Writing

2016: AN INVITATION FOR INSPIRATION

Tying up my career "loose ends."

Tying up my career "loose ends."

At the beginning of 2016, I made it a personal goal to wrap up several of the "loose ends" that were draining energy in my life. FYI, there is nothing inherently "wrong" with loose ends--they simply occupy my brain space and "slow the wheels" of my mind-gears (making it difficult to fully squeeze the juice out of my mind-grapes--that's a 30 Rock reference for those who are wondering ;) )

Anyhow, one of these "loose ends" was to finally sit my ass down and write a half hour comedy pilot that's been banging around in my brain the past few months. After my short film script Magdalena won two festival awards last year, I wanted to create something new to submit to the festival circuit. Lo and behold, when I sat down to do it, I completed it in just under a week!

Regardless of whether or not this script goes anywhere, it feels good to have fun, sharpen my skills and have my mind clear(er) and free(r) for the next creation to flow through.

I'm finding that tying up "loose ends" is one of the keys to inviting inspiration. If our minds are clouded and chugging along, worried about the stuff we haven't done, then we can't truly be present in our lives. There is no "empty space" for fresh ideas to flow.

Sometimes procrastination can be a good thing. It allows for ideas to flourish and mature into something we may never have originally imagined. But I think it's important to be able to distinguish when an idea is "marinating" or "rotting."

So for anyone feeling like their inspiration is a little lacking, take a moment to assess where there are loose ends in your life--energetic open loops that are draining your ability to be present. There may be something there for you or there may not. But either way it will at least give you a valuable map to navigate your resistance and (usually) your desire.

Excerpt from The Nun's Story in My Upcoming Book "From to 6 to 9 and Beyond"

The Nun. Photo by Sequoia Emmanuelle.

The Nun. Photo by Sequoia Emmanuelle.

Originally March 15, 2014

“Help me!” she cried, grief rattling through her. “Help me please.“

Her prayer gave way to jangled sobbing. She placed her hands on her heart, trying to keep her rib cage from shattering. Her heart hammered relentlessly in her chest. 

Suddenly she realized that what she was feeling was not grief, but unbearable love. Heart-shattering love. Blind devotion love. The kind of love that rests on the tip of the tongue, but remains indescribable. The kind of love that clangs and bangs within the restrictive confinement of flesh, pulsing at the edges of fingertips, yet can never be fully expressed.

It is the kind of love that only God understands and most humans tragically spend eternities trying to purchase from others. 

READ MORE HERE

Woman: Opening Poem from "From 6 to 9 and Beyond"

The Queen. Photo by Sequoia Emmanuelle.

The Queen. Photo by Sequoia Emmanuelle.

Originally posted March 3, 2014.

What does it mean to be Woman with a capital W?


What is it like to pass through the ritual of childhood and squirm down the birth canal, both birthing and being birthed into an expression of mature femininity? What is it like to release our mothers and become our own parents/gurus/mentors/teachers/midwives? How do all these aspects reveal themselves through our own erotic awakening? How do their shadows show up and unconsciously hijack our lives if we are unwilling to visit the basements of our souls?

These questions circle around me as I put on the finishing touches on the first draft of my book, From 6 to 9 and Beyond: Widening the Lens of Feminine EroticismIn the book, I share the erotic awakening of six feminine archetypes. And while the stories are fictional, many of the events within them are based on my own journey into Womanhood—a journey that is still unfolding.

The process of writing itself is teaching me more than any workshop I could take. My own life has become a crucible for honest self-reflection and growth. These archetypes grab me by the pussy and demand that if I am going to tell their stories, I better damn well love and integrate them into my own life.

And while six archetypes (virgin, whore, warrior, queen, nun, grandmother) is not enough to capture the magnitude of Woman, it is a step towards widening our perspective on how Womanhood, female sexuality and feminine eroticism can express themselves in our world.

Below is the opening poem from the book. This piece emerged recently as I sat in deep meditation with these women.

Whether you identify as predominately masculine, feminine or gender-neutral (for we have all of it within ourselves), I invite you to investigate this question as you read the piece: Who are you as Woman and how does that show up in your own life?

For when She is loved and accepted, all parts of ourselves have space to heal and shine.

