Ali's Art Ch. 04byharding©
The summer seemed to last a long, long time and I threw myself into the hard physical labor of landscaping. Slowly July passed one long day after another, and then August arrived and I knew I would be leaving before the end of the month.
Returning home in the spring, I had given $200 to Mom, telling her that I had been sending sketches to Ali and she had sold them. Mom tried to give the money back, but I knew she needed it, and told her if she didn't want it then she should use it to buy something frivolous for herself, of something nice for Sarah. Over the rest of the summer I added a little extra from the balance to my regular contribution until it was all gone, and topped it up with most of the money I had made from the Harris drawings.
As my departure came closer Mom seemed to change when she was around me, treating me like an adult instead of a teenager, trusting me with the kind of things she had never done before. We even found ourselves sitting up late one evening after Sarah had gone to bed, lazing outside in the small yard with a bottle of beer each, while she told me she didn't think she needed men any more. She said she felt content as she was, and didn't want to risk any more pain or grief. As we spoke she reached her arm out and offered her hand and I took it in mine and we sat there side by side.
"But Mom," I said. "You're still young, and you're still attractive. There must be any number of men who would want to go out with you."
"But I don't want them, Tom. I've gotten used to it being me, and I'm happy like this."
"But you must have..." I started, then stopped. I had been feeling grown up, about to fly the nest, but realized I had been about to go too far.
"Must have what, Tom?" Mom asked.
"Nothing," I said.
"No Tom, it's alright, you can say what you want now, you know that." She squeezed my hand, still gripped in hers.
I took a deep breath. "Well, you must have needs, Mom. There's love, there's emotion, and then there's... you know..." I felt myself redden.
"You mean sex, Tom?" Mom said.
"I guess, yeah."
"That would be nice, yes," she said. "But I don't need a man for that. There are... other ways."
I looked across at her. She was staring out over the back yard, maybe deliberately avoiding my eyes, and I recalled the morning I had heard her masturbating in her room.
"I just don't like to think of you on your own, without someone around to help out," I said.
"I'm fine, Tom."
"You'll tell me if you aren't, won't you Mom?"
She turned to look at me and smiled strangely. "I'll make sure you know, Tom," she replied.
The sky darkened above us and insects began to sound. Eventually we got up, kissed goodnight and went to our rooms. As I lay in bed looking at the shadows on the ceiling I felt as if some seismic change had occurred, some hidden fault had shifted and I had moved from one place to another place, a new place. I just wasn't sure yet where that place was.
As the first week of August ended Ali called.
"Tom, can you get up here early?"
"Um, I guess, if I need to. Why?"
"The apartment's ready and it would be great if you could help move us in. And I want you to choose your own stuff."
"I can't afford much stuff, Al," I said.
"I can help out, you know that."
"I want to pay my own way," I said.
"And you will, Tom. You will. Can you come?"
"I'll talk to Mom. She might not want me to leave early. I'll call you in the morning."
But Mom said she didn't mind me leaving before I was due. I had finished working with Dag the previous week, and had planned two weeks at home doing nothing much before I traveled north. I called Ali back and said I'd be arriving late Wednesday evening.
Before I left Mom took the three of us out for dinner. We didn't go anywhere up market, just a local restaurant, but it felt real nice to be a family for the night and we talked about things we all remembered, the good times we had shared, and didn't mention any of the hardships.
When we got home Sarah had fallen asleep in the back of the car and I lifted her out and carried her upstairs then Mom got her into her pj's and tucked her in. I went downstairs and locked up the doors and windows. I was standing looking out at the yard when Mom came down and put her arms around me from behind and hugged me tight. I was conscious of her large breasts pressing into my back, and felt bad when I started to become aroused.
"Follow your dreams, Tom," Mom whispered in my ear. Her breath was warm on my neck, and she smelled good after showering and applying a tiny amount of her good perfume for our evening out.
I turned round and put my arms behind her back, rested my chin on the top of her head.
"Are you going to be okay, Mom?"
I felt her nod. "Of course."
"If you need anything, you know where I am. Call me."
She nodded again. I hugged her tighter. "I'm going to miss you," I said.
