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The Albatross
and
the Mermaid

by Amanda Fox

 

http://www.foxtales.ca

 

Copyright 2009 by Amanda Fox

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without prior written consent of the publisher, except for brief quotations in reviews and articles.

Cover art also by Amanda Fox, copyright 2009

                                 

   

 
 
 
 

Dedication

For my husband, who never gives up.
For my children, who make me both laugh and cry.
For the rest of my family, for their enduring love and support.

And for my “amant de reve”, because without him, this book wouldn’t exist.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Prologue

He told me that he loved me. He'd said it a total of eleven times over eight years; I'd counted. Counted each finger on both hands, plus one. Five instances occurred in the throws of passion, when his mottled penis--an appendage the color of plums and overripe strawberries--plunged in and out of my developing body. Twice, he'd mouthed the words across the dinner table as I cleared the dishes between courses--between the stew and custard, and the meat pie and spice cake. Three times, he'd said it in various locations around the great house: when he caught my arm on the way up the grand staircase, when he pushed me up against the stone wall in the cellar, and in the nursery as I lulled baby Stephane to sleep. The last episode happened in the kitchen when, with his wife’s back turned, he whispered those very words into my ear. “I love you Seraphine," he said. "I love you."

The day I knew for certain that Henri Bouchard’s love for me was false, was the day my life took a turn for the better. It was May 2nd, 1786 at about 3:30 in the afternoon, five years prior to Toussaint L’Ouverture’s joyous insurrection. A revolution had been brewing for some time and reports of many uprisings throughout the Caribbean had reached the house over the years.

Undoubtedly, we were all waiting for the big one to finally deliver our salvation, and as such, the mood between the supervisors and the workers was tense, orders coming down even harsher than usual whenever details of another outbreak made news. Cook always seemed to know about the gossip on and around the Lazare plantation, and that was how I found out about things.

Now, I wouldn’t say that I was a very smart person in those days, but that doesn’t mean I lacked the potential. It’s in us all; it’s just a matter of circumstance, and as you will see, mine were less than ideal. What little schooling I got was acquired mainly by accident as I dusted and tidied up around the master’s children. Marie Rose--Henri’s eldest daughter--took me as a friend and taught me the basics of how to read and write. Cook did what she could as well, but like most of us, she too lacked an education. At best, she tried to impart upon me the essential facts of life, or whatever those could’ve been living in such a terrible place.

And while I don't really blame myself for my predicament, I do wish sometimes that things had been different. Perhaps I should've made better choices, or maybe I should've appealed to the spirits for more guidance and help. No matter. Now that I'm dead I have the clarity to see things for how they truly were anyway.

I know most people fear the end, but in my world, being dead isn't so bad. If that were the case, most of us would never have made it through the fires of hell. Decidedly however, we came across the sea with the firm notion that after death, one is once again reunited with family and friends-- that when a person dies their spirit returns to the homeland for a great feast with all those who have passed on before.

That belief, my friend, is what gave us hope, enough to persevere through the long days and lonely nights of captivity. Considering this, it may seem odd that more people didn't put a rush on the process--you know, getting to the “better” before it was officially time. Admittedly, some did do that, but we weren't put here to cut our own lives short, and this left most of us making the best out of a really bad situation.

Certainly, my people found reasons to live, reasons to believe that life could change, if not for themselves then at least for the generations that came after. We learned from our hardships and took those lessons with us, and that is why, as one of the dearly departed, I remain an invaluable member of my community.

And now that I'm in a good place, I don't like to dwell on the past. There is one situation however that I must clarify because of the important lesson that it taught me. What love truly is or isn't--or was or wasn't in that time before--is my topic for debate.

As the rounds of precipitation began in those early days of the vernal equinox, it became glaringly obvious that Henri Bouchard never truly loved me, and it is with this tidbit of information that we return to our story...

*...*...*

The month of May fell right in the middle of harvest season, which ran a lengthy six months of the year, from January to July. An unusual amount of rain had flooded the earth that spring, causing the plants to grow faster than the cutlasses could be swung. Thus, the field workers were forced to labor into the twilight hours almost every evening, and I can't tell you the number of accidents--of cut faces, and slashed arms and legs--that those nighttime operations caused.

While the first and second gangs toiled among the tall stalks of cane in the blistering heat by day and in the shadows by night, I continued on with my job inside the house. While it seemed like I had been working for two or three lifetimes already, in reality, only a quarter of a century had passed. I was barely a woman.

Born on the plantation to a woman named Beatrice, I ended up an orphan at the age of three when my mother was beaten to death for drinking water when she should have been chopping cane. With no one to watch over me, I got shuffled around among the others until one day Lillian--a woman who had lost her own child during the passage overseas--took pity on me. As the cook, she managed to get me inside the great house, making sure I had enough food to eat and a warm place to sleep.

Thanks to her, I persevered, growing up alongside the eldest children of the Bouchard family. In the kitchen, I helped to gather vegetables, prepare meat, wash dishes, and scrub floors--any and all of the numerous tasks involved in running a household of that size. At the age of fifteen, things changed and I was put in charge of the Bouchard’s three youngest offspring--Stephane, Natalie, and Anaise.

Becoming the nursemaid on the Lazare plantation was not a decision of the missus, that's for sure. There were arguments over who should get the job, but as the man of the house, Henri had the last say. “You have a pleasing and kind nature, Seraphine. The little ones have taken a liking to you, and I think that you are perfectly suited for this job.” That was his explanation and I had no reason to doubt him.

The position was passed to me from an older woman named Mitzi who had succumbed to a devastating illness of the brain--when she couldn't remember the children’s names anymore and when she started behaving like she’d been possessed by the devil. It was a common affliction among us, and sadly, Mitzi was sent out one day, never to return.

After I accepted my post, I wondered about her often. When I asked him, Henri simply said that she'd been discharged of her duties and had gone to live with her cousins in town. In my heart however, I knew she'd been killed--probably burned to death or eliminated in some other equally abhorrent manner.

Ignorance is bliss as they say, and so, as a teenager I tended my charges happily, unconcerned for my own safety if things ever went awry. Again, it wasn't until later that I came to see Henri for the despicable man that he truly was, and not until after the grand contretemps that I am leading up to, that I contemplated the rationale behind his arrangement.

I think now that Henri entrusted me with the position of nursemaid for one reason, and one reason only. It brought me closer to his children, closer to his family, and indirectly, closer and more available to him as well. That must've been his intention, because that's exactly what happened.

Mind you, the particular moment that I knew I was meant to be more than an aide to the Bouchard’s children didn’t involve erotic words or sexual innuendo. With an easy stroke of his hand up the length of my spine--a casual touch where there hadn’t been one before--he so much as told me that I'd become an object in his quest for personal gratification. In fact, he spoke of something completely off topic when he made the move.

We were in the study and he was giving me instructions on what to do with Stephane and the girls while he and the missus were away for the morning. “Seraphine, make sure the children bathe once they’ve completed their lessons. The girls need to have their hair washed as we are expecting visitors later on this evening. Furthermore, the linens in the sleeping quarters need to be cleaned and the pillows fluffed. Please see that this is all done by the time we get back.”

On the last sentence of his diatribe, he moved up quite close to my front and reached around to trace over the vertebrae of my spine. As he did, his eyes met mine with a glazed-over look, like I was something delicious to eat and he was a very hungry animal indeed. Now, as I'm sure you can gather, whether or not I got involved with this man was never an option left open for debate. I was the slave and he was my master. That made it a done deal.

Oh, I may have put up more of a fight, but Henri seemed like a kind and gentle man, and I was such a lonely, young girl. I confused his sexual advances as signs of love and affection--two things that I craved more than anything--and thus sex with Henri became part of my job. I'm ashamed to admit this, but it was something I actually enjoyed most of the time, right up until the end that is.

The end. I remember that day as if it weren't a lifetime ago, mainly because it took place just before my twenty-fourth birthday, eight long years since Henri had procured me as his lover. Before I go any further, let me describe to you the man who stole my virginity, the man who was to become the bane of my existence.

To begin with, Henri was the color of boiled snapper, his skin ghoulishly pale next to my cocoa brown. His hair was the texture of a horse's mane and his eyes were so squinty that it was like the sun was always shining in his face. Oddly enough, he was devoid of eyelashes, but his eyebrows compensated for his lacking there by crossing over the middle bridge of his nose where they almost touched--two caterpillars saying hello.

Speaking of his nose, his nostrils were so narrow that I often wondered how he ever got enough oxygen. Moreover, his legs were like sticks and they pointed inward at the knee, giving him a rather feeble gait. When he stood naked however, he had a roll of fat that hung like a tire around his waist. Without a doubt, he was a rather pathetic human specimen, but then I was never drawn to him for his physical qualities in the first place.

Albeit homely, Henri's demeanor was amicable and his temperament seemed even-keeled. From what I'd seen, Henri was a good father to his children and a kind husband to his wife, who, if you ask me, was a very ill tempered and quarrelsome woman.

She never liked me--that's for sure. She must've known about my affair with her husband and was simply staking a claim to her territory, making it very clear who was, and who was not, the wife. Certainly, I would've found it hard to believe that she didn't know about the two of us, or the others.

Yes, of course there were others. Even I knew that. No man of status in the colonies--planter, trader, businessman or otherwise--was restricted in the number of lovers that he took. How did I cope with this knowledge? Well, I just imagined myself at the top of Henri’s list, focusing on his feelings for me (or what I interpreted were feelings for me), and closing the door on the rest.

And Camille, well, I often wondered what he ever saw in her to begin with. I didn’t like to think that he picked her and I both, for I saw no similarities between us.
Now Henri’s personality, while affable enough, was certainly not the aggressive type, and it may have accounted for his less than stellar achievement in enterprise. Compared to other planters in the Caribbean, Henri Bouchard held title to only a single plantation--Lazare--which he'd named after his father.
Henri and Camille, and their six children lived with us most of the time. They’d come from somewhere far across the ocean, but stayed on the plantation a good three quarters of the year, sometimes more. Supposedly, they stayed so that Henri could ensure things ran smoothly, so he could guarantee that none of his underlings ever tried to displace him as overlord. His power I guess, was not so far reaching.
If you recall, the day in question--the “end” as it were--was a hazy May afternoon, and I was in one of the guest rooms in a remote section of the east wing. Henri and I had just finished having sexual relations as he was want to do at least four or five times a week. As I said before, I enjoyed my encounters with Henri and I will never forget my first time.
“Open your legs for me, Mon Cherie,” I remember him saying. “I promise, I’m not going to hurt you.” Tentatively, I unfolded, Henri helping some by pressing my knees to the side. When he then caressed my private area, the feelings that I felt were so intense that I actually cried. It'd been so long since I'd experienced intimate contact that these initial touches were overwhelming.
“Seraphine, it will be OK. You are such a dear girl, but don’t worry. I know how to make you feel so good, you’ll cry for me every time we’re together.” His arrogant words somehow made me brave and I mustered enough courage to watch what he was doing. Skillfully, Henri slid his fingers through the thatch of course black hair that covered my secret lips and everything moved along quite easily until he attempted to push his finger inside.
Met with resistance, he worked slowly, alternating gentleness with pressure until he was in up to his knuckle. “My goodness, Seraphine. I knew you would be unyielding, but this is better than I’d hoped.” Licking his lips, he poked and prodded until he was able to add another finger and yet another, stretching me until he'd ultimately replaced his digits with his erect penis.
With the enthusiasm of an unseasoned soldier, Henri's penis always stood up for me, and the more times he entered my body, the more I actually enjoyed the experience. I was proud to know just how much I aroused him, and sometimes when I saw him coming, he would almost gallop, a horse running to the trough after a long, hard ride. In the very least, our unbridled affair brought a variety of welcome pleasures to us both and I was grateful for the physical satisfaction that was prevailed upon my person.
As the years crept by however and as I thought more and more about the privileges that freedom would bring--a notion that was almost conceivable by that point in time--I began questioning both Henri’s motives and my desire for him. So when I raised my head off the pillow that day in May overcome by feelings of exhaustion and desistance, I was less than surprised.
“Come here Seraphine. Let me look at your face in the sunlight.” Sluggishly, I moved off the rumpled bed, pulled down the skirt of my cotton shift, and went to stand beside him near the open window. With each step, I felt the residual ache between my legs from where his penis had been only moments before, and my feet moved like stone tablets. I'd had enough, and I hoped that he wasn't expecting more.
There was a faint breeze that day and on a current of heated air, the poignant aroma of a hemp pipe wafted up from the shed down below. Somebody was smoking that afternoon, secreting away a few moments of bliss. Inhaling deeply, I tried to share in their diversion. When Henri reached over to clasp my hand--his palm was cold to my warm--I knew that something was wrong with him too.
Relinquishing his grip to finish buttoning his shirt, he murmured, “You are so beautiful Seraphine. Do you know that?” His eyes now vacant, he kept the compliments coming. “Your skin makes me think of a chocolate sun, radiant and sweet. And if I could press my nose into these lovely ringlets of yours for all eternity, I would be ecstatic.” He began nibbling erroneously at my neck, pulling a coil of hair to its full length.
What happened next, I consider to be a major turning point in my life to follow. Without warning, Henri pushed up behind me and shoved me hard against the window frame. Pressing his formless body into mine, he wrapped his arms around my slender physique and cupped one palm over my breast like it needed his support. Stroking and fondling me there briefly, he then firmly encircled my waist with his other limb.
“I have something to tell you Seraphine,” he said, anger in his tone. “I can’t see you like this anymore.”
With that, he pinched my breast, much harder than usual. Confused, I froze, wondering what I had done, wondering what had brought on this display of fortitude. It was so unlike Henri to use aggression in his sexual games. Was he angry because, as he'd stated, we couldn't be together anymore? Had he detected my feelings of distance and distraction? As I tried to understand what was happening, Henri was gaining momentum, tightening his arm around my middle like some giant snake intent on crushing its prey.
“The true nature of a person is exposed when things don’t go their way,” Cook used to say. With Henri’s sudden change in personality, I thus began to panic. Slapping at his wrists, I tried desperately to get him to stop, but as I sputtered and gasped, he started thrusting his pelvis up into my buttocks, threatening to take me again, more vigorously than he ever had before.
Screaming, I smacked at him fiercely, prying his hands away from the folds of my dress, thrashing about like my body was on fire. Much to my utter amazement, as quickly as it all began, everything then stopped. In that instant, Henri transformed into a mouse before my very eyes, shrinking away until he wallowed alone in the middle of the room. There, shaking his head, he lingered in his private space far away from where I stood. For a split second, I felt sorry for the man who had been commandeering my body for eight long years. When I looked down at the floor, unable to make eye contact, Henri walked out. It was over.
Following that day, there were to be no more sequestered kisses, no more coy looks, and no more declarations of love. Henri was done with me. What'd happened for him to end it, I was never quite sure, but I have made my guesses. Did he ever truly love me? The irrational part of me says “yes”, but the sane part is convinced that he did not. Isn’t it odd how a person can be so enamored with another that they don't see the pit of danger that lies two feet in front of them? In my case though, I don't believe it was a person that was the attraction. I think it was more of a situation or an idea. Henri had always been kind, but I was never enthralled with the man. I believe now that I simply got lost in his conviviality toward me.
In that bedroom--reeling from what'd just ensued--another one of Cook’s famous sayings came to me. “It is sometimes easier to forget your own plight, if you focus on the plight of others.” So with Henri gone, I looked back out the window and surveyed the vast fields of sugarcane where my blessed brothers and sisters dotted the landscape like flies on the carcass of a dead goat. Amid the tall stocks of cane, the workers tried to hide, or at least they should have. I'm sure they wanted to--anything to avoid the overseer as he milled about with his instruments of torture.
In the face of horror, the occasional glint of a razor-sharp blade caught the light from the sun, and I watched as the brilliant flash rebounded throughout the rows of crops. It made me think about how the field slaves spent week after tireless week, month after month, and year after year, digging and hacking away until their backs held a permanent arch. More specifically though it made me think about their situation compared to mine.
I knew that I was luckier than most. The floor that I walked across to get to my bed wasn't dirt- covered and littered with garbage. No, I lived inside where I was spared the annoyance of beetles, moths, snakes and insects. Make no mistake however. Even though my circumstances may have sounded better than those of the field workers, they still carried the inflictions of a double-edged sword.
Not one of us had it easy, and I, like everyone else in the house, moiled over the tasks that were meant to make the lives of the whites winsome and worry free. We were at the beck and call of our master and his family every second of every hour of every day. Being so close to those in charge had its own set of obligations, one in which, as I'm sure you understand by now, I became more than just a little embedded.
And while I will admit to having had sex with Henri on numerous occasions, I have to count my blessings that I was never forcibly plundered, though you could argue otherwise. What I mean to say is that I was never brutally raped like so many other slave women, including others on the Lazare plantation. Henri had never been harsh toward me and he certainly was not one of those twisted sorts who enjoyed stuffing explosives into women’s anuses or who got off on thrusting hot branding irons into their vaginas.
Owing to the fact that Henri was such a pansy in every other aspect of his life, it would've astonished me to find out that he'd ever engaged in anything too nefarious. He was the type of man to pass the buck of wrongdoing on to someone else, but you never know. I'd witnessed an unexpected side to him, and after that, I was never too sure.
With Henri’s news and his curious exit from the room, I was left alone--angry, relieved, disappointed and afraid. Ultimately, I'd been rejected, but more than that, I'd been betrayed. The man I thought I'd loved, (and whom I was positive had loved me in return), had just walked away without a single word of clarification.
The weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders at last, and yet, as I took this independence, it felt like I was being squashed by melancholy. I did my best to hold them back, but sadness triumphed, and my tears fell. As the emptiness moved through me, it all became glaringly obvious--who or what I'd been to Henri Bouchard had nothing to do with love. Invariably, I'd been an asset, an article, a piece of property like a hammer, or a cracked serving bowl--a thing for him to use, abuse, and discard at leisure. I felt foolish to think I'd ever been more.
Whether it was the darkest brown, or the lightest tan, it didn’t matter. We were all the same. We shared a likeness of complexion that was simply not white, and that is what sealed our fates. We were slaves--human chattel--working for the benefit of the white man with no payment or recompense of our own. Cheated, deceived, forcibly expropriated, we'd been stripped of family and social foundation, and left to rot for somebody else’s boon.
Through the heartache and suffering, we tried to stay strong, but for some of us, our bodies just stopped, giving over to death--a welcome end to an unspeakable journey. We tried our best to stay alive though, doing what was commanded of us until our hearts bled with sorrow and our bodies ached with pain. Some of us cut cane in the fields, working from the drone of the conch shell or the toll of the bell at sun-up, to a procession of maimed and enfeebled silhouettes at sundown. My people were forced to work into the dimness of every evening, until the overseer prodded them back to their bunks for the night.
Others worked under the roof of the great house, and that is where I found my place. By the time I withdrew from that fateful room, the sun had begun to set, and I knew that dinner preparations would be underway. I hurried back to the kitchen, not completely at ease, but carrying a lighter burden in my heart then I'd had hours earlier. My troubles however, were far from over.

