We had no idea what Erotica Week would look like when we dreamed it up, over Twitter, months ago. And now that it's finally here, I'd describe it like this: the stories and poems on the site this week touch on what erotica can be—funny, uncomfortable, sensual, and violent.
Touch Me (An excerpt from Touch Me: An Erotic Tale of Rock, Roll, Romance, Re-animation, and Redemption)
It was hot. Not Afghanistan hot, but hot all the same. Rhiannon kept her eyes on the trail and focused on her walking. Left right left right. It was almost like basic training, except with no lunatic sergeant shouting at her heels, no body armor, m14, and ammunition. No Tony.
She swallowed and wiped the tears. It was over. He was gone. Keep walking. Left right left right.
Tony. She remembered the last night before his deployment. The apartment in Fort Bragg and the bed they had splurged on, a king that took up so much room in the tiny bedroom there was barely space for a dresser and a bed stand. She smiled, picturing that bed. They really didn’t need anything else. She shook her head and fought another tear. What would Tony say, if he was here? Suck it up. Move on. You’re twenty-three years old and gorgeous, for god’s sake, go get everything that being twenty-three and gorgeous can get you in this world.
But it wasn’t that easy, had never been as easy for her as it was for Tony. Just be, he used to say. Be here now.
Be here now. She was cutting up a rocky switchback, trudging up into the mountains, and the city was now stretched out below her. It was smoggy and fake-looking and beautiful. Rhiannon was sweating now. She stopped and wiped her brow with a bandanna, checked to see if anybody was ahead or behind on the trail, and quickly wiped the sweat beneath her tank top as it trailed down her chest. Tony had always worshipped her breasts when they made love. He’d start at the curve of her clavicle, trace it with his lips and kiss his way down...
Rhiannon checked herself. Focus. You’re one leg down and climbing a sketchy trail. It had been months, maybe a full year, since anybody other than a doctor or a nurse or her mother had touched, even seen, what Tony used to call her “passion fruits.”
She could hear him now, a few Miller Lites in him and talking his soldier talk. “If something happens to me, you damn well better move on and share those glorious tits with some other lucky guy.”
He was joking and he wasn’t. The casual, half-bravado of soldiers, and the nervous full smiles of people in love. Tony was always who he needed to be for her, even in bed.
She rounded a curve and the trail steepened. Every now and then she heard something moving to the side of the trail, where rocks mixed with weeds and dust-colored trees. Lizards or mice skittering into holes or behind rocks.
She watched her feet. There was still a hitch in her walk, a slight limp that her mother and the people at the VA said wasn’t even noticeable anymore. She was all woman, but slightly less of one than she had been before deployment. The ghost of her leg was still there, and she could feel it every now and then, that phantom limb almost as big and real as Tony’s absence in her heart. How do people get over things? How do they go on when there’s no one there to love them?
Left right left. She thought of Tony, his smile, the way he picked at his cuticles when he was bored or nervous. She thought of that bed. The rumpled pillows thrown to the floor, the forgotten comforter pushed against the wall. The feeling of his stubble on her thighs. She hadn’t been with a man in a long time. She remembered the night they’d spent at the hotel after Robertson’s wedding. “Let me do the work,” he said, licking her ear, her neck, moving slowly down, tracing the line of her panties with his finger, his hand moving under the satin and pushing down, down, so slow, teasing…
She felt like she had entered a pleasant dream, the hazy feeling of something good happening, of being happy and content. Thoughts of that king sized bed, of sweat drenched passion, of Tony’s groans of pleasure, of orgasms so intense Rhiannon thought she was suffocating with joy. Her nipples hardened and pushed against the sports bra. She was wet, ready. But for what? For whom?
She drank from her water bottle. It was body temperature. Jesus, it was hot. The sun felt so low and she wondered if it was true that the smog actually amplified the temperature, so Los Angeles was like living beneath a magnifying glass. She felt that now, hot and wet and alive, like a twin orb throwing energy right back to the sun.
Something in the trail. She stopped. Jesus, she’d allowed herself to completely forget where she was. What was that? A rock? A cactus? A mountain lion? The thing in the road moved. What the…A lizard. A huge lizard. A zoo lizard. Shimmering in the sun with blue-grey, hypnotic eyes. It stopped and stared, and flicked a long pink tongue in her direction. It – my god, it was a him, how did she know it was a him? – laid on its side and rested its head on a stubby arm like a man reclining on a couch.
What is happening? she thought. She was so hot. More water.
The lizard extended the tongue again. Something about it seemed to be beckoning her. If only she had her m14, she thought. If this was Afghanistan there would be twenty rounds in that lizard right now.
“Shoo!” she said.
The lizard looked her up and down and she felt conspicuous with her erect nipples and then realized how ridiculous that was.
“Move along, lizard,” she said. She took a step forward. “I’ve seen way worse than you.”
“Have you?” the lizard said.
Everything went black.
