I can't sleep.
Her voice at nearly midnight.
On the phone.
From the adjacent hotel room.
Ten feet between us. A wall.
Or two doors, a tiny stretch of corridor.
She is (not) my wife.
She is my office wife.
The woman I look forward to, mornings.
There are lunches, moments.
Long, soft moments in our offices (adjoining, like these rooms in our hotel).
And now we are travelling together.
A training, a hundred government attorneys from states around the country.
A thousand miles from
My work-wife's teenaged daughter.
All the details of our lives. My vague and vaguely happy marriage. The long tail of her divorce. The awful married guy after.
Sitting side by side.
Through session after session.
Lunch with strangers.
Then more sessions.
Side by side.
No, I don't feel like hanging out with strangers Neither do I Let's just get something by ourselves Yes, let's do that Easier More relaxed. With you.
And so, sitting, eating Thai food three blocks over from the hotel, acutely conscious (both of us) of the date-like tenor of the moment. Conscious (me) of the rustle of fabric when she moves her legs, the top button of her blouse undone, a necklace dancing over flesh, and beneath silk, breasts moving with her breath. The movement of her lips as we talk -- as always, easily, folded into each other, no topics taboo except the elephant at the table with us.
That we are here.
My wife who trusts us, (she has been to our home -- the women like each other).
Wife dooes not even (I believe) suppose
Because I am decent. Trustworthy. We have been married so long.
And I am decent.
And we have been married for a very long time.
And later still, walking along the endless dark expanse of the Lake. She fifty two, still beautiful, hair brown and lightly frosted, dancing windswept across her face. Dark, oddly epicanthic eyes, the skin beneath her chin loosened, not collapsed by time. A wind gust moves us off our parallel paths, she brushes briefly against me, hip to hip and I am aware of the body beneath her raincoat, her bones, her flesh, the soft expanse of her. And that this briefest contact has, even as we break apart and resume walking separately, made me, at sixty, halfway hard.
And, yet at evening's end, still unable (one of us, both of us) to break the soft and fearful bounding of our (almost, almost) friendship.
We (she?) wondering in the elevator, thinking, wishing.
But then again, as always, parting in the hallway, acknowledging what will not happen with a near embrace, my lips brushing hair, kiss unreturned.
And so retreat to our adjoining rooms.
And I collapse, wanting, wanting onto my bed, then rising, doing the things you have to do: undressing, teeth and travel Listerine.
And so, to bed.
Watch Kimmel, Fallon, Colbert by remote.
Intensely, sadly married.
And she ten feet away.
At nearly midnight.
On the phone.
Goddammit, you, I just can't sleep.
Breathing at her.
Listening to her breathe:
Do you want?
Do you want to come over here?
She knocks on my door.
I pad across and let her in.
She: cotton pajamas, as fully covered as on any office day.
Says: Oh my god, you're ...
I am ridiculous in my boxers and an ancient Talking Heads t-shirt from 1980, when I was less than thirty.
I know. It's okay. Come in.
There are two beds. The television on.
She sits on the made bed, the one I haven't lain in. Sits on her hands.
Her breasts are loose beneath the modesty of her pajamas.
I sit across from her.
Our knees are close.
Ten feet apart just inches now.
I don't know, she says. I don't want ...
It's alright, I say. I think we could.
Just sleep, we both say almost simultaneously.
We could, I say, just give that to ourselves. Just fall asleep in one another's arms.
Beside us, Kimmel jokes and introduces.
I touch the remote. Turn off TV.
I slide away from her, hold covers up, invite her to the opening space beside me.
Just sleep, she says. Laughs softly. Can we do that?
And what about? she says.
I know what she is thinking. Always do. And yet, right now, its obvious.
We're here alone, I say. There's no one else here now.
She slides beside me.
And strangely avaricious.
Lights, out, I make a circle of my arms.
She slides inside.
My hand has found the breathing softness of her belly.
My arm across the ocean of her breasts, thumb moving beneath breast and ribs, flesh over bone.
She sharp inhales: fact of my touch,
And I breathe in: smell of her hair, the fullness of her pajama's bottom against my front. Blood moves and I grow thicker at her touch.
Oh god, she says, her voice a whisper in the dark.
I thought, she says. I thought we might. Oh god, this makes me happy.
Me too, hon. God me too.
She moves her conttoned bottom slight against me.
Are you? She asks.
A little, I tell her.
Shit, she says softly. I don't wanna. We don't want to have an affair. Do we?
I know, I say. I understand. I couldn't leave her. And I don't want you to ever be number two in someone's life again.
But I'm not number two right now, am I? In your...?
You're in my arms, I tell her. No You're not.
Then I want to tell you something she whispers to the air away from me.
I move my thumb against her. The tiniest of seductions.
Tell me, I breathe against her.
She moves her bottom against me again. Still.