*...*...*

After everyone had finished eating, Henri called across the table to his wife. “I have something for you, mon cherie.” This sudden announcement brought a flurry of excited claps from Camille. The children, who were half way out of the room already, rushed back in.

“Papa, what is it?” giggled Natalie.

“What have you gotten for Maman?” asked Stephane quietly, always the consummate boy.
“Let me see! Let me see!” squealed little Anaise. The older children as well, though they never spoke, stood at attention near their mother. Everyone was waiting anxiously, including the other house slaves, to see what Henri had brought for Camille. I too, stopped what I was doing and paused to get a look at the gift.
“Oh, Henri. What is it? Do tell me. Please! Please!” Camille begged, though to me, the tone of her voice didn’t indicate genuine surprise.
“Be patient, my love. I’m getting to it,” Henri laughed. And like royalty, Camille sat on her throne and waited. A second later (and so typical of her) his queen sarcastically cajoled, “Don’t tell me you remembered. You never remember.”
“Ah, but my darling. This is an extra special day, is it not? As a commemoration of our twenty- fifth wedding anniversary, I honor you--my wife, my love--with a token of my affection.” With that, he got up from his seat and reached down deep into his pants’ pocket, pulling out a long, fancy-looking box. But while Henri may have been talking to his wife, he was staring directly at me, smiling like the devil. Walking over to where Camille sat, his eyes were glued to mine. “You are so beautiful. Do you know that?” he said. The statement was like a knife in my chest.
When he placed a necklace around her lily-white neck, Camille shrilled in delight. Standing tall, Henri declared, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man,” he paused, “or woman,” he paused again, “put asunder.” His valiant words made my heart sink, and I watched as Camille fingered the shiny treasure that lay between her breasts. When I looked up again however, I saw two people glowering at me--Henri and Camille both.
“It’s lovely isn’t it, Seraphine?” Camille gloated. “Would you like to get a closer look?” The question was hurtful and she knew it.
“No Madame, though it does look very beautiful from here,” I replied, practically choking on my words. “Monsieur Bouchard must love you very much.”
“He does indeed, don’t you darling?” She turned to Henri as he bent down to kiss her on the cheek.
“I will always love you Camille. You are my one and only.”
You know, in my heart, I wasn't a vindictive woman, but sometimes somebody's got to do a thing or two to make up for what's been going on. After Henri had walked out on me that day in the bedroom, he should've left well enough alone. But after his display the same evening at supper when he gave that self-righteous bitch the locket, and after Camille had taken a swing at me herself with those hateful words, I'd had enough. Can you say revenge?
Of course, as a slave, there wasn't much I could do, but I thought of two things. The first and most important element in my plot was to remain calm. I couldn't let them see how much they'd hurt me; I couldn't let them see my pain. This, I knew, would be my easiest task since I'd been doing it my whole life. As a woman of color, I'd bested the art of masking my misery.
The second component to my stratagem was to take the locket. Camille surely didn't deserve to have it. It should've been mine because of all that I'd given to Henri, don’t you think? After all, I'd given him my love--selflessly, willingly, passionately, without question or defiance--and what had he done? Nothing. Not one thing. I gave and he took. He took until he was tired of taking, until it was inconvenient for him to take, until the taking posed a problem.
Real love isn't based on convenience or profit. It has its roots in beneficence, and with Henri, it was never about that. The worst part of the whole deal though was not what he took or how much, but the fact that he wasn't even marginally grateful for any of it. He'd betrayed my innocence, disregarding any sense of obligation to say thank you or act civilly toward me in the end.
So I stole the necklace, though the details of the deed I kept to myself. One night, almost two years past the day it'd been proffered--when the family was downstairs entertaining guests and I was tucking the youngest into bed--I snuck into the master suite and took it.
There is another saying. My relatives are full of them. It goes, “The giver of the blow forgets; the bearer of the scar remembers.” I will never forget what happened during those years because I bore many scars, most of them invisible. And no one suspected me. It'd been too long and I'd played it cool enough that I was never pinned as the probable culprit. I'd managed to keep my disappointment about my relationship with Henri to myself, but it's not like I had to feign happiness for very long. I got over him, realizing that what I thought I'd wanted wasn't worth a pot to pee in. Henri--that pitiful excuse for a man--was definitely not worth anymore of my tears.
And Camille, well, she looked for it and looked for it, blubbering on like a baby that some horrible thief had taken her precious pendant. Of course, she was right, but no one believed her, not even her own husband. Henri blamed the loss on her propensity to slovenliness, making her angrier than ever. She vented her outrage by having us all whipped in the hopes of finding out the truth, but no one said a word. I'd made absolutely sure that no one knew anything.
Once I got my hands on the locket, I immediately buried it with my mother’s belongings, what little I had left of her. I didn't remove it from its hiding spot until years later, before I left Lazare. Now, don't assume that I was free after that, because not one of us during that time was ever completely free. Freedman or slave, black was still black, which meant that we were still treated as less than equal. That is often the case today, am I not mistaken? Yes, recompense can be a long time coming.
For me, it was worth it to have the necklace. It was something: better than nothing. I needed an object, a tangible item that I could take away from the situation, something I could hold in the palm of my hand and say, “This is what I got as payment for the hours I put into that job.”
My people say there exists a fair maiden born of the sea, a nymph with long silky hair and shelled jewels adorning her swan-like neck. They say she climbs the waves like a dolphin and rolls across the sandy ocean bottom where she is caressed by the seaweed and kissed by her children, the fish. They say that this divine water spirit is responsible for the protection, emotional healing and spiritual growth of all those who bow to her power. When I heard that she could bring me luck, I called to her, and low and behold, my Mami Wata answered. She blessed me with kindness and the rewards of love.
What happened to the locket? Well, I gave it to my daughter on the day of her wedding. My sweet girl Angelique was born out of a relationship that I shared with a man in the years after Lazare, and as older parents wise to the world, we cherished her dearly. She ended up working as a servant for a wealthy family, with many of the same duties that I'd done as a slave. She was paid for her efforts, however measly, and allowed to procreate at will--two things foreign to me for the first thirty years of my life.
I am gone now, my body buried with some of my other family members--my husband included-- in a small graveyard close to the Lazare plantation. Over the years, I've watched over my relatives as others watched over me, providing guidance and inspiration when called upon. What advice am I most often asked to give? You should know the answer to this by now, but if you must inquire, I will tell you.
Love, I would say, takes work and is supported by sacrifice. It is about seeing the value in others for who they are, not what you want them to be, and it pertains to the repudiation of greed. It's about giving, not receiving. Only self-deprecating people think of it that way. No, real love is a voluntary and gratuitous desire to give of oneself, and if you find it, I would say, you should cherish it forever.

Superstition, Admonition and Dissuasion

To say that a Caribbean man is superstitious is a little like saying that all white women have flat asses--both statements being mostly true, but not always. In my case though, the stereotype is legitimate. I'm a grown man with sprinkles of grey in my beard and wrinkles around my eyes, but I still listen when my Auntie warns that danger is lurking around the next corner for her dear and unsuspecting nephew. I also believe that certain kinds of behavior can bring darkness upon a person’s soul, and I'm not one to engage in those sorts of activities. There have been times though, when I've acted, praying that the spirits were deep in slumber for an hour or two.

Now, I wouldn't call myself a “religious” person. I prefer to use the term “spiritual” instead. I don't go in for that “it’s my way or the highway” kind of bullshit-you know, the staunch doctrine that excludes and even punishes others of different faiths. I do however try to live according to the golden rule, that is, I do unto others as I would have done unto myself.

As a boy growing up in the suffocating and extinguishing climate of poverty, I was taught that if I reached out a hand, good things would eventually come my way. I believe it was my Auntie who said, “You reap what you sow.” It was just one among many proverbs passed down to me from the older generations.

In order to understand where I'm coming from, I should explain (for those of you who don't know) that the original African culture became a powerful and knowledgeable civilization mainly by way of the spoken word, a practice that has endured through ancient times, filtering into the entire Caribbean area during the years of slavery. As such, it is a legacy that links the Caribbean present to the African past, the very existence of which demonstrates that we have survived those deleterious years of colonialism, European lead destruction, and black vassalage.

And while I do want to emphasize the relevance of verbalization in African and Caribbean culture, I shouldn't leave out the influences of art and symbolism as vital ingredients of our lives as well. We convey ideas not only with the use of elaborate words, but also with pictures, drawings, patterns, colors, and every kind of visual representation imaginable. Yes, we are artists, as well as orators.

Note further that the importance of language and visual expression pervades all aspects of black culture, including our spirituality. More specifically, some Caribbean people use both verbal and pictorial interchange in ritual, during which time they call to the ancestors in the hopes of receiving the secrets of substantiality and enlightenment.

From what I understand, if I listen carefully to the advice that's out there--heeding the natural rhythms of the universe by taking the advantageous routes and avoiding the unfavorable ones--I am sure to find my own best destiny.

I truly believe that there are pathways laid out for each and every one of us--good ones, better ones, and bad ones too. In prayer, the people of the past speak, revealing what those pathways are, but only if you listen. That's the key: you must choose to listen and ultimately that is at an individual’s discretion. I, for one, intend to take the advice that my forefathers and mothers have to give, and in the end, I believe it foolish to follow a road once traveled that's already proven to be destructive. Therefore, I try to live according to the recommended moral standards, and like I said earlier, I've only slipped up a couple of times.

As I’m sure you've surmised by now, in my culture, not only is the spoken word paramount, so too is the respect of elders. When they talk, we listen and if we're smart, we listen carefully. When I was a little boy, it was my mother who had the most to say, and one of the things that she said repeatedly, was that you could tell a lot about a person from how they related to children, senior citizens, and animals. She said that most people are nice to others who are of equal status, but only genuinely kind-hearted souls--the ones you can trust and love without reserve--are those who befriend the poor, defenseless beings of the world.

Moreover, my mother made it infinitely clear that I should trust my own instincts. “Do what feels right in your heart Adrian, and don’t let anyone try and tell you otherwise.” You should also know that Mama was the type of woman who sought out examples of her theories to prove them as adages of truth.

For instance, she used to extol to my siblings and I the virtues of every one of our teachers from kindergarten on up, saying that they were some of the best specimens that the human race had to offer. Now, she recognized that this particular postulate didn't exist without exceptions, and for teachers, there were two cases, according to her, when that honorable mould got broken. First, you had to watch out for the overworked pundit, she'd say, whose attitude had become derisive from staying on the job for too long. Then there was the case of the evil school marm who was hell bent on sabotaging the keenness for learning in young black children.

To my mother, racism was simply an affliction of the mind. It was like having cancer and about as hard to overcome. Instead of eating away at the internal organs of a person however, she speculated that racism controlled the logical mechanisms of the brain, causing some to have seriously warped attitudes about people of different colors and races. “You must open your heart to the love inherent in every person Adrian, regardless of their outward appearance. Look beyond the physical to see the spirit. Always remember that.” I've never forgotten.

As an extremely supportive individual, it was also my mother’s dream for her children to have the best in life, to have the things she could never dream of having, and further, to give back to the community and the world at large in ways she never could. Always the optimist, my mother’s wisdom follows me to this day, and I have to say, I give credit where credit is due since most of her hypotheses have tended to lie in the bed of truth.

Now, you might also ask if poverty has dictated my tenets in life, because, as I mentioned earlier, I did indeed grow up very poor. In response, I would tell you that neither pennilessness nor fortune makes the man, that neither one of these conditions is capable of changing the ideals towards which I strive. Additionally, it is important for you to understand that I do not speak of my childhood impoverishment with the expectation of a sympathetic ear. I'm not looking for pity. I do for myself and take responsibility for my own plight. What is out there is free for the taking. You must simply know what you want, and want it bad enough to get it.

Besides, no matter what a person’s condition, it's all a matter of perspective. Is your cup half empty or half full? My cup is overflowing, but I didn't always see it that way. Shit happens to people. Shit that can destroy you, or shit that you must eventually overcome. My situation started out pretty much average, but it ended up in the drudges of the filthiest crapper you could possibly imagine.

*...*...*

I will begin by saying that I was born in a place where the sun knows no mercy, where the weather is either unquestionably warm or scorching hot all year round. My family was poor, but life was good and we were happy--I was, at least. When I came to North America at the age of nine, we ended up in an area that looked a whole lot nicer than where we'd lived before, but from what I gathered later was really like living in the bowels of the richest country on earth.

Admittedly, I grew up on the underprivileged side of town, in a medium-sized city, in the end unit of a row of derelict townhouses, next to a train yard, and about one block from a huge electrical station. I was the third of four children to immigrant parents
-two hard working factory laborers who were happy to find steady jobs on the greatest continent that the world supposedly has to offer. We moved here because my father said we'd have a chance at a better life, but things didn't pan out quite the way he promised.

When I was eleven--two years after being uprooted from the only place I'd known as home--both my mother and younger sister died in a fire at our house, a fire that for a long while after, my father blamed me for causing. It didn't happen quite the way he thought, but then, he wasn't home at the time. Where was he? Good question! He was out with one of his women friends--an infirmity that our move had only encouraged--and I guess it made him feel better to tell himself and everyone else, that the fire was my fault.

I remember that day like it has been bonded to my brain matter with the strength of a million bottles of epoxy. The nightmare began late in the evening of September 22nd, shortly after midnight. My father was out gallivanting as he'd made a habit of doing a couple of nights a week, carousing with one of a few women he kept on the side. My siblings and I used to speculate that he would meet them at work, or on the street, or anywhere for that matter, though none of us ever really knew for sure. Wherever he was, and whatever he was doing, he wasn't at home. As for the rest of us, my brothers and sister were asleep and my mother was in her room with her door closed. I'd already been tucked into bed (my Mama doing that even to us big boys), but I'd since gotten up to go to the bathroom.

The moment I slid off my mattress, I could smell it--the stench of blackened toast, smelly socks, and frying electrical wires all combined into one frightening emission. For some weird reason, I thought it best not to disturb Mama until I knew without a doubt that there was a problem, so I headed into the hall to see what was going on. I didn't need to take more than one step outside of my bedroom and I immediately walked into a thin cloud of smoke.

Like a zombie being called by its master, I took to the stairs, and with each tread, it got harder and harder to breathe, harder and harder to see. We didn't have anything as sophisticated as a smoke detector in those days, and by the time I'd reached the bottom, I saw that flames were already roaring uncontrollably throughout the living room and into the kitchen. When I called for help, I hadn't more than opened my mouth and I felt my mother by my side clutching my shoulders.

“Go! Go! Let's get the others!” she shrieked, pushing me up the steps. As it was, Daniel and Kevin had heard the commotion already and as we were racing towards their room, they were racing towards us. Haplessly, we slammed headlong into each other at the top of the stairs where there was a fumbling about of legs and arms amidst the murky grey air and more panic than I'd ever experienced in my life. My mother was shouting the loudest, “Daniel? Kevin? Are you both here?”

“I hurt my knee. I can’t get up!” Daniel cried, having fallen in the confusion.

