impertinences: (I held you like a lover)
you're too young & eager to love ([personal profile] impertinences) wrote on August 16th, 2016 at 09:39 pm
Henderson is a warm face in a sea of strangers. (The talk had gone well, but they usually do.) You handled yourself with your typical poise and grace. It’s the same poise you possess when he introduces you to Jasper.

You shake hands.

He’s polite and gracious, thankful for the opportunity. You’re flattered that the occasional college student can still fluster himself over your name.

You do not remember thinking much about him afterwards. You recall liking his hair, its length and feminism, and the sharpness of his cheekbones. You could cut yourself on them. But his face quickly loses its distinctiveness in the blur of your memory as the days go on. You fall back into your wifely routines: laundry, cooking, dinner, chaste sex between clean sheets with your husband.

You’ve almost forgotten him by the time Henderson says his name over a lunch that consists mostly of white wine.

“Who?” You ask, rubbing a smudge of lipstick from the rim of your glass with your thumb.

“Jasper, the art student. I introduced you. I think you’ve inspired him. He’s made three new pieces since your lecture.” Henderson sounds amused and a little affectionate. It’s the sound proud fathers have when discussing their talented sons. “I think you could be good for him, Margot. He’s been in a bit of a creative slump this past semester. He’s worried about all his work being derivative or some such dribble.”

“Well, we are our own worst critics.”

“You would know, my dear.” He smiles and clinks his wine glass with yours.

You roll your eyes, laughing a little, accepting his passive criticism. Henderson has been one of your primary supporters since your early days. He had dutifully proofread your manuscripts and listened to your midnight phone calls about character concepts and plot twists. You feel like you’ve disappointed him now that your success has lost its luster and your life as a novelist has waned. He’s too kind to say as much, so instead he offers you a prodigal pupil.

You point out your hesitation. “I don’t think muses should feel this cheap. Or like such a fraud.”

“Oh, come now. He’s just a kid, Margot. You can’t disappoint him. He already thinks you walk on water. You should hear him analyze Albtraum from a Freudian perspective for Pete’s sake. Have coffee. Take him to lunch. Let him talk your ear off, although Jasper may be just as happy if you do all the talking. He’s a serious kid. Passionate, but a little too intense at times for his own good.”

You shrug, still uncertain. Do you have time for this, you wonder? The drive to the campus is a hassle now that you’re in the suburbs, and you’re a creature of habit. You’ve found routine in your day-to-day happenings, if not a certain measure of boredom.

“Who knows,” Henderson says, “he could be good for you too.”

You think about those prophetic words when you’re awake in Jasper’s bed and two months have gone by since your luncheon. You sit with your back against his cold, iron headboard. Jasper rolls a joint casually, his sweatpants hanging from his sharp hips, his hair in his face and an indulgent smile on his mouth. There’s a red mark on his shoulder from where you scratched him too deeply, and you can feel a bruise blossoming on the inside of your hip from where the bed frame’s blunt edge dug into you as you bent over the side of the mattress.

Good for me, you think, and the thought makes you want to cry as much as it makes you want to laugh.

It bothers you because it’s true. You hate to admit it. He is good for you, even if being with him rips another hole into the fabric of your marriage. But if you’re being honest with yourself then you know that your marriage has been situated on a cracked foundation from the start.

You used to think you were an honest person. Now you’re not so sure. You’re sometimes paralyzed by the things you have found yourself capable of.

You think about him on the days you cannot see him. You fold laundry in a daze. You wash dishes by hand after dinner, up to your elbows in bubbles and murky water, too scared to dry the glasses and plates in case Kenneth sees how badly your fingers shake. You feel dope sick with longing, all of your cravings as petty and paradoxically substantial as any addict’s. Your stomach is in knots and your mind turns manic, replaying the same thoughts, the same images.

You mourn for your marriage, but you mourn your time away from Jasper with the same intensity.

You stop recognizing yourself in the mirror.

You try to stop thinking about your life in terms of black and white. You try to live in the grey.

You try.

As it turns out, the grey is an old apartment off campus.

It’s sticky and humid inside. The air conditioner is broken. It’s the middle of summer, but you don’t care. Kenneth took an unprecedented vacation from work, so you spent three weeks with a husband who barely looked at your face and didn’t even bother to throw his dirty shirts in the right laundry bin. Sunday evening, you took a bath so hot that it scalded your too-thin skin. You shaved your legs and bikini line. You washed your hair with jasmine shampoo and tried not to feel guilty. After Kenneth left for the precinct Monday morning, you all but ran to Jasper’s doorstep.

Your hands shook the entire way, clutching the steering wheel till your knuckles were white. You feel pathetic, and your need disgusts you.

But you kiss him when he opens the door anyway, hardly making it through the threshold. You’ve forgotten about the possibilities of his roommate or if the blinds are open or any shred of decorum you once possessed. Your kiss is mostly teeth; he’s much taller than you, so he has to bend to meet your mouth, but his arms are sure and steady. They find their way around your waist before dropping to the backs of your thighs.

He sweeps you up and off your feet. Like you’re one of those damsels in those romance novels you hate. It’s a cliché. You’re turning into one, you know, but it doesn’t seem to matter once he’s sat you on top of the makeshift dinner table and knocked your legs open with his knees. He reaches behind him and pulls his shirt off from the collar, throwing it to the side with a lascivious grin. Jasper looks older than his years when he’s like this – excited by the prospect of having you.

You think he plans on pushing up your skirt and shoving down his pants, that he’ll keep your ass perched on the edge of the table and fuck you until your knees are sore from bending and you’ve clawed ownership marks into his back.

