The Last Night (Asher & Jesse #5)

The envelope from UT Houston stayed hidden in Jesse’s file cabinet for a week before she even had the nerve to tell Asher it had arrived. The other rejection letters from Seattle Pacific University and Seattle University and University of Washington were thinner, only containing one page and a quick ‘thank you for your application,’ a band-aid ripped off clean and swift—but this one from UT was thick. That had to mean something, right? That was a good sign. Jesse wasn’t really even sure she wanted an MFA when she applied, but then when there was more than no chance at all hiding in her very own drawer, she is pretty sure she wants nothing else in the world more.

Except …

“Asher, call me back when you get this. Love you baby.” Jesse leaves a voice mail. Asher is probably still with clients, 6pm on a Tuesday, but it was worth a try before Jesse goes in for her shift at the store.

Would Asher go with her? Would she want to? What if they got married? Is that crazy? What if they broke up? How would sex ever be this good with anyone ever again?

Jesse’s mind raced with stress and change and all the options in the history of options that ever there was. She finally stripped her jeans and boxer briefs off and dropped them next to her bed, pulling her vibrator out from the box on the bookshelf that held her harness, Shilo packing and playing cock, and the nipple clamps that she’d brought from Asher’s house, and she pulled back the covers and slid between the sheets. The bed had a chill underneath the fabric, something that turning up the heat never seems to help, as if the bed had a secret draft that is always letting out warmth. Maybe that’s why they always stay at Asher’s house.

Jesse put a pillow over her forehead and eyes to block the light, wanting to only feel and let her mind think and wander. She turned on the vibrator and touched it to her cunt, using the broad side of it to work the wet out of her and ease her into wanting.

She thought about Asher, whose dresses and layers of skirts and fluff of fabrics make her mouth water and palms sweat. And that one shirt of Asher’s, thin as the skin of dried grass, the one she always wears with extra bright colored bras under so everyone knows it’s on purpose. Jesse thought of that time she’d crawled under the table, dug through the layers of crinoline in Asher’s princess-cut dress, and worked her mouth up Asher’s stockings until she reached the wet between her legs and lapped and lapped until Asher banged on the table and squeezed Jesse’s head with her thighs so hard that Jesse couldn’t hear anything. Jesse was so dizzy with lust and permission, so intoxicated by Asher’s bold shamelessness, so in love. Just the memory made her almost spill over the edge of orgasm, so it only took another minute for Jesse to put the vibrator in exactly the right spot, and come.

After Jesse got off, she fell asleep, dreaming that she was swimming out to an expansive horizon on a perfectly calm sea. Her swimming was easeful, as simple and known to her body as walking, as calm as laying in the grass under dappled sunlight through bright green leaves. She woke refreshed and clear, and put the envelope and looming decision out of her mind, holding instead to the expanse of blue as she squeezed back into her tightest and stretchiest skinny jeans, and headed to work.

Jesse knows she’s not supposed to want Asher to beg her to stay, but she hopes she does. She’s not supposed to want Asher to drop her whole life here and come with her, but she wants that too. Maybe she’s supposed to want to stay, but she doesn’t. She’s been in Seattle her whole life. It’s comfortable, easy, simple. But since Asher, and since the kind of sex she’s been having with Asher, Jesse’s world has been split open—like it was thrown off of something really tall. So why not reassemble it in a new configuration? She hates the dreary rain, hates that she can never quite get warm and always ends up shivering in the dark under clouds splashed orange with city streetlight glow. She wants tropical fruit and thunderstorms and a thriving metropolis. She wants to discover who she’ll be when she’s states away from her narcissistic step-mom who has never quite allowed Jesse to separate, and who still expects “this gay thing” to be a phase. What would happen then? What if Jesse could remake herself from scratch? The idea feels like a betrayal somehow, a secret she shouldn’t reveal for fear of being so shamed she’ll never share herself, even to herself.

“Got your message. Meetings ran late. Still coming over after work?” Asher texts Jesse after her shift starts, so she doesn’t reply until she’s off the floor for her break.

“Sure. Be there around 10, I’m closing.” Jesse texts.

