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The Great Kings of Persia
“A phrase keeps going through my mind: The Great Kings of Persia.”
“What is it? Is it a story? A poem?”
“It’s nothing,” she said. “Nothing at all. Just a phrase. A title.”
“Storm drift. Something. It could be something,” said Dash. “That’s how ideas work. That’s how inspiration works, right? Something out of the blue. Unconnected, arbitrary. Unrooted.”
“I get it,” she said.
“I said, I get it,” she whispered. Her head lay on his chest. From there she could see out the room’s only window and its slatted blind, and through it the branches of an unruly lilac drooping with its pendulous white clusters, against the background of an old, gnarled, grasping black cherry. The tree’s trunk forked into two almost symmetrical branches, like arms raised to the spring sky: a supplicant.
She thought about the day before when her own arms were similarly splayed, pinned to the bed, her wrists gripped hard in the strong hands of the dark young boy from the market who delivered her groceries. He held her outstretched arms fast as he fucked her. He was broad and beautifully muscled in the arms, shoulders, and chest. His skin reminded her of chocolate. She considered his large, handsome face as it loomed above her, his white teeth a pearlescent inlay in a darkish mask. His eyes were closed as he pounded his thick, hard cock in and out of her. She grunted from the force of his thrusts; they were purposeful and urgent. She told him to feed it to her. Only then did he release her arms to move up to straddle her chest and push his glistening dark member between her lips.
He said his name was Rez. She’d only finally asked him what it was after he’d come in her mouth. The volume seemed generous and potently thick but she swallowed it effortlessly though her throat burned slightly afterward. Rez dismounted her and lay down to catch his breath. She saw the thick artery in his neck twitching rapidly, his heart still pounding. She liked the idea of a heart pounding like that for her; she would have touched herself to bring herself to orgasm, but she knew she didn’t have much time with him now.
She left the bed to take up her sketch book and a charcoal stick, and sat in the straight-back chair near the window to draw Rez. She first sketched him as he lay. She worked in quick, broad strokes, framing out the figure. Flat on his back, he looked like a body on a morgue slab.
She flipped to a new sheet. She told him to sit up against the headboard and bend one leg at the knee. No, the other leg. Thanks.
The low natural light of her bedroom and his brown skin made Rez’s body a collection of dark, gradient shapes, adjoining and overlapping.
She flipped to a new sheet. She told him to look away from her, toward her dressing table. His neck was also thick and strong, corded. She stared at his large hand, topographical with veins, resting atop his bare thigh.
She sketched parts disconnected, vignettes: his turned head and neck, his veiny hand, the dark mass of hair and flesh between his legs.
The Great Kings of Persia. It wasn’t at all serendipitous.
The mornings were for writing and drawing. Both activities required a stillness and concentration, and concentration like that required some amount of rigor and stamina. Writing and drawing were stimulating and enjoyable until they weren’t. She never tried to write or draw beyond the lunch hour, even if she wasn’t feeling fatigued from it, even if she thought she could continue. If she worked at those things until she reached the point of fatigue, then it spoiled the satisfaction she got from it. She would feel sour, wrung out, and displeased with what she had done, even if some of the work was good.
It was black, and very thick, very dense, a little coarse, and somewhat unruly. Dash was always brushing it away from her face when they were having sex, combing it back with his fingers. But he wouldn’t let her put it in a tie. Or, that is, he asked her not to. He said he liked the way it fell about her face when she sucked him off, and he would brush it back, brush it back, over and over, while she stroked him and licked him and softly sucked his cockhead.
She knew he was about to come when his hands went still, when he stopped fiddling with her hair.
She painted in the afternoons, after she had drawn as much from the well of the morning as she could. This was also concentration, but a dissimilar kind: more liberating, sensual, and tactile in a way that was different from drawing or writing.
With the money from the Biennale and a show at the Lisson Gallery in Manhattan, she bought a 3,000-square foot semi-ranch in a bucolic borough in the hills above the river, still close enough to the city that she had views of it if she climbed up on her roof, which she’d done a couple times before the accident. Then, with the money from the accident, she’d built a large shed-cum-studio on the property’s fenced-in north lawn; more like a detached güvenilir bahis two-car garage with skylights and sliding barn doors. That’s where she painted and worked with whatever other media happened to engage her.
