The wall calendar sways in the fall breeze from across the deck. Another two Sundays and it would be their 19th wedding anniversary. Their first time alone in the large house they owned in the suburbs. The kids had left to colleges across the country, and they had just dropped the last one last month. When they returned, their footsteps reverberated in the hallway. They had eaten a silent dinner of leftovers, and while he watched Saturday Night Live, she cleaned up and went upstairs to bed.
Halting mid-way, her thoughts went back to the couple at Starbucks. So much in love and heat, oblivious to the curious stares and disapproving maternal glares at the adjoining tables. The look in his eyes as he held her chin and the intensity that resonated through him, to her as she flopped into his arms. Through veiled eyes she had watched them, feeling immediately warm in the Harvard sweatshirt her daughter had gotten her, this despite the cold draft from the door.
She would celebrate being 44 years in a few months. Despite the thin gray hairs at the temples, she had to admit, she was better looking now than she looked 10 years ago. All those hours at the gym and yoga was paying off only to be hidden under apathy and negligence.
She thought of the train ride 6 months into being a couple. The pulse of their passion in sync with the wheels of the train. Their first wedding anniversary when they made waves of heated love for hours together at the Hilton in Delhi. The fact that there was a security camera at one inconspicuous corner only adding to the thrill. Visions of him laying flat watching her upright slender bare body with just a thin wall separating them and the entire clan of cousins snapped in. Her 30th birthday celebrations that lasted well into the night with the fireplace as a witness to her abandon.
She closed her eyes and let her mind drift again, this time searching for the stamp they had left behind. Too far behind and she stumbled on her route back. Was it for his 42nd birthday that they were at Pittsburgh, maybe it was their 13th anniversary. The Christmas party, yes that was it. No, that night started well, and ended limp. The disappointment had echoed through their naked coiled bodies. The more she tried, the elusive the memory got. Exasperated and in complete despair, she tucked herself under the covers with a Bradbury. Some good hedonistic horror should bring some sleep, she decided.
The next few days, she labored through oil changes and heater repairs, through grocery bills and movies, and through long drives and cold showers. The occasionally savage persistent images throbbed in her head like a massager gone wild.
The thought came to her on a random Saturday afternoon as she folded the laundry. It was a clip of a conversation she had with her daughter that morning. “Listen, if you aren’t happy with the situation you are in, you have a choice to make it better. If opportunities do not present itself, take matters into your hand, go create them.” Yes, she was going to create her own.
Staring at the monitor, she was not quite sure what to search for or what to type. Amazon? No, they couldn’t possibly be selling that. It had to be a discreet store that did the business. What do they call them? The store? Should she just type it the way she had heard long time ago, or was there a more sophisticated respectable sounding name for it. After a few frustrating searches that ended in garish sites throwing repulsive images at her she tried her luck again at Amazon. There. Approximately 11,000 results. Her mind spinning she forced herself to look at them critically. Purple, yellow, white-man, black, blue and even pink! Goodness gracious, why would anyone want a pink? The cost of the instrument ranged less than the colors, the materials and what it promised to do. She read reviews. Before her mind wavered further, she chose a coral and bought a few paperbacks to cushion it all.
The mums needed some weeding, and she purposefully strode out into the yard.
Next week, he showed her the box she got delivered. What did you buy? Oh, just some books that were on sale, she breezed taking the box upstairs. Behind the closed door, she ripped the package open and gasped. It was ugly as ever.
Repulsive and hideous. This ridiculous looking thing was really supposed to pleasure woman all around? Really? She slid a thin forefinger across its length. Flinching at the resistance it offered, she forced herself to lift it out of the case and inspect it. She smiled at how unbelievable it was to see her holding the piece as perhaps countless women have before. Does it feel like the real thing, she wondered. She couldn’t tell anymore.
It didn’t seem right somehow. He’d be hurt if he knew. She couldn’t really do it to him. He was her husband after all. Tonight it would all work out and she’d just save the original packaging to return to Amazon. They were good with returns.
That night, after putting an hour of her best effort into talking, cajoling, seducing and forcing herself to do things she had done as a young bride, she ultimately cried herself to sleep in the guest bedroom. It was just easier that way.
A few days later as she was cleaning the closets, the box came back into view. Without a moment’s hesitation, she held onto it and walked up to the bed. Laying herself down, trembling fingers fumbled with it, her pulse racing to the tune of her heartbeat. It was alien. It most definitely didn’t seem right. She coaxed herself to hold on just a bit longer.
She thought of him in her, around her and next to her. Faint fluttering giving way to sinuous shivers, she held on as the tremors tangled within her. At the peak of it, an errant chuckle slipped out, followed by a cascading laughter. Her chest heaved and the laughs racked her frame.
An emotion oscillating between a giggling teenager and a lady in want.
For the first time as far as she could remember, her free lean fingers touched her lips and felt the quiver.
A tear broke free, wetting her nails. Dragging it down to suck away the thirst, she sleepily thought to herself :
“A kiss. Wonder if they sell that too…“