“Bring your dick, I really wanna get fucked hard tonight,” Asher replies right away. Jesse hesitates. She doesn’t have it, will have to go home to pick it up. She isn’t sure she can get it up to fuck, but then again, Asher always seems to be able to inspire her, even after almost a year together. But sometimes it feels like it doesn’t matter that Jesse is the one fucking her, that as long as Asher gets fucked, that is the real desire.

When Jesse goes back to her apartment, past where the neighbors doors are always leaking pot smoke, up the stairway with the lamp out and around the dark dark corner where Jesse always holds her breath, slides her key into the lock that always sticks, she grabs the strap-on and the harness, the nipple clamps, and the thick envelope from its hiding place in her file cabinet, and pulling the hood of her sweatshirt up, she heads back out into the grey Seattle night.

*

Two hours later, Asher is worn out and giddy with endorphins and Jesse is sleepy but still wet and swollen. Asher works her mouth on Jesse’s clit, sprawled naked between Jesse’s open thighs, sheets and blankets long tossed onto the floor, tangled around the bed. Asher bends her own knees to lift her feet in the air, parting Jesse’s cunt gently with her fingers, and expertly uses the smooth inner parts of her own mouth to suck.

Jesse is having trouble letting go and relaxing, but coaxes herself through it gently in her own head. It’s okay. You’re safe and you can do it. Just focus on how good it feels. It feels so good. Give her direction if you want more or less of something. She’ll listen. It’s okay.

She doesn’t need to change what Asher does, once she can relax. Asher has done this before, not tons, but probably a dozen times in the last year, and enough to get a feel for what Jesse’s body craves and how she likes to be touched and tongued and held. Asher works her mouth, gently sucking, flicking her tongue over Jesse’s clit, tugging and parting and opening. It feels to Jesse like it is taking her a very long time to get off, and she tries not to let her brain yell at her for being so slow, so unresponsive. It’s okay to take a while. This isn’t a race. Nobody’s in a hurry, Asher’s not in a hurry, she tells herself.

When Jesse finally comes, Asher’s arms are underneath Jesse’s thighs, Jesse is pushing her cunt hard into Asher’s mouth, her hands on Asher’s head and tangled in her hair. Asher is sucking and flicking with her tongue and pulling with her fingers. Jesse feels all that tension well up and up and up in her, until her pelvis feels so full of pressure from all sides, inside and outside and all around, until something gives way and it pours open, her whole body shuddering, crying out, gasping, moaning Asher’s name.

Asher softens her touches and rests her head on Jesse’s thigh for a minute, then wipes some of the wet from her mouth and slides up next to Jesse, tucking her head onto Jesse’s shoulder. Jesse kisses her, tasting her own musky sweetness and just some hints of Asher’s orange and cream lip gloss.

“Was that … okay?” Asher asks finally, in a small voice.

“So good,” Jesse moans out the words, limbs still liquidy and soft. “I love how you use your mouth. I love how you hold me so well. Thank you. That was … just right.”

Asher snuggles closer. “Good. I want to do it how you like it.”

“I know,” Jesse yawns, body spent, wrung out, tired from her retail shift and from staying up late last night finishing an essay. She wants to bring up the envelope, the future, what they’re going to do. She wants to ask Asher what she thinks, what she wants, what kind of life she could possibly envision them having together, what her next tattoo is going to be. She wants to hear Asher brainstorm about places they could live or adventures they could take, elaborate meals they would make together for brunch on the weekends, what kind of TV shows they would watch while they were winding down from their jobs and lives and stresses of being queer in the world. She wants to brainstorm herself about poems she’ll write, essays she’ll submit to online magazines that will go viral and say important things, teachers she’ll work with, kinky conferences they could attend together. She wants to do all these things. With Asher. Asher, the girl who lit a fire inside her pelvis and told her exactly where it belonged. Asher, who instigates and entices, with a flip of the hair or the way she turns her knee in or how she spreads her legs. Asher, who isn’t shy, and isn’t afraid of looking at the truth.

“Goodnight,” Asher whispers, and puts out the light, kissing Jesse on the cheek and settling back in. Asher’s thick blanket has magically been pulled up over them both.

Jesse can’t get her mouth to open and her eyes to wake enough to form words, let alone to say them aloud, but she is ready to talk to Asher in the morning. Jesse starts drifting to sleep even as she’s imagining what she’ll do: She’ll get the envelope out, she’ll tell Asher it arrived, they’ll open it. And they’ll figure out what will happen next. Together.