 

Woman

 

I looked into the mirror today,

Focused on the mystery

Waiting patiently behind the ocular aperture;

 

Quieted the voices that told me

I should have a smaller waist

And a smoother face.

 

I asked the question,

“Who is Woman?”

And awaited the ineffable reply.

 

She first came to me as a dragon’s eye.

“Beware the lower depths,”

She counseled.

 

I flashed a bravado smile

And asked again,

“Who is Woman?”

 

Then came the hummingbird,

Flapping her wings

At my arrogant back,

 

And cautioned,

“Those who ask this question

Must be willing to die.”

 

Steeling my jaw,

I did not heed her warning,

But demanded once more,

 

“Who.

Is.

Woman.”

 

A silent scream ripped though my ears

As her thick-bitter tea joined

My lips in holy prayer.

 

A face, too beautiful to bear,

Delicate features contrasting my own,

Slashed my vision.

 

Crumbling to my knees, I cried,

“No! Please! Spare my life!

I will give you anything.”

 

Hoisting me to my feet, She growled,

“Wake up, Girl. Do not bow to me.

Remember: True Service is not Sycophancy.”

 

The black blood, pooling between my thighs,

Now rose above my chest,

Flooding my frozen throat.

 

She whispered, “Your hard heart

Is still learning to let the love in.

Drown the Child and your freedom begins.

 

The men, they are calling,

Aching to suckle

Your milky breasts.

 

And when they are grown, they will call,

Aching for you to suckle

Their milky heads.

 

You can not blame them.

You can only love them.

As I love you.

 

Surrender.

Surrender.

It is the easiest thing in the world.

 

It.

Is.

Woman.”

 

The balm of healing seared,

Ice cold, through my heart,

And panicked blindness gave way to simple sight.

 

The Virgin appeared before me,

Her innocent gaze teaching me how

To see with fresh eyes.

 

Next the Whore,

Celebrating her body,

A vessel for divine inspiration.

 

Then the Warrior,

Bloody blade at her side,

Dripping with uncompromising truth.

 

Followed by the Queen,

Glittering in gold,

Her power unapologetically adorning her throne.

 

Afterwards, the Nun,

Prostrated, her twisted fingers

Spelling out her memoir of devotion.

 

Finally, Abuelita herself,

The Grandmother, wise and wizened,

Birthing and destroying all of creation.

 

As the riddle unfolded and the veil lifted,

My choked voice gave way to breath

As I inhaled her final words:

 

“Only trust the bearers of light

Who have also fallen in love

With the dark.”

 

Salty-sweet tears of recognition

Slid down my mottled cheeks,

Cleansing my bitter soul,

 

Until I was met,

Once more,

With my own solemn reflection.

 

I looked into the mirror today,

Focused on the mystery

Waiting patiently behind the ocular aperture;

 

Quieted the voices that told me

I should have a smaller waist

And a smoother face.

 

I asked the question,

“Who am I?”

And what I saw was simple:

 

I am Woman and She is Me.

You are Woman and She is You.

We are Woman and She is We.

Finished The Queen...finally on to The Nun

The Nun. Photo by Sequoia Emmanuelle.

The Nun. Photo by Sequoia Emmanuelle.

Originally posted February 21, 2014

I finished the Queen's story last night. What a wild roller coaster that was. I felt like she pulled me up by my lapel and told me to "Grow Up" *several times* during the creation of her story. The fact that my husband and I still love each other, want to be married to each other and enjoy sex together is a testament to our love and the positive learning and growth I experienced during her creation.

The final story I have left to write is the Nun's, which for me is very personal. She is a woman who devotes her erotic energy in service to the divine. God is her lover. This can show up many ways, not just in the celibate renunciates we see in various religious institutions. She the part of ourselves that easily connects with Spirit and uses that orgasm for her creative expression.

Her shadow shows up when she denigrates all physical life and chooses only to chase the spiritual realms. We can see this in severe religious and cultural leaders who warn us to beware the "pleasures of the flesh." We can also see this in anorexics and certain "hippie" people who would rather "breathe in nourishment" than go sit down and have a filling meal. People who hate or cannot hold or handle money, i.e. physical expressions of energy, also fall into the shadow side of this archetype.

In my story, I will share an experience I had that connected me to my spirit and my sex after several years of severe anorexia. The framework will be fictional, but the experience will be my own.