“Hold on,” my mother said. “OK. Adrian. Kevin. Help your brother outside. I’m going to get your sister.”
Of course, we did as we were told and we did it quickly, grabbing Daniel under the arms and haphazardly making our way out the front door. Shuffling away from the building, we fully expected to see our mother and Claire close behind, but what should've taken two minutes to accomplish, took forever. They never came out.
My father returned home about half an hour after it all started, just as they were pulling my mother and sister’s lifeless bodies from the house. I can picture it still. My brothers and I were standing on the front lawn wrapped in blankets by some lady from down the street, crying and crying and crying, screaming occasionally for Mama and Claire to come out, to come back, to just be all right, sobbing and bawling and mumbling in a frenzy of fear and dread.
When Emmanuel Moreaux finally got home and got out of his car--walking slowly towards our trio of devastated forms--I thought for a moment that he was going to turn around, get back into his shitty old Honda and drive away. He just had that kind of look on his face--like it was too late, like the best parts of his life were gone, like there was no point in him sticking around. He didn't leave, though he paused for a lot longer than he should have.
“Are you Mr. Moreaux?” came a voice. He didn't answer; he just nodded his head, up and down, up and down, obviously in shock. Then suddenly, like someone had stabbed him in the back, he bolted straight toward the ambulance where they were preparing my mother’s body. He knew she was dead and not because of the plastic over her face. I'm sure he could feel it. Maybe he knew that something dreadful had occurred even before he pulled up to the house. Maybe that's what brought him home in the first place.
Whatever the case, he pushed the attendants to the side, flung himself over the gurney, and began smashing his fists into her corpse. As he pummeled her, I pictured her the way I like to keep her even now, with her youthful body and kind face, her beautiful smile, her luminous skin, her shiny hair, and her gentle and perceptive eyes. But then abruptly in my mind, her flesh began to smolder, burning up in the same fire that was still spitting at us from inside the house. I saw her frying and blistering before my very eyes until she eventually turned into a pile of ash and bone.
Once the emergency staff got my father to let go, he crumpled into a heap on the ground, grabbing at his head and rocking back and forth for a long, long time. The rest of that night and the next week and month are still a blur, some thirty odd years later. Somehow we managed to get through the funerals and the burials, and everything that goes along with the expiration of human life, but I don't really have a good recall of any of it.

*...*...*

After their deaths, home life was like living in a morgue, the absence of those two females having taken the spirit out of the rest of us--three young boys left with a single male parent, who, by necessity, had to work double shifts just to keep a roof over our heads and some food on the table.

When my father was at home, it was like he was trying to make up for lost time by hibernating in his pitch-black room, talking to Mama in the great beyond. We often heard him mumbling to himself when he thought we were downstairs watching television. And now that he's older, he doesn't even try to hide his eidolic conversations anymore. To him, my mother always has been and always will be, right there by his side.

At least (and I give him credit for this), my father had the acumen to keep up with his faith, and he made sure that we visited our sanctum of salvation every Sunday where the communal spinsters and widows took my brothers and I under their wings. Those ladies became our surrogate mothers, and I thanked God for them sending the staples of nutrition in baskets--rice, meat, and salads--whenever they thought we looked a little too skinny. They also collected used clothes, dropping off garbage bag after garbage bag of old sweaters, too big jeans and worn-out sneakers onto the concrete steps of our townhouse.

If it hadn't been for the fellowship at our church, I would've ended up dead; I truly believe that. It was because of their unqualified support however that my brothers and I survived, prospered, and even had a chance to go to college. For that, the church women rounded up enough money through fundraisers and donations to give us a good head start at paying for tuition and books at our district facility of higher learning.

Even with the aid of the church though, my shattered childhood didn't set the tone for a very promising future. After the fire, I had a lot of anger to deploy, and at school, I picked fights with other kids for no reason, giving and receiving more black eyes than you could count. I was a bully to some and a punching bag for others, suddenly one of the bad kids.

At home, the scenario wasn't much better. Before the deaths of my mother and sister, we'd been quite close, but after, it was all we could do to remain civil in each other’s presence. Without my father around, things got pretty brutal, a typical evening usually starting with some kind of snide or negative comment made by Daniel.

“What the hell? You couldn’t have saved a little milk for someone else? You don’t think about anybody but yourself.” That was generally how it began, with him complaining about something trivial. Once he got started, things escalated until one of us ended up hurt or until our dad came home.

“I’m coming over there to watch TV, so move.” “You jerk! Get your ass out of my spot.”
At that point in the conversation, after things had begun to deteriorate, Kevin would jump in. “You two are so pathetic. Why don’t you both just leave home? It would save us all the hassle.”
“Yeah, you heard him. You should just leave. So go get your stuff and get out. Move the hell away. I don’t want to look at your ugly face anymore.”
“He was talking to you, stupid Adrian.”
“Shut up the both of you.”
“I don’t have to listen to you. You’re not my mother.”
Talk like this was common around our house, but the part about “my mother” was a slip and it got to us all. It put a stop to the conversation that particular night and for two whole weeks after. That’s how it was most of the time though. It was awful.
During those dark days, I wondered if I'd ever pull through, if we'd ever be a family again, and if I'd ever have a normal life. And things were looking pretty bleak for me, when something popped out from underneath the dryer in the basement one rainy afternoon.
The dryer was broken like most of the stuff we owned and I was banging around with my father’s tools trying to fix the damn thing. Finally, after about half an hour of frustration, I put a big dent in the door with my shoe, kicking it about ten times. As it jolted back toward the wall, I noticed a shiny bit of silver glinting up from amidst the big pile of dust that littered the floor.
Bending down to take a closer look, I realized exactly what it was. It was my mother’s long lost locket--a piece of antique jewelry that'd been passed down through the generations from my grandmother and from her mother before. As I sat on the concrete gazing at my newly found treasure, I remembered searching for it with my siblings, by my calculations about one month before the fire.
To the others who carried it--my kinfolk--the small, argentate trinket was a token of solidarity and strength, and to my mother, who kept it on her person or knew of its exact whereabouts at all times, it represented both of those things. It was beautiful--silver, inlaid with a few diamonds on the front and inscribed with the initials of its original owner on the back.
As the story went, the locket had belonged to one of my mother’s distant relatives--a house slave--who had stolen it as retribution against her white master. Apparently, the piece of jewelry had been given by the plantation owner to his wife as a present on their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, a gift that was also meant to mask a hidden affair between the white man and my distant cognate.
Hundreds of years later, after I discovered it, I took the locket up to my room (leaving the dryer to rot) and I lay down on my bed. Then, slipping one hand behind my head, I tightly clasped the silver pendant to my chest and closed my eyes. All of a sudden, visions of my mother and sister hovered over me, their ghostly arms reaching down to touch my face. Happy to have them back, I smiled and said hello. It was the first time in a long time that I'd thought about them in a peaceful manner, without smoke and flames engulfing their bodies.
“It’s going to be OK,” I heard my mother whisper. “You must live Adrian. Live for us.” It was at that precise moment that things turned around for me somewhat. Afterwards, whenever I needed my mother’s help, I clutched the necklace tight, allowing the shape of the cool metal to imprint onto the suppleness of my palm. Miraculously, that simple act would bring her back.
To me, the locket was a sign that my mother would always be there, and in that respect, it kept me safe from the demons that threatened to haunt me on a daily basis. It made the passage of time bearable, and I took her cue and tried to enter back into the world of the happy living. I never told another soul about my treasure, keeping it hidden at the bottom of my sock drawer in a small, leather pouch that I later found at a flea market. As for that proverbial cup, mine wasn't half full yet, but at least it was not spilling its contents all over the table.
The locket was my saving grace and not only did it help to mend the broken part of my spirit, it did something else as well. Without a broken spirit, my mind was free to wander you see, and it ended up in the same place as the minds of the rest of the boys my age--in a seething pool of fornication. The locket set my brain to conjuring up ideas about sex between the races, and it all began with that slave girl and her white master. I wanted to know what their union would have been like, what the two of them actually looked like together.
Admittedly, I'd heard the narrative many times before regarding who'd stolen the necklace and why, but as a young boy, I'd never really given it much thought. After its discovery however, at the ripe age of sixteen, that heart-shaped pendent sparked the inception of a whole slew of daydreams in my already overactive imagination. The story came back to me and scenes of a white man having his way with a black woman suddenly overtook my consciousness.
It was strange though. At that stage in my life, I'd only ever seen two black people in an affectionate embrace, like when I'd witnessed my father and mother kiss, or when they'd stolen a more intimate moment, my father pressing up behind her while she did the dishes.
Sure, I'd occasionally spotted a white couple holding hands on the street, or observed them making out on one of the soap operas my mother was prone to watching, but I'd never actually witnessed firsthand two people of different races doing anything even remotely sexual, and never once had I contemplated a black person and a white person actually getting it on. It just wasn't something that was a part of my universe--until then, that is.
And so, together in my daydreams, my lovers engaged in all kinds of wild shenanigans, tricks that only a teenage boy could dream up. Sitting in class, I pictured those two people bound at the hip--their arms a pair of discharging wires, flailing and lunging, the contrasting hues of their bodies winding together like the stripes of a candy cane. I imagined them trading spit and twining tongues, his thin lips swallowed up by the fullness of hers, and I envisioned his throbbing, melanoid penis penetrating her dewy pink vagina.
I thought of it all, and when I was finished with those two people--the black woman and the white man--thoughts of the past turned into thoughts of the present. I took my fantasies to the next level, changing and rearranging the players until eventually I'd become the main character of my fantastical dramas.
In my mind, my white lover was everywhere: crouching forward in the desk ahead of me at school, handing back my change at the corner store, driving the bus, opening the church door, etc. etc. They all needed me, and in my dreams they trembled beneath my dark brown torso, their creamy thighs pinned open by my chocolate-colored hands, their sun-kissed flesh writhing helplessly as I pushed myself deep inside each and every one of their pallid forms.
I wondered if white girls had the same physiology as black girls. Not that I knew much about black girls, but I made the comparison anyway. Did black breasts and white breasts look and feel the same? Did black girls and white girls have the same skin texture, and were their nipples the same color? What happened when you touched a white girl’s pussy? Did it get just as wet, or maybe wetter than her darker counterpart? Did both races make the same sorts of noises when they reached that wondrous transpiration called orgasm? I had a million and one questions, but no one to give me the answers. Did women even have orgasms? Of that, I wasn't quite sure. I knew that boys did, having experienced enough of those myself thanks to the efforts of my right hand. The innerworkings of women--both black and white--was something I'd yet to encounter.
As the days and years progressed, I went to school, hung out with my friends, played some sports, and did what most other guys my age liked to do, with the exception of one thing. As a young man, even though I thought about girls incessantly, I didn't actually date any. I couldn't bring myself to get that close to them, subconsciously believing that if I got attached to a female, she too would get burnt up, disappearing in a puff of smoke and a heap of ashes.
I avoided black girls especially. To me, they all resembled my mother or my sister, and seeing them in someone who wasn't the genuine person, only reminded me that they were never really coming back. That concept was like a specter--an evil ghost that only brought tears to my eyes-- and I found that if I somehow kept them tucked away in that special place in my heart, far away from the world of dating, then the living was much better.
Not wanting to date girls didn't curb my desire for sex however. My nether regions were still itching for some satisfaction. Besides, the girls liked me. They said that I was a good-looking boy with a friendly smile, and--when I managed to keep my temper--an agreeable nature. Thus the trick for me was figuring out how to fulfill my physical needs without getting caught up in a relationship.
Oh, I'd heard the lectures in health class advocating abstinence and promoting the use of condoms if you just couldn't hold yourself back. Mr. Brown had shown the requisite movies explaining how babies were made, but no teacher had ever spoken about how to avoid getting bogged down by the emotions of a liaison. My father wasn't much help either. He was always too busy hibernating up in his bedroom talking to my mother’s ghost.
No, it was my older brothers and their esteemed friends who took it upon themselves to prescribe the secret to my success. “Yeah, women, they can be difficult. All you really need to know is one thing. Women want men to take control. You just gotta take it, man.” My brother’s friend Junior thought himself a true aficionado, and he would drone on and on about the subject. But Junior must've had to take it, because although he said he'd been with lots, the girls seemed to run in the opposite direction whenever he came around.
My brother Daniel on the other hand, was concise and to the point in this regard. “You’ll figure it out kid. Just make sure you use a condom.” Again with the condoms-that was the best I got. Thus, I was left to make my own way in the world of love and sex. Luckily, my mother had shared some of her wisdom before her untimely demise, telling me to be kind to girls, to respect and treat them as equals, and to judge them on their inner selves, not on their outer appearances. Those notions must've stayed with me, because I never listened to what the other boys had to say.
Granted, it took me a while, but my first venture into the coital realm was with a slightly older woman. She was twenty-one and I was eighteen. At that point, my hormones had been operating in overdrive for years, those same hormones having never cared an ounce that my mother and sister were dead. I knew then that I needed to allow a woman past my defenses because my hand was damn near ready to fall off. So when Tina, (and yes, she was one of the few white girls who lived in my neighborhood, and one of even fewer who inhabited my circle of friends), came on to me like gangbusters at a party, I bargained that she would be as good as any to do the job.
“Stop by my apartment around 4:00 p.m., and we’ll head out to the movies from there,” she suggested casually, though I knew from the hungry look in her eyes that she had an alternate plan. Just as I suspected, we never did make it to the theatre. When I got to her house, she was barely dressed. “Just finished a run,” she said. “Have to shower.”
“I’ll wait for you on the couch,” I replied, nervously tripping over the coffee table. “Take your time. The movie doesn’t start until 5:00.”
I was awaiting her next move when she poked her head around the bathroom door and flashed me some skin from underneath her towel. “Do you want a drink or something?”
“Or something...” I gulped. And that was all it took. She walked straight over, dropped the flimsy scrap of terrycloth from around her waist, and stood there for a moment, allowing me soak in the image of her naked body. At first glance, all I saw were her breasts with their raspberry nipples. My gaze lingered there for a while before traveling down to the junction of her thighs, to the thatch of auburn curls that barely covered her slit.
She too must've been eager and horny, because that was all I got in the way of preliminaries. No kissing, no petting, no fondling or touching of any sort. She just kneeled down, unzipped my pants and brusquely took out my penis. Of course I was rock hard, just the anticipation of ejaculating inside a woman almost enough to send me packing.
“Good. You’re ready for me,” she said, unrolling a condom onto my penis. She then turned around, spread her legs wide over mine, and installed my dick inside. The best I could do was to just sit there, stunned and silent, while she did all the work. I thought it smart to let things proceed that way since she seemed to be the one with the expertise. At least I assumed she had some. Apparently she had enough to get the job done.
When she sunk down onto me over and over, I remember it sounding a bit like a miniature toilet plunger, or like a rubber boot being repeatedly pulled from the mud, or something else extremely sloppy and wet. She pumped until eventually I grabbed her hips and pulled her down hard onto my lap, spurting inside her vagina with the force of a bursting water main. It was the only time I touched her. As impersonal as the transaction was though, I must say that I lasted longer than I expected, and even longer than she expected too. “You surprised me Adrian,” she stated when it was all over.
“Thanks, I think,” I said, unsure if she was complimenting me or not. After that day, we had sex a few more times and then we went our separate ways. Even though she wasn't the most romantic of sorts, she still wanted to be appreciated, and fucking a guy who was using her as a replacement for his own whack jobs probably wasn't the biggest turn on. She ended the affair after our third time together. I can't say that I lost any sleep over it.
When I finally headed off to college, I was exposed to even more females, most of which didn't have the brown skin or brown eyes that I was still sidestepping at all costs. I'd gotten somewhat comfortable with white women at least, and so saying, my future was set.

*...*...*

My ex-girlfriend Shana--also the mother of my beautiful daughter Sophie--was what you might call a “standard” in the white community. She had shoulder length brown hair, and a pretty face with a dimple on one side. She was moderately intelligent, having attended the same community college I did (which I guess makes me moderately intelligent as well), and she ended up with a decent job as a respiratory technician. She is a good mother to Sophie, and really, that's all I care about anyway.

Shana grew up in a middle class neighborhood with a single mother and a younger sister, her father having split when she was twelve. She lived in a house with the proverbial white picket fence, a single car garage, and flowerbeds filled with tulips in the spring and pansies in the summer. What made her stand out for me before I actually spoke to her, was her derriere--the same bobbling and fleshy behind that probably took her down a couple of notches by the axioms of attractiveness in the Caucasian world.

We met one day in psychology class where we sat next to each other, sharing paper and notes, gum and ideas. Our friendly banter led to lengthier chats, and later, to a few lunch dates at the campus student centre. Getting to know Shana was easy and safe, and we became fast friends. But although we hung out and discussed our day-to-day experiences, conversation between us never got too deep. We always kept it to the “how was your weekend, did you finish your essay on time, did you see that car accident on the way to school, the weather has been crazy lately” kind of stuff.

After a while, even though our relationship was more chummy than anything else, it seemed logical for it to turn into something more. We both liked each other; we were both single and we were both looking for some sort of physical companionship. That was the way things went. We became lovers as well as friends.

