I woke up alone next to Chris’ semi-warm impression, and heard him brushing his teeth in the bathroom. I reflected, a little sullenly, that moving in together was a ripoff – I couldn’t go home at night and dream about him without the cold reality of spit in a sink. In the beginning, shouldn’t it be sunshine, roses and wake-up sex?
My hair stuck to the back of my neck and my face felt warm. I kicked off the sheets. I found myself wearing one of Chris’ giant t-shirts, which meant he’d changed my clothes sometime after I’d fallen asleep. I’ve always been a very heavy sleeper. As a kid, my parents carted me around and I’d sleep anywhere – sofas, floors, behind the bar, in the car, at the back of the bus. They would carry me from place to place, completely oblivious.
I felt grateful that Chris removed my grungy jeans and top, but hoped that didn’t mean I smelled bad when he came in for his sorry-you-fell-for-a-transexual hug. I flipped my pillow over, flopped onto my stomach and allowed myself a lovely, freeing air-out. I tried to remember what day it was, arrested by sudden Monday panic before relaxing into Sunday bliss. I felt myself drifting off again.
Flat-out face-down, I roused slowly to a tickling sensation which I came to recognize as Chris licking my toes. I felt squeamishly uncomfortable, but also a little turned on. What an odd thing to do! I hoped I didn’t have sock lint. He wrapped his mouth around my big toe and I laughed out loud. I started squirming away, but he used one arm to hold my legs in place with a gentle, deliberate pressure. I experimented with trying to move against him and the pressure increased proportionately. Surrendering felt like falling into place.
As Chris worked his way up my calves and higher, gently separating my legs into a wide V with his elbows, I felt my muscles ease and my nerves tingle. Chris understood about pressure and lightness, variety and steadiness. From our first time together, he read my body’s cues before I gave them, anticipating what I would respond to and taking it a step further. Sex with him felt exciting because it was a bit edgy, safe to be dangerous because I trusted him. I didn’t need him to deserve my trust to give it, and that turned us both on.
This time, his touch felt more loving than I’d ever experienced with him. Slow, in charge, but somehow more appreciative and indulgent than I’d come to expect, he seemed to actually enjoy this exploration of my body. Feeling that let me relax and just enjoy the attention. He kissed my inner thighs with increasing pressure, then ran his tongue along the underside of my labia. I shivered, my face buried in the pillow to block my other senses. I felt him suck my folds into his mouth, his lip catching my clitoris from underneath with each gentle tug. His tongue darted inside me while one thumb gently but insistently rubbed at my anus. I felt myself moving with his rhythm as waves of pleasure coursed through me, but I also felt vulnerable, exposed.
I extricated myself, rolled over and pulled him upwards to taste myself in his kiss as I guided him inside. That felt more familiar and safe; I closed my eyes. We moved together for quite awhile before he pulled out for a condom. Sheathed, he grabbed my hips and turned me over, entering from behind. His strong thighs built an intensifying rhythm that brought us both to the edge. I felt him shudder, and tightened myself around him inside, pulling him deeper to prolong his orgasm. He collapsed on my back and I felt strong, holding us both up on my hands and knees until eventually, I couldn’t. I dropped my shaking arms and we crashed to the bed, his deadweight almost smothering me. His heaviness felt satisfying; he still pulsed erratically inside. I reached my own hand into the pressed-down space between my legs and the bed, where twenty seconds brought my waiting orgasm to fruition. Chris groaned, feeling my waves push his deflating member out. I hoped he’d hold onto the condom to avoid spillage. I gently elbowed him a little so he rolled off, and we both lay, spent, for several minutes before I felt him leave the bed.
Good sex renders me timeless. As Chris cleaned up, I lay where he’d left me, feeling heavy and disoriented. I had to remind myself of where I was, and what else might exist in the world besides this moment of feeling good. I dreaded paying that much attention.
“I thought maybe I’d take you over to the University and show you around,” Chris called from the open bathroom door. Then, a little less sure, “If you want?”
Reluctantly, I half sat up.
“Oh, Chris, I kinda told Trix I’d be at rehearsal today.”
“Um, no? What time is it?”
“So, what, you’re in the band?” Chris kept his tone light, like banter, but edgy. So, he was upset about me playing after all. He washed his hands, rinsing for an inordinately long time. The sound of the water grated on my ears as I waited until he could hear me.
“You sound so surprised. No, I’m just going to play this show on Friday, so I have to do rehearsals. What time is it?”
Chris opened his drawer, emerging with a plain black t-shirt. He turned to me with his serious face on.
“Christine, are you sure you want to do this?”
“What do you mean? If I’m doing it, I want to do it.” What could be more obvious?
“Look, you haven’t been here long, but Trix n’ Traces is actually starting to be a big deal in this city. They get a lot of local attention. When they play, it’s a packed house and then some. The crowds are really…eclectic. It’s high profile.”
“And I’m small town?”
Chris appeared wounded by my tone. Sometimes I just can’t help my tone. That’s why I usually don’t say anything. He came to sit beside me on the bed, fully clothed. Acutely aware that I looked disheveled, naked under the covers, I felt vulnerable . I held the sheet closer to myself.
