tagRomanceSometimes Life Gets It Together

Sometimes Life Gets It Together


You know, sometimes life gets it together, even when you've convinced yourself that it has all fallen apart, and you're condemned to spending the rest of your days muttering "What if . . ." or "If only . . ." as you read your newspaper, the one you picked out of the trash while sitting on a park bench.

I was an only child. Mom figured the Earth couldn't take too many more people, and she was only prepared to try once, before getting a tubal and deciding mothering wasn't what she was all about, anyway. I don't really think it had anything to do with me, but when you're a kid you're egocentric. The world revolves around you. So when good things happen, it's because you're wonderful. When bad things happen, you must have caused it all. When ordinary things happen, it was still because of you.

I really don't know what I did to make Dad go away. Now, after a few years and some therapy, I know that I didn't do anything to make it happen and there wasn't anything I could have done to prevent it from happening. I still feel as if there was something I did to ruin it, or could have done to maintain the loving home I once had, or wasn't good enough to make him stay. Knowing something is true, and feeling it is true, are two different things.

Mom kept me when my parents split up, and I don't exactly know why. She wasn't that interested in me. Dad hadn't pushed very hard. Almost certainly it wasn't an effort to get back at Dad for something. I always thought the splitting up was her idea, and that Dad was upset by it, but I was a kid, what did I know? I'm convinced Mom lost the toss when it came to who had to take me, though she denies it. Well, you would, wouldn't you? Who wants to tell a kid his only real parent ended up with him because the coin came down heads instead of tails? Well, whatever, Mom wasn't that cruel, even when she was maddest at me. Sometimes I wish she had been. It would have been nice to have confirmation of what I'd always thought.

For most of my life I've been good friends with a girl a couple of houses away, Alice Carmichael. Alice was usually a sweet kid and we got along. We spent a fair amount of time together before she started changing. Even after Alice sprouted breasts, that never actually made it into the boob category, and her hips widened and something really nice happened to those skinny legs of hers, we'd just sit and talk for a while, every couple of days, at least. By the time the events I want to explain started happening, when we were all nineteen, Alice was a gorgeous blonde, about five six, with boys clustered around her like bees around a flower, and generally with the same thoughts in mind. Since Alice shared those thoughts, there was a community of interest between Alice and boys.

No, Alice never thought of me as a boy, I'm certain. I was five ten, nice head of unruly black hair, about 180, a little pudgy. I wore glasses because I was seriously nearsighted. I couldn't be sure to recognize even Alice across the street without my glasses. I could read all right, and I tended to read a lot. I also had some computer smarts. I remember once when . . . I suppose I shouldn't boast about what might have been illegal. I'm not sure it was, you understand, and it didn't hurt anybody, but laws can be funny.

Dad left when I was eight, and he used to come see me for a while, but after about six months or so he moved away, or started a new family, or something. Whatever. Apart from a card with some money at Christmas, I've never had any contact with him since.

Mom dated a bit, now and then, but except for sometimes picking her up at the house I never saw any of the men she dated. She'd come home in a taxi, late, sometimes. I never let her know, but I always waited up for her. It didn't happen a lot.

About four months ago she started seeing a guy I didn't recognize. Of course, I didn't recognize any of her other men friends, either. The different part was that she was seeing a lot of him. It got so if he wasn't at the door Friday and Saturday, both, I asked Mom if something was wrong. He'd sometimes say hello when I answered the door because Mom wasn't quite ready, but most of the time Mom was on time. She'd always told me punctuality was important, because it showed you respected the other person's time as a valuable commodity. Maybe so. I thought it was because she was a teacher. They're all anal about time.

Eventually, I got to formally meet this guy, Norm Johnson. Mom sat us down in the living room, and told me she and Norm were getting along so well they'd decided to try living together. That wouldn't be so different, I guessed. Having another adult around to avoid wouldn't be too difficult. Then Norm dropped the bombshell.

"Alan, it's not just me, I'm afraid, though I hope you make me welcome. I'm bringing a daughter, a sister for you. You might even know her, since she goes to community college as you do, and is your age. Your mom says your birthdays are within a couple of weeks of each other. Did you ever meet Clarissa Johnson?"

