fire escape

Remember that night when your black curls tumbled down onto your shoulders, your still-sober lips tracing the outline of my neck beneath my inch-long hair? We were quite a pair then, and you said so, as we dangled our bare feet from the third story fire escape and talked about the world between us in an essential moment alone that burned into my memory as if it were a habit. Your guests chattered in the living room, their fiddles and talk of Vallejo and the light from the apartment now theirs, not ours, the smoke from a neighbor’s barbecue, the stars, the rush of the busy world faraway. It was cooler here, high above, outside, the heat and grime of the day only lingering in the  un-air-conditioned buildings and down below on the expressway with the cars and the people walking on the other side, tomorrow’s headlines  from the dangerous park across the way. You pointed to the roses there, the pizza joint with its stained glass windows and Italian statues, the woman who held tight to her purse and lost it anyway as she fell to the sidewalk, gunshots still echoing each time that you watched my old car drive up to your building and you ran down the stairs to meet me outside in this, the only affordable neighborhood nearby.

You were young then. A week later you showed up outside my work and called up to me, then realizing that we had no balconies in these office buildings, ran up the four flights of stairs. I startled to look up and see you there, insisting you had to see me now, not in three hours. I screamed to see your head shaved, your indecency now reaching its heights as you told me of your adventures, your readings,  your rock star status across the states, your friend’s car broken down for hours on the side of a rural highway, you told me. And you told me of remembering the days you spent there once before, before you knew me, and I gazed at you, reaching for your hair that never grew back, gazing at you and your lips now distracting me from anything that may have been worthwhile in my office, the ladies laughing as I wandered back to my desk, struck down by your grand gesture, your impatience, by the thrilling thought of 5:00. They knew, you see, they knew what I did not know, and I would love you then, in spite of it all, as if fate had ordered it.

It was 2am when I drove home, Aretha singing on my AM radio, a natural woman, me, your fingers lingering beneath my lace blouse, the narrow neck of it stalling you. I had to unbutton it myself. You then removed my clothing like scarves one by one, the remaining hooks and zippers and buttons and such much simpler to decipher, to undo, to push apart the openings, your finger, tongue, words so filthy, I know, mi conchita, you said, I let you, begged you, moments like this, dark summer nights, a hot mattress, the whirr of a ceiling fan, your skin, your strange words still imprinted somewhere, retrievable on cold winter days, yes, it was real I tell myself, and then sometimes like now I wonder at times what was real, even now what is real.

ashes to ashes

If we were to die suddenly, on a lovely day in Pompeii, what would we be? What would we become if we were locked in this very moment, left mute in a moment of mass destruction, a moment in time in violence, in an emphatic stop, in truth?

Would we be shackled, ever struggling to flee?

Would we hide, pull our melting tunics to cover our faces?

Would we be left waiting, forever frozen in the expectation of salvation?

Would you reach for me? Would I cradle your head against my breasts one last time as you touch my hand, my burning hair? Hair is ash, flesh is ash, among loving bones, corpses left longing, so long ago, so long.


The windows rattle with each gust, wind restless, wind will not let me rest. I lie sleepless with the creaking shutters, the screen door that has not caught downstairs. Too lazy to leave my bed, I lie awake still listening, fearful, until I think the door might tear right off its hinges.

The stairs are warm, to my surprise, as I creep out, stairs so familiar, so welcoming, welcoming as the front door, the screen door now that I lock shut, if only for this night. Night now softer in the glow of a street light, wind ferocious, but it is my match, yes, my match now that I can see it clearly.

From the window below, the stars grow, bright in the sky cleared by the force, the cold bracing, embracing me as I unhitch the door, let it swing open, my hair blowing as I walk down to the path, the cold slap across my face, the searing heat beneath skin, your kiss, your violent lust.

contemplating the season

Night has come, maybe a few seconds later. Or did morning come a few seconds earlier today? Winter is here–I have always dreaded those days of enclosure, the cold, the world so much smaller. But this season brings clarity, the promise of new sun, longer days, more light.

The darkness that has prevailed in recent weeks is lifting now, as if to rejoice in the holiday.

