by Hope Katz Gibbs
The Erotic Edge: Erotica for Couples
Edited by Lonnie Barbach
Penguin Books, 1994
Cover illustration: Brad Holland, c1993
I’M AT POTTERY CLASS, WEDGING life into a mound of soft brown clay. The aroma of warm, wet earth bathes me in a calm that comes from the push and pull as I prepare the clay for the wheel. I struggle at first to help it find its center, then close my eyes and let the rhythm take control.
It is my center that I am longing to find. The clay is but the medium. My goal, it seems clear, is to fill the void that has been hollow for weeks, six of them, since last I saw the man who won my heart a year ago.
We met at an art opening. His eyes, then the eyes of a stranger, followed me around the gallery. I felt his stare, but pushed it away. Being anywhere that was remotely connected with artists was hard for me then.
It had been three months since my fiancé called off our wedding just days before the big event. He never told me why, just said he couldn’t go through with it. He loved me, he said, but he just couldn’t marry me.
The memory of that goodbye still brings me to my knees. I remember the darkness that set in as I looked into his black-brown eyes. He paced around me, careful not to come too close for fear he would lose his resolve.
When at last I heard our door of our Miami apartment close behind him, I sat quite still for a long time. The only thing that seemed to have a heartbeat was the engagement ring, as I slowly pulled it off my finger.
After that dream died, it was sheer determination that made me keep breathing. I took a job in another city, got into graduate school, spent hours trying to figure out where I had gone wrong.
And when the reality of the world seemed too cold, and my body too hot, I would escape into a cavern of numb determination. The world seemed to be happening on the other side of a glass wall, one I couldn’t, wouldn’t, move toward. This safe spot buffered me, hid me, helped me distance myself from the agony that beat in my broken heart.
So when a friend invited me to the art opening, I told myself I should go. I had to snap out of it, had to get back out into the world. I could go to an art opening, I assured my reflection as I painted my lips Passion Pink. I was still breathing, after all. If I could do that, I could brave an art opening. So I slipped on my black suede pumps and grabbed my keys.
Two glasses of white wine helped ease my angst as I wandered about the gallery. My sense of humor seemed to return, at last, for it struck me funny somehow that all the artists were tall, thin and had mustaches—just like my Miami man.
Clinging tightly to my chardonnay, I set out to look for a painting to absorb me. I found solace in a surreal piece of carrot with an eye chart on it. “How clever,” I thought, saying the words aloud.
From behind, the stranger with the watchful eyes, said, “Thank you. That’s my painting. Do you like it?”
“Yes,” I stammered, hardly believing the coincidence. “It has layers of meaning. I’m intrigued.” He just smiled, and asked for my telephone number.
On our first date we went to the Rajaji, an Indian restaurant on DC’s Connecticut Avenue. We ate plates of tangy dishes, and talked for hours amidst the warm curry that hung in the air. But then, when the manager brought us each a shot of aniesette, we realized we had stayed too late. It was after midnight.
When he dropped me at the door, our first kiss lasted an hour. That kiss. It held the power of the wind, blowing life back into my sad heart.
Was this possible? Could I actually be so very attracted to someone else? It seemed too full of hope to be trusted.
I was determined not to make another mistake. Vowing never to feel the anguish of abandonment again, I tested him. Slowly, the dragons that haunted my dreams began to quiet.
In the six months that followed we spent all of our free time together. We went to galleries and art auctions, movies and concerts. No matter where we travelled, always the passion turned reality to fantasy; him brushing up against my blouse, barely touching my skin as we gazed at the artful use of light in a painting by Vermeer, sitting in the last row of the movie theater, kissing and petting our way through Byron Fink …
Note from the author:
SORRY folks! The story gets a little too steamy at this point, and since the goal of this G-rated website is to land lots of freelance work I’m stopping it here. But in the spirit of all good erotica, I encourage you to reach for more and … buy the book.—HKG