Sex with Shana was enjoyable. When we did it, I always came out feeling satisfied and content. She got me off and I did the same for her. I will admit however, when I found out that she was expecting a child, I was less than thrilled. A baby was not something that we'd discussed and definitely not something that we'd planned. We'd always taken the necessary precautions, but then a man can only do so much. If a woman wants to get pregnant, she will, and I believe that Shana wanted that baby to happen. I think she'd hoped it might open me up a little and keep me around more, because I will concede, I worked a lot back then. I still do. I loved Shana but I wasn't disposed to being with her twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

By the time I'd reached my twenties--when Shana and I met--I'd outgrown my trouble-making phase and regained confidence in most aspects of my life. I know that finding the locket helped me out, but in the ways of love, I was still walking in a shadow of fear. So whether it was subconscious or not, I kept Shana at a distance and with the exception of getting pregnant, she never tried to push for more. She just waited for me to change. She waited for me to take her by the hand and pull her inside my zone, and when I didn't, she packed her bags.

You must realize that Shana was the type of woman who wanted me to do all the work--not physically mind you, like mopping the floors and changing the diapers--but mentally. I had to chase her, pamper her, and compliment her. She was the girl who expected the flowers and the cards on a regular basis, the type of girl who had to be told a hundred times a day that she was pretty. But while Shana needed to be babied and rewarded simply for existing, I was still wandering around in the dark, searching for myself in many ways. I was in no position to lead anyone anywhere, even ten years after the fire.

So ultimately, Shana left for one main reason I suppose: the disconnect. I don't think that she honestly understood my lifestyle, my propensity for work or my desire to always go beyond what was sufficient for sustaining us as a family. When she told me that she was leaving town, taking our daughter and going to live with another man no less, I wasn't really surprised. It was almost as if I'd expected it, maybe even wanted it.

That didn't take away any of the pain however. I was left numb. I'd tried with her
-damn hard, or so I thought. I'd given her everything a woman could want: a nice house, nice clothes, and a beautiful child. I'd treated her with respect and caring, and for the most part, we got along. Our lovemaking was never cataclysmic, but then I didn't think that for me, it ever would be. I asked her to stay, but I wasn't about to plead. So she left, near the end of September on the anniversary of the fire. Now that hurt. It was a cold move I thought, but I was forced to take that bitter pill, and it roiled around in my stomach, rankling my attitude for a long while after.

Because of what happened with Shana, I came to believe that pretty brunettes with flushed cheeks and Barbie-doll blondes could never be satisfied, not with any man, no matter how well-off or well-endowed, regardless of his maturity level or willingness to adapt. It was all just part of the white North American attitude, women who changed their men like they changed their shoes. I told myself that white women were inconstant and wavering--the winds of self- absorption and apathy--and I proclaimed that any man who actually took one of them as his partner would have to be willing to put up with that crap. I also told myself that those bloodless and transparent vixens deserved to be slammed into one giant book of abomination, and I openly declared, to both family and friends (and to the odd stranger on the street) that none of them would ever get their claws into me again.

I was done with trying to break through the race barrier, done with trying to please females who were incapable of contentment. After Shana, I swore off white women forever and that put me back at square one, staring into the face of the black Madonna, or, from where I stood, waiting to dive into the fires of hell itself. Nonetheless, I was prepared to get a handle on my situation. I was ready to date all those chocolate and caramel-colored women that my friends had been telling me about for years.

What happened to Shana and my daughter? Don’t worry. I’m not one of those deadbeat dads. I take care of Sophie and I remain on a friendly basis with Shana. I knew immediately after she left that we would never get back together, but Sophie’s welfare depends on our ability to stay civil, and so we do. After her departure, I dated on and off. Another five years passed and that is when I met Isabelle.

Green, Red and White All Over

I was born a Virgo--a September baby conceived from a passionate New Year’s Eve romp and expelled from my mother’s womb during the season of colorful leaves and apple picking As a kid, I lived in an average-sized city, in a clean house with ample food, surrounded by a nurturing family that genuinely cared about my wellbeing.

As the only girl in a lot full of boys, I learned the ways of the world from the men I adored, riding shotgun until the age of thirteen--when my gangling limbs would no longer fit--in a rusty, old wheelbarrow through the fields of my grandparents’ garden. I happily obliged when the old man pulled carrots from the dirt, brushed them off on his overalls, and handed them to me for a taste. For countless hours, I recall sitting on his stoop, perched high up on his lap, watching the storms of summer roll past, sharing in bowls of strawberries and unpasteurized cream, and listening as he crooned the songs of his youthful days.

My grandfather was a man’s man, full of charisma, athleticism, and quiet strength. He was well liked by everyone, but what impressed me the most was how he allowed me--the only girl out of eight grandchildren--to control the majority of his attention. It was all about the eternal ticking clock, and my grandpa always lavished me with his time in endless amounts. Thinking back, I realize now that when we were together, we didn't speak to each other much; we just observed the world going by one dragonfly at a time, enjoying the peace of our shared moments.

Now, when I wasn't lollygagging with my grandpa, my own father kept me very busy. As the daughter of a hard-working and enthusiastic teacher, I spent a good portion of my vacations sprawled out on institutional white floors, cutting out letters for bulletin boards, and setting up workstations for the batch of new students that would stream into his classroom at the start of each academic term. Unlike my grandpa--his father--my dad was a talker and I was his sounding board.

Let it be known that my father was also a rebel. His philosophies about life both inside and outside the classroom were not those of the mainstream, and he ruffled more feathers than you can imagine with his new and innovative teaching methodologies. Back in the days when teachers supposedly knew everything and students supposedly knew nothing, back in the days of overhead projectors, note-taking, and standardized tests, my father functioned in a land outside the box. In his approach to holistic erudition, he strived to include the realms of the social, philosophical and emotional self. Furthermore, he was a firm believer that there was more to learning than what was found in a textbook, and he postulated that children had the capacity to teach themselves, other students and even their own headmasters, if given the opportunity.

It was his opinion that the curriculum of the time stunted students’ capacity for creativity and adaptability in an ever-changing world. He did his best to alter these modalities of education however, in whatever small ways he could, and I did my duty by listening with perky ears as he tried out his ideas on me, acting as his guinea pig and unaffected advisor in all things scholarly throughout my childhood years.

Of course there was life beyond study hall in my house, my father also schooling me in the ways of society at large and my place as a young woman in it. I absorbed his advice on boys, and how not to let them take advantage, on girls, and how to maintain a sense of self in a big, bad, and male-dominated culture, and finally, on how to create a fair and loving relationship between the two.

And although my father took his job as the consummate teacher very seriously, my experiences with him were never boring. He was a kid in his own right who wore suspenders and rubber boots to the grocery store, who donned long johns in the summer, and who shaved his head for the fun of it even when it wasn't the cool thing to do. He was definitely outlandish, and with him, I was free to explore the unbalanced side of my existence.

Besides all of that, my father was the best storyteller ever, spinning never-ending yarns about screwball scenarios such as the donkey parade in Rio, or his alleged attack by a wild boar during his trip to Brazil. Yes, Bill Weston was good at holding my attention for hours on end, and he had a knack for making me laugh until my belly ached.

On a slightly negative note, my father was also an expert at asking questions, often ones that I refused to answer. Nothing was ever off limits as far as he was concerned, and as the years progressed, he pushed my brain to respond at an increasingly higher and more observant level.

Now, I don't want you to think that there were only men in my life. There were women too--women who had very close relationships to those men. My mother and father for instance, were as devoted to each other as any two people could be--best friends who went everywhere and did everything together.

Speaking of my mother, she was a nurse, not to mention a product of the 1960’s, who loved to discuss sex in its myriad of approaches. With her, the questions were expected to come from me, though I didn't often rejoice in her open-mindedness. But with Carole Weston (she preferred that I call her Carole) it was certainly an option if I ever needed it.

My grandmothers and aunts, on the other hand, fit the stereotypical feminine mould. They were ladies who wore aprons, who cooked three meals a day, who looked after the multitudes of children that they bore, who doted on their partners hand and foot, and who put themselves at the end of the familial priority list. They were also available anytime I needed them, in case I wanted to learn how to bake a cake or stitch a hem, though for the most part, I chose not to partake in that sort of stuff either.

Really, I preferred hanging out with the men of the family, and that was OK too. You could say that I was a daughter of privilege, and as a result, I flourished. The measure of my success didn’t translate into social ascendancy however. It manifested itself in academics.

I grew up a bit of a nerd, too smart for the cool kids, but thankfully not a complete outcast. I wore glasses as thick as coke bottles, and my hair resembled a dried-out hay bale. My pants were perennially too short for my long legs, and although I lacked a sense of style, at least I was acne free. What saved me from being called names like “four eyes” and “dork face” (and this is only speculation on my part) was that I never bragged about my intelligence.

As girl, being smart and proud of it would've been very bad for my social status. No one wants to be shunned by his or her peers, and as a means of prevention, I attempted to hide as an average student. I made sure that no one ever saw my test scores, or heaven forbid, got a hold of one of my report cards. Surely, I would never have been named prom queen of my high school, but I managed to fit in, and that was all I ever really wanted back then anyway.

As a teenager, you might wonder if I had any sort of romantic life. Admittedly, as a sexual being, I was definitely a late bloomer. Oh, I'd noticed boys as early as third grade if I remember correctly, crushing on a few in the fastidious and obsessive manner to which I am prone. But I remained pure and virginal right up until the end of my high school days when my hormones came crashing in like a tidal wave, washing away any thoughts of good grades or concern for my impending university career.

Thankfully though, I'd secured my status as a scholar, and even with my lapse in study habits, I managed to prevent a total academic catastrophe. My grades never dropped more than two percent and I was accepted into the program of my choice at a prestigious university close to home. It was in that fateful year however that I really let loose, at least as loose as a “club eighty-fiver” ever could. It was then that I officially connected with my premier love--Matthew Joshua Emit Williamson Jr.--and when I finally got a peek at what it meant to be a woman.

*...*...*

From the very first time I saw him in my sixth grade classroom with Mrs. McKenzie yelling at him for throwing an eraser at someone's head, I was certain that Matt was the kind of guy I would remember forever. He just had “it”, even way back then.

What was ‘it’ about an eleven-year old boy that could be so awe-inspiring, you ask? First, I will tell you what “it” was not. It wasn't the style of his hair or the label on his jeans. It had nothing to do with how smart or stupid he may have been, and it surely didn't involve his parent’s bank account. It pertained to carriage and confidence, and his way with people. That's about it.

As a boy, it appeared that he felt good about himself. Furthermore, it didn't seem that he was afraid of anyone or anything. I knew it; the other girls knew it, and every other boy on the playground had either witnessed or been directly involved in events that supported this theory. On more than one afternoon, the whispers of an after school fight spread through the halls like a wildfire on a windy day, with our boy in question as one half of the main event. He wasn't just a bully though. He was a bully with a conscience, fighting only in defense of some poor soul or for the protection of our school’s reputation. He had balls for sure and I reckoned that one day, they would get him somewhere.

As you might imagine, I dreamt daily of my bad boy from the age of eleven on up, but there was a daunting predicament that kept us apart--we ran with two completely different crowds. In high school, he spent his spares playing blackjack in the cafeteria, and I spent mine in the library. He played sports; I studied. Thus, Matt and I didn't really come into serious contact with each other until the end of high school, when my friends were, through some weird twist of fate, his friends as well. Once we actually started talking however, it was obvious that we had a palpable affiliation. Yours truly--miss goody two shoes--was about to get lucky.

I don't remember the minutia from those good, old teenage years. The exact smell of my inaugural lover’s breath, the shape of his lips and the modulation of his laugh have all gone to a place where such treasured memories will remain for all eternity. And even though I can't recall exactly how the angles and planes of his face were arranged, there are some elements about our time together that I've never lost. The first memory involves the particulars of the night I surrendered my virginity, which, as it just so happens, occurred on the exact same calendar day as the day of my very own conception--New Year’s Eve.

This odd bit of data could be proof that kismet does exist, or it could be just another random occurrence in this giant adventure we call life. I believe it to be the former however as such coincidences seem to chance upon me like honeybees on a hive. Incidents and details from the past seem to turn up for me again and again in the future only in slightly altered and twisted forms. Weird I know, but that's simply the way things have always been.

We hooked up at a party on that special evening of celebratory hysteria, December 31st. I'd come home from university for the Christmas holidays when a friend of a friend invited my best girl Jen and I to what was supposed to be the season’s most rockin’ bash that our little hometown had to offer.

As I'm sure you've already gathered, Jen and I weren’t the biggest of socialites, and I will concede by stating that this party was likely to be our only option for an end of the year thrill. Presumably, we may have ended up spending the midnight hour alone in Pizza Hut. Worse case scenario would have had us sitting at home with my parents watching the big ball drop over Dick Clark’s head. So what did we do? You guessed it. We made the decision to honor our invitation. To be honest though, it was more Jen’s idea than mine. I was merely going along for the ride.

