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Everything
By
browncoffee

Everything

It was twenty seven minutes to two. Twenty seven minutes until I’d see him again. I’d deliberated over what to wear all week and even after getting dressed I’d changed three times. I’d done my makeup carefully; painstakingly trying to emanate online contouring tutorials. Letting out a breath, I frowned at my reflection. I was trying too hard. It bordered on ridiculous. I had far more important things to worry about.

Like my bridesmaid’s dress. It had arrived around lunchtime but I’d hardly glanced at it, too preoccupied with getting ready for the afternoon. The dress lay pristinely on my bed and even in its protective plastic cover, it looked beautiful. The shimmering, lacy bodice wove down into an empire waist before giving way to a sweeping chiffon skirt. And it was backless. It had to be the most beautiful dress I'd ever owned but the excitement I’d expected to feel didn’t land. I felt guiltily disinterested.

It was the summer of my sister Lily’s wedding but somewhere between the long days and sleepless nights, it had morphed into the summer of Lee. My first year of university was over and I was glad to be home. Days were full of flower arrangements and seating plans. All my high-school friends were back in town, and it promised to be an unforgettable wedding. But I couldn’t get excited. I looked at the dress and sighed. Sunlight slanted in through the blinds and I leaned closer to the mirror, perfecting my eyeliner.

Lee had changed everything. It was chance, really, the way our lives had connected. His babysitter had quit; he knew my parents and since I was more or less free over the summer, they volunteered me to temporarily replace her. He was divorced; had his kids on weekends and often worked from afternoon into evenings.

The kids were Elle, nine, and Eric, seven. They played outside mostly and I’d keep watch from behind a book, give them food and let them stay up an extra half-hour before they cleaned their teeth and went to bed. Easy. Sometimes I babysat Sundays too and his ex-wife would come to pick them up at the end of the day. She was blonde and always wore sunglasses. She wouldn’t even get out of her car but would pull up to the kerb and blast the horn until Elle and Eric went running out.

Lee was almost always late home and on the nights the kids were asleep upstairs, I’d wander around the quiet house listlessly. He worked as an architect and the place was impeccably tidy but for occasional scraps of paper with half-sketches, measurements and pencilled ideas scrawled onto them. I looked at them frowning, trying to figure out what any of it meant.

Lee. He started it all. He could have so easily been a nobody, just another average component of my life. But no. The first time I arrived to babysit, he opened the door and his eyes went over me, quick and searching and they hesitated just a fraction too long, just a second, just enough to make me second-guess myself and screw up the rehearsed words in my mouth. And then it was over and he was letting me in and giving me instructions about bedtime and junk food and maybe it hadn’t even happened. Maybe I’d imagined the whole thing because he was quick and polite and almost dismissive and even if it had happened, it didn’t mean anything. It was one look. It didn’t mean anything.

But the moment eased its way into my mind and stuck there, distracting and distorting every other thought. I fell for guys all the time but Lee became more. I found myself thinking of him constantly, inexorably. There was so much to obsess over; every detail, every word, every smile and frown, every edge to his voice. I’d never even touched him. Sometimes I thought about it. Wondered. About something small. Fingertips extended into the dream. I visualized it so much that the thought became precious; the idea of even making contact with him seemed horrifically beautiful.

Did he know? How could he know? He didn’t see me, or at least more than what I was on the surface. Everything was buried deep inside, hidden, cloaked, removed from the window display. The surface was serene. A calm, blue ocean. Nobody saw the carnage beneath.

I’d always been good at hiding emotions. I could smile when I wanted to cry. I could keep my voice wonderfully steady. It made me feel powerful. The older I got, the more I felt it. Power at holding the serenity. At being cool and calm and peaceful. It felt like a gift. Like a talent that I honed every time I was confronted with something I wanted to react to.

And it was the same with Lee. I didn’t crack. I said the right things and smiled at the right moments even though I could never look him in the eye. He didn’t seem to notice. Nobody else did either. It was just me, and at times the obsession felt woefully lonely. I could think about him as much as I liked but I couldn’t share it. I couldn’t tell him.