Light makes way for new starts, new life, new love. Seasons pass, and leave us wiser–we hope–with memories that nourish our souls, with memories that break our hearts.

together alone

Sylvie was tossing in her bed, the bed to be precise, in room #804 of our famous hotel.

It was a bad choice, Sylvie had thought as she walked into the familiar lobby, relieved though to find unfamiliar faces at the desk, an older bartender at the bar, and Jean-Paul not loitering in the lobby. Sylvie took her sunglasses off–it was night, after all. She set her suitcase on the ground as she waited for the elevator. L. Yes, here. No one stepped off. She stepped on, up, down the hall, to her room.

Her exhaustion gave way to crisp sheets, the Mozart playing low beneath dimmed lights, the Andes mint on the night stand. It was all so predictable, but so comforting. Sylvie undressed, and let the cool cotton envelop her. She slept.


Todd slept, as well, fitfully, as he was not sleeping in his own bed, as he had become accustomed, but in Sylvie’s bed. It was too soft, too warm, and to top it all off, an obstacle course through various toys that she used, quite evidently, when Todd was absent.

It was late when Todd awoke again, nearly 11pm. The wood fire was surely out by now, but lingering fatigue was the winner in the argument, and he stayed in bed, disrupted at last by the small rubbery item that had rolled out of the bag beneath the pillow. Todd thought to tend the fire, but grabbed the toy, the tapered soft tip vaguely familiar, vaguely arousing as he wrapped his fist around, remembered it, perhaps, remembered it opening him up one night, one rare night so long ago now it seemed…

The lube was prominently displayed on the neighboring nightstand–his, when he’d have it. Todd reached for it, popped the cap up and squirted a small drop into his finger. On his side, he could reach back, finger his tiny dirty hole. He felt himself blush, he thought, so enticing the sensation, so exquisite the memory of Sylvie’s fingers filling his ass as his cock filled her mouth. Yes, yes, a climax that seemed never to come, then never to end. He coated the toy with lube, and drew with it gently beneath his balls.


Oh, Todd! Sylvie was dreaming. Her sleep mingled with the day’s unfulfilled desire. Exhaustion only exacerbated by the slumber that had overtaken her, but as if only to tease her. Sylvie lay restless in the bed, her legs now loose and open, her hand absentmindedly finding its way between them.

She was wet–no, moist. He was not there, and she was sleepy, only a little tempted, perhaps to touch, perhaps more to relieve the tension as she so often did, finger on clit, round and round. Yes, so lovely, these daily masturbations. But now she needed, she wanted more.

The cord of the Hitachi dangled from her bag, and she yanked the massager out by it. She followed the length of the lamp cord to find an outlet quickly. Sylvie lay on her belly, and pushed against the wall to move the bed back far enough, pulled out the lights  and fit the plug of the Hitachi into the wall. She turned over and opened her legs, the large mechanical white head near as she pulled the covers around her, as she lay back against the multitude of pillows, some propped beneath her legs as well. So long, Sylvie thought, since she had surrendered to the unmistakable hum of the machine. She pressed the button to the lower setting, still strong, and placed it above her clit, tensing from it, then pressing into the power, near the precipice, higher, her breath light in this world, a warmth still overcoming, her skin on alert, and still, still unfilled, oh, that gripping desire. She reached into her bag, but the other toys were not in it. She was wet, testy now so close to relief. Sylvie turned the vibrator to high, her body shrinking, shaking, shrieking, yes, at last, at last, as she collapsed into the pillows, the comfort of the strange bed surrounding her, welcoming her, even in her tears, her loneliness, her freedom, her dreams.


