Despite the passion of the fuck, it is the antique cuckoo clock on the wall that holds my attention. The thing looks authentically homestyle, complete with little birds on brass rods that shoot out to mark the hour. It does not make a tick-tock sound. Instead, it’s more of a clink-clunk-whirl-clang, much louder than you might expect when heard over the woman’s moans and gasps. The sound of the clock repeats every few seconds. I notice occasionally the second hand drifts backward, usually as it passes between nine and ten. Then it rights itself, jumping forward with a click-clang. I have no idea if it keeps the correct time. I decide to time my orgasm so it happens when the clock strikes eight.
The woman fucking me is loud and passionate. She is middle-aged, with large hanging breasts crisscrossed by blue veins. Still, she isn’t so bad looking if you like them womanly, which I decide I do, for now, for this one fuck. I’m on the bed on my knees, bent forward. She is behind me with her mouth pressed to my anus and her fingers running up and down over my clit, into my hole. It feels pretty good. A bit sore. But I’m numb to that by now.
“Oh fuck I love your ass,” she says.
She is frantic. When I look back, I notice she has a dildo stuck upright on the bed — taken from her purse, I suppose. From the angle I assume it’s shoved into her pussy. She gyrates her hips as she eats my ass.
I feel the orgasm creeping up. The clock is still at five minutes to eight. I can hold out, force it to wait. My eyes close, my fists clench.
Soon she begins to grunt repetitively. Then she stops eating and rubbing, just for a bit, while she lets out a long groan. Her own orgasm, I assume. “Oh god baby. Oh that felt so good. You’re soooo beautiful.” Moments later her mouth and fingers return. But that brief respite saved me. It gave me time to relax. I would have come too soon.
I glance at the clock. Two more minutes. I grip the sheets and press my ass to her face.
It’s actually very good — in fact amazing, this woman and her passion. Pity I don’t love her. I love her daughter instead.
The first time we meet I’m getting off a city bus in front of my new school. I can tell right away she is hetero, from her clothes, her hair, her makeup, the way she carries herself. She wears a cute, fashionable skirt and a little blouse with floral embroidery. Her lipstick is pink and glossy. Her blue eyes flash. “Hey, new girl,” she says, coming right up to me.
I feel totally out of place, trapped in a new experience that terrifies me. New city. New school. First day. Pretty girl.
Back home at Meadowdale High, the popular girls never talked to me much. But then, everyone there knew what I was.
“Where you from?” she asks.
I can answer. I can be cool — well, partly cool. People thought I was cool enough back home.
“Indiana. I just moved here.”
Of course back home the people who thought I was cool were the punks, freaks, and dykes.
“Wow. Awesome. I’m Avery.” She holds out her hand. “Welcome to Boston Latin School. Follow me. What grade you in?”
We walk toward the building. As we get close to the doors, wide open between white columns, two other girls equally fashionable join us. But neither is as pretty as the first.
Avery introduces everyone. We exchange names.
“I’ll take you to your first class,” says Tabitha Nguyen, the Asian girl. “Let me see your schedule.” Her accent is perfectly American.
At lunch I again see Avery. “Hey, Laura!” she calls out as I drift down the halls, obviously confused.
“Hi,” I say.
She runs up. “Who you eating with?”
“Nobody. I mean, I don’t know.”
She loops her arm through mine. “Well, we welcome newcomers around here. Eat with us.” She pulls me toward her friends.
My heart turns somersaults, which I know is foolish. I know this girl can only lead to crashing pain. But I can’t help it. Nobody could.
Can’t she tell I’m gay? The spiky hair, the olive dungarees, the white tee, no makeup? I always assumed I was really obvious.
But then, my stupid heart keeps saying that, yes, she can tell. She knows all the way. That’s the point of all this.
“Hey,” she says to her friends, some of who didn’t meet me this morning, “this is Laura. She just moved here from — where was it again?”
“Indiana, Bloomington, which is more or less by Indianapolis,” I say, in case they want to find it on the map.
We sit in a circle under a tree in the grassy lot behind the school. They warn me away from the cafeteria and its food. One girl, a freckled redhead, hands over a sandwich. “My mom always packs an extra — you know — for events such as today.” She beams at me. I say thanks.