Sometimes I thought about it. One time he drove me home at night and I was sitting right next to him and I looked at his profile and his hand on the steering wheel and his other hand on the gearstick and he looked so attractive it hurt. I wanted to say it. There was a soft quietness, perfect solitude, just him and I and I wanted to spill the secret and see what he did with it and yet I couldn’t. I couldn’t read him. Didn’t know how he’d react. Didn’t know if he’d ever thought about that split second before a real kiss where the closeness is so vulnerable that you want to run away.

Did he ever even think of me? I’d look at his hands and imagine them on me, how they’d feel, how he’d touch me. Sometimes I had to close my eyes and force myself to stop. Thinking of him affected me physically. I’d lie awake at night, hot and restless as I imagined how his body would feel against mine. What he looked like naked. How he fucked. How he looked when he jerked off. I imagined accidentally walking in on him or just watching him, seeing his cock, hearing him moan. It made me moan. I pressed my face into my pillow, my hand between my legs.

It didn’t take much to turn me on anymore. It was him. It was all him. If I focused hard enough, I could imagine just how his fingers would feel against me; how they’d stroke and search and push inside me until it was almost unbearable. My own fingers felt too small, suddenly inadequate.

I’d been with guys before but they were young – clueless and uncoordinated. Lee was a man. Surely, he’d get it. He’d know more. I touched myself harder, my free hand clutching at my tit through my sweat-damp t-shirt until it hurt. I touched myself until the entire night seemed like it teetered on the edge of an abyss and I held on there for as long as I could until the urge escaped and overflowed extravagantly. I gasped out his name as my body rode through each beautifully aching wave.

I wanted everything.

*

The town was silently soaking up summer, quiet and unassuming but for the pre-wedding carnage at our house. It was ten minutes to escape into the city and as soon as the lights arrived the world was alive.

Summer was unapologetically hot meaning parties and nights out and cheap bars and expensive bars and laughter and short skirts and good-looking guys, but they were nothing. Nothing. They were young, obvious, immature and insecure. They couldn’t begin to compare to Lee. Every kiss felt wasted, a fumbling mess of too much tongue and alcohol and I’d feel the music reverberate through me and wonder what Lee was doing even as everyone around me danced, carefree and happy.

“You have got to meet someone!” Lily insisted as we headed home one night. “You’re so young, you should be having fun!”

“I am having fun,” I insisted. She didn’t believe me. She downloaded a dating app onto my phone and peered over my shoulder as I rejected each photo that swept onto my screen.

“This is ridiculous,” I said and I turned it off.

But later that night, unable to sleep, I opened up the app again and lay in bed, staring at the photos. There were three types of men; those who flashed their torsos, those who used dog photos to secure dates and those who stood unflatteringly close to the camera. It didn’t stop. Carl, 24, Jack, 31, Steven, 26. It was the most superficial thing in the world. Eventually, I abandoned the phone and tried to sleep. I couldn’t. The alarm clock glowed in the dark.

I finally caved and thought for the hundredth time about how Lee would fuck. How it’d feel to be that close to him, his face against mine, his voice in my ear. His eyes. His mouth. How he’d kiss. I looked at the ceiling and even though it was past midnight, the summer sky still filtered deep blue light through the blinds.

I sat up, caught the hem of my t-shirt and pulled it off. The room was silent but for the tick of the wall clock. The entire world seemed to be asleep. I lay back down, unable to switch off.

I thought recklessly about him, too lonely to suppress the flood of fantasy. His cock. His cock. I considered briefly what it looked like. I wanted to touch it. I had countless scenes sketched out in my overactive mind; detailed ideas of how it’d be if we fucked. Some were ridiculous. But some made my snatch wetter than real sex ever had. It was too easy to imagine. Too easy to think about how it’d feel to wrap my hand around his hard cock and feel it pulse beneath my fingers. I wanted to suck it. To hear him groan, and feel him pull my hair as his body responded to my mouth.

And then we’d fuck. I’d feel him against me, his cock pushing inside me inch by inch. Skin on skin. Sweat. My hand moved beneath the waistband of my underwear and I shifted my legs apart, touching myself without hesitation. I closed my eyes and let out a breath, moving my legs wider as my finger traced down to my entrance. My left hand moved to retrieve my phone, swiping clumsily through icons until I found the one voicemail he’d left me. I played it.

