When she opened her eyes in the dark, the room was silent enough. But if her eyes were open it meant surely the attic people were back again.
She lay in the dark, on her back. Ronnie the cat lay with his heavy weight across her thighs. He woke her sometimes with his neediness but after years of marriage, now widowhood, she needed the presence of a warm body in her bed to sleep well.
They could not be ghosts, the sounds that came from the attic. How could the cozy two story townhouse built in 2009 be haunted when no one had had the opportunity to die here? Yet? Bert had died wrapped around a guard rail on Interstate 20. So it had to be something less exotic. Foundations settling. Mild earthquakes. Maybe frakking. A sink hole about to swallow the house.
A groan of wood overhead. The silhouette of Ronnie’s peaked ears and head lifted to the sound, alert. A whisper off the far edge of hearing.
She didn't believe that life went on after death. It smelled of human wishfulness and she suspected wishfulness. Like the old expression, she believed in the sound of the wind in the grass blowing over her grave, no more.
But Ronnie was hearing something. The wood in the dark overhead creaked under ethereal weight.
What a stupid place to be a ghost. Why haunt a place as lonely and dreary as an attic? Why not a brothel, a Honeymoon Suite, or a night club, someplace where things were happening?
But now she was awake. Sleep was gone. Gone always means gone.
She shifted her knees. Ronnie jumped down with a thump as his padded paws reached the floor. She listened to the dark, felt the absence of Ronnie in the room without knowing how she knew or how the dark could whisper in voices out of hearing.
If she asked them of Bert and they whispered and she did hear, then what? Would she have to believe then?
I just want to sleep. A dead person wants to be dead. A sleeping person wants to sleep. She turned over on her side to take the ache off her lower back, and her breasts spread warmly over her arms as she looked into the edge of the pillow.
If this had been Saturday morning, only a month ago, even now Bert would be shifting to his side with her, throwing an unwashed arm around her belly, fingertips wandering up to her breasts to cop a feel, snugging his groin up tight to her so she could feel his morning boner knocking solicitously at her rump, offered without preliminary kisses. Morning sex was always charity sex, something to get out of the way like making the coffee. When she wanted something she wanted it all. Proper.
Would she ever want it again? Wasn't it better to let the whole business weaken and subside; let age and hormones fade all that hot and bother away?
She looked at the clock. Four thirty seven. Any other day it would be the abyss of an hour to cross before getting up for work anyway, but this was still Saturday and nowhere to go.
Either way, she wasn't sleeping.
Wood creaked above. Whispers, over there. But not there. Shapes of sounds that seemed like they wanted to manage to become words and could not. At the edge of knowing so that you strained harder to know and could not.
Stupid way to spend eternity. No wonder ghosts make themselves annoying. They're probably bored as hell is all.
Ronnie was at the door, yowling to be fed.
For a moment she thought of staying where she was and masturbating. Maybe with release she would sleep.
But Ronnie was yowling to be fed.
It bothered her that she would rather feed Ronnie than masturbate. That was a bad sign. She had read a book on Taoist yoga advocating masturbation as a meditation practice to keep the Yin female energy force alive and active as a secret of immortality in women. A virtuous practice to take up like eating whole foods and jogging. Maybe people died and became ghosts because of insufficient masturbation.
She threw aside the blanket and swung her legs over. Ronnie turned and padded down the hall. Barefoot she followed him down the stairs to the kitchen. She flipped on the light and noticed his tail was fluffed out thick. Something had upset him. The old cat turned in the light, ignoring his dish and looking around furtively.
Entering a kitchen in the early morning was like stepping into the memories and karmic debris of the day before. The dishes in the sink. The empty wine bottle in the trash. Food dried out on a plate.
There used to be a flurry of cockroaches also. When Bert had been killed, she took to slaughtering roaches with a murderous rage. Poisoned, swatted and sprayed them by the bushel basket. A Buddhist friend told her to forgive the roaches. Stop killing them. Let them go. She forgave them and stopped killing them. The roaches went away by themselves. Which made no sense.
She shook some cat chow from a bag into his dish. Ronnie stopped scanning the room and went over to eat, his tail still fat and tense.
Whispers. She feared. Her mother had suffered from schizophrenia. She dreaded the signs of madness would appear like blood smeared on a door step.
She heated water on the stove and spooned coffee into a French press and sat at the table waiting.
And did the wood boards of the kitchen floor creak just then? Just now?
Yes, Ronnie looked like he thought so.
And a thickness in the air as though she could float and swim in it.
The kettle whistled. She went to the stove and filled the French press with water. She brought it to the table with a cup. She went to the fridge and brought out the plastic bottle of cream.
Cream. She didn't use cream. She always drank it black. She pushed down the plunger of the French press. Sugar. A bowl of sugar. Like the old song. I need a man to put some sugar in my bowl.
She felt it between her legs. Maybe she would go back to bed after all, entertain herself a while and fall asleep.
I want to find the goddess who invented sex and ask her what she’s working on now, she thought.
Sugar in my bowl.
And was the air around her heavy and full? And were her breasts heavy and full?
Sugar in my bowl.
And was the other chair which had been tucked into the table, now pulled out?