Holy fuck. Clarissa Johnson was the most gorgeous babe in the college, I'd swear. Me, and more than half of the male students, and I'll bet a large number of women, too, had wet dreams about her most nights. Look, she was so far above me that I'd never spoken to her, even though we had a couple of classes together. Conversation doesn't move fast when all you can think to say is "Duh".

Clarissa was a male fantasy come to life. She was a gorgeous blonde, kind of like Alice with even more hair. And more chest, too, a lot more chest. Her legs were at least as good, maybe better, and people drooled over her ass. Well, her other parts, too. And this demi-goddess was coming to stay at my house? Actually moving in? I was deliriously happy and scared shitless. Boys didn't cluster around Clarissa the way they did around Alice. If it were up to me, I'd say she scared the pants off them. She certainly scared me.

"I know who Clarissa is, yes. She's a gorgeous girl. I can't say as I know her, of course. We had a couple of classes together this term. When were you thinking of moving in? Or should I be packing?"

"Next weekend. Clarissa and I thought it would be easier for you if we moved."

"Let me know what I can do to help."

"Thanks, I'm sure we'll need help lugging things. We can leave some stuff behind, because I'm not selling our house, and not renting it out yet, but I don't want to think of it as a spare closet, either. Clarissa probably has a lot of stuff and can really use the help, even more than me."

Mom beamed at me, a fairly rare event, since I was accepting and helpful. I figured there was no point in making this worse than it had to be. It wasn't like I was in love with my Mom or anything. We weren't even all that close. I suppose you could say that we got along, and leave it at that.

It never even occurred to me that the trouble would be over the bathroom.

Over the course of the week, Mom got some of her stuff packed up and put away or given away, to make room for Norm. I helped. No other way to deal with it, really.

"Mom, what happened to Norm's wife, Clarissa's mother? Did they get divorced, too?"

"Yes, dear, they were divorced about eleven years ago, almost the same time as your father and I. Clarissa was with her mom for a couple of years, I think. Norm won't talk about why that changed. Norm's still pretty sensitive about her, and I think Clarissa is, too. It's one reason we've been so tentative about getting together. I love Norm, and I'm pretty sure he loves me, but I don't know whether he can let go."

"Is he going to want me to call him Dad and stuff? And call Clarissa Sister?"

"No, dear. We did talk about it, but Norm thinks you're an adult, now - that's always hard for a mother to accept, you know - and you should just call him Norm. He's not your father, and you are both quite aware of that fact. He does want to provide you with whatever support a father can, though; he's a good man.

"Clarissa has always been called 'Sissy' at home. I doubt that she's too fond of the nickname at her age. I'll leave it up to the two of you to decide what you're going to call each other, but I will draw the line at obscenities." She laughed. She knew I'd never call a girl something foul.

Then we cleaned out the spare room for Clarissa. We'd had it set up as a guest room, though I couldn't remember the last time there'd been a guest.

"Is she an athlete? Do we set it up all frilly? Does she need a separate place for stuffed toys? What are girls like, anyway?"

"How should I know, Mom? All I know about Clarissa Johnson is that she's gorgeous. She could be a cheerleader if she wanted to. There was some kind of story that they asked her and she turned them down, which is almost unheard of. I don't know anything else about her. Mom, you know I don't go out much. I'd never have a chance with a girl that wonderful, and I don't think anyone else does, either. Maybe the captain of the football team, but he seems to be smitten with someone else."

"Well, let's be neutral, then, and let her finish it in her own style. I suppose she's going to do that anyway."

Clarissa turned out to be a pretty good sort, which kind of surprised me. She was so damned gorgeous I couldn't believe she wasn't stuck up about it. I always figured that if I looked like Hercules I'd be stuck up about it, but I was so far from looking like Hercules there was no way to road test the idea.

When I was carrying some of her boxes in - she was a neat packer, I'll give her that - I asked Clarissa if she minded if I called her "Sis". It was sort of a more adult version of Sissy and a reflection of our new maybe someday relationship. I told her I'd be proud to have her as a sister, and so I would. I'd be even prouder if she was my girlfriend, but let's not get completely out of hand. There was no way that was going to happen.

Sis seemed to be happy with the idea.

