Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Boddhisattva of the Spices



Somewhere in this wicked world
Maybe in India, yes, say, India
A man or a woman
Yes, say, a woman
Has opened the back door of her small shop
A tea room.  Maybe a spice stand.  
Yes, say, a spice stand.

She is sitting on a bucket, or a burlap bag of spices
In the instant the eternal dawn
Which is always breaking somewhere
Breaks on her understanding.
In this moment, which is always this moment
In her left hand are her sorrows
In her right hand a cup of steaming  tea
She has become a secret saint.
Her eyes opened wide
For the first time she truly sips her tea.

The urban smells of the alley
And the other shops as they open wide
She smells them truly the way -
No good smells, no bad smells –
a baby would find them.
The rising swell of urban babble streams
She discovers she truly knows
For the first time.

She will never study the Sutras.
They don’t speak of her breasts
And the desperate babies they’ve nursed
Or the secret wounds of the heart.

She has not meditated
She has lived the eternal instant
Feeding and doing, including, including all things
In the sweep of her wide arms
The Bodhisattva of the spice bins
Opens her lips in this final triumphant life
“Oh?”
And
“Ah – hah!”



Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Inheritance - The story of Sapper Tom


If you live in the UK you will have seen plenty of these silhouette memorials. Called the Silent Soldier, they have been installed in towns, cities, villages all over the country to commemorate the centenary of the ending of the First World War. For so many of the soldiers who died between 1914 and 1918, this is all the memorial they might have, this and their name carved into a local cenotaph somewhere.

Remembrance Sunday takes place in the UK on 11 November every year, but was especially poignant this year. My local village invested in a bugler to play The Last Post, and sales of poppies went through the roof. I’m as content as any to honour the sacrifice made by those soldiers, though I struggle to see much glory in death. I prefer the white poppies, symbolising peace. It’s telling, perhaps, to note that the first soldier to die fell just a few yards from where the final man lost his life. Such was the futility of it all.

I wanted to take this opportunity, though, under the guise of Inheritance, to tell the story of Sapper Tom. Sapper Tom – Thomas Leadbeater – was my grandfather’s brother. He would have been my great-uncle, but he died in the First World War. He did quite well, considering, managing to survive almost two years in the trenches before being killed in 2017.

The telegram that the War Office sent to his mother was curt, to say the least, coldly informing her that her son was missing. It was followed a few days later by another, conforming his death. I can barely start to imagine the torment my great-grandmother suffered in those days, wondering if, against all the odds, Tom might have survived. Later correspondence from the War Office, in response to inquiries she made, inform her that Sapper Thomas Leadbeater’s remains are interred in the vicinity of Alexandria. No grave, no certainty, even, of exactly where he was buried. Only the vicinity.

More correspondence dated 1920 confirms that the war pension my great-grandmother had claimed following her boy’s death in action was to be discontinued. This, at a time when there was no welfare state and older people relied on their children to support them in old age. I can only assume that many, many of that generation had to somehow fend for themselves. Mercifully, my great-grandmother had surviving children, including my grandfather so she wasn’t destitute.

Sapper Tom was rarely spoken of after the War, though his younger sister, Nora, did keep the letters he sent to her from the trenches in which he advises her, in the way of an older brother, not to walk through dark and lonely alley ways at night. He also asked her to take care of their mother, should the worse happen…

Monday, November 19, 2018

A Legacy of Poetry - #poetry #rhyme #music

Pen nib

By Lisabet Sarai

I’m mildly surprised my first words weren’t in rhyme. Or perhaps they were—nobody in my family has ever been able to remember a time when I wasn’t talking, so I really can’t check! I do know that my parents surrounded me with poetry from my very earliest years. Before I could read myself (prior to year four), they read to my brother and me, including nursery rhymes and poems like “The Owl and the Pussycat” (which I can still recite). 

My mother sang, mostly nineteen forties torch songs with regular meter and rhyme:

Fly the ocean in a silver plane,
See the jungle when it’s wet with rain,
Just remember till you’re home again,
You belong to me.

My dad composed his own original songs for my siblings and me:

Consimo was a talented cat.
There certainly was no doubt of that.
He’d climb on stage in his big top hat
And play the clarinet in the key of B-flat.

