There are no deadlines, timetables, schedules. Children or spouses either. Only us.
There is, however, snow, yards of it, and it falls unrepentant. Like us.
Outside, the deck is covered with a thick crust of ice and snow. The valley spreads out below us, uniform and one-dimensional. We cannot see the tops of the mountains to the east and to the south but they are there towering above us, protective in their solidity.
The house is built off the side of one of these mountains and although we do not own this house, we are only here for one week, seven days pretending we aren’t something that we really are, we feel at home here cradled by the mountains. There is comfort in this familiarity, of belonging here, in this house that is not ours, the luxury of a week stolen from fifty-one others and two other homes a time zone apart.
We speak nothing of those other weeks, those other homes however. We have gone beyond the need for explanations. Ours is not a secret, here. Hand-in-hand, we walk the snow-covered streets at night, we speak low, laugh softly above votive candles in cafes, smile broadly at children tumbling down slopes into the waiting arms of grateful parents. Here, we are what everyone else wants to be. We do not disappoint.
Maybe, in that other word, we would. There, we are ordinary, everyday, and we both adore, cherish that. After all, that is what brought us together, that is what, at first, we spent so many hours chronicling. Our fear, our shame, at first, was over ruining that world. Now here, with each other, we save that world, shield it as the mountains shield us. If we were not here, we would be elsewhere, with unknown others, and that would destroy everything. Everyone. Everything.
We have been all over the country on these yearly one weeks together. Yet this year, there is no place else we are supposed to be. We know this, so we do not speak this.
And now, you are smiling. Your hair is stringy and mated against your cheeks. Your head is back and your eyes are closed and you are catching snowflakes on your tongue and you are smiling. Fog dances above these turbulent Jacuzzi waters. Ice crystals glisten on your hair, a crown. A large snowflake alights on your nose. You laugh. I do too.
You rise from the water, Neptune’s daughter, steam enveloping you. The valley, the snow, you, naked. Your skin is deep red, embryonic. Your body shines, glistens, and you reach out for me, hands drawing me out of the waters.
I am reborn.
Your footsteps are quick, yet soft across the deck into the house. I close, lock the door, follow you into the middle of this great room with its high, cantilevered ceiling and rough-hewn ponderosa beams. There are couches and glass tables, large easy chairs, an oval stained glass window high on the wall and a piano neither of us knows how to play. There are books and magazines we half-heartedly skim, cds we can’t help but memorize, dvds we don’t watch, wine and liquor cabinets we frequent occasionally, and the large glass wall that gives the impression we are floating above the Earth, timeless and eternal.
The crown has melted atop your head. I grab a towel off one of the couches and wrap it around you. Standing behind you, I dry your arms, shoulders, chest, legs, then I drape the towel over your head and rub your hair dry and I feel myself growing hard against you. Your jaw and cheeks tighten. I know you are smiling. You turn, push a hand around the side of the towel, and find me. At your touch, I grow harder, and you kiss me, all the while wiping the tip of my penis with your thumb until I am almost erect, then you pull away, the towel wrapped around you in faint modesty, and you walk away, slowly, grinning, around the large glass coffee table and you stand in front of the granite fireplace, taller than you, and let the towel fall. Your body is bathed in red. You glow. I can see, between your legs, arms of the fire reaching up, out, it wants you, to hold you, embrace you, consume you, as do I. But the fire cannot. It is jealous; a loud crack of wood, a protest of envy, and I walk toward you, pull you away from the fire, and lay you down on the floor. There already is a mattress here, a futon we moved days ago from the basement, and you nestle down into the sheets and blankets. I lean over you, my penis resting against your thigh, and kiss you, and you pull me close, lift a leg as if to drape yourself over me, but I stop, lean back. You are under me, between my arms, and you rise up, dab my lips and nose with your tongue, and fall back onto the mattress, grinning.
You know what’s next.
I stand, reach for the towel, then step over you toward the fire. Wrapping the towel around my hands, I reach into a cast-iron pot filled with water hanging in the fireplace and retrieve a small glass bottle. It is warm between my fingers, even through the thick cotton. I wipe the excess water off the bottle, lay the towel on the floor, step over you again, and kneel by your side. You have rolled over onto your stomach and are lying with your head on your right forearm, staring at the fire.
