It’s called progeria. The affliction’s full name was Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome. As with its name, it’s not pretty. Unlike other Latin-named diseases, progeria is fairly easy to figure out: “pro” means “before,” and “geria,” with the same root as geriatric, means “old age.” Yes, I’ve read all about it, because of Olivia. If you are that one in eight million who are struck with this genetic mutation, you’ll probably die of old age before you’re out of your teens. And your life, as short as it is, will pretty well suck. There’s a chance you’ve seen pictures of kids with progeria; big heads that look alien, no hair, no chin, with the wrinkled skin of an old person, surrounding a mind that hasn’t yet experienced life, and most likely never will. The mind doesn’t age. There’s no dementia following in the footsteps of the body’s decline.
I met Olivia one day while visiting my nephew, who was undergoing cancer treatment for leukemia at a nearby children’s hospital. My nephew was doing well, but Olivia was not. One of the doctors, who knew of my early avocation of storm-chasing asked if I could speak with the girl because she was interested in tornados and other weather phenomena.
When I knocked and entered her hospital room, she eyed me warily, and I could tell right away she didn’t have much trust in the motivation of strangers.
“Hi Olivia. I’m Dan Frank. Doctor Simms told me you’re interested in tornados and storm chasing. I’ve actually caught a few in my time, and even wrote a book about the experience.”
She brightened a bit, but the wary reserve was still just below the surface. “Can you tell me about it?” she said, indicating a chair by her bed. When you first hear her speak you’re taken aback. You see an old lady and yet the voice was the squeaky one of a hormonally-infused teen girl.
I sat and regaled her with stories of my storm chasing days. Occasionally she’d stop me to ask a pointed question so there was no doubt she was listening.
“You wrote a book. Is that when you stopped chasing tornados?”
“Not really. I stopped because it seemed more like a hobby, and I needed to concentrate on my major field of study…mechanical engineering…and start earning a living.”
“Mechanical Engineering; sounds boring to me,” she said. So I learned early on of Olivia’s bluntness. I supposed that if you knew you wouldn’t live past your teen years you’d be blunt too.
I chuckled. “Yes…sounded boring to me too, but a paycheck’s a paycheck.”
“I wouldn’t know,” she said morosely, “I’ll never have a job or a career.”
I couldn’t say much to that. She asked me if I was married. I wanted to avoid telling her of my tragedy, but after what she was going through what was I sparing her from? “I was, but my wife died four years ago.”
“Was she sick…like me?”
“No. She was in a car accident. Drunk driver. He didn’t even get a scratch.”
“I’m sorry. At least with me, I get to say all my goodbyes. With you…”
“I know, but there is no ‘better’ way to die, is there?” Ordinarily I wouldn’t have said that, but this girl, whose facial expressions telegraphed the pain she experienced day-to-day, could not hide from death.
“Can I have a copy of your book?” she asked, at the moment blood poured from her nostrils.
I called for the nurses. As Olivia was wheeled away, probably to a room better equipped to handle her type of trauma, I assured her I’d bring a copy with me next time. She needed a next time.
A week later when I peeked into her room, book in hand, the look on her face said she hadn’t thought I would return. She was propped up in bed with a laptop computer. After greetings and pleasantries (which were lost on her) she proclaimed, “I Googled you. Amazon had some nice comments about your book but I guess you didn’t sell many.”
I’d learn to accept, and perhaps cherish, her candor. “That’s because I keep giving them away,” I said, handing the book to her. She took it, and I got a good look at her small, wrinkled, withered hand; an old lady’s hand.
“Will you read some to me? Please? My eyes are having a hard time adjusting for close work, like using this damned computer.”
I sat and read the introduction and first chapter. When she was happy, the aging effects of her illness weren’t so pronounced, at least on her face. Reading my book made her happy. “You look tired, Olivia,” I said, putting the book down on the bed’s end table. “I’ll come back next week and read some more, if you’d like me to.”
“Yes, I would,” she answered, but her eyes drooped, and before I could rise from my chair she was asleep. I took the computer from her lap and set it on top of my book. On the way out I talked to a nurse and told her Olivia was sleeping. I also told her about the laptop still being on.
She thanked me, and then asked, “How do you know Olivia? Her mother didn’t mention an uncle or anything.”