The front of the studio had a southern exposure. When the weather was warm, like now, she could leave the two big sliding doors open while she worked. She worked in the same dirty canvas sneakers and well-worn painter’s bib overalls that she’d been using for years, sometimes with a t-shirt underneath and sometimes not, depending on the temperature. No one could really see that part of her property without coming all the way down the drive to the end of the driveway.
Painting was stimulating; it always had been, it never changed. She couldn’t remember if the creative act had stoked her physical desire, or if desire had led her to the canvas. But it didn’t matter anymore, it was all of a piece. The movement, the adrenaline, the tactility.
Sometimes if Dash could get free he would stop by in the afternoon when she was painting and fuck her. She never found it to be an interruption. She welcomed it. Painting always put her in a state of arousal, like a low-grade fever, and the moment she saw him coming down the drive, her need seemed to suddenly spike and all she could think about was having his cock inside of her.
Most times, now that this had become a thing, they often didn’t say anything to each other. She knew why he was stopping by and he knew why she wanted him to stop. She would unhook the bib of her coveralls, undo the buttons at the hips, let them drop to the floor, and bend over the long work table against the shed’s western wall while he undid his pants. She didn’t need any foreplay, she’d already be wet. She would pull her panties aside with one hand and grab the vise bolted to the table with the other, and Dash would fuck her.
He would fuck her so hard that the heavy table shook and the pegboard of tools on the wall above it rattled. He would fuck her so hard her knees would start to weaken and only her tiny waist in his rough grasp would keep her from sinking to the concrete floor. Sometimes she told him to come in her cunt. Sometimes she told him to shoot his load all over her ass, or up her back. He would fuck her so hard that sometimes she couldn’t rise from the table for several minutes after because he would be pinning her there, slumped over her back, winded, spent. She would hand him a rag—a remnant of an old cotton t-shirt, decorated with paint splotches and fragrant with linseed oil—and he would mop up the ropes and dollops of cum on her ass. And then, solicitously, he would pull her overalls back up for her, because it was still difficult for her sometimes to squat and do it herself.
On occasion, when Dash hadn’t stopped by for several afternoons and she felt fairly certain that she would see him on a particular day, she would engage in some small preparation before heading out to the studio. On those days, bent over the work table, she would look back at him over her shoulder, through her thick mass of unruly hair, and tell him to fuck her in the ass.
She was thirty-five and had slept with a lot of men, but Dash was the only one she had ever let fuck her ass. She had fantasized about it when masturbating, and used her toys on it many times. Something about Dash, though. They were both aggressive people, and the sex between them could be raw, but beneath that she felt his solicitude of her. It was there long before she ever fucked him, which was why she fucked him.
After Dash fucked her ass for the first time, he hadn’t believed her when she told him she’d never let anyone fuck her there before. It had all been so… unfraught with any kind of fear or trepidation.
But it was true. It had gone that way because she wanted it, and wanted it from him. It was slick and lustful and long anticipated by her, and the uncommon sensation of his cum pumping into her ass prompted an orgasm that was itself unlike the kind she normally experienced.
And now she couldn’t imagine ever letting anyone else fuck her ass. Though she knew that someday someone else probably would. Dash wouldn’t be around forever.
Up at 6:30. After she acquitted herself, peed, washed her face, and tried to brush some sense into her thick, black bedhead, she boiled water for tea and immediately sat down at her desk to draw or write. No television, no radio, no phone or Internet. She didn’t want to read anything. She was scrupulous about avoiding the world’s disruptive noise before she managed get to pen to paper. Even tiny, useful bits, like the weather forecast, required some effort to clear from her mind. She usually sat down to work at her desk in the same t-shirt and panties she’d slept in, her good leg tucked up beneath her on the chair.
The morning that the boy Rez came by with her box of groceries, she’d forgotten she’d placed the order the night before. She was in her kitchen brewing a fresh pot of tea when the doorbell rang. She was going türkçe bahis to ignore it, but then she remembered.