Pour it, whispered the cool and heavy air.
I want to watch you pour it. Slow.
Her nightgown was open. Her left nipple, ripened by the cool night air was escaping. She drew the nightgown closed, felt the air shiver and poured some coffee into the cup.
And why be modest? And for whom? She unfastened the nightgown, lifted it open and tucked it open under her arms letting her nipples feel the air and jut.
She crossed her legs, squeezed her upper thighs a moment and waited, feeling the tingle she had made down there. The kitchen was silent but for the tick-tock of the kit-kat clock on the wall.
Feel my cream pour down deep in you.
She took the bottle with its nevo-eliptical spout and popped it open.
Bert had a thick penis. Stubby, thick and ridiculous like a cigar butt. When wanted, it expanded and thickened miraculously. She loved to watch it happen. She had only been with three men in her life, seen only two penises up close, and the expansion of them was fascinating. Something so small could swell to so much, so stiff so fast, from a cigar stub to something long enough to knock at the back of her throat, or give a good singing cunt stroke like the deep draw of a bow over a cello. The act of this swell was in itself a demand for action. Such a miracle should not be wasted. Bert’s penis was uncircumcised. On a good night he would put tiny beads under the foreskin before diving in, to give his thick cunt strokes an extra bang, something he had read men in Thailand did. If he stroked shallow she could feel it hitting on her G spot. It felt enormous on a good night even though the beads sometimes worked their way out.
Bert you are dead.
You are dead and done gone, and gone is gone and gone stays gone. Dead as Julius Caesar and Jesus Christ and deader than God.
So why don’t you leave me the fuck alone?
The bottle was in her hand, hovering over the cup. And didn’t the spout hole look like the pee hole of Bert’s very thick, very excited dick when it was held close to her face?
She was holding it in both hands, how had it gotten there? Holding it from the bottom with the left hand the way she had held the bottom of his dick, and held near the top with her right hand the way she would stroke him there on a good night. A woman’s conjuring act, the raising of the serpent, is that why witches were always depicted as women, riding their dear rigid broomsticks of wood? Did men so fear women for the powerful spell they cast which men so longed to go under?
I want to watch you pour it. Pour it for me. Don’t hurry.
Thick, white clots of cream pulsed from the little hole into her cup, landing with hot splashes that reached the nipple of her left breast.
She set the bottle down, looking long and long at the drips of white that dropped from the rim of the little hole, hung and trailed down the side of the bottle.
Dead is dead. Surely.
She shifted her ass, barely thinking of it, opening her legs just so, resting the weight of her body deliciously on her pudendum centered on the pointed corner of her chair.
Without using a spoon, she lifted the sugar bowl and shook a heaped mound into her cup where floated like an iceberg, slowly melting at the edges.
Bert didn’t watch me fuck near the end. When we were young in marriage he used to lift up on his hands when he was on top so he could look down and watch himself slick sliding in and out of me down there. It made him moan. Then he stopped doing that. I liked it when he did that. I felt like his private porn star.
The sugar vanished and foamed.
She lifted the cup, up to her lips, the bittersweet steam filling her nose. Brought the rim to her lips, let it sting her as she parted her teeth.
In the beginning she had lifted his engorged thickness to her lips, making him wait, held it to her lips, making him feel the waiting, his stiffened heavy prick trembling in her hands like a warm baby bird. That left hand stroking his vulnerable balls. Then letting in the heat to the tip of her tongue, holding it there, brushing the salty rim of it with her teeth. This made him flinch back endearingly, almost apologetically as though he felt suddenly his sinking under the power of her spell over him, the spell of women. And how she loved to startle and bewitch him, what power there was in her generosity of strokes, sucking hard the glans, tormenting the sensitive underside with the flat of her tongue. At first he seemed to struggle to resist his own joy, then surrender under it, melting and foaming, and finally the touch of his hand on the back of her neck as he began to move with her.
Folding her lips over the rim of the cup. The coffee coming in hot but not scalding the roof of her mouth.
He came to expect it, that act, even after the thrill of perversity was gone. The enemy of a woman’s magic was routine. She came to resent his expectation of her performance now that the spell was no longer possible or required.
The coffee’s bitter zing suffused her body. A sigh that was only a shade above a moan as she pressed herself into the corner of the chair below and rocked herself gently left and right.
Ronnie was staring in her direction but not at her. His tail was fluffed and angry.
Coffee in her mouth, washing the back of her tongue, slap stinging the back of her throat as she swallowed to keep up with it.
Too fast. You’re doing it too fast.
The tide rising below in urgency. To a swelling wave. Not yet, not yet.
Sweet, sweet, sweet swell rising. Swallowing it down, swallowing fire.
The wave below possessing her, squeezing her eyes shut and a shuddering sigh.
The cup was empty but for a soggy hill of sugar in the bottom. She let it drop and watched the pieces fly as it exploded on the floor. Ronnie ran from the room.
Sweaty and raw, she stood up shaking and braced her hands on the table, her breasts swinging down in space. The corner of the seat glistened wet.
The whispers began again, painting the air only this time closer and clear. Her name.
To bed. To bed.
Dead is dead.
To bed. To bed.
Dead is dead.