"I'm going to miss you too," she answered, and lifted her face for a kiss. It was just the one, but her lips felt warm, and softer than I had ever felt them before, and it went on longer than any that had gone before. I felt Mom's lips part and her mouth open to me and then, before I did something I was going to regret, I pulled away.
She shivered and stepped back. "I think I'd better go to bed. G'night, Tom."
In the morning I packed my bag and walked to the bus stop. Mom offered to drive me to the Greyhound station but I told her to stay with Sarah.
Sarah cried and didn't want to let me go, and I had to disentangle myself from her and sit her on a chair. I could feel tears in my own eyes as well as I kissed Mom and strode away from the house. It was turning out to be far harder than I imagined, but I closed down my feelings and made myself continue walking away.
The bus trip was long and dull, and when I arrived in New York the light had faded from the sky but Ali was there again to meet me. She stood under the street lamp in blue jeans and the same blue denim shirt with pop studs, and my heart did all kinds of strange skips and jumps in my chest.
She hugged me, kissed me and took my arm, leading me away through the night. But only as far as another bus.
"Aren't we going to your place?" I asked.
"We are," she said. "Just not my old place."
I grinned. "When did you move in?"
"Now," she answered.
She lifted her hand and jingled a bunch of keys, then took two of them off and passed them to me. "Yours," she said. "We're moving in now."
"What about furniture, stuff like that?"
"Fuck it," she said, "We can do all that in the morning. I just want us to move in now!"
The bus carried us through the night and deposited us half a block from our new front door.
I let Ali unlock the door and we walked in to the large empty space. Ali flicked a switch and lights came on in the high ceiling.
Sitting alone in the center of the room, the only furniture, was her old sofa, and I burst out laughing.
"But where are you going to sleep, Al?" I said.
"It's big enough," she replied.
She lifted the phone from the wall and dialled, ordered Chinese and gave our new address.
"I lied," she said. "I moved the sofa in this afternoon. There's wine in the fridge. The glasses are in that big cupboard beside the window."
I walked across the empty room, my boot heels echoing of the floor and walls, and tossed my bag into the empty bedroom we had decided was mine all those months ago. I came back out and opened the chilled bottle of Chablis and poured large measures for each of us.
Ali had made up the sofa with pillows at either end and a light blanket. I sat down and joined her there, passed her a glass.
"This feels so weird," I said, looking around at the vast space.
Ali smiled. "Good weird, though, don't you think?"
I nodded and smiled back. "Yeah, very good weird."
Ali jumped up suddenly and said, "I almost forgot, I bought you a moving in present." She went across to the kitchen and pulled something from a drawer.
"There was no need, Al," I said.
"It's not much, but I thought it was appropriate, for the start of your college life." She was grinning as she handed me a square box wrapped in gift paper. "Open it then," she said.
I tore the side off the paper and turned the box, reading the printing on the side, and laughed and also felt myself blushing as I removed the rest of the wrapping.
I held a box of 24 Durex Comfort XL condoms. "Uh, thanks, Al."
She laughed and lifted on tip toes. "I hope they're big enough. I seem to recall you're pretty large down there. And I didn't know if you'd have brought any and I thought," she shrugged, "I thought you might want some - if you get lucky."
"Thanks Al, this is very thoughtful," I said, reading the rest of what was on the side. I popped the lid and looked inside at the individually wrapped rubbers.
Ali sat back on the couch and leant against me, jostling me until I lifted my arm and let her slip underneath.
"You probably brought your own, anyway," she said.
"No, I didn't. And this is really nice, Al, thanks a lot."
"You have - you know - gotten laid before, haven't you?"
I didn't say anything.
Ali twisted and looked at me. God damn, why did she have to let her breasts press into my side like that, I thought.
"You've never gotten laid?" she said.
I nodded. "Got my bones hauled this summer," I said.
"Only this summer?" Ali laughed.
"Never seemed to get the opportunity before."
"But last time - you just seemed so, I don't know, so mature. When Maggie gave you that boob job, we both just thought you were... experienced."
"Afraid not," I said.
"Shit - you should have said. I know plenty girls who go for men. Plenty who'd go for you."
"That's a bit clinical, Al."