Normally she would have taken the box at the door, but the boy was so handsome and dark that she asked him to come in and take the box to her kitchen. He hesitated; she wondered if perhaps he wasn’t allowed to go into a customer’s house, but maybe did it anyway when he saw her leg. She’d had her right leg amputated below the knee after the accident, and so these days wore a transtibial prosthesis. She was usually fine carrying heavy or bulky things, though it was something she had to learn how to do after the accident. Callie, her visiting therapist, had taught her that.
The boy followed her. Her t-shirt barely covered her ass. She pulled the back of it down past her bottom as she led him into the kitchen. Not of out modesty but just the opposite: she wanted to make sure he was looking at it.
The boy had thick, black hair, like she did, but unlike hers, his was fine, smooth, glossy, and brushed straight back. It was luxurious and wet-looking. She would later dwell on the image of a thick, lustrous forelock of his hair falling across his brow as he loomed over her small, slender body, fucking her: the dark skin of his face satiny like sweated chocolate.
While she was sketching him in her bedroom that morning, Rez asked her about her nationality. She told him that she was half Japanese. She knew that was the half he was interested in because of her features—what an old lover had once described as watered-down Asian. She didn’t tell him the other half.
The boy placed the box of groceries on the kitchen island. There was a bone-white porcelain teapot on a hot pad. There was a slender cylindrical vase, also bone-white, with fresh asters she’d clipped from the beds along her back deck—deep purple puffs atop pale green stalks. The boy didn’t know where to look. Or, rather, he was embarrassed to fix his eyes where’d he prefer: her bra-less breasts beneath the white t-shirt; her good leg, smooth and slender and bare almost to her groin; her artificial limb, with its hard plastic socket and nylon sleeve, gleaming aluminum pylon, and small rubberized foot. He finally settled on her face.
She asked him how old he was. He told her he was twenty, in college studying engineering, working part-time until finals were done and he could start a summer internship.
“I want to give you a tip,” she said. “My purse is in the other room.”
He followed her out as far as the entryway and stopped to wait there. She smiled and shook her head.
“No,” she told him. “You should come back here.”
She never felt any regret or unhappiness or depression in the aftermath of the accident. The majority of the numerous possible other outcomes, starting with death at the very top of the scale and descending through a series of lesser horrors, made her loss not only endurable but something of a relief. Actually, death wasn’t the worst possible calamity, when she thought about it.
Recovering, she felt herself suffuse with a powerful but indistinct hunger, a longing that often spiked into spells of sudden voraciousness. It seemed intertwined somehow with the pain. It came and went, it seemed—the pain, that is—uncontrollably and without pattern. And when it came, her impulse wasn’t to numb it (she had a small device that allowed her to self-administer morphine), but to complement it. Grimacing against it, twisting up her hospital gown, she jammed both hands in her panties and masturbated furiously, the pads of her fingertips rubbing rapidly at her clit like she was trying to rub out a smudge from a pane of glass, and the two fingers of her other hand pumping in and out of her pussy. She orgasmed but continued, trying to make herself come again as quickly as possible, no pausing, like an onslaught, a self-assault, trying to feel a pleasure that was as nearly unendurable as the pain sluicing through her. The pain itself contributed: it was the tips of a whip, a slap, a nipple between clenching teeth, two cocks too big for her petite cunt and tight ass but pressing forth nonetheless. She came again, her body cold with sweat, and continued.
Her mother and father drove in from Philadelphia. Her younger brother flew in from Boston. Her younger sister—the middle of the three siblings—was in Japan for several months for her job, but flew back, bringing their 90-year-old grandmother from Tokyo, as soon as she heard about the accident. They all stayed at the house she’d only recently bought. They all visited her every day. Her sister asked her what she needed from home.
“Do you want to sketch? Do you want me to bring your book, some tools?” Regina asked. The second daughter got an Italian name as the result of parental compromise, even though she turned out to look more distinctly Asian than her older sister.
“No,” she said. “I don’t want to draw. In my nightstand, get the Pocket Rocket.”
“Are you serious?” Regina whispered.
“Desperately,” she said.
“Um… okay. I’ll bring güvenilir bahis siteleri it tomorrow.”
“No,” she said. “Today. I need it today.”
“Okay, well… I’ll get it today. Anything else?”
