Saying Stay Ch. 01byLingerieRobot©
Author's Note: I'm filing this story under Group Sex, but as it goes on it's probably going to encompass just about everything under the (consensual) sun. If you have an allergic reaction to any particular kind of sex, you might want to avoid this. If, on the other hand, you've got an open mind and are looking for a fun ride, read on.
I guess it all starts with the house. Simon once told me that everything that happened, everything we became, was because of the house's mystic powers, an energy embedded in the walls. I think he was joking. Still, in a different time and a different place, who knows what would have happened? Could we ever have become more than the sum of our parts? So I'll start with the particular.
The house was a relic of an older, aristocratic age, Victorian as only some displaced Englishman feeling an ocean between him and Victoria could be. I wasn't much of an architectural expert, but I knew that much. It had definitely seen better days -- there was little paint remaining, and the porch sagged disturbingly under my feet. Still, it had survived successive eras of modern styles, so I thought it had to have some wiles within it.
Padma looked almost apologetic. "It's not much too look at, but it's a great location, and it's kind of huge."
"I kind of like it," I said.
Padma put on one of her half-smile half-frown expressions that she made when she was unsure how to respond. "Well, then you'll really like the inside. Come on in. And don't worry about the porch, it's been like thatfor years."
I had met Padma in my first year of university. I always had at least one class with her, usually two or three, and so I had a front row seat to a perplexing metamorphosis. In first year she hid in the back rows of lecture halls and at the far ends of tutorial rooms, never speaking a word and spending most of the time staring down at her paper. Second year she found her voice and became a champion of Eastern philosophy, excoriating all of us for our Western bias and pointing out that Kant and Heidegger were echoed by Indian philosophers more coherent and seven centuries older. She returned from the summer break after that year with a shaved head, her long raven river that had extended down to her waist no more. By the end of the four-year degree she was quoting queer theory at every opportunity and marching across campus for any number of political causes.
Still, all through this we were never really friends -- she was someone I watched like they were in a fishbowl, fascinated by her changes. Besides which, Padma and I had competely opposite personalities. Whereas she would swing passionately from one polemical pole to another, I could never make up my mind, always trying to find some point of compromise or moderation. She had called me a borgeouis liberal capitulator on numerous occasions. Still, we had ended up talking at the post-last-class night of drinks, and when I mentioned I was looking for a place she offered up a recently vacated room in the house she lived in.
I decided to give it a shot, given the prohibitive price or untenable distances of all the places I had looked at so far. Downtown Toronto was not a friendly place for an out-of-work student.
About halfway through the tour I began to realize that while Padma had described this place as huge, it wasn't really that big -- it just had a lot of rooms, rooms that were for the most part small and angly. When I mentioned this to her she laughed. "You haven't seen anything yet. Half of the bedrooms here are actually servant's quarters. They're more like walk-in closets."
"And one of those would be my room, right?"
Padma grinned. "You catch on quick."
Upstairs we found a skinny girl with dyed black-and-green hair staring into a computer screen. It looked like she was editing some kind of video. I waved at her. "Hi! My name's Mike, and..."
She only grunted in response.
Padma smiled, as if this was endearing behaviour. "That's Julia. She's a nice girl, believe me, just don't bother her when she's working or you're liable to get your head bitten off."
"Up here you have the three main bedrooms, belonging to Julia, Simon and Dawn. They were here first and started this whole thing, so I guess they get priority. It's not much of an issue, as the other three of us never sleep in our rooms anyway."
Padma stared up at the roof and whistled. "Oh! I haven't shown you the garden yet. You have to see this."
The house's backyard was almost entirely taken up by a sprawling vegetable garden. It was still spring, so nothing had really come up yet -- but judging from the near-forest poking out of the ground, complete with a couple young trees scattered around, it was sure to be a bumper crop.
I bent down to look at the tiny buds growing along a tomato vine. "So I guess you've got some eco-nuts in the house, huh?"