+ + +
A hand was brushing at her forehead. No, not brushing. Caressing. It moved down to her shoulders and squeezed, a little too hard. It brushed her breasts and then went back to her head. “Mom, for fuck’s sake leave me alone,” Rhiannon said.
“I’m not your mother,” the voice said. “And I’m not your father, but more like a brother,” something, someone licked the back of her neck. “But the stars have brought us here and we’re one and the same, just like everything always was together.”
Rhiannon opened her eyes. She remembered: the hike, the heat, the lizard. Surely she’d been hallucinating.
“You’re back in the world, traveler.” the voice said. “And there’s only the two of us in it.” Rhiannon held her hand before her eyes as a silhouette spun slowly, its arms outstretched in the sun’s hot light.
She shook her head and looked to the left, where the man had drifted off to the side. He was tall, with long hair. Worn leather pants stretched across his angular hips, and his chest was glistening beneath the collarless cotton tunic he wore as a shirt. He stepped forward and the muscles in his thighs rippled beneath the thin leather, and Rhiannon thought back to her aunt’s farm, where as a child she watched Aunt Lacy’s prize young stallions gallop through lush green valleys, carefree and beautiful.
“I’m Rhiannon,” she said.
“Far out,” he said. “I’m Jim.”
There was something familiar about him. Was he on a show? She was terrible at making those connections, always had to rely on her mother to tell her who in the supermarket was famous and why. “Thanks for helping me out, Jim,” she said. “I must have…” Rhiannon’s head spun for a moment. Her face flushed. Warmth radiated down her long, tanned neck. “Damn,” she said. “It’s so hot.”
He nodded. “We’re all just children,” he said. He waved a hand toward the sun. “Star children.”
“You look so familiar,” she said. “Are you on a show or something?”
“I’m a poet,” he said. “I’m just like you/I’m a traveler too.”
“Okaaay,” she said.
“We’re all poets, though, really, Rhiannon. Poets of our own lives.” He turned to face her and she flashed on her mother’s records. “What poem do you want to be, star child?”
“You must get this all the time,” she said. She stood up tentatively. “But you look just like Jim Morrison.”
“Look like?” he said. “More than look like, kitten. Much, much more.”
He approached. It really was uncanny. He looked just like Jim Morrison. Maybe he was some kind of professional Morrison imitator, worked at one of those tourist traps on Sunset.
He walked right up to her and put a hand on her back. He ran it down her spine until his fingertips flittered into the damp hollow just beneath the waistband of her shorts, and back up again. His hands were smooth and soft. Poet hands, she thought. So much different from soldier hands. He leaned toward her and she wondered why she hadn’t hit him yet, why her body wasn’t flooding with adrenaline and getting ready to fight. Then he kissed her neck and it was as if the sun’s golden rays had set her aflame; her body pulsed with heat, and it filled her up and she was once again lightheaded. He kissed the other side of her neck, ran a hand down her back. Her head reeled, her body filled with heat and she was lost to this Lizard King and his blazing hot, pulsating, sun-licked radiance. She fought it at first. It was too soon, this was all too soon. It was crazy. She should stop.
She should stop. This was what happens a few weeks before your photo gets plastered on billboards with “MISSING” placed in urgent red font across your forehead. She didn’t survive that moonscape desert with its unseen shooters and ceaseless explosions, or those hospitals with their prodding needles, tubes and fake smiles just to get caught up by some random drifter who thought he was Jim Morrison.
She should stop. But the stranger – Jim, she’ll just go with it and call him Jim for 30 mindless, careless seconds – was lithe and smooth and there. His skin was soft and cool and those poet hands ran through her thick auburn hair, down her long neck, over her thin waist, cupped her shapely warrior’s ass. The strokes were playful, lilting, lyrical – so unlike Tony’s solid soldier’s touch. Jim – still Jim just Jim for ten more seconds and then you’ll think again, but oh god those hands, those artist’s hands... – somehow felt beyond this sweltering afternoon.
She should stop. His tongue dipped into her mouth once, twice, countless times like it was desperate for her sweet water. He tasted like cigarettes and whiskey and smelled like sweat and cinnamon. It should have been unpleasant, but it made her think of the best nights with Tony in North Carolina, when they bought cheap liquor and escaped the lights of the barracks. They’d listen to classic rock under the stars, losing themselves to the throb of the drums. Now Tony was lost, but Rhiannon still throbbed. She buried the memory, ran her hands along Jim’s sinuous lower back, and pulled his pelvis closer to hers.
She should stop. Her pulse hummed in her ears. Her breathing sped up, thinned. Her vision tunneled. Blood surged to her reddening lips, and her nipples grew as hard as baby strawberries as Jim’s tender fingertips explored her sweetest, wettest places. Rhiannon’s back arched and she leaned into him, preparing to give in entirely. For the first time in nearly a year, Rhiannon felt young and beautiful and powerful and whole.
And with a whispery “shhkrrkkkh,” her bad foot slipped along the rock, throwing her off-balance and pulling her back into reality. Jim’s arm swooped behind her back and caught her, and as their hips pressed fully against one another – her readying mound, his swelling manhood – he was smiling down at her. Those big, mystical eyes. She once again thought of the giant lizard lying so lithely across the trail.
