Erotica

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Personal Attention Roleplay
Excerpt

The day after my first sleepover with V, I am buoyant in a way I feel certain must be transferring to the clients. I greet each one breathlessly, flushed, teeth dry from grinning into the wind. I linger with the people who want to chat, instead of scurrying away immediately as I usually do. I help M. Rancourt with his cat litter, I change a lightbulb for Mme. Colley. I discuss conspiracy theories with Mr. Del Santo for half an hour while he rolls and smokes a joint in his pyjamas. Between stops, I take the hills head-on, I coast the dips with no hands, I am expanding like the universe, I think, I have infinite care to give and I know it will come back to me. I am ready to receive. I spot a patch of new crocuses, the first blooms of the season, and tear up with tenderness.

I arrive, bubbling over, at the last client's apartment. She greets me by throwing a jiggling sack of raw meat at my face. Fortunately, I have good reflexes. I catch it before it hits, and cradle it gently. I can see the blood streaking down the insides of the plastic, little bubbles of pink. She yells that we delivered her an uncooked dinner last time. "It's unacceptable! Bande de caves! Vous n'avez aucun respect pour moi!" She is sobbing a little, but also smiling, maybe with rage. I consider dialling the on-duty staff, but then I think, I can handle this. I apologize to her in my calmest voice, gently place this evening's meal container on her hall table, and tell her I will sort it out with "the bosses," even though the Centre is a non-hierarchical collective. She still slams the door, but after patting my hand a little.

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Ghost Lake
Excerpt

Under the Ice Zacchaeus went under the ice last winter. I try to identify the exact spot on the rippling waters where my brother fell through, but I can't find it. Even when I fix my eyes in one place, they go cross-eyed and un-focus. I don't even know if these are the right coordinates. I know the general area where it happened, but the exact spot where he stood when the ice gave way? That's as unclear as my sliding vision."Come on Zaude. Let's check out Marsh's beach." My cousin Zeke, trying to distract me. Almost as if he knows what I'm thinking. Maybe he does. It wouldn't be that hard to guess. I continue staring at the water, searching for the right spot on the shifting surface. I have a flash of sensation, like a psychic vision, though it's probably only my over-active imagination, teasing out the unknowns, filling in the gaps where there are gaps in knowledge. How it feels to die like that. Water, land, sky, trees. Choking darkness. I can't breathe! I can't breathe! Panic-thoughts of near-death survival. Then I'm back in the here and now. Bobbing rhythm of the lake, gentle waters, white fluffy clouds. My mind fills in cracks in the mortar: driving wind and the ice-cold shock as frigid waters soak through layers of clothes he'd worn that day. I know his first thought before he plunges through the ice is probably not for himself----it is for his camera. His stupid fucking camera. A vintage 35mm single-lens reflex with some fancy viewfinder. All the bells and whistles. Telephoto lens. High shutter speed. And he dropped it. I imagine the way it happened like this:Zach takes off his gloves to get a better shot, his numb fingers quickly lose feeling. They'd been aching from the cold even before he removed the protective insulation--but he is an artist, artists must suffer for their calling. The lanyard that should have affixed the camera to his neck is torn. It is a school camera, and even though it is well maintained, students are rough on equipment. He borrowed it from the A/V room and had to sign a waiver. Now he watches it skitter across the ice. He knows that he shouldn't take one step further out onto the ice--he's gone as far as it is safe. Actually, it isn't safe to be out on the ice at all, there's been a recent freeze and thaw, freeze and thaw--it hasn't been consistently cold enough, for long enough, for it to be truly safe. All snowmobilers know this--they watch the weather network as religiously as his great-auntie's sudden Alzheimer church-going. "Zhangweshi came to me in a dream." Ziibiiwenh stares up at the ceiling, her face puckered with wrinkles. "She said I should be more spiritual." It is a subject of interpretation. "Maybe Zhangweshi meant sweat lodge?" Aunty Zelda's face breaks in laughter. She has a fondness for purple. "Do you ever wonder how it all started?" Zeke again, breaking through the cobweb of my thoughts. He's paddling lightly now, hasn't bothered to drop the outboard motor. Wearing his usual basketball shorts and jersey. Almost thirteen years old now. It's too nice to disturb the quiet of the day with engine noise."How what started?" I frown. He's got me. "You know, the zed-naming." On Ghost Lake our family is known as 'the Zed's' (or alternatively, as 'the Zee's' depending on the level of Americanization). This is based on our tradition of naming children only by names that start with the letter Z. "I doubt there's any Z-names left," Zacchaeus once said, "We've used them all up already!" No one knows how the tradition began. I think it's rooted in the Ojibwe language, with the Z-names of our great-aunt's, Ziibiiwenh and Zhangweshi: Little River and Walks From The South. Great-grandmother's name, Zilpah is a corruption of Ziibaa'a'ii-Zegaanakwad--Under Stormy Skies. "I think it's a fluke." I look up at the blue sky, puffy white clouds, the ribs of an extinct species. "Some ancestor decided to name all their kids with zeds. There you go. Tradition.""There must be something more too it. You know? A reason." Zeke is paddling with more energy, we're making headway. I track our progress by a distant point of land as we pass Drinker's point. No one wants to risk deviating from the practice of Z-naming--just in case. If nothing else, it does provide a sense of kinship. "I think Zilpah knows, but she's not talking." Anyone with a Z-name in Ghost Lake is bound to face the inevitable question: are you one of those zeds? We have the real estate cornered on Z-names, and most folks take this into account when naming their kids.Zeke paddles. I lapse back into morbid thoughts.Zach scrambles forward, reaching for the stupid digital camera. Crab-walking, distributing his weight, reaching, reaching. The first responders hand my mother the camera. A silent answer to her unspoken question. I flip through the images, trying to be calm, the ache in my chest as tight as the pain he must have felt, the hypothermia clutching a fist around my heart. I feel nothing, I tell myself as I flip through the pictures. My heart is as cold as the ice and snow. My heart is as unfeeling as the water that clogged his throat. Forcing its way into his lungs with undeterrable pressure.

