We had an arrangement. One that would be odd to others, maybe even moral-less since I was a married woman. I figured it was harmless since there was no sex in it. Yes, she touched me, but never to make me cum. She had other women for that. My body was nothing more than a warm cushion. More for me than her.
I remember the first time that I saw her. I was sitting alone at a community event as my wife worked the crowd. It was always that way because my wife liked to be seen. I said my hellos, shook a few hands, and gave a few church hugs, but I always made my way to a quiet corner to watch. That was how I saw her before she saw me.
She was the power in the room, ten feet tall in a spiritual sense. Dark like the midnight sky, but demanding like a full moon. She moved as I did, shaking hands, half-way engaged conversations as her eyes scanned the room.
Stop staring, I thought then turned to see what my wife was up to at that point. Still chatting--the same.
I couldn’t help myself. I was metal and she was the magnet, so there my eyes were again, only this time she was headed to where I was seated with my legs cross and a glass of water in my hand.
“Mind if I take this seat next to you?” she asked, not waiting for my permission.
“Why’d you ask if you were going to sit down anyway?” I asked.
“I just wanted to say something to you,” she confessed, looking into the crowd. “Are you here alone?”
“No. I’m with my wife.” I pointed in her direction. “She drags me to these things,” I said.
We sat shoulder-to-shoulder, never turning to look the other in the eye. I sipped my water that I and she chewed gum. I shivered with each clench of her jaw.
“Where are you from? I’ve never seen you before,” she said.
“Assuming you know everyone,” I replied then huffed.
“Only the people that I want to know,” she said, sending my shivers into a frenzy of forbidden signals to my sacred place. “I saw you watching me,” she said.
“So,” I replied pretending to be unphased.
“So you’re married, huh?” she asked.
“Four years,” I stated, sipping from my glass once more to quench the thirst that I had for her.
The beautiful stranger turned to look me into my eyes. It was over. I knew all and so did she as we avoided blinking during our silent conversation of want.
Echoing in interruption I heard, “Who’s your friend?”
It was my wife, Tyranny, coming to crumble my temptation. Without missing a beat, the sexy stranger turned to her extending her hand. “Bash. My name is Bash. I thought your wife was a friend of mine from back in college.”
Tyranny smiled. “Yeah, she has one of those faces. She gets mistaken for other people all of the time.”
“It’s a beautiful familiar face and you are a lucky woman,” Bash said, standing to take her leave.
“It was nice chatting with you,” Bash said, turning to look down on me and claim dominance. I kept my words, only giving her a smile and a nod--likewise.
She patted Tyranny on the shoulder then moved past her pausing to turn and say one more thing. “Oh, and about that benefit on Friday at the Art Museum downtown, it’s formal. I’ll put two tickets at the door for you and your wife. Get there early to find good parking. You know how Seattle traffic and parking can be.”
She was too good.
She continued, “And what name should I put on the tickets?”
“Perrisha Mandalin,” I said.
“Perrisha,” she repeated and for the first time in my life, I recognized the true beauty of my own name. “Perrisha,” she said one more then walked away with a smile.
Friday came and I stood in the mirror second-guessing my dress and decision to show up. My dress was beautiful with it’s open back and fishtail, but sexy--too sexy. I took one last spin before adding accessories to my look--a bracelet and dangling white gold earrings. Tyranny added her reflection to the mirror.
“Why aren’t you dressed? Are you not coming?” I asked.
“You know I don’t like stuff like that,” she said.
“I never get to used that excuse when it comes to you,” I said.
“Babe, can we not argue right now? Just go and have a good time. Buy some nice art for the house. I’ll be right here when you get back,” she said, kissing my cheek.
I nodded then pushed past her to grab my black pumps and clutch.
In the car, I tossed my shoes on the passenger side. For some reason I couldn’t drive in heels. The traffic was bad, but not brutal. Jhene Aiko’s Pandora station kept me occupied until I reached my destination.
Just as Bash promised, there were two tickets at the door and she was the one issuing them.