Time for the deep dive once more...at least this time my husband has had some warning.

 

First Page of "The Queen"

Originally posted February 5, 2014

It's been a while since I've posted on this blog, mainly because the past few months I have been devoting my time to writing my book, From 6 to 9 and Beyond: Widening the Lens of Feminine Eroticism, and focusing less on articles. If you click on the link the title, you will also find an "Updates" page where I have blogging about the writing process. So be sure to head over there and check out all the good stuff I've been up to :)

However, I didn't want to neglect this page, so I am posting the first page from my story about "The Queen" archetype. You can find more on the book's website. Enjoy!

The Queen. Photo by Sequoia Emmanuelle.

The Queen. Photo by Sequoia Emmanuelle.

Rani Jhadav placed the edge of the chilled glass against her warm lips, tipped back her head and slightly parted her mouth. Bright bubbles tickled the back of her throat, while the dry, cherry flavor of the 2005 Cristal Rosé Brut washed over her tongue. She closed her eyes. After the champagne had sufficiently slaked her thirst, she set the flute back down on the cream and gold-colored cocktail napkin. She glanced down at her Richard Mille 007 Rose Gold Watch, given to her exactly one year ago for her 38th birthday.

“Twelve twenty-eight,” she noted to herself, the hands pointing towards two small diamonds representing the clock face’s twelve and the six.

She remembered the e-mail verbatim:

Alley

Sit at the bar

12:30 SHARP

Wear a skirt

Xo, Ms. V

Rani recrossed her legs, the smooth cushion of the suede barstool brushing against her bare, mocha thighs. She hooked the left heel of her Louboutin black-and-crystal pump on the bottom rung of her seat.

           “Twelve twenty-nine.”

           Admiring the artist’s penmanship, she softly fingered the paper “Reserved” sign that sat three inches behind her glass. The R snaked under the word “reserved” in thick calligraphy. A similar, yet scripturally unique, sign sat nine inches to her left, saving the empty space next to her.

           “Good thing Ms. V had the foresight to reserve us a spot,” thought Rani, as she glanced around the packed restaurant. Ever since the Gramercy Park bistro opened a little over a year and a half ago, it had been the hot spot for New York City’s wealthy and elite. It was a particular favorite of Rani’s since she could count on it to “wow” her potential investors and business contacts. And it was only two blocks from her Flatiron office.

Plus, she simply adored the care and attention put into every detail of the place—the décor, the cuisine, the wines, the gold-plated napkin rings and handwritten menus—all of it represented simple, yet elegant tastes, while simultaneously fostering an air of familiarity. Even now as she sat in plain sight, sliding her long fingers up and down the stem of her flute, Rani couldn’t help but step inside the intimacy of her experience. Nothing existed but supple flesh on firm glass.

           No sooner had she drifted off than she was startled back to the present by the appearance of a stranger in the seat beside her. She quickly looked at her watch.

          “Twelve-thirty? That was a minute?!” she thought, surprised at how quickly she had lost her sense of temporal perception.

         “Excuse me, sir,” she said, “this seat’s reserved.”

         “I know,” he silkily replied, an impish smile curling around his mouth.

On Writing, Faith & ‘Figuring It Out’

Renee Zellweger in  Bridget Jones' Diary

Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones' Diary

Originally posted January 27, 2013

View this article on elephantjournal.com

“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.” ~ Neil Gaiman

I hadn’t really thought of myself as a writer.

I’d only begun creating poetry and essays to help me through my divorce and eating disorder recovery in 2009. A year later, I began the journey into my own sexuality. 2011 saw the birth of my blog, ‘The Orgasmic Life’ (previously called ‘Returning Saturn,’ in order to honor the lessons from the painful events in my 28th year). And then in February 2012, inspired by an off-hand suggestion from my then boyfriend (now fiancé), I sent ‘Anorexia and the Mother Shadow’ to elephantjournal.com.

At first, I was thrilled any major online magazine would even look at my writing, let alone publish it.

That one article led to another, then another, then another—until something new, vibrant and very, very tender arose: that part of my soul that yearned to be a ‘writer.’

So when Karl Saliter asked if he could interview me for his piece on How the Top-Earning elephantjournal.com Writers Strike it Rich, I was more than surprised—I was humbled (see full interview at the bottom of this article).

