A crack down the phone. Electricity. I can hear the shift, even in the silence that follows.
And then this.
Lucy. Tell me what you see.
I … I stumble against the words. How are we here? Here we are. Seeing the line, only as we step to cross it.
Tell me what you see.
And I’m looking at my body now, kicking off the sheets. Wanting to do this. Suddenly. Wanting to wake up after years of sleeping.
I’m here, Joe. I’m … tell me what you want to know.
Of course it was leading to this. From the moment he walked into my apartment, and we didn’t quite know how to touch. Or right after, when we continued to meet in secret, night after night. The decision made then, not to tell anybody. Shared secrets, those that belong to the two of you, are a very different weight to carry. They bind you to each other, and they make you search each other for their meaning.
It has to mean something – when you hide the truth like this. No one has ever needed to protect an unimportant secret.
And so here we are. Here is where our deception has taken us. Joe telling me where to put my hands. Joe’s voice like silk, sliding off my skin. His low commands, and my own fingers responding, following his instruction.
Tell me where, tell me what to do, Joe.
He is a patient teacher, his words making me find all of the broken parts for myself, helping me fuse them into something whole. Because he’s there too, telling me how, and my body is metal and fire under this touch. That’s what I see under my skin when I close my eyes, when I let him guide me. Silver bones and bright red nerve, before I’m pushed right out of my own skin, pulled apart and dissolved, suddenly, exquisitely, into something beyond a body and scars.
I don’t even recognise the sound of release I make, the surprised cry from deep within.
I’ve never done this before.
You’re frigid, I think, Adam said once, after yet another failed attempt to make my body respond. Always such concerted effort, and constant focus, until I would panic under this pressure, and my mind would go blank. Apologising over and over for the numbness, for my failure to please him. I thought it would always be this way for me. I thought it was my body’s fault.
I try to process what I have just discovered, what Joe has led me to, tonight. And I want that feeling again. Now. The tremors haven’t quite let me alone; it is as if my cells are cementing the sensations so that I won’t forget. My breathing is shallow down the phone, my fingers remembering what to do; I fall silent as they start their journey over, repeating these new and bright lessons learned.
I have always been a quick study with the right guide.
But this extended silence between us has worried Joe; he wonders aloud if he has pushed me too far.
Have I, Lucy? Are you all right with this? With what just happened?
(Lucy. Tell me what you see. I have never known such care.)
Joe. It’s okay. More than okay. My assurance is delivered between jagged breaths. Just give me a minute.
Metal and fire, under my skin and behind my eyes, all over again.
I’ve never done this before.
Joe’s burst of laughter at my revelation sounds both perplexed, and relieved. It is a beautiful hum against my ear, and as my body arches toward his voice, I spill over into laughing too.
And it feels like music played across my skin, as I tell Joe exactly what I’m making of his lessons now.