“Something to Remember You By.”
I'm pretty sure I've blogged on this before, but it can't have been very recently, so here goes anyway.
I can’t type the title of this WWII song without longing to share more of its lyrics, and wishing even more that I could somehow impart the emotional impact of the tune. But “Fair Use” permissiveness for song lyrics and poetry in general has very strict limits, so all I dared to use in the story I wrote was the song’s title. For whatever reason, titles can’t be copyrighted, so I even used most of this one for my own story’s title.
In my story “To Remember You By” I referenced a wide range of song titles to evoke the mood and intensity of the WWII setting. My parents were in their youthful prime then, and I was exposed to the music of that era in the movies they watched and the records my mother sang along with long after the war was over. I’ll never be able to tell how many readers may have heard the tunes and lyrics in their heads as they read my story, or how much that may have affected their enjoyment, but it’s been published several times since its first appearance in Hanne Blank’s anthology Shameless: Women's Intimate Erotica from Seal Press way back in 2002, so a fair number of people have probably read it. There was even a condensed version printed in Penthouse when Seal Press persuaded that magazine to take a few stories from the anthology as samples of what kind of erotica women were writing. The timing was bad, because Penthouse went into some temporary form of bankruptcy just then and never paid us for our work, but I was almost as disappointed that in condensing my story they took out all the musical references.
Ah well. “To Remember You By” was also reprinted in one of the editions of The Mammoth Book of New Erotica, and it was the lead-off piece in the first collection of my own stories, A Ride to Remember from Lethe Press in 2011, while a sequel, “Alternate Lives,” about the same characters thirty-five years later, was the end piece. Maybe I’ll share that one with you sometime.
Okay, enough reminiscing. Time to face the music! (Fair warning: one of the characters is bisexual.)
A long excerpt from the much longer story, "To Remember You By"
"Transferring?" I leaned far forward, and felt, as well as saw, her glance drop to my breasts. The starchy wartime diet in England had added some flesh, but at that moment I didn't care, because all of it was tingling. "When do you go?"
"In two weeks," she said. "I'm taking a week in London to get a look at some of the sights I haven't had time for in the whole eighteen months I've been over here. Then there'll be one more week of ferrying out of Hamble on the south coast. And then I'm leaving."
Two weeks. One, really. "I've got a few days here, too," I said. "Maybe we could see the sights together." I tried to look meaningfully into her eyes, but she stared down at her own hands on the table and then out at the dance floor where a few couples, some of them pairs of girls, were dancing.
"Sure," she said. "That would be fun." Her casual tone seemed a bit forced.
"I don't suppose you'd like to dance, would you?" I asked, with a sort of manic desperation. "Girls do it all the time here when there aren't enough men. Nobody thinks anything of it."
"Somebody sure as hell would," Cleo said bluntly, "if they were doing it right." She met my eyes, and, in the hot gray glow of her defiant gaze, I learned all I needed to know.
Then she looked away. "Not," she said carefully, "that any of Flight Captain Jackie Cochran's hand-picked, cream-of-American-womanhood pilots would know anything about that."
"Of course not," I agreed. "Or any girl-next-door nurses, either." I could feel a flush rising from my neck to my face, but I plowed ahead. "Some of us might be interested in learning, though."
She looked at me with a quizzical lift to one eyebrow, then pushed back her chair and stood up. Before my heart could do more than lurch into my throat, she said lightly, "How about breakfast here tomorrow, and then we'll see what the big deal is about London."
It turned out we were both staying in the club dormitory upstairs. We went up two flights together; then I opened the door on the third floor landing. Cleo's room was on the fourth floor. I paused, and she said, without too much subtlety, "One step at a time, Kay, one step at a time!" Then she bolted upward, her long legs taking the stairs two, sometimes three, steps at a time.
Night brought, instead of a return to common sense, a series of dreams wilder than anything my imagination or clinical knowledge of anatomy had ever managed before. When I met Cleo for breakfast it was hard to look at her without envisioning her dark, springy hair brushing my thighs, while her mouth... But all my dreams had dissolved in frustration, and I woke up tangled in hot, damp sheets with my hand clamped between my legs.
Cleo didn't look all that rested, either, but for all I knew she was always like that before her second cup of coffee. When food and caffeine began to take effect, I got a map of bus routes from the porter and we planned our day.