I open the bottle, the glass warm in my fingers, and pour some of the contents into my palm. It is hot, but not unbearably so. Just the way, I have come to know, you like it.
Leaning up over you, I hold the bottle inches from your skin, and I see your body flinch. You can feel the warmth of the glass and you are preparing for that first drop of heat, but I make you wait. The bottle is tipped, the contents barely inside the mouth’s edge. The flesh under your shoulders, at your elbows, begins to quiver lightly. Your impatience is also your appetite.
I make you wait a little more.
Then, the first drop. You wince; your head rises, legs close on one another. It is not pain, the oil is not so hot, only shock, when expectation becomes reality, and then the shock subsides, and you lower your head. I repeat this ministration all over your back, particularly at the base of your neck, your triceps, your waist, your shoulders. Soon, your back is covered with pools of oil that wink at me, from the flickering fire. I set the bottle down and, with one hand, smooth the pools into a thin glaze. I count, for what must be now the hundredth time, the seventeen freckles on your back. I close my eyes and with my fingers, I connect them, constructing a map of you in my mind, committing you to memory.
You soften under my hands. Your flesh is warm and my hands, gliding across your skin, are not mine any longer. They are yours, we are joined, connected, my flesh yours, your mine, there is, now, no distance between us. I feel your skin, yes, but also your soul. Deep inside this body, this muscle and tissue and bone, this heart, this mind, is one with mine. There is nothing more pure and exacting than this, nothing more effortless and timeless.
But not yet. First, there is this, you in my hands, flesh of my flesh, bone of my soul.
I squeeze your arms at the shoulders and firmly draw my hands down over elbows and forearms to your wrists, biceps and triceps contracting under my fingers. And again. And again, pressing my thumb, this time, firmly into your thumb, over your palm, out your fingers. Even though you have stiffness in your neck, there is a string of knots across your shoulders, tiny pebbles in a creek I have tried to scatter, your anxiety, fears, angers are there in your arms and elbows. I know, after all these years, too well. Your sadnesses, your loses, there are many we have spoken about, IÕm sure there are others you share not even with me, you keep them at a distance, a hand raised in Stop!, but some manage to creep around this sign to burrow into you, immovable, and this is, I think, why I am here, to draw these uncertainties out. And I try. I don’t know if I am in any way successful, but you are genuinely grateful for the effort. It pleases me to please you.
And so now, the sex.
And you seem to know this. I reach for the bottle and, in preparation, you lift your head, crane your neck, several cracks dispersing more pebbles there, then you settle onto the mattress, this time, your legs slightly apart.
You know what’s next.
This time, I don’t make you wait. I pour several drops of oil onto the small of your back, the liquid catching in the fine blonde hairs there, and your hips and legs tighten. The oil is still quite warm and, now, there is no separation between expectation and reality. It is all, now, want and need at once.
Quickly, I dispense three, four drops of oil on each orb. You flinch again, and the muscles there tighten, then loosen. For good measure, I add one more drop to each, to satisfy my hunger in creating yours. With one hand, I hastily collect the oil into one film then, as an afterthought, release two more drops of oil. You gasp slightly; there was no expectation this time. This, after all these years, I know you like too.
I do not spend much time on your thighs, calves, feet. That will be later tonight, in bed before sleep, to finish the work begun now. Your feet were the first parts of you I ever touched. Tonight I will make them my last memory of you for the day before sleep.
Abruptly, I stop. I rise and walk toward the large glass door leading to the deck. This you do not expect, and neither do I. I feel your eyes following me. The thought just came to me.
Back inside, you have rolled over onto your back and you see that I am carrying something. Kneeling at your side, the fire cracks again and you see what is in my hands: an icicle. Your eyes widen and your face flattens. Fear? Curiosity?
It is not really an icicle, but a piece of one. Maybe ten inches long, tapered at one end to a rounded point, not very fat, but its surface is lined with ridges of water blown frozen by incessant Artic winds. It is cold in my hand but, surprisingly, warm too.
I think you will like this.