There were always books around, and many of them included verse. So I guess it’s not too surprising that I grew up writing poetry. I can’t recall anyone suggesting I should, or telling me how. I just picked it up, a sort of inheritance from my verbally-gifted family.

Here’s a poem I still remember (I don’t know if I have a written copy), composed when I was  nine. We’d gone out on a friend’s boat (a real thrill for me) in the Atlantic off the Massachusetts coast, on a still, cloudy summer afternoon. The moody atmosphere made a strong impression:

The sky is the gray of an eagle’s wing;
The sea has a leaden tint.
Drowsy waves gently rock the bow of our craft.
And then on the breeze comes the sound of a bell,
Telling the story and ringing the knell
For the ships and the sailors ever gone.
And under the waves of the watery deep
The brave and the noble eternally sleep
While the bell buoy rocks in the sway of the sea
Its bell ever singing, ‘leave these brave men in peace’
As it in its watch eternally keeps.

Okay, it’s a bit grandiose, but I think the structural complexity’s pretty impressive for a fourth grader.

I continued to pen poems all through high school, mostly about unrequited desire.

We’ve pro-ed and con-ed for many months, my friend
And come to no decision.
Hot and cold running dreams,
Fires and frosts of the heart.
The climate of our love has been
New England.

As I sank deeper into anorexia and temporary insanity, my poetry grew darker in mood, but I never stopped using words, rhythm and rhyme to express my emotions. Through my college years and my recovery, the poetry still flowed, with less agony and more openness to the world.

Then came graduate school and my wild, crazy “sex goddess years”. All my lust and excitement exploded into poetry. I met my master and came to understand the lure of submission:

Meditations on a Crescent Moon (to GCS)

a bright thorn lodged in my flesh,
scarlet petals crushed on my breasts;
silver hook reeling me in;
scimitar pricking my skin.

clipping of a fingernail,
charm to bind; scorpion's tail,
sweetest poison in the sting,
fever dreams; broken ring
of the ancient myth,
how I shall know
my other half.

silken curl
from some platinum plait;
comma - a pause,
saying hush, wait.
light leaking beneath the door,
beneath the blindfold --
nothing more,
in the darkened room
but a lingering kiss
and the rough caress
of the bonds
on my wrists.
 
Sometimes I think my best poems are the ones I dedicated to him.

There was a lull in my versifying when I began writing and publishing fiction. But the rhyme, the rhythm, the music that are my birthright were still there. You can hear the poems in my prose, if you listen. I’m always aware of the cadence, the way the words fall on the ear.

Lately, I’ve been moved to write poetry again, though less urgently than before. Meanwhile, I can come up with a rhyming ditty in a matter of minutes. I have the lyrics for hundreds of songs stored away in my head. If it rhymes, I’ll remember.

My parents have both left this earth. They didn’t leave me a lot of money or property. However, they bequeathed to me both a love of and a skill with words. For that, I’m deeply grateful.

(You can find more of my poems on the free reading page of my website.)

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Redemption Arc



Yes, I admit it openly! I’m an HEA sort of girl. I feel like I’ve been cheated if I don’t get that happy ever after or at least a happy for now at the end of a novel or a series. Yes, I expect losses, and yes I expect a journey that is fraught with chaos and nail-biting setbacks, but I do expect a pay-off for sticking with the author to the end. 

If there isn’t an HEA, well I can live with that as long as the tale is redemptive. But take away the characters’ hard-earned HEA and their redemption arc and I will throw the book in the trash, or delete it from my kindle and never read that author again. Totally not acceptable in my sight!

While I get that sometimes the cost of the tale being told is way too high for a proper HEA, while I get that people suffer and die and things go tits up and pear shaped, I cannot, CANNOT except a tale that ends with no intimation of redemption. Perhaps it makes me a sappy git, but I believe redemption is essential to the human condition. If that were not the case, I figure the human race would have died out a long time ago from the total lack of hope.

