what is a god? What is not a god? And what is there in between them?
- George Seferis, "Helen"
Catherine lay facedown on the stone with a clear mind, a mind cleansed of everything we normally consider thought. She had awareness: the stone was white and warm, and it touched her body at certain places: forearms, breasts, lower belly, left thigh, right knee.
There were trees above her. They cast their shadows on her body, and the shadows moved as the breeze filtered through the leaves above. She was aware of the shadows of the leaves moving on her bare skin. She did not have to concentrate to know exactly where the edge between shadow and sunlight was, and she felt those edges move; her entire mind was filled with the moving patterns - shadow and light, coolness and heat - that used her body as their canvas and their stage.
If she had thought about it (which she didn't, not then, because she was not entertaining thoughts at that moment), she would have felt that this was a perfectly good purpose for her mind: acute awareness of pure sensation.
Her mind wandered eventually, but still did not settle on sequential phenomena or anything that could have easily been put into words. She felt the warm stone pressing up into her. She was grateful for it. She felt that it was not only beneath her, but inside her.
She knew what it was like to be occupied by something that seemed to be a pure element of creation. Stone, light, heat, tides, flesh. Flesh could be like stone; she, indeed, had seen and felt flesh become stone, or nearly stone. She had taken it into her body, she had worshipped it as one would worship at an altar, on her knees, a supplicant.
Her master, Gregory, said that service was prayer, a prayer of thanksgiving for being given the beauties and pleasures of life. He said that throughout history the greatest ecstasies were found in prayer, but he smiled as he said it, in a way she liked, a teasing way that was also quite serious. There were always dichotomies with him.
The presence of the word dichotomy in her mind meant that she had returned to conventional thought. She knew now that the stone she lay on was the low terrace wall of the place her master had rented for them. She knew she was naked. She was happy to be naked, and if someone from the town had happened to walk by, she would not have covered herself. But no one came.
The afternoon was drawing on toward evening. She could smell the sea. She could hear her master in the house. He was preparing dinner for the two of them and their guest. He was singing, an old song that she thought she recognized but couldn't quite place. The sound of his voice touched her physically, the way the leaf shadows had touched her earlier, but more urgently. It made her want to be in his presence. It made her want to kneel for him and ask permission to pray.
They had come to the island a few days earlier, arriving late in the evening by boat. They walked though the town, where lights burned in just a few windows, to the rented house, both of them exhausted from the long day of travel. A man from the boat had brought their luggage, and after her master had generously tipped him and he had lumbered off, they were alone in the airy stone house.
It was chilly now that the sun was down. Her master built a fire of split pine in the bedroom, and they went straight to bed, and straight to sleep. This was very unusual for them. Catherine slept deeply, but occasionally she was visited by the same dream - she and Greg in the sea, swimming, touching, fucking, but suddenly he was being carried away from her, and he was smiling. She felt tears on her face (or was it merely the sea spray?), but the strangest thing was that she could feel herself smiling too.
Catherine first met their guest the next afternoon. She and her master were at the beach, swimming, sunning, completely naked (it was that kind of beach). They had walked into the water and gone out far enough that they could stand with just their heads above the waterline. Greg took Catherine's hand and brought it to his cock, which was hard and warm to the touch in the cool water.
She began to stroke him slowly, standing to his side, and as she did, his hand slid down her back. His middle finger traced the cleft of her ass, down and down until it curled up under her and entered her cunt. She sighed and stroked him harder, and the sun glittered on the water. She closed her eyes momentarily against the glare, and when she opened them there was another woman there, standing to the other side of him. Stranger yet, she knew the woman's name - Valeria - though she had no memory of ever having met her.
She and Greg had been drinking wine at lunch, dark red astringent Greek wine, and with her lightheadedness and the sun's power and the pleasure of arousal she got from serving her master, she simply accepted Valeria's presence. Greg's finger went deeper into her, and she moaned. The little waves lapped at her collarbone. She tasted salt on her lips from the seawater. She rode Greg's finger, feeling semi-weightless in the water, floaty with arousal, and she stroked him the way she knew he liked her to do it, pausing at the base of his cock to cup his balls before gliding her hand upward again.