Padma laughed. "You could say that. This is the communal garden. I guess communality... communalness? Whatever the word is-- is kind of the rule around here. Everyone has their own bedroom, but we share everything else, and divide up the chores and cooking duties. Like, everyone has a turn once a week to cook supper, and it's usually a big meal where we can all unwind and shake off all the crap of the day."
"So it's some kind of hippy thing," I said, trying to keep the judgemental tone out of my voice. Still, this was all a bit much. I was looking for a place to live, not a family, and certainly not some kind of commune. "Well, I have to warn you, I'm not much of a cook."
"Oh, don't worry," said Padma. "Josh just orders take-out every week, so you'll probably have him beat."
Finally, Padma showed me to what would be my room. The loud sounds of some violent video game issued from the one across from mine. It was on a lower level and was indeed small and secluded, with only a small high window letting light in. It was easy to believe that this had been servant's quarters Still, it was kind of nice, and I had never needed that much space.
"Well, it's not exactly the Ritz," I said. "But I could live here." My mind was conflicted, my distaste for hippies dueling with my amazement at and desire for a cheap room close to downtown.
"There's one more thing you should know." Padma's voice was quieter, and she sounded a bit concerned. "People around here tend to be a bit, uh... sexually... you know, open. You don't have to participate in it if you don't want to, but you'll definitely be exposed to some pretty wild stuff."
I raised an eyebrow. I wasn't sure whether to be intruiged or repelled. "So when you said you do everything communally..."
Padma nodded sheepishly. She was suddenly back to the shy religous girl of freshman year.
"Wow." And here I thought free love had died out in the 70s. Padma had never talked much about her life, but I imagined a sweet monogamous relationship with a nice girlfriend, not a roving antiquarian orgy. Still, there was something attractive in the idea, although maybe it was just the male lizard-brain desire for free sex with multiple partners.
"Like I said, nobody would force you to do anything, but you should be aware that... well, that shit happens around here, and people aren't really that private about it."
I nodded, hoping it would shake loose the conflicted elements of my mind. It didn't. "Well, call me a romantic but I've always been a one-girl guy. Still, I like to think of myself as open-minded... live and let live, you know? So, uh, I don't have a problem with it." In other words: I don't want to be a part of your weirdo sex cult (although now I was wondering what Padma looked like naked), but I can't really say no to the cheap rent.
Padma grinned, a bit slyly. "Great. So, can I put you down as our newest servant?"
"Give me some time to decide," I said, wanting to hedge my bets in case I tripped over a better offer.
"All right, but don't think too long," Padma said. "Julia keeps trying to get one of her porno friends in here, and she can be ferocious."
"I'll try and be quick, then. Wait... porno friends?"
There was that sly smile again. "There are some... interesting people here."
Of course, nothing was that easy. After another week of fruitlessly searching for an equally cheap and well-located but more normal place to live, I gave Padma a yes. My student housing was about to evaporate under my feet, and the other option was going back to Bumfuck, Manitoba to live with my parents. That wasn't happening.
Then the trials started. First Julia, the intense girl with the colourful hair that I had been foolish enough to disturb on my first visit, called me and let loose a barrage of indirect insults before demanding I get tested and provide a clean bill of sexual health before she would agree to let me in. No matter how many times I repeated it, she didn't seem to grasp that I wouldn't be joining the orgy and certainly wasn't getting a needle up my dick. Padma finally got her to back off, I guess, because the matter was eventually unceremoniously dropped.
And then I had to meet with everyone who lived there, one-on-one, just to make sure they were okay with me. "Do we really have to go through all this shit just to admit a boarder?" I said to Padma over the phone. "I mean, I'm getting kicked out of my place in three days. Can we put some of the hoops away?"
"Stop whining," she said. "It's nothing. Most of the people here are really open-minded, so it's not like they're going to give you too hard of a time. They just want to meet you. After all, this is like a family... you don't want to admit people to your family without getting to know them first."
"From what you've been telling me, this is a pretty incestuous family."
She giggled. "You're going to fit right in. Trust me."
"See, you mean that as a compliment, but I'm kind of offended."