London Bridge, Westminster, Harrod's department store; whether I knew how to do it right or not, every moment was a dance of sorts. Cleo got considerable amusement out of my not-so-subtle attempts at seduction. She even egged me on to try on filmy things in Harrod's that I could never afford, or have occasion to wear--what on earth, we speculated, did Harrod's stock when it wasn't wartime?--and let me see how much she enjoyed the view. I didn't think she was just humoring me.
In the afternoon, after lunch at a quaint tearoom, we went to the British Museum and admired the cool marble flesh of nymphs and goddesses. Cleo circled a few statues, observing that the Greeks sure had a fine hand when it came to posteriors; I managed to press oh-so-casually back against her, and she didn't miss the chance to demonstrate her own fine hand, or seem to mind that my posterior was not quite classical.
Then we decided life was too short to waste on Egyptian mummies, and wandered a bit until, in a corner of an upper floor, we found a little gallery where paintings from the Pre-Raphaelite movement and other Victorian artists were displayed. There was no one else there but an elderly woman guard whose stern face softened just a trace at Cleo's smile.
Idealized women gazed out of mythological worlds aglow with color. The grim reality of war retreated under the spell of flowing robes, rippling clouds of hair, impossibly perfect skin.
Cleo stood in the center of the room, slowly rotating. "Sure had a thing for redheads, didn't they," she said. "You'd have fit right in, Kay."
I could only hope she herself had a thing for redheads. Standing there, feeling drab in my khaki uniform, I watched Cleo appreciating the paintings of beautiful women. When she moved closer to the sleeping figure of "Flaming June" by Lord Leighton, I gazed with her at the seductive flesh gleaming through transparent orange draperies and allowed myself, experimentally, to imagine stroking the curve of thigh and hip, the round, tender breasts.
"I don't know how this rates as art," Cleo said, "but oh, my!"
A hot flush rose across my skin, of desire, yes, but even more of fierce jealousy. I wanted to be in that bright, serene world, inside that pampered, carefree body, with smooth arms and hands not roughened by scrubbing with hospital soap. I wanted to be the one seducing Cleo's eyes.
"She could have a million freckles under that gown," I blurted out childishly. "The color would filter them out!"
A tiny grin quirked the corner of Cleo's mouth. As always, I wanted to feel the movement of her lips. "Freckles are just fine," she said, "so long as I get to count them." She turned, and leaned close, and shivers of anticipation rippled through me. "With my tongue," she added, and very gently laid a trail of tiny wet dots across the bridge of my nose. I forgot entirely where we were.
Then she bent her dark head to my throat, and undid my top buttons, and gently cupped my breasts through my tunic as her warm tongue probed down into the valley between. I couldn't bear to stop her, even when I remembered the guard. My breasts felt heavy, my nipples swollen, but not nearly as heavy and swollen as I needed them to be.
Cleo's gray eyes were darker when she raised her head. "Where," she murmured huskily, "is a bomb shelter when you need one?"
But we knew that even now, when Hitler's Russian campaign had distracted the Luftwaffe enough that there hadn't been a really major attack on London in over a year, every bomb shelter had its fiercely protective attendants.
The guard's voice, harsh but muted, startled us. "There's a service lift just down the corridor. It's slow. Though not necessarily slow enough."
She gazed impersonally into space, her weathered face expressionless, until, as we passed, she glanced down at Cleo's silver wings. "Good work," she said curtly. "I drove an ambulance in France in the last war. But for God's sake be careful!"
In the elevator Cleo pressed me against a wood-paneled wall and kissed me so hard it hurt. I slid my fingers through her thick dark hair and held her back just enough for my lips to explore the shape of her lips and my tongue to invite hers to come inside.
By the time we jolted to a stop on the ground floor my crotch felt wetter than my mouth, and even more in need of her probing tongue.
There was no one waiting when the gate slid open. Cleo pulled me along until we found a deserted ladies' room, but once inside, she braced her shoulders against the tiled wall and didn't touch me. "You do realize," she said grimly, "what you're risking."
"Never mind what I'm risking," I said. "One nurse blotting her copy book isn't going to bring everything since Florence Nightingale crashing down. But you..." I remembered Frank's bitter voice asking, "What kind of woman?" Tears stung my eyes, but it had to be said. "You're holding history in your hands, Cleo." I reached out to clasp her fingers. "Right where I want to be."