The muscles of Jim’s arm flexed beneath Rhiannon, his big hand splayed across the small of her back, balancing her. Rhiannon raised her leg in the air, still not trusting her new foot, and Jim looked at it. His free hand circled in and held her behind the knee.
“Far out,” he said. He then ran his fingertips along the gleaming shaft connecting her knee to the drab constraints of her left hiking shoe. “It’s from a whole other world.”
He stared at Rhiannon’s new leg, tilting his head this way and that as the titanium prosthesis caught the sunlight like a prism. It glinted across Jim’s face and his eyes flashed like emeralds hidden in the thick curls of his wild hair. “You’re from a whole other world,” he said. His tongue darted along his lips as he lowered her leg and pulled Rhiannon against his chest. “Maybe we’re all from other worlds.”
Jim kissed her again, hard, almost desperately, and she didn’t mean to moan, but she did. He pulled back, panted breathlessly against her ready full lips. “Maybe we’re all broken.” And his arms encircled her and their tongues intertwined as they licked and nibbled, explored one another’s wet and ready mouths hungrily. It was as if they had both been starving, and now they were trying to eat each other. With lust.
He pushed a hand down her shorts and into her wetness. She wobbled and clung to him. It had been so long. He expertly massaged her womanhood, his poet’s finger plying her honey pot like a classical pianist playing a Bach concerto. She let her mind go blank. Be here now. She felt it swelling inside her, the steady rhythm building, like waves lapping on the shore, a tide coming in. Then it happened. All the fragrant warmth. All the white hot heat. All of the wide, hazy, blue desert sky and golden sun pulsed through her and ran like an earthquake through Rhiannon’s lonely heart, breathless abdomen and quivering thighs.
And then she was lost. Rhiannon came, and her orgasm it was so hard, so powerful, so irresistible, that it felt like a waterfall had burst from the sky and flattened her helpless pulsating body beneath the torrent. Wave after wave of ecstasy smothered her, then let her up for air. Again and again she convulsed. Stars flickered at the edges of her vision. As she fell to the ground, helpless in the throes of her release, Jim absorbed her, pulling her against his chest. The waves of pleasure slowly subsided. The dizzy heat flowed over her for what seemed like an eternity.
When it was over, she was on the ground with Jim sitting behind her, embracing her. Rhiannon was panting and quivering like an exhausted star child in Jim’s arms. My god. What was happening? She had never …
“That was beautiful,” he said. He cupped her breast and she arched towards him. They kissed softly, then deeply. This went on. And on. They were forever. When their hungry mouths finally pulled apart, Jim said, “Just right now. You were One; One with yourself. One with the moment. You were a stranger when you arrived, and now you are known to the Earth-mother. You are the sky. You are the stars, hidden behind the curtain of day. You are everything you’ve ever wanted to be.” Jim looked off into the distance. “The spirits are watching.” He picked some dust from the trail and sprinkled it into the heartening breeze. As it drifted to the ground, he chuckled. “They say now you are free.”
Rhiannon stopped. Inhaled.
Why was she ...
Who was this man?
She raised herself up on her hands, separated herself from this stranger. The stranger – not Jim, she reminded herself, a goddamn stranger that that you know nothing about – felt her hesitation and drew back. He licked his pouty lower lip and fixed her with his steely, glittering gaze. “The handcuffs of the world are in your head,” he said. His voice was soft and low and familiar. “But now we can be free.”
Rhiannon wiped her brow. She was hot, hot everywhere. Her heart raced. This was crazy. Crazy, but still she wanted more. How wonderful more of that release would be, to just lay down on these rocks and let this stranger take her over and over again, to feel like she felt on those long nights with Tony. To be whole again.
The stranger stood behind her and walked past. He held out a hand as if beckoning her to a new place. He looked over his shoulder and smiled mischievously, and Rhiannon thought of that lizard again.
This had to be a hallucination. Maybe all of it a hallucination.
“Come with me,” Jim said, “to the other side. Where we are free of ourselves, free of our pasts, free of our mothers and free of our fathers and we are all One, like brothers and sisters, children at play.” He spun, his arms outstretched, and shouted to the open and endless sky: “Children at play! To the end of the star-filled forever!” He began to hoot and dance slowly, tracing a slow circle in the sand, his long, baggy sleeves flowing in the wind.
Rhiannon closed her eyes and rubbed at the lids until she saw a tie-dye swirl of colors. She listened to the stranger hoot and yip as he danced that slow circle, but hid herself in the darkness behind her eyelids. The doctors had told her the medication could have consequences, that she needed to take her rehabilitation seriously but not get ahead of herself. They had even told her about the hot flashes... but this?
“I can’t...” Rhiannon finally said.
She opened her eyes.
The stranger was gone.
She stood and dusted herself off, then spun a slow circle, shading her eyes against the sun.
“Jim?” she whispered.
Only the wind answered.