“I see you caught my hint,” she said. “You look beautiful.”
“Thank you,” I said, pulling my torn ticket from her fingers.
“No wife?” she asked.
“She couldn’t make it,” I lied.
“I won’t pretend to be disappointed. I’ll make sure you have a good time,” she said, holding out her arm.
I grabbed it, realizing how muscular she was. “You work out?”
“Everyday. You should join me sometime.”
“I’m not sure that would be a good idea.”
“Then what would be? How are we supposed to be friends?” she asked.
“I never said I wanted to be your friend,” I teased
“Yes, you did. You said it the moment you showed up alone.” Bash smiled. The argument had been won, because I had a choice and there I was without my wife. I clung to the arm of another woman and I was happy about it. I didn’t ask the important question. What if someone saw me?
I wasn’t sure I cared. Did I even need to?
All night we spoke flirtatious codes and tones both verbal and non. She pulled out my chair then pulled hers close enough to breath into my bosom.
“Would you like a drink?” she asked, licking her lips and my imagination at the same time.
I dropped my eyes from hers. “I shouldn’t. I’m driving alone.”
She lifted my chin with her fingers, wanting to keep my gaze. “I’ll get you home safely. Trust me,” she said as she raised her hand in the air to get the attention of one of the caterers. “Two white wines please,” she said as one hovered. She never took her eyes from mine. Her conversation was mine again. “Can I tell you something?”
“Do you want my permission this time or are you going to tell me anyway?” I joked.
“I’ve never had this kind of attraction to anyone before. Especially not a married woman. I meet a lot of woman, but… you… there is something about you.”
“Why bother asking my permission?”
“I’m trying to remain consistent.” She smiled. “I don’t really want to be here. I only came hoping you’d show up,” she confessed.
I adjusted in my seat, leaning my back against the chair. “What are you hoping to gain by my being hear?”
“Come home with me. Now,” she said.
Before I could think about it and protest, I said, “Okay.”
Her eyes bucked and she leaned back. “No jokes?”
I shook my head.
Bash grabbed my hand, pulling me from my seat. I followed as she lead me to her car. There was no real plan. I just wanted to be in her space. It was still early enough for me to make it home in an decent hour, not that my wife would notice.
Bash lived downtown so in a blink we were at her place. The tension that I tried to ignore began to swell refusing to be denied anymore. She took my clutch from my hand as we entered her apartment and placed in on a shelf. My feet wouldn’t moved past the threshold.
“I’m not going to bite you,” she said, pushing me with her pelvis.
I smiled. “You might. I don’t know you.”
“Then get to know me. You’re here now, so stop pretending you don’t want to be friends.”
“You don’t want my friendship.”
“Guilty,” she said, standing close to me, wrapping her breath around me. “Why are you here if you know what I want?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I said.
“We shouldn’t lie to one another,” she said. “Tell me what you want from me.”
I looked over her body as she took a step back. “You’ll think I’m weird if I say it.”
“How much do you weigh?” I asked.
She raised her brow, but responded. “One-hundred and ninety-five pounds.”
“All muscle?” I asked.
“Solid.” she said cockiness in her chest as she smirked and sucked at her teeth.
“And how tall are you?” I asked.
“5’8,” Bash replied.
“You promise not to laugh?”
“Lay on me. I want you to lay on me,” I requested.
She was silent for a moment. There was no reaction and no emotion. Then she began to unbutton her jacket. “Take off your clothes,” she said.
I trailed my fingertips across my shoulder, taking my time to remove my dress. We watched each other as we undressed. She stripped down completely naked while I stood with only my laced panties and my arms covering my breast. She walked over to me lifting me from the floor and carrying me to her bedroom. I felt as though I was floating on air. There was no more conversation as she laid me on my back across her mattress. Grabbing my wrist, she removed my arms from my breast now laying her head between them. Using her thigh she separated my thighs to lie between my legs.
And for hours, just like that, we laid.
