He had been wanting to fuck her for three years.
She was hot in the way Moms are hot. That sounds dismissive, but it wasn't, not to him. It was celebratory. She wasn't a twenty-something waif-thin hottie, she wasn’t a MILF, she wasn’t a model, she wasn’t a cartoonish divorcee on the prowl. She was just a single Mom, maybe a little prettier than the others, at least in his eyes. She had dark, alluringly unkempt hair and sea green eyes. Her ample hips curved deliciously into a trim torso before curving out again to accommodate her breasts, big and heavy and seemingly forever in motion when she walked. In most ways she was like so many other single Moms: little or no make-up, dressed in sweats and tee shirts, every day busy with 36 hours of activity compressed into a 24 hour day. Frazzled looks were forever stamped on their faces, distracted mind on the shopping list and the bank account and the HR department at work. He knew the feeling.
What fascinated him about these women was that behind the distractions he could sense a verdant sexual garden, an endless playground. They needed only a gentle coaxing to allow it to emerge. They awaited the right words, the right gesture, the right touch to break through all the monotony and awaken them.
Or so he imagined. He hadn’t been with a woman other than his wife for thirteen years.
He'd picture her in bed, highly erotic because it was so real. He could see it: her heavy breasts in his hands, her wide hips straddling his, the slow wet ease of entering her for the first time, her gasp of charged wonder. He'd imagined it hundreds of times in those three years. Sometimes the way she looked at him seemed like she knew he was fantasizing about her, and just maybe she was fantasizing about him as well.
They both stood in the same spots on the playground, every weekday. Between the two of them lay an expanse of asphalt, marked with painted yellow lines marking boundaries for four-square and basketball and hopscotch. Other adults dotted the grounds, maybe twenty of them, parents and grandparents waiting for the bell to ring so they could take their kids home at the end of the day. The specific members of the group came and went, as people moved in and out of the neighborhood, but the core group remained, those people who had stayed in the neighborhood all these years. He watched as they grew older, gained and lost weight, had babies, got divorces, lost their jobs, quit smoking, and fell in love.
Most of the time people would keep to themselves, staring at their cell phones or taking care of their other kids. Occasionally they'd engage in short conversations, usually school related, but primarily they’d exchange passing nods and return to their private little worlds.
None of them said anything when his wife died.
They knew it had happened, or at least that something tragic had happened; gossip travels fast in a small town. He could tell by the deference afforded him, in the kind lingering smiles he received, the carefully averted gazes. No one offered their condolences, and he was fine with that, grateful actually, comfortable in his privacy. He had enough well wishing family members and friends sending cards, baking him unneeded casseroles, giving him the standard small head tilt and sympathetic smile as they asked how he was.
It had been comforting at first. People meant well, and their gestures of concern were genuine. But after a time it began to feel hollow. He grew tired of the smiles and head tilts, the sympathy cards, the casseroles. He found the bland solemnity of it all boring and false. Funeral directors were the worst, savants at coining bloodless euphemisms for death like “at her journey’s end,” and “in eternal rest.” She wasn’t in eternal rest. She wasn’t resting. She was just dead, and that’s what how he wanted to put it to everyone: “She is dead. She is just dead.” He wanted to close the subject quickly and honestly.
If the subject stayed open, as well meaning acquaintances probed further, he’d feel an unreasonable anger began to well inside him. The script that ran through his mind was familiar: she was dead and he was angry about it, angry at her for leaving him, angry at God (if there was one) for the unfairness of it, angry at himself for taking her for granted when she was alive, angry at the doctors for being unable to do a damn thing, angry at his daughter because parenthood demanded so much of his time. All he wanted to do was to find a place alone and grieve.
He knew his anger was misdirected. The therapists he had consulted all talked about the five stages of grief, in almost identical phrasing, as if they had been indoctrinated into a cult and were not allowed to deviate from the script. The five stages: denial, anger, something, depression, something else. They talked as though grief was linear, a series of finite stages passed through at a steady pace like stops on a train. No one likes unpredictability. No one wants to see wild, undisguised grief; they prefer it to be tamed and neutered. We're sorry for your loss, now please don't do anything strange.
But she appeared to be different. Maybe. It was hard to tell. Three years now, and they had made some sort of eye contact every school day, in the year before his wife died, in the two years since. Similar to the eye contact he made with the other parents, similar but not the same. Something deeper hid behind her eyes, something that aroused him. Even in that final year when his wife was dying, and there was no way for anyone except close friends and family to know, she seemed to know something. Her gaze spoke a language that mirrored his own.
School was out in a week. The days were long and languid, nights filled with cool breezes and starlight. Both their kids would be entering middle school next year, likely different ones, and he'd never see her again.