With the subject of U-turns on the agenda for this cycle of OGaG, I found myself thinking about the redemptive arcs in my own stories. Not only are they there in every single tale, but they are absolutely essential for the HEA to happen. While a redemption story does not necessarily involve an HEA, in my opinion for an HEA to be worth the read, a redemptive arc leading up to it is crucial. Without it, the story is flat and, worst of all, it becomes something with which people in the real world cannot identify. 

The sharing of stories is quite possibly the best form of escapism ever created, with reading fiction the ultimate refinement of that great escape. We read, and write stories to experience vicariously the journeys we can never make on our own, nor would we even want to if we could. And while that is true, the one thing that we do want to believe in, need to believe in, the one thing that we want to take for ourselves from each story is a sense of hope, without which there’s very little reason to journey farther.

Through the stories I’ve written, my characters have taught me several valuable lessons about redemption. 

First of all, redemption doesn’t mean forgiveness. Some things cannot be forgiven, nor can they be undone. That means one of the very fist steps to redemption is letting go of the past those characters can’t change and moving forward to the future they can.

Secondly that moving forward instead of being stuck in the past and its hopelessness is often the opening of ones eyes to see things differently, a different view of what has been and how it affects the present makes for a much different view of the future and the possibilities awaiting the character. 

Thirdly while the literal definition of redemption is the buying back of a thing, in fiction the currency is character struggle. What is purchased at a very high price is hope bought back from hopelessness. It’s not so much the hope that one might be made new again nor is it the pipe dream that what has happened can be undone, because certainly it can’t. But redemption is the moving forward on a different path that leads away from despair and toward hope, no matter how distant that hope may seem. It’s the understanding that while one can’t undo what has been done, one can move forward in hope and impact the world in a positive way, or at least not a negative one. 

Fourthly, once the U-turn into hope is made, the journey is only just beginning. The characters’ flaws don’t magically vanish, the brokenness is not suddenly mended and the journey is more than likely going to be one helluva a ride. But it’s a ride worth the effort. It’s a ride worth waking up for every morning. That sense of value, or at least that sense of not being worthless, that sense of moving toward something that matters is a key ingredient in the redemption of a character. 

Finally, sex in a story can play a major role in that redemptive arc. Sex can work as the drug that keeps hopelessness at bay and keeps a character numb or in denial. It may be nothing more than a distraction from the pain of that hopelessness, but in story it’s a powerful distraction and one that can convey to the reader the depth of the character’s hopelessness in a way that’s raw and honest, even in its dishonesty. 


But sex in the redemptive arc can also lay a character bare, render a character open and vulnerable to that U-turning, to that possibility that hope might not just be something for other people. That sense of union and oneness that can happen with sex can be a part of the guiding force that brings a character back to himself, that reconnects him with all that matters, all that has been lost. 

While we might all seek an escape from our own ordinary lives through the stories we read, while we might all live vicariously through the trials and tribulations of the characters, the need for redemption, for hope, is something not so vicarious, something we all need and long to share.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

U-Turn on Lonely Street


By Tim Smith

It was one lonely evening in Toronto, Canada. I had crossed the border to take a break from some problems, and see different scenery than what I stared at every day. I had already hit the casino, lost my limit, dined at a so-so cafe that the locals raved about, and now I was walking the city streets, seeing what else there was to this tourist mecca.

The foot traffic was light, mostly locals and a few out-of-towners like myself seeking liquid refreshment and whatever nightlife the city had to offer. It was a pleasant June evening, with a light breeze blowing in from Lake Superior to keep the temperature tolerable.

I saw her approaching from the opposite direction and froze in my tracks. I was instantly taken in by the young woman with long brown hair, wearing cute wire-rimmed glasses perched above a button nose, with a curvy figure encased in tight jeans and a stylish short-sleeved top that was just snug enough to give me ideas.

She kept her gaze focused forward, her face giving a non-committal look that seemed to radiate an air of confidence, one that was reflected in her stride. I slowly did a U-turn as she passed and watched her walk down the street. Suddenly I was on auto-pilot as I followed her, not close enough to intrude but near enough to appreciate the sway of her shapely hips.

She quickly crossed the street at the next intersection just as the light turned red. I resisted the urge to sprint after her but stood at the curb, watching her. Halfway down the block she entered a restaurant situated on the ground floor of an elegant old hotel. I had passed it on my way up that same street but decided against checking it out. Now I changed my mind.