"Okay, you call me Sis and I'll call you Al."

Now, nobody called me Al, Paul Simon notwithstanding, so it seemed like a good idea. At least we had names for each other no one, not even our parents, used, and it gave us a sort of bond. I mean, we weren't going to be close, but it looked like we were going to be okay. I was getting used to having a real beauty around the house, and I was even starting to get over it, and just think of her as a person, and a pretty nice one at that.

"Al would be okay. Nobody else calls me Al. Sis, you're a pretty good looking girl. Are you going to need much space for the men? I'm willing to get out of your way if you need it. Just let me know. I wanted to get that out of the way up front, since I don't date much and I don't bring girls home so I'm okay with whatever."

"It will be all right, Al. I don't date."

Holy Mother of God. What the hell was wrong here? This was the most luscious specimen of femininity around, and she didn't date?

"Look, I don't want to pry, Sis, but are you into women?"


"Okay, I'm sorry, it was something I needed to know. I won't bring it up again."

"I'm not mad, Al, you needed to know if you're going to be a brother surrogate, and we're sharing the house. I guess I'm the one who has to tell you, but I don't like to talk about it."

"So we won't."

"Thanks, Al."

And that was that, but I was really sure there was some deep dark secret, like she had a husband hidden away somewhere like Guatemala, or was secretly into zoo bears, or something, anything. Over the course of the next few weeks I more or less forgot about it, or at least stopped speculating about it. Sis was around and it didn't make much difference, really, since she kept to herself, except the meals were better. Sis could cook and liked to do it. I tried to help out. Maybe I did. At least she didn't throw me out of the kitchen.

Clarissa used to have nightmares, too, not every night, but now and again. They were pretty bad when she did have them, though. Norm would just hug her through them. It seemed to work. Once when Norm was away for a couple of days Sis started screaming and Mom couldn't settle her, so I had a try and it seemed to work. Maybe it needed a male. I knew she was really sensitive about men and sex and stuff, so I made damned sure it was as asexual as I could make it, just hugs, and maybe a very neutral pat.

I learned a little more about Clarissa's sensitivities during the Great Bathroom War. Mom and Norm had a nice en suite bathroom for themselves, so they had no call on the family bathroom. There was a half-bath, sink and toilet, down in the basement next to the rec room. The only accessible shower for Clarissa and I was in the family bathroom, and for two teenagers that could be a problem.

Sis and I each wanted to shower in the morning, and each of us tended to take long showers. I heard Mom explaining to the neighbour once that she was convinced we slept in there.

One day Sis hadn't locked the door and I needed to take a leak while she was in the shower. The curtain was opaque, I didn't see anything of her, but I guess she hadn't realized I was there and stuck her head out of the shower and saw my schlong. Now, I don't have the world's biggest dick. Or even close. I'm likely smack on top of average, both for length and thickness. It shouldn't have scared anyone, but she screamed bloody murder. I bailed, fast, and Norm came pounding up. He was likely ready to kill me. I'd probably have been ready to kill me if I'd scared my little girl that much, too.

"It's all right, Daddy, Alan didn't do anything. I just didn't know he was there."

Norm took me into my room and sat me down. He wasn't fierce about it, just firm.

"Alan, Clarissa suffered a trauma a long time ago. It left her extremely sensitive to, and afraid of, men, sex and especially the penis, particularly when erect. I should have warned you. I'm sorry. So you need to be especially careful around her. We've been working on the trauma for a long time but we're not making much progress. And please don't ask her about it."

"Well, except for the bathroom, we get along and I like her. I'd never do anything to hurt her. Thanks for the advice. I'll follow it."

"Good man."

That didn't really stop the war, but it made me ready for a negotiated settlement. Norm sat the two of us down at the kitchen table one evening a couple of days later, and we agreed to a strict half hour on, half hour off split for the use of the bathroom. It meant I had to get up a quarter hour earlier, but I was prepared to live with that. Norm made us sign the Toilet Paper Treaty, and we were both laughing and all out of fury by the time that was done. Norm was really a pretty good guy.