It became our thing, to lay, to not talk. It was my meditation and escape from my life as a neglected wife. The guilt was more manageable than that of sex or sharing myself emotionally.
I stood in front of her apartment door staring at the big white C that hung above the peephole. I didn’t tell her that I was coming. Tyranny had been called into work and I had some extra time. I wanted to use beneath Bash. Just as I lifted my fist to knock on the door, it swung open and a woman with tears in her eyes rushed past me. I expected to see the same anguish inside. Instead, Bash was standing in her kitchen drinking a bottle of water, unphased.
“Lock the door,” she said.
I did as I was told and began removing my jacket. I wanted to know what had just happened, but that wasn’t our thing. She finished her water then pulled her t-shirt over her head and headed toward the bedroom. I assumed it didn’t matter that I showed up early and unannounced. I followed her removing my clothes. Today I’d even removed my underwear without thinking.
I laid back on the pillow spreading my legs as Bash turned off the light to join me. For a few moments, we lay there silent, breathing, existing.
“I’ve never asked what you get out of this,” she said.
Running my hands up and down her back, I sighed. “I wish I could explain it. I could say it’s your bare skin or the pressure of your weight pushing me into the mattress. It’s a different type of submission for me. One that I don’t get at home. Wait… are we talking now?” I asked.
“No, I’m sorry. I don’t want to complicate this. It’s the one thing in my life that’s easy and oddly, I like it,” she confessed.
“I like it, too, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to stop liking it.”
“Don’t say that,” she said, squeezing me tighter. “Is it you wife? Does she know?” she asked.
“No, but I can’t keep convincing myself that I’m not doing anything wrong.”
Bash leaned up to look into my eyes. “Maybe I asked the wrong question,” she said stroking my temple with her thumb. “Why do you need this?”
Her question crushed my chest, pushing out the reality that I’d coped with for over a year. “She doesn’t touch me,” I whispered. Tears began welling up in my eyes. “This is the furthest I can go without feeling too guilty.”
“Does she have someone else?” she asked.
“That doesn’t matter. Two wrongs won’t make a right,” I said, answering her question without answering her question. “Just lay here, okay. We don’t talk.”
She nodded and resumed her position until we both fell asleep.
Bash’s skin was warmer than usual and she began to sweat mid nap. I tried to adjust to allow air to flow between us. She groaned. “Where are you trying to go?”
“Nowhere?” I said in a whisper.
“Good,” she said, turning her face to kiss my cheek.
She had to be dreaming. She had to be thinking I was someone else. One of her women. Bash kissed me once more, this time on the corner of my mouth.
“Bash,” I whispered, but got no response.
A second passed and she kissed me again. On the lips.
“Bash,” I whispered.
“Hmm,” she said.
“We can’t do this,” I said.
“What am I doing?” she said, leaning in, wrapping her warm mouth around my neck. The suction was slow and wet as her hand tangled itself with my hair.
“Ba--” I started to say before her thick tongue silenced the ‘s’ and the ‘h.’ This time, I kissed her back. I’d wanted to know what it was like to kiss her for months and I’d done a good job of resisting up until that moment.
We moaned together.
I pulled her into me, embracing the heat and the sweat as she began to grind her body against mine. I pressed my fingers into the flexed muscles in her back, begging her to take it easy on me because it had been a long time. She didn’t honor my request, moving over my breast and devouring each one. For a moment, I sunk into her dominion, but only a minute. I found the strength necessary to push her away.
“No. No!” I said as she fell over onto her side. I jumped from the bed and began frantically dressing. “We don’t do this. We cuddle. I leave. That’s it.”
Bash only stared, watching my every motion as I grabbed my things to head for the door. She found her words as I touched the door.
“She doesn’t love you,” she stated.
I swung around with tears in my eyes. “Neither do you.”
“But I could. I want to,” Bash said.
“You don’t even know me.”
“I know your silence and it’s loud as fuck when we’re in this room. You could tell me more, but you set the boundaries, not me. I’ll tell you whatever you want to know. Why are you even playing this game? Wants versus needs, Perrisha.”
