The Green Hour

Lesbian erotica | Literary Contemporary |


Longing for what you can’t have is like suicide, a loss of hope, but I was too practical for that. Besides, I knew she wasn’t what she appeared to be, wasn’t who she wanted to be. She was a reflection in search of a mirror.

The first time I saw Sally, she was taking my photograph. The flash blinded me, and when the sparkles faded, I saw her sitting at my table. Her mouth smiled but her pale eyes never stopped probing. They were hungry eyes, the kind that were too curious to be self-conscious.

“I hope you don’t mind.” She peered through the window beside my table. “What were you watching? Not ducks.”

I followed her gaze and saw a flock of mallards floating in a pond. She was right. I hadn’t seen the ducks. I was thinking about my girlfriend, who abandoned me the night before for a “sick” friend. I was thinking the only sense I had was bad sense, always striving forward, ass first.

“I don’t photograph what people are looking at.” She rotated the lens and replaced the cover. “Just what they’re looking for.”

She buckled her camera into her shoulder bag, while I nodded, having no idea what she meant. I spent the next three months trying not to fall in love with her, but as effortlessly as air, she entered all the spaces caution left unfilled.

While I analyzed business strategies on my laptop near the shop’s window, she made a diet of black coffee and Rimbaud, sometimes at my table and sometimes alone. As she read, she sipped from a steaming cup, her moist lips forming words in silence.

I recognized some of the words she mouthed but didn’t know French well enough to recognize the poem. Je regrette les temps de l’antique jeunesse, Des satyres lascifs, des faunes animaux. Watching her so absorbed in a libertine’s fantasies made me wonder what her marriage was like, although, when she fluffed her short black hair and loosened her top button, I didn’t care at all about her marriage.

She was the only daughter of a philistine who made it rich with thoroughbreds and an actress who left the stage to become the old man’s trophy. She was married to a trust fund baby, a marriage over in all but name. Because she was Catholic, she stayed with a man more interested in screwing his caddy than his wife, despite the successful union of cigarettes and self-abuse that kept her own figure boyish.

Some days, I preferred to watch her from across the coffee shop rather than my table. We each smiled and nodded and went about our business, only my business was to stare at her over the rim of my screen. She would glance at me; let me know she saw me. My appreciation, my desire, was nothing I could hide, nothing I wanted to hide.

When she finally shared her portfolio with me, her cryptographic allusions returned. I saw a photograph of a woman clutching her wind-blown hat and staring down a crowded sidewalk. She said this was a picture of herself. In another image stood a well-groomed cadet in yellow boots looking through a sheet of rain. This was her husband. An orange sun ate away the edges of pensive woman’s silhouette. This was her mother. A fat priest in a worn cassock gazed up at crumbling brick church. This was her father. Two children waited on the curb of a busy street as if they had lost their ball. These, she said, were us.

After translating a poem for me one Friday, she invited me into her limousine and introduced me to her “green hour.” With ice water, a special spoon, and a sugar cube, she performed the ritual louching of a glass of absinthe, which turned the spirit milky green. A sip of the licorice-laced liquor, banned for nearly a century, infected me with uncanny lucidity.

“The most luminous geniuses used absinthe to liberate their art,” she told me. “Baudelaire, Picasso, Van Gogh, Hemingway, and, of course, my dear Rimbaud.” The elixir had helped generations to abandon their gritty reality in favor of symbol, imagination, and dreams. It was no less for us. She was a photographer without scenes. I was a widow at a grave. We talked and read, and our days together were a collage of impersonations.

After one green hour that lasted three, she had us driven around four houses comprising the fifty-acre estate she called “Witch Creek.” She spoke casually about her wealth in a way that showed she didn’t think of it as belonging to her, and we ended our tour at her pool house. The hum of the pump echoed off the high ceiling, and, along with the institutional smell of chlorine, gave me a sense of exposure.

I anticipated an invitation to one of the bedrooms upstairs, but pleasure was a burden for her, a call to revelation. She turned passive, and when she stepped away, I stepped near again. We moved across the room that way until she was against a wall.

“We shouldn’t do this,” she said.

I set my lips to her cheek, and my words rained onto her skin. “I’ll keep your secrets.”  

After I gave her some space, she tossed her pink blouse onto a chair. She slid out of her black skirt and stood before me in panties. Her soft contours seemed even softer under white satin.

“I want you,” I said, my throat tight.

“I want you,” she said, her voice dull, as if an echo had returned from the ceiling.

