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Tell Me A Story, Desdmona
illustration by garv

Deep Breath

By Desdmona

This story contains sexually explicit scenes.

I closed the door to Eli’s silver Grand Am. I could still see his face through the glare on the window. He grinned and blew me a kiss and then his car exited the lot of Quiet Village and sped down the street.

I stood on the sidewalk and stared at the entrance, my gloved fingers touching my lips. A young couple was coming out the revolving door. The woman hunkered her shoulders and dug her hands into her pockets and the man wrapped his arm around her. Maybe it was just the brisk winter air. The man and woman hurried through the parking lot, smoky puffs of breath hovering above them. A debilitated grandmother, I wondered. A failing father? Maybe a close family friend? It didn’t matter. Not really. Few Quiet Village residents left other than by hearse.

At the doorway a man in a black overcoat met my eyes. He gave me a quick nod and gestured that I should go in ahead of him. I gave him a half smile in return but shook my head. I wasn’t quite ready.

Ma had been here for two weeks. Before that she was in the hospital across the street hanging on to life. Now she was still hanging, just not as critically. But she was dying. A lifetime of smoking had destroyed her lungs. I took a deep breath. A sudden gust of wind rose up and slapped my face. I had to go in.

On the ride up in the elevator I thought how things might have been different if when I was eleven my father hadn’t skipped town with a girl half his age—an aerobics instructor with firm abs and perky breasts. Maybe if he’d chosen someone from his own generation Ma could have got over it and not let the humiliation gut her. Maybe then she would be more apt to smile. But probably not.

When he first left, I was angry. Later, I was simply disappointed that my father’s relationship goals didn’t include his daughter. Nowadays I hardly ever thought of him except when Ma ranted on about how his deceit had sucked the life out of her. As the years went by her tantrums abated a little, and I’d heard from someone—a second cousin—that his aerobics instructor had ballooned. Two hundred pounds of irony. Meanwhile, Ma maintained her weight at an exact one hundred fifteen. Until her illness.

As I walked down the corridor, the familiar odor of old mixed with dying burned my nostrils. Like sulfur or skunk—you recognized the smell, the thick feeling in the back of your throat—but it’s difficult to describe it. I wished I could wear a mask.

Outside Ma’s room I peeked around the doorway, half praying Ma might be sleeping, any excuse to postpone this visit. But there she was sitting upright in bed, pillows at each bony shoulder, elbows propped upon the bedside table that crossed in front of her. Her hair was mashed to one side with silver and white spikes escaping. Her make-up was garish—bright pink lipstick overflowing her lips, cheeks rouged to circus clown standards.

“Oh, Gigi, you’re here.”

I stepped to the side of her bed. She gurgled.

“Hiya, Ma. How ya feeling?” I finger combed her hair and bent to kiss her. She quickly turned her face so my lips grazed her ear. I settled for kissing the top of her head. Ma hadn’t willingly kissed anyone in several years. She wasn’t going to change now.

“This damn oxygen tubing,” she wheezed. “I have to take it off any time I want to smoke. The nurse said it could explode.” She yanked the tubing off her face and tossed it aside.

“Ma, you need the oxygen.”

“What I need is ...” She stopped. The coughing began. She jerked forward, grabbing a tissue and filling it with blood flecked sputum. I waited. She’d been doing this for weeks now. “What I need is a smoke.”

I turned off the flow of oxygen and walked over to the window, wishing I was outside again where the air was clear and lungs only burned from the cold.

“Ma, I...” She didn’t hear me. She was struggling with the butane lighter. I could have helped, but I didn’t. Instead I leaned back and waited. White knuckled, her fingers gripped the base of the lighter. A flame flickered. She greedily stuck the end of her cigarette in the blue heat and sucked down the first drag. The lines around her eyes and mouth smoothed. She nearly smiled. She settled back, almost calm.

Now was the time. “Ma,” I said. “Eli asked me to marry him.”

“And what did you say?” Her tone was accusatory. The lighter rolled over and over in her palm.

“I didn’t say anything, yet.” I thought about telling Ma how Eli had arranged the whole proposal—the dinner, the candlelight, the carefully placed ring in my glass of Riesling, and how he’d got down on one knee, but lost his balance, and pulled the tablecloth, contents and all, to the floor. But Ma would just say it was a waste of good wine and expensive food.

She stared at me, glassy-eyed, almost placid, the unfiltered cigarette smoldering, quivering between her fingers. Any hope of congratulations I may have had spiraled away with the rising smoke. Years of lectures regarding the malevolence of love and marriage had prepared me. I didn’t have to wait long.

“Marriage is a hoax and love is like this cigarette.” Ma slid the white cylinder between her dry, cracked lips. Her eyes drifted shut. She inhaled, letting the nicotine float along its familiar path before she spoke again. “It gives you a high you can’t live without.” She held the burning stick upright in the air, balancing ash like a cheerleader holding a partner. A faint line of pink lipstick kissed the thin paper.

“It creeps its way inside you until you’re obsessed. Until you’re ...” Her voice trailed away. With hazy eyes she looked beyond me, peering through the swelling fume.

