Freckles ~ #DailyPractice
This is a piece from a few months ago that was left languishing, waiting for a proofread. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out!
“You have seventeen freckles on your hands.” Elaine methodically laid out unshelled pistachios on the placemat. She picked one out of the bowl, inspected its split, then laid it out in line, split horizontal, opening facing away. Another bowl held a small amount of empty and unsplit shells.
“I do?” Both of my hands were splayed on the table, my fingers flexing in that way that would have a tapping sounding out if there weren’t a tablecloth and placemat. I spread my fingers wide, looking.
“Yes. Nine on your left hand, eight on your right.” Another pistachio went into the reject bowl and her eyes slid up to inspect my hands. “Well. There might be more on your right. Your watch rides above the wrist bone and that’s where I stopped counting on the left.” Her hands had gone still and she cocked her head to the right.
That one little word – “might” – would never have escaped her lips fifteen years ago. Maybe not five years. She would have insisted I remove my watch so she could be certain of the count. I was so happy Elaine had finally found some help that I wanted to squeeze her therapist until she squeaked.
“Since when do you count my freckles?” Elaine had always counted things – toothpicks, sugar cubes, any of the many collections in bowls people decorated with. Guess the number contests spiked her anxiety. I didn’t know all the things that plagued her, but the counting was the most visible.
A rush of color spread across her chest and up into her cheeks. Why is she blushing? “I just did, I guess.” She tipped her bowl to find it empty at last. She counted the acceptable pistachios faster than I could track, rearranged them into four equal lines of four and began her methodical process through her snack. One at a time she opened the nut, laid the meat crosswise then stacked the halves cavity down where the whole one had rested. “I deleted my dating profile yesterday.”
“Why?” I was watching her hands again. She really had beautiful hands; long tapering fingers, short, buffed nails, visible strength as the metacarpals shifted beneath her honeyed skin.
Those hands went still and I looked up to find her pale brown, almost amber eyes steady on mine. “People don’t handle mental health issues well.”
I frowned and she shook her head, bending back to her pistachios. More than half of the little wrinkled green nutmeats made dashed lines across the table. “Lainy. You’re funny, smart, talented and a beautiful soul.”
“Alex.” I dragged my eyes away from her hands again. They were…distracting. Her right brow arched and I turned my hands out in inquiry. “Thank you for the compliments. You’re my friend though. You don’t want to date me.” Her gaze stayed on mine for a full count of three before she returned to her process.
My stomach was doing lazy tumbles and I glanced at the inch of golden whisky still in my glass. Nope. Can’t blame that. Her focus gave me a moment to consider and I watched in silence as she cracked the last three nuts and arranged them. I wondered if she would be able to break the pattern and smiled as she used both hands to stack up the half shells, working in from the corners, dropping each set into the empty bowl until only nutmeats remained.
“I have never said that,” I finally responded and her hand froze midway to the table. She lifted her gaze, sat back in her chair and dropped her hands into her lap. She glanced at the grid she’d made, then at me, and rose to move to the seat next to mine.
“You’ve never…”, Elaine licked her lips but didn’t break the eye contact and the butterflies in my stomach erupted as I resisted hiding behind my hair. “You’ve never indicated…” Her words trailed off again and I reached out to cover her hand with mine.
“We’ve been friends for fifteen years. You are the most important person in my life. I never thought you saw me that way.”
“How do you know I do now?”
My skin was prickling down my spine and I swallowed against my nerves. “You’re counting my freckles,” I whispered. It was one of her things with lovers. She counted freckles, moles, scars, stretch marks. It was one of the ways she absorbed the physicality of their presence and I’d always found it fascinating.
She lifted a hand and I took a shuddering breath as she ran her fingers up my right arm, “Twenty-seven.” She repeated the touch on my left, “Thirty six.” I licked my lips and her smile went very sweet yet crooked. “I’m terrified, Alex,” she admitted and the quaver in her voice broke the paralysis that had seized me. I pulled her and her chair closer and wrapped her in my arms, holding her tight.
“Oh honey,” I breathed and held her close as her breath hitched in her battle with herself and her tears. “It’s ok to cry.” I have held her so many times over the years as she cried. So many. She trembled on the cusp for a long, long time.
“I don’t want to cry.” She pulled back and I started to loosen my arms and she shook her head as she pulled her left hand free and reached up to stroke the line of my brow.
“What do you want, Elaine,” I asked carefully. My eyelids fluttered as she brushed her fingers along my eyelashes, down the straight slope of my nose, along my lips. Her other hand came up and she stroked both sides of my jaw, traced my cheekbones then carefully, gently, cupped my face, her fingertips tucked into the hollows behind my ears.
“I want to kiss you,” she breathed. She was so close her words tickled my lips and now I trembled, caught in her words, her gaze, her touch. Her hands shook and my eyes went wide. “Consent, Al,” she said tremulously, “Please say yes.”
Oh. Oh god. I forgot. My brain was spinning without traction and it took a moment for me to understand. Consent. She always needs “Oh, oh yes, please, Lainy.” I expected her kiss to be tentative. I’ve thought many times about what we would be like together, if she’d wanted me. Beyond how good, how delicious, how amazing it was, I got it all so very, very wrong.
Elaine pulled my mouth to hers in a kiss that was hungry and passionate and breath devouring. My head spun, my heart raced, and I moaned when she dragged her teeth along my lower lip. When she pulled away, both of us panting for air, she straddled my lap, her fingers laced into my hair, my hands splayed across her lower back. “I want you,” I managed to gasp even as the worry was tightening her brow and her fingers loosening in my hair. “Yes, Elaine. Yes.”
She kissed me again and I lost all thought of time and space. When I next opened my eyes, gasping to find enough oxygen to think we somehow stretched on the couch, her hips pressing my thighs open, my shirt missing, my bra shoved up into my airpits. I remembered saying “yes” over and over as she peeled my clothes away, baring my flesh. Her arms shook as she held herself over me, her gaze wandering across my chest, down to my pale stomach. “I want you,” she breathed out, “and you’re going to have to lie still for me for a moment more.”
Her touch was everywhere. over the balls of my shoulders, down the column of my throat, along my clavicle, down my breast bone. “So many,” she whispered and her lips started mapping constellations between my freckles. I writhed before she was done, unable to be still as her mouth traced a line down my stomach, dipped into my navel, and slid lower. I whispered “yes” once more and lifted my hips willingly for her and she peeled my jeans and underwear off. Her gaze lingered on my thighs.
“Elaine, please.” My voice was drawn ragged and shaky. She leaned down and kissed the cluster of freckles that dusted my hipbone, a remnant of a sunburn. Her breath teased between my thighs and I gasped, lifting into her. The first touch of her tongue made me cry out and my vision went blurry and dim as she flattened her touch and swiped it along the length of my cunt. I was lost. Lost to thought, lost to the world, lost in her. Words continued to spill out of my mouth, one hand clenched on the couch cushion and the other threaded into her hair. My blood rushed in my ears and I felt her sounds of pleasure more than I heard them.
I cried out, pulled into a bow, when my orgasm crashed over me. It rolled and rolled onward on the flat of her tongue until my legs shook and I collapsed into the cushions, my sweat-slicked skin pebbling in the aftermath. Elaine’s fingers walked along my calf and I struggled to focus on her, shoving a pillow behind my head. “Think you can lay still for a bit now,” she asked distractedly, her fingers sending little jolts through my body.
“Maybe,” I whispered and felt myself smile in response to the little wicked grin that curved her lips. Apparently I wouldn’t get to turn the tables until she was done, completely done, counting my freckles.