Todd raised his knee, rolling onto his erection as he found more lube and relaxed, letting his fingers, the dildo, enter him, burning first, then relinquishing resistance, in, the tightness now his cock stiffer, the memory of Sylvie standing behind him, strapped onto the toy, penetrating, pushing gently in as she pressed the small of his back with her small hands, her power radiant as he told her to fuck him, fuck him hard. He rolled now onto his knees, reaching back to push the dildo in, then out, damn, yes, his balls filling, near. But no, not quite. That distant night so long ago, Todd had reached back for Sylvie, reached back to feel her excitement, her delight, she said, as she watched her new cock slide in and out of him, his gasps, and at last his request. Take it off, he wanted, yes, and she had left the dildo deep in his ass as she turned him over.–Todd turned over now, too.– Sylvie had climbed on top of his swollen cock, her juices warm, tightly taking him in, fucking him… his hand now in that place, lubed, her pillow near as he smelled her hair, her perfume, but not her warmth, faster. She had swallowed him sometimes, his cock holding back as it pushed against her throat, the vibrator then beneath his balls then irresistible, ecstasy, as his come shot into her mouth, into her cunt, into her, skin, gone. Todd looked beneath the pillow, but the vibrator was not in its usual place. He arched his back, the dildo tight against the bed, deeper, mmm, as he ran his hand faster, yes, more lube, faster, at the top, his hand coated now, relief, sleep, sadly invading.


This morning, when I came, I felt you through my own fingertips, a prosthesis to fill me. I cried out your name.

Then, my heart beating, I craved your kiss. It is then that it always hits me: the need for sex is so easy to satisfy, the scent of your warm skin,  your voice, your words, your breath, your beating heart, your mind–you–impossible to replace.

home alone 2

“Well, that is that,” Todd thought as he pulled into the empty driveway.

Corners of newspaper advertisements stuck out of the mailbox. He didn’t bother to remove them. As he climbed from the car, he saw a scarf lying in the driveway. Her perfume. Maybe it was there before.

Todd fished again in his pocket for the house key, fiddled with the door–those old locks had to be just right. The house smelled mildly of mold and grass, that farmhouse scent of emptiness, as if the earth would swallow the whole of civilization quickly without a wood fire in the stove.

It was cold here now. Todd went to the basement and opened the door to the stove. Cold ashes filled the bottom, and he carefully scooped them out into the bin. The only good kindling was gone, and the wood itself wasn’t the best this time around–still too green, or maybe just too wet from sitting outside too long in the fallen leaves. He moved the driest log from the pile into the stove: a log with a lot of bark, rolls of newspaper beneath and beside. He struck the match. The paper burned, and the fire quickly went out. He rolled up a few more pages and lit them again.

As the bark began to burn, Todd thought of Sylvie’s hungry face as she lay in Jean-Paul’s hotel bed that afternoon. She reminded Todd more of a baby bird in the nest then than of the fun-loving libertine he had expected when he knocked on the door of #504. Sylvie’s lust these days seemed laced with expectation, her love–or was it disappointment?–confusing any desire he had to fuck her brains out the way he dreamed to when she was away from him.

The bark burned a little before the fire went out again. Todd tore up a cardboard box and lit more rolls of paper between the log, the fire flaming as he fanned it, the stove nearly hot enough to close. This was not a day he could leave the fire untended, and he spaced a few of the logs near the stove to dry out a little more.

Sylvie was gone.

He looked up the stairs and realized that the living room lights were still out, the kitchen cold and silent.

The log at last began to smoke. Todd was now covered in the scent of it himself, in the clothes and exhaustion of the day. He remembered the sound of Sylvie’s heels clicking on the floor, the door shutting, and her footsteps quick down the fifth floor corridor, the elevator door opening, ringing, closing.

The bartender had excused himself then, offering the panties first to Jean-Paul, then handing them to Todd before rushing back to the relative safety downstairs.

Todd had stayed there at the window then, Jean-Paul looking out then with him, both silent. They watched the street below, the right turn indicator of a convertible flashing, flashing, then gone.

It was Jean-Paul who had extended his hand when the silence became unbearable.

“She’ll come back,” Jean-Paul suggested, not fully privy to what had just happened. Jean-Paul meant well, though the hopefulness of his words only suggested to Todd that the opposite was more likely.

The French guy seemed likable enough, Todd had thought, the–yes–jealousy evaporating as Jean-Paul welcomed him into the room. It was friendly. It was hot. Sylvie had hoped to lure Todd there–he was sure this encounter was a test to him of some sort.

And he had pushed her away, pushed away his own fantasy, or at least that manifestation of it.

