I am Pleasure


'Oh fuck me.'

I heard it clearly in my ears, but couldn't be sure if I'd said it out loud.


I watched the tiny swirls of steam coming off the water. I figured I should test the temperature, figured I was acting selfishly, figured I wasn't going to test it first, figured I didn't care. I lifted one leg and plunged it deeply, unforgivingly into the tub.

The sting was immediate, my skin screamed pleadingly. I held it there, waiting to see if the growing heat could overwhelm my determination to torture myself with it. Electric heat engulfed my lower leg, but I snarled and fought back. Then as the pain subsided, with a kind of tyrannical triumph, I lifted myself forward and plunged the other leg in as well, encouraged now to let the drama play out yet again. Soon I was lowering myself down in a low squat, hesitating only a moment before a last, driving, masochistic plunge of my buttocks, my thighs, my sensitive sex into the searing bath. And as the screams from every nerve I possessed below my solar plexus cried out and were silenced, I lay back. For the first moment in a seeming lifetime of numbness, I felt alive.

And I began to relax.

Who the fuck was this woman? I couldn't help but summon the image again of feeling she'd just slammed into my tiny, tightening world like a meteor. And just like some graphic animation or re-enactment or some shit in a PBS documentary, I saw waves of my firmament rippling and heaving out and around me as well. And that scared me. I was out of my comfort zone now, pathetic as it was. Here she'd already pushed me to agree to get ice cream with her, which is exactly what I didn't want to do, and I'd only managed to delay things by telling her I needed to shower first.

The bath was her idea. "Showers are for people who need to get to their job," she'd called out, already mining my hall closet for a towel. "Baths are for people going out to get ice cream." She'd then busied herself getting everything prepared for me, running the bath, lighting a scented candle I hadn't lit probably ever because it was for decoration. I felt for all the world like I was suddenly her guest, in my own home.

I thrust my arms into the tub and cupped and washed the too warm water over my face, then again over my hair, my head. Again and again I anointed myself, before settling down further until my feet could brace against the far end of the bath, indulging in one last moment of self-inflicted pain against my breasts, my nipples. Watching the long, mouse-brown ends of my hair curl and pool on the surface to each side, I wondered how long the oil had been accumulating on them. How long had it been since I'd washed myself? And as my breathing became more rapid from the heat and the moistness of the air, I began to imagine sinking beneath the surface. Giving myself over to the warm water, letting it hold me just a moment longer before taking me in, taking me over, taking me away....

Then realization shoved itself into my self-indulgent daydream that I wouldn't. I couldn't. My lungs would betray me, I'd gasp for breath, and I'd pull myself back into the unreality of my existence feeling that much weaker, that much more ashamed. Instead I stretched one leg up from the surface and fumbled for a soft, nylon scrubby with my toes. For a moment I marveled at the water playing over my lower leg, my foot. Wondered if it should be captured on canvas. Decided it never would and, grasping the scrubby, pulled it up toward my hand.

"Hey Olivia, can I come in?"

I seized up inside. She seemed to say that a lot.

Then cracking the door just a bit, "I got you some wine, sorry, I hope that's ok. You don't have to have it if it's not, I just figured since you have it...."

I noticed myself bite my lip and grimace. Who the fuck was this woman?

"Um...I'm kinda...." That's all I managed to get out.

"Oh that's cool, I'm not looking," she said pushing slowly into the room with her hand over her eyes. "I swear, I just thought you might want this." She posed such a comical figure trying to shield her sight from the tub while backing sideways toward it with the glass in her outstretched arm. I clutched the scrubby up around my breasts involuntarily, smiling all the while. When she'd edged her way close enough I lifted up out of the water a bit and reached for the wine.

She hesitated, drawing the glass back slightly. "I mean, is that ok? I don't know if you drink, or maybe you don't...or maybe you, shouldn't be drinking? Be honest with me please? I don't wanna—"

'Its fine, Steffie. It's ok.'

Seizing the glass awkwardly, I enjoyed the coolness of her hand briefly against my own warm skin. I noticed her making furtive looks around the other hand she'd raised toward me.

'It's ok,' I assured her once again, 'I'm not.... I enjoy wine. Every now and then. I mean, I'm not.... It's ok.'