“I’m not related, just a friend.” I told her about Doctor Simms’ request. I asked a question of my own, “She doesn’t speak about her parents. Do they visit her often?”
The nurse said she had no father as far as she knew, and that Olivia’s mother hardly visited at all. “She can’t bear the helplessness, I think, which is common for loved ones of terminal…” She stopped, “I’m sorry, Mr. Frank. We suffer a little bit along with them.”
I told her I understood.
When I visited Olivia again I read another chapter, but she didn’t want to discuss storm chasing afterwards. She wanted to talk about an entirely different subject.
“Frank, do you miss sex with your wife?”
“That’s not something we should talk about.”
“Why?” she said, before explaining, “Everyone tiptoes around me so much, okay? I’m a virgin and I’ll die that way. I’ve seen so many internet sex videos and I masturbate as often as I can. Does me saying that bother you?”
“No,” I said, “it doesn’t bother me, but remember, you didn’t ask me about sex, you asked me about my wife. See the difference?”
She saw the difference. It was written on her face. “I’m sorry…again. I like you, a lot more than anyone else at the moment, and all I do is say the wrong thing.” She was pouting, although with her nearly nonexistent chin it was hard for me to tell.
“Why don’t we start over? If we’re not going to talk tornados, then what would you like to know?”
“Is sex as much fun as it looks in the videos?”
“My guess it depends on the videos.”
I couldn’t believe I was going there, but I kept reminding myself that she’d be gone soon, so why couldn’t she at least dream of love, sex and marriage, things she’d never experience? “Most porn videos nowadays are probably not much different than ones I remember. They’re not about love. They’re mostly about acrobatics and body fluids.”
“You mean sex isn’t like that?”
“If you mean the mechanics, well, yes, but when two people make love it’s much more than what you’ll see on the internet.”
“Thank you for treating me…I don’t know…with respect, I guess. People mean well, like my mom and the nurses, but they treat me like a kid.”
“You are a kid,” I said, smiling. “An exceptionally smart kid, but a kid nonetheless.”
She gave me another pseudo-pout. “Do I look like a kid?”
“No, you look like my grandma with her wig off.”
She started to laugh, but something broke inside her. The pain was obvious, and her laughter turned to tears. “See what I mean? You’re the only person who would dare to say that to me.” She coughed, and her expectoration contained blood. “Can you call a nurse…please?”
I pushed the call button for her. Before a nurse showed up, I leaned down and kissed her wrinkled cheek. “I wish I could do more.”
“You’ve done a lot already,” she croaked as a nurse rushed in. I didn’t look back as I left the room. She deserved some dignity, I believed.
In the hallway, I asked another nurse about Olivia’s condition. “I can’t get into specifics…patient confidentiality, you know that, Mr. Frank,” she said in a hushed, conspiratorial voice, “but the doctors feel she doesn’t have much time left and they can’t do any more. Poor child. I hope they do what I’ve heard them talk to her mom about…let her move to a managed care facility where she can die in peace instead of in this place.” I thanked her for her truthfulness.
When I visited Olivia next, she said matter-of-factly “I’m dying, Dan.”
“Yes, I know sweetheart.”
“No, I’m not talking about eventually. I’m talking about pretty soon. Next week they’re gonna let me out of here and move to a place that’s like a nursing home.” She told me its name. I knew of it and was grateful it wasn’t far away. “You’ll visit me, won’t you?”
“As often as I can, Olivia.”
“They said I don’t have to stay inside, like I can go out, in a wheelchair of course. Will you take me for a walk?”
I promised, making sure she had my cell number.
She called me two weeks later. I was at the home in a flash. “Is it nice enough for a walk?” she asked me, and I talked up the weather, which was late-summer sunny and mild. She had withered at a faster pace in the past few weeks, a gnome swathed in blankets on the oversized bed.
A staff member helped her get dressed and into a wheelchair that must have been new around the time of the Second World War. I pushed her outside and down a path that let to what had once been a garden but was now untended and overgrown. There was a stone bench there so I set the chair’s brake alongside the bench and sat down. Our conversation went from my book to my current job, to my wife’s passing, and eventually to her inevitable doom.
“Do you know that it’s not death I’m afraid of, it’s not having lived? Does that make sense?”