The sandwich is pretty good, roast beef with some kind of tangy mustard. There are birds around us, not in our tree, but there are other trees nearby where they perch and chirp. The girls around me also chirp, a litany of teachers, classes, grades, and colleges. I don’t understand any of it, but I’m glad they aren’t talking about boys or pop music. Well, one girl talks about music. It turns out she plays violin.
This is a very different sort of school. Maybe they’ll accept me here.
Within two weeks Avery and I are fast friends. I’m totally accepted by her group. Which means that I don’t make any of my sort of friends. They are around. I see them, the others, the outsiders, wandering in groups of two or three, girls who hold hands a bit more than girls normally hold hands, the dykey haircuts, the off-beat, casual clothes. I can tell they notice me and sense what I am. They glance and smile. Avery gives me curious looks.
One day I meet her mother at her house. We enter through the back door facing an alley, into the kitchen, where Mom sits at the table sipping tea. She gets up immediately. “Oh, Laura, I’ve heard so much about you.”
She is a stately woman with medium-length brown hair. Her eyes, though, are Avery’s eyes — an intense, glimmering blue.
“Hi, Mrs. Moore.”
A deep smile. “Oh, no! That won’t do! Not at all. Call me Amanda.” She gets close and touches my face. “My, you are a pretty one.”
I sense something right away, the way her eyes drink me in. I have felt it before, on both sides of the gaze. Avery grabs my arm. “Mom! Seriously!” She pulls me from the kitchen, down the hall, up the stairs, and into her room. She shows me all of her clothes. Evidently I’m expected to borrow some.
The next day I show up at school wearing a frilly pink skirt and a violet sweater over a white blouse, which has a Peter Pan collar. I feel a bit ridiculous. But when my friends see, they are amazed. “Oh, Laura. You look amazing.” I receive many hugs. And, in fact, I do feel pretty.
Later I’m in the bathroom looking into the mirror. A girl I barely know, Johanna Collins, comes in. She sees me, looks at me for a long while, seems to think. Then she says, “So, you’ve decided to go twee-femme?”
I keep looking into the mirror and shrug. “It’s something I kinda stumbled into. But I look pretty enough, right?” I tilt my shoulders back and forth “I think I pull it off.”
“Yeah you do.”
She’s quiet for a while, like she has something on her mind. Then she says, “Look, Laura, I wanna say something. But, like, if I’m outta line, just say so.”
She waits again, for me to object — I suppose. but I say nothing. She goes on, “We talk about you, my friends. You know, the members of the tribe.”
Yeah, the tribe, the girls I should be friends with, but am not. I nod.
“Right. So, look, you don’t have to say anything, but we notice you.”
“Yeah. I get that.” I’m still looking at her in the mirror.
“And we think you’re one of us — wait! Don’t worry. You don’t need to tell me. It’s just…”
She’s a pretty girl, tawny haired, slim waisted, strong arms. She’s has those wide, intense eyes you find in the best sort of dykes, the ones that look right through you, see everything, know you right away.
“You don’t need to explain your hetero friends. I totally get it. But I want you to know, we — y’know, us — we think you’re cool. So, like, if things get bad, or you just need a friend, or something, just say.”
She reaches out her hand. I turn and take it. We look eye to eye, one of those intense movie-looks, where I’m sure all kind of truth flies back and forth, like we know each other all the way — which is all probably rubbish. But still, I get stuck in her brown eyes.
She leaves. In my mind I put a big green checkmark by Johanna Collins. She might turn out to be really important.
A couple days later Avery finds me in the hall between second and third period. “Laura!” She dashes over. “Wait!”
We exchange heys. She says, “So, Mom wants you to come for dinner, like, maybe Saturday. Can you come?”
“I guess. I’ll ask.”
“Cool! Please say yes. She’s been making a huge fuss over it. Like, she has this crush on you or something.” She grabs my elbow. Her small breasts are close to mine. “It’s a total mom crush.”
Whatever that means.
Twenty more seconds to go. The feelings have grown so much. I’m so close, squirming and moaning. On the clock the second hand creeps forward. Then, like so many times, it jerks back.