And then Valeria's hand was there as well, her fingers graceful and knowing, and the two women stroked Greg together. It seemed completely natural. It seemed to be not a function of anyone's will but simply of the sea and the sunlight and the simple existence of their three bodies. Catherine wondered if the middle finger of Greg's other hand was moving in Valeria's cunt; she found herself hoping it was.
She and Valeria stroked him in unison, their fingers interlaced, ever faster, ever harder. He used his hips to drive himself into their shared touch, to fuck the twinned fist they had created for him. They each felt him swell as his orgasm approached, and their moving hands made a small maelstrom under the water. Their three mouths came together in a kiss just as he orgasmed; he moaned his pleasure into them as they stroked his pearly essence into the dark sea.
Catherine closed her eyes against the sun again. She inhaled the smell of the water, she listened to the waves and birds, she concentrated on the sensation of her own nakedness, her nipples hard in the cool water, her cunt warm, Master's finger still deep inside her, and at a certain point, as the wave-refracted sunlight dappled her closed eyelids, she realized that Valeria's hand was gone, that her hand was alone on Greg's cock. Valeria had vanished like a mermaid glimpsed from deck of a ship.
"What is it?" he said, as if he could feel her thinking through the touch of her hand.
She nuzzled into his neck and said nothing.
"You look... perplexed," he said.
She decided then and there not to question anything that had happened or would happen here. Whatever occurred, she would live in. She would not think too much. Not here.
"No," she said. "I'm good. How are you?"
"Me?" he said. "I feel like a king. No - I feel like a god. I've just ejaculated into the wine-dark sea. I've never done that before. I feel glorious."
With his finger still inside her, he lifted her so that her breasts rose out of the water. He held her there, licking and sucking her hard nipples, making her shiver, making her squirm on his finger, and as she hung suspended there, her head thrown back with the pleasure of her master's mouth, she felt herself missing Valeria's hand, the way it had twined with hers, the way it had shared her service.
She shuddered a little as Master let her flit along the edge of an orgasm. The moment passed - he would edge her all day, she knew, and perhaps all week - and as it did, her imagination darted through the blue-green water, where Master's seed moved with the currents, pale tendrils and filaments stretching and curling and reaching in all directions, as delicate as lace, as beautiful as life. She wondered if somehow Valeria saw it too.
Time shifted and spun, became impressionistic, even pointillist, at times purely abstract. They returned to the house and rinsed their bodies in the outdoor shower - no enclosure, open to the sight of anyone passing - then went inside and napped.
When Catherine awoke her master was gone from their bed. She walked naked to the kitchen and found him there, setting out a platter of fruit. Apples, peaches, grapes. She sat at the kitchen table with him and took a few grapes and ate them slowly, savoring them. Food was absolutely delicious here.
Greg seemed to puzzle over selecting just the right peach. He took a big bite out of the one he chose, and Catherine saw and smelled that it was very ripe. Juice ran down his chin and his wrist. He offered her a bite and she took it, and while she chewed he took the half-eaten peach and ran it all over her throat and her breasts, glazing her with juice. "Who are you?" he said. "I'm your fuckdoll," she replied. "I'm your sticky-sweet whore."
He watched her with an amused look as he finished the peach, eating it down to the stone and then sucking the stone clean. Taking the stone in his hand, he used it to tease her nipples, stroking them with its rough surface for a very long time.
Then he knelt on the floor in front of her chair and pushed her knees apart. Now he used the stone on her cunt, tracing her lips with it, letting its furrowed surface press against her clit, stroking, playing, edging her endlessly as the sunlight on the floor swung around with the movement of the lowering sun.
She felt herself dripping on the wooden seat of the chair. He leaned closer and pushed the stone into her with his fingers, watching her eyes as he did it. "How does it feel?" he said quietly, and she thought about it, focusing her mind on its presence in her cunt, and what seemed like a thousand answers whirled through her mind. It felt like a gift; it felt like a burden; it felt like an egg; it felt like a cloud. In the end she said, "I have a universe in my cunt."