It also made me wonder, “Am I now officially a writer? And if so, how does that impact where the rest of my life is headed?”

I write and people read. That’s a fact. I coach and people work with me. That’s also true. Despite my putting no attention on my acting career since moving to the Bay Area, I still managed to do a play reading, an audition class and a short film last year.

And I’m getting married. Again.

I live in San Francisco, someplace I thought I would hang for three months tops—a layover on the way to Los Angeles. Fifteen months later, I’m still here. Before that, I had a thirteen-year love affair with New York City, living the life of a theatre actress/yoga teacher. But I’m a southerner at heart—born and raised in Atlanta, with a two-year childhood pit stop in Germany nestled in between ages 5 to 7.

I think this is what we call an ‘identity crisis.’

If I keep writing, does that mean I’ll never perform again? Will I lose my love of coaching, like I did for teaching yoga? Why am I still living in a city that still sometimes seems like a ‘friend with benefits’ vs. ‘the one’?

I want to feel at home. I want to have it all figured out, god damn it! I’m 32 years old; aren’t I supposed to be a responsible adult by now, with a 401k and a mortgage and health insurance and a baby on the way (or at least an attention-demanding pet)?

Nope. I’m just here. Shifting. Morphing. Experimenting.

And you know what? To my surprise, that’s OK.

If I waited to have things ‘figured out’ before taking action, I’d still be living at my mother’s house, drooling and in diapers.

All of life is one high school science lab. The experiences we face become the lessons we learn. The mistakes we make become the glimpses through the cracks of our souls’ armor. Love in face of hatred. Compassion in the face of anger. Vulnerability in the face of grief.

And faith in the face of doubt. I’m not talking about faith in God or religion (unless that’s your thing). I am talking about faith in yourself, or as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. says, “Taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Faith in your power. Faith in your dreams. Faith in your strength. Faith in your innate genius, intuition and intelligence.

Faith and courage to open your heart to that which is most precious to you—even if you stand to lose it all.

That is the level of faith we are talking about—and if we are bold enough to admit the sheer magnificence of our dreams, then the price for walking that path demands no less than everything.

It’s not easy. Living this way is often frightening, humiliating, strange and painful.

Yet it’s also glorious, exciting, adventurous and deeply gratifying.

And, ultimately, that uncertainty is what aliveness means to me. Anything else feels like waiting at the bus stop for death.

So here I sit. In the middle of living—figuring it all out or not figuring it all out or whatever the hell it is we are doing here on earth.

So thank you life, for challenging me to grow beyond my edges.

Thank you faith, for reminding me that I don’t have to have it all ‘figured out’ in order to enjoy the ride.

And thank you readers, for supporting these words and for playing a vital role on my journey.

In faith,

Candice Holdorf

Karl Saliter: What part about being an elephant writer has been a surprise benefit?

Candice Holdorf: The surprise benefit of writing for elephantjournal has been threefold: One—the massive level of readership EJ has cultivated. I've never imagined my work being read on such a wide scale. Two—the quality of the audience. The kind of people EJ attracts has an open mind, an ability to discourse intelligently and respond to my work with respect and honesty. What I write can be a little far out and sometimes hard to hear. EJ readers are in a class like none other. Three—a shift in personal perception. In the past, I thought of myself more as an actress/yogi with an interest in sexuality and writing. Writing for EJ has totally changed that. Whereas I previously felt limited in my goals and creative outlets, I now see that I have a LOT more to offer the world than I thought. And I see, too, that I am big enough to hold all these desires—in fact I feel stifled if I'm not nurturing all these parts of my creative self.

KS: What questions do you ask yourself before you hit "submit for review?"

CH: The main question I ask myself before submitting anything is "How does this sound to my ears?" I have no doubt that what I write is my own personal truth, but if it the melody is off, no one will hear the music. Sometimes it's a mellifluous flute; sometimes it's a discordant clang. But either way, the sound must reflect the feeling I want to share—otherwise it's just words on a page.

KS: What do readers who want to write need to know?