After the traffic signal gave me permission to cross, I slowed my pace as I approached the door she had passed through and stood on the sidewalk, peering inside. The dining section of the restaurant was nearly vacant. She sat at the cherry bar, alone, sipping a glass of wine and watching the TV mounted overhead.

I went inside and took a stool four away from hers. When my drink arrived, I sipped it while stealing glances at her in the mirror behind the neatly-arranged bottles. She seemed to be absorbed in watching the wrestling match on the TV. I was intrigued. It wasn’t in my nature to approach strange women in bars, but I remembered an old saying—no guts, no glory. I moved closer, keeping one bar stool between us so she wouldn’t think I was invading her personal space. My mind tried to come up with something witty to say before deciding on a simple approach.

“Do you think it’s real?” I asked.

She looked at me in surprise, realizing she wasn’t alone. She flashed a pleasant smile. “Is what real?”

I gestured at the TV. “The wrestling. Do you think those guys are really beating each other silly, or are they just making it look good for the audience?” 

“I’m not sure. What do you think?”

I took a small sip. “Completely phony. They’re just giving the customers what they want to see—senseless violence disguised as entertainment.”

She laughed. It was a soft lyrical laugh, very soothing. “That’s an interesting observation. Are you always so cynical?”

“It helps me navigate the rapids known as life.”

She turned slightly to look me full in the eye. Hers were hazel, with just a hint of eyeliner to accent their natural glow. If I wasn’t careful, I could lose myself in those eyes. We exchanged first names and she asked me what it was I did that gave me such a cryptic outlook on life. I challenged her to guess.

“Hmm. Are you a philosopher?”

I shook my head.

Her look turned playful. “A fortune teller?”

“Wrong again, but you’re getting warm. I’m a writer.”

“That’s interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever met an actual writer before, at least not one that owned up to it.”

That was good for a laugh from me. “We’re a rare breed. And what do you do?”

“I’m in aesthetics.”

Now I was confused. “What is that?”

“Hair styling, facials, make-overs, things like that.”

I nodded. “In the States, you’d be called a cosmetologist.”

“It’s the same thing.” Her eyes and expression took on a bit more interest. “What do you write?”

We spent the next hour exchanging life stories and shared interests, accompanied by another round of drinks. Since things had progressed from awkward introductions to sitting next to each other, sharing laughs with her hand resting on mine, I felt it was time to take the next obvious step.

“Would you like to continue this over dinner?” I asked.

She kneaded my hand and peered into my eyes. Hers communicated a hint of sadness. “I’m sorry, but I can’t stay. I just stopped in here for a drink to unwind after work.” She hesitated. “But I’m really glad I met you.”

“The pleasure was all mine.”

We exchanged e-mail addresses then she took her leave, after giving me a firm hug and a kiss to remember her by.

I was glad I made that U-turn.       

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The U-Turn Trope

I have to admit that if there’s any trope I love in fiction — particularly in romantic fiction — it’s the U-turn.

You know the story — the two romantic leads (perhaps a guy and a girl, two guys, or two girls) just can’t seem to make it work. In fact, they’re starting to hate each other. They want nothing to do with each other. They’re better off single — or with other people.

But then … something happens. Something makes them do a dramatic U-turn and it has them careening in the opposite direction. Suddenly … what had seemed to be so hopeless and non-existent mere moments ago is now possible.

They hated each other … but now they love each other.

When it comes to gay or lesbian fiction, U-turns can take other forms too. Someone is determined to be straight — or the guy/girl is in love with their friend who they assume is straight — but then the truth comes out, feelings are revealed, and that seemingly impossible love story is suddenly possible.

I generally include the U-turn in almost everything I write.

There’s just something about the unexpected and sudden surge of emotions that I get from those scenes that makes me all tingly. I love reading these scenes and I love writing them.

Excerpt time!

Earlier this year I wrote and published my first gay young adult romance — Gay Love and Other Fairy Tales. It’s become my bestselling book by far, so I’m suddenly looking at starting a new line of young adult fiction books. (Talk about a U-turn in my writing life! All smut all the time to suddenly putting considerable focus on a smut-free line!)

