I’ve pretty much outgrown the only phobia I can remember. Strong preferences, sure—I’d much rather communicate by e-mail than use a phone. And as I get older I seem to have inherited my late mother’s tendency toward paranoia, especially when it comes to the health and safety of loved ones, from my eight-year-old granddaughter to my 94-year-old father. But none of those are phobias.
The phobia I did have in my youth is so commonplace that I’m embarrassed to even mention it, but I might as well. Arachnophobia. I’ve wondered whether as many people are afraid of spiders as are afraid of snakes. Is there some deep significance, some psychological clue, to being freaked out by too many legs rather than no legs? I don’t mind snakes at all, assuming they’re not poisonous.
Well, it doesn’t really matter. My phobia was always on the mild side. As a teenager I was only comfortable with spiders when I was wielding a long vacuum cleaner hose, but now that I’ve taken to gardening I’ve made my peace with the critters as long as they’re outdoors helping to keep down the population of undesirable insects, and I do my by best not to disturb the intricate structures of their webs. Even when I find them indoors I’ll escort them outdoors if I possibly can, which doesn’t help them much if it’s freezing outside, but doesn’t make me feel as guilty as squishing them (and makes less of a mess.)
But we’re here to discuss phobias, so I’ll stop tiptoeing around the subject. When it comes to insects, I can totally understand how the feel of tiny feet creepy-crawling on your skin can set off panic alarms. For most of us it’s not a full-fledged phobia, not once we’ve shaken/brushed/flicked the critter off, or swatted it into oblivion, but for some it is. When I was trying to figure out what to write on this topic, I finally remembered, with great relief, that I’d written a story about this very thing, an erotica story even, and to my amazement I managed to get it published in Alison Tyler’s anthology Twisted. I took it as high praise when a reviewer/writer I respect said that my “Stag Beetle” was the most disturbing piece in the book.
It’s really quite a short story, so maybe I’ll share the whole thing here.
She touched the little box in my pocket and smiled like an urchin sure of a treat from an indulgent uncle. "Is that my present from Japan?"
I gripped her wrist. "Is that a hand in my pocket, or are you just glad to see me?"
Kit, brow puckered, tried to puzzle out my mood. "Well, of course I'm glad to see you!" She tried to wriggle her fingers against my thigh. My grip tightened.
What am I doing with a girl too young to get a Mae West reference, even by way of Jessica Rabbit? "I'm glad to see you, too, Kitten.” A warm, loving, beautiful girl. “I did bring you a present, but that isn't it. Careful now. Don’t let the lid come off." I drew her hand slowly out of my pocket. The white box emerged, still intact, the thick rubber band now perilously close to one end.
"What..." Kit jerked an inquisitive finger abruptly back as the cardboard lid twitched from some inner movement. Her expressive eyes widened as the significance of the tiny ventilation holes sank in.
"Do you really want to see?" Kit had an involuntary horror of creepy crawly things. "My old students remembered that I'd been interested in their collections when I taught there, and thought it would make a fine present. I couldn't refuse. It was an honor."
Kit had met me at the door wearing only a silk shirt, open down the front; now she tucked her hands firmly under her armpits as she hugged herself for comfort. "I don't know...maybe..." She pulled herself together and let her arms drop to her sides, body taut, scared-kitten face firming until it could have been a smooth stone carving of Bastet. "If I don’t see it, I’ll imagine something worse."
"That's my girl." Warm, loving, beautiful, and smart. And eager to please. I opened the box, my hand curved close just in case. The stag beetle, two inches of black shell and another inch of chitinous "antlers", peered over the edge. Kit inclined her head just enough to get a good view, the trembling of her body barely perceptible.
"They're quite beautiful, in their way. And harmless. I'll keep him in a bigger box, a very safe box, and feed him fresh fruit--bananas, mangos, sweet peaches." Was it accidental that Kit's shirt slipped aside just enough to reveal the soft peachglow curve of her breast? A startling inner vision of the black beetle moving across that sweet tender flesh sent tremors over my body, too. "It's an ancient tradition for Japanese boys to collect and breed stag beetles as pets. They’re quiet, and don't take up much room." Am I babbling? Don't overdo it, nitwit!
"It was an honor, wasn't it.” Her hand came out slowly. “Only boys keep them? It must be their way of honoring you as Jess, instead of the Jessica they knew ten years ago."
"Yes." A tangle of emotions gripped me. Pride in her bravery fought with a need to push her limits, to see how much she could bear—and how much I could bear before nothing mattered but fucking her so hard she screamed like a wildcat.
"I want to hold him," Kit said. "Really." She held steady, the faintest of shivers rippling across the tender skin of her arm, while the beetle took a few steps along the back of her hand and wrist. She was pale and somewhat breathless, still frightened on a level logic couldn't reach. “I’m not sure I can hold still. Scary things…sometimes they feel so…so…I don’t know. Maybe you could tie me up?”
“How did you guess the real present I brought?” I picked up my backpack and nudged her toward the bedroom. She lowered herself carefully until she sat on the bed, her back against the brass bars at its head, never looking away from the glossy black presence now innocently exploring her forearm--until she felt the wide silk obi wrap her tightly just below her breasts.
“Oh! How beautiful!” The delicate bamboo leaves embroidered on a pale gold background distracted her for just a moment, until I raised her arm to her chest. Her gasp shook the insect just a bit, and then he kept on, up over the mound of her breast. She was visibly shuddering now, barely keeping her hand from scrabbling at the beetle.
“There’s a whole outfit in my suitcase to go with that, kimono and all,” I said conversationally, while I tied her wrists securely to the bars with the ends of the long sash. She gave a sigh of relief when the bonds held however hard she strained at them.
“Thank you so much!” It didn’t matter whether her gratitude was more for the gift, or the restraint. The relief vanished when the stag beetle crept along to her nipple and poised at its tip, feeling for a further foothold. “Jess…” Kit said tightly, then held her breath.
I reached out to re-route him, but she shook her head. “It’s…okay. Okay and…and awful at the same time.” The beetle turned back, revealing the nipple darkened from pink to rose, and so temptingly erect that I could barely resist it.
A lovely flush lit her skin. No longer just struggling to please me, she had crossed a line from fear to arousal, like pain giving way to pleasure. Heat surged through my own body.
By the time the beetle descended between her breasts and over her belly almost to her navel, she was whimpering, not so much like a frightened kitten as a very hungry one. Her thighs twitched, and her wrists strained at freedom, but she wouldn’t beg.
I was the first to give way. “No more!” I retrieved my new pet, tucked him gently back into his box, and set it on the nightstand. Then it was my hands that made her skin flush and thighs dampen, and my not-so harmless mouth that forced her nipples to a rigid pleasure indistinguishable from pain, until her cunt and clit needed all my attention and I drove her on from mewling cries to howling release.
As we nestled close together afterward, catching our breaths, Kit reached up with her now-freed hands to stroke my face. “Isn’t it lucky,” she said, with a mischievous twist to her kiss-reddened lips, “that really, really scary things turn me on?”
What am I doing with this warm, loving, beautiful, smart brave girl? Getting luckier than I'll ever deserve, that's what.
So there it is! My post on phobias done quickly and painlessly! Which is a relief, because at midnight last night I had just finished laboring over a guest post for Lisabet’s Beyond Romance blog, so I was happy to have an easy time with this post. Check out my rant Beyond Erotica over there, if you feel like it. http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com/2014/08/beyond-erotica.html
(See how I worked that in?)