CH: Readers who want to write should just start writing. Even if the next day you look at the page and think, "Dear God what was that drivel that came out of me," it doesn't matter. You have to turn on the creative faucet and allow what wants to flow to flow. I made a personal vow in 2007 to start writing three, hand-written pages a day of whatever just wanted to come out of me and I've stuck to this religiously. Mind you, most of these musings are probably not fit for print, but a lot of amazing ideas and insights came from this practice. After time, you will then discover your voice, your distinctive tone and what issues matter to you.

KS: What's next on your creative plate?

CH: Well, right now I have three books in mind. One is an e-book filled with poetry and real life stories from my personal erotic diary. I'd also love to get some photos of me in there posing as various female archetypes. Another book is more of a self-help book that links cultivating a connection with hunger and orgasm to healing oneself from anorexia, which I struggled with for over seven years. The third book is more of a memoir of my life—but I still have quite a bit more living to do before this one gets to a publisher. In fact, one of the chapters is called 'India,' which will be based on my upcoming travels this February to the Kumbh Mela.

In the long run, I'd love to co-write and act in films that explore taboo subjects and find the healing that comes with total acceptance of that which we deem shameful. Of course sex is a huge part of this, but I also want to include eating disorders and addictions of all kinds. I am writing an article now about how porn can actually be used for good. This is in stark contrast to the seedy scenes of men entering peep shows and porn stars depicted as sad and vacant shells of girls searching for daddy. This kind of paradoxical thinking turns me on and I believe it is essential to our spiritual growth as compassionate beings.

Hunger: A Short Story

Fort Cemetery at Watson Mill Bridge State Park in GA. Copyright Jamie Holdorf,  www.serendipisea.com

Fort Cemetery at Watson Mill Bridge State Park in GA. Copyright Jamie Holdorf, www.serendipisea.com

I’m standing on the side of the road under a flickering streetlamp (the only streetlamp on this drag) after an excruciating night at the bar. 4am. My feet hurt. My lower back clenches. And the cut on my neck hums dully throughout my body. The faint smell of blood and beer still hangs on me.  I think back on the past few hours…

Gary usually stops by every Saturday for his fix. Loud. Crude. Angry. Your typical drunkard. He prefers cheap beer straight from the bottle. I knew he had reached his limit three drinks before the incident, but my greed overrode my better judgment. Plus he’d never gotten violent before. Maybe a belligerent rant or two, but nothing like tonight. Apparently his wife is cheating on him…or so he believes. I can’t remember all he was saying—I was only half listening. He never really talked much about her, except to complain every once in a while about how she rarely put out and when she did it was like fucking a cold fish. Honestly, I thought to myself, I couldn’t really blame her. I imagined having sex with him would be like having a reckless jackhammer slamming into me. I would have to shut down every bit of feeling just to survive the experience.

But when he started accusing everyone at the bar of sleeping with his wife, I had to step in.

“Gary,” I tell him, “It’s time for you to get a cab.”

“I don’t take orders from you, bitch,” he slurs.

I’ve been working here for so long (what's it...ten years now, right after high school?) that I’ve learned not to take it personally.

“Gary, c’mon man. You’re drunk. I’m going to call you cab and you’re going to go home and sleep it off.”

“Home?!” he cries. “Home…there is no home. There is no bed. There is no sleeping next to that…that…” His voice strangles a bit as he collapses onto the bar. Jim, another regular who spends his money slowly nursing Rusty Nails, catches Gary and tries to help him stand back up. Gary’s wounded pride must have hit its limit in that moment, because he suddenly roars back to life, grabs Jim’s glass and hurls it across the room, screaming, “I don’t need your help, motherfucker!”

“Gary!” I cry. Without thinking, I reach out to restrain his monstrous limbs. His angry fingers wrap around the empty longneck he just finished. A scream like nothing I’d heard before emanates from within him as he swings the bottle at my head. I duck just in time, but in his drunkenness, he doesn’t have a very solid grip on the bottle, so it slips from his hand and smashes into the glowing display of alcohol behind me. Glass shatters everywhere. Liquid rushes down the damp, dusty wood. I cover my head and squeeze my eyes shut, but not before a slice of broken bottle ricochets off the back wall and hits me in the neck.

“FUCK!” The stabbing pain buckles my knees and I have to lumber down to the end of the bar to avoid collapsing into a pile of shredded glass. My hand instinctively finds its way to the side of my neck. Blood, more than one typically wants to see coming from one’s own body, streams between the webbing of my fingers. At least I don’t feel any glass. Must’ve bounced off me.

