Whenever had he wanted a woman this badly? Not her succulent thighs or thick, dirty blond hair – but the hidden depths? He thirsted to be let into the shadows inside her. He wanted into those eyes so badly his chest ached. He made fists of his hands and pounded the mattress on either side of his reclined body. He felt he could actually die of this feeling. He pressed his open palm down on his erection, willing it to subside, forcing it, as much as he could without truly paining himself.
And then there was a “click” from the hallway. Her door. Was she coming out? Another drink? A cigarette? He couldn’t hear her in the hall. He moved slowly to his own door and peered out toward her room. The door was still closed. He furrowed his brow as if to question her gesture. Had she unlocked her door to emerge and then changed her mind, forgetting to re-lock? He stood in front of her door and looked down. No light emerged from beneath. He put his hand around the door knob; it felt hot. He pulled away quickly as if he’d been burned. He looked at his palm in the darkness, opening his mouth to let escape a silent breath of painful yearning. Confused, he tried again. Turning the knob, slowly, as to not alarm her, he felt an icy chill up his forearm; it continued in a lightning jet of pain to his shoulder. Once again, he let go of the knob. But having turned it somewhat already, the door creaked open an inch.
He peered through the crack, a stab of guilt slicing through his thoughts, like a child seeing something beyond his years, something he should not see but cannot look away from. Wanting the view all the more because it seemed wrong, it took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the darkness within. Searching the bed for the curve of her form, he could not see well enough. He glanced away, back into the hall. He hadn’t seen anything, but the desire to had set the vision hard in his mind, as if the lights were bright on her body, highlighting its contours, its shadows. The imagining gave rise to his manhood. The cotton and wool could not hold him in. Quickly, he shuffled back to his room, bare feet sliding almost silently on the wood floor, angry with his own anatomy. He simply couldn’t go to her like this, like some inexperienced school boy looking up to woman of knowing. He had to offer her more. She’d been propositioned too many times to be impressed by this. He could see her reaction—rolled eyes, a sigh, a demeanor of pity. She would be disappointed because that’s what she’d expect: his erection, his pleading eyes. It’s what he felt but could not show. She wouldn’t be able to see what was silently waiting behind the veil of the biological reactions of his body…that this was not about that. He didn’t have to fuck her. Indeed, his body craved her in the most primal sense, but his mind railed against it; intellectually, he could rise above simply wanting her, but his animal instinct was strong. She’d hear it as a lie if he tried to explain. Others had probably tried it as a method for sounding trustworthy or sensitive. He didn’t have any reason to be either. She wouldn’t respect those qualities anyway. But she wouldn’t respect an erection staring her in the face on its knees pleading for her touch, either.
He sat on the edge of his bed, waiting for it to subside. He drained the last few drops of whiskey and returned to her door. It was open wide. He looked behind him, back down the hall toward the living room, then stared again into the darkness of her room. He reached back down and briefly attempted to tame himself, pressing the base of the shaft toward his left thigh.
“What do you want?”
Her words made him jerk and take in a startled, sharp gasp of breath. A drop of sweat floated down his left cheek. He said nothing. What could he have said? How could he tell her? He had to touch her skin and smell her. Walking to the foot of her bed, his silhouette was framed by the glow of the drapes. He couldn’t hear her move. She remained still and silent. Placing his right knee on the bed, he let his weight fall forward on to his hands. Knee over knee…hand over hand, he crawled to her side, spun sideways, and lay next to her. He inhaled slowly and deliberately, taking in her musky aroma. It burned his nose and made his throat constrict. He closed his eyes tightly and fumbled for her hand. She made no effort to close her fingers around his. Like a dead body, she let him take her hand, but didn’t respond to him. Her warmth, though, radiated into his palm. She was so hot. But she was dry. How could her palm be so dry—not perspiring in such heat? He held her fingers in his hand tightly, willing his words into her skin without speaking.
“It’s alright,” she whispered.
He could feel her looking at him, the heat of her eyes on his cheek…could almost hear the single tear sliding down her own.
Her body turned toward his. His breath stopped, his heartbeat quickening. Fear. She placed her hand on his chest, traced her fingernail to his shoulder and down his arm to the hand that was still holding hers. She picked up his arm, stretched it straight across her pillow and lay her head on his shoulder.
He lay awake for several hours in that position, not knowing if she slept. It didn’t matter. He was holding her, holding the essence of desire in his arms. He let it wash over him like the sweetest shower, saturating his skin. He was cool now. She wasn’t burning him anymore. He’d survived somehow, and now here he was, relaxing in its wake, the softness of its contentment. He’d never again know desire like this, like an electrical storm, all-consuming. And all at once he understood that to bully the current or force it into submission would be futile. Men had been trying for thousands of years to bridle the power of these waves. But it was not until this moment that he realized simply giving in was far more satisfying. He knew there was no battle to win but within himself. She was not an enemy to be conquered, a book to be read, a project to study. She was not to be simply enjoyed or entertained. Or feared. She needed to connect: only connect…the most basic of human requirements. And this moment, a moment that could not be recaptured, was the only thing he wanted of her. A kiss, or more, would be a knife in the back of this feeling.
In the morning, he would pack his things and go.