Memoirs of a Lady Ch. 03byGaucho©
Chapter 3: Smoke From A Hidden Flame
I hear you are singing a song of the past.
I see no tears…
The knock on the door was faint, like a child's shy attempt at a hello. Erica heard it only because she'd just come into the kitchen to freshen her coffee. She stood silently for a moment, waiting to see if the knock came again. When it didn't, she poured her coffee and turned to head back to the terrace, where she'd been enjoying the early morning breezes that flowed serenely off the Mediterranean.
Her path, however, took her by the front door and on impulse she paused and glanced out through the small peep hole. Of course there was no one there and why should there be? Her maid had the day off and the mail wouldn't come for hours. A second impulse grabbed her and before she had given it any conscious thought, the chain was off the latch and her hand grasped the doorknob.
The heavy door slid inward without a sound. As she expected, her front step was empty, as was the vine-covered corridor that connected her villa to the courtyard and the driveway beyond. The newly lush vines diffused the sunlight, darkening the corridor. Was it just her imagination or did the dust appear to be settling back down after a recent disturbance? She took a sip of her coffee. Don't be silly, she told herself. Why would someone come out all this way, knock on her door, and then just leave?
Then she saw the envelope.
She stared at it dumbly for a moment and a small muscle in her eyelid twitched. The envelope was about the size of your average Hallmark card and it lay half-buried in the soft clay beside her doorstep. She might have missed it altogether, for it was almost the same color as the clay; the deep, ruddy shade of brown that you get when you mix water with sand, but one corner of it sat propped gently along the edge of her inlaid tile. It must have been wedged in the door and fallen out when she'd opened it.
Her thoughts were momentarily distracted by the tile; the tile that she'd fallen in love with during her last trip to Morocco. Under other circumstances, she might have taken a few moments and knelt down, running her fingers over the delicately erotic carvings on it. And she would have remembered the trader, a stout, swarthy man with heavy eyelids, a brusque and seasoned salesman who knew a mark when he saw one and relished the thought of swindling this petite and fair-skinned woman.
But he had never met a woman like Erica. And she knew men, especially this one, whose eyes drank up her soft, creamy skin the way the desert soaked up rain. When they concluded their business an hour later, Erica politely but firmly turned down his offer of marriage and left with the tile and a memory; a memory of sweet cream and jasmine, of dark, work-roughened hands on her smooth flesh, and of a thick, heavy cock that swayed before her like a snake, one that she had coaxed from its hood with her eager tongue.
Ordinarily, a memory like this would spur other memories, and her quiet morning on the terrace would become a reverie of carnal bliss. Her nipples would harden as she remembered all the men and women who had kissed and sucked them. The silken flesh between her legs would moisten and swell, aching from the need to be stretched and filled once more. Memory after memory would wash over her, as her lovers joined her on the terrace, inhabiting her with their essence as they had once done with their flesh. With the sun bathing her in its gentle rays, beads of sweat would appear and Erica would massage them into her skin with a lover's caress, pinching and pulling her nipples until the sweet-sharp sensation forced a cry from her lips. Her fingers would slide in and out of her now dripping pussy, avoiding her throbbing clit until the very last moment, when she would lightly scrape a fingernail over it and her juices would gush like grapes in a wine press.
So many of her days were spent in this fashion now that Erica had begun to worry. Was this truly what her life had become? Had she somehow crossed a threshold where the present and future eluded her and only the past remained? Surely she was still too young to be so preoccupied with things she had already done, all the while ignoring the rich and plentiful opportunities for living that existed all around her.
Or was this what it felt like to grow old?
One corner of the envelope was a darker color than the rest, as though something had been spilled on it during its travels. It was that corner that lay propped against the tile and it gave the envelope a feral look, as though it were an unblinking eye that watched and waited, patient and unperturbed by anything around it, knowing that sooner or later she would come within range and—
Erica stooped and grabbed the envelope with her fingertips, carefully avoiding the darkened corner. She quickly stepped back inside the villa, kicking the door shut. She made her way toward the terrace, holding the envelope away from her the way you might hold a dead mouse. Once outside, she plopped the envelope onto the table and sat down heavily beside it, spilling some drops of coffee onto her robe. She closed her eyes and sat quietly, waiting for her heartbeat to return to normal.