In this scene, we’ve got closeted Ben who had a hard crush on his gay friend Jordan. Ben is not ready to come out — in fact, he’s not even able to say the word “gay” in relation to himself, so he wouldn’t be able to utter those words. But he knows he wants to kiss Jordan. He wants to get closer to Jordan. He wants to become more than friend.

Sweet, innocent Jordan thinks he’s just hanging out with his straight friend on New Year’s Eve, eating nachos and watching the ball drop. He’s never thought of Ben in any sort of romantic light — why would he? Ben is straight and that’s that.

But on this New Year’s Eve, there may be a surprise in the works, one that will lead to a sudden U-turn for both characters…

***


A burst of music from the television pulls us back to it, someone I don’t recognize is belting out some song I’ve never heard. I’m sure she’s famous. Whoever she is.

“Would you be okay with a hug?” I ask, staring hard at the TV. “Like, it’s tradition to have a kiss to ring in New Year’s, but we could, you know, hug or something. I’m okay if you don’t want to. You know what, never mind, forget I asked.” I want to kick myself. Coward.

He puts a hand on my forearm to stop my negative rant — and it also clears the dressing down I’m giving myself in my head — and instantly it feels like heat blooms from that touch of his hand on my arm. My only regret is that I’m wearing long sleeves and I can’t feel his hand on my bare skin.

“A hug would be great,” he says.

My heart beats and it’s like my whole body pulses with it. I can feel it throbbing in my neck. He’s going to hug me. I’m going to hug him. I sip my beer slowly as I watch the clock in the corner of the TV — they’ve displayed a countdown to midnight.

Twenty minutes.

Twenty minutes until my hug. Twenty minutes until I have Jordan in my arms.

Nineteen minutes and thirty seconds.

I can’t keep counting down like this. I’m going to drive myself insane. I’m going to kill the mood if I’m glued to the clock. I hear some rustling beside me and I see that Jordan has pulled out his phone and he’s scrolling through Instagram. He suddenly angles his phone away from me.

“What?” I ask.

He hesitates, then says, “Nikki’s posting pics of her and Winston.”

“I’m not her boyfriend,” I say automatically. I’ve never actually said that to anyone. I’ve always just let people make their own assumptions and I was happy to play along with it. “We were never together.”

“Really?” Jordan asks, raising an eyebrow.

“I make her look good in photos, but I have no interest in her,” I say. I can feel a bead of sweat forming at my temple.

He scoffs. “You put on a good act then.” He goes to her profile and scrolls down until he finds pictures of me and Nikki. Together. Kissing.

“That’s exactly what it is. An act.” My heart is beating so hard it feels like it’s going to punch through my ribs.

He looks at me like he’s assessing me. “She’s gorgeous,” he says. It’s like he’s pushing me, like he knows what I want to say, even though I don’t think he has a clue. “She’s a control freak sometimes, yeah, but she’s gorgeous.”

“Not my type,” I say.

“Oh?” He shuts off his phone and tosses it on the couch between us. “What is your type?”

You. You’re my type. But can I say those words out loud? Hell no. Coward.

Instead, I turn my attention to the TV. Fourteen minutes left.

“I’m still figuring that out,” I say.

He seems to accept that as an answer, or at least accepts that I’m not ready to talk more about it. We silently watch the rest of the countdown and inwardly I’m kicking myself again — way to ruin the mood right before the hug! I’m saving my last mouthful of Bud Light for midnight, so I’m just sitting here idly holding an almost-empty can of beer.

Finally, what seems like ages later, we’re down to less than a minute. Slowly, the energy in the room warms up. I lean forward, like getting closer to the TV is going to somehow make this more exciting. Beside me, Jordan does the same.

“Ten!” he says out loud, joining the cheering people on the screen counting down.

I join in with him. “Nine! Eight! Seven! Six! Five! Four! Three! Two! One! Happy New Year!”

I take that final swig of beer, letting the alcohol give me a burst of courage. I stand up and hold my arms out and Jordan stands up and comes into them. I wrap my arms around him, holding him tight.

“Happy New Year,” I whisper.

“Happy New Year,” he whispers back.

