We argued on our way to the orgy cum festival cum exploration of the human body cum disgusting self-indulgent festival cum parody cum marriage of our sentiments. It was after we smoked, listlessly guzzled gin, and heard a story about a serial killer in the subway. It (the orgy) took place in four warehouses that used to house a nut-roasting factory, but all you could smell was stale popcorn, rubber soles, sweat. Our argument centered around The Impenetrable Force That Is My Defenses. The ones that compel me to sneer at the world and shrug into my jacket, the one that is a cashmere blend but does not keep my fingers warm. They make me curl into myself but struggle. They make me feel encased in a sterile wrapper, they compel me to ball my hands into constant, small fists.
They distance me. I distance myself.
I struggled to keep up with the group and the last line of the story rang through my head, the one I stumbled upon while shopping for expensive shirts and jackets, the one that says, “he wanted to arrange a foursome, but there was no one available, so I saw him only at meals,” and ends with the perpetual grasp of dissatisfaction across an expanse of flesh. I have small reversed dimples where the corners of my mouth turn down now.
I recall this fact as it is my first reaction as we enter the throat, plush velvet walls poked taut at the corners and are hazily waved in by a scruffy figure in a tall, grimy pink fur hat and a neck-to-footy polka dotted knit suit with an exaggerated bulge in the crotch. The warehouse is red and purple, the fire exits are nonexistent. The rooms bleed into one another, the main punctuated by a DJ and swarm of bodies in pulsing shades of pink and tattoo and surrounded by amorphous beanbags shaped like bursting organs, plopped along the perimeter. They had the shape and palette of the green apple gumballs I used to buy in fistfuls at the hardware store, the cushy mindlessness of the feeling of spitting malleable globs onto the cement when the sugar disappeared, white and ephemeral. And they were covered in bodies overlapping, bodies writhing in tandem.
We wandered as a group, we split alone. Bottles of piss bracketed the corners, half hophouse, half art. The art, for the most part, is stupid. It doesn’t resonate with me outside of the static, erratic splaying of film on wall. That, I can relate to, and you can take the knitbombing and inflatables and leave the rest behind. There’s not much to see beyond the dark, but we’re drawn to the pillows on the floor, hot with sweat and limbs. She grabs the back of my hair and wrenches my brain upward, and we sit down and fall into the ocean.
The kiss feels like she’s fucking me with her mouth, jamming her tongue as deep as it will go, stopping the flow of air with her hands and mouth. She’s sealing me up and fusing us together. The moment is a study in surround-sound, with the projection light white-hot across our bodies, pink smoke and sky above. To my left, I hear grunts and a steady beat from an old Blondie song. Everything feels right even if it is falling apart. So what if it is? Her teeth punctuate and puncture. My moans lower a few pitches as I settle into the rhythm. I think I know her, sometimes, I think I have her all figured out. She grinds her teeth on my pliable creases and when I clench, she lets go.
Except when she doesn’t. She goes hard, she goes harder, she lets the bodies absorb me and lets the music muffle my screams. The final bite is like a crack of wind as a door is opened and I yelp ‘cucumber’ as my lip splits and she recedes, she lets go. It’s the first time I’ve ever safeworded with her. I don’t remember the last time I did it at all.
As soon as she’s on top of me, she’s gone. She wants to stay, she thinks, but she needs to find the group. She tells me to wait and I wait. Suddenly, I’m consumed with a panic and a pride that the most beautiful girl in the world has been swallowed by the crowd. Where I first wanted all, I now want none as I swivel my head wildly and realize that she’s really, really gone. I am bracketed by two men and two women and they’re all giving me sympathetic, kind eyes. There’s a soft brush near my feet, a tightness in my ankles and when I look down I realize there’s been a man there the whole time. He is rolling like I’ve never seen before, his eyes are closed but tears are leaking from them and he is whispering something into my black leather shoes, stroking the velvet of my pants with the most tender, minute touches. His hands never linger for more than a second and his fingers don’t stray above my ankles.
At first, I think he is a foot fetishist and I start to recede, words of consent and boundaries at my lips, ready to shoot, but then I see that he’s holding on for dear life, clad in nothing but a pair of silver underwear. He’s so coked out. He’s barely touching me but he’s curled up like we’ve just made love. I watch him for what feels like an hour, what is more like ten minutes as he brushes his beard across the toe of my shoes. His eyelids are covered in glitter. His face is doughy. He probably works in finance or as a digital media consultant and maintains a profile on OkCupid and considers himself an INFJ, but now he’s all alone in a private reality. I don’t want to be that. My feelings of magic turn to gritty reality. The beanbags are sticky and someone has just sparked a lighter to light something and the bodies are more fervent, metallic-stinked and taut with the shine of sweat and dime bags and I just want to leave. I don’t want this to ingest me because it’ll be harsh in the morning when I brush off and leave and realize there’s nothing to go back to but dirty condoms and anchor tattoos. I want Red to take me home. Seeing her face is like opening the door and realizing there’s a whole new world outside and I grab her hand and she whisks us away from the writhing sea.