“All the sense in the world, sweetheart,” I said, reaching out and taking her frail hand in mine.
“I’m sorry for dragging you into my tragedy.”
“Don’t be. Remember, I volunteered…no, strike that…I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t get something out of this. I think I needed you, Olivia, and I’m very willing to share in your ‘tragedy’ as you call it.”
“I need to say this, Dan. I never thought I’d ever love someone like I love you.” She saw I was going to speak so she cut me off. “Yes, I know what I’m feeling…and that’s what I’m getting out of this.” She began to cry.
What more could be said? We held hands in silence until she started to cough. When her coughing spell failed to abate, I suggested we go back inside. The nurse on duty was concerned but Olivia shooed her away with “I’m dying, so what’s the big fucking deal.” I kept my mouth shut and pushed her to her room.
“You need to rest, sweetheart. I’ll visit again tomorrow.”
I expected her to wait until I left to get back into bed, but Olivia undressed right in front of me, perhaps for effect, wanting me to see progeria’s aging of her body, it seemed. It wasn’t morbid curiosity that made me stay and look. “That’s what you meant outside about not having lived, isn’t it?” I said. “You’re a teenager but you’ve never been able to enjoy your teenage years, the physical changes, the joys, the learning.”
“Oh, I’ve had changes, all right. Just not the ones you’re talking about.” Now that she was under the covers, I stooped to kiss her goodbye, however she said, “Not like usual. Really kiss me, please.”
I was taken aback, but offered her my lips anyway. She greedily pulled me to her, and then she greeted me with her tongue along with her moist lips. When she finally released her grip on me, I said, “Did you learn how to kiss like that on the Internet?”
She beamed. “Did I do it right?”
“Sweetheart, there is no right or wrong way to kiss, but that was fabulous.”
“When you visit tomorrow can I have another one?”
I assured her she could kiss me anytime she wanted to.
On the drive home, I pondered her teenage desire to experience things before she left this life. I reminded myself that though she had the body of an old lady, she still had the hormones of a young teen. That’s why she wanted me to see her naked, I believe. She wanted to be desired, loved. I had to tread lightly so as not to hurt her psyche. Her body ached enough as it was.
“Can we go for another walk?” she asked me when I showed up in her room the following day. She was dressed for outdoors, and already in the wheelchair.
We returned to the concrete bench. She didn’t hesitate bringing up yesterday’s conversation—and the parting kiss. “Thank you, Dan. Thank you for not being repulsed by my naked body. Thank you for all that you’ve done for me.”
“You’re welcome, but why does all this sound like farewell?”
“The doctor said my kidneys are failing. It’s only a matter of time now.”
“I’m so sorry, sweetheart. You don’t deserve this, you really don’t.” I took a sighing breath, and then asked her if she was in pain.
“That’s the strange thing. I’m not hurting as much now as I have been recently.” She smiled broadly and added, “Maybe it was the kiss.”
“You mean I can add ‘Prince Charming’ to my aliases?”
“I might need a few more kisses before I can say for sure.”
We kissed, like it was the most natural thing to do. And perhaps it was. She was going to pack as much ‘living’ into whatever little time she had left, and I was about to discover how. “I can leave the premises any time I want. Do you know that?”
I told her I didn’t.
“We could go out on a date. Just the two of us. Wouldn’t you like to have a date with a smoking hot teen girl?”
“Smoking hot, huh?” I put my hand on her forehead. “Hot, maybe, but I don’t see smoke.”
“Kiss me again, and maybe you will.”
We laughed instead of kissing. She described her dream date: a romantic restaurant; candlelight; a decadent dessert; kissing her handsome boyfriend; “And then—”
“I take it the ‘and then’ part is like those videos you were telling me about.”
“Something like that.”
“If you’re in shape to do it, maybe we could go out sometime. No candlelit restaurant—and no ‘and then’ either—but maybe a relaxing dinner at my house. How does that sound?”
“Like I have a date!”
When I brought her back to her room, she seemed happier than I’d ever seen her, and I was happy I could help her feel that way. I explained to the staff that the following Saturday I planned to take Olivia off-premises, and wanted to know if I needed any special permission. They said no, and gave me instructions on how to handle any medical emergency that might arise with the frail girl. Our “date” was set.