“You should live dangerously for once,” Jen said. “If it sucks, we can always leave.”
“OK,” I replied tentatively, not sure if going to a party would really be better than sharing popcorn and apple cider with my mom and dad.
Sure enough, it was always Jen who was the more adventurous and delinquent of the two of us, if you could even call her that. She was the one who skipped calculus class on a regular basis to have sex with her boyfriend, and she was the one who cheated on her science tests by sitting behind someone the likes of me. The most reprehensible thing I ever did was to let Jen cheat on her science test by sitting in front of her, but that was an isolated incident. Afterwards, I felt so guilty that I told her to find someone else to do her dirty business. She laughed and said, “Don’t worry Isabelle, deep down inside you're just a really good person, and that's why I love you!”
Having set our sights on the party, I will admit that I wasn't expecting to see anyone in particular there. I'd figured it to be an evening of senseless banter with a bunch of people who were either too drunk or too high to realize that neither Jen nor I were ever really part of their crowd in the first place. You could say that I'd planned to do something out of character for once, though after you hear the rest of the story, you will see that my wayward behavior was destined to escalate.
When we arrived at 32 Inglewood Crescent, we were greeted by a girl--probably someone a grade or two below us in school-- throwing up in the front garden of a very nice suburban bungalow. It was obvious at that moment that no parents were to be in attendance at the party, and we were left alone to find our way inside. Once we got past the pile of vomit strewn all over the flagstone steps, we moved into a smoke-filled living room.
“Yeah, man. The real party is downstairs.” Those prophetic words came from a guy flaked out on the couch, a beer bottle in one hand, a huge reefer in the other, and a cloud of smoke around his head so thick that you could barely differentiate his long greasy hair from his hat.
“I can’t imagine what the real party is going to be that we haven’t already seen,” Jen giggled as we stepped over a heap of coats and headed down the hall. Pushing our way down the stairwell, we passed a handful of guys and girls making out, and more people smoking--a great combination of marijuana and cigarette with the addition of what could faintly be detected as the aroma of excited female.
It was onward to the "real" party, to the basement filled with more bodies lounging, more people smoking, petting, drinking, laughing, dancing, and a couple of guys hanging around a giant pool table. When Jen and I scanned the room for familiar faces, I was shocked to see Matt’s athletic form standing unaffectedly against a makeshift bar. Jen saw him two seconds after I did.
“Look who it is!” she screamed over the heavy thrashing of a Metallica song.
“Yeah!” I yelled back.
“Are you going to talk to him?”
“No. Yes. Well, maybe, but not yet anyway. Let’s get something to drink first.” Spending the next twenty minutes standing in the corner of the large rectangular room, we sipped on some beers that the friend of a friend had brought, and I watched him. I knew that Matt had been dating someone on and off for a couple of years, but that night, it appeared he'd come alone.
We never did great each other formally, but in the din of that basement space, through the smoke from a quite few joints, we traded looks back and forth. Barely one word came between us over the course of the three-hour soiree, but somehow we managed to convey the shameless longing that coursed through each of our bodies, playing the game of seductress and playboy quite well for two underage paramours.
On more than one occasion, during a drawn out game of snooker, he prodded the long smooth handle of his pool cue in between my thighs as I wiggled past him and his crew. In response, I knocked out a few sultry homeruns of my own with the requisite hair tossing, eyelid batting, and body accentuating strokes, all to which he paid great attention. In a manner far from innocent, I played with the buttons on my blouse, undoing the top one, fluttering the brushed cotton to catch a breeze, and refastening it. I performed these, and as many other tricks as I knew, in an attempt to get him to notice my stirring passion. And it worked. By the end of the night, when the partygoers were either passed out or heading home, I was overjoyed to find myself parked next to him on the dank cushions of an old futon.
But wait just a second, you say. That doesn’t sound anything like the girl you've described yourself to be. True enough, it wasn't my typical character, but that's what a couple of drinks will do for a person who'd never partaken in anything stronger than carbonated grape juice before.
“Hey. Great party, huh?” Matt smirked.
“Yeah, really great, but it’s over,” I replied sarcastically, watching as he slid his hands anxiously in and out of his pockets.
Over the years, we'd become acquainted, as it was that everyone knew everyone else in a high school the size of ours. Even before we'd spoken face-to-face, whenever we were in any sort of close proximity, there always seemed to be a definite steam that rose up between us--a whooshing blast of air like from those giant, iron presses at the dry cleaners. When Jen started dating a friend of Matt’s, our contact took on more intimate proportions, and we'd gone out a few times before that New Year’s Eve, when he'd claimed to be a single man.
When I went off to university however, there were no long good-byes or tears of sorrow. We'd yet to make it to the land of coupledom and the terms on which I left were fairly casual. Our time away from each other hadn't extinguished the embers that glowed between us though and that night the inferno was just getting started. So there we were, eyeballing each other when suddenly, Matt blurted, “Wanna come over to my house? My parents are out of town and my brother is having a party."
“Ummm,” I was dumbfounded by the suggestion.
“I’m sure lots of people will still be there. It is New Year’s Eve after all.”
Of course, I knew what “going over to his house” really meant, and I was eager for the event to proceed for two reasons. One, I desperately wanted to lose my virginity--I was a freshman in college after all--and two, I desperately wanted to lose my virginity to this specific guy. So I checked in with Jen, and Matt and I took off.
Upon arriving at his house, we were greeted by an almost identical scene to the one we'd just left, with the same loud music blasting out the front door and cars lined up and down the street. As we made our way inside, we also found the same assortment of partygoers in the same sorts of poses and arrangements--including Matt’s brother planted face down on the sofa. “Don’t mind him,” Matt snorted, “He’s always like that. A real party animal!” He then took my hand and led me up the stairs to his bedroom.
When the door clicked shut, the finality of it all hit me and I was terrified. I accepted my own incompetence however, stood stock still, and let Matt take the lead. “Come over here,” he summoned, patting the bed with his wide-open palm. Moving closer to him, I still wasn't sure that I should've been there in the first place. Matt, conversely, not willing to take a chance that I might leave, reached over, grabbed my wrist, and pulled me in so that my belly button lined up with his nose. “I’m not going to bite. You should know that by now,” he laughed fiendishly. Then, like it was the most logical next step, he asked, “Do you want to see something?”
Naively, I thought that by asking if I wanted to see something, he meant that he was going to whip out his cock and get me to suck it. Instead, he pulled a shiny booklet from between his bed frame and his wardrobe. “Here, take a look. Do you like this kind of stuff?” It was a porn magazine that he'd flipped open to a page with a dark haired girl being taken from behind by a very skinny and bald white guy.
I'd never seen anything like it before, having only subscribed to nature and science periodicals, and it was at that moment that I understood how very different Matt and I really were. I did my best not to look completely stunned, but I knew that he saw the all too apparent geek in me. “Wow! Interesting...” I mumbled.
“Do you want to try that?” He kept the hard questions coming.
“Ummm, I guess. Though shouldn’t we kiss first?” It was all too methodical and systematic. For my first time, I'd anticipated being so swept away, so involved in the petting and foreplay, that the insertion of the penis part was almost inadvertent. As brainy and unpracticed as I was, I was still a girl who longed to be seduced, not just callously plugged and forgotten. With Matt proposing that I bend over and let him shove it in like we were some kind of mechanical sex machine, I was taken aback, and after my kissing question, he got the message.
“OK, let’s see if you taste as good as you look,” he proclaimed, tossing aside the raunchy manual and dragging me into his arms. When our bodies converged, all my doubts and fears vanished. This full on contact with the male of the species blew me away, and I was sure I could detect every sinuous fiber in that boy’s body. As he moved around me, it was like being fondled by the proverbial octopus, his hands like groping tentacles. Lifting and unfastening clothes, he caressed me into oblivion.
I don't recall if we ever kissed directly on the lips that night, but when he dipped into my underwear--after having already pulled off my jeans--time stopped. I remember sitting on his lap, facing away from his still fully clothed physique, my legs spread wide as he reached at me from behind. Slipping the crotch of my panties to one side, he smoothed his fingers over my vulva and out onto the quivering flesh of my inner thighs, every once in a while, stopping to pinch my throbbing clitoris. When I was about ready to lose my mind however, he pushed me off and snatched at the magazine again. “Here, read it.” It was an order.
Beyond furthering the inquiry into his intentions, I lay down on my belly, opened to a random page and began with the first passage that came into focus. “Kimmy was a slut. She liked to be fucked in all the dirty ways she knew how--in her pussy, up the ass, like a dog, on her back, legs spread wide. She liked it all, and she liked to suck cock too. Sucking cock was one of her favorites.” As I read, Matt seized my hips and hauled my bum into the air, his breath warm on my tailbone. Lucky for me, with all of my hard work at school, my literary skills were unwavering. “Kimmy wrapped her warm lips around his cock, licking it up and down, and up and down...” I paused briefly when Matt pulled at the elastic waistband of my panties, slid them over my trembling cheeks, and pulled them down to my knees. “She moved her wet tongue,“ I continued while he opened me with his fingers, preparing for penetration.
The scraping of his zipper as he freed himself sounded like a military jet passing, and when he nudged up against my hole and pushed his penis in a fraction of an inch, I froze. Not met with a brick wall or screams of dismay, he then dipped and withdrew, dipped and withdrew, until he was submerged deep within my folds.
I should mention that Matt’s was the first male organ I'd ever seen in the flesh, and in the handful of instances I made its acquaintance, I knew that it was larger than most. It looked like a stuffed workman’s sock--the woolen kind with the red stripe around the top--that thick and about that long. And even though I never felt pain the first time-only a sensation of fullness and distension--I prayed that I was not getting torn up when his pubic hair began chafing at my bottom.
“Touch yourself,” he said, though I barely heard the words. Busy bracing for war, my elbows were hidden in the mattress, my hands shredding the edges of the magazine. “Keep reading and rub on your clit with your fingertips. I’m going to cum soon.” Just as an aside, I am amazed now, from the point of view of a woman who has been with more than one mature male in her lifetime, that my teenage lover had both the incite and the concern to even suggest this simple trick.
Doing what I was told, the contractions of my vagina began to increase--my body egging him on--and with a clap of both palms against the sides of my rear, he shoved himself in as far as possible, his hips stuttering as he discharged into my newly initiated vagina. Even with his insider tip though, my orgasm didn't happen.
When he pulled out, I immediately turned to get a look at his penis, amazed at what two bodies could accomplish. And even though it was slick with the blood of my ruptured hymen, he didn't blink an eye. He just got up, snuck over to the washroom across the hall, and brought back a damp cloth and towel. If I'd thought that Matt was cold and heartless when we first started, he sure made up for his lack of caring after by washing me off himself, and taking his time to thoroughly pat me dry. He then drove me home and sent me to bed with a passionate, “I can’t wait for this to happen again” kind of kiss. I was left to sleep off the affects of the alcohol and our romp, tucked safely within the covers of my own bed.
I must confess, as smart as I was, I didn’t insist on using protection. I didn't even think of it. Keep in mind that this happened when AIDS had yet to proliferate drastically into the heterosexual community, and after a brief pregnancy scare about two weeks later, I bought a pack of condoms to keep in my purse. Even with this small slipup however, I would venture to guess that my first sexual encounter was fairly good by most people’s standards. Unquestionably, I will always remember and cherish the particulars of that night.
There’s another recollection of my time with Matt that I must tell you about because of the sheer coincidence that it had with another very important moment in my life. Naturally, after Christmas vacation had ended, I went back to school, only seeing Matt a few more times after the big cherry-popping incident. Over the next couple of months, we talked on the phone and hooked up--once for spring break, and once on the Easter long weekend--each time finding a way to get close, each time finding a way for him to fill me with his magnificent penis. I was still pretty green when it came to sex, but with Matt, I was learning fast.
Once final exams had finished for the winter term, I returned home and immediately began working at my summer job as a waitress. One Friday, after having not seen Matt for about two weeks (and feeling slightly depressed because of it), I was making my way home from Jim’s Family BBQ and Restaurant when, at 11:22 p.m. on May 17th, I witnessed the worst shock of my teenage life.
It was dark that night, with no stars or moon in the sky. I'd just pulled up to a red light and was loosening the handkerchief from around my neck, when off in the distance I saw two figures strolling down the street. As I was about two blocks from the local movie theatre, I made a guess that it was a pair of lovebirds heading home from a date. Aptly, they were holding hands and swinging arms, walking with what seemed like no particular goal in mind other than to be together.
It was warm that evening too and my driver side window was rolled all the way down. Wishing that something so sweet would someday happen to me, I slowed my speed to catch a glimpse of their faces. When I did, my constitution changed instantly--I went from wistful to furious in two seconds flat. It was Matt and another girl.
Seeing him with someone other than myself made me so angry, so furious, that I didn't move when the light turned green. Even with a blast of the horn from the car behind me, the two sweethearts kept joking and kissing as they walked, so locked in their own realm of romance and bliss that they paid no attention to the steam that was rising from my nearby Toyota Tercel wagon.
With my whole world crashing down, I barely managed to pull over to the side of the road before the tears began. It felt as though Matt had driven a knife straight through my heart and for a long time after they'd passed, I sat there under the glow of a single street lamp blowing my nose, sobbing heavily, and clasping hard onto the steering wheel. Once I'd stopped hyperventilating, I forced myself to head home, navigating my way through the deserted city streets, drunk with rage and disappointment.
A guardian angel must've been with me that night because I made it home safe, parked the car in the driveway and snuck inside. Tiptoeing past my dad asleep on the couch, I locked myself in my room and from under sodden sheets that night in May I vowed never to speak to Matt again.
Now you and I both know that the story couldn't possibly end there, and you're right. Ten days later, on a Tuesday afternoon--after a short shift at work--I was obliged to confront my deceitful lover. I was in the kitchen making a snack when I heard the telltale sound of Matt’s Grand Prix out the front of my house.
Let me add that after that night on the street, I hadn't seen him or even called him. I didn't care what he had to say. I'd simply decided that a split was necessary, and when the doorbell rang, I wasn't sure what to do. With my parents out, I knew that allowing him past the front door would mean a chance of him touching me, kissing me, fondling me, and finally wedging himself between my legs and pushing my head forward over the nearest horizontal surface. So I waited a good three minutes, praying that he would go away, hoping to avoid the confrontation I knew was coming. But he must've known I was home because he stayed and started banging on the door instead.
“Just get it over with,” I told myself, gawking at him through the window. "Tell him to get lost." And on a deep breath, I made my approach. “Stay there!" I shouted.
“What’s going on?” Like he didn't know.
“You can’t...” I was trying hard not to notice the way his jeans creased at the crotch. Finally, I exploded, “I just can’t do this anymore. I can’t see you anymore. It wouldn’t be right.”
At that point, he knew he'd been caught. “Let me come in for a minute, Isabelle. I can explain.”
Shaking my head, I sobbed, “Please don’t.”
"Isabelle..." He pushed inside anyway and ushered me into the family room where we sat on the sofa, his arm hooked tenuously around my shoulders. “OK, so I take it you know, but Mel (short for Melanie--the girlfriend) and I, well...” He confessed that they'd never really broken up, that they'd been a couple during all the times we had been together--before Christmas, on that special New Year’s Eve, and for all the times after as well. “But I do like you, more than you think.”
“Really,” I sniffed. “That makes me feel sooooo much better,” I said, giving it my drama-queen best.
“What was I supposed to do? Hurt her, or hurt you?” And then it all came out--his love for Melanie, his teenage desire to see what other girls were like, hence his feelings for me.
We talked for a while, and when I'd cried out all my tears of disappointment and desperation, Matt pulled me tight to his side. Now, it's not that I'd changed my plan of giving him the boot, but with the strength of his arms and the warmth of his hands on my body, I began to slip into a familiar pit of uncontrollable prurience. Before I knew it, we were tangling tongues and groping like we were auditioning for two spots in hell. When his fingers breached my panties however, the question erupted--the question that was to be his ultimate undoing with me. “Do you think that somebody can love two people at once?” he asked.
"What?" Because it came out in the midst of our heavy petting, I assumed that it was his eighteen-year-old penis talking. “Ummm, no!” I spat. "You just want to get laid. Admit it. You like having sex with me, and I like having sex with you. That’s it! Don’t even try to pretend that you care about me the same way you care about Melanie.” I didn’t enjoy being treated like I was stupid. That, to me, was an even bigger insult than the lying. “You have to leave,” I growled.
Matt hung his head. “Awe, Isabelle." Either embarrassed or upset, he stood, pulled up his pants and stuffed his hands deep into his pockets. “What I was asking you was for real,” he mumbled, shuffling despondently out of the room, with each step, transforming from a browbeaten and downhearted Matt, to the confident, shoulders back, chest out Matt that I'd come to love. The heart breaker, the dream maker, the love taker, he had messed around with me.
What came next, while seemingly typical, was in fact a prediction of my life to come. You see, Matt paused momentarily at the door and said, “When you’re thirty Isabelle, I’ll be back. You’ll have missed me so much that you won’t be able to turn me away then!” And with that, he was gone.
Letting him walk out on his own, I envisioned him gliding calmly down the concrete steps and nonchalantly climbing into his car. When I heard the squeal of his tires as he pulled away, I was actually surprised.
Now, I'll admit, Matt did a real number on me. Oh, I knew he'd been dating someone on and off for an extended period, but when we initially met and started flirting, he'd assured me that they were no longer together. When I saw them holding hands that night by the theatre, I knew he had lied. I also knew what I had to do. In my mind, there was only one option--the only one a self-respecting girl could have. I had to let him go.
It may have been a tough break, and I know I was a bit weak in doing it, but he was the sexiest guy I'd ever met, thoughts of him having taken up most of my brain space for quite a few years by then. And I probably would've done anything for him too, but sleeping with him while he still dated the love of his life was not going to be one of them. I know what you are thinking too--that I allowed myself to be used by a man who never really cared about me in the first place. To this day, I'm almost positive that my feelings for Matt greatly exceeded his feelings for me, but I could be wrong. Maybe he did love us both, or sensed what he thought was love. After numerous experiences with men however, I've decided that love, while a feeling, is also a decision and an action, both relative to the choosing of particular pathways and the treatment of others.
I guess Matt never had feelings strong enough where Mel and I were concerned to sway him one way or another at the time, but then again, like he said, he was only eighteen. So I made the decision for him. Whatever happened though, doesn't take away the fact that he was the first boy I was ever smitten with, and the one that I will always count as my first true love.

Super Blackman to the Rescue

While I am a stickler for dates, there are some instances that are memorable and others that I would give anything to forget. As the following is an account of the former, please make note that although it was Tuesday, October 7th when I first saw Isabelle Weston, it was not until Friday, October 29th that we actually met.

Well before I set my gaze upon her, I heard her ingenuous laugh floating through the corridors of my workplace--a good-sized law firm located in the city's downtown core. She occupied an office on the same floor as me but in the opposite corner, and if you followed a diagonal line from her turf straight through all the other desks and walls, you would've hit upon my space--a much smaller cubicle for a less important employee.

She'd moved her stuff in during the week I was off with the flu, and on the Monday I'd come back to Braun, Bower and Associates, I saw that the office of Jack Bower--a recently retired partner in the firm--had been re-inhabited. It was stacked high with boxes and books, two extra- large filing cabinets and a couple of wilted plants that someone had shoved in the corner. There was also an antique hall-tree poised by the door, upon which hung a fuzzy, pink cardigan.

Naturally, I kept my eyes peeled that day for my newest co-worker, but by 4 p.m. when her whereabouts remained unknown, I asked around. “A young lawyer taking over for Jack, and one most likely being groomed to replace him as partner. A woman, smart as a whip and not too hard on the eyes either,” was the general consensus.

When she finally graced the office early Tuesday morning, it was her laugh that caught me off guard as she joked with a lady named Gina--a secretary whose kids were visiting with their nanny. As women do, they cooed over Gina's baby and listened intently as her older sister chattered on about the number of squirrels she'd seen that morning. My anonymous quarry took part in the conversation like an old friend, her voice filled with warmth and charm. When she spoke to the child, she had me spellbound. "What colors were the squirrels you saw, Olivia?' she asked.