The gently cleansing winds helped to calm her, along with the scent of the Damask roses as they mingled with the fresh sea air. Erica loved these summer mornings, when the spicy, nostalgic scent of the roses wafted through her villa. In a few short hours the sun's heat would leech away the fragrance, but for now she sat, breathing deeply, relishing their ancient flavor.
She opened her eyes and took another sip of her coffee, staring at the envelope warily. What is it about you, she thought, that fills me with dread? She set her cup down and shook her head. Enough of this foolishness.
She picked up the envelope and stared at it closely. It was thick, thicker than it should have been with only a greeting card inside and it was sealed, not just with glue but also with wax. Clearly, great pains had been taken to make sure the envelope didn't open by accident. She flipped the envelope over. There was no postage and aside from the dark stain in the corner there was but one thing that drew her interest. A single word, written in a rough attempt at elegance:
At the sight of her name, a chill scurried across her flesh and the radiance of the sun fled behind unseen clouds. Dormant memories stirred in the back of her mind as she turned the envelope over and dug at the seal with her nail. She had gone only a couple of inches when she cried out and jerked her finger back in pain. Blood seeped from the paper cut and before she could react a drop of it fell onto the envelope.
She thrust the finger into her mouth and sucked on it, the sharp, metallic taste saturating her tongue. She grabbed a napkin and, before the wound could start oozing again, wrapped her finger in it as tightly as she could. Satisfied that it wouldn't drip anytime soon, she went back to working on the envelope. This time, she went slower and with more care. The wax hampered her efforts, but at last the envelope rested open in her hand.
The sheaf of papers stuffed inside came out with some struggle. The pages were small, smaller than a standard piece of paper, but there were several of them and they had been folded over in order to fit. Whatever had stained the envelope had seeped through as well, and the bottom of the last page was blotted with it. Erica set the envelope on the table and unfolded the pages. The writing on them was by the same hand that had written her name on the outside of the envelope, but with an interesting difference: In writing her name, the writer had used a pen, most likely a fountain pen from the way the ink had smudged. The writing on the pages, however, had been done entirely with a pencil – Erica scanned all the pages quickly to be sure – and none too sharp a one, at that.
She focused her attention on the writing and as she read the first word, the chill returned once more to her skin, this time burrowing its way inside and squeezing her lungs, making it hard for her to breathe. Her lips moved silently, mouthing the word, ingesting it, mingling it with the taste of her own blood. It took several moments, but at last she dropped her sight to the first line and began to read.
I can only imagine your shock and surprise as you read these words. I am quite certain that you have done everything you could to purge all traces of me from your memory. But, ah, my sweet, such things are always easier said than done. For myself, I have lived with the memory of you – of us – each and every day of my confinement, which by now has stretched on for many years. Memories are such tricky things, my dear Erica. Like the stars I see out my window each night, our minds make us think they are something alive and of the moment, when in reality, they are only echoes of events long dead and gone. But like the cold light from those dead stars, the power they possess is enormous.
The prison where I am interred is in a remote part of Baja Sur, known as the Desierto De Vizcaino. Very few things live naturally in this desert, and rainfall is scarce. What little moisture there is comes from the heavy fogs that drift in from the ocean. When the wind comes from that direction the smell of the Pacific is strong, and that is one of the most terrible things about my confinement. I do not think I ever got the chance to tell you that I was born on the ocean and lived near there my entire life, except for my time away at university in California. To smell the water on the breeze and taste the salty moisture in the air is a torture almost beyond my endurance. The rest of the time here it is dusty and dry, and no amount of water can relieve your thirst. And when the wind comes from the east, the "Santa Ana" wind you would call it, one often has to breathe through a piece of cloth to keep from choking.