Featured image from Crash Pad Series Episode 89: Hilt & Rusty Nails.

Handling Her (Asher & Jesse #1)

Wait for me after class?

Jesse’s heart pounds. That’s all the note says, but she knows it’s from Asher. Asher, who is deliberately not paying any attention to Jesse, even though Jesse positioned herself on the end of the second row in the lecture hall, on the side closest to where Asher usually passes around the handouts. Asher, whose dress is just a little shorter than is probably appropriate for college, especially for a Teaching Assistant, but whose tight grey pencil-skirt dress, long dark hair pulled up in a bun, red lipstick, and cat-eye glasses are fueling a variety of teacher-student fantasies in the room right now. Asher, who has been biting the insides of her lips thinking about Jesse’s hands, the smoothness of the palms, the skin on her fingers kind of rough, the way they’ll feel in her mouth.

Trying not to squirm, Jesse tries to slide the note into her skinny jeans with nonchalance.

No big deal. I’ll just wait. For Asher. After class.

She tries to focus on the psychology handout that Asher dropped on her desk with the note. Her fingernails were painted a soft shade of pink, the same as the accents on the grey dress. Asher didn’t look at her. The note was a stealth move. Ash’s handwriting is tight and fine cursive—the t and the f are loopy but compact. Her fingers are deft and precise, dropping the note with the handout and moving on to the next desk without another glance.

Jesse barely hears the rest of Ms. Bell’s lecture. She watches the slides and takes notes, but all she can think about is Asher. Asher’s lips when they kissed yesterday. The way she tasted like oranges and cream. Probably that was her lip gloss, otherwise how would her lips have been shimmering? Asher’s hair spread out in the grass under the cherry blossom trees in the quad. How Asher kept smiling and laughing at Jesse’s stupid jokes.

All the students start rustling their books and notebooks and backpacks when the clock gets around to 1:20pm, and Ms. Bell raises her voice over the noise to remind them to read chapter 6 by Thursday. Jesse delays packing up her things—the thick hardback course textbook, her blue spiral notebook with PSYCH 201 written in big sharpie letters on the cover, her Slingshot day planner, a pack of Post-Its of various sizes and colors to use to make notes in the textbook, and her pencil case, which actually only has one pencil in it, for when the professors insist on marking up a text. She slides them one at a time, deliberately, into the brown canvas shoulder bag, shifting around the granola bars (which had fallen to the bottom) so they wouldn’t get smashed. She leaves a pen in the groove on the desk, one of her non-important ones, a blue Bic with a chewed up end.

Asher’s note, she tucks into her Slingshot, where all the important things go.

Jesse goes into the girl’s bathroom across the hall and waits with a few of the other Psych 201 students. They are prattling on about lacrosse and don’t stop talking to each other even when they go into the stalls. Jesse pulls the strap on her bag tight, hangs it on the back of the door when it’s her turn, washes her hands, dries them on her jeans, and goes back out into the hall. A few classmates are left at the end of the hall, but mostly they’re clearing out. Jesse peeks in the door of the classroom. Asher and the other two TAs, including Bryan, who is the TA of Jesse’s section C, are still in there talking to Ms. Bell and gathering the paperwork. The last two students leave the room. Jesse takes a deep breath, and walks in.

“Forgot my pen,” mumbles Jesse when Ms. Bell turns to look at who has entered. Bryan is saying something about grading tests. Jesse returns to the desk she was sitting in and looks around, setting her bag in the chair next to her. She doesn’t look at Asher. She pulls up her jeans and crouches down to look more carefully on the floor.

“I like a girl on her knees,” Asher says suddenly, loudly. Jesse nearly falls over. She stands, and Asher has the blue Bic in her hand, standing right next to the desk. The rest of the room is empty. Jesse is sweating and blushing and maybe has to pee all at once.

Asher laughs. “I’m going to get a snack at By George. Come with.”

“Okay. I, uh, I’d like that.” Jesse stands and shoulders her bag. Asher hands her the pen, leaving her fingers on it so they touch Jesse’s when she reaches out to take it, and leans in to touch her lips to Jesse’s cheek. Jesse puts her sweaty palm on the desk to keep her knees from giving out.