"Awesome, great. Sorry for this." Turning her face away again she headed back out the door. "Oh, I'm having one too, if that's alright."

'Yes it's more than alright!' My own voice surprised me, echoing briefly in the small room. I hadn't heard it so loudly it in a long time.

Taking a too large gulp from the glass, I coughed slightly and found a place for it on a counter next to me. It felt stale and unappealing, but not entirely unwelcome. It was box-wine, something red and of dubious age that I had in the pantry. A sudden embarrassment came over me that she was drinking it as well, but with a curious relief I realized I already knew she wasn't going to judge me for that. She was right. I already knew so much about her, so easily, so effortlessly. I pushed rippling and heaving waves of water out before me, just to see what happened and where they went. And she was right also when she had said that I already knew I liked her. We'd lived next door to each other for over a year now. But I was never one to get outside of myself if I didn't have to. Was that my thing? Was I just some lonely planet out here in the darkness, always waiting for the next chance rock to smack into me? I don't think so, I mused, trying to find the honesty in myself. In any case, I don't remember that I was always this way.

The sauna-like heat of the water was beginning to overwhelm me. Sweat poured from my head and scalp. A couple more quick gulps of wine and I scooped up the scrubby, lathered it with bath gel, and began to run it over my legs. As I drew it up between my thighs I discovered a need to linger and enjoy the feeling. I toyed with the image of this sparkling woman who had just worked her way into my home...and then so easily insinuated her way into my bathroom as I lay fully open before her in the tub. There were so many ways that could have gone. Perhaps, if I'd been more aware and attentive, I might have kept her here longer. Perhaps if I'd been more confident or decisive, I would have pulled her toward me....

But try as I might, I couldn't summon up any allowance for luxurious, pointless dreams. I wasn't quick-witted, I wasn't confident. I missed opportunities like this all the time, only to fantasize futilely about my failure after the fact. The fantasies didn't help, imagining things were different than they were didn't help, and painting moments that never actually existed but only seemed to exist didn't help either. Because I'd only ended up here. Here. Here I was. And here was a bad, bad place I was coming to realize with a sobering fear. Here was where people get left behind, slowly but inevitably. Here was the place where souls get lost when they've been abandoned.

Blinking back the coming tears with determination I scrubbed the rest of my body quickly, and prepared to leave the comfort of this moment's solitude yet again. But as I leaned up on the edge of the tub and begin to lift myself up my arm slipped downward, dropping me like a boulder back into the bath, as water splashed loudly into the air around me. 'Shit', I sputtered aloud as the waves sloshed against and around my little world. The heat had sapped my strength more than I'd anticipated. I mean that, and...seriously, when had I eaten last? I wasn't sure it was today.

"Olivia. Are you ok?" I could hear her voice approaching as she spoke.

'Yeah fine,' I said too loudly, 'Don't worry about me, I'm fine.'

"Hey sweetie," she gave a couple quick raps on the door even as she was turning the handle. "I'm coming in. I'm coming in hon."

I drew myself into a ball, not so much from embarrassment as from shame. 'I just slipped. That's all. It's no big deal. Prob'ly the wine or something.'

She made her way inward without inhibition, bending over me. I squinched my face a little, playing with my shins under the water, not looking up at her. I'd only slipped in the tub, for god's sakes. Why did I feel like I'd just soiled myself? Yet somehow, huddled like this, naked and wet in her presence, I felt so fully the mess I'd become. And I couldn't summon the courage any longer to pretend to be different.

"Do you want me to help you out, Olivia?"

How!!! I practically screamed it into my own head. How can you help me!?! There's no way out of this, don't you get it? I'm the only one who can get me out of here. And I'm lost, goddammit I'm so fucking, fucking goddamned fucking lost!

I gripped my knees in shame and rage and fought desperately to curl myself up into a ball and disappear forever. Everything in me wanted to do that. Nothing in me had any answers any longer. Nothing in me wanted to answer to anything any longer. And yet here, in this prolonged and pitiful moment...I was here and she was there, and she needed an answer from me.

'Yes. Please.'

She paused for a long time. I wondered what was going on in her face, but didn't turn to look up at her. She must be realizing what she'd got herself into. She must be combing her mind for a way out. The way I would. The way we all do.