She had no idea why she said that, but she could tell by his face that the answer pleased him - and not only pleased him but aroused him. A deep warmth washed through her body.
Without speaking, he slipped his fingers back inside her and drew the stone out. It glistened with her juices. He raised it to her lips and pushed it rather roughly into her mouth. His need was upon him. She sucked the stone, tasting herself, her need, and faintly tasting the peach, curling her tongue around the stone's rough whorls, and he watched her face and stroked himself until he came in warm gusts across her peach-scented skin.
Then it was dinner (how had it become dinner?). They were dressed now in artfully casual linen clothes, eating grilled fish and vegetables and drinking white wine. Catherine was telling him about some men she had seen in the town - a group of three or four twentysomethings hanging around a shop who had called to her as she passed. They spoke Greek, she didn't, so she didn't know what they had said. Their tone was not the typical tone of men who catcalled women. It seemed teasing and even friendly. She felt sure that they were commenting on her body, but there seemed no threat to it, as there generally did back home.
She was trying to explain this to Greg - why she hadn't been worried, and why she had found the whole thing funny, a little, and how she had even found herself flirting, just a bit - talking animatedly, trying to entertain him with her story. She reached for the bottle of wine to pour herself a little more, and when she looked up from that task Valeria was there with them in the dining room, standing beside Greg's chair, naked, beautiful, her hair dark, her eyes dark, her skin dark all over from the sun.
Catherine, suddenly conscious of her fair hair and skin, stopped in the middle of her story. Greg behaved as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. In the sudden silence, Valeria stepped forward and stood with her legs spread.
Catherine watched as her master put his fork down and ran his hand up Valeria's inner thigh. Very matter-of-factly, almost as if not thinking about it, he slid his middle finger into her cunt. Then his ring finger as well. His fingers entering her made the smallest of sounds, and from her closed mouth came a kind of humming.
Almost as if it were an unconscious movement, Greg began fucking Valeria with those two thick fingers of his. There was an efficiency to it. A single-mindedness, which was unusual - when he laid his hands on Catherine, he seemed to have a dozen motives at once. But this was clearly intended to make Valeria cum - to which Catherine, after having been edged all afternoon (or was it longer than that? had it been going on for days?), reacted with jealousy and more arousal. An arousal that was somehow different than what she was used to.
When Valeria came, she stared straight at Catherine, and Catherine felt an unaccustomed heat in her face and a sense, almost, of weightlessness, like what she'd felt in the sea that morning. She very nearly came herself, just from watching Valeria's face.
"Did you see?" Greg asked her, his fingers still buried in Valeria's cunt. His voice was strangely resonant.
"What I meant you to see." He looked at her intently. "You must look, Cate."
She just stared back at him, speechless, completely at a loss. But there was no time to think about it, because somehow now they were fucking, the three of them. Catherine on the cold stone floor, legs wide; Valeria on knees and elbows, tongue deep in Catherine's cunt; Master's cock in Valeria, driving deep into her, making her moan into Catherine until Master came. Valeria then sliding forward, straddling Catherine's body and sliding upward, until she stopped with her cunt poised above Catherine's face.
She let Master's seed drip out of her onto Catherine's tongue, and as she tasted it Catherine felt Master drive his cock, still hard, into her. He fucked her as she ate his cum from Valeria, but that was only the beginning of the evening. He fucked them both in every way a woman could be fucked. Not only their tender, yearning holes but between their breasts and over every inch of their skin.
He made Catherine watch, up close, as he entered Valeria's body, as Valeria took his cock into her throat, his heavy balls into her mouth. Valeria was permitted to cum; Catherine was not. It was excruciating. It was the most aroused she'd ever been in her life.
Then time shifted again, and Valeria was asleep on the stone tiles, completely wrung out, her body streaked with marks from Master's fingers, her hair matted with Master's cum. Next he fell asleep, murmuring once more to Catherine as his lids closed, "Did you see?" In the silent house she looked at his body, she looked at Valeria, and she whispered, "No, Sir. No. Please, what is it I'm meant to see?"
