I’m sexting him from my mother’s 68th birthday party. My family’s sitting around a table covered in floral-patterned plastic in my sister’s backyard, the grill cooling now, the plates in front of us holding just crumbs of birthday cake, except on my mother’s plate where there’s also a pile of icing that she’s pushed off to the side. Too sweet. My brother-in-law is recounting a biking trip he took with the guys in Vermont. They call it a man-cation. My children are splashing their cousins in the inflatable pool; my husband, unaware of us all, lounges in an Adirondack in the shade off in a corner of the yard, his phone propped atop his ballooned middle. Maybe he is doing sexting of his own but more likely he’s shopping for car parts. I don’t begrudge him either way; it would be hypocritical. My own qualmish feelings about fucking another man have long since evaporated.
With practiced stealth, I send him a photo; one saved amongst many more in a gallery folder meant just for him. Topless. Sprawled out on my black bed sheets. Wisps of my long hair fall around the curves of my breasts. My nipples reach out to him in desperation and lust. The photo is black and white. Artistic, really. But I look fucking hot. In every way it pleads for him to move on top of me and fill me.
We were, he and I, at the moment the birthday cake arrived at the backyard table, visiting our little house on the beach, the house he promises me he’ll actualize from our fantasies one day. One day. When he’s not dealing with drama from his ex-wives (two of them) and when I’m no longer married. We’d been rinsing the sand off of each others’ bodies—our swim suits in a pile at our feet—in our outdoor shower, hands sliding through each other’s crevices seeking each gritty grain. I had lathered the tuft of curly gray hair between his legs into a soapy mass with swirling and tugging motions that moved slow and firm. I left him there, naked, frothy, and exposed to passersby walking the beach, standing in the cool streaming water as I sang “Happy Birthday” with gusto along with my family. I returned to him quickly to finish the job, typing out my next caress and pulling him inside to our bedroom, on to our bed, still unmade from the morning, hoping he didn’t sense the lapse. And I don’t let the thought in that, in just a few years, we’ll be singing for his sixty-eighth, too.
We’re good with words, both he and I, and these sessions are like sparring. We get creative with our adjectives, competitive with our euphemisms, our metaphors damn sexy. It sustains us between the times—lately, stretches of weeks—when we can actually push our bodies together; let our breath mingle into the spaces in between.
I add a few lines about licking and sucking and salt water breezes before I power off my phone and set it aside to return to my family. We’ll be packing up into the minivan for the drive home soon enough.
We meet for coffee and under-the-table tickles at a local Dunkin Donuts. He’s talking about work, a cast of characters I never get to meet. I make a joke about Scott Disick but he doesn’t laugh. A sigh from somewhere says, He’s too old for the Kardashians. Should’ve made it about Oswald Mosley and the Mitfords, instead. But I brush that aside and, instead, pull his hand across the table and guide it down the front of my shirt. He’s momentarily bashful, but when he’s certain no one is watching, he grabs me with ferocity.
“I don’t come here to come here, you know. Not all the time anyway.” I say this to him though it’s actually the wall directly in front of me, my words hitting the backs of my hands splayed up against it, supporting some of my weight. He understands, burying his face into the back of my neck, nibbling at my bare shoulder. When he says, “Oh no?” it comes out as a growl and he pushes himself deeper into me. “I love your mind, too,” I add; my hand reaches back to grab a fistful of his gray hair, tugging at him with a wish to hurt him, to match an ache hiding amongst my words.
He’s leaving, he tells me, for a conference in L.A. for a week and then he’ll take the opportunity to go up the coast to visit his kids. I have a suspicion I won’t see him again.
I’ll try again, though, not ready to give up the fantasy. I’m at the beach. My husband is in the water supervising the children even if it should be me in there with them. I am the better swimmer and the waves are strong tonight—a storm is brewing. But I want the opportunity to be alone with him. I pick up my phone and text: I wish you were here. I’d be doing naughty things to you under the waves. His reply comes quick, asking me to elaborate. I use my words to stroke him excited. He tells me he’s so hard. Send me a picture. PLEASE, I ask.
And reality is there with me, unburied from the sand, and louder than the crash of the waves the moment the photo glows on my screen. We only need words. It’s stimulation enough. And, perhaps, all that we’ll ever have anyway.
I join my family, dive under the whitecaps.
—One of two semi-finalists in the MacQ
RESQ (aka “Qualmish”) Writing Challenge
has spent a couple decades now immersed in the world of academia, studying, conducting research, and teaching in the field of psychology. Only recently has she had the opportunity (a silver lining of quarantine) to devote time to her passion of writing creatively. It is in this world—where adjectives and metaphors are welcomed!—that she feels most at home. She is honored that her first ever creative publication is with MacQueen’s Quinterly, which has been her source of writing inspiration.