She removed her panties and settled onto a mahogany settee. She squeezed the slight scoops of her creamy breasts and eased her legs apart, leaving her blushing inner lips peeking through glistening brown curls. Her hairy cunt, nestled in the smooth landscape of her thin thighs, held such primitive beauty, I finally understood why men killed each other to possess it.

Despite her submissive sprawl, her sharp blue stare and assertive shoulders altered the kitten-like vision into an Amazon dream, and my thoughts couldn’t articulate all I longed for. I tossed my clothes aside and fell down beside her.

Our naked bodies entwined, and passion began to burn. She coaxed my tongue into her mouth and dragged her teeth across it. She began to suck, tentative strokes growing rhythmic, a Siren touch that tried to lull me, tried to cool the passion with tenderness, but I didn’t feel tender.

My unsteady fingers groped into the tangled patch between her legs, parting the curls as I searched for the little pad of flesh and found it fat with pleasure. I scooted down and took one of her nipples in my mouth. I rolled her other breast around and then squeezed until she cried out. She pushed her chest against my face, so I suckled hard, trying to swallow her nipples, abusing the two pink stains until they were tight, raw lumps.

“I can smell you, Sally. I want to taste you.”

She lifted her head from the settee to look down at me, and one eyebrow darted up beneath her messy bangs. Her words were unexpected, and I stared at her a long moment afterward. “You can have anything you want, Darling.”

What I wanted was to unravel the moments weaving this pleasure into history. Losing myself in lust would leave the blaze of touches and smells and sounds little more than embers in my memory. The paradox of losing control in order to find it left me wanting every moment to remain a flame, even when the heat was gone. There are those who say love doesn’t fail through denial but through excess. Too often, they’re right.

Still, there was no stopping a waterfall. Sally was utterly carnal, a thing to be possessed, to be used but never used up. That was why the priests had it all wrong. I didn’t want to risk living for the moment, but it was the closest thing to God I knew.

Delving into her, I flattened my tongue and laid it on her swollen clitoris. Tension eased from her thighs and she spread her legs a little wider. I should have tasted salt and the sweat of pleasure, but I was drunk with arousal and unable to recognize anything except moist heat rising in waves across my face. Breathing her in, I lost myself to fantasies of orgiastic freedom lived out under a tropical sun.

Impatient with my wandering tongue, she reached down and parted the short curls of hair, inviting me back to her clitoris. Instead, I licked her fingers. They poked into my mouth, touching my tongue, my teeth, my lips. I raised my head, and we watched each other as she explored a mouth as small and sensitive as hers.

When I flicked my tongue across her fingernails, her eyelids drooped and her breath grew agitated again. With teasing slowness, I returned my tongue to her source. I sparred with her stubborn curls until sloppy sucking left the settee soaked. Since she also failed to get comfortable against the high back, I pulled her to her feet, and she led me upstairs to one of the bedrooms that overlooked the pool.

The room was dim, and wisps of smoke hovered near the bed, where a white taper in a brass stand had been burning for some time, releasing an aroma like vanilla poured over warm wood. She said she often slept in the pool house and left the candle burning. 

On the nightstand, a pile of linked red beads lay atop a prayer book. The rosary’s metal glinted, like memories fading. She glanced at it and then at me. Her nostrils flared, and my stomach clenched with excitement.

I tried to believe she was the victim of a strict upbringing, forced by conscience to honor a covenant made ten years ago before a priest, as if that was all God would remember. But her motivation was less duty than convenience. The fantasy had me liberating her from the belief that God was absent from her desire, like a carved-out moment in time, a blind spot to eternity.

After stripping the patchwork blanket from the mattress, I pushed her backward onto the sheet. Kneeling on the floor, I rested her legs over my shoulders. With reverence, I rubbed my face against her, smearing her wetness across my cheeks and lips, while her musk washed over me, through me, a current stirring my blood. I held her hips, guiding them as they began to circle. She whined when my nose bumped her clitoris.

Her hips rose, and she said, “Finger me.”

Spreading wider, she drew her legs up enough to allow her feet to rest on the edge of the bed. My finger plunged into her.

She erupted with a cry. “That feels good. Don’t stop.” She groaned with guttural joy so erotic, the surge in my gut made it impossible to speak. She crossed her arms over her face and began to rock her head back-and-forth. “Come on,” she said, her voice like a little girl denied candy. “Oh, sweet Jane, why can’t you make me come?”

