at things,” Callie said softly. She examined her leg around the stump, gently pressing two fingers into the skin below her knee, palpating muscles and tissue. Mieko crossed her arms and took the hem of her shirt, pulling it up and off, a jostling of breasts and hair.

The therapist looked at her, then ran her hand up past her knee and over her thigh.

“Are you okay with this?” said Callie.

She nodded. “It’s been a while,” she said.

 

Callie’s body was like sculpture, firm and contoured, rippled in her torso, toned and proportioned. It could be on the cover of a women’s fitness magazine, she thought. She ran her hands across the therapist’s shoulders, her breasts, down over her infomercial-ideal stomach and abs. She stroked her thighs, first the hard tops and then the concavity along the inside—soft flesh over taut muscle and tendon—and up to her groin.

“You’re perfect,” she said.

“I’m not perfect,” whispered Callie. Her eyes were closed.

“No, it’s perfect. I’ve only seen a woman’s body like this in pictures. I can’t stop running my fingers over it everywhere.”

“I work as a personal trainer on the side,” Callie said quietly. “So, I kind of have to… I’m like my own advertisement. These are my quals.”

She curled up against the statuesque blond and began to suck one of her breasts as she drew her fingers over a soft pale chevron of hair before parting the warm wet folds beneath.

“Can I put my mouth on it,” she said.

“Yes,” Callie whispered, and spread her legs to accommodate the small, dark sylph slithering down her body.

 

The Bees

“I’m sorry about Wednesday,” said Callie on her next visit. They were walking her yard: the large, fenced-in northern portion where she would later build the studio structure that she was already sketching out specs for. Much of the space was shaded, mostly black cherry, locust, and some pines, and sloped gently away from the house. It was a type of terrain she was still getting accustomed to treading, soft and irregular, unpredictable. Her old canvas sneakers were rimmed wet with dew.

“Don’t be sorry,” she said. “Don’t say that, you’ll make me feel bad. Two consenting adults and all.”

“I know, but I just… I probably shouldn’t have.”

This day was clear, a canopy of China blue, and through occasional breaks in the trees, they could still see the moon like a powdery thumbprint in the morning sky.

“I’m not looking for a girlfriend or anything. Not saying that’s what you’re worried about, but if it is.”

“No, I wasn’t worried about that. I knew… That’s not…”

“Maybe I didn’t make you come hard enough.”

“Stop,” said Callie. “You made me come beautifully. It was lovely. I told you so.”

“Because I haven’t been with a woman for a while, so I was probably a little bit rusty.”

“Stop!” Callie grabbed her arm roughly, held her fast.

“Ow, hey,” she said. “I’m just—”

“No, literally, stop, halt,” said Callie. She pointed to the ground directly in front of them. A clutch of ground bees were swarming nervously, hovering in and out of a hole in the grass, a short pace or two from their path. Callie released her grip and moved her arm around her waist.

“Here’s a good opportunity to practice walking backwards,” she said. “Slowly.”

“That could have been ugly. I don’t think I know how to run anymore.”

 

Thirty minutes later, the blonde was spread out naked on her bed, panting, her forearm thrown across her eyes. Mieko crawled up and flopped down next to her.

“Was that lovely?” she asked.

“No,” the other woman panted. “That was… fucking intense.”

They lay in silence for a while. She moved the tips of her fingers lightly over the woman’s stomach and abdomen and hips, tracing the contours, the dips and rises, the unyielding firmness. It mesmerized her. This was the definition of voluptuousness, this Braille of musculature.

“I have to draw this,” she said.

“This?” said Callie.

“You.”

Callie draped a hand over the other woman’s hip, let her fingers dandle at the cleft at the bottom of her ass.

“Dash warned me about you,” said Callie.

“Warned you? What does that mean?”

“That you were extremely beautiful.”

“I’m not beautiful.”

“You are. Really.”

“I don’t really think about myself in those terms. But I suppose it was nice of him to say. Though I’m not sure why it had to be framed as a warning.”

Callie didn’t say anything. Mieko squirmed and pressed herself tighter against the other woman, allowing Callie’s probing fingers greater purchase.

“I was actually in a relationship with another woman for a while,” said Callie. “Five years.”

“But not anymore?”

“No, not anymore. Not for a few years now.”

“Do you miss it?”

“I miss the person, but… It wasn’t really a normal relationship. I mean, not a healthy one. She already had a partner and was cheating on her with me. But I thought… I really thought… Anyway. She couldn’t go through with it for whatever reason. Then I just felt used. So I broke it off. That was my big foray into same-sex relationships. But that part didn’t really matter to me, the sex part. It was emotional. It was about the person.” She laughed. “I even introduced her to my parents.”

“That’s a serious marker, right?” said Mieko. “I’ve never introduced anyone to my parents.”

Callie kissed her hair.

“Do you have a toy?” she said. “Something I can fuck you with while I lick you?”