He’d never see her again.
He looked at her, from across the expanse of asphalt. The heat of the day buried itself into the asphalt so that the air above it shimmered and waved, dreamlike. It made the distance between them loom larger than it was, as if impossible to travel.
He smiled at her. She smiled back.
He’d never see her again.
He began to walk toward her, across the hot shimmer of the asphalt, glancing at his watch as he did so. School would be out at 3:30. He had eight minutes before the bell.
It had been thirteen years since he had asked a woman out on a date. He didn’t even know her name.
"You mean like a play-date?" she asked.
"Yeah, sure, exactly," he said, hiding his disappointment. She had misunderstood and he felt too timid to correct her. He said, "Our kids are around the same age."
"Yes they are." She regarded him, subdued but friendly. “They don’t play together at school, do they? I’ve never heard her mention your daughter.”
“No. They don’t play together. They’re in different classes.”
Her eyes narrowed. "A play-date," she said, a sly, private smile appearing on her face.
"What, you think I'm talking in some sort of code?" he asked, laughing to soften the sarcasm.
She returned the laugh. "Everybody speaks in code, sweetie," she said. "Just hoping to meet someone who can figure out what we really mean."
“Just a play-date,” he said. “Promise.”
“I see you looking at me every day,” she said, her smile now less private. She was playing with him. He wondered if he still remembered how to flirt. He began to respond with an embarrassed denial, but she stopped him and added, “It’s okay. I look at you too.”
His felt a tiny thrill course through him. It felt like sunlight breaking through clouds. Instinctively he looked down to take in the giddy slopes of her body that he had so often fantasized about. He looked up at her quickly to disguise his actions, but it was too late. She saw him, pinning him down with the same playful smile.
“Other people look at their phones, we look at each other,” she said evenly. She laughed again. “I don’t mind.”
And just then the sun actually did break through the clouds, mirroring his thoughts only moments before. The sound of her laugh seemed to come from behind some kind of unmarked boundary within her. The verdant garden. The endless playground.
The bell rang. Kids came pouring out of the doors, like water breaking through a dam. They ran, they laughed, they chased each other, rules and uniforms and orderly lines utterly forgotten the moment they stepped foot into the sun.
“I’d love a play-date,” she said.
Her name was Ashe.
She had invited them over for a swim. The day shone bright and sunny, and a dizzy stipple of sunlight reflected off the water like bright fish, filling the air with light. It reminded him of the dreamlike ripple of air above the asphalt at the playground.
Swimming pools demand a certain protocol when you have kids. Not just the swimming suit, not just the pool toys, but sunblock applied ever few hours, and hydration as well, and the necessity of at least one parent at the poolside at all times. It required half an eye on the water always, a part of your mind fully dedicated to safety. He found it disappointing in a way he didn’t quite fully understand, until he realized that it torpedoed a fantasy he was only halfway aware was even there, that the kids would go to another room to play, or go outside, leaving them alone together.
As he had walked up the front walk to the door he felt a familiar erotic hum deep inside his body, imagining possibilities. When she met them at the door the signal got stronger, and he was fairly sure it was reciprocal. A tease of scenarios raced through his mind.
Ashe looked good in a swimsuit. She wore a two piece that held her body nicely. It held her the way he’d like to hold her. For some reason she had covered the top half of her swimsuit with a thin white tee shirt. Perhaps she wore it out of modesty, or perhaps as a result of a poor body image. This was something he never understood, these beautiful women afraid to reveal their voluptuousness, savor their curves, cowed by the skinny perfection of the girls on the covers of Cosmo and Elle.
He wore loose shorts and a tee shirt, unaware that swimming would be an option. He felt reasonably attractive—not much of a pot belly, muscled legs, a ready smile—enough so that he wish he’d worn a bathing suit. He was willing to show off a little.
Their girls splashed and played in the water. Ashe and he made small talk. After a time she began to talk about her ex-husband. He drank too much, she told him. He stared at other women when he was with her. She checked through his phone and found a trove of emails to some woman he worked with. It was like a letter to an advice columnist, with generic complaints from a failed marriage. The eroticism of the afternoon began to leak away. The sun had ducked behind the clouds; a chill was in the air. She talked about her ex-husband for almost an hour; he had actually checked the time. Here he was with his literal fantasy woman, and against his better instincts he found himself bored and annoyed.
He struggled to find an excuse to leave. He no longer felt a desire to be social. He wanted to return to the comfortable default of unrealized grief, take his daughter back home and share a meal of comfort food together and turn on the TV and attempt a night of total distraction.
“You’re tired of me talking about my ex, aren’t you?” she asked.
“No. Of course not,” he stammered.