In the chaos, five or six men manage to hold Gary down long enough for him to surrender the fight. He now lies on the ground, weeping, with his demons exposed. Were it not for the throbbing pain in my neck and the blood matting up my hair, I might feel sorry for him.

“Out! Everyone out now,” the manager, barks. He simply goes by JB. No last name. He’s on the shorter side, but built like a brick. Thick and wide. Late 60’s. Worked here for as long as I can remember. He doesn’t say much, but when he does speak, you listen.

It’s close to 2am. Most of the people have already paid their bills and those that don’t throw some wadded-up cash onto the bar as they rush out into the cool night. No doubt a relief compared to the thick, acrid stench inside. Gary half mumbles apologies as Jim carries him towards the door.

“I’ll take him home with me,” Jim says. Once the place is clear, I start to regain some awareness of my body. I’m a little frozen. Shocked. Except for the gash on my throat, I have lost sensation in other parts of my body. As I stand in the heavy silence, I exhale and feel my limbs melt a little. Warmth comes back to my feet and hips, as an exhaustion like I have never known sweeps over my eyes. I swoon a bit.

“You ok?” JB inquires. He’s less concerned with my health and more interested in making sure that he doesn’t have to take care of me. He’s always been uncomfortable when dealing with delicate matters. He’s a practical man. Intimacy is not something he does well.

“I’ll be ok,” I say.

“Well, take a few moments and then we’ll clean up.” He hands me a glass of water and I soothe my scorched throat. As I slide onto a stool, he heads to the back. I stare absently at the wreckage littering the spot where I stood just 10 minutes ago. JB returns with a broom, a dustpan and a metal garbage can. He starts sweeping up and throwing away mounds of glass in crashing chunks.

“I’ll be right back,” I say and head off to the bathroom to survey the damage. Despite the circles under my eyes and the glassy stare, everything looks alright. The cut is already starting to clot. It felt a lot worse in the moment than it actually was. The wound itself is relatively superficial. Just glad it didn’t hit any major blood vessels. I run some water over a wad of disposable brown paper towels and gently dab my neck. It feels cool and sharp. After a few rounds of this, I head back out to help JB.

Two hours later and we are finally locking up.

“We’ll take care of inventory tomorrow—er, um, later today,” JB tells me. “Just get some sleep and be back here at 4:30. If you need the day off, I understand, but I could really use your help here if you can make it.”

“I’ll be here,” I say. I don’t even pause to think about whether or not I want to. I just say yes. Like always.

“Good. Well then…see you later.” He makes his way to his truck. “Hey…uh…you want a ride?” he asks, as he turns to look at me.

“No thanks,” I answer back, a little shocked at this gesture of goodwill. “I’m fine.” Without a word, he heads towards his red Chevrolet, gets in and drives off.  I’m surprised I declined his offer. I mean, after all the drama of the evening, a ride home would be nice. But something in me needs the clean air, the solitude, the quiet. Besides, I feel too buzzed to go home now, especially after drinking all that coffee while cleaning the bar. A walk will do me good, I think to myself. I jog across the road, but instead of heading straight home, I lean against the pole with the flickering light.

My mind drifts to Gary. How long has he been married? 15? 20 years? How could his wife have stood it for so long? I mean, I don’t know the whole story, but if his behavior is any indication of their home life, my guess is that she’s probably not a very happy woman. He’s clearly a sad, wretched man. My heart drops a little at this discovery.

At least I’ve got James, I think. He’s a decent guy. Nice enough. Hardworking. Wants the best for everyone. True, our sex life has dwindled over the 6 years we’ve been living together, but that happens to all couples, right? I mean, he works during the day and I work nights, so finding the time and energy to get all hyped-up and hot and horny isn’t high on either of our priority lists.

I feel a sort of heaviness wash over me. A thick ball presses into my throat as I think back to the first sweet months of our relationship. How we couldn’t get enough of each other. How our sex was like this fantastic erotic playground. The light tickle on the back of my fingers while barely touching the hairs on his cheek. His front teeth slowly biting down on my nipple until a sharp, painful rush of heat rolled over my breasts. The electric current pulsing through the tips of our tongues when we lingered in a kiss.