“Extra batteries,” she said.
As she began her rehabilitation, she developed a graphomania compulsion.
Since it would be a number of months before she could stand and work at an easel for any length of time, she instead began with pencil studies in her sketchbook. This was nothing new to her. Everything that ended up on canvas began with sketches.
What was new to her, during that time, was the anxiety she suddenly felt the first time she contemplated the blank sheet. The absence it represented was yawning, vast. She needed to do something, anything, to fill it.
The work began as a series of delicately rendered glyphs, densely collected, starting in the center of the page and expanding concentrically. She first worked in graphite, then switched to pen and ink. She wasn’t sure why she was doing it. It seemed to flow from her unconscious. The repetition of the shape she was drawing, the nearly obsessive compulsion to keep repeating it, assumed a transcendental aspect. As the adjoining and overlapping shapes expanded into a larger patterned shape of its own, she almost felt like she was absorbed into the work in progress, into the its two-dimensionality.
Not the shapes but the act of making the shapes was the theme: repeated obsessively until the entire page was covered to its edges. It was meticulous, close-in work. And, again, a fully tactile engagement, an analog pleasure. Despite this world, this life of vast, digital, immersive ghostliness, the only real pleasures were analog pleasures.
And, she realized, she was also erasing a great absence.
She was in the hospital for ten days. She slept a lot during the day when her family members visited. Part of her fatigue was the result of her body’s healing, but part was also because she spent a good portion of her nights—the only time she was mostly alone in her room—masturbating against tides of pain. Her pain dissipated into something less chronic, and with it the need for complementary stimulation lessened, but not her desire for it. By the fifth night, her Pocket Rocket was losing its efficacy. She needed more than just orgasms at her own hand, so she looked to one of her night nurses for relief, a forty-something man with a slight paunch and trim ginger beard.
He was not unhandsome: average looking, but neat and kind. He wore a plain gold wedding band. He came in, as he did every few hours, to check on her and take her blood pressure and vitals, and when he asked her how she was doing, she told him what she wanted.
If he was surprised, he was good at concealing it. He maintained his patient, kind nurse’s tone as he fixed her in the blood pressure sleeve. She swung her arm so her fingers could find the crotch of his scrubs, and he gently placed it back on the bed.
She pushed aside the bed sheet and pulled up her hospital gown.
“I’m really wet,” she said. “I’m ready. Touch it. You’ll see.”
“I can’t do that, Sweetheart, you know that,” he said, his eyes flicking over her exposed groin, lightly shaded with emerging growth since she hadn’t been able to shave down there since the accident.
“Please,” she whispered. “I just need your hard cock in me. Just fuck me until you come.”
His unfastening of her blood pressure cuff crackled like driveway fireworks.
“I’m just going to raise this up a little bit,” he said and adjusted her bed so she was more upright. She sat up and he carefully drew the front of her gown to partially expose her chest. She inhaled sharply, expectantly, but he only warmed the chestpiece of his stethoscope against his palm to listen to her heart and breathing. He eased her forward to listen to her back and she tugged the gown down past her breasts.
He didn’t adjust it. Her breasts were full and round and tipped with small, dark nipples. He eased her back against the bed to listen to her heart. She closed her eyes and put a hand between her legs, began touching herself.
“Your BP is higher than normal and so is your heart rate,” he put a hand on her forearm. “You need to take some deep breaths for me and try to relax now.” His tone was patient and his voice was soft.
“I told you what I need,” she breathed.
The nurse began fixing the front of her gown to cover her breasts and, in the process, discreetly pressed her infusion pump to administer a dose of analgesic. Almost immediately the sharpened edges of her pain and lust began to soften. She sighed. Her hand stilled. She let him finish adjusting her gown. He laid a cool hand on her forehead and told her to try to get some rest.
She slept briefly, and when she woke a couple of hours later, moaning softly from freshly encroaching pain and desire, her nurse was standing next to her bed, only half-seen in the weak light of monitor screens and the illuminated outdoor hospital grounds that glowed past her partially curtained windows. He was staring at her, and brushing a thick, dark tangle of hair from her face. She turned her head toward him and, as before, pulled down the front of her hospital johnnie.
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