But when she finally spoke, it was cat-purr soft, and strangely intimate.

"You didn't wash your hair, honey. Let's wash your hair."


Steffie had become uncharacteristically silent as she worked the lather vigorously yet unhurriedly through my hair. It wasn't lost on me she'd done this countless times with her other children, and likely saw little difference now with me. I saw little difference either.

At her gentle urging, I allowed myself to uncoil, to open up and lie back so I could soak my lathered head in the warm water without dunking my face. Steffie began to work her hands along my temples and then my neck, taking care to always cradle my head to keep me above water. As she scrubbed her fingernails lightly about on my scalp, I was aware my breasts were now fully exposed just above the waterline as well. Which didn't bother me. In fact it seemed just right. I couldn't really bare myself any more fully before her than I already had, I suppose. And she seemed curiously accepting of me so far. It felt so much simpler now to just give myself over to this new and welcomed touch. The rise and fall of the water created a kind of muted breathing in my ears; rising and inhaling and swaddling me in burbling silence, falling and exhaling and birthing me again into cold clarity. I began to notice her own breath as well blowing cool across my face, but resisted the urge to look at her and see how close she must be to me in this moment. A motherly hand scraped lightly along the nape of my neck, around and behind my ears, up across my forehead, then scratched electric nails back and forth across my scalp while working their way downward to finish again gingerly where they'd started. Switching hands she traced the ritual once again on the other side.

A strange sadness swept over me. Grateful that the wetness of my face would disguise the welling of tears, I directed my awareness inside toward breathing and relaxing into it. Into the sadness, the gentleness of her attentions, the play of warmth and wetness across my breasts that almost felt like hands themselves, the sweet and sour smell of wine-breath that wreathed me from above...everything I ever needed was right here, in this moment, I knew.

And if I could only stay here in this porcelain-lined limbo for the space of a half-a-hundred heartbeats...I'd want for nothing ever after.


The soft command was comforting, as was the urging of the hand that held me above the waves. Another hand now traced its way softly down my neck, slowly opening itself gently against my sternum and caressing down between my breasts. Her forearm grazed intentionally against my nipple, gliding down across it as her fingers moved to explore toward my belly.

"It's time for you to come out." I could feel her face against my own, in a way that only the closeness of not-touching could create. I wanted to come for her, yearned to move into her presence, but didn't. Instead I waited, hoping to remain in this moment forever longer, hoping that by never moving nothing would ever change. Change wasn't comforting. Not like this. Change was uncertain, confusing. You couldn't trust change. It would always let you down. Not like this, not like this. I could trust this, if only I could keep it for a precious few moments longer.

"We need to move on," she spoke warmly across my being. Something dawning in me knew she was right, wanted to respond, but I felt myself pushing the impulse away, building a wall of security against the intrusion. I tried to draw myself tight again, to retreat somewhere deeper inside and hide away where the expectations of the world couldn't reach me. But her face was so close to mine now, the almost imperceptible touch and heat of her lips, her nose, her eyes against my own made me yearn to reach out. My eyelids gripped tight, but the tears were now flowing, finding their way between them.

'Just a little longer. Please. Just a little longer.'

The hand on my belly began to trace lower. The fingers played across my abdomen in tentative, unapologetic strokes. And something in my sex began to welcome them, betraying me against myself. I felt a flush of need from below, urging me upward toward them, longing to greet them. Catching in my hair, down there, they tugged and tousled their way toyingly toward up-thrusting thighs. My breasts heaved against the water, my toes pushed against the tub to bring my need upward, closer to meet what I needed to feel. In a furtive moment of elation her fingertips brushed over and past my clitoris to stroke firmly, commandingly, kneadingly down into my thigh.