"Fuck clinical, Tom. Nothing clinical about getting laid. If I'd only known back then you were a virgin I would have fixed you up."
"Ah well..." I shrugged again and Al snuggled back down against me and I put my arm on her shoulder. "It's done now."
"Was it good?" Ali asked.
I laughed. "Some things are secret, Al."
"Not between us," she said.
I punched her in the side with my free hand and she hit me back and we ended up slapping and hitting each other as we both roared with laughter. Eventually Ali stopped with a strange look on her face and stood up.
"I'd better get some sleep, Tom, I'm going to have a busy day tomorrow if I'm going to find you a girlfriend."
She stood up and went into the bathroom. When she came out she had on just a bra and panties and she scooted me off and slid under the blanket at her end. I used the bathroom and came back out in my shorts, slid in at the other end. Our legs kept touching and there was no way we were going to avoid that, so I just rolled over so my back was to her and put my head on the pillow.
I lay there for a few minutes, incredibly aware of all the parts of me that were touching Ali, expecting to lie that way all night, but I must have been more tired than I thought because sleep suddenly rolled over me and I was gone.
I woke the next morning to find Ali had turned away from me during the night and I had turned towards her. Now I discovered my cock was rock hard and had slipped up through the elastic waist of my shorts and lay flat against my stomach. Ali's ass was pushed back against my thighs, fortunately separated from me by the thin material of her panties, and too far down for my erection to be sticking into her. For some reason my cock tingled, as though I had been rubbing it.
Slowly I straightened up and rolled over until I was facing the back of the sofa and started to breath slow and deep, practicing a yoga technique to calm myself, hoping it would work on my autonomic system and let my erection fade.
"Morning Tom," Ali murmured.
"Hi," I said. "Been awake long?"
"Only just," she said, and I felt her moving, sitting up and dropping her legs to the floor. "Coffee?"
I heard her bare feet padding across the wooden floor and rolled over onto my back and stared at the high ceiling. The windows had no drapes yet and sunshine flooded the room, shimmering on the ceiling where it was reflecting off the distant river. I listened as Ali clattered around in the kitchen, heard the coffee start to boil and then smelled toast.
Ali brought a plate with slices of buttered toast and two mugs of coffee back and put it all on the floor, then sat down on the blanket, pulling her legs up under her. She was still dressed in the too large tee-shirt and tiny panties she had slept in. The tee had a wide sloppy neck and hung down off one shoulder almost to her elbow.
"I've got a busy day planned, if that's alright with you Tom?"
I nodded and mumbled, "Sure" around a mouthful of toast.
"We need to get furniture picked and delivered, drapes for the windows, a table and chairs for the kitchen, a desk and a couple of computers, all kinds of stuff. The rest of the bits from my old place are coming over after lunch. If we get going we can finish the shopping by noon and then get back here and sort it all out.
"I'm not going to be able to contribute much, I'm afraid, Al," I said. "Money's going to be tight this year."
Ali laughed. "No it's not." She got up and went across to her coat hanging beside the door, came back with another brown envelope and dropped it on my stomach. "More sales," she said.
I picked the envelope up and looked inside. More bills. I started to leaf through it and Ali said, "A thousand dollars, Tom. Those drawings I did from out last session sold really well. That's only a small part of what we made. I've set $5,000 aside to get us up and running here. You okay with that?"
I shook my head in confusion, "Whatever you say, Al."
We dressed and walked arm in arm to the bus stop, went into the city center and worked the shops. We made our way to JCPenney's in the Newport Center and Ali and I picked beds, mattresses, and bedding. We both chose metal bedframes. Mine was plain and functional, Ali's more feminine. Then we moved floors and chose towels, drapes, a plain timber table and chairs for the kitchen, two more sofas which made up into double beds for the living room. I tried not to look shocked when everything was rung up and I saw what the bill came to. Ali hardly blinked and paid on her credit card.
"Entertainment," she said as we walked away. "D'you want to pick a TV?"
"I don't think I'd watch one," I said. "Would you?"
She shook her head. "Music then. Something small and stylish? And then a couple of laptops."
"Al," I said, "How the hell are you going to afford all this?"