I picked her up early Saturday afternoon. After helping her into the passenger seat and stowing the bulky wheelchair in the trunk, we rode around the countryside, taking a rather circuitous route to my house. Her facial expressions throughout conveyed wonder, as if she were in an amusement park ride rather than an automobile. And it wasn’t because I was driving fast, either.
“Outside of an ambulance, I can’t remember the last time I rode in a car,” she said. “This is a pretty car. What kind is it?”
“It’s a Buick LeSabre,” I explained. You’d think she was riding in a Rolls the way she was reacting, not in my staid sedan, but I understood the novelty and didn’t say anything more about the car.
When we arrived at my house, I made my proposal. “Why don’t we leave the wheelchair in the trunk? I’ll carry you inside and wherever you want to go. Is that okay with you?”
She gave me a sweet smile and said, “You can carry me anywhere.” She was as light as a feather, after all.
“Can you drink wine? Oh, forgive me…you’ve never had any have you? I wasn’t thinking.”
We were sitting comfortably in my living room after I’d begun cooking the simple chicken meal. “See what I mean? Dan, you’ve never treated me like a sick kid, and that’s why I love you. I’d like to try some wine, please.”
I poured two glasses of a good Pinot Grigio I had. At the first sip, she crinkled her little nose and said, “Mmmmm, it’s not like I always thought it would taste.” She sipped again, and added, “It’s not as sweet as I imagined wine would be, but it has a taste that could grow on me.”
There was pathos in what she said; this would probably be the only time in her life she’d have wine, so there would be no chance at all for it to “grow on” her. I excused myself occasionally to check on dinner’s progress. Once when I returned to the living room I found her on her feet and looking at pictures on the fireplace mantle. There was obvious effort outlined on her face as she stood, leaning against the mantle for support.
“Your wife was very beautiful,” she said, looking at one of the framed pictures. “I know you still miss her.” She turned to face me and said, “I know that because you’re a loving, special man, Dan Frank. You never had to do so much for a stranger like me. And besides, you live alone in this beautiful house. Another man as handsome and loving as you would have remarried by now.”
“I can’t speak for not being remarried. I miss Kerri so much that anyone else would be a poor replacement, and I don’t think I could subject any woman to that.”
She went back to looking at the photos. “That’s the weirdest part of all with this curse of mine. My mom was a pretty girl when she was younger. What would I have looked like if I didn’t have this disease? Maybe I would’ve been beautiful, like your wife was. Maybe I would’ve met and married a fantastic man like you. Maybe I would’ve had a bunch of kids.” Once more she turned back to me, saying, “Do you think I would’ve been a good mother?”
I went to her. “I don’t think anyone is more beautiful than you are.”
“You need to get rid of those rose-colored glasses of y—”
My kiss obliterated the rest.
When we stopped, she breathlessly said, do you think dinner’s ready?”
“In a few minutes. You hungry?”
“For something.” She held my hands and asked, “Can you make love to me? I don’t want to die a virgin.”
No one would believe me if I said I never once thought of sex with her, especially since I’d been celibate for such a long while. Even while kissing her, I never anticipated this request. Really. Many thoughts bounced around my brain, but one of them took control: this was right.
I lifted her into my arms and carried her to my bedroom. “Are you sure?” I asked along the way.
Her big eyes bore into mine as she answered “Yes.”
I put all fears out of my mind. I didn’t want to hurt her, yet though she was as delicate as a china doll, she wouldn’t stand for me treating her that way.
She wanted me to undress first. When my cock sprang from my boxers, she was enthralled by it. She giggled, saying “I never thought I’d ever get to touch one of these,” as she palmed my cock.
“It’s okay, study away. We’ve got time.” Obviously, I forgot about dinner.
She squeezed, palmed, stroked, and otherwise played with my cock, and it responded nicely. Except for one “Wow!” she remained quiet throughout.
“Let’s get you undressed,” I said, and immediately I saw the trepidation in her expression. I quickly lifted her into my arms from the edge of the bed, and added, “No, sweetheart, you need not worry about me seeing your body. When I look at you I only see the beautiful girl within.” Tears dribbled from her eyes as I lifted her simple dress up and over her head. She wore no bra; her small breasts hardly needing one. Her cotton panties were modest, a simple sky blue. I laid her on the bed and removed them. The only part of her that told of her true age was her pubis, basically bald and looking surprisingly youthful.