Todd closed the stove and walked up the steps from the cellar. He turned on the living room lights, and sat for a moment before running back down to check–yes, the fire was burning. He threw on two more logs, and went up the stairs, then to the shower.

He peered into the bedroom: the covers were neat. Yes, she had been here. The closet door was shut, everything strangely tidy.

Most of Sylvie’s toiletries were gone. Her towel was still mildly damp. Todd turned the water to hot and undressed as steam filled the room. He stepped into the tub, let the water run down his face, smoke and sweat mixed, blurred as his vision, his fatigue now overwhelming. Todd washed quickly and dried, then. Oh, the last night, the last days, sleep, sleep. He walked into the bedroom. He folded down the covers of Sylvie’s bed and climbed in. Within moments, Todd was asleep.


Todd looked at Sylvie. She watched as he stood, then turned. The vibrations quieted.

“Todd, I am here,” Sylvie felt him pull back once more, as though trying to escape her magnetic field. “I thought you wanted this. If you want me, I am here for you. I am here now.”

Todd stopped for a moment, then stepped back. Sylvie pulled her legs back together, “I need the bathroom.”

Todd walked to the window with the other men. “Ah, she’s really hot now, isn’t she?” Jean-Paul nudged Todd, who stared out blankly.

“What now?” Jean-Paul laughed.

Sylvie pulled the sheet from the bed and wrapped it around herself as she hurried into the bathroom and shut the door. She sat down, numb with exhaustion, with frustration, with the sudden realization that she belonged anywhere but here. She was still wet, and reached to remove the egg, then tossed it in the sink. She dried off and exchanged the towel for the dress that was hanging on the back of the door.

It was a lovely dress, Sylvie thought sadly, as she slipped it over her head. Her hair was a mess, and she combed her fingers through it, then opened the door.

Sylvie bent to retrieve her purse from the floor, her wallet, the receipt for the valet. She slid up into her shoes.

“Jean-Paul, thank you. I hope you enjoy the rest of your visit.” Sylvie felt her throat thicken as she fought back tears. “I need my phone. I have to go.”

Jean-Paul, seemingly dumbfounded, handed it to her.

Todd continued to stare out the window, as she put the phone into her purse and walked quickly through the door, out into the hall.

Sylvie continued to walk, hit the button for the elevator, and waited for a moment before opening the door to the stairs.

In the lobby, she walked past the desk and through the door. She gave the ticket to the valet and stood on the sidewalk as a cool breeze hit her face.

“Ah yes, ma’am,” the valet drove up a few minutes later. “I have already received a tip.”

“Oh,” Sylvie answered, “well, this is from me.”

She handed the valet her money, all of it, and rolled quickly away before he could count. She stopped at the light, turned right, and drove farther and farther from the hotel. She drove through the city streets on the sunny day, through the roads that led to those smaller state highways, the fields and ponds still alive and shining. She drove to Todd’s house, and showered, made the bed, changed clothes, and packed just the necessities. Sylvie climbed back into her car, and thought, for the first time in a long time, “Where do I want to go?”

In a few hours she was farther away, new meadows, new sky, as the sky turned dark and starry, as the numbness began to fade, as she began to miss him, if just a little–did he miss her at all?–as she began to think about the past several months, as she began to think about tomorrow.

home alone

Light streamed into the room as a door shut, shaking the curtains open. Todd rolled over, reaching for Sylvie as he had so many mornings before. An indentation remained in her place, the pillow still damp and fragrant. But Sylvie was gone.

Todd’s head pounded as he rolled back to the nightstand for his glasses. A pink robe lay bundled in front of the closet, a pile of clothes beside the open door, shoes left fallen sideways–the unchosen. As he sat up, Todd’s throat seized; the room was wobbly if now in focus, and he lay back, spinning, feverish, cursing the light so early, so–well, it was nearly noon now. Of course she had left for work hours ago.