"Well, one was brown, and one was grey and two were black. And one was brown and black. And guess what?" The little girl whispered. "One didn't have a tail."
"Brown squirrels are my favorite." I heard Isabelle whisper back. "They look like they're made of chocolate. And I like chocolate. Now make sure Darla takes you to see the wolf display. You're going to love it. You even get to see their teeth."
From that moment on, I wanted to be Isabelle's object of endearment. She'd caught my attention and so, as the days went by, I found myself watching her, listening for her, hearkening her every syllable, and studying her every move.
Unfortunately, we never seemed to cross paths directly. My work was never her work, and with her own secretary and underlings designated specifically to her cases, she never needed to come to me for anything. I figured that unless I boldly went over and introduced myself, or unless she accidentally tripped over my foot, we were doomed to remain strangers for all eternity.
As a single man, I was open to new relationships, having dated on and off since my split with Shana, and although I'd sworn off of serious involvement with women-white women in particular--Isabelle was not one I could keep at a distance. I actually found myself needing to get to know her. So later that week, when the notice came out about the staff Halloween party, I saw my chance. For my commissionaire of kindness toward children, my emissary of wisdom, my siren of sweaters, I was prepared to do anything.
When the night of the party finally arrived however, I was completely out of sorts. It'd been two weeks since I'd pulled the invitation from my mail slot, and I'd spent much of that time planning and plotting my approach, the “get-up” part of the evening my biggest concern.
After much deliberation and numerous trips to the costume shop, I decided to go dressed as Super Blackman. It was an ensemble I'd put together myself, and while not consisting of the obligatory superhero tights, it had tailored black pants, a flowing red cape, and a fitted, blue top with the letters SB--for “Super Black”--stitched competently enough on the front.
That evening, I showered fastidiously, soaping every inch of my anatomy, just in case--by some extraordinary twist of fate--we met and Isabelle wanted to get close. I brushed my teeth twice, giving my tongue an extra good scrub. I splashed on some of my best after-shave, smoothed my freshly cut fade, and finally, suited up.
Arriving at the hall, I had a singular focus--to find and meet Isabelle. So as the masqueraders mingled happily, I pressed my way through the crowd, examining every person as they walked by, careful not to miss her. At last, I spotted the object of my quest standing by the punch bowl, sipping on a beverage and talking with Mr. and Mrs. Simmons, two long time employees of Braun and Bower.
Swathed in a long, milky-white gown and holding a glittering staff, her costume had the makings of some kind of heavenly creature, and magically, I was pulled toward her. Now, I already knew she was beautiful, but up close, my angel with golden hair was even lovelier than I'd anticipated, her cheekbones resting high upon her unpainted, ivory face.
Just as I was about to introduce myself to the woman of my dreams, Lisa--a fellow paralegal--popped up from out of nowhere. “Nice costume, Adrian. Who died and made you Superman?” she laughed.
“It’s ‘Super Blackman’, for those of you who don’t know," I replied dryly, "And he has twice the fashion sense and ten times the power than the regular Superman.” I glanced over to see if Isabelle was still there.
“Oh, and what are you doing here anyway? You never come to these events.” I hoped she wasn't onto my scheme.
“Well, I thought I would stir up the pot a little. These kinds of things could always use more excitement,” I answered smoothly.
“Ain’t that the truth?” Lisa chortled, pausing long enough to ingest an orange and black hors d’oeuvre. With a mouth full of food, she then elbowed me in the ribs. “Hey, I’ll bet you haven’t met our newest staff member.”
“No, I don’t think I have.” I pivoted toward the buffet, feigning indifference. With my back turned, Lisa caught Isabelle by the arm and whirled her around.
“I want you to meet someone,” I heard her say. “This is Adrian.”
I turned back. “I’ve seen you around the office,” I said, offering a handshake. It was really just a ploy to touch her, and having captured her fingers, I was sure she could feel my hand trembling as I thumbed across a scrape on her knuckle. Standing next to her, I rapturously absorbed the warmth that emanated from her flesh, not quite sure where my designs were heading, but definitely happy to have made her acquaintance.
“Yes, I’ve seen you there as well,” she answered, her eyes harboring tales of mermaids lingering in a deep ocean. “It’s nice to finally meet you.” She was smiling, but there was a hint of sarcasm in her tone. I could sense that she knew I'd been surreptitiously watching her at work for some time.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you too. What’s your name?” I asked.
“Isabelle,” she answered, “Isabelle Weston.” And although I already knew it, it was nice to hear it coming from her lips--a provocative name for a provocative woman.
“Hmmm, Isabelle...” I let my mouth sample the essence of the word, and at that moment a flash of the future entered my head. My cranial crystal ball showed Isabelle and I linked arm in arm, already a couple, and the idea that she would one day be a prominent figure in my life made certain parts of my body tingle with anticipation. It made other parts--my heart, for example--pound in fear.
There was an obvious problem, you see--a complication of profound proportion-and it didn't matter that to measure the level of our physical attraction would've meant sending the Richter scale off the charts. It didn't matter that I imagined myself plugged deep within her folds, held so tight that I begged for mercy from too much gratification. It didn't matter that in the one minute I'd been sharing her personal space, I knew that I would be enamored with her forever. What mattered was the fact that she was just the kind of female I'd been trying to avoid for years. She was a white girl and for me, that spelled trouble--big, big trouble.

It’s All in the Stars

After Matt, the sign of my birth--the symbol that portrays me as a virginal maiden clasping sheaves of wheat to my bosom--became my guidebook to all that was worthwhile in the ways of love. Emotions hit me hard. They don't bounce off me easily, nor do I readily forget the transgressions made by others. As such, I ventured forth into the next chapter of my life somewhat crippled by the "Matt" experience, my dealings with men always beginning with trepidation and ending in disappointment. Being single made it easy to excel at university though and I progressed at lightning speed, receiving my undergraduate degree in no time flat and going on to study law where I finished at the top of my class.

Dating was something I did occasionally, but only when it was a forced endeavor
-like when I was unknowingly set up, or when I was feeling particularly amorous, read: horny. Mostly however, I kept to my books and myself.

Sure there were men who had caught my eye, but I wasn't looking for more drama or heartache in my life. I already had friends and a supportive family, and if the urge ever arose, I also owned a dildo. If I ever found myself craving a real man's touch, I was never left lonely for long, guys being fairly easy in that department. My thinking back then was, if I happened to meet someone with whom the element of attraction was super strong, then I would've gone for it. If not, then I wasn't searching for a relationship just for the sake of having one.

As an intellectual lover, the impetus for what excites me resides somewhere in my head. It is a certainty about me today just as it was when I was a young adult, and if you'd been playing matchmaker back then, you would've looked for someone who was both smart and funny, someone who could carry on a conversation and be quiet, someone who was confident yet humble--basically someone who knew who he was and what he wanted out of life. He definitely needed to be the kind of guy who would be faithful to just one woman--me.

And even though it may sound like I was doomed never to love again, you will be happy to know that a little more than a decade after Matt, (on the waning cusp of autumn), my sixth grade crush came back to me--the one with the eraser, the one who, when we were both eighteen, fucked me doggy-style with his massive and precocious cock while making me recite passages from a dirty magazine. This time however, my lover had a different body, a different name, and a completely different ethnic background. I knew it was the same person though from the very moment we met, and when we shook hands that first time, I was reminded of Matt’s last entreaty--“You wait and see. When you’re thirty, I’ll be back.”

My specter from the past moved the same way, spoke the same sorts of words with that same deep voice, and looked into my soul with the same sort of intensity. He seemed to be the grown up embodiment of Matt, with two huge differences: one, he seemed to be an even better version of my previous paramour, and two, the new guy was black.

Let me explain how we met. See, right after passing the bar, I apprenticed at a small law firm on the east side of town. It was a great starting position--the perfect place for the activist in me--but after I'd been there a few years, I realized that my presiding colleagues had locked in all the top spots. Since it was my plan to be the boss someday, I was forced to take another job at a larger firm--one Braun, Bower and Associates. With this switch came the promise of a partnership within a few years, a much larger salary and better benefits. More stress was inevitable with the post, but I was prepared to take the good with the bad.

I was supposed to have started at Braun and Bower on a Monday in October, but ended up undergoing emergency dental surgery instead. Thankfully, when I rolled into he office early Tuesday morning with an ice pack on my face and yellow bruises around my mouth, the staff was more than supportive. The first week was slightly overwhelming, but after that, I felt right at home.

When I heard about the company Halloween party scheduled for the end of the month, I saw my chance to wind down and meet some of my new office mates. Sure, it sounded like a fun evening, but on top of that, I was hoping to see one person in particular. Undoubtedly, you've guessed him to be the “Matt” impersonator and yes, I'd been watching him for weeks by then. You could say that I was finally ready to break out.

*...*...*

When I arrived at the hall that evening dressed as an angel--a costume I'd borrowed from my cousin’s girlfriend--the party was in full swing. People were dancing and drinking, laughing and talking, and I pushed my way through the crowd, quickly spotting two of Braun and Bower’s most devoted employees--a husband and wife team by the name of Simmons. “Hello Simmons’ family. It’s nice to see some familiar faces,” I said, securing a place near the food table.

“Oh, hi Isabelle. We were wondering when you’d arrive,” they chimed in unison. Chatting with my new friends, I then began to scan the room, hoping to catch a glimpse of the person I'd really come to see.

Just minutes into the party (and much to my delight), I located him about six feet away. Things got even more interesting when he turned and met my gaze. We ended up staring at each other until it got weird, until I had to look away. When I reached for an hors d’oeuvre, a young woman by the name of Lisa appeared at my side. She'd been a big help in getting me settled at work, but more importantly, I was quite aware that she knew my object of interest.
“Hi Isabelle,” she said, giving me a big hug. “How are you?”
“Good,” I answered. “You look pretty.”
“Thanks. So do you.”
“Hey, I want you to meet someone.” Swinging me around, she set me face to face

with a black Superman. “This is Adrian,” she said, motioning to the guy whose sturdy legs and soft-looking skin I'd been drooling over for weeks. He looked handsome dressed in a flowing red cape and blue muscle shirt.

“I’ve seen you around the office,” he said, reaching out to shake my hand. “Yes, I’ve seen you there as well,” I answered, reveling in the strength of his fingers. I didn't add how many times it'd actually been--how many times I'd gone over to the copy machine near his desk, or how many times I'd watched him from the back of the lunch line. I'd been paying close attention to his reserved elegance and upbeat demeanor religiously, whenever I got lucky and he walked past my office, whenever he was talking to a co-worker, whenever the sky was blue, whenever I breathed the air...
“It’s nice to finally meet you,” I said.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you too. What’s your name?” he asked, our hands still joined. I was thankful that his costume didn't include gloves, because then I wouldn't have felt the energy coursing from his body into mine.
“Isabelle. Isabelle Weston,” I replied, happy to have finally made his acquaintance.

The Swimming Lesson

“I think we should go swimming,” Isabelle said in the middle of lunch--our first date after the Halloween party.
“Where did that idea come from?”
“I don’t know,” she said, slurping her water through the chewed end of a straw. “I guess I was just wondering what you looked like naked.”
The statement came out of nowhere and I almost choked on my bagel. “Oh really?” It's not like we were discussing anything racy, unless you count fairy tales or politics as racy.
“Yeah, but I thought it might be too forward to ask you to take your clothes off, so my strategy was to get you into a bathing suit instead. That’s the next best thing,” she laughed. Back then I was never quite sure if Isabelle’s comments were serious or not. Even today, I can't always tell.
“I don’t swim.” I said.
“What do you mean, you don’t swim?”
The truth was about to come out. “I mean I don’t know how to swim.”
“Ohhhh,” she paused, leaning forward across the small, round table. Now, she could've said, “What’s wrong with you?” or “I thought everyone knew how to swim,” but true to her nature, she replied, “Well, if you don’t know how to swim, then I guess I’d better teach you.” Let me add that this promise of a swimming lesson was really a seductive suggestion, and the subdued fluidity in her voice hit me right below the belt.
Isabelle has always been able to get me to do almost anything, even flipped out schemes like submerging myself in water just for fun. And it was true, as a kid, I'd never learned how to swim. It just wasn't something people did where I came from.
So when I got to the edge of the abyss--or to the edge of what was known to the rest of the world as the John Hancock Community Pool--I stood knock kneed in fear. With my brand new bathing trunks tied tight enough to cut off the circulation to the lower half of my body, I wondered where my brain had been when I'd agreed to such nonsense. Frightened, I poised there with my toes curled, hoping I was not about to die a tragic death in front of the woman I'd so hoped to impress.
“Black guy in the pool! Black guy in the pool!” I thought I heard someone shout. No one ever yelled that, not out loud anyway, but I could see the sentiment in the faces of the white folks as they splashed around in front of me.
You must understand, in our town, the population is overwhelmingly white. Oh sure, there are a few visible minorities here and there, but Caucasians predominate. Granted, we all manage to work side by side, and we even socialize a little, but as far as relationships go, that is where people draw the line.
To see a black woman or man with a white partner is still uncommon enough in our parts that strangers sometimes stare, but it was practically unheard of when Isabelle and I first got together. When we had children it was almost as if they were circus freaks and the response was different depending on which one of us was out with the kids.
If it was Isabelle alone, she was always pegged as the babysitter or nanny. In their minds, she couldn't possibly have birthed two “darkish-skinned” babies such as ours. The general assumption was that black mothers spawned black babies and white mothers spawned white ones. Anything that deviated from the accepted norm confused the hell out of people. It was like substituting tofu for steak at a meat-lover’s dinner--you just didn't do it.
If it was a daddy’s day out, it was an altogether different story. When the children were small, well-wishing white folks (usually older ones) would actually cross the street to tell me just how “beautiful” my darlings were, letting me know in some backwards way that my children--nappy hair or not--would be loved by the members of a freethinking and openhearted community. “Oh, she is so adorable. A little lighter-skinned than her poppa mind you, but I’m sure she will darken up with age.” Someone actually had the nerve to say that about our daughter.
“Darken with my foot up your ass,” I wanted to scream.
Funny enough, if we all went out together, we just got half-hearted smiles. I suppose the fact that we stood out left some people confused and consequently speechless. Even today, in our fair-sized urban centre, I can easily count on both hands the number of mixed families similar to ours.
You might say that being black has been a bit of a challenge for me, and it has. After emigrating from the Caribbean, it was perhaps the biggest challenge I had yet to face. Back home, black was normal. It was the dominant color of the people around me and I didn't know that it could be any different.
In North America however, black is more of a characterization--a representation. You are black first and everything else second. I will admit that it's gotten better over the years and I can actually go places now where it doesn't feel so strange to be blessed with a dark complexion.
Having said all of this, take into account that the events I'm about to describe happened some fifteen odd years ago when the ratio of blacks to whites in our town was even smaller than it is today. Black people stuck out like sore thumbs back then, especially if they happened to be roaming about in a typically white stomping ground like the neighborhood watering hole. Realize further that such a spectacle was even more of a showstopper if the black person in question was carousing intimately with someone of the opposite color. Case in point, Isabelle and I.

*...*...*

She was already in the water when I came out of the change room. “Get in on the stairs,” she called, pointing to the end of the pool--to the white, plastic railing I was sure led to my demise.

“OK.” I could feel my legs shaking as I padded tentatively across the deck. “The water’s pretty nice. They must’ve turned the heat up just for you, Adrian.” Once I actually got in, I discovered it to be a lot chillier than I'd hoped, and my

skin rebelled, raising bumps of dismay up and down my arms and legs. I must tell you, if there's one thing that Caribbean people hate, it's being cold, and at that moment, it was as if I was descending into the waters of the Arctic Ocean. My instincts were telling me to get out and run home, but as soon as Isabelle skimmed up next to me, her hand brushing over the line of hair on my belly--the same line that lead to my nether regions--I knew I would be her willing prisoner forever.

Like a shark, she circled me, moving in such close proximity that on every go 'round her hardened nipples punched at my body. Just as I was about to collapse in a tailspin of lust, I somehow managed to drag her up against my chest.

For the very first time, our bodies touched--I mean really touched. Sure, we'd linked hands and brushed shoulders whenever we'd sat together, but this skin-to-skin contact was new, and if I thought that those other bits of contiguity were a thrill, I was totally unprepared for the effects of having her whole body melt into mine.

I was in shock, and when she wrapped her strong legs around my waist and muscled the back of my neck with her warm hands, my penis throbbed so hard that I thought I might explode right there in the pool. Pressing her lips close to my ear, she said, “You’re a very good swimmer, Adrian.”

“Th...th... that’s me,” I stuttered. “A regular dolphin.”

“Oh, you poor thing,” she murmured, rubbing up and down my arms. “It’s not that bad is it?”
“It is pretty pathetic. I’m pathetic. All I can do is stand here.”
“Come on, you’re hardly pathetic. You’re just learning,” she continued. “There are some people who won’t even go near the water. So you’re at least ahead of them.”
“I might be in the water, but you couldn’t pay me enough to put my head under right now."
“Don’t worry. It’ll come someday. There’s no need to rush.” With that, she began plucking affectionately at the waistband of my swim trunks. As luck would have it, at that same moment, a lady and her daughter swam past, their expressions suggesting that our interaction might be more than a friendly splash in the pool, which it most certainly was.
Seeing this, Isabelle immediately eased her chest away from mine. Keeping her legs locked around my hips however, she lay back in the water, her torso floating, her hardened nipples calling out to me. Once the people had moved on and we were alone again in our section of the pool, Isabelle pulled back in close, a twinkle in her eye. “Well, well, well. What do we have here?” She brushed over my bellybutton and dipped inside the top of my bathing suit.
“Wha... wha... what do you mean?”
She smiled. “With what I’m feeling under the water, I think you will be teaching me some new tricks pretty soon.”
She was right. There was one part of my anatomy that was dying to show her a thing or two, my penis begging for more than a mere hug. “I’m ummm, I’m sorry,” I said, embarrassed.
“Sorry for what, for complimenting me? Jeez, Adrian. I like it! Remember, I’m the one who wanted to see you naked.”
“That’s true.” I replied, wanting my erection to settle. Given the circumstances, I didn't need anything extra to worry about. And I think Isabelle understood how I felt because she promptly let go and floated away. With a safe distance between us, I watched as she did a few underwater somersaults and a handstand, her toes wiggling just above the water's surface.
We swam for a little while longer and when I'd nearly turned into an ice-cube, she finally motioned for me to get out. “Come on, your lips are turning blue.” Moving swiftly, I flapped over to the end of the pool, up the steps in a matter of seconds. “No running on the deck,” Isabelle teased.
“I’ll meet you out front,” I waved, pausing long enough to watch her wiggle away.
Happy that our excursion hadn't been a complete disaster, I showered quickly and headed out to the lobby. “Ready to go?” Isabelle was sitting in a chair reading the newspaper.
She got up and reached for my hand. “Adrian, hang on.” “What is it?” I wondered if she'd forgotten something.
Linking my arm with hers, she pulled me in close. “I really appreciate you coming with me today. I had fun and I hope you did too.”
“Yeah, fun!” I answered sarcastically.
“I know that coming here wasn’t easy, but you did great!” As she spoke, she began playing with the zipper on my jacket. “By the way, you looked pretty great in your bathing suit too. In fact, I will always remember exactly how you looked in those wet swimming trunks!” Mashing our torsos together, she then gently pressed one palm onto the bulge that was growing in my jeans, tracing with her other hand the outline of what I believed to be a heart--big and bold--onto the centre of my chest.
“Thanks for the compliment, but I think we’d better get out of here before we cause any more trouble,” I replied.
She laughed. "Definitely."

