Sarah had her epiphany in a place called Ventimiglia, an ancient sea town a few kilometers from Genoa. She had left her husband in Rome after an argument, and she had driven the small rented Fiat up the coastal highway, up the left side of the boot, the car radio blasting rock music to help her forget her miseries. She had a vague notion of driving as far as Nice, but when darkness approached she found herself exhausted. A sign said Ventimiglia and had an arrow pointing over the cliff. Was there actually a town down there?
Another sign, one corner bent and its red paint peeling, said HOTEL SOPHIA. It was the name of the hotel that did it. Sarah had known a girl in college named Sophia. Sarah's first and only lesbian experience. Sultry Sophia, the girl with broad hips and a tropical liquid cunt. The affair had been brief, intense, completely divine, and had ended only because Sarah had been convinced she wanted a man as a mate and not a woman. So the affair with Sophia ended, and a week later Sarah met David. He was good-looking, had a job waiting for him in Wall Street, and he seemed to enjoy going down on her. They were married a month after they graduated.
That was three years ago. Now David was snorting coke in Rome with his British friends and Sarah had left him for good. Tough shit, Sarah thought. She started crying as she turned into the narrow road that led down the cliffs to Ventimiglia.
* * *
The hotel had three stories, ten rooms, and a lovely slanted red tile roof splattered with bird droppings. All the rooms had balconies and faced the sea. The view from the rooms showed no beach, only a line of large yellow boulders and fishing boats and the waves coming in to crash against the rocks and die. The sound of the waves, relentless, the unending heartbeat of the sea, was everywhere, in every room, in your ears, in your belly, and in your head. No need for blasting rock music in Ventimiglia, no need for blasting rock music to forget your life. Sarah thought she had arrived in heaven, and after the ancient porter dropped her bags in the room and limped away with his tip, she went to the window and looked out at the sea and told herself she wanted to live here forever. I'll marry a count, she thought. She would marry an Italian count and he would build her a castle in Ventimiglia. But no count, no castle, and no marriage. She was finished with that. She would settle for the waves.
* * *
The woman who ran the hotel was called Signora Maldi. She was in her forties, with pale skin, black hair, dark flashing eyes, and heavy breasts that threatened to burst through her dress. She spoke broken English and she apologized for the absence of airconditioning.
"Always broken," she said. "Stupid machine."
She made a gesture with her hand. Sarah said she didn't mind, the room was cool enough. Could she have a lemonade outside? She walked through the tiny lobby and into the garden behind the hotel. She chose one of the white tables, and she sat down to wait for her lemonade.
When Signora Maldi arrived with the lemonade on a tray, she found Sarah crying.
Signora Maldi put the lemonade on the table, then put the tray down and placed her hands on her hips.
"What's the matter with you?"
Sarah dried her eyes and looked up at her. "I'm all right."
"Why are you crying? You are too beautiful to cry."
"I left my husband. He's in Rome."
And she told Signora Maldi everything. Signora Maldi sat down and held Sarah's hand as she listened. The older woman kept nodding her head, her dark eyes fixed on Sarah's face. When Sarah finished by calling David a bastard, Signora Maldi laughed and said:
"That's good. It's better to hate him. Then you don't feel too much pain, eh?"
"Where did you learn to speak English?"
"In school, where else? I have a cousin in Brooklyn and he speaks to me on the telephone. He says Anna, you should come to America. The hell with him, I'm staying here."
"I like your name."
"Anna? You like the name Anna?"
"Yes, I'm Anna Maldi. Everyone says I look like Anna Magnani, but I'm not Anna Magnani, I'm Anna Maldi. Men are bastards, eh?"
"Some of them anyway," Sarah said, and she suddenly started crying again.
This time Signora Maldi put her arms around Sarah and drew her close and rocked her. Sarah found her face pressed into the globe of a large breast, the flesh like a pillow beneath her cheek. She could feel the warmth of the breast under Signora Maldi's dress. She could smell Signora Maldi's perfume. She thought she could feel a large nipple against her chin. Yes, the nipple was there, she could feel it. Not a small nipple, but a big one.
My God, I'd love to, Sarah thought. The idea was crazy. Signora Maldi would scream and smack her head. She would be thrown out of the hotel. Maybe Signora Maldi would call the police and they would deport her. You're crazy, Sarah thought. The ending of her marriage had made her crazy. She lowered her face an inch and closed her teeth around the bulge of Signora Maldi's fat nipple.
Signora Maldi muttered something in Italian and she suddenly stopped rocking Sarah. As the older woman held the younger woman against her breast, the two women seemed frozen in time. Then Sarah heard the word "bella". She knew that word. Bella, bella, I love you dear Bella. Bellisimo. She bit down on the nipple again.
Signora Maldi groaned. Her hands gripped Sarah's head and gently pushed Sarah's face away. "Not here," Signora Maldi said. "Come to my room."