I lick the end of the icicle, run it up your abdomen, over your naval, through the light down of hair there, then up to your nipples. I lick the icicle tip again, brush it gently over a nipple. Your breath catches in your throat, but then a smile creeps across your face, and I leave the icicle there, melting, the water collecting on your areola. I bend, lick the water away, take the nipple between my teeth. Your back arches as I drag the icicle, a water drop dangling from the tip, over to the other nipple. You gasp, your body tightening like a spring. I suck the nipple with my lips, then drag my tongue up its underneath side and I turn my head until the nipple is in the corner of my mouth and I bite down. You buckle, pull your hips in. The icicle has formed a pool of water that runs down your chest to the floor. You are smiling widely, your hips now rocking, gently, into the air, against nothing. You are ahead of me.
I need to make you need. This is my want.
I trace the icicle down your abdomen. Circling your naval, I still have your nipple between my lips. I nibble it hard, on occasion, and each time your hips buck upwards. You want the end now, but today, it is about the journey. That is my need.
Still, I can’t make you wait too long, because I can barely contain myself. My penis, semi-erect, flutters against your ribs. It has a life if its own, rising and falling. At the slit, I know there is a bubble of precum. When the head grazes your flesh, I feel us sticking together, for one brief second.
I can think of nothing more wonderful than this.
I release your nipple. You frown. But that frown disappears. Your mouth quickly opens into an “Ooohhh” as I slide the icicle down between your legs. Following the trail of water on your abdomen with my tongue, I dip my tongue into your naval as you open your legs and I run the very tip of the icicle against your labia. Your whole body freezes.
I know this was the right thing to do.
I slide around your legs, pushing your left leg to the side with my right hand, until I am kneeling between your legs, a penitent in prayer before his goddess. The icicle is close to you. I run the tip over to your left thigh, tracing a thin skein of water down the inside to where leg meets derriere, then across your right cheek to your left, back up the inside of your left thigh, resting lightly against your outer lips. You slide a few inches closer to me, legs widening, lips winking in the process. I am nearly erect, but I order my mind. I am making myself my sacrifice to you.
Lowering my head, I smell you. Your inner lips are glistening. I have not yet touched them with the icicle. I know you’re wanting this now as much as I.
You are very close-shaven. Waxed actually. There is very little hair, just a soft, yet thick triangle at the top. This is something new. It surprised me, at first, four nights earlier. You smiled coyly, said, “Change is good.” Each year, you become more and more your own. Each year, I think I love you that much more.
The thumb and index finger of my left hand are between your outer lips. Like a scissors, I spread them, running my middle fingers up along the inside to your clitoris, which I flick lightly once, to make sure you are paying attention. A gasp of “Oh-Oh-Oh” tells me yes.
Your wetness is thick between my fingers. I moisten the tips of my thumb and forefinger by running them against the inside of your lips. The fire hisses, cracks, and I raise my fingers to my mouth, lick them, then slide them back inside you. I moisten them again, then lick them again, then I return them to you, only this time upon removal, I offer them to you. Your tongue slides the length of my index finger, then you swallow my thumb. My penis is twitching uncontrollably, the air in the room cold at the tip where another bubble of more precum awaits. I sigh, close my eyes, then I pull my hand away, but not before you lick my palm.
I scissor you open again, only this time, with the thumb and forefinger of my right hand, I gently squeeze the hood of your clitoris. I can feel the small pebble there below the flap of skin, and I do not squeeze hard, but the way I am doing so, on the vertical, covering its entire length, not along the horizontal, across it, is something I know you like. You squirm, arch your back. Are you close? Not yet, I decide, not yet, so I remove both sets of fingers and you slump back down onto the futon, panting.
But I do not wait long.
I slide the index and middle fingers of my left hand inside you. You start, then push down against me, rocking your hips slowly. I feel all around inside as you begin to ride my fingers. I lean forward, resting my palm on your pubis, and my middle finger finds your clitoris. As you buck harder, I push my finger into the small opening at the end of the hood over your clitoris. I feel it there, that pebble, and I begin to flick it. “Oh Oh Oh,” you say, over and over, “Oh Oh Oh,” as you bear down fast and hard on me. I move my body up, hands and fingers still inside you, and take a nipple in your mouth.
