"Cold Ocean" by Richard Burgin

He sensed that she felt comfortable with everything too.  She’d told him her age, or something close to it, and about her divorce (her husband had stopped being interested in her, which Barry translated as he stopped having sex with her) and about her travels and her life of teaching school – he could tell she was one of those devoted type school teachers.  She’d been so candid about everything and obviously felt very good about it.  She exuded self-respect, and merely hoped he liked what she said. 

“No reason to let the rest of the bottle go to waste,” she said, pouring them both another glass.

“No reason at all,” he said, laughing.

So she wanted a little help, she wasn’t quite as sturdy as she appeared, or else she just liked getting high.  Either way, he liked it.  As soon as he finished the next glass his hands went straight to her breasts and she put up no resistance at all.  She moaned a little and said, “That feels nice.”
When he went to unhook her bra he thought she’d help him right away but she didn’t.  She was old school.  She gave him a shot at doing it first and eventually he succeeded. They were good-sized breasts, too, quite firm for her age.  She was proud of them and deserved to be.  He kissed her and she kissed him back, a little too eagerly for his taste, making him think briefly of a squirrel chewing a nut.  The next ones were better, though.  His hand went down and locked with hers and they walked to her room. 

Her bedroom was like a continuation of her living room, as if it were the living room’s daughter.  There was a wall length picture window looking out over Chicago.  In the distance he could see the blue of the lake.  There were glass tables and a thick off-white carpet on the floor.  The only other color in the room was her pink bedspread.  He expected to see some photographs of her family, then remembered that she’d said she had no children.

He lay down on the bed and kissed her but kept his eyes open.  She had a kind of self-satisfied smile on her face which he found exciting but also aggravating, almost as if she was having an adventure at his expense. He shut his eyes and tried not to think about it.  Soon he began to enjoy himself again and even wished she lived near him in New York.  Not too near in the city, but maybe somewhere in a suburb.  It would help him during this time when he was trying to get over his mother, which was like trying to forget about the sun or the ocean – impossible of course.

“I wish you lived in New York, near me,” he said.

“I’m here now, let’s enjoy our now together.”

Her remark, so typical, like something smuggled out of EST or Zen Buddism for Midwesterners irritated him.  He slid down on the bed and decided to concentrate on pleasing her so he wouldn’t have to think of her or his mother either.

That worked out well, and for a while made things better.  It was comforting in a way and oddly enjoyable too as he braced himself for her moment of release.  But it didn’t happen.  Soon he began to feel as if he were in a tunnel whose walls were slowly closing in.  He wanted to get out, afraid that he wouldn’t be able to breathe but he stayed on task imagining he was in a medical situation where he had to do this to save her life.   Finally her muscles started to contract, like a twitching fish in the ocean, and she moaned and it was over.

He let her rest for a while before he penetrated her.  But almost as soon as he began he was staggered by images of his mother.  There were even pictures of her on the beach with him – the beach a combination of one in Cape Cod and one in Santa Barbara that he’d been to with her.  Those were beaches where he’d laughed and held her hand, when the two of them were away at last from everything that could ruin it in a place where they’d embraced and she’d looked at him with real love in her eyes while she said “Barry, my beautiful son.”

To distract himself from these memories he had to do it hard but Mariane didn’t say anything and squeezed his hand when it was over.


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Per Contra Fiction - Winter 2006