Hey, I’m running late. I’ll be an hour, tops. I’m really sorry, okay?

It was only thirteen words and the message was rushed and everyday and meaningless but the way he said it was madly addictive. Sometimes, long after everyone else was asleep, I’d look at his name in my phone and think of messaging him. I never did. I had so many things to say but in text they looked forced, wooden, farcical. I replayed his voicemail instead.

And I replayed it and replayed it and I wondered if I was a sociopath; what people would think if they knew. But it didn’t matter because they didn’t know. It was only me. Nobody else was affected. My hand moved faster, pushing my body closer to release. I could feel the heat surround me; inside and out. The window was open but the night was stiflingly hot and it felt like I was drenched in sweat. I felt so awake, so alive and essential.

Lee. I thought about him being there. Watching. Encouraging. Making me do it harder and faster, his eyes drinking in the way my body ached and twisted towards release. It was enough to push me over the edge. I came hard, gasping his name, my fingers still moving until it was unbearable. The pleasure washed through me, hot and languorously intense. I pushed my face into the pillow and wanted to laugh at myself and simultaneously wanted to cry because I wanted him so much and why, why, why couldn’t I just have him?

I saw the way Lily and her fiancé looked at each other and I wasn’t jealous but I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand how they could tune into each other so easily. It took me forever to forge relationships. Lily and I were close because I’d known her my entire life. Friends didn’t stick for me. And neither did boys. It felt superficial. Shallow. Almost always one-sided. I was too much. I cared too much, wanted too much. And I was obsessing over a man who didn’t even know me.

He hardly even looked at me. One Sunday, my parents had an anniversary party and he came and brought his kids and he didn’t even speak to me. He sat in the corner with his sketchpad, probably working even as everyone else laughed and drank. I wanted to hate him for being so clueless but I couldn’t. I couldn’t. Every time I saw him, I just couldn’t. It wasn’t his fault. It was all me.

*

It was Sunday afternoon and Lee’s kids were doing last minute homework at the kitchen table, tanned and dishevelled from playing in the sun all day. Their mother was due to pick them up in a few hours and their small overnight bags were ready and waiting in the hall.

I wandered quietly around the house. I flicked through back copies of Architectural Digest and FRAME, examined schoolwork on the walls, watched half an episode of a sitcom. I picked up abandoned toys and took them upstairs. The door to Lee’s bedroom was open. I didn’t go in. I never went in. It seemed a step too far. I looked at the bed and the wardrobe and the line of books on the windowsill and I leaned against the doorframe and imagined him walking around.

I sighed and went back downstairs. The windows were wide open and an ice-cream van jangled loud and inconsiderate as it trundled noisily down the street. Ellie looked up, instantly hopeful. Lee had a no junk food policy but I figured ice cream contained milk which contained calcium which was essential for healthy growth so I let them go for it. They were enormously thrilled.

Afternoon eased into evening. The noise of neighbourhood children faded and the day began to spill into dusk.

I stood on the porch and watched the sun set. The sky was warm and heavy with colour. A cool breeze whispered through the trees. I tossed my hair back and felt the sun against my face. The heat didn’t give. It never gave. Even when it rained, the atmosphere was hot and heavy, the raindrops on the edge of steam. I watched teenagers pile into a convertible outside the house opposite and screech off towards the city, music blaring. Sprinklers flickered into life over lawns, humming softly as birds sang, loud and indifferent.

Lee was late. His ex-wife was also late. The kids were watching a Disney movie in front of the television but they were already half-asleep. I felt a surge of hatred for their mother and tried to suppress it. Why would I hate her? Because she was late? Or because she was Lee’s ex-wife? As if on cue, a car sped down the road, screeching to a halt in front of the house. The horn blared obnoxiously and there was a scurry of movement inside as Elle and Eric hurriedly gathered their things.

“Bye, Esme!” They ran past me and down the path. “See you next week!”

I watched them leave. The ex-wife waved at me. I didn’t even know her name. I waved back and hated myself for judging her. I went back inside, switched off the movie, closed the windows, checked everything was in order. I picked up my bag but just as I got to the door, it opened. Lee was home.