But the weather, no matter how difficult, is an impassive thing. There is no malevolence in it, no harmful intent. One is either strong enough to endure or not. But there are other things, querida, evil things that walk the earth in many guises. Since our last meeting and that moment of unbridled passion that led me to this place, I have seen much that you would consider abhorrent and ugly. And I have learned much, too. Sad to say, I am no longer the same happy and carefree young man who took pity on a pale gringa that day on the beach.
Do you remember, Erica? Do you remember how I was too shy to speak with you, such a beautiful woman not much older than myself, and yet I could not just walk by and leave you there, your soft, white skin turning red before my eyes. So I stood over you and covered you with my shadow, waiting for you to notice me. You were lying on your back and the swimsuit you were wearing contained barely enough cloth to keep you decent. Such a firm, lithe body you had! Even now, I can see you, your skin awash with perspiration, coating your firm, round breasts, and dripping ever so slowly from your neck and arms. I confess that I lusted for you from the very first moment I laid eyes upon you. So strong were those feelings that only my shadow hid my engorged member from your sight.
Or did it? I wonder now. You took so long to give some sign that you saw me, behind those dark sunglasses of yours. Did you notice my swim trunks swell as I stared at your body or is it only my memory now that pictures the corner of your mouth turning upward in a smile?
Erica paused in her reading, staring into space, as the memory engulfed her. Without realizing it, she started to smile and for a moment looked very much as she had those many years earlier. Oh, she had noticed, all right. How could she not? Enrique (she didn't know his name then, of course, that came later) was hung like a stallion and the length and thickness of his lovely cock were clearly outlined against his trunks. His prominent reaction to her beauty and his obvious embarrassment about it struck her like an aphrodisiac and it was all she could do to stifle an impulse to shuck him like an ear of corn and feast on the creamy contents.
But she contented herself with a good long look and only that slight hint of a smile betrayed her interest. And it was just now, as she thought about their meeting for the first time in so many years, that she understood what had piqued her so about the young man with the sun-bronzed skin. In the years after she left the professor, her experience had been almost exclusively with older, sophisticated men. Wealthy men, who could support and keep her in the lavish lifestyle she longed for, but also men to whom she would always be an afterthought, trapped somewhere in a purgatory between being a wife and a lover, between business and pleasure.
Somehow, in the first few moments that he entered her consciousness, the woman in her recognized the boy in him; that despite his imposing frame and God-like endowment, he was still just an innocent, his passion for life as yet untouched by the ravages of time. And that passion spoke to her, to the girl she had been before succumbing to the woman she became. And in the deepest, most hidden recesses of her heart, Erica responded.
She set the first page on top of the envelope and continued reading.
Of course, you were very circumspect that first day, greeting me cautiously but politely. It no doubt eased your mind to learn that I was an employee of the resort at which you were staying, and you were very appreciative of my concern for the condition of your skin. Still, even in those days one heard stories of American women being accosted, giving all of us locals a bad reputation, and it was both appropriate and prudent for you to be careful.
But something passed between us, my love. From that first moment it was present, a vibrating, humming flow of electricity, of awareness and understanding beyond the realm of our senses. From that first moment it became inevitable that we would meet again and be together, if only for a short time. If not, how do you explain what happened only a few nights later, when I found you alone and crying, pacing back and forth in front of the angry surf as though you meant to throw yourself into it. Did I save you from a terrible fate or did some part of you know that I would be there, that it was not your time to suffer but mine, and that our one night of bliss was to lead me to my destruction just as surely as a lamb is led to slaughter?
I have so many questions, querida. How much just one conversation with you would ease my mind. But things happened so quickly in the aftermath; I was arrested and you disappeared. When I asked for you I was told that you didn't want to see me. Later, I learned that you had left the country. I try to forgive, my darling. Honestly, I do. But it is so hard when the nights are long and empty and the stars offer no comfort. You were the one person who might have saved me from this living Hell. The only other person who was there that night, who could have explained what happened and why. But you ran. And I must ask again, as I have done so many thousands of times before:
Why, Erica? Why?