I know I should let go, end this hug, because it’s getting too long — it’s past the limit of how long friends hug. But I don’t want to let go.

I never want to let go.

Jordan feels so right in my arms.

But there’s something I want even more.

I loosen my arms a little bit and he backs up just an inch or two and he looks up at me. His eyes sparkle in the light and I can see a question behind those clear, brown eyes. He knows something is different.

With the alcohol pushing my decisions, I angle my head in and kiss him.

He puts his hands on my chest like he’s ready to push me away, but I keep kissing him, even though he’s not moving his lips, even though he’s as still as a statue. Panic starts to rise in me and I can feel myself starting to shake. Jordan isn’t responding.



Cameron D. James is a writer of gay smut. His most recent publication is the (surprisingly smut-free) gay YA romance, Gay Love And Other Fairy Tales, under his YA pen name, Dylan James.

Monday, November 12, 2018

I Turn, U Turn,


Sacchi Green

You were afraid someone would take the low road, weren’t you. Yes, I’m going to be that someone, tossing self-respect to the winds and indulging my adolescent streak with a bad pun.

This is actually the result of a comment on Jean Roberta’s Facebook page, where we were discussing Facebook’s turning down a link to her current OGG post as not conforming with “Community Standards.” Her post here is in no way objectionable, unless now we can’t even use the word “sex” a couple of times, so we were joking about what “U Turns” might be code for, and someone (I asked if I could use her brilliant brainstorm, but failed to ask if I could use her name, so I won’t) replied, “69.”

Of course! I wish I’d thought of it first. I prefer to think of that configuration as yin/yang, but U Turns fits nicely enough. Lesbian erotica, my usual genre, makes so much use of the position as to make it a cliché if a writer doesn’t handle the scene carefully. But the term or concept isn’t limited in erotica to physiology. Power play tends on the whole to maintain the relative top and bottom roles, but switching can be at least as hot, and have even more layers of emotional and psychological complexity. I have to admit that the U Turn from dominance to submission (and vice versa) may work best in fiction, but as an editor of anthologies I find it intriguing, and I have, in fact, known it to occur in real life, for certain values of “real life.”

I’m going to supply an excerpt to make up for not having anything further to say about U Turns in erotica—I could go on quite a bit about total U Turns of gender, but I won’t go there just now. First, though, back to the original question about Facebook’s conversion to Puritan ways. I thought I might write this post without any overtly sexually charged language and see whether FB would allow a link, but I clearly haven’t managed that. I may fool around with temporarily editing all this to leave only the blandest of phrases, and see what happens, but my theory is that FB simply won’t allow links to The Grip itself any more. I used to be able to link, but haven’t tried for a while. I do know of computers in a school library that won’t let you go here.

On to the excerpt, even though I get to feeling that my excerpts are cop-outs to avoid more in-depth writing. “Baubles and Beads” was published in D.L. King’s Unspeakably Erotic, and actually falls between two other stories I’ve written about the same characters, one of which, “Pulling,” I’ve quoted from here before, and both of which are in my collection coming out in a couple of months.
_______________