The world is getting distorted, and when push comes to shove, all I want is fresh air and a pile of pancakes, so we head toward the exit. The air is crisp and clean on my lips, the first part that pokes beyond the brick and mortar and as I eke my way back into the light I realize my tie is askew, wrenched nearly to the side of my neck. We get a cab and the ride home passes us by gentle things. The dawn of 3:17AM, bruised purple like the bottom center of my lip, Yeshiva buses empty of schoolchildren with Hebrew lettering on the side, winding past the shuttered restaurants and aluminum bodegas and Polish lettering until we are finally somewhere that looks like a home.
When we last met, my screams were swallowed into the white noise around us.
This time, everything was quiet.
Last night, The Photographer came over, bearing toys and homemade beer that poured thick and sweet from the bottle, and tasted like banana bread. Since the encounter, I’d seen her for a few drinks, and had been alone with Red, of course. But now we were together again, my body tensile and taut for their energy. The interactions were shy and sweet, like watching the petals of a first date unfold. I still maintain my wonder in how well they interact, partners with mutual nefarious goals at the forefront of their twitching fists. We eat and cavort, a triangular flirtation, and retire to the bedroom.
The canvas is blank this time, we are in an open-source great wide yonder and there are no supports or areas to guide us. Slowly, I strip, my eyes on them, and they instruct me to lay out their toys on the bed and arrange them to their liking. I take pleasure in the quiet order and subtle berating, increasing in intensity to a clanging opus that will ring in my ears. Red knocks me to the ground, her belt looped around her fists. I live in a house where there are constantly glasses strewn across the table and across the building, I can hear them tin. I am thrown around, tested, my weight calibrated in the rough-hewn palms of my artisans. Knocked onto the bed. The Photographer taunts me with her rope, lashing me in quick, fierce doses across the fat of my inner thighs and muscles. My legs are trussed and suspended at an angle, tied to the radiator emanating gentle heat. I experiment with this new center of gravity, my world and body upturned and anchored to a point.
They leave and I wait, I turn and sway. The Photographer has a slapper, made of a hard plastic and rope, and when she returns she whacks it against my thighs. It makes a satisfying, hollow sound and stings at the surface of my skin. They take turns slapping my immobilized half, delighting as I squeal and bring my hands to rub my thighs. They work in tandem, coaxing the pain from my core and intensify. Our classic flogger has a nasty counterpart, a new, tiny rubber flogger with thin strands that lash like beestings. Each hit spreads out like a fractal, fanning out from the base in a pattern naturalistic and cruel.
Their pacing reminds me of an opera, unfolding slowly and steeped in its drama, ever tongue-in-cheek. We make jokes and fill the spaces of silence with laughter. We are comfortable, comforted by each other. They untie me for a moment and rub their hands across me, a hand circling each rosy translucent wrist bone where the ropes dug in. Our repose is brief, but warms me in quick, fierce waves, like the scratch of a woolen blanket before they grab me by the harness and kick me to the floor. Their boots, Doc Martins and Redwings bleeding into the aged wood of the floor and ambered lights, dance across my skin like they want to push me underground. Each kick elicits a pop of a scream pushed from my lips like an embryo, birthed from the hollow of my throat. I curse and I smile, through the hiss of my teeth as the blows increase. Red flogs my ass until I feel warm all over and the kicks mottle the cream of my skin and bones.
The harness comes into play tonight and for a brief, strange moment I am held aloft, a moment of flight before I crash into the bed. I am sitting dazed on my ass, looking betwixt the two for guidance when Red’s fist plunges into my heart, a dull thud of my breastbone, a light rattling to my ribcage chandelier. All that emanates is a shallow breath of a woman drowning on land before the next punch catches me in the gut, doubles me in two and expands my ego. My smile remains. Turned on my stomach, my thigh thuds with pain and I feel it vibrate through the lower half of my body, oozing through my pussy. Red is beating me with the handle of her flogger, digging the exposed hook into my skin. It is like a club, thick and unyielding and stinks of police brutality and opposition, of blows that won’t bloom but will fester below the skin, and I love it.