“One day you wake up, and your need has turned into something vile.” Her voice rattled. Tar-coated phlegm curdled in the back of her throat. “The damage is done.”

She patted the butt against the glass ashtray and pushed the bedside table away. Shaky yellow-stained fingers snatched up the oxygen tube and fit the prongs inside her nose. She fumbled at the controls until the oxygen flowed

Exhausted, she slumped against the pillows.

For a time Ma lay quietly. Staring. Abruptly her body jerked, wracked by spasms of coughing. Her face purpled. Her eyes bulged. She wheezed and gagged and fought for breath before the coughing finally began to subside, and at last she was able to inhale. She reached for the nearly empty cigarette pack. “Don’t marry him baby,” she said.

“He’s a great guy, Ma.”

“They’re all great guys in the beginning, Gigi.”

“I think I love him.”

“You love him! What’s that got to do with it? Love’s not the same for men. Men don’t want what you want. They can’t keep their dicks in their pants, and when you love them, it just comes back to kill you!” Ma slowed, each word ending in a whisper. “For God’s sake, fuck him if you have to, but don’t love him.” Her eyes batted shut. Her mouth slacked open, lifeless.

The ticks of the wall clock clicked like a time bomb. No inhalation. Tick tock. No exhalation. Tick tock. I tensed, fearing the worst. I willed her chest to rise. Silently pleading, breathe. Breathe. Breathe Ma!

I turned to call for help, and she suddenly inhaled sharply, coughed, and startled awake. This time it was a short attack. I sighed in relief.

She settled back into a more fitful rest, and then her eyes sprang open. For one brief moment I thought she was remembering I was there, but then she began patting the bedside table and her lap, desperately searching, before realizing the pack of cigarettes was in her hand.

I walked unnoticed out the door.

I lay in bed that night, shrouded in darkness, wishing I’d washed the smell of Quiet Village from my hair. When Eli eased his warm, naked body in bed beside me, I nearly forgot Ma all together. But he wouldn’t let me.

“Are you ready to tell me what she said?”

I tried to focus on my answer instead of his leg hair tickling my skin. “What do you think she said?”

“She told you not to marry me.”

“Yes, among other things.”

“Damn it, Gigi! You can’t let your mother rule your life. She’s old. She’s bitter.” He paused. “She doesn’t love you like I do.”

“Maybe.” I reached for Eli’s hand and guided it to the vee of my legs. He hesitated briefly, wanting more conversation. But I wanted something else.

I opened my legs wide, wider than they needed to be. It felt nasty to open them like a girl in a pornographic pictorial. I wanted to be nasty. I wanted to be open.

When he began to dabble, I added my fingers to the mix. We played finger tag in my slit, darting away from one another at first, but finally combining our forces to choose my clit as “it.”

I could have climaxed easily, but I held off, enjoying the slippery feel of our brushing fingers painting each other with my wet. My legs opened wider still. I didn’t think about coming. I thought about Eli. Eli and me. Our future.

My pussy buzzed. I reached for Eli’s dick. It was mostly erect—its cock-head butting the sheet. I used my slickness to coat the stalk. Up and down. Up and down. Smearing my juice on his dick until it was completely erect. Thick and hard and ready.

I pushed his hand away, and still holding his cock, moved to straddle him. I started high, hunched on my feet, and then descended. My legs widened. My labia opened. I daubed his glans against my clitoris. Cock to cunt. Greeting. Frigging. Cleaving. And then directed it further down. Head to hole.

I was open.

He was in.

And in and in.

Pushing. Penetrating. Mating.

I let my weight shift from my legs to my rear. I sat straight up, mashing my ass against his balls. Eli’s dick expanded wall to wall.

I breathed in deeply. My body relaxed. My mind cleared. I didn’t want to feel anything except my cunt, Eli’s cock, and raw desire. I slowly exhaled.

“I’m taking Ma’s advice, Eli.”

His entire body hardened except his cock. It slackened—slightly. I squeezed my cunt around him as tight as I could, and he stiffened full breadth again. He didn’t want to. I knew it. I couldn’t see his eyes, but I imagined they were steel. As steel as his cock. Solid. Hard. Angry.

Then I thought about coming. I bucked against him—squeezing. Riding his dick. Rotating my hips and grinding. But it wasn’t my action that caused me to climax. It was Eli’s. His semen whacked against me—each slap strengthening my orgasm. I screamed.

When we were finished, Eli shoved me off, using a little more force than was needed. But not really. He turned away, seething.

“Don’t be mad, honey,” I said.

“You sure got balls, Gigi!”

“Why? Did you think it was mean?”

“Damn straight it was!”

I waited, listening to his breathing. Clear. Deep. Even. His back was rigid and walled against me.

“I guess this means you don’t want a wife who can be nasty.”

He lay motionless for a moment before jerking over to face me. “W-wife? I thought you said you were taking your mother’s advice.”

“I am.” I pressed my body to his and slid my hand down his belly, grabbing his wet dick. “She told me to fuck you if I needed to.”

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