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The Nerves
Excerpt

GARNET

Garnet almost convinces me that we might be exploded by the light of the tin plane in the day sky as we navigate the river beach. Yes, its lights are as bright as the evening star, and briefly they scare me.

Garnet talkily convinces me to leave my phone on the threshold of their rickety walkup so we won’t be listened to while we ramble about what we both resist.

Garnet’s charisma shines like their sunburn. Their cigarette is a burnt offering.

Garnet is phenomenal at what they do. I’m not vouching for them as a dishwasher, PR person, or perfect child, but the tattoos they do are perfect. Everything looks like some tiny crummy Victorian porn shredded by the oily surface of the skin it’s pounded into, in the time we live in.

This habit of giving one another tattoos only works in times when you believe the love of the collective has to be offered sadomasochistically first, like an oath, like syncing periods. The rubbery blue tracings are as faithful as the September sun wearing them away, that fierce thing we’d misidentified together as a drone.

AYA

We’re unavailable to anyone else after we’ve shut the door. There’s fluorescence and railings framing blank sectionals. It’s like a basement where two big collies got sent to bark, but we shut out their small dog.

Aya is like this: the braces reflecting on their teeth make them look sharp. They have an enthusiastic laugh. I practice my own doggy nature by leaping around on the couch and drooling. I bring my shoulder blades as close to my butt as possible when I get up on all fours. We drank pop to get this hyper. We make gymnast shapes. I want to lick their teeth.

Music videos on the corner TV, the only sign of life besides ourselves. I’m vaguely aware that I stink after our day of activity. Aya suggests I shower. I’m excited by the possibility of that dark glass shower, more signs of life in mould in the grout.

I wasn’t expecting them to get in with me. Our hair needs washing, smells kind of green when the water hits it. They love analyzing problems and reaching inside my desk at school to write in wet pen on my hand. We don’t look at each other under the spray but can’t stop laughing so the shower water goes down my throat. I cough in minerals. Their braces are like dog’s teeth, their moles like a spray of pop. My heart’s in my squint before shampoo stings my eye. Their body is huge and new. It is not like something you read about. We’re simultaneously small, come close together to contrast the coolness, get warm and sweat and almost fall. We try each other’s necks and there’s soap mixed in. I taste their mouth and that inhuman quality of skin so clean the water’s still beading on it, running off of it. We kiss like nothing’s happening. I get down on my knees like nothing’s happening. I’ve been waiting to do this my whole life. It is amazing to stop talking, stop laughing, stop waiting for something to happen and feel nothing happening. I feel their hair on my face. I’m calming down for the first time ever as I press them to my mouth. I taste more than water there.

YAS

They go off like an alarm clock. I like watching Yas. Juicy eyes and short shorts. Always kissing someone twice their size, climbing them like a zoo.

Yas takes me to the back field and mimes a blow job. It’s an art: trying to reach their own eyelids and their philtrum with their tongue is what it seems like to me. Smelling the air like it’s their own underwear, checking for how many days old. Blowing their bangs up out of their face in the pee corner, avoiding getting hair stuck to their lipgloss.

They ask me to imitate the shapes their mouth makes on the restaurant window, then cackling, hoard their fries. Their eyelashes make huge moons on their face.

They’re gracious when the table shakes and a glass of water, knocked by a poltergeist, almost totals their computer. I love the whole span of their attention. In spite of all their partners, I admire them most walking away alone.

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Cissy

Cissy

Three Gender Plays: Nelly Boy, My Funny Valentine, and Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls
edition:Paperback
More Info
An Honest Woman
Excerpt

“That night she dreamt that familiar dream. The one about pulling up to a house in the country. A sweeping double staircase, a dog barking, someone awaiting her up on the landing, the high porch. Like always, the dream ended before she found out what was behind the door at the top of the stairs.”

 

“This is her story, JM’s story. This is what happened when a final not flicker but conflagration of desire engulfed her, as the last hormones flared and fled. Fiery desire to love and make love and write and rise and triumph and and and — ”

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