“Un-hunh, un-hunh,” you pant, you are close, I know, I can feel the way you are gripping my fingers, so I stop. I release the nipple, remove my fingers from you.
“No no,” you say, and you reach for my right hand, moist and wet with you, but I pull it away, you lay your hands at your sides, breathing deeply, faintly bucking at the air with your hips. I trail a hand down your body, your right side warm from the heat of the fire.
It is time.
Deftly, I reposition myself between your legs. My hands grab the undersides of your thighs and I push them out and towards you. You are spread wide open before, my face inches from your sex. Your lips quiver.
I part your outer lips with my left hand. I lower my head and with my tongue, I part your inner lips. I lick your entire length, from top to bottom, bottom to top, top to bottom, each time working my tongue deeper inside, swallowing your nectars, until I find your clitoris. I flick at it once, then twice. You are simpering now, pressing your sex hard into my face. I open my mouth as wide as it can and I cover you entirely, my tongue cleaning you. You are thick and sweet. I cannot, ever, have enough.
With my right hand, I reach for the icicle. I know you have forgotten it. There is much you have forgotten, and this is the purpose for our lives: this one week of forgetting. We live entire lifetimes one week at a time each year, you and I. When we are through, ten, twenty, fifty years from now, ours will be a love that never grew old.
I raise the icicle to my face and momentarily, I remove my mouth from you. You relax, exhale quickly several times, orienting yourself. Your stomach and leg and arm muscles slacken; you do not find my absence strange but courteous. I lick the icicle, coat it with what I have left of you mixed with me, then I lower my head to you again. You start, at first, at the chill of my lips and mouth, then, a groan, happy, and you push into my face as your hands clutch the sides of my head.
I tip my head to the side and bring the icicle closer. You sense something near your thigh and your left hand drops from my head and moves to your left thigh. I bring the icicle up under my chin and bring the tip in contact with your lips.
“What,” you flinch, but, soothing, “Sssssh,” I say, and your hand returns to my head again. It is this trust that also will keep us together, for decades of nows.
Softly, I draw the icicle against your flesh. You twitch again, although not as severe as before, and you settle back down onto the futon, your hands holding my head, your soft moans offering approval.
I lick the icicle. I am again amazed that it is not as cold as one would imagine, but still its solidity and chill make it something not to ignore.
With my left hand, I spread your outer lips, then I slowly introduce the icicle. You catch your breath; I await your signal, of pain, for removal. But there is none. The icicle, once fully inside you, is melting rapidly in my fingers, I can feel it, the water mixing with you. In seconds, my hand is drenched, fluids seeping out of you.
You begin to rock your hips. The signal.
I lower my face, feel the icicle against my chin, and I begin to thrust the icicle in and out. Around its side, fluid flows as if from a spring, and you are beginning to inhale and exhale loudly, chaotic. I lower my face, lick the sides of the icicle, tasting you on it, then, as I continue to thrust it in and out, I push it to the side so I can burrow my tongue into you. I find your clit and I suck on it, the icicle burrowing in and out you against my cheek. My lips locked around your clitoris, I bite it, suck it all into my mouth, bite it again, keep it locked within the open O of my mouth as I flick it with my tongue, the icicle, all the while, pumping in and out, and soon, soon, soon, your hands grab my head and squeeze, you try to push the icicle out as your muscles clamp down, you are screaming now, your voice echoing off the ceiling high above us, my lips locked onto your clit, the icicle passing in and out, my face and hands covered with water and your slickness and, finally, your body collapses. You move very little as you let out one long guttural groan, your orgasm overtaking you. It is in you, your whole body, the fluids on my hands and in my mouth, waves supporting you, taking you away. I am pleased, ecstatic, knowing you are far away from me, from the world, from life, riding these waves of pleasure. It nearly brings tears to my eyes.
I remove the icicle, but you seem not to notice as your breathing is hard and deep and labored. I continue to hold you in my mouth, only gently. I kiss your clitoris, your lips, several times softly, all the while running hands over your abdomen, calming you. Seconds, minutes pass as you slowly return to me on shore.
I pull back away from you, then slide up your left side, cradling you in my arms. We do not speak. There is so much that cannot be explained or spoken or comprehended in pleasure such as this.