“You need to be there, but you want to be here,” she said.
“Stop trying to get into my head. How would being here be any better. A woman literally just ran out of here crying and you barely blinked before laying down with me.”
Bash shook her head. “You assume you know me. I tell you I want to know you and you draw your own conclusions about my character instead of offering the same. That woman that you saw leave today has been trying to get with me for over a year. Yes, I spend some time with her having dinner and seeing a few movies, but that’s it. She wanted more when I’d told her a year ago that she’d never get it. I don’t offer myself to any and everyone despite what you think. I’m disciplined in all aspects of my life and I know how to wait for the things that I want. That includes you,” Bash spat, standing from the bed.
I could tell she wasn’t used to losing, but unfortunately, there was no room for a win here. I felt what she said, but I’d already promised myself to someone else long before her. I stormed out like the woman before me with tears in my eyes. Bash had rejected her and I rejected Bash.
Sleep didn’t come easy that night. I tossed and turned at the ending of Bash and I. Even thought I’d showered twice, I could still smell her on my skin. I could feel the weight of her body on mine. Those were easy to handle. It was her kiss that slapped me awake. I felt her tongue in my mouth in real time. It made me thirsty.
“You need to be there. You want to be here.”
I sat up, scaring Tyranny half to death.
“Nightmare?” she asked.
I could only nod. My words were still stuck in Bash’s throat.
“You want some of my water?” she asked, reaching for the bottle she kept on the nightstand beside the bed.
I took it from her and drank majority of it.
“Better?” she asked.
I nodded and she turned over to try to return to sleep with no further concern.
“I’m cheating on you. Cheated...I cheated on you,” I finally managed to say. Tyranny didn’t move. I knew that she heard me, so I wouldn’t repeat it. It had already taken me long enough to accept that’s what I was doing.
“Tyranny…” I said.
“Go to sleep, Perrisha,” she said.
“Go to bed. That’s your response. I tell you something heavy and you want me to go to bed. What is wrong with you?” I asked.
Tyranny sat up still no emotion, not a spec of shock. She huffed and rubbed her faded head. “It was bound to happen one day. You’ve caught me twice and we moved on. You can have this one. I forgive you. What else do you want?”
“Wow. That’s where we are? Content in this? Tit for tat until it’s even and we just go on with our routine?” I asked in disbelief and the chill that surrounded her. “Want… what do I want?” SHe probably thought me mad as I began to laugh. “Needs versus wants,” I said the eased from the bed. I walked over to our closet, flipping on the light and grabbing a small bag from the top shelf.
Tyranny watched in silence.
I packed what I would need for about a week or so or until I could figure out what should come next. I knew for sure that Tyranny and I were over. I would no longer suffer in silence and contentment.
I rode in silence this time as I headed back to the truth that I’d stormed out of earlier. There I was again, staring at that damn “C” and it started back. I took two deep breaths then knocked. There was no answer so I knocked harder.
My mind went to the only place that it could: she was with someone else.
I walked away, because if she was somewhere else, she was well within her rights. I accepted the loss and pulled out my phone to look up hotels. The elevators in her building we slow. I needed it to hurry, so that I could get to a safe place to cry and plan.
Finally. I counted the numbers as they decreased. I felt pathetic.
The doors opened to the lobby and there she stood in sweat pants and a t-shirt that was drenched in sweat. We stood there for as long as the automatic doors would allow us to. Breathing. Staring.
I stepped back and she stepped inside in front of me as the door closed behind her.
“I couldn’t sleep,” I said breaking the silence. My voice cracked and the tears came. “I--”
Bash rushed me grabbing my face and pulling me into her. The same kiss that slapped me awake wrapped me in bliss and oblivion. Somehow in our silence, I’d found safety and a real understand of intimacy. I was ready to learn and understand everything else, no matter where it led.
This is where I wanted to be.
©2018 Christiana Harrell