The heaviness gives way to a sort of hollowness. A black void opens in my chest that travels down to my belly—and then shifts to my genitals. When was the last time I had my pussy touched? Or even looked at, for that matter…

The thick ball in my throat rises. My face flushes. My forehead feels tight. An internal pressure builds to where I can no longer control the tears swelling in my eyes.

“It’s just been a long night,” I lie to myself. The tears back down for a moment, though my fingers start to tremble. For in that black void sits a burning, unavoidable truth.

I’ve had enough. And not just tonight. With everything. My life feels somehow…empty. My days consist of cleaning the house and catching up on sleep. My nights consist of emotionally managing men with a painfully unquenchable thirst.

And me? What about my thirst? What about my…what? What is this…hunger? I feel like one of those people who hasn’t eaten in so long that she has forgotten what hunger feels like.

I glance up and catch a masculine-looking shadow not twenty feet away from me. My defenses instantly snap into place, like a puffer fish flaring her blades. Who is he? How long has he been there? Has he been watching me this whole time?

I check my watch. 4:30. I’ve been here for half an hour already. Was he waiting for me to exit the bar? It’s not like someone to be hanging around alone this time of the night. There’s nothing else in this area but a bridal shop and a cemetery down the road.

I start walking. Quickly. My body is buzzing and I am holding my breath as I rush down the street. My feet scrape carelessly along the sidewalk, leaving a jagged, scratching sound in their wake. Behind me beats the brisk, steady rhythm of heel to cement. I fly past the bridal shop to my right (how many times had I gazed longingly at its offerings of layered, white organza) and head towards the cemetery. Normally I hate walking through here, but the groundskeeper lives on the other side and if I can make it to his place in time, hopefully it will deter my shadow.

I race to the iron gate, affixed between two, six-foot high, rectangular columns of cement. I curse under my breath to find it closed. I locate the latch and use all my strength (what little is left) to lift it up. It’s not locked, thank God. But I have lost precious seconds and I nearly freeze in horror to see my pursuer only three long strides away from me. I slip inside the gate, but as I try to close the door, he catches it in time and swings it open, sending me nearly flat on my back. I regain my footing and turn to run, but I don’t make it more than four steps before one arm grips around my waist and another wraps around my shoulder to cover my mouth. We stand there suspended in the moment for what could have been between thirty seconds and three hours. I feel my pelvis press firmly into the hard angles of his hips. His belly is methodically breathing into my spine, while I struggle to manage the chaotic symphony of my rasping chest. My mouth is slightly agape. I can taste the salty, acidic wetness of his palm. The hot moisture of his breath tickles my left ear and makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Eventually, my rigidity gives way. I melt into the warmth of his body in surrender. I know I am outmatched. He feels this shift in me.

“Good girl,” he whispers.

He guides us towards a mausoleum about forty feet ahead of us. We turn into the tomb and he presses me face-first into the corner made by the entrance and the left wall. The heady scent of wet limestone and stale mushrooms nearly asphyxiates me. He spins me around and we are, for the first time, face to face. Though it’s dark outside, the glow from the streetlamp creates enough light for me to make out his features.

I instantly recognize him. He started coming around the bar a few months ago. Early 40’s. Dark hair. Fairly good-looking, if it weren’t for the fact that the right side of his mouth was totally paralyzed—though that never really bothered me. He always sat at the left edge of the bar, where the wood started to curve away from the main stretch. He never talked to anyone. Never drew attention to himself. I didn’t ask for his name and never thought much about him, except for the curious fact that the only thing he drank was soda water with lime—an odd choice for a hardcore dive bar.

“I know you know me,” he says, as if he can read my thoughts through the changing expressions of my face. “And I know how miserable you are. I know you want more, so much more.”

I stand there, fascinated, vacillating between repulsion and unspeakable attraction. Who is this guy to chase me down in a fucking graveyard just to tell me about my life? What had I ever done to him? What did he want from me? And why was I all of a sudden hungering for him to pull me deeper inside him? A magnetic current swirls up from my feet, my legs, between my thighs, to my chest and washes over my face. Despite the darkness, I was positive he could see the reddening in my cheeks. Something in me hated him for that, for feeling me so deeply without asking my permission. And yet…another part of me, some part that had been dry and hidden for so long, wanted him to feel me even more.