They wrench my arms behind me and tie them to the rings of my harness so I am flat on my belly like a dog, slung low on the ground. It’s cold and lonely on the bottom until hands snake between my thighs, probing with a languid curiosity underneath my panties. I feel Red’s eyes scanning my punctured form, hawklike. She looks like she is ready to feast as they pace around me in a quiet riot, a bacchanal for my body. The tip of her knife slips into my mouth, drawing my lips up into an unintentional sneer at the corner. I feel the sharpness glinting in the softness of my cheek, where each movement downward draws the blade up, prepared to create microscopic lacerations in my silver-tongued bravado.
She grabs me by the heart and wrenches me to my knees, slumped in a modified sitting position against the foot of the bed. Slipping two fingers into my mouth, she moves them in and out with a rhythmic precision. From the corner of my eye, I see The Photographer take aim and, despite being wrenched between two places, despite the cry and ache of my flesh, I absorb it. The first punch is fleeting as the next ten flurry in the exact same place. I feel like a punching bag for her relentless hands and lurch forward into Red.
The tender, plush center of her chest is a pillow for me to cry on and cry I do, big sobs as the punches thunder into my muscles. They do not stop no matter how I beg, please please please into the cashmere of her skin, wet with my tears. I am caught between the active response and the passive one, choked in the middle of two unyielding punishments. Red is patient with her hand curled around my harness, hoisting me up although my muscles slink into the ground. Her other hand grabs a fistful of meaty thigh and pinches, her eyes locked to mine. She licks her lips.
Held fast by the harness, there is little I can do but take the punches, and soon after, the slaps to the face that come in equal speed and brutality. Even when I let go of my body, though, they’re quick to catch it, and haul it onto the bed, dragged toward the pillow as Red dives into me and that’s when I really scream, The Photographer’s black handkerchief stuffed into my mouth and her hands encircling my shoulders, pinching and stroking in equal doses. Red pumps violently, like she’s trying to chase my heart through the curls and shapes of my body, and at a mutual look, I seize and come.
They see through me and see me through.
The aftercare is delicate and jovial. Two hands, two wrists, this time, theirs in mine. In the morning, I ache at the joints and muscles below the skin, like I’ve eked out of a shell overnight and am stretching into something new. My skin feels fresh and tender, puffy as though it has reconstructed and grown overnight, or maybe healed over whatever had broken.
She pushed her glass forward with an eagerness befitting only someone under twenty-one, and I realized, too late, that I’d caught up with the median age for baby-dyke hookups. She had the cleavage of a woman in her thirties, bodacious and brilliant, and a pick-up line that immediately sent her to the front of my list. In the middle of my work day earlier that week, I’d read the message with a slow, stupid grin spreading across my face, showing it to my coworkers. The women were duly impressed and the men were jealous.
“My father and I shot a deer earlier this week,” said The Huntress, “And if you’d like, I can bring you some of it to cook.” All of my domesticated fantasies were realized in a bloody Ziplock bag that I grabbed from her hands as she entered the room. She seemed unimpressed with my surroundings, my humble low-rise. This was in the winter, and I’d stood outside, sucking the last of a cigarette before she came upon me. The pallor leeched into the meal. The venison, she insisted, needed no more than a simple rub of brown sugar, paprika, salt, and pepper, despite my mooney, google-eyed looks at the spice rack and empty canvas of the slippery meat. She was not partial to the roasted fennel and taleggio I made, and throughout our exchange, made a convincing twenty-three, as she stated, until the aforementioned wine glass hit the floor.
She pushed the glass, a grin across her face, and I took a moment to ask her, offhandedly, when she’d graduated college. Her profile said twenty-three. Her ID said nineteen. I tossed back my wine, pouring her apple cider instead, and asked her if she ought to go home, and that’s when her hand snaked across my thigh. She’d brought rare tea, I’d queued up Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but we ended up watching Spirited Away, and inexplicably spent the better part of an evening trading novels.
I still have her copy of Anansi Boys. She fucked languidly, with more control than I’d had at nineteen. It was muted, though, with an undercurrent of clumsiness in the curl of her fingers crooked on the trigger and the way she looked at me, nervously, as if she worried I was going to break. It made me wonder what she looked like with one eye on her prey, if her hands shook as she shot her bow or her rifle or her voice, bouncing off the walls and absorbed by the snow outside as I licked her. We’d since switched, as she was frustrated, and she came with one finger on the pulse of her heart and the wet scratch of my tongue across her clit. She lingered longer than I’d have liked, curling up in book with Eugenides and a mug of sencha amid my strewn comforters and afghans, and left me with six pounds of leftover tenderloin, the plate underneath slick and bloodied.
Later, I would swipe my finger across it and tear the flesh with the sharpest edges of my teeth.