He surprises you instead.

You suddenly understand why your husband conducts his affairs with girls in their twenties.

They’re refreshing in their unpredictability.

He is holding you down and spreading you wide. One of his long, lean arms is thrown over your lower stomach. He doesn’t seem strong enough to pin you, and maybe he isn’t, maybe you’re letting him. Like how you’re letting him use his mouth on you, between your thighs, his tongue and lips blurring into one. You can hear a ragged, pained breathing, and you’re surprised to realize that it’s your own.

It sounds like he’s hurting you.

He isn’t. He knows it.

He uses his free hand and suddenly there’s two fingers inside of you, sliding and stretching, making you shiver.

You make an “oh” noise that is sharp, glass-like, and you hear his laughter on your wet skin. It’s the sound of someone who is young and proud. You feel his smugness in the way he breathes against your navel when your hips rise on their own accord, and he adds more weight to the arm thrown across you. Pins you more securely.

You want to get away. You scratch at the backs of his shoulders with your blunt nails. You’re close to sobbing. You want to stay.

Jasper doesn’t know that Kenneth never does this for you. It’s selfishness on your husband’s part, but it’s also because you always thought this act, more so than any others, was the most intimate. Even as a teenager, your adolescent boyfriends were barred from exploring southward with their mouths. It’s too messy and too personal. You’ve always been bashful about the idea of spreading your thighs wide and watching someone lick their way down to your cunt. (It’s a strange thing too – thinking of your own anatomy in such crude terms. You’re an author – you’ve written the words in your own stories – but you have trouble speaking them or conceptualizing them in terms related to your own body). Vulgarly open, you can smell yourself too, your arousal that is heavy and somehow foreign to you ever since you turned forty, and your sweat. It’s sharp and florid. There’s that small, embarrassed part of you that still finds reason to blush from the obviousness of your own excitement (unladylike, your mother would have said).

But then you curse under your breath because his tongue is rolling over your clit. Your legs are shaking. Your hair has curled with sweat against your jaw, sticking to your neck.

He replaces his tongue with the pads of his fingers. He has a delicate touch. You picture him with paintbrushes and metal tools, his dark hair pulled loosely back at the nape of his neck, his gaze serious and focused. You feel like artwork at the moment, like he’s molding and burning you into the proper form.

He murmurs something against your skin. It’s wet noise. His breath is hot on your thighs. You reach down and curl your hands into his hair, suddenly appreciative of its length. You want something to ground you with, some small action that will keep you here, keep you from shattering.

Please, you whine. It’s been awhile since you’ve sounded like that – exasperated with need – gasping with sweat on your collarbones and one of your hands thrown up over your head, arm bent backwards, fingers curled to grip the back edge of the table. Please, fuck, Jasper…

You feel him hesitate, the sudden slowness of his ministrations filling you with an ache that must be impossible to fill. He says something again. His hair tickles across your legs, and you curl one of them around his back, trying to drag him closer.

You have to open your eyes. You half sit, rolling your shoulders and chest up so you can better see him. “What?” You sound more annoyed than you mean to. Then you think you’ve forgotten something – the time, perhaps, and how you need to leave his apartment before the highway traffic thickens. You have a dinner to make and a table to prepare. Or maybe your phone has gone off, and you’ve missed ten calls from your husband.

“Say it again.” Jasper speaks softly, as though these bedroom activities require bedroom voices, despite the curve of a smile twisting the corner of his mouth.

His lips are swollen. They’re wet and shining. Because of you. With you. Your cheeks flush red.

You feel a bit like a child, self-conscious, and you lower yourself back onto the flat surface of the table and turn your head. Your hair helps, shifting soft curls that hide the side of your face. You laugh, hummingbird soft, and the hand in his hair relaxes. Releases. He catches your wrist lightly with his teeth in passing when you raise it to your own face, feeling the heat of your skin, covering your eyes.

“Come on. I like how you sound,” He coaxes. His fingers are tracing the insides of your calves now, and he turns his mouth and kisses the back of your left knee.

“Aren’t you supposed to be the devoted fan? Humble in your servitude and all that?”

“I am,” He says it seriously enough. There’s a glint to his heavy gaze that looks predatory, however, and not at all what you would describe as humble. He looks amused and patient, as though he could play this game all day, skirting his nails across your thighs, whispering his mouth against your cunt, all hot breath and no useful pressure.

He wants you to want him. He wants you to need him. His ego is flattered by this, you know, and he won’t do the one thing that would make you acquiesce. He could dip his head and continue, slow as molasses, and you would come, so close already that you briefly want to relinquish all your modesty and reach a hand down to get yourself off. But he needs you to vocalize your desire, to beg for it, so that this – the two of you, what he does with you and for you – is not a favor. Not a spur of the moment fuck or an indulgent weakness quick to be forgotten.

Your wedding ring is suddenly hot on your finger. The diamonds are sharp, pressing into your skin when you curl your fingers into your palm.

When you say it, you say it in a breath you’ve been holding.


His smile should be self-satisfied, but it’s loving instead. He lifts your leg and kisses his way up the inside of your calf, to your thigh, to where you want him most.

You come like that, his dark head buried between your legs, your back arched and your skirt pushed up to your hips.

It’s four o’clock, and you should have left by now.

You’ve moved to the threadbare couch, still lazy with orgasm, your heart beating slower and louder. Jasper kisses the side of your head when you finally untangle yourself to leave. You push your underwear into your purse and find your heels by the door.

Your knuckles are white on the drive back to your home, your fingers still clenched.

You have a dinner to make and a table to set.

You push through the grey and come out on the other side, back into the white and black.
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