"I told you, I sold some of those sketches from our last session. I've got even more I haven't finished yet. Tom, there's a huge market for this material. The money is not going to be an issue."
"As long as you're sure of that," I said.
She smiled. "Oh, I'm sure. What are your I.T. skills like, Tom?"
"Okay, I guess. I got an A in computer science, and I play around a bit."
"Could you create a website for us? What would you need?"
"I don't know. Just a computer to start with. I'll research it and find out what else we might want."
We turned left, into electronics.
We carried two new Mac laptops home with us, unpacking them at the store and buying two bags for them and leaving the boxes there. It had just turned one o'clock so we grabbed burgers from MacDonald's and caught the bus home. It felt strange when I thought of that - going home.
Ali left me to set up the laptops while she let in the removal men and directed them where she needed the stuff from her old apartment. Fortunately Ali had ordered broadband as well with the phone connection so I sat cross-legged on the floor and googled until I found a service that would let me create an "adult" website. There was a thirty day free trial and then it would cost $495 a year, including payment processing and all the space we would need for our images. I wasn't entirely sure if what we were planning to offer would be classified as adult - I knew Ali considered it as erotic rather than adult, and I agreed that we weren't offering the same type of material as most sites. Ours would offer our own hand-produced drawings only.
Ali and I had talked about what she wanted during the morning, and she planned to sell downloadable drawings for between $5 and $25, with an option to purchase the original for anything up to $100. Once an original was bought it would be removed from the site and replaced with another original. We would also offer a service where individuals could purchase drawings that had not been shown on the website or commission work which had been specified by them. With this last option we always reserved the right to veto any requests, and made it clear that only legal material would be accepted.
I signed up for the free trial and began to look at the pre-defined templates on offer. Eventually, I would probably want to create my own, but to begin with I chose a template which presented a subtle pale blue and grey look and feel. We had both decided we did not want to be garish or in your face with our offering, and were willing to sacrifice visitors to attract a more discerning clientele.
Ali came over and touched my shoulder and I looked up at her and winced. My back ached from being bent over the screen, and when I looked at the wall clock I realized I had been working for three hours solid.
"You can move to the desk now, Tom. But take a break first. I've made some food."
I became aware of the aroma of fresh cooking. Ali had laid two places at our new dining table, and when I glanced around the space had been transformed without me having noticed. The two new sofas had been placed opposite Ali's old one. A new, enormous desk was pushed up against the wall. Ali had set a printer and her laptop up already, and I rose stiffly and carried mine across and plugged it in to recharge the battery.
The food was perfect, light and fragrant, and Ali poured a good Sauvignon Blanc for us both. When we had finished and cleared up, Ali took me down to the studio area and turned on the lights. She had laid out over a hundred sketches across the large floor area.
"Let's go through these and pick which ones we want to upload now, which we want to hold back, and whether there are any we can't use."
"Are these all of them?" I asked.
Ali shook her head, "Just the first batch. I've got three times this many but there was no room to lay them out."
I walked along the floor, looking down at the drawings. They were good. Ali had a special talent that captured the figures - our figures, hers alone, or mine alone, and a few with Maggie and Ali and Maggie and me together - and instilled a real sense of life to them.
I stopped to study a series of over a dozen which showed me during that first session, which seemed a long time ago now. A couple were standard nudes. The remainder showed me in an increasing state of arousal. Next to them were twenty that tracked the progress of my masturbation at the end of that sitting. The last ten captured my moment of release.
I sensed Ali standing beside me and turned to her.
"What d'you think?" she asked.
"Amazing." I said. "But it's weird looking at a drawing of myself, particularly in that state."
"Does it turn you on?" she asked.
I shook my head. "I don't know... a bit maybe, yeah. But that's because it's me. Let me see..." I stepped along the row of drawings, walked around to a second line where Ali was shown. These looked different and I stepped back, compared them and then said, "I drew these?"
Ali nodded. "They're the work you did here, and the ones you sent me after you went home."
I remembered them. Ali had posted me prints of her photographs and I had hidden them under my bed. When I was alone I copied some to art paper. When I had a dozen I packaged them up and sent them to Ali. I had sent four packages in all, and then brought the original photographs back with me. They were not the kind of thing I would have wanted Mom to find.