“I’d rather have your fingers,” said Mieko and rolled onto her back.

 

She thought of the blond woman’s perfect naked body. She thought of her firm breasts and hard round ass and beautifully rippled back and shoulders, like slow clear water moving over smooth stones. She thought of the night nurse’s cock: hot, insistent, sliding between her own breasts while the therapist down between her legs licked and finger-fucked her. She thought of Callie pressing a cunt-slick finger into the nurse’s ass, spurring his spasm, his warm cum spilling over chest and throat. She thought of him turning and spurting his generous load over her pubic mound while the blond continued to vigorously lick her, tonguing his semen against her sensitive clit as her orgasm began its hectic swarm through her limbs to the flashpoint of her enflamed cunt, bursting there, incandescent.

 

The Secret Sharer

Callie told her that she’d been in a relationship that had recently come to an end. It was her fault and it wasn’t her fault. She would think about it and think about it, when she was getting ready for the day, when she was clanking about her kitchen emptying the dishwasher, and she would realize, without question, that it wasn’t her fault. Then she would go about her day, doing the things she always did and suddenly, in the middle of a therapy session or workout she would feel a pang, like a stitch in her side, that said it was you.

“I was happy with the way things were,” she said. “I thought everything was fine. Then he wanted to change it and I didn’t understand why.”

“How did he want to change it?”

“He wanted to get married.”

“That’s a big change.”

“He said it wasn’t. Just a formality. I felt like, well, if it’s just a formality, what’s the point? I didn’t like that. I felt like, almost like, it was a trick. ‘Oh, it’s no big deal.’ That seemed dishonest to me. So then do we  live together? Do we have to start welding together the infrastructures? Establishing things jointly? He said, ‘Well, that would make the most sense.’ But it didn’t make sense to me.”

“He didn’t give you any hints about this? Any idea that this was on his mind?”

“None. I thought we were the way we were always going to be. I’ve always been very independent-minded, I’ve never been married before. He had been, once, and of the two of us, I would have thought he would be the one less inclined to do it again. We had a nice, steady situation. No drama. No pressure. That it ‘had no arc,’ and he appreciated that; that it was, what did he call it, ‘unwavering.’ So he claimed.”

“Unwavering?” she said.

“So now suddenly there’s a waver,” said Callie. “There’s an arc. I didn’t think that was fair to me. I thought about it, I seriously thought about it. But I always came away feeling that agreeing to it would just be so as not to disappoint him. That wasn’t reason enough for something like that.”

“So you broke it off?” said Mieko.

“Not really. I just said no, that I liked things the way they were. But he said he needed something more.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. I’m just pissed. Which is better than being hurt. I can live with pissed. What would you have done?”

“I’m not really the marrying kind,” said Mieko, gliding her hand up the woman’s taut, bare thigh. “Obviously.”

 

That night, she sent Dash an email, giving him a brief update on her progress, and asking him if he’d like to come to her house for lunch the next day.

 

She served fresh tuna that she’d pressed into sesame seeds and seared and sliced thin. Strips of grilled eel from a tin that her grandmother sent her from Japan. Hard cooked eggs pickled in soy. Clear, golden miso broth with matchsticks of carrot and bamboo. The kind of lunch her mother made for her when she was a little girl. They sat at her kitchen counter.

“You look really well,” he said.

“I still sleep a lot,” she said.

“Yeah,” he said. “It can be tiring. But that’ll go away. I’m sure Callie told you that.”

“She did. She’s been great. That you for setting me up with her. I couldn’t have asked for better care.”

“I think she’s one of the best at what she does.”

“So,” she said. “I’m curious about why you ‘warned’ her about me.”

“I… I didn’t…” He looked at his broth.

“She doesn’t seem to find me very dangerous, though. Not as far as I can tell.”

“I didn’t warn her. I just mentioned that you were… extremely attractive. And very charismatic.” He shook his head. “I’m sorry. I don’t know why she told you that.”

“It just came out. A couple of gals sitting around chatting. Callie is ‘extremely attractive’ too. Why didn’t you warn me about her?”

“She very pretty,” he said. “But not like you. You’re… beautiful. There’s something about you, something…”

“Don’t say ‘exotic,’” she said. “If you say exotic I’m going to stab you in the neck with this chopstick.”

“Whatever it is, I just found it very difficult not to be preoccupied by it. Not something that I’m used to. You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in person.”

“I’m sure you say that to all the one-legged, half-Asian girls.”

She waited for him to look at her but he couldn’t. She watched his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed. He plied his chopsticks open and closed nervously but didn’t reach toward any of the food.

She laid her chopsticks alongside her bowl of miso and scooted off the stool, stood.

“Just so you know,” she said. “I’m not a serious-relationship type of person. Way too unsteady. Wavering as all fuck.”

He looked at her then.