The interview was held in their dining room, which was probably the biggest room in the house -- a big salon intended for entertaining guests and celebrating in opulent style. Its current purpose was a bit more utilitarian than that -- the table was covered with the day's accumulated junk, and the most prominent decoration on the wall (wedged between some modern art) was a detailed chore chart delegating tasks amongst the group in the iron dictates of dry-erase marker. A small chandeleir hung from the ceiling, although the candles had been replaced with light bulbs.
The six housemates had lined themselves up on the other side of the table. I thought that this was really a bit much, and wondered if living in North York was really that bad after all.
As it turned out, Julia was the only one who was seriously interested in the inquisition. Padma had already given her stamp of approval, and the other four -- two guys and two girls -- all seemed easygoing and barely spoke at all. One, a frattish looking guy with long brown hair who had been introduced as Josh, spent most of the time looking down at his phone.
"So, what are your politics?" said Julia, hunched forward.
"Um, I think legally you're not allowed to ask me that. You know, as a landlord."
She practically hissed at me. "Look, we're a co-op. I'm not a lord of anything, much less land. But I mean, we've already got one guy here who's just here to get laid and not contribute to anything deeper, and we don't need another."
Josh raised his head. "Huh? Did someone call my name?"
"Aw come on Jules," said one of the girls, dressed in a tight-fitting tank top and sporting a long black ponytail. I thought her name was Dana or Dawn or something like that. "I know you're trying to get Trinh in here, but we've already got four girls... don't want things getting too imbalanced, huh?"
"Men and women are not opposite vectors or something. And I've told you not to call me Jules. Nobody calls me Jules."
"Well clearly someone does, and that's me."
Julia let out a long sigh. "Anyway. I guess what I'm trying to get at is... why do you want to live here, in a communal setting? The last guy who was here... he just holed up in his room the whole time, and that's why we ended up kicking him out. If you just want a place to sleep and keep your stuff, I dunno, rent a storage locker. What we're trying to do here is build community."
"Okay, but other than the sex thing, how do you do that?" I said, feeling the limb beneath me grow thinner. "I mean, you have that chore wheel up, rotating meals or whatever... we did all that stuff in my college dorm. What makes this so revolutionary?"
"Well, I mean, obviously it's a work in progress -- but we're just trying to find a new way to live with other people, a freer and fairer way."
I decided to swallow my pride and appease the ideologue for a while. I did, after all, need a place to stay. "Hey, that's all fine with me. Things need to be freer and fairer."
"I'm just curious," said the ponytailed girl. "Why don't you want to play with us?"
"I mean, have sexy times. Sorry, I have to remember not everyone's up on the jargon."
I felt my cheeks growing warm. "Well, it's nothing against any of you, but I just have a policy about sleeping with roommates. It always makes things way too complicated, in my opinion. Besides, I think sex should be something you do with someone you really care about, and all of you... well, I don't know you right now.
She nodded. "Fair enough. Don't worry, we ain't gonna rape you or anything... although it's tempting." Her wink didn't make her comment much less frightening.
That debate aside, the rest of the questions were pretty standard inquiries into my habits and peeves. Other than Julia and Padma, I couldn't get a good sense of any of them as individuals -- they fused into one questioning, but accepting mass. Finally, one of the guys -- the one with shorter hair and earrings, not the frattish one -- stood up and leaned on the table, making the most imposing frame out of his five-foot-nine body.
"Well, I think we've heard enough." He smiled at me. "Sorry, Mike, but can you step outside for a moment while we, uh, deliberate."
I nodded and went into the living room, sealed off by sliding doors. The furniture looked vaguely modern but the room was old-fashioned -- a circle of chairs and coaches around a wide glass coffee table. Not a television in sight. I wondered if these people really sat around talking to each other as their only form of amusement. Well, I guess it wasn't just talk.
Somehow, despite all the political lectures and sexual weirdness, I found myself really hoping that the six in the other room would decide to accept me. It was partly just the cheap rent, but I found myself curiously attracted to the kind of community they promised -- hell, even the righteous anger of Julia. It always startled me when people cared so much about something seemingly so huge and implacable as our way of life. Not that I was at all sure about their commune, but... it had a kind of indefinable allure nonetheless.