She feels me react.
When I was next door, she says,
I smell her hair
Faint tang of her excitement.
When I was ...
I thought about you.
I was thinking about you too, I tell her. I was hoping ...
That I'd call? Or knock?
Yeah, I say into her hair. My lips brush and warm the small curve of her ear.
But what I want to ... say
Is I was thinking about you when I ...
have you ever ...
Have I ever?
You know what I'm saying. God, I can't believe I'm saying it. I'm middle aged, for chrissake. In the other room I was thinking about you when I ...
touched myself, alright? Have you ever done that? About me?
Well, I thought we'd talked about almost everything, you and me. Never this though.
We've never been in the same bed either. I've never felt what I feel against my butt. Where your thumb is right now. Have you? Tell me, okay? Have you ever thought of me while you ...?
Yeah, I tell her. I have. I totally have.
Good, she says. If you'd said no, I woulda felt like such a pervert.
So I want, she says ....
I need you to let me do what I was doing
When I was alone.
Oh god, will you think I'm awful if I do this?
I breathe her. She moves gently against me. I feel the movement of her hand and arm. Her hand sliding across mine and down to probe determinedly toward her center. I love you, I tell her. You can do no wrong with me, you gotta know that by now.
Then hold me, she says. Hold me like you love me. I feel her, sense her finding the unseen cleft between her legs. I shift, allow the loosening and downward flow of her pajamas. Where my ancient t-shirt has disarranged, I feel now flesh and swell against my belly. Her ass a dance of barely covered skin against my stomach and below. I move increasingly with her, can't hold still.
Tell me, she says, oh fuck, tell me how beautiful you think I am.
And so I do.
I tell her the truth.
That I love her.
That she is beautiful beyond words.
My free hand drifts across her, I feel beneath cotton the swell of breasts , the rich hardness of a nipple rising to my touch.
Alright? I ask as I touch her.
Yes, she says. That feels ... right.
Can I? I ask, and let my hand drift downward along the arc of her arm to her hand that is buried beneath her pajamas, moving, moving in the jointure of her thighs.
Not yet, she says. Just let me for now.
And so I withdraw and find, instead, her hips with both my hands. She shifts with me, gives access, lets me pull her back, her ass aganst my hardened groin.
Hold me like that, she whispers as I touch her. Let me do what I'm doing.
She is moving now more fiercely, her bottom circling against my front as I pull her, guide her up against my shorts.
Tell me, she says, and her voice is growing hoarse and breathless as she circles and presses hard against me. I can smell her arousal, her hips are damp with sweat beneath cotton. Tell me that you've made your self come ... about me.
Yeah, I tell her. You know I have.
How many? She is gasping now. Her bottom grinding against me finds a rhythm that I join.
More than I can count, remember.
And it might happen again, I say. The way you're ... what you're doing.
My fingers curl inside her waist, push down.
She lift herself, lets me pull her pajama bottom past her hips.
Her ass is bare against me now.
I pull away from her and pull myself out from beneath my shorts.
And am ensconced and nestled in the warmth between her ample, lovely, cheeks.
With my ass? I'm making you ... with my ass?
Oh god, she says. I want you to ...
And presses back against me. And I move with her, wedged in the soft declivity of her, the underside of my shaft moving, throbbing against the silken hidden piece of her that is not everything I want, but is so much. Her arm circling, circling, one of her hands seeming to dive inside herself and then her free hand reaches behind herself and her fingers brush me, encircle me, draw me more deeply into and against her and I pull her more tightly and move and thrust, and then, suddenly her legs pull up and, Oh, she says and, Oh my fucking god, and folds in around her moving hand and just like that she bursts and breaks and I pull her toward me and her hand moves across the top of me and pushes down so that I am all friction and I listen as she moans and then beneath her hand I build and burst and spasm and come, throbbing beneath her hand, against her moving then subsiding ass, her back, her sweat drenched (finally in my) come-soaked skin.
And, Jesus Christ, she says.
I can't believe we finally ...
She pulls apart from me, turns toward me and my still tumescent dick is squashed against her belly. We lie face to face. Her breasts, through cotton, presss, hard-nippled against my chest.
Looks at her hand, palm slicked with my ejaculate. Smiles. Licks at it.
I've always wanted to do this, she says. When I ... when I make myself come. When I think about you, about us, I stop short sometimes, of thinking about you fucking me. Because it might be ... it feels too much like a ... transgression. So I think of this instead, of tasting you. Like this. And I think, maybe that would be enough.
Is it? I ask her. Is it enough?
I don't know, she answers. Is it enough for you? To come against my ass like that?
I don't know, I tell her. I don't think so.
Good, she whispers. She leans in to kiss me, her tongue reaching inside my teeth, twining.
Her lips taste of my come.
Because it's not enough for me either.
I want to do the unthinkable, she says.