 

She wondered if he recognized the smell of his ex-girlfriend in her bed, the faint, beachy, coconutty smell of Callie’s sunblock that had seeped into her sheets from the blond’s sweaty orgasms of the day before. She thought maybe he did, considering the pounding he was giving her. She grunted from the impact of his hard thrusts. It had taken her a little time to get used to the girth of his cock, especially since she hadn’t had a real one inside her since she’d left the hospital. But once she had, he proceeded to hammer at her, unbidden, as if it was a race, as if he wanted to break her. She was shocked and a little frightened and desperately turned on all at once. It was remarkably good for the first time with someone new, and she came massively, clawing at his sinewy arms and boney shoulders as he continued fucking her.

“Finish… uh… in… my… uh… mouth,” she said, still clutching his arms, holding on, two people grappling at the edge of an abyss.

He withdrew and straddled her chest, and she propped herself up on her elbows to take the slick, crimsoned cock between her lips, muscling her tongue against the underside of the head as his cumload poured thickly into her mouth, filling it and flooding her senses—the unmistakable taste and smell, that familiar earthiness that yet, somehow, also reminded her of the sea.

 

“Full disclosure. I was with someone yesterday. A man.”

“Oh. Okay.” Callie had been kissing her along the inner curve of her breast. She paused after receiving that information.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m not trying to be provocative.”

“That’s okay. I just… Someone you know?”

“Yes. But have never been with before. It just seemed safe. Uncomplicated.” She placed her small hand on the blond woman’s taut thigh and gently pushed, trying to part her legs.

“It was safe,” she repeated, her fingertips teasing at her bed partner’s mons. “Very clean. Very healthy.” Kissing the woman’s neck behind her ear. “It was just a thing. A needing-cock-thing. You know.”

“Yeah,” Callie sighed. She spread her legs a little wider, maybe mollified, or willing to be: let herself be touched.

“In fact, I got the distinct impression that he hadn’t been with someone for a while.”

“Like, hasty?”

“No, not that. There was just… there was a hunger there. It was… a little sad.”

Callie spread her legs wider still and thrust her cunt at the hand that was ministering to her.

“Did he come in you?” she asked.

“In my mouth.” Mieko was laying a trail of kisses down her partner’s neck and along her collarbone. She moved back up and touched her lips to Callie’s ear, slipped two fingers of her caressing hand into her slit. “He shot his load in my mouth,” she whispered, “and I swallowed it. I drank his cum. It was… mmm, thick and warm.”

Callie moaned and flexed her hips, bucked at the fingering she was getting, then turned her head on the pillow, offering her mouth to be kissed. Mieko put her tongue in it and the two writhed against each other, damp and struggling with breath.

“You’re such a slut,” said Callie, bucking against the fingers slipping in and out of her.

“I know you are, but what am I?”

“Fucking cum slut,” she breathed. “Fucking cum-eating slut.”

“I’m rubber and you’re glue. You wish I was kissing a warm load of cum into your mouth right now.”

“Oh, fuckkk,” the woman bucked and thrashed.

 

Redux

It occurred to her that Rez was the first person she’d been with since her accident who had seen her disability and wasn’t some kind of caregiver. That all the others had seen, and had experience with, the injured. However unintentionally, she’d exposed her disability to him, and it hadn’t made a difference. Or not much of one.

“I know who you are now,” said the dark boy when he brought her next order of groceries.

“I know who you are, too,” she said.

“No, I mean… You’re famous. You’re a famous artist. I Googled you.”

“And you’re a budding engineer. I fucked you.”

The boy looked down at his feet, dismayed it seemed.

“You’re going to help me,” she said. “I need to stretch a large canvas. Eight feet by ten feet. And I need you to build me a kind of scaffolding that I can move around on easily so I can get to every square inch of it. I need to draw on it. I need to work in very close and move over all of it. I’ll pay you.”

“You don’t have to.”

“Of course I do. But we’ll talk about that later,” she palmed his cock through his trousers.

 

In Media Res

Va bene, va bene,” said the man. “Is okay. Aspetta.”

“I’m cold,” she said, remembering how difficult it was to try to stay her teeth from clacking together. The harder she tried, the more they chattered.

Someone laid a topcoat over her that smelled of cooking odors and pipe smoke. Someone cradled her head.

Si, si. Aspetta, Signorina.

It was early spring but still brightly cold, and the only thing she saw in the glassy blue sky was a vapor trail, unfurled and billowing until tapering down to a fine white rule at its lofty origin, stretching across an azure heaven. But the beautiful, perfect pattern of the dispersing vapor, flocked: God's glyph. Shapes and lines, she thought. Heat and cold. The frozen pavement left her spine stiff and stung; the topcoat was smothering.

“Oh jeez, oh jeez,” a man in a uniform, a bus driver’s uniform, hovered over her. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.” Someone whispered Jesus. Someone brushed hair away from her face.

“It’s okay,” she closed her eyes. “Va bene.

 

--fin--

 

 

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