We both grew desperate for something more, so I took the candle and spit out the flame. She recoiled in alarm, until I flipped the candle around. She tried to say something, but couldn’t finish her thought. Hardened drips crumbled to the bed as I worked the candle into her. 

“Sally,” I whispered when she had grown quiet. “You like this? It’s all right to like this. Tell me you like it.”

“I need to come.”

I swirled the candle and tried to fill my mouth with as much of her as I could. Her clitoris was throbbing as she ground against my teeth. She grew quiet, but as I continued to suck, she began to moan again, and what little control she had released itself in a gasp of gratitude for the pleasure coursing through her. Her hips left the bed, even as her hands pulled my face against her, and she grunted in rhythm to the waves of orgasm.

I crawled onto the bed, and when I held her, I found my heart hungered for her in the way my mouth had earlier.  

She looked at me. “Jack will be home in an hour.”

Her sudden coldness didn’t surprise me. Her moods often ran hot and cold, but I knew this dispassion was a lie. She got up to leave the room, so I left the bed and blocked her way.

I wasn’t the first woman, maybe not the only woman, in love with her. She was a passive lover, a disregard that allowed her to pretend. I didn’t want to feel like I was somebody else. Even less, like nobody in particular.

She had contrived to bring me there, arranged the tokens of her faith, planted the image of herself as conflicted, but I didn’t believe her. I knew she shared my faith, that the only sins were in our lies, not our love, that paradise didn’t wait for those who were worthy, but for those who were aware. She just wanted to use my fetish as a mirror, another green hour spent in feverish fantasies. She had become an island of meaning in my sea of chaos. I needed something more than imagination.

“Bored with all the fucking?” I asked.

Her eyes flashed. “You can’t hurt me.”

I wanted to hurt her. At least, I wanted to be able to hurt her, as only someone she loved could hurt her. She treated body heat like a foreign language and wasted love trying to invent herself. She didn’t realize she was something to be discovered.

I sat down on the edge of the bed. “We’re not done.” Curiosity held her in place until I spread my legs. “Your turn.”

She seemed aroused or fearful or maybe they were the same thing, but she licked her lips and said, “I’ve never done that to a woman.”

“Hot breath, wet tongue, patience. Women are easy.”

With hesitant steps, she made her way over to me and settled onto her knees. Resting her arms across my thighs, she speared her tongue and touched the tip to my clitoris. She reached a finger to spread my labia. I helped her, showing her places to explore.

When she continued to use the tip of her tongue, I said, “No one’s watching. All that matters is how it feels. Use your whole mouth.”

She was intrigued, but she didn’t understand. She didn’t understand what taking pleasure, rather than receiving it, might reveal. “Or you can do what I do.” I let my head fall back onto the bed. “Imagine you’re in heaven.”

She brushed a hand through my pubic hair. “You mean worship it?”

Before I could answer, the heat from her mouth spread across the entire lower half of me. Her tongue licked my labia, found my clitoris, found inspiration. Her lips caressed and sucked. Her teeth tugged and nibbled.

Her restless desire grew wanton, not in the way she had cried out when I was between her legs, but in the way she lost herself between mine. She pressed her face hard against me, and I felt her mouth quivering, twitching, clenching, as if she couldn’t decide what to do, but when I began to come, she moved her face to my leg and bit my thigh.

Clutching her hair, I pushed her away. I shouted at her and she apologized and I let go and she returned her soft mouth. I rocked and moaned, and whenever her tongue or fingers flagged, I begged her not to stop. I felt as though I were experiencing an epiphany. Maybe an apotheosis. “Oh…feels good.”

“Feels good,” she echoed, only this time it didn’t sound like an echo. It sounded like lust. It sounded like hope. It sounded like her faith would never again consist in who she spread her legs for, but in what she risked for the revelation.

O Venus, O Goddess!
I miss the days of ancient youth,
Lascivious satyrs, animal fauns,
Gods who bit the bark of twigs with love
And in the water lilies the blonde Nymph fucked!
I regret the times when the sap of the world,
The water of the river, the pink blood of green trees
In Pan’s veins put a universe!
Where the ground throbbed, green, under his goat’s feet;
Where, softly kissing the clear syrinx, her lip
The great hymn of love modulated under the sky;
Where, standing on the plain, he heard around
Respond to his call to living Nature;
Where the silent trees, cradling the singing bird,
The earth rocking man, and all the blue ocean
And all animals loved, loved in God!

From “Sun and Flesh” by Arthur Rimbaud, 1870


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