Now naked, her eyes were open wide as she looked up at me. “In the videos the men perform cunnilingus. Yes…I looked it up. Will you do that to me?”
I wish I could have said she tasted like honey, but she didn’t. No matter, I located her clitoris with my tongue and began licking and sucking it. Determined to go the distance with this, I kept at it for a long time before I got a reaction from her. Perhaps it was the disease—losing sensitivity, maybe—that kept an orgasm away. Or perhaps it was my technique—it had been a long time for me, after all—and I joked about that being the reason when she asked how come she didn’t “orgasm like those girls on the web.” All of that didn’t matter to me, for today was much like those “Make-A-Wish” programs; she wanted to experience sex, and I loved her enough to at least try to grant her wish, even if the outcome was less than storybook.
“Dinner!” I hollered. Like in a slapstick comedy, I picked her up in my arms and raced back to the kitchen. At least there was no fire.
Our meal was ruined and yet we both laughed like crazy. “I bet if someone saw us they’d think it was the funniest sight…a naked man running around with a funny looking, naked old lady.”
“You’re not an old lady…funny looking, yes, but not old.” That set her to laughing even harder. I stifled her laugh with a kiss.
“This is the most fun I’ve had in my life,” she said. “Maybe the only fun I’ve had in my life. I love you for it, Dan. I love you.”
“I love you too, Olivia. Kerri’s looking down on me from Heaven and I’m sure she approves of you being here…and in my bed.”
We cried a bit before we ordered pizza and put our clothes back on. “Don’t want to scare the pizza man,” was Olivia’s comment.
We ate our pizza. I lamented my well-planned, lost meal. She asked me a bunch of questions about my wife, love, and sex. I answered them as best I could. I explained that maybe she wanted to experience sex so much that she was putting too much pressure on herself. “Later, we can try again,” I said.
“You mean I’m going to spend the night?”
“Of course. That is unless you don’t want to.”
She practically jumped onto me and kissed me, even as I realized her sudden movement hurt her. I made sure she hadn’t hurt herself too badly before calling the home to confirm with the staff that she wouldn’t be back until morning.
The remainder of the evening was surreal. She had a bout of nausea, threw up the pizza, then turned around and wanted more wine. I resisted all urges to be a parent or big brother. I didn’t tell her what she should do, or not do. As with her earlier demand for cunnilingus, I indulged her. What would be the purpose of doing anything else? We watched an on-demand movie, a comedy that turned out to be not that funny. We drank more wine. She got tipsy but thankfully didn’t throw up any more. We went to bed.
“Are we going to make love?” she asked when we were together under the covers.
“Let’s just see how things go. We might fall asleep like an old married couple.”
She giggled as she held my cock and felt it stir. “This is so cool. I’m in bed with a man and I want to experience so much but I don’t know what to do and I’m not sure if I can have an orgasm anyway—”
I placed a finger on her lips to halt the staccato stream of worries and doubts. “Ssssh, you don’t have to know how to do anything. I’ll let you in on a secret. Every man at one time or another has had a performance problem, like he is trying too hard, but Mother Nature conspired against him.”
I pointed to my rising cock. “Sometimes if we think about it too much, we don’t get hard enough to do it. What I mean is that it’s probably the same way with women; if you try too hard to have an orgasm maybe it won’t come.” I laughed to myself at the bad pun, but of course she didn’t get it. I ran my hands over her body, spending a little more time at her breasts and nipples. Her big eyes stared at me all the while. When poets say the eyes are windows to the soul, I can believe it. Olivia’s soul was laid bare for me, as bare as her deteriorating body was.
“That feels good,” she murmured.
“That’s the general idea,” I said, smiling back at her.
Eventually I saw it, the first sign of visceral pleasure wash across her face. It was time to move my hands to the south. I used my fingertip on her clit, lazily working it around in a circular motion. Slowly her breathing grew labored. I worked the finger inward, and it was met by some heavy-duty moisture. She was aroused, no doubt about it now.
“Ohhhhhhh, Dannnnn, that feels sooooooooo good!”
No performance anxiety for me today. I was rock hard and ready.