With a gasp I pushed my face upward, longing to find her lips, her cheek, her chin, anything that I could grasp and nuzzle, nibble at and nurse. Nothing met them. Exhaling in frustration yet still inhibited to open my pleading eyes to her, I reached instead a pleading hand toward her own, grasping and pulling it hard into my sex. I couldn't afford the luxury of being teased. And her fingers complied, pushing against me, feeling their way around seemingly for an opening while knowing all the time it was there. They were enjoying the act of finding their way toward my yearning. Helping, hoping for me to enjoy it as well. Which I wanted to, desperately. I guided her fingers along my opening, feeling a too-sensitive need to pull away, to retract, yet unable to do so anymore. I needed to feel again, needed someone up inside me again, needed to have this woman's touch along my opening. Holding her two middle-fingers tightly against my own I stroked them back and forth several times roughly until I felt that strange yet familiar yearning to be entered, to be filled, to be fulfilled in my yearning. Finally, our fingers spooning intimately together, I guided them into me.

I lunged upward in response, a desire that was electric and uncomfortable. It was a biological need that had to be met at any cost. And the feel of our fingers dancing together like partners, my own showing the lead and hers taking the suggestions and unfolding their flourishes against my lips like a dance, sent heaves of pleasure radiating up into my belly. I began to pant openly, and stretched my accepting mouth upward to find her own, yet still met with nothing. Something in me felt dejected, but there was no time now for self-pity. Her palm was now moving tenderly against my clitoris even as our fingers pushed deeper and deeper again into my sex. I writhed unashamedly, slapping waves about the tub with forceful thrusts. Sensuality gave way to sheer angry purpose as we delved deeper and harder, strokes of desperate hunger, our four fingers curving inward until I felt her fingertips pressing upward against the rough flesh deep inside me, my own fingers working themselves in and out with pumping, violent need.

And then there was the response I'd not felt for so long, not in this way. The sudden, subtle turning from want to must. That magic moment where I no longer needed to urge but only needed to allow. The dawning of daylight which started in my sex and quickly radiated into my belly and down into my thighs. I began to quiver, sensing smaller waves rippling throughout my being even as I bucked against our hands in the water. Subtler ripples washed through me as well. My nipples hardened for attention, my toes grasped against the water, my face yearned upward again, and again they met nothing but no longer needed encouragement.

A new quality of acceptance exploded through me, infinitesimally fine but all-consuming. I was coming. Climaxing. Curled toes pushed against porcelain, several fingers grasping and playing urgently inside, some hungering, some reassuring, a desperate panting for air, a deepening, guttural uuuuhhhhh bloomed forth from me and...

Then there was nothing. And everything. For what seemed a blissful eternity I was beyond the pale purposeless place of my existence. I entered a space outside me that had been waiting for me, that welcomed me. And for a thoughtless, careless moment I was Me. And I liked Me.

But then, with a stomach wrenching rush...I descended back down again, like a plummeting meteorite. To smash back into me.


Wrapped in a thick terry-cloth bath robe I followed Steffie into my bedroom. She carried the bathroom candle in one hand, a bottle of scented oil I'd retrieved from a vanity drawer in the other. Helping me down onto the bed and opening my robe to spread it beneath me like a towel, she straightened my legs along the bed and my arms close beside me. Then in the warm darkness of the candlelight she drew her gaze over my bare form with what seemed sympathetic eyes.

"You're so thin," she whispered, bringing the soft touch of her hand up between my breasts and gently running a caress down along my belly until it ended with a playful tousle in my pubic hair. "I guess there's no better diet plan than being single, huh?"

I only managed a weak smile.

"Oh! Shit, the wine!" Steffie sprung out the door and padded softly down the hall. Left alone I watched the subtle movement of light across the ceiling, feeling only my nakedness like a cool gust of a breeze. What had happened in the tub had been electric, yet hard and relieving like finishing a good work-out. But I still yearned in my thighs, my sex, my belly and toes for something different, something more. Which Steffie had sensed instinctively well. While helping me from the tub she'd even lightly breathed into my ear "Well, that was a start."

She had spoken little during our pleasure, so I assumed she was preparing to make a graceful exit. But as I reached for a towel she grabbed it first and began to dry me off, rubbing comfortingly at times, briskly in some places, encircling me to warm my chest and midriff, then kneeling almost devotedly before me to dry my thighs, my legs, my feet.... At one moment she suddenly, teasingly seized my lower butt in her teeth, then released and kissed at the spot a few times apologetically. It gave me a small start, then after I'd wanted to cry again. Crying seemed so very new somehow, yet Steffie had made me cry several times already.

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byLanceQuiver© 5 comments/ 26031 views/ 10 favorites

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