Baubles and Beads
Sacchi Green

Fingers of light from the midway, garish pinks, purples, greens, groped at us between the buildings all the way to the horse barns. Some of the fair’s rides and hucksters kept on as long as the farm boys still had money smoldering in the pockets of their snug jeans, but Carla shut down her balloon-dart concession at the official closing time. She could’ve handled the lingering customers by herself, most of them on the leering side of friendly and the slurring side of drunk, but my looming six-foot-two of husky farm girl didn’t hurt. We rolled down and secured the canvas, and slipped away into the shadows.
Lights just as garish had seeped through skimpy curtains last night from the neon sign outside her motel room. I’d scarcely noticed, obsessed with Carla herself, the black-haired, blue-eyed bad girl of my dreams.
She’d bound me to the bedposts with strings of flashy mardi gras beads, my prizes from her game, and challenged me NOT to break them no matter what she did. I’d almost managed it. And learned, first, how it felt to give up, give in, abandon my strength and my will, all the armor against vulnerability built up over the years. I’d begun by tensing up in the fierce struggle not to strain against apparently flimsy bonds, resisting physical reflexes with will power, but the more Carla forced pleasure into pain and pain into pleasure, the farther both willpower and reflexes faded away. I floated somewhere beyond thought, drowning in pure sensation. When she tipped me over at last into a thrashing orgasm I must have broken the strands of beads, but it was a long time before I noticed them sprawling limply across the bed, and longer still before I saw that they were strung on strong nylon thread, knotted between each bead, each strand only broken at a single point.
So the second thing I learned, the most important by far, was not to assume that just because something looks flashy and cheap it must be flimsy.
Tonight my wrists and ankles were still raw. My tenderer parts ached when I remembered the keen torments and even keener pleasures she’d put me through. But later, after I’d demonstrated my own grasp of the basics--and of her tender parts--and taken possession of the shiny beads, Carla had offered to meet me again tonight on my own ground, and face any challenge I set, even if it meant getting up close and personal with horses that seemed to her “as big as elephants and twice as mean.”
Whatever I thought I’d known about women, Carla was a whole different story. A story turning out to be more complicated than I’d bargained for, but worth every bit of whatever it took. Last night she’d taught me more about myself than I’d ever faced up to before; tonight it was my turn to challenge Carla. Maybe even teach her a thing or two. And find out more about myself.
The horse barns faced east, away from the chaos of the midway and the crowds. I’d signed up for the overnight security shift, so once the guy on evening duty saw me coming, waved, and took off, there was nobody else around. At least there’d sure better not be.
A full moon was rising. Carla gazed up at it for a minute or two while I reached around from behind and fondled her sweet round breasts. A warm late summer breeze raised tendrils of her soft dark hair to brush against my cheek. “Autumn’s almost here,” I murmured. “There’ll be plenty more fairs coming up. I’ll be bringing my team to half a dozen or so. You’ll be at Fryburg in Maine?”
“Maybe,” she said, bracing herself. “But bring on your challenge now, Ree.”
She knew it would be about the horses. Yesterday, when I’d led my team out of the pulling ring and over to meet her, she couldn’t hide her terror. Molly and Stark, great black Percherons, two thousand pounds each with hooves the size of pie plates. Any city girl would be scared. I’d backed the pair off, told her I’d meet her at ten at her carnival booth, and moved on toward the barns, surprised at how much seeing a lapse in Carla’s femme-top self-possession excited me. A chink in her armor.
Now I leaned against the open barn door. “First, find out where I hid the beads.”
Carla relaxed, back in her own territory. “Let’s see. Maybe here?” She probed the pockets of my shirt, managing even through the flannel to tweak nipples still sore from her clamps last night. Then she reached up under the shirt to squeeze my heavy breasts. I tried hard to control my breathing. “Or here?” She worked her hands into the front pockets of my jeans, finding the same tube of horse lube I’d used with her last night, then the rear pockets, with more squeezing. My hips began to twitch. The look on my face must have given me away. Or maybe the catch in my breath.
“Aha.” Her fingers went between my legs to knead the thick seam of my jeans into my crotch. “Are these beads in your pants, or are you just glad to see me?”
“See for yourself.” I could barely get the words out. She wriggled a hand down inside belt, jeans, and briefs, found what she was looking for, and began sliding the strands through my slippery heat. I nearly lost it. One of those strands had been nestled even deeper the night before last; I’d been supposed to be resting up before the final round of the draft horse competition, but could think only of her. Tonight the beads had been driving me wild for half an hour. Was I really so set on being in charge tonight?