* * *
The sound of the sea, the waves, filled the inside of Sarah's head. The window was open, a cool breeze wafting into the room, the noise of the squawking seagulls playing counterpoint to the sound of the waves. They lay on the wide bed, Signora Maldi on her back, Sarah lying beside her. Signora Maldi had her dress unbuttoned, one large breast uncovered, its dark nipple in Sarah's active mouth.
Sarah sucked the enormous tit. She was no longer crying. She no longer thought of David. Screw David, he could never give her this. She liked sucking his cock, but this was a woman's breast and she liked it better. She sucked hard, she sucked gently, she licked and tugged at the nipple with her lips. Meanwhile her hands roamed over Signora Maldi's belly and thighs. Sarah wanted more. She slid her hand beneath Signora Maldi's dress and found the soft skin between her thighs. Slowly, she inched her hand upward until the edge of her hand touched the warmth of Signora Maldi's sex where it bulged through the crotch of her panties. Signora Maldi's cunt. Anna Maldi's cunt.
Anna Maldi chuckled softly. "You want the pussy, eh? Is that what you want? Okay, I'll give it to you." She pulled at the hem of her dress until she had it up to her belly. Then she urged Sarah off her chest and said: "Go on, take my panties off and you can have my pussy. You're so beautiful, I can't resist you. Go on, do it."
Sitting upright, Sarah now looked at the exposed breast with its saliva-coated nipple, the parted thighs, the white panties whose crotch showed the shadow of Anna Maldi's sex. Sarah was lost. She leaned forward, found the waistband of the panties and tugged them down over Anna Maldi's hips and thighs and legs and feet, all without looking at the place where she wanted to look most.
Would Medusa turn her into stone?
When Sarah finally looked, Anna had her knees up and wide apart, her cunt open and waiting for Sarah, her fingers rubbing the bush of dark hair above the flower of her sex.
"Go on," Anna said. "Suck me. Suck my juices. Look how wet I am for you."
Sarah moaned as she bent to the offering, the musk of the woman's sex overwhelming her senses. She started licking gently along the meaty labia. This was not Sophia, this was not a college girl. This was the cunt of a mature woman, a cunt in full ripeness, the clitoris long and thick, its tip a pink bean nestled in the hood. Sarah licked lightly up one side, down the other side, her nose tickled by the wild jungle of dark hair.
Anna evidently did not want gentleness; she pulled Sarah's face into her cunt, so that Sarah felt as though her face had been mashed into a split mango.
"Suck me hard," Anna said.
And Sarah started sucking, pulling in the warm juices, scouring the vaginal opening, sucking north, south, east, and west, down to the edge of the anus and then up to the clitoris again. She fixed on the fat clitoris, tongued it and chewed it as Anna groaned and rocked her knees back and forth. "Suck me," Anna said. "Suck my pussy. Oh, what a good sucker you are. Do it there. And there too. Oh, I adore it!"
Anna finally came, jerking upward, trembling, her hands holding Sarah's head in place as she pumped upward again and again. Sarah held on. She could hear the sea. She had her nose mashed against Anna's clitoris as she sucked the juices out of the running hole.
* * *
After that Sarah belonged to Anna Maldi. Each day at noon, Anna ran Sarah's credit card through the machine to charge Sarah for the room. After that Sarah had lunch, usually a light salad and a glass of wine, and afterward, in the quiet of the afternoon siesta, Sarah would go to Anna's room to bury her face between Anna's open thighs.
Anna was not easy to please. Sarah learned that Anna needed three, four, five orgasms before she ordered Sarah to stop. Then Sarah would get one of the breasts, get a nipple to suck, while Anna's strong fingers pumped in and out of Sarah's cunt until Sarah had an orgasm. One orgasm, never two orgasms. And after that Anna would roll over and tell Sarah to do the other place, Anna's hairy little anus that drove Sarah wild with lust. She loved servicing Anna, she adored it. She knew Anna did not care about her, no real affection at all. Anna had taken to patting Sarah's cheek and calling Sarah her little lesbian, her little pussy-eater. "You suck my cunt so well," Anna said, "maybe I'll keep you and never be with a man again. Come on, do it to me once more. In my ass this time."
Every day. Every afternoon. In a small hotel in a place called Ventimiglia. What am I? Sarah thought. Was she a lesbian? Or was it merely that she had a hunger to please? Or maybe it was both. On the day before she would leave Anna and drive to Genoa to board a plane to Milano and then to New York, Sarah lay behind Anna's raised ass, sucking Anna from behind, her nose pushing at Anna's anus, her tongue swirling in Anna's cunt, her fingers rubbing her own clitoris to make herself come.
I'm praying, Sarah thought. This is an altar and I'm praying. And then she heard the sea again, the crash of a wave on the rocks, the music of Ventimiglia.
I am what I am, Sarah thought. My name is Sarah and this is what I am. For the first time in her life, she understood a few things. Thank you, Ventimiglia.