There was a big grandfather clock in the corner of the room, and as it ticked on I felt my stomach fold in on itself. What could be taking them so long? I was thinking up more elegant answers in my head to their questions, kicking myself for dragging Julia into a debate when I could have just described myself as a feminist enviro-communist and left it at that.
Finally, one of the sliding doors was pushed aside, and Padma was there, beckoning me into the room. She flfashed me an almost blindingly white smile. "We've decided to take you in."
"On a provisional basis," Julia quickly added. "You get a one month trial period, and then we vote again."
"So I guess there's a slight chance of me being thrown out on the street," I said.
Padma grabbed me by the arm. "Don't worry. It's gonna be fine"
University ended anticlimactically. I didn't even have any exams -- I just handed in a thick research paper, walked out of class, and slowly let the realization dawn on me that I was done with that chapter of my life, and done with the comforting structure of school. I couldn't quite take it in, so I just drowned it in a week of celebratory shots at the college parties, once so plentiful, that were running through my fingers like the last grains of sand on the beach.
My parents visited -- by this point they were in the habit of popping down to Toronto at any opportunity to look on the big city with rural wonder-eyes. My father tried to woo me with stories of all the great jobs back home (they had just opened up a new mini-mall), but I just repeated that I had already found a place. Any questions about my career prospects was deflected with less grace.
I ended up enlisting my parents and a couple friends to help me move into the new place. My apprehension about the whole commune thing had seemed small at first, but now it was growing. I wondered if I had actually walked into some kind of cult that would poison the joint veggie stir-fry, or if I would be expected to service the harem queen Julia in exchange for room and board. No scenario seemed too ridiculous. I spent the night before the move tossing and turning, making my sheets into strange origami patterns.
I yawned as my friend Tim's truck pulled up to the house. He checked the address. "You sure this is the place?"
"Yeah, this is the place." My parents' Ford was a block behind us, harried by the traffic.
My dad was beaming as he emerged. "Looks great! I was expecting a slum."
"Old-school," said Tim, nodding. I had met him in philosophy classes, but he was one of those kids who had really only gone in to talk about The Matrix. Nice guy, though.
My mom held the door open as all of us burly men walked in with one of my heavy boxes of possessions. I could have sworn that I didn't have half this much stuff moving out last summer. The dark-haired girl -- Delia? Danni? -- was sitting on the living room couch and was in a flurry of motion as soon as we entered.
My mom went around to meet her. "Hi there. I'm Mike's mother." I stood there watching and the rest, following my lead, stood in the stalled train of boxes.
"Dawn," said the girl. (So that was it! I tried to commit the name to memory for good this time.) She offered a hand, but didn't get up.
"It's a pleasure to meet you. Make sure you take care of my boy, all right?" I flushed with a return of adolescent embarassment. "Say, do you hear something buzzing in here?"
Dawn went red for some reason. "It might be, uh, the pipes. You know how it is with old houses."
Tim nudged be in the back with my heavy box of books. I managed to get my feet moving again, and steered the box-train down the half-flight of stairs into the lower level. Padma was sitting in her room nose-deep in some Eve Sedgwick. I was stunned that she really read that stuff outside of class.
We ventured back downstairs with all the stealth of a bull run. While the others went out to grab some more boxes (okay, so I'm a bit of a pack rat) I stopped in to say hi to Dawn. After all, I wanted to at least get off on the right foot with her. Dawn was wearing a blue tank top and had a blanket strewn across her lower half.
"Hey," I said. She waved. "So what are you doing down here by yourself?"
She quickly pulled up the blanket. Underneath it was a bodice-ripper novel and her uncovered and unshaven legs. Black panties with a small bulge barely covered her unmentionables. For a moment I thought she might be trans until I noticed the lump was vibrating softly. At the time I didn't have much knowledge of sex toys, so I couldn't specifically identify it, but I got the gist from the naughty grin on her face.
"Dawn! My parents are here."
She shrugged. "Well I didn't know you guys were coming."
"So you were just sitting here half-naked with some... buzzing... thing in your panties? Is this what you usually do on a Sunday morning?"