I propped her little butt on a pillow and gingerly lifted and separated her frail legs. With my cock at her doorstep, I asked if she was ready, and with a near breathless head nod as acknowledgment, I slipped the head between her wet labia.
Her body had long since eclipsed her true age, so thoughts of virginity and maidenheads were not in my conscious mind; that was until I nudged her hymen and she flinched.
“Oooooooooo,” she whimpered.
“You’re a virgin, remember,” I said, which was rather innocuous, but I thought now or never and punched through. She squirmed and looked at me pleadingly as I stayed motionless, part of the way into her vagina. “Do you want me to take it out?”
“N…no…keep going,” she said, no more than a whisper.
I hazarded a peek but saw no blood, so I inched farther into her before I began the rhythmic thrusting of sex. It had indeed been so long for me that I closed my eyes and lost myself in pleasant reverie. Olivia was too tight for me to imagine I was with my late wife, but Kerri wasn’t too far away from me at the moment. I heard a low moan and opened my eyes to find Olivia’s now closed. Her mouth was open instead, and her moans were sweet music to me. I never went fast. I kept a steady rhythm, trying like hell not to cum too quickly, though I felt as if I was losing that battle.
When her entire body convulsed in one gigantic wave, I actually thought it was pain and not an orgasm. However, her cries told me otherwise. I promptly unloaded deep within her pulsating vagina.
She kissed me and said that now she felt like a woman. “Oh Dan, it felt better than I even imagined! Thank you so much!”
“You were already a woman, sweetheart. You didn’t need sex for that. And you know how people will answer ‘the pleasure was all mine’ after they’d been thanked? Well, it was,” I said, shaking my limp and dribbling cock against her thigh. “Take a look,” I told her, indicating her vulva.
I must have ejaculated a pint of pent up semen, for she had the leaking creampie to end all creampie’s. “Wow, that’s all from you?”
“Could I get pregnant?”
I never thought of such a thing. I supposed it was possible though unlikely, since her uterus had certainly aged along with the rest of her body, but I wasn’t a doctor so what did I know?
“I don’t think so, but stranger things have happened.”
She seemed very pleased with the thought.
We fell asleep, Olivia holding onto me like a child with her favorite stuffed animal friend. As I drifted off, I thought about her being a child. I believe it’s a fantasy burned into the male sexual psyche to deflower a teenaged virgin. I just fulfilled that fantasy but felt neither proud nor fulfilled. I only felt love.
During the night she was overcome with a severe coughing spell, one that brought up some blood. I sat her up in bed and held her as the coughing slowly subsided.
“Do you want me to call your doctor? 9-1-1 maybe?”
“No, I’ll be alright.” When the coughing stopped, she turned her face up to mine and said, “I love you so much. Why are you doing all this for me?”
“That’s the answer. I love you too.”
In the morning I returned her to the home. She made me promise another visit to my house. The twinkle in her eyes told me what she wanted out of that ‘visit’ and it wasn’t pizza.
Even as her health deteriorated she looked forward to being in my bed. She seemed determined to make up for lost time, yearning to experiment in sex even as her physical abilities quickly waned. I did my best. Besides our lovemaking, I actually got to cook her a decent dinner without burning it.
One day while visiting with her, she brought up the subject which had originally drawn me to her. “Do you ever dream of chasing tornados again?”
“Sometimes,” I answered.
“Promise to chase one for me.”
Olivia died that night. The nurses said she died peacefully, but in getting to know here disease I knew it probably wasn’t true. In the last days she had tried hard not to let me see how much pain she was enduring. And wasn’t that Olivia’s story? Trying too hard?
There weren’t many mourners at her funeral, attended mostly by medical staff that had gotten to know and love the doomed girl. I met Olivia’s mother. She seemed like a nice lady though it was apparent she never came to grips with her daughter’s affliction.
I cried. Bawled like a baby, in fact. I probably confused a number of people at the gravesite.
I now had two big holes in my heart. I always assumed Kerri would be my one, true love. I never imagined another. And yet I never felt guilty for falling in love with Olivia. Please don’t think too harshly of me for bedding an underage girl. I hope you understand.
She was at peace now, in a better place, at least that’s my humble belief. Maybe the two women were looking down at me from Heaven and comparing notes.
“Olivia, there’s a storm out there with your name on it,” I whispered.
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