Big Penises

The aphorism about the black man having an elephant-sized penis is true. At least it's true for Adrian and I must say, I'm happy about that. As for the rest of black mankind, I don't know, but for me, the others don't matter anyway. Now, I'm not so shallow as to base my affinity for Adrian on the size of his penis. As an enlightened individual, I try not to get caught up in the visceral criteria of a person, but I will say that I have given the subject some thought. In fact, I thought hard about it after seeing Adrian’s python for the first time. His snake shocked me, to be honest, and not because I'd never seen one that size before. Remember Matt? He was no small change himself. No, I was shocked because I didn't expect it.

Between Matt and Adrian, there had been a couple of other gentlemen with whom I'd shared more than a sandwich. No serious contenders, but others nonetheless, and what I learned from being with those other guys was that Matt was unusually large. The rest of them had regular-sized penises by comparison--none too small mind you, but none too large either. I thought that Adrian would be of similar proportion.

Call me sheltered, but I hadn't heard the stereotype about black men and their penises until after Adrian and I had hooked up. None of those “other” intimate encounters had included men of the darker persuasion, and by that I do not mean to suggest that all black men have by default, schlongs the size of tree trunks. I feel I must qualify my statement however, as it is a typecast none-the-less.

Size had never been an issue until Adrian. It had never been something I really thought about, let alone used as a basis for cementing a relationship. Before him, size was simply an amount. Matt was big, the others medium. It was just another attribute like hair texture or eye color, and I took what I got. It was certainly never something I demanded.

Now maybe it was my conversation with Lisa and the corresponding discovery of Adrian’s hammer that got me to thinking, who knows? I will recount the details of the situation and let you be the judge.

“So how’s it going with you and Adrian? You guys seemed to really hit it off at the Halloween party.” That was Lisa’s polite way of asking if we'd slept together yet. God only knew the whole office was in on our exchange.
“Yeah, I really think I could fall for this guy,” I replied.
“So, you mean you haven’t... you know,” she said, elbowing me as we did our

occasional mid-day jaunt around the park.
“No, it’s only been a couple of weeks Lisa. We did go swimming though. That
was fun.”
“So you’ve seen him partially naked then?” Her eyes lit up.
“Yesss...”
“Nice body?” She brought us to a halt. “Wait, don’t tell me. I’ll just bet he has a
nice body--a great chest, a perfect ass. Definitely a perfect ass! And a you-know-what
that could plug a drainpipe, I suppose.” She was chuckling but I knew she was serious. “Now why would you say that?” Her comment seemed odd to me, though after
seeing Adrian in his swim trunks, I knew she was probably right.
“You know what they say about black guys...”
“No, actually I don’t,” I gulped. “What do they say?” I hoped it wasn't something
horrible.
“They say that black men have extra large penises, Isabelle," she whispered,
cupping her hand over her mouth like it was a secret.
“Oh.”
“So, do you think he does?”
“Does what?” I was lost in speculation.
“Does have one!?!”
“Ummm, yeah. I think so,” I replied, my voice cracking slightly. “You are soooo lucky,” she sighed, pulling at my arm to continue our walk. So was the promise of an extra-large appendage what kept me going back for
more? Was it that important? I will answer with a modest negative here, but I have to add
that after being in its company, I was definitely set to thinking. By the time I'd met
Adrian, I was older, more experienced. I knew what I wanted and needed from a man,
and when I saw Adrian’s penis--when I saw how very thick and long it was--the
importance of its size came into question.
Before going any further with this discussion, I want to make one thing perfectly
clear, and that is, that I liked Adrian before I saw it. I liked him a lot. After it came out of
his pants however--when it flopped against his belly all erect and shiny like a piece of
sirloin steak whacking against a cutting board--I knew it was something that would add to
the long list of positive criteria for having him as my boyfriend. To be blunt, I knew it
could possibly make him a keeper, all other things considered.

*...*...*

Three weeks, lots of phone conversations, and four official dates after the night our hands lingered palm to palm as Super Blackman and Angel (and this includes lunch at the café across the street from our office, dinner and a movie, and that one very sensual swimming lesson) the moment was upon us to get naked. I was afraid that if we didn't do something soon we'd end up on top of the photocopy machine giving Al, Lisa, Beverley, and all the rest of our colleagues at the office a really good show.

The proposed day of our release was a Saturday late in November, and the morning in question, I was awake by 6 a.m. We were supposed to meet at three, so for me that meant nine hours of fretting and primping. After lying around until I couldn't stand it any longer, I rolled out of bed and headed to the kitchen for a small bite to eat. A piece of toast with peanut butter and some tea was all I could manage.

At nine o’clock, I called my mother and we chatted about the week’s events. She told me the same sort of stuff she always does--who'd died and who was going to die, and whose marriage was on the rocks--all the happy stuff.

Once updated, I headed to the bathroom where I proceeded to floss my teeth and brush them twice. I plucked my eyebrows, applied a facial mask, brushed my teeth again (just in case) and finally, turned on the shower. Under some close-to-scalding hot water, I shaved my legs meticulously, careful not to nick myself around the ankles and knees, smoothing my armpits and bikini area as well. I finished with a hot-oil treatment on my hair, (something I hardly ever do), and even pumiced the bottom of my feet.

Make-up and hair styling came next, after which it was time to find the perfect outfit. For that, I stood in front of my closet for what seemed like forever, finally picking out a pair of jeans, my favorite pink cashmere sweater, some black panties and a matching bra. Upon exiting my bedroom--ready for my date--I saw that it was only eleven o’clock. Not even noon. I still had four hours to go.

Needing to do something with my time, I decided to head to the gym to burn off some of my pent-up energy. Surely, you can appreciate that this meant I would have to do most of the same stuff I'd just labored through, all over again. Figuring that it would kill the hours left until Adrian’s materialization, that's exactly where I went.

At the recreation centre, I ran and I ran and I ran. By the time I'd sweated out most of my nerves, you could almost see the smoke rising up off the deck of the treadmill. Another shower, blow-dry and some make-up, and I was on my way. One last stop at the market to pick up some treats for dinner, and I was back at the location of my concupiscent destiny.

As ready as I was to see Adrian, when the doorbell rang at three-thirty, I nearly jumped out of my skin. Now, I don't recall exactly what outfit he was wearing--possibly because I was so focused on getting him out of his clothes--but I can tell you that his hair was neatly trimmed and that he smelled fantastic.

“Well, don't you look dashing,” I purred into the collar of his coat. “And you sure do smell good. What's the special occasion?”
“You know,” he laughed, pulling me in for a more sensual greeting.
"I do," I added, itching to get him out of his pants.
Once we'd moved past the threshold of my front door (and that took a while), we ended up in the kitchen. Adrian had built up an appetite from running around all morning, and I too, was starving, having lasted the better part of the day on a belly full of butterflies. A few toasted tomato sandwiches and we were off to the living room. Sitting nervously on the couch, when our thighs brushed, I almost said, “I want you to fuck me."
But it was Adrian who broke the ice. “I like your sweater. It’s really soft,” he said, stroking up and down my arm.
“It is. I mean, I'm glad. I mean, I wanted you to touch me," I answered feebly.
“You didn’t need to wear a soft sweater to get me to do that. You just needed to
ask.”
“What if I asked you to strip me naked and kiss my whole body? Would you do that?” Slightly subtler than “I want you to fuck me” but not much.
“That goes way beyond stroking your fuzzy sweater, now doesn’t it? Maybe I want to take my time.”
When he leaned over and pressed his palm into the crux of my thighs, I giggled, “That’s not exactly taking your time, now is it?” I was positive he could feel the wetness seeping through my jeans.
“No it’s not,” he replied.
“Do you always go for the biggest prize first? Why not start with my earlobes or something?”
“You’re such a flirt. Do you mean what you say and say what you mean? Or maybe you just want to drive me completely mad.” He pinched my big toe, hinting at more playful punishment to come. “Don’t worry, my dear. If you think I’m about to give you everything at once, you’re sorely mistaken. You’ll get what you get when I give it to you.”
“Oh, so you think that you’re the boss, huh?” I asked, rising onto my knees. “I’m the boss.” I grabbed his wrists and pushed him flat on his back, scrambling to straddle his waist. “And don’t you forget it.”
It didn't matter what we said to each other, in jest or not. It may have only been our fourth date, but we both understood how the relationship would progress, ultimately with Adrian in charge. “My boss,” he paused, clenching my hands so hard that the pain was almost unbearable. Sarcastic but sweet, he then pleaded, “Come. Show me what to do bossy lady.” With that, the ice grip of his hands melted away, the heat between us turning into a raging fire.
By the time Adrian had turned his attentions to my earlobe--licking and sucking that delicate flesh with his masterful mouth--I was undulating in his arms like a mermaid in a stormy sea. We could easily have jumped to the next level right then, but just as he'd warned he would, he kept the focus of our cavorting above the shoulders, at least for a little while longer.
What he wanted that Saturday was to give me a taste of his goodness, leaving me begging for more. He'd handed me the keys to his car. He'd even let me turn it on. But there were to be no rides that day--no cruises in the country, or devil-may-care races around the track. Not even donuts in the parking lot. It was simply meant to be a long, slow idle in the driveway, with a mini-lesson on how to use the clutch. I found out then that sometimes he likes to make good things last the same way I do. I did however, get a peek under the hood, and let me tell you, his engine was sweet.
Our kissing marathon must've lasted a good half an hour, and finally, when I assume he couldn't bear the pressure building in his pants any longer, he allowed me to explore past the waistband of his jeans. Moreover, I had suffered long enough at his mercy, and I'm sure he could sense my desperation.
We both needed more, and I for one, was ready to take anything I could get. Practically willing his penis to pop out on its own, I was just about to rip the zipper, when he grabbed my wrist. “Slow down baby. I’m not going to run away." As he loosened the provoking apparel, I groaned. “You're not excited are you?” he asked, grinning from ear to ear. I couldn't answer. I was too far-gone, too zeroed in on that place on his body that promised to lift me higher than the clouds.
“Come now,” he whispered. “Come get what you need.” Settling him back into the cushions, I shimmied down his pants and displaced the fabric of his underwear--the white jockeys of an unpretentious man. To my delight, his “Chief of Staff”, his “Donald Pump”, his “Buster McThunderstick” was about as wide around as my forearm and about that long. Unable to control myself, I gagged a little.
You would've thought that I'd never seen a penis before. And I hadn't. Not one like this. If Matt’s was large, Adrian’s was gigantic. If Matt’s was white, Adrian’s was so dark that it was almost purple. It looked like a mahogany stair rail. Furthermore, it was uncircumcised--a condition of the male organ that was new to me--and I was enthralled by the way the slackened skin slid up and down over its rigid shaft.
It was definitely a slab of gold in my greedy little paws, and I fondled and rubbed it, caressed and held it. I tickled it at its base and squeezed it tight around the middle, watching as it bounced back and forth like a spring-mounted diving board.
As I explored my new toy however, Adrian kept amazingly quiet and still, only fixing his gaze on what I was doing, his hips vibrating almost imperceptibly. Wondering if I'd given him a stroke, I listed forward with my mouth just to see what would happen. "Oh, Jesus!" he cried. I hadn't killed him after all.
“Are you all right?” I asked, suspended mid-air.
“If you do that, I'm going to cum within seconds.” He sounded sincerely concerned.
“I think I can handle it."
"Oh," he said.
“So, do you want me to put it in my mouth or not?” When he lifted his hips and closed his eyes, I knew I'd been given the green light. First tasting the liquid pearl that had pooled at the tip, I then proceeded to lick him around and around, and up and down until he was slick from top to bottom.
With some moans actually escaping his lips, I knew that for Adrian, the end was near. Undoubtedly, a seriousness of task and outcome had taken over, the leather on my couch transuding with the zeal of a third person. So saying, I backed away slightly in an attempt to make myself a more serviceable, cock-sucking machine.
“What are you doing?” Adrian roared.
“Relax.” I scooted down to pull his jeans and underwear the rest of the way off. "I am adjusting you." Then pushing his legs apart for better access, I went back to work. As predicted, shortly thereafter, Adrian blasted his seed into the back of my throat, the full amount of which took four gulps to swallow.
Now Adrian’s next move, while not unappreciated, was totally unexpected. After regaining his faculties, he vaulted forward, grabbed my shoulders, and hurled me onto my back. “Take these off." He whipped my bottoms across the room. "And show me your ass."
Bouncing onto my hand and knees, I was more than ready. "What are you going to do?"
"You'll see," he murmured, smoothing circles over my cheeks. “Now spread your legs wide and put your head down.”
Immediately, thoughts of my first time with Matt came streaming back, exciting me all the more. Then, with the flip of his wrist, Adrian gave me something that Matt had never given to me--an unheralded and sharp swat on the behind.
I laugh here because Adrian has lectured me time and time again on how to lay down a proper spanking. “It’s not really how hard you do it, that’s important,” he always says. "It's more about the way the hand connects that gives it the best sting.” Every time he explains it, I get a demonstration. “Here, let’s see if you can notice the difference.”
His first hit is intended to be the bad one--the one against which I shall judge the next. Fingers splayed with ponderous gesticulation, it leaves much to be desired. The second hit is supposed to be his trademark move, and for this one, his fingers are lined up in a tight row. Then, with dexterous reflexes, he tags me with a sharp strike similar to that of a whip, invariably leaving me both singing his praises and yowling in pain.
“That’s how to do it, baby. You’ll never meet a white man who can spank you the way I can.” I chuckled the first time he said this, but I don't anymore. I have since discovered that a black man’s penchant for asses is some serious business.
Having never been spanked before that afternoon on the couch, while the experience left me somewhat stunned, it also left me extremely aroused. When I wiggled back at him, Adrian gripped my buttocks and pried my cheeks apart.
“Jesus, Isabelle. I wanna fuck you so bad.”
“Adrian, please...” I was shaking.
“Please, what?”
“Please put something inside.”
Without hesitation, he slid three fingers in deep. "Take it," he commanded, twisting and turning his digits. "You've got to be ready for what you’ll get next time." As I squirmed--rotating my hips with each respective push and pull of his fingers--Adrian reached under and began rubbing my clitoris. Within seconds, I was catapulting through heaven's gate. "Yes, baby. Let go..." I heard Adrian whisper, though truthfully, nothing could have stopped me then, and I slammed back against his hand--swallowing him, rejoicing in him--until my contractions were no more than feeble twinges.
Once I was able to breathe, we both just stared at each other. Without stating the obvious, we knew that this was the beginning of something special, and although we may have gotten naked that day, we didn't have intercourse. As much as I would've liked it, his “beef train” did not to stop at my “tuna station”, nor did we play hide and seek with his “one-eyed trouser snake”.
Whatever you want to call it, we simply didn't do it. Fucking was still two weekends away. We did manage however, to exchange fluids and DNA, claiming eight more orgasms between us--five for me, and three for Adrian--over the next twelve-hour period.

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

For most men, licking a woman’s vagina is a delicacy, or so I'd been told. It's not something Caribbean men do, or at least, not something to which they admit. Where I come from, a man is supposed to act like a man, both in relation to other men and in relation to his woman as well. Thus, in terms of sexuality, anything even remotely homosexual in nature is considered taboo. As such, if you recognize that licking a woman's vagina means putting one's face where another man's penis may have been, you should be able to deduce why cunninglingus (for someone like me) is an unacceptable exploit.

Admittedly, not all Caribbean people think this way. And don't assume that everyone practices what they preach, because who knows what happens behind closed doors. The bottom line for me however was that I hadn't done it, nor was I planning on doing it, though I'd be lying if I said that I hadn't thought about it.