“You weren’t even listening.” He began to protest and she sighed and said, “No, it’s okay, it’s all good. You are right to be bored. I talk about him too much. All my friends tell me so.”
“No it’s not. And I’m sorry. I’m just angry is all.” His interest perked up a little at that.
“I get angry,” he offered.
She said, “He’s been gone for almost a year. It is hard to let go.”
Silence. “I know about that,” he replied finally.
“Or maybe it’s easy and I just don’t want to let go.”
“Or don’t know how to let go. It’s not easy.”
She said, “None of this is easy.”
“Are you divorced?” she asked.
Should he tell her? How should he tell her? “No, my wife died,” he said. After a pause he added, “She’s dead.”
She said, “I’m sorry for your loss,” and gave him the requisite head tilt and the smile, the generic gesture he resented so, and disappointment began to rise up in him. He feared the day would turn out to be another missed connection. She’d talk about her husband, then it would be his turn, he’d talk about his dead wife. The conversation would stutter, then stall, and they’d patiently wait until it was time for the kids to finish their play-date and they could all get on with the rest of the day.
He looked to her. He saw the same disappointment stamped on her face. She wanted more, too. She wanted the same things he did. How do people do this?
he asked himself. How do they get past all the pointless minutia, the fears, the wounds, the clutter?
And then: a bell. No, it was a song. A simple children’s song rang in the distance, like one played on a music box. He wasn’t even sure it was actually real, wondering if maybe it was only sounding in his head, until Ashe’s daughter popped her head out of the water and squeaked, “Ice cream truck! It’s the ice cream truck!”
The kids scampered out of the pool. Ashe handed her daughter a five dollar bill. She said, “Eat at the table. And why don’t you play in your room for a little while or something. You’ve been in the pool too long.”
The kids rushed past and were suddenly gone. They were by themselves. She looked at him, straight at him, for a very long time, her eyes full and bright. Perhaps she was trying, like he, to get past all the clutter. She said, “Would you like to go for a swim?”
He shrugged. “No swimsuit.”
“Do you mind if I take a quick dip?” Such an innocent question, but that familiar erotic charge unexpectedly returned as she said it.
“Not at all.”
She stood, clearly aware she was being watched as she walked to the edge of the pool, and dived in with the grace of a sleek dolphin, a grace borrowed from nature. The surface of the water was scarcely disturbed.
Her head bobbed up, she swam with equal poise to the ladder, and climbed out of the pool.
The sun broke through the clouds just then, reminding him of their moment on the playground. By the time the glare had cleared from his eyes she was standing poolside, nearly motionless, her hair slicked back, tee shirt dripping wet and hugging her curves, a sheen of water on her skin so that she glistened in the sunlight. Maybe she hadn’t worn the tee shirt because she was afraid to reveal herself. Maybe she wore it for this moment, to expose a truer self to him. The verdant garden. The endless playground.
Their eyes locked. Neither of them spoke.
He knew. She knew.
She walked toward him with a sensual swagger and an ever-broadening smile. After quickly peering through the sliding glass doors to make sure they were alone, she took his hand and led him to a door at the side of the house. She pulled him into the room, closed the door and locked it.
She had led him to the laundry room. He smelled the familiar scents of laundry soap, clean clothes, fabric softener. It made so much sense. It was a room so iconic of the drudgery of housework. She wanted to take him there, to fuck him there, and in doing so anoint the room with something new, something special, something wild.
It was unspoken that this had to happen fast. The kids would be back soon. She turned to him, and even before she was fully facing him he threw her against the door and gripped the fabric of her tee shirt as he kissed her avidly. In a gesture borrowed from his fantasies he grasped tightly to the neck of her shirt with both hands and pulled hard, ripping it right down the middle. She gasped sharply, and he found himself emboldened by what he had done. He pushed her against the wall and resumed their kiss. He felt her body give in entirely to his as she cried out, her muscles pliant as she fitted herself fully against him. He pushed up the top of her bathing suit and began urgently fondling her breasts, those breasts he had stared at so many times on the playground. He cupped them in his hands and then slid his fingers up to pinch her hard nipples between finger and thumb. Her hand snaked down into his pants, wasting no time as she molded her fingers around his rapidly hardening cock and squeezed tightly. The pleasure was so intense he moaned loudly, breaking their kiss, tilting his head back as if howling at the moon.
She leaned into his ear and stuck her tongue deeply inside it, then gave his ear a wet sloppy lick as she whispered, “I’m so wet, baby. I’m so ready for you.” His cock jumped fully erect at the words. She bit his ear hard, and as he moaned again in pain and pleasure she laughed loudly. Her laugh sounded like music. It resonated deeply within him, somewhere beyond his cock and head and heart.