Todd strained to sit up, then lay back in bed, took his glasses back off. Not yet, not yet. If his eyes could be forced to see the day clearly, his mind remembered the night before in short segments. Sylvie had wandered off into the night sometime around the third or fourth drink, all with his best wishes, his complete incapacity to reconcile that he himself had pushed her away; he himself had pushed her fantasy into the realm of reality. And yet it was she whom he punished that night. It was glass six or seven before Todd had managed to dull his senses enough to bear it: to bear the thought of her with another man, to bear his own brutality where before the spankings had all been in good fun.

He thought of it for some time now, his own life seeming to dissolve while Sylvie refused to despise him. A business failed, and she remained, she even supported him, urged him to talk to her, climbed enthusiastically into his bed each night. No. He could never bear her softness, her desire.

And then, somewhere in the night, Todd knew that Sylvie had returned. It seemed a miracle then, her glowing body lying across the bed as she ran a bath. He first could only stop and watch her, there, so apparently satisfied by another man. Todd felt she was like a beloved cat, returned from adventures he could never understand or know. Sylvie always seemed so eager to share her life with him, even this. But something in himself kept him from wanting to ask her, or even to listen as she told him. He wanted only to reclaim her now, and the feeling overwhelmed him as much as she fascinated him just at that moment, despite his stupor.

Todd reached beneath her dress, her murmuring as he pulled off her soaked panties, as he kissed her gently, fucked her gently at first, then roughly as she laughed in her sleepiness, whispering in French, words he could not know, words for another. Roughly, he fucked her like a slut, his love. Todd pulled out before he came in her, let his come soak his own hand as he sat beside Sylvie, who was now fast asleep. He staggered to the bath and took a cloth to wash this all away, this shame, this night.

Sylvie had rolled onto her side. Todd pulled her dress gently off and covered her, then climbed in beside her, close behind her for sometime before she faded, before the room faded away.

Todd had his regular dream that night. He had built a large cage where Sylvie could have everything. Inside it he put all of the things she loved most. Then, he led her past the bars, showed it all to her. She was ecstatic and hugged him, exploring for days with him before he went on the other side and shut the door. He stayed close, talking to her through the bars, and it seemed perfect to him then: she was happy, and he could always be with her, know that she was always safe. But then, one day he went to visit her, and she did not come near. Somehow, she was gone, though it was impossible. And then, in the dream, it somehow was reversed–which made no sense to him as he rethought the whole thing. He was on the outside, looking in. And yet, he was the prisoner, panicked because nothing made sense, and the real world had become hers and not his, and he could not escape where he was now.

Todd lay on the bed for some time before sitting up, walking to the bath to drink several glasses of water, then shower, then.. yes, shave! Now it was time to get back to business, to accomplish something. He dressed, in clothes neater than the ones he had worn for the past several weeks. He combed his hair.

Todd suddenly thought to share his new vision with Sylvie, and dialed her cell.

“Sylvie?..” She had answered, but did not speak immediately.

“Yes? This is Sylvie,” she seemed to pant hurriedly.

“Are you running? At lunch? Perhaps I could…” Todd suggested, not seeming to believe his own words, “perhaps I could meet you.”

But Sylvie did not answer, least not in words. Todd heard her, though, muffled desire heating the airwaves in tones he had not prompted from her in so long.

It was the soundtrack that broke his heart, the relentless satisfaction he had forgotten, Sylvie’s pleading, her oh, her sigh, her long silence. And then, his.

Todd closed the phone, and put it in his pocket as he ran down the stairs. Todd grabbed his car keys from the cabinet by the door, and went out into the day–the first time in perhaps a week. The sunshine shocked him, the colors so clear and vivid that they seemed surreal to him now. The car sat in the drive, undriven for over a month, he realized as he climbed in, adjusted the seat, the mirrors. It started, to his surprise, and he put the car in reverse, then turned out the driveway, and down the road.


Early evening rush of cars heading home in the wet streets, I am already home, the day draining.

I am safe, and warm, and have just crawled from the bath I ran when I came home, red wine, its heat, desire to climb into bed tempting, desire to hold you overwhelming.

I do wish to stay undressed here with you instead of dressing, instead of heading back into the cold rain as I am about to do.

I do think of you when I leave, even for the most ordinary things, milk, bread, soap, do think of your warm tongue thrilling as it opens me, as I lay in the luxury of yes.