Asher doesn’t carry a bag, just the plain file folder stuffed with paper and the course’s textbook in a pile. She’s tucked a pen and a pencil into the bun on the back of her head. She has a purse slung around one shoulder, but it probably holds little more than a paperback book.

“I’m glad you waited,” Asher knocks Jesse with her hip when they get out of the grassy quad and to the slick bricks of red square. It was raining this morning and the ground still isn’t dry.

“I’m glad you asked me to,” Jesse knocks Asher back. She had the urge to wrap her arms around Asher and kiss her, hard; to push her against the side of the building and hold her arms above her head.

Asher talks a little on the short walk to the cafe; Jesse mostly listens, swallowing down a few words here and there, unsure if they sounded smart enough. Jesse picks out a Sprite when they go through the cafe line, and Asher gets a paper basket of french fries and a root beer. They find a table over by the window, away from the groups of students who have pushed tables together, being rowdy.

Asher puts her tan tray down on the table and before she’s even sat down, she says, “I have to tell you something.”

Jesse’s knee is folded under her on the chair and she’s lowering herself down to sit, but she slows, looking up at Asher, still standing. “Okay?”

“I just …” Asher sucks in a breath, and sits down, then fingers two fries and pops them in her mouth, chewing. Jesse tentatively reaches into her bag for the peanut butter granola bar, still watching Asher, who is staring out the window. Asher fingers the straw in her root beer, taking a few sips, leaving a ring of red lipstick on the straw.

“I like you,” Asher starts, leaving the last word hanging.

Jesse thinks that isn’t the thing she’s trying to say, and waits for Asher to finish. She realizes she’s holding her breath. After a few too many moments of silence, Jesse says quietly, “I like you, too.”

With a quick glance at Jesse, Asher hurries on like she was interrupted. “But I want you to know. I am … I’m pretty kinky. I just have to—. Tell you.”

Jesse gulps. Kinky? Oh. That’s what she was trying to say? … Isn’t everybody kind of kinky?

Asher keeps staring at her fries. “My last girlfriend, we didn’t work out because I wanted things that she, she didn’t. I don’t really want that to happen again,” she says quietly, the pain of that loss still evident. Who knows how long ago that was, or how long they were together. Years? Were they married? What did Asher want to do that the ex didn’t? Could Jesse be that for Asher?

But that’s it. Asher lets out the breath she’s been holding and munches a few more fries. Jesse ponders what Asher has revealed. “That doesn’t … that doesn’t bother me. I mean, okay. I like some of that stuff too, I think. I haven’t … I don’t really know what to do, all the time, but I like to try things.”

Asher gazes a little sideways at Jesse across the table. “Are you … I’m not sure you could handle it. Me.”

Something about how Asher said it made Jesse think she was sad about that, or vulnerable. Like she wanted someone to handle it. Her. And that little glimpse of softness gave Jesse a thrill. She leaned forward just a little, whispered, “Maybe you should try me before you decide,” and snapped open her can of Sprite, which fizzed in response.

Jesse took a swig and Asher’s face relaxed, breathing out hard like a half-laugh and smiling. She regarded Jesse again, in that way of hers that made Jesse feel like Ash’s hazel-gold eyes had x-ray vision. “Alright,” she says, considering. “Maybe I should.”

But maybe I’m wrong! Jesse’s mind suddenly screamed. Maybe she wants to throw me down, and, you know, ravage me? Take me? Maybe she wants to do things to me, hit me with, I don’t know, a wooden kitchen spoon, or handcuff me? I could do that. Could I do that? … I think I could do that.


Featured image from Crash Pad Series Episode 89: Hilt & Rusty Nails.

Living Gender

Ellie Lumpesse has been curating a Gender Celebration Blog Carnival, and today’s my day to participate. The topic is “living gender.”

You can check out a few of the other participants, if you like: Curvaceous Dee wrote about what makes her a woman; Sexpert Jane Blow wrote about her perceived gender; Eusimto wrote about gender anarchy; Dangerous Lilly wrote about labels and being politically correct. Still to come are neamhspleachas and Ellie.

I hope this Gender Celebration Carnival will keep going! I think it could drum up some great conversation.