She pushed him away, and with her now familiar dolphin grace flipped up onto a nearby counter top, tumbling into the neat piles of folded laundry so that they formed a soft jumbled heap underneath her. She slid off the bottom of her swimming suit with two fingers and lay back, propped on her elbows. No longer was anything hiding behind her smile. Nothing was hidden. The joy and desire on her face shone unbound, like sunlight.
He didn’t bother to take off his clothes. He wanted her so suddenly, and so badly. He involuntarily growled as he climbed his way up her body, his lips and tongue leaving a wet trail along her legs, her pussy, her belly, her breasts, her neck, her mouth. She slid her hands under his shirt, massaging his chest as he felt the soft wet slit of her pussy against him, his cock enfolded within her lips. She unbuttoned his shirt as he slid his cock just inside the wet fold of her pussy, teasing her before he entered her.
“Take me now,” she whispered. “I need you now.”
He pushed the head of his cock inside her and her entire body rippled, as if he were a pebble dropped onto the surface of some boundless sea, and as her hips pushed to meet his he began to thrust all the way inside her, deeply, filling her. As he closed his eyes and buried his hands in her hair to pull her breathless kisses closer the whole wearied world was left momentarily disappeared behind him--the sympathy cards, the funeral directors, the endless to-do lists, the sterile hospital room, the casseroles lying in his freezer like sides of beef, the soul-dead preacher at the funeral, the countless minutes wasted in waiting rooms of countless doctors, his daughter’s tears, his own tears, the blood tests, the EKG's, the brain scans--all the tears and all the blood and all the loss and all the pain left effortlessly in ashes, leaving only the white hot points of connection where their bodies touched, pussy to cock, hand to breast, teeth to lip. Connection is all.
When she came she wrapped her arms and legs around him, crushing him with the intensity of it, and her pussy’s tight grasp of his cock made him come seconds later, his cock spilling a torrent of cum deep inside her. They lay together exhausted on the counter, drinking in the smell of their sex mixing with the smell of detergent and fabric softener.
He did not know how long he lay with her. All he knew was that he bordered on the edge of dreams when the slam of the front door echoed through the house and into the room where they lay, and the next several moments were spent in a hurried frenzy of dressing. She may have been on the edge of panic at being discovered, but her face was wide with the thrill of their furtive fuck.
The world returned to him in small increments. The two girls sat at the kitchen table and ate their ice cream. Ashe and he walked back outside into the pool area as quietly as possible, suddenly shy to make eye contact, nerves alight with dizzy pleasure.
By the time their kids returned to the poolside both of their racing hearts had slowed, the smiles on their faces had been controlled, their shyness fading into normalcy.
He knew the world would soon fully return, both to him and to this unpredictably sexy woman before him. Chores and petty frustrations would find a path back into their lives. His grief would eventually pounce on him as it always did, unbidden, one minute coping and the next minute a crush of emotion, devouring him. Connection is all, but the world moves on, relentless.
He looked to her and saw she was no longer smiling. Her eyes were downcast.
“Are you….?” he asked. He wasn’t sure how to complete the sentence.
“Am I what?” she returned, her voice assuming the tiniest edge or irritation.
“Okay. Are you okay?”
“Good,” he said. It was so hard to gauge what she was thinking. It was so hard to gauge what anyone was thinking. How do people do this?
he remembered thinking, mere moments ago.
She regarded him. “I’m fine. I really am.” The edge of irritation had gone away.
“You’re not angry?”
“No more than usual.” She allowed him a small smile as she said it.
She said, “Am I going to see you again? I mean, not that you have to or anything.” She spoke a little too quickly, betraying her apparent nonchalance.
“I’d like to.”
She said, “None of this is easy.”
“I’m repeating myself.”
“I don’t mind.”
“None of it is easy, and it doesn’t get any easier.”
“It might,” he said softly. “It might not. The therapists all say, ‘It takes time.’”
“Fuck the therapists.” He laughed, and she joined in.
“Maybe it gets easier,” he said. “Maybe. Someday.”
“What happens until then?” she asked him.
“I have no idea,” he answered, as honestly as possible. He reached across the table and lay his hand on hers, not caring if his daughter noticed the gesture or not. She smiled back at him, but it was the old smile from the playground, bound up in the layers of hidden meaning behind it. Their two little girls held hands and giggled, then ran toward the pool and jumped in together, airborne for a giddy instant before succumbing to the rules of gravity, their delighted cries lost underwater as a plume of splashing water arced into the bright air, afire with sunlight.
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<a href="https://www.lushstories.com/stories/straight-sex/endless-playground.aspx">Endless Playground</a>