I do not expect an answer, my love. In truth, it will surprise me if you ever read these words. If you are reading them, it will mean…but I must stop for now. I have been warned that the prison generator will be shut down soon (a not uncommon occurrence here due to the high winds and blowing sand) and the pitiful candle they bring me at such times casts too poor a light for me to write by. I will write more when I am able.
Erica felt the sadness closing around her like a fist. She hurriedly put the second page down and started reading the third.
It is daylight now and even though the generator has not been restarted, the light in my cell is sufficient for me to continue. If you are reading this, by now you must be wondering about my final words from last night. Let me explain. I am writing this letter at the insistence of a Catholic priest who ministers to the lost souls unfortunate enough to have been sent here. His name is Padre Arturo Ramirez. I met him shortly after my arrival and he has been a frequent visitor over the years. He has heard my tale of woe many times and, even though I cannot in truth say that he believes me (you must remember that everyone here is an innocent; unjustly accused and wrongfully imprisoned), he has lent a sympathetic ear and attempted to counsel me to the best of his ability.
He knows the anger that I hold inside; he feels that this anger is preventing me from coming to terms with my situation. It is his hope that my writing this letter to you will serve as a way for me to rid myself of these feelings and come to understand and accept the consequences of my actions. Only then, he tells me, will I be free to feel true contrition for what I have done and avail myself of God's mercy and forgiveness.
I do not know if I can believe him, Erica. True, I was baptized in the faith and taught from a very early age by the Brothers at the monastery; still I have my doubts. Is it wise to expect mercy and forgiveness from the same God who condones a place such as this, a Hell on earth where the only comfort is the howling of the wind because it drowns out the cries of the wretched? But the good Padre is a patient and persistent man and I agreed, finally, that writing the letter could not hurt and might, in fact, make me feel better.
Last night I stayed awake after the power went out, staring at the weak shadows my candle threw on the wall. Confinement gives one time to think – too much time, in truth - for the mind craves stimulation and in the absence of such a sort of madness develops. Hallucinations appear and then reappear with startling regularity and it is not long before one's senses cannot be trusted.
Last night, we were together again. Not here, no, not in this godforsaken place. As I stared at the shadows on the wall, I saw us, as we were that night. By the rocks near the shore, lost in our reckless passion as the waves thundered and crashed around us. Heedless of the risk, unaware of the imminent danger, our bodies became as one in the moonlight. It had been my intention only to make sure you were all right and to offer whatever assistance and comfort I could. But it seemed so natural to take you in my arms and you did not resist. And when you lifted your face to mine…
Ah, querida, what a night! The memory of it both damns and sustains me in this place. Have you truly forgotten it, my love? Was it just an act of the moment for you, one more in an endless pursuit of the gratification of the flesh? You were so sure, so experienced. You unfastened my bathing trunks and let them fall to my ankles. You knelt in the wet sand, not caring about the rushing water, and took me in your mouth. Did you know somehow that you were the first woman to do that for me? And you looked up at me, your eyes glittering, and you watched the expression on my face as your mouth descended further and further until your lips were pressed against my flesh.
Dios mio, what a feeling! Even today, that sense memory lingers still, like being gently nursed in a swirling eddy of hot oil. And it was not long before the magic of your lips and tongue brought me to the point of flooding your mouth with my essence. I was afraid that you would be angry with me but I could not help myself. I bellowed loud enough to be heard above the pounding surf as I filled your mouth to overflowing with my come. To my great surprise, you were not angry with me at all. You drank of me hungrily, greedily, as a baby might drink at her mother's breast. You drank until the sensation of your tongue was so exquisitely painful that I thought I might pass out and I was forced to pull my softening member away from you.