 I gritted my teeth and yanked her hand, clutching its wet ruby and peacock-green prizes, out into the night air. Even in the dim light from inside the barn they glowed like a Rajah’s treasure. Or…what was the proper term? A Ranee’s? I’d re-tied them securely after breaking them last night.  
“Mmm.”  Carla ran them across her tongue before draping them around her neck so that they swayed across her visibly tautened breasts.
I drew a shuddering breath and turned away.  “Now find the other two strands.” I stepped into the barn. Carla hesitated and then, very slowly, followed.
Molly, in a roomy box stall just inside the entrance, leaned her great black head over the gate and whuffled a greeting. Stark, just across the way, merely dozed on.
“Molly, this is Carla. Carla, Molly.” Molly lowered her nose politely to be petted. Carla jerked back briefly, then raised a tentative hand. I knew her fear of the horses wouldn’t last long, but it might at least soften her up a bit.
“Hello, Molly.” Her voice only shook a little. The horse’s nose dipped lower, snuffling at the green and ruby beads on Carla’s chest and then at her hands. Carla jerked back, then suddenly laughed. “You’re smelling Ree on me! I guess that makes us all pals.” She stroked the velvety nose tentatively. “And you’re wearing beads, too!” The gleaming strands twined through the black mane on either side of Molly’s neck, the golden on the right and the purple on the left.
“You’ll have to climb on the gate to reach them,” I pointed out.
She shot me a dirty look, mounted the lower bars, and reached across and upward. Even then, if Molly hadn’t been nuzzling her shoulder, the beads would have been too high for her to reach.
The first strand came loose easily. Carla climbed down, dangled it in front of me, then let it go when I gripped her wrist too hard for comfort. Yes, I definitely did want to be in charge, now that she had to meet my challenge. More was at stake than a tumble in the hay. Carla’s chin went up almost imperceptibly--and then she lowered it, turned, and climbed back up on Molly’s other side. Molly bent her head again cooperatively, but I gave a low whistle and she moved backward so that Carla couldn’t reach no matter how far she tried to stretch.
“That’s how I tell her to back off,” I said conversationally as I pulled Carla’s skirt up and panties down. “You want me to back off any time, just whistle. You do know how to whistle, don’t you?”
She stopped reaching in vain for the beads and thrust out her bare butt. Playing along, letting me get away with something, but taunting me just the same. I let the golden beads drift gently over each round, tempting cheek, drew them along the valley between, then whipped them suddenly across each side. Carla gripped the top of the gate and didn’t look around. I wielded them harder twice, slashing in diagonal strokes that left an intriguing latticework pattern, but I’d tried whipping my own arm with the beads that morning and knew how extra painful they could be, so I switched tactics.
I couldn’t wait any longer to get my hands on her. The feel of her heated skin, the sound of my strikes on her flesh, the tremors of her body, her musky scent strengthening by the second… In moments I was high on power and lust, intoxicated, all the more when she began making guttural sounds interspersed with gasps. “It’s…okay, Molly!” she got out as the horse twitched and shifted nervously.
I forced myself to take it slow again. Beads slid between those lovely moon-pale cheeks with their rosy stripes, rolled lower into the hot, wet heat of her crotch, nudged at her hardening clit, until finally she grated, “More, Ree, damnit! Now!” She clutched at Molly’s mane, pressed her forehead against the mare’s huge chest, and tried to grind herself hard against my hand.
“My territory, my rules. I decide what you get, and how much, and when.” I made a stab at sounding stern. It felt good. More than good.
Her muttered words were barely audible. “Yes Ree, whatever you want…”
My hand came down hard again on her rounded, tantalizing butt. I wanted her to want more of that, and to want all the kneading and squeezing both my hands gave to her reddened flesh before one sank slowly, slowly over those curves down into the heat between her thighs. Did I want her to need those things for herself, or because they pleased me? I just knew I wanted both.
She moved frantically against them at first, needing more, more pressure, more depth, but I teased her with retreat and advance and retreat, over ever more wet and slippery terrain. Once, experimentally, I kept one the fingers of one hand inside her while spanking her hard with my other hand and feeling the blows myself as it vibrated through her flesh, but that brought her—and me--so close to combustion that I had to pause. Not yet…not…yet…
I tried to gentle her again with slow strokes, but she shuddered and squirmed.
“Please…” Carla’s voice was so faint I could barely heard her. “Don’t let me drop…” Her grip on the gate still seemed firm. I wasn’t certain what she meant, but I was dead sure playing along had nothing to do with it any more.
“Trust me,” was all I thought of to say.
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There’s a bit more, and more toward the beginning, but this is as close as it comes to having anything to do with U Turns, and the connection is pretty tenuous at that. In any case, I’ll be hugely surprised if FB will let me link to this post, if they wouldn’t allow Jean Roberta’s deeply moving post about her own life. Go on, scroll down and read that.