He looks at my face for quite some time. I’m not sure if he’s contemplating what to do with me or if he is just curious. His gaze is intense, but I stay with him. I’m still a little on high alert, but I also don’t want to miss a drop of his exquisite attention. He traces his finger over the arch of my brow, down my cheek and along the edge of my jaw. I gasp a little when he strokes the gash on my throat, but it’s more in anticipation than in pain. He furrows his brow a little and peers into my eyes, as if asking for permission. I nod my head once and he brings his mouth down to my neck. He draws the tip of his tongue along the wound. A prickly, stinging sensation stretches over me, but I surrender to his touch.

“Mmm,” he murmurs, as if he has just eaten something delicious. “I want to taste all of you.” He bends his misshapen mouth to mine and the cool, freshness of his kiss is irresistible. Like cold lemon-water in the middle of a desert. I reach my tongue deeper into his mouth. I want all of me inside of him. I want him to consume me…and at the same time, I want to consume him. To suck him deep into me. To envelope his flesh with mine.

He pulls away a bit and the hand near my face glides down my chest, over my abdomen and to the top of my pants. He unbuttons my black jeans and slips his hand down the front. His first two fingers curl in and slowly slide into me. Once he’s inside, I become keenly aware of the thick, heavy wetness dripping from between my legs. My walls ache and pulse around his fingers. He pushes them in a little deeper. A low groan escapes my throat. He holds me here, suspended in the chasm between my wanting and my satisfaction. In this space I would normally rush to have him fuck me hard, but this time, there is something so different, so expansive happening within me that I don’t dare move a muscle.

Unhurried, he pulls out of me and I can feel almost every ridge and crease of his dry, cracked fingers. He brings his forefinger towards his face. He brushes it against his mouth and then in one single move, he places it on his tongue, wraps his lips around it and pulls it out, sucking up all the juice. He then takes his middle finger and brings it near my mouth. I lick my lips and open them wider. He slides his finger in my mouth and a rush of sweet, salty warmth cascades over my tongue. He draws his finger out and I linger in the moment with my eyes shut.

I open my eyes to find his devilish, lopsided smile reflecting back at me.

“So?” he asks.

“Yes,” I whisper.

“Yes?”

“Yes.”

“No.”

I blink in confusion. No? He’s telling me no? No what? Why is he here if not to fuck me? I want him. He clearly wants me. What’s wrong? Did I do something wrong?

Again, reading the emotional storm through my silent expressions, he softly laughs and says, “This is how I always want to remember you. Hungry. Open. Vulnerable. Consumed by desire. I want every moment of your life to be this electric. This…alive.”

And as quickly as he came upon me, he makes his escape into the breaking dawn. I remain glued to the mausoleum wall. The coldness of the stone is no match for the heat coursing through my body. My brain can’t make sense of what just happened. I begin shaking. What…was…that? Should I go after him? Should I go home? How can I go back home? Is it possible to go back? Do I want to go back?

My thoughts collide until I can think no more. I stand stunned. Frozen. Then, in my mental blankness, I suddenly recall a line from years ago (tenth grade English?) that brings everything into perfect focus:

What’s done cannot be undone.

The truth of who I am is so undeniable that I have no choice but to follow the path that has opened before me. No, I will not be meeting JB at the bar at 4:30. No, I will not be returning home to James. No, I will not be confined by the walls of this town. And no, I will not be running away from my hunger anymore.

My body starts to float back down to the earth. A few more minutes pass. My cells settle into my skin. My feet feel firm and connected to the ground beneath me. I peel myself away from the wall, head out of the tomb and walk towards the cemetery gates. I exit the iron door, still standing agape from the struggle earlier (a moment that seems like a lifetime ago), and I stand silently on the street. I inhale deeply, as if I can finally breathe for the first time in my life. I feel awake. The virgin morning is crisp and clear. And even though I don’t know exactly what the future looks like, I do know that everything feels exactly right.

As I turn towards the open road, I catch a final glimpse of my little bar on the edge of town—the only town I have ever known. And the last thing I recall is the single streetlamp, now no longer flickering, but burning brightly against the white hot glow of the rising sun.