"Are you sure you know what you want?"
"I may not know exactly what," I admitted, drawing her hands to my hips, "but I sure as hell know I want it!" I reached down and yanked my skirt up as far as I could. Cleo stroked my inner thigh, and I caught my breath; then she slid cool fingers inside my cotton underpants and gently cupped my hot, wet flesh. I moaned and thrust against her touch, and tried to kiss her, and her mouth moved under mine into a wide grin.
"Pretty convincing," she murmured against my lips.
I whimpered as she withdrew her hand, but she just smoothed down my skirt and gave me a pat on my butt. "Not here," she said, and propelled me out the door.
On the long series of bus rides back to Charles Street we tried not to look at each other, but I felt Cleo's dark gaze on me from time to time. I kept my eyes downcast, the better to glance sidelong at her as she alternated between folding her arms across her chest and clenching and unclenching her hands on her blue wool slacks.
Dinner was being served at the Red Cross club, probably the best meal for the price in England. Cleo muttered that she wasn't hungry, not for dinner, anyway, but I had my own motive for insisting. The band would be setting up in half an hour or so, and with the window opened, you could hear the music from my room. Well enough for dancing.
So we ate, although I couldn't say what, and Cleo teased me by running her tongue sensuously around the lip of a coke bottle and into its narrow throat. Her mercurial shifts from intensity to playfulness fascinated me, but the time came when intensity was all I craved.
"I don't suppose you'd like to dance, would you?" I repeated last night's invitation with a barely steady voice. "If I tried my best to do it right?" I stood abruptly and started for the stairs. Behind me Cleo's chair fell over with a clatter as she jumped up to follow me.
I reached my tiny room ahead of her--nursing builds strong legs. I crossed to the window to heave it open, and then the door slammed shut and she was behind me, pressing her crotch against my ass, wrapping her arms around me to undo my buttons and cradle my breasts through my sensible cotton slip. I longed to be wearing sheer flame-colored silk for her.
When she slid her hands under the fabric and over my skin, though, I found I didn't want to be wearing anything at all. "So soft," she whispered, "so tender..." and then, as my nipples jerked taut under her strokes, "and getting so hard..."
A melody drifted from below; "Something To Remember You By." I turned in her arms. "Teach me to dance," I whispered.
We swayed gently together, feet scarcely moving in the cramped space, thighs pressing into each other's heat. Cleo kneaded my ass, while I held her so tightly against my breast that her silver wings dented my flesh.
"Please," I murmured against her cheek, "closer..." I fumbled at the buttons of her tunic. When she tensed, I drew back. "I'm sorry...I don't know the rules..."
"The only rule," Cleo said, after a long pause, "is that you get what you need."
"I need to feel you," I said.
She drew her hands over my hips and up my sides until she held my breasts again; then she stepped back and began to shed her clothes. Mine, with a head start, came off even faster.
The heady musk of arousal rose around us. A clarinet crooned, "I'll Be Seeing You, in All the Old Familiar Places." I cupped my full breasts and raised them so that my nipples could flick against Cleo's high, tightening peaks, over and over. The sensation was exquisite, tantalizing--I gave a little whimper, needing more, and she bent to take me into her mouth.
I thought I would burst with wanting. My swollen nipples felt as big as her demanding tongue. Then she worked her hand between my legs, and spread the juices from my cunt up over my straining clit, and my whimpers turned to full-throated moans.
Cleo raised her head. Her kiss muted my cries as she reached past me to shut the window. "Hope nobody's home next door," she muttered, and suddenly we were dancing horizontally on the narrow bed. I arched my hips, rubbing against her thigh, until her mouth moved down over throat and breasts and belly, slowly, too slowly; I wanted to savor each moment but my need was too desperate. I wriggled, and thrashed, and her head sank at last between my thighs, just as in my dreams. Her mobile lips drove me into a frenzy of pleading, incoherent cries, until, with her tongue thrusting deeply, rhythmically into my cunt, my ache exploded into glorious release.
In the first faint light of morning I woke to feel Cleo's fingers ruffling my tousled hair. "If I were an artist I'd paint you like this," she whispered. "You look like a marmalade cat full of cream."
There's a lot more to this story, both before and after this excerpt, so if you want to read it all go over to www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com. I'll leave it there for a week or two. Then maybe I'll post the sequel, "Alternate Lives."