No! Keep going! So close!
I writhe and shake. The clock makes its clattering noise. Then the second hand moves forward again.
And I come.
The clock strikes eight. It cries out its angular tune. The birds emerge.
Well, they must have. My eyes are clamped shut as the intense waves of pleasure crest over me, for a very long time. By the time I return to the world, the clock has finished its ritual. The birds have returned inside. I lie slack on the bed. Amanda gathers me into her arms.
“Oh, baby. Oh, sweetie. You’re so beautiful.”
I let out a gurgling noise. Drool runs down my chin. Amanda kisses my mouth.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” She kisses my breasts. “Oh, fuck, I love you.” Her hands are on my bottom, between my legs, always moving, probing my secret places, wanting to take me, all of me. Her mouth consumes me.
I could come again. I want to. “Please,” I whisper, “more.”
At dinner Amanda asks all sorts of questions: where I live (Savin Hill), why we moved here (Dad’s job), what I do in my spare time (read, bop around town), and so on. It’s like I’m this amazing, interesting thing. Actually, it’s sort of like a date.
Except on most dates I’m not sitting at a family style dinner table with my date’s teenage daughter. Avery nibbles on a roll and observes our conversation quietly.
No father is in sight, no signs of a man in the house. Dare I ask? “You live alone with Avery?”
I expect a hint of sadness, followed by some story, death, divorce, the tragedy of modern life. Instead, I see a warm smile.
“When I had Avery, I was in a relationship with a woman named Tricia. But we grew apart.”
Avery fixes me with her eyes. “Yeah,” she says, “I have two mommies. Surprised?”
Amanda reaches over and touches my arm. “You okay, sweetie?”
I swallow. And of course, this explains everything.
Monday afternoon after school I get off the bus in my neighborhood. As I trudge up the hill, I see a red Saab parked on the street. Through its tinted glass I see the outlines of a woman. And I just know, it is her.
The window rolls down. She motions to me, beckons me over. When I arrive, she says, “Oh my! Hi Laura. What a surprise.”
I blink. But I don’t express my suspicion. Actually, its not even suspicion. I know she’s lying. And she knows that I know. It’s really obvious.
“I was getting my nails done, over there.”
She points to a little Vietnamese nail salon that is totally out of her way, and not at all the sort of place worth crossing Boston for.
“Ah, nice,” I say.
Plus, her nails don’t look like they’ve been done recently.
“Get in,” she says. “I’m just killing some time. I’d love some company.”
Of course she would. I dash around the car and get in.
It’s weird. Of course it’s weird. I feel freaky. Like, my best friend’s mom! It’s a fantasy, a cool one. She’s hot enough, for her age, a total milf. Her blue eyes drink me in. Her red lips curl into a lurid smile. She puts her hand on my knee. “Let’s go for a drive. You up to it?”
I nod. She starts the engine.
Before she pulls away she says, “Laura, if at any moment you feel weird and want to go home, you must tell me.” Her gaze fixes on me. My knee is near the stick shift. Her hand touches both. “I think we understand each other. Don’t we, dear?”
Again I nod. She smiles.
It’s not like I’m some innocent virgin. I’ve been with girls, a few older than me, one nineteen when I was fourteen, a diesel dyke with a billion tattoos. That was fun. I never saw any point in being pristine, waiting for some special time to feel it all.
But this is a bit beyond all of that.
We pass through the tunnels beneath Boston, outside again, over the wide, tall bridge that spans the Charles, through Charlestown, and onward to the north. We pass rocky, round hills flecked with gabled houses, and beyond those into the Massachusetts countryside.
“Laura, can I ask you something?”
“You get that I like you?”
“Yeah, it’s pretty obvious.”
She’s wearing a gray skirt over net stockings. Her blouse is buttoned low. I can see hints of a lacy bra.
She touches my leg again. “Before this goes any further, I have to ask, can you keep this a secret?”
Actually, I’m surprised she has risked this much. I mean, so far it’s no crime, but what would Avery think if I spilled?
“Avery would kinda freak out, wouldn’t she?”
Her answer is a bare “yes.”
We round a wide curve from one Interstate to another. She goes on, “This has to be something you totally want. And it has to be our secret. You get that, right?”