I don’t know when it happened exactly.

One day I just woke up and felt good in my skin. I went to my closet and felt good about the choices of clothing I had to offer. I dressed and looked in the mirror and I felt good about my reflection. I saw a photograph of myself and I smiled, and saw me.

It wasn’t always that way.

I didn’t used to recognize myself in photographs. I didn’t used to feel good about the pieces of clothing I would pull on to pull together an outfit. But somewhere along the way, things started shifting, and improved.

I probably can’t even put my finger on it. Not an exact date or time.

I remember when I threw out most of my clothes that were purchased in the girl’s department, going through my closet and my drawers with each piece: where did this one come from? This one? This one? and sifting them all into neat piles. I remember bringing home bags full of button-downs and polo shirts from the thrift store to try to rebuild some new version of me, some version that had swagger and dated girls and knew how to fuck. I remember buying three-packs of undershirts and three-packs of briefs and trying to figure out from the packaging what size I would be.

I remember trying on various versions of these in photo sets, self-portraits I would take of myself on my bed, against a wall, with an upturned lamp pointed at my face. Sometimes with a timer, sometimes from arm’s length. I have found folders and folders of these photos recently, with titles like “playing butch dressup” and “self butch” and “new clothes” and “wife beater a-shirt.” There were others: “lipstick” and “cat costume” and “corset” and “cleavage,” all carefully labeled in folders, back in the digital day before Picasa and iPhoto would keep everything organized for you.

But it wasn’t all about clothes and presentation.

They say there are many components to gender: chromosomes, genitals, hormones, external presentation, internal sense of self, and yes, of course, socialization and performance. Gender is not all of any of these things, it is not all performance, it is not all socialized. Some of it is innate. Some of it is about genitals. I believe there are many factors.

Gender is also about energy.

I remember studying some classmates in college: the way they sat, the way they held their pens, the way they slung their bookbags over their shoulders and defiantly walked out of the classroom door, shoulders back head high chin up. A little daring, a little rebellious. They sat with their legs open, taking up lots of space. I mimicked them. I practiced sliding low in a chair and splaying my knees.

I noticed that these people got lower grades than I did for doing the same work, because they were perceived to be not paying attention.

And then, when I started mimicking them daily, when my mimery became mine and became a slightly altered version of a copy of a copy of a copy, I started getting ignored by those same professors, started getting glossed over when my hand was up, started wondering why I wasn’t perceived as the straight-A front row apple-for-the-teacher student that I was.

Oh. Right. My gender.

But it wasn’t always like that. It was easier to recognize a straight-A student as a girl, apparently. My board shorts and polo shirts were not proper enough to be seen as part of academia, but my brain hadn’t changed. Curiouser and curiouser.

(That was workable, however. All it took was a few office hours visits with those professors and my participation in class looked much different.)

The other thing that changed was the girls. Suddenly I was visible, a catch, someone dateable. I had three dates in a week, once, in college, and my mind was a little bit boggled. (I didn’t sleep with any of them, or rather, none of them slept with me, but hey, at least I was getting out there! At least I was being noticed!)

I got a Facebook message from the mom of one of my childhood friends recently that said, “You look exactly the same.” I’m not sure what she meant by that, because to me I look so completely different. But I think she was trying to express some gender validation, some gender celebration, telling me that though my external appearance may seem radically different, that there was a similarity, a thread running through all of my life experiences that was me, at the core.

What I want to tell you is that now, I recognize myself in the mirror. Now, I don’t get up and obsess about gender before I even put on my clothes. Now, I get my hair cut every three weeks and keep it shorn tight in the back and on the sides. Now, I don’t debate if it’s a cliche to keep my hair short, I don’t wonder if perhaps I should grow it back out because lesbians should have options, I keep it short because I know I want to. I keep briefs in my underwear drawer because I know all the options, and those are what I like. I collect ties and cufflinks. I shop unapologetically in the men’s department and I don’t even know my sizes translated into women’s anymore: I’m 8 1/2, 34/30, M, 16. I feel handsome and beautiful and attractive and at peace with my body—at least, most of the time. It has taken time, I’m 32, but I don’t think about my own gender, and wonder what it would be like, living daily, if it felt comfortable, anymore.