And no, I hadn't even done it with Shana, though she had asked--about a trillion times. When I finally got angry and told her in no uncertain terms that it would never happen, she broodingly left me alone.

With Isabelle, even though I'd avoided the act for a good month and a half, I was worried. Every instance we were naked together (and that was practically every time we were alone behind closed doors), we got more and more into it. I knew that eventually she would ask me to do it--she was a white woman after all. I was also concerned about how she would react to my answer.

“Will you lick my pussy, Adrian?” I imagined her saying.
To which I would reply, “Absolutely not."
“I’m leaving you."
Would she have discarded me like a coat with a broken zipper? I didn't think so,

but I wondered if maybe she would make fun of me, or say OK and then get it somewhere else. I was positive that any number of white men would happily oblige her, and lots of other black men too.

So when she arrived at my house that day--one and a half months past the day we met--I had almost worked myself into a frenzy. While she sat at my kitchen table flipping through my newest sci-fi novel, my nerves had me fidgeting with the icemaker on my refrigerator door. At any moment, I pictured her ripping off her clothes, spreading her legs, and telling me to do it. “Lick me, Adrian. Lick me. Lick me. Lick me.” This mantra had become my worst nightmare.

“Would you like something to drink?” The glasses were on the counter, the orange juice already poured.
“Sure,” she said, looking at me suspiciously. “I think I’ll have some orange juice.”
“Do you want anything else?” Big mistake.
“You know what I want,” Isabelle answered, her typical flirtatious self.
That's all it took. I wanted to run until I hit the other side of the planet. “Let’s go out to eat. There’s this new place I’ve been dying to try."
“OK. Though I thought we might stay here." In a flash, she was across the room, rubbing up against my crotch.
“Oh, well...” I was having trouble. “Ummm, I don’t have any food. We'll have to eat beans and toast.” As you can see, I was reaching for ideas.
“I like beans and toast,” she said, her hand shooting inside my fly.
“No, really, I want to take you out.” Sucking in my pelvic region as if someone had punched me in the gut, I bolted over to the sink.
“You seem edgy, poor thing. I can fix that.” She started coming after me again.
“No! No! I want to take you out!”
“Whoa, easy big boy.” She held up her hands. “We’ll do whatever you want. Let's go out to eat.”
"Good," I sighed, happy for the break.

*...*...*

The actual drive to the restaurant went off without a hitch. I occupied Isabelle with talk of a big case at work, and she kept her hands out of my lap the whole way there. We also managed to walk inside with relative civility, only linking elbows and kissing playfully. Once we'd sat down however--at a cozy corner booth near the fireplace--and our legs brushed, I knew her mood was back in full swing.

Browsing through the menu, she'd taken off one of her boots, (though I don't how she managed it), and was curling and uncurling her toes against my leg. “What are you going to have? I think I will try the steak or maybe the salmon.” She slid closer and began nibbling on my ear.

Figuring that there was no conceivable means by which she could expect me to lick her pussy at the table, I accepted her advances and gave her buttocks a squeeze. Dragging her hand slowly up my thigh, she then unzipped the closure she'd attempted to invade earlier in the kitchen, resting her palm fortuitously on my hardening staff.

“Are you ready to order?” It was our waitress.

Startled, Isabelle and I looked up. “We’ll both have the salmon and a glass of water," I practically yelled.
“Wow, you’re smooth with the ladies,” Isabelle snickered after the woman had left, her hand now completely inside my pants.
With her thumb rubbing the tip of my penis, I unwittingly came a little. “Shit!"
"Adrian, you’re all wet," Isabelle purred. "Did you pee yourself?”
“You’d better stop," I begged. Just as she pulled her hand out of my drawers-sucking at her fingertips--the waitress came back.
Banging our glasses down loudly, she hissed, “Here are your drinks. The food will be ready shortly.” She was not impressed. "Can I get you anything else?"
“No, I think we’re good,” Isabelle smirked. “I know I am."
Dinner continued much the same, with both of us staring at each other, eating slowly and licking our lips. Then, after about five minutes of utter silence, Isabelle announced, “My pussy is so wet that my legs are sticking together.” Immediately, my focus went to her lap. When I couldn't reply, she reached over and grabbed my knee. “Adrian, can you smell me?” Raising the hem on her skirt, she offered a glimpse of her stockings. Now, if the comment about her pussy hadn't done it, the peak at those stockings certainly did, and just knowing that she was accessible in that area sent the raving lunatic in my pants into a tailspin. When she added, “I need your help,” I almost fell onto the floor.
“We have to leave. Here, take the keys and go start the truck." I growled, practically pushing her out of her seat. “I’ll get the check.” In a hurry once more, I was desperate to get back home.
After Isabelle left, I struggled to put on my coat, struggled to cover up the dilemma in my pants, and struggled to find a waitress who'd mysteriously made herself unavailable. It took some doing, but I eventually paid the bill and ran outside.
When I got to the pick-up, Isabelle was leaning back in her seat, her skirt lifted, her underwear off. “What’s going on?” I asked. “Aren't we heading back to my place?” Her pussy was indeed as slick as she'd predicted.
"Soon." She slid lower and spread her legs as wide as possible given the confines of the space.
Scanning our surroundings, I reached over and began to stroke her outer lips. "Does this make you feel better?"
"Oh god, I don't know." Her head was back, her hips bucking, her pussy begging for some relief.
Inviting and wet, she appeared so delicious that I had to taste her. With the tip of my tongue, I prodded her tentatively at first, worming around the edges of her folds, inhaling her aroma and savoring her tang. Soon however, I was unable to hold back, and I lunged at her labia, slurping and sucking and nibbling away until my face was ripe with her juices. Hell, I probably would've swallowed her clitoris if it hadn't been attached. As for Isabelle, I assumed she liked it because after about one minute, she yanked on my ears and pulled my head in even closer.
What possessed me to drive at her like that, I don't know. It could just as easily have been my hand going in to pleasure her, but it wasn't. Perhaps if we'd stayed home, none of it would have happened, or maybe I would have done the same thing there. Maybe going to the restaurant had nothing to do with it. Who knows?
Isabelle and I have always been so comfortable with each other that we just blend. When we are making love, it is sometimes hard to tell where her body starts and my body ends. So after my first blitz on her vagina, the skies cleared up and the rain clouds floated away. It was suddenly comprehensible that putting my face close enough to her most private region--looking at it, touching it, smelling it, and finally tasting it--was something I could do, that it was something I wanted to do, something I enjoyed doing.
And no, Isabelle didn't ask for it, and it didn't even happen the way I'd expected it to. My guess was that Isabelle would’ve simply pushed my face into that spot during an intimate moment. Much to my surprise, she remained hands off the entire time--well, almost the entire time. Again, this reinforces to me that the impetus to lick her must've come from within.
Now, it's one thing to refrain from doing something because it's supposedly awful, and quite another to refrain from that same thing because it's forbidden. Forbidden things that are allegedly extraordinary never remain undone for very long. So yes, I wanted to try it. I wanted to do it, and I did it, off limits to me or not.
Oddly enough, Isabelle has never asked me why I chose that place and that time to do what I did. She seemed quite content with how it all worked out. Right after, she plunked herself onto my lap, and kept on plunking until I'd squirted the rest of my load-what wasn't already starching my underwear--into the far reaches of her heavenly cavity.
All things aside, I feel that I should address the point about deviating from what I'd originally thought were righteous beliefs. You will recall that my cup was half empty for a very long period of my life. Well, Isabelle changed all that. Instead of concentrating on the negative, she taught me to focus on the positive. Thus, the question regarding cunninglingus became not why, but why not, switching its promise in my head from something that might downgrade my masculinity, to an act that might be beneficial to us both.
I knew that Isabelle’s pussy looked nice, and that it smelled good--two plusses that licking her had right off the bat. I also knew, without a doubt, that she would like it. And the list went on: I loved her, and I wanted to do things for her. Furthermore, she was happy to lick my penis, so why not return the favor? I trusted that she wasn't sleeping around behind my back, so the idea of consuming another man’s semen seemed a bit redundant.
Aside from my father, (whose advice on women probably wasn't the best anyway), and the other Caribbean men who had given their two cents' worth, lots of other males claimed to enjoy it. So why should I miss out? It certainly wasn't going to hurt anybody. It was only going to bring Isabelle more pleasure. So I did it once, loved it, and kept right on going.
You might ask what I say to my Caribbean brothers on this topic. Well, in short, I don't say anything. It is really none of their business. That's not the real question though, is it? Do I still consider myself a manly man when I do it? Damn right, I do. If there’s one thing I've learned, it's that a real man’s philosophies about his relationship are based on wanting to please his partner, not in trying to keep things from her or in acting solely to protect himself. You become a man by taking risks to help and uplift others--women in particular. I think you will agree that my ideologies have changed for the better. Isabelle would sure say they have.

The First Time

What I am about to describe to you isn't the first time that Adrian and I engaged in sexual intercourse. Actually, the very first time was not my moment of truth and besides, it was over with so quickly that it's hardly worth recounting. In fact, the very first time Adrian put his penis inside my vagina, it lasted all of about four minutes, if you count the three and a half minutes of kissing that went on before it. Four minutes and we both came so hard that it must've seemed like 422 Mountview Drive had suffered some kind of minor catastrophe. Even now, I picture dear Mrs. Brown scrambling to find shelter under her kitchen table.

An elderly widow, Mrs. Brown lived in the condo next to mine, and when she wasn't stroking one of her five cats, she was checking in on me, as I'd become her surrogate daughter for the time we shared adjoining houses. It was on his fourth visit (surprisingly not before) that she met Adrian. When I got to the door, they were already engaged in conversation. “Isabelle has told me so much about you," I heard Mrs. Brown say. No doubt she'd been watching out her front window for visitors.

“And I’ve heard so much about you as well, Mrs. Brown,” Adrian replied, pleasant as pie.
“Oh, Mrs. Brown,” I joined in. “I’m so glad you’ve finally met Adrian. Now you have a face to put to the name.” I might have added “and the sounds” if the meeting had occurred a couple of hours later. Admittedly, it was the first night that he and I went at it like gangbusters. “He’s just coming over for a little visit,” I said, pausing to exchange a knowing glance with Adrian.
“That’s nice dear,” Mrs. Brown said, ignoring my hint.
“Well, we’d better get going. It sure is chilly out here.” I rubbed my arms for effect.
Mrs. Brown talked a few more minutes, asking Adrian about his family and his background. Finally, when I couldn't take it any longer, I said, “I’m completely frozen. I think my toes are turning to ice.”
Downtrodden, Mrs. Brown acquiesced. “Yes, you’re right, dear. I’ll see you later.”
Jumping at the opportunity to be alone with my new boyfriend, I hauled Adrian inside. “Bye Mrs. Brown! Have a good night,” I yelled, quickly securing the latch.
Alone at last, we kissed, our passion leading to a whirlwind of sexual escapades that I won't soon forget. Now, as I've indicated by the title of this chapter, this was to be an evening of firsts. To be exact, it was the first time that I told Adrian I loved him, though the words didn't come out quite the way you might expect.
Let my specify that this monumental occurrence took place during the third of five sexual encounters we had that night--after one round of sex in the living room and another in the kitchen. We were then refueling on homemade pizzas when Adrian suggested that we go into the bedroom. “It might be fun to try it the old-fashioned way for a change."
“Sure, let’s go,” I said, hurrying him down the hall. Once in my room, we both dove onto the bed, wrestling and playing. Somehow, during our romp, Adrian ended up on my back.
“I’m never going to let you get up." His tone was menacing.
“OK. What if I don’t want to get up? Then what, tough guy? Your threats don’t hold much power do they?”
He ignored me. “Do you think I could fuck you if you stayed on your stomach and kept your legs together?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, let’s see," he said, yanking at my pants.
“I guess it’s a good thing you’re taking off some of my clothing," I joked. "That will help."
“I'll leave your underwear on."
"Whatever you say."
"So pretty," he mumbled, prying my ass cheeks apart.
“Are you trying to rip me in half, Adrian?”
“Quiet." He seemed distracted.
“I love the way you tell me to be quiet,” I teased. “In fact, I think I just damn well love you.” Neither one of us had said it for real. It was far to soon for that.
“You’ll love me a whole lot more if you could just stop talking,” he snapped, urgently kissing the back of my neck. Fumbling about to remove his own pants, he then prodded at me with his cock, apparently serious about oiling his dipstick with my legs closed. “Now stretch out your arms."
Willingly, I made my body as long as possible. "Like this?"
"Good." He yanked my panties to one side and repeatedly inserted and withdrew his fingers into my vagina, smearing my juices onto my rear. “That should do it.” Finished part one of his treatment, I knew what was coming next and I eagerly curved my spine like a sleepy cat, molding my bellybutton to the blankets.
"Let’s make it last, baby," he sighed, penetrating me with relative ease.
"Mmmmm, yes."
Rolling my hips in a slow figure eight, I consumed him hungrily, happily, but just when I could feel his excitement mounting, he pulled back out. "Turn over."
Seeing him there settled on the bed, I imagined him as a young boy, his eyes wide as he gazed upon my womanly form. With his penis completely straight--a ready rocket-I wanted to tell him that I would be his for all eternity, but before I had a chance, he patted his thighs. “Come. Sit on my lap,”
Coyly I refused, standing on the mattress like a mythical giantess instead. Straddling his outstretched legs, I watched him from above as he gradually moved in, his appearance ominous in that dimly lit room. If I hadn't known better, I would've thought him dangerous, his skin color manifesting as something negative to me for the first time. Before then, he'd always been Adrian--sexy, funny, thoughtful, athletic, and nice-Adrian. He'd never been “black” Adrian, but then of course, he was. He was black and I was white.
Our color differences were unmistakable even if, for the most part, I didn't see them. That night however, his dark brown flesh held a particularly vehement aura and I feasted on the way his fingertips disappeared into the shadows of my crotch. Desperately, I needed him to see my flushed insides, my blossoming inner lips, and my delicate rosebud. I needed so much for him to examine me up close that I stepped out of my underwear and splayed my cream-colored thighs as wide as possible.
“Do you want something?” he asked, toying with my swollen labia.
“Yes, I do. Could you please...” I opened myself wider.
Smirking, Adrian re-inserted his fingers into my cavity. "Is this good?"
Noticing his penis bouncing around like a fidgety knee, I ground onto his hand until he’d bumped the curve of my cervix. "Yes, that's perfect." After about twenty seconds--my thighs burning--I stood up and moved directly in front of his face.
"Now what?”
“Mmmmm,” I whined.
“Tell me what you want or you'll get nothing.”
I frowned momentarily, not sure I could be so crass. “Adrian, look at me,” I ultimately whispered.
“Look at what?”
“You know.”
“No, I don’t. You have to say it.” He wasn’t about to let me off so easy.
“I want you to look at my pussy," I said, forcing myself to the say the full sentence. Then, like a regular trollop, I added, “I want you to suck on my clit the way you did yesterday. Suck it until I cum all over your face.”
“That’s what I like to hear,” he growled, gently easing my lips apart. “You know I love the way you taste.”
“Go slow this time,” I sighed, holding his ears as he began probing my opening. “Slow...”
Ponderously, he dressed and undressed my engorged labia, tonguing my hole and nursing on my folds until I was ready to scream. On a reprieve, he assuaged his erection. “See what I have for you?”
"Put it in," I implored, plunging to within inches of his cock.
Pulling his foreskin tight, he said, “Come on.” And making my descent, I swallowed him inch by glorious inch. “That’s nice,” Adrian sighed. “Now wash that pole.”
Laughing, I did my best to fulfill his request, mimicking a merry-go-round horse for as long as I could. When my thighs began to spasm however, I pulled off, collapsing at his side. "I can't go anymore."
“Come back baby. Rest on your knees.” He helped me readjust and we continued on with pasted torsos, grappling arms and twining tongues, loitering with the actual "in" and "out" of it all in an attempt to delay the inevitable. A couple of times Adrian had to pause, his face vibrating, his eyes clamping shut like he was trying to stop a train wreck. “Here,” he said. “Set your feet out to the side so I can push myself all the way in.”
Eagerly complying, I widened my aperture, driving him to the very end of my passage, thereby heightening the friction between us. With increased zeal, I undulated back and forth, and back and forth, kissing him ferociously, pounding onto him for all I was worth, the culmination of which left us both blown away.
After, with our private parts joined and sticky--my chin pressed into the sweaty skin of his back, his forehead stuck to my collarbone--we rolled in and out of an effortless slumber for a good five minutes or so. Rousing at last, we hugged each other tight, both of us luxuriating in the scent of our sex, both of us contemplating all we'd done that day.
And just when I thought the moment was over, Adrian began outlining some kind of shape onto my back, tracing it over again and again. Realizing what it was, I smiled in silence, the heart becoming a permanent etching on my skin. Without a doubt, I knew that it was his subtle response to the comment I’d made earlier that evening.
And you’ll never believe this, but apart from his tendency to draw hearts all over my body, that was how Adrian expressed his love for me for the first decade of our marriage. It wasn’t until our tenth wedding anniversary that he actually looked me in the eye and said the words “I love you”--not even once.