I let my gaze run up and down her body. It’s a good body, firm where a woman needs to be firm, round in just the right places. She clearly works out, puts effort into it, earns the love she gets.
Why not? Why not love this woman?
I lean across car and put my mouth on her cheek, softly, just the hint of a kiss.
“Yeah. I totally get it.”
After we finish making love, we cling to one another on the bed. Outside in the moonlight, through the multi-paned windows of bubbled glass, I see the white ocean crash against a rocky breakwater that juts into the sea. We are in a seaside bed-n-breakfast near Rockport, quaint, wooden, decorated with quilt and lace, and an old cuckoo clock on the wall. We cling and kiss. Her hands are all over me.
When we checked in, I was her daughter, we were on a trip. “We’ll share a room,” Amanda told the white-haired woman who occupied the desk. The woman was friendly, kind, and unsuspicious. She gave us the key, asked about our bags.
“Oh,” Amanda said, “the bags are still in our car. We’ll take care of them.”
We slipped into the room and did nothing about our nonexistent bags.
It is now ten o’clock. We bask together in the soft afterglow. “You need to get me home,” I say, “or my mom will freak.”
Amanda gives an invented excuse to the lady at the desk. Her husband, my father, had an emergency. He is in the hospital. We have to go. The lady lets us pay for only half the night.
Avery knows. I don’t know how. I didn’t tell her. I’m sure her mom didn’t tell her. But one day, soon after our little trip to Rockport, Avery grows cold, she won’t speak to me. Next the rumors begin. I’m a skank, I talk shit, I said Jenny and Tabitha were cunts (I didn’t), and so on. I try to confront her one day in the hall.
Her eyes are sharp and hostile, but I’m blocking her way, and a crowd is growing, pressing behind her. She could run, but it would be really obvious.
“Please tell me what I did.”
Her fists clench. She curls her face into an ugly scowl.
I love her still. I’m bigger than her. I could grab her, shove her around. I have a right, given the shit she’s been talking. No one would blame me. And what would she say? Laura fucked my mom?
I feel that I could win that battle, if I chose to fight the girl way — subtle, underhanded, catty, whispered rumors behind the back.
I love her. Her eyes. “Please. We can make this right.”
“You know what you did.”
I swallow. Then I nod. “It happened. Can we talk about it” — I look around at the others pressing close — “not here.”
I try to win her back, not just that time, for weeks, whenever I can without making a scene. I confront, cajole, beg. But no. She’ll have nothing to do with me. Her friends — our friends — have to make a choice. But I don’t let them. I pull away. I give her that battle. Love is such a small thing.
“You okay?” Johanna Collins asks one day. “You seem like — I dunno — things are bad.”
We’re standing just outside of school. It’s a cool day on the cusp of winter. We’re wearing thick sweaters and cottony tights. She has on a Bruins sock hat that makes her face, her eyes, look badass.
“Yeah. Things got really weird.”
Sometimes when I’m with a girl I know she feels what I feel. And I know she knows as well. We each know everything. It’s like magic.
We get really close to each other, that need to touch, to feel touched. Her chest touches mine. But only for a moment. We separate. We’re in public. Our eyes lock, that invisible connection that only we can see.
I’m a mess. Amanda tried to call me a couple times, but I would not talk to her. Except just once when I answered briefly.
“No,” I said, “we can’t. Sorry. It’s over.”
She tried to talk, but I cut her off.
“No! It was a mistake. I mean, it was great, but a mistake.”
My last words: “I promise, I’ll never tell.”
I take Johanna’s hand. “I need a friend. A lot. But there’s one thing, I can’t explain what happened. Promise you’ll never ask. Never-ever. It matters.”
She nods, like she knows what secrets are. Of course she does. In our world secrets rule everything, all of ourselves, those bits we keep in little boxes, bringing out each piece when needed, showing only those who get to see, fragments. My Amanda piece gets put away, hidden forever. My Avery piece is shattered, broken, scattered on the wind. It was made of glass. The cuts remain.
My Johanna piece, however — a wonderful new piece, precious, special, made of shiny steel — gets brought out and put on display. Hand in hand we walk together into school.