“Christine, you are a talented musician.” He spoke gently, but with insistence. “Watching your face playing with the orchestra is how I fell in love with you. It didn’t matter that you were with someone, I wanted that, you, in my life. Do you think you want to be a rock star? Really?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.” I pouted. “It sounds so ridiculous when you say it like that.”
“Is this your dream? Or your dad’s?”
Now I really did need to say nothing. He had pushed into territory where he had no business treading. I felt trapped by his weight on top of the sheet, his body blocking my exit from the bed. I had to control my driving impulse to push him out of the way, break free. How could I feel so loving toward him one minute, and want to shove him the next? It occurred to me that I really must be psychotic. I felt frustration building pressure in my brain, and I imagined it swirling, swirling around, all black and purple and splashes of blood red. I deliberately relaxed the pores of my head, opening them, letting the swirl get sucked out by the sudden release of pressure. I felt my skull ease, my breathing slow. I looked Chris in the eye.
“Okay, so, I’m going to play on Friday, and I said I’d go to practice. Before I got here, you told me you’d be busy a lot and I had to amuse myself. I’m amusing myself. I’m sorry it worked out this way today.”
He paused. He considered. In typical Chris fashion, he intellectualized the problem very quickly. I just had to feed his own words back to him, like a familiar key for his locks. He sighed.
“You’re right. I’m just stuck on this model and it’s Sunday. I’d like to spend the day with you. I want to continue knowing you better, now that we’re here.” He flashed his winning smile, the one that closes the deal. But not this deal – I knew where I was spending the day.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know you had plans for us today.” Chris shifted away from me. He looked briefly at the door, then back at me. He nodded to himself, thoughtful, silent. I couldn’t hold his eyes so I put my head on his shoulder. He reached up to absently stroke my tangled hair, working out the knots with his fingers. I’m sure he tried to be gentle.
“Well, another day then.” Chris stood. I yawned and stretched.
“What time is it?”
“Around nine o’clock.”
He headed for the computer. “What time did you think it was?”
“I had no idea.”
Chris stopped and looked back at me – I’d regained his interest for the moment.
“No idea? Like, if I’d told you it was, say, four p.m., you would have believed that?” I was starting to feel like an alien under scrutiny. I didn’t like it.
“Well, until I looked at my phone, or a clock, or went outside,” I stammered.
“Unbelievable.” I wasn’t sure how he meant that. His tone sounded almost admiring but maybe he was making fun. I decided to lighten things up.
“You blew my mind, I guess.”
A shy smile curled the corners of his lips. Men like to blow your mind, and why not?
I started prattling as I’m apt to do in the morning, wondering out loud if so few hours of sleep would suffice for a long practice. It would be nice to have some time with the equipment before I had to play again, and I still hadn’t really listened to the music. I announced my decision to start making my way – first, personal hygiene, then food, and maybe some research to see if I could find a more efficient route. Rip the music to my phone. Maybe I could make it by 11:30 if I stayed focused, I mused aloud. Well, noon. I talked more for my benefit than any actual conversation with Chris. He clearly thought so too, since he didn’t respond to anything I said. (*this used to be dialogue but I felt like it was been a lot of dialogue…)
“You should come!” I called, my words slightly garbled by toothpaste.
He seemed to hesitate. “No, I want to see the impact of the data that came in yesterday. I’m not really up for an afternoon of noise. Thanks, though.”
I decided to hit the topic head-on.
“If I’m going to be playing at Timeless, you’ll have to go back sometime.” I spit out the toothpaste. “Luca’s not there anymore, so I don’t get what the problem is.”
“I’d just rather not go. Sorry.”
I felt a bit snubbed, but I left it. I didn’t want more conversation, really. Clearly Chris didn’t want to talk about Timeless, and I’d said what I needed to say. Being honest with myself, I didn’t want him to come. I might feel more self-conscious with him sitting there, judging.
Jeans, T-Shirt and a ponytail later, I reached for the door knob just as the landline rang. I usually let Chris answer, but I was right there so I picked up.
“Oh, good, I caught you! It’s Rekha.”
“I hope it’s not too early. It’s just, I seem to have left my rings at your apartment.”
“Last night, when I was washing dishes, I took off my rings…”
“Oh! I remember. Let me look.” I leaned toward the kitchen for a clearer view. Sure enough, diamond and gold glittered incongruently from our dull countertop, just where she’d left them.
“Yeah, they’re here.”
“Perfect. Are you going into Timeless today? Can I get them from you there? I need to be downtown later this afternoon.”
The request wasn’t unreasonable, but I didn’t feel comfortable with that responsibility. I felt even more uncomfortable with saying no.
“Sure, okay, I’ll bring them.”
“You’re a life saver, Christine.”
Great. Now I was going to have to carry a bag, which I’d hoped to avoid. Unless I wore them? I picked up the engagement ring, its diamond large enough on the simple, thick band that even I knew it must be expensive. Without thinking too much about it, I slipped my finger through. The ring slid right off, a size too big. On sudden inspiration, I slid the bands into my cell-phone case.