She thought of masturbating just to end her torment, just so she could fall asleep, but that would have been an honor violation. Moonlight was flooding into the house; she decided to go for a walk. She slipped into a linen shift and put on a pair of sandals.
She went through the soft blue moonlight, down through the town to the beach, stepped out of the sandals, pulled the shift over her head, and entered the water. She could not gather her thoughts. She felt the water caress her, more intimately than anyone, even Master, ever had. She swam far out, until the town looked tiny, spread out on the hill above the beach, just a single light showing here and there. She swam and swam until she was exhausted, until she thought she could sleep, and then she got dressed again and set out for the stone house.
Her route took her along the main street, past the shops. In her distraction she didn't notice that the one she'd passed earlier, where the men had called out to her, was still open. It made no sense at this hour, with the rest of the town sleeping. But there were lights inside, the door was open, and the four young men were still there. They weren't speaking this time, though. They simply stood out front, smiling at her. She felt no trepidation, and she decided to go in, reasoning that if the shop was open, she had every right to.
When she crossed the threshold, the men followed her in. The place was small, and warm, and smelled of spices or incense or dried flowers or perhaps all three. She couldn't tell what sort of a shop it was. There were fabrics for sale, and coffee, and cooking utensils, and a small shelf of books, and baskets hung on the walls, and all kinds of other things. Clocks, postcards, fishing nets, cheap jewelry.
She stepped over to the bookshelf and scanned the spines. There was one very old volume with Greek lettering stamped into it. She pulled it from the shelf, and as she began to open it, she heard one of the men whispering to another.
The book opened to a random page, which happened to be a pen-and-ink drawing of an erotic scene. It gave her a feeling of dissociation - the floating feeling again. She was about to turn to a different page when she realized with a jolt that the drawing was of her and her master and Valeria.
Her ears felt hot and her legs trembled. It was beautifully rendered and it was at least a hundred years old and it was absolutely the three of them. Valeria bent at the waist, braced against the dining room table, her legs spread wide; Master standing behind her, his cock buried in her ass; and Catherine kneeling at his side, licking his balls as he fucked the beautiful stranger who didn't seem like a stranger at all.
Shame, lust, confusion, a desire to flee, a desire never to leave this place - she felt all these things, and felt the men could see them on her face, or could see into her soul.
One of the men spoke to her in Greek. She knew it was Greek, but she also understood him perfectly. He wanted to know if there was anything he or his friends could do to help her. She was about to say No, of course not, I'm just fine. And she realized that there was something. They could listen to her.
And so she began to tell them her story - everything that had happened from the time she and Greg had arrived on the island. It was very warm in the store, and at a certain point she found that she had taken off her shift and sandals, and that she was touching herself as she told the story. At the same time, she was so very tired. One of the men spread a clean straw mat on the floor, and she sat on it gratefully.
The men were respectful. None of them attempted to touch her. They listened intently, even though they shared no common language with her. They seemed to understand. She told them of Valeria's first appearance, of the peach and its stone, of Valeria's second appearance, and of the long evening that had followed.
She told them of the jealousy she felt as Master had fucked Valeria, even though they had talked many times of such a scenario, and she had wanted it, wanted it very badly. She tried to describe the mixture of envy and jealousy and unprecedented arousal that overtook her as Master had let Valeria cum while denying her, his cherished and devoted whore.
As she spoke, she saw that the men had unzipped their trousers and pulled out their cocks and were stroking them. She understood very clearly that they were responding not to her, not to her naked body or the fact that she too was masturbating, but to her story, simply to her story with all its strangeness and questions and sunlight and moonlight and seawater and flesh and stone.
All of them watched her as she talked and touched herself. They stood around her body as she lay back on the mat, as she tried to describe for them how Valeria had looked after falling into her used-slut slumber, the marks on her body, the cum in her hair - and that thought sent Catherine back to the beach the day before, back to her vision of Master's seed spreading through the dark yet vibrant water, the grace and mystery of that vision.