“Oh, hey,” he said, surprised. He looked at me. “The kids here?”

“They just got picked up,” I said. “I’m sorry. It was literally two minutes ago.”

He frowned. “Right, of course. I didn’t realise the time.”

“I’m sorry,” I said again and he frowned.

“Don’t be. It’s my own fault. I said goodbye earlier anyway.”

His cell phone rang and he swore under his breath as he searched his pockets before finally finding it. He frowned at the screen before answering and I stood there a little awkwardly, not wanting to eavesdrop. I moved towards the door but he was still holding it half closed and he shook his head ever so slightly like he wanted me to wait.

I waited. I tried not to listen to his conversation. I looked at his hand on the door. His fingers. I looked at my own. They seemed so unsubstantial. I was standing so close to him and I wondered if I should step back. But maybe he’d notice and think I was uncomfortable. Was I uncomfortable?

I could smell his aftershave, the mint on his breath. Maybe once he was done talking he’d shut the door and kiss me and put his hand under my skirt and touch me until I could hardly breathe. And I’d feel his fingers push inside me and he’d be so close, so so wonderfully close, curling them inside me, his thumb against my clit, his leg between mine, holding me open. And I’d moan against his mouth and he’d speak, that beautiful deep voice that went deeper than anything ever could: “You like that? Does that feel good?” And all I’d be able to do was push back at his hand as his fingers slicked harder and faster, pushing me unwaveringly towards the edge until the world overheated and shattered around me.

“Esme?” Reality. His call had ended and he was looking at me, brows pulled together. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” I felt my cheeks redden and was grateful for the dim light in the hall. “Sorry. I’m fine. Just – thinking. Sorry.”

“Hey, I’ll give you a lift home. It’s late.”

“It’s not far,” I protested.

“It’s late,” he said again but his phone rang at the same time and he groaned. “Let me just answer this real quick, okay? I’ll be right out, the car’s parked on the street.”

He handed me the keys and I went outside, slid into the passenger seat and waited. His car smelled like him. I crossed my legs and smoothed out my skirt. I examined the chipped polish on my nails. I’d have to have a manicure. Lily’s wedding was in a week. After the endless preparations, it would finally happen and then summer would wind down into university. I didn’t want to leave. There was something so comfortable about being back home. And when university resumed, I wouldn’t see Lee again. It seemed inevitable. He’d never know how I felt, how much I’d thought of him for the past few months. It made me feel more pathetic than anything.

I flipped down the sun visor and scrutinised my face in the small mirror. I went in my bag, found my mascara and touched up the corners of my lashes. My bag tipped in my lap and a tube of lip-gloss rolled out and fell into the driver’s side footwell.

“Fuck.”

I had to undo my seatbelt to reach for the gloss and as I retrieved it, I glimpsed a sketchpad jammed beneath the driver’s seat. I looked up out of the window. The light was still on inside the house.

I tugged the book free and flicked it open. The page was blank. My heart sank. I flicked back a couple of pages. Nothing. Further back. Finally I caught a glimpse of colour and opened up the page. It was a sketch. Easy lines in blue biro. For a second the image refused to register. Maybe it was the shock. I closed my eyes, counted to ten and opened them. The picture didn’t change; my own face looked back at me. I stared at it disbelievingly. Was it me? It looked like me. I turned a page back and it was me again and I flicked back through the first quarter of the book and it was me on every page.

“Oh my god,” I whispered. “Oh my god.”

Each picture was different, shaded sublimely, light and shadows and details I didn’t know existed. I thumbed through them desperately, wanting to commit each one to memory and I was so intent on absorbing it all that I didn’t see the lights switch off behind the glass of the door and I didn’t see Lee come down the path. All I heard was the clink of the gate as he shut it and I hurriedly closed the book and made to stow it but it was too late, I was far too late.

And he was yanking open his door and there was no time, no time to put it back, to pretend I hadn’t seen it, no time to act like everything was fine anymore.

Everything was about to change.

 

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than Lushstories.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © Copyright 2016-18 browncoffee
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