Anyway, after Sis and I signed the Toilet Paper Treaty, we got along great. We'd drive to the college together. She didn't seem afraid of me, and sometimes she had to notice my erection, mostly a morning woody, and she was able to take it in stride. I knew now, since I could interpret the signs, that the first few days she had been scared stiff of me. I'd put it down then to being stand-offish, the way she seemed to be at college, or maybe she just didn't like me. Now that I knew her better, I recognized the fear, and I was quite pleased that it was gone. I was getting very fond of my "sister".

I talked to Alice about the changes in my life that having Clarissa around had caused. Of course, I didn't tell her about Clarissa's fears and trauma. That wasn't mine to share. It caused a strange feeling in me, since up until then Alice and I had no secrets. About nine months before, Alice had confessed to me that she'd lost her virginity, to her then-boyfriend, Bert Timmons, who was a real horndog. Bert was five nine, dark, good-looking, with an incredibly roving eye. Alice hadn't much enjoyed it, which seemed not to matter to Bert. From what I knew of Bert, he wouldn't care. I guess they tried another couple of times, but it was pretty mechanical from what Alice said. Put it in, slide it back and forth a few times, shoot gunk into her, zipper up and go home. That put paid to Bert as a boyfriend. Again, I doubt Bert cared. He was off looking for another score.

A little later, Alice went out with Steve, another horndog. He was about six foot, two hundred pounds, a really solid redhead. The difference was that Steve believed his sexual pleasure was enhanced when the woman he was with was enjoying herself, and he got tremendous pleasure out of making the woman he was with come in a great screaming orgasm. Alice learned that sex could be fun. Steve had a good time teaching her, I guess. Alice kind of got around some after that. At least she reported to me the good and bad points of a significant number of guys, and they were the kind of thing you had to have experienced rather than just heard tell of. She stayed a good friend and we still had good times together and we still talked a lot.

I was a little surprised when my good buddy George Harris asked whether I would mind if he made a play for Alice. George was six foot one, one eighty, a good solid blonde, not as likely as Steve to turn into a jelly pudding when he hit thirty.

"Why ask me, George? It's Alice you need to ask."

"Well, the two of you seem to be friends from a long way back, and I didn't want to mess up whatever you've got going there. She's a nice kid as well as a wet dream."

"Yeah, we're friends, George, but that's as far as it goes. Alice doesn't consider me to be a candidate for boyfriend status."

So George and Alice started going out. I figured pretty early Alice was a goner. She was head over heels in love. George was an okay guy, I thought. We'd been pretty tight all through high school, and you get to know a guy fairly well over that many years.

Alice told me that her best friend Becky, who was five four and kind of lush (I thought plump), was going out with Bert, now. Becky was a hedonist, and Bert's match any day. It had been Becky who introduced me to sex, getting on to six months ago. I'd been with another girl, since, who hadn't had Becky's cheerful dedication, but it had been okay. I'd have preferred Alice, but she seemed to be working her way through one of the teams, and didn't look at me that way at all. It wasn't always fun listening to her describe her latest adventure.

I know that's what friends are for, to let you talk out what's been happening, let you get your thoughts in order, that sort of thing. But if your friend happens to have started figuring out he has a thing for you that's different from when you were ten together, and he's too afraid of scaring you off to tell you, and you're focused on other people since he's not really a romantic lead, so you don't see it for yourself, it can be a little hard on your friend when you describe your latest sexual escapade, which had been a lot of fun for you at the time. If you think that was convoluted then you have a good idea of how I felt at the time.

It was probably hardest when Alice told me about the gangbang. Sweet little Alice in a gangbang, and enjoying it immensely, I guess. That was a few weeks before she started going out with George.

"Hi Alan," she started, "I guess I haven't told you about my multi-partner sexual experience a few days back."

"Multi-partner sexual experience?" I asked. Alice was possibly going to be a sociologist, since she had a habit of putting polysyllabic labels on everyday events.


"Oh." I didn't think I wanted to hear this.

"There were five of us, four guys and me, in Steve's rec room one afternoon a few days ago. I'd nailed Steve, of course, and one of the other guys before, but the other two were new to me. I can't remember how it got started. There wasn't any particular reason it got hot and heavy so quickly, since we weren't drinking. Maybe it was all the testosterone in the air. I mean, these guys were hot.

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