you married? Lilac69 asked.
had met her late at night, playing, of all things, online Dominos.
He won the first two games and she won the third before either
of them wrote anything in the text box at the bottom of the screen,
a shy "hi," submitted by her.
Thomas wrote back.
so it began. Lilac69 told him that she had a husband who traveled
often and three kids whom, she joked, she wished her husband would
take on his trips. Thomas was surprised to learn that she lived
in Baltimore; he was a mere forty minutes away, in Annapolis.
you married? she had asked.
knew that he had no reason to be truthful or, for that matter,
to believe anything told to him. For all he knew, Lilac69 was
a thirteen-year old boy from Pennsylvania, a transvestite from
Texas, maybe a college student in Taiwan. Or she could be what
she said she was: a 39-year old Baltimore woman contemplating
divorce from a man who had, she was relatively certain, spent
the last year screwing one of their neighbors.
divorced, Thomas lied.
wish I was.
conversation continued. Thomas hadn’t met anyone online
with whom he shared as many similarities as Lilac69. Location
and age, for starters, and he discovered even more: they had both
moved, at young ages, to the east coast from the west; they listened
to the same music (both had been introduced, by their children,
to the White Stripes); they enjoyed the same food; they went to
the same web sites. They were insomniacs. They were bored.
you ever come down to Baltimore? she asked.
one of her children needed attention before he could respond.
I’ll be right back, she wrote. She wasn’t. Thomas
waited, watching the Dominos blocks that hadn’t fallen for
hours until he began to suspect that she had logged off. He stayed
online for another hour, idly looking at news web sites and checking
his e-mail until he gave up, shut down his computer, gave sleeping
Julia a guilty kiss good night and fell to sleep himself.
had been spending a lot of time on the Internet recently, playing
Dominos and writing to strangers. He was usually online both at
home and at work; he had even started skipping lunches and eating
at his desk just to stay on the computer even more. His new addiction
was wearing; he woke up tired the day after his conversation with
Lilac69, fixed breakfast and walked Julia out. His office, where
he worked as a managing copywriter, was a short ride from his
house and Thomas was the first one in. He immediately logged on
to the Dominos web site and was delighted when, minutes later,
Lilac69 again appeared.
about last night, she wrote. Family drama.
problem, he wrote back.
wanted to know more about him: where he worked and where in Annapolis
he lived, but Thomas didn’t feel comfortable revealing such
personal information. Lilac69 didn’t share his reservations.
After a few of Thomas’ vague responses, she freely began
to discuss her frustrations with her marriage.
barely even fuck anymore, Lilac69 wrote. Thomas stood from his
desk, hurried to his office door and shut it.
would depress me too, he replied, when he sat back down.
the longest you’ve gone without it?
long was I a teenager?
turn in their conversation to sex didn’t surprise him; most
of Thomas’ online conversations were sexual. At thirty-seven,
he wasn’t entirely clueless with what was happening in the
world, but it did seem that he had missed a couple of years when
women had grown more sexually reckless. I want you to fuck my
ass, they wrote to him, or they asked him to cum on my face or
in my mouth or on my tits or on my back or in my pussy or between
my toes. They wanted to be spanked, fucked, smacked, slapped,
strapped, licked, bit, they wanted every available opening filled
and fucked soundly, this invisible land of anonymous woman. Their
sexual experiences ranged from risky to bizarre: I had sex in
the back of a movie theater, one woman told him; I sucked off
a horse once, wrote another.
sex have anything to do with your first wife leaving? Lilac69
considered her question.
the sex was always good.
why did she leave, if you don’t mind me asking.
had only one memory of why she had left, one that replayed over
and over in his mind, in his dreams, coming to him suddenly during
the day at work or driving home; everything else from that night
three years ago–the phone call, the rush to the hospital,
the halting way he explained what happened to their daughter,
the funeral–were single snapshots, empty of anything but
the physical moment itself, an album of images he never opened.
met someone, Thomas wrote.
you ever with anyone else? When you were with her.
he lied. You?
it worth it?
remembered waiting for word on his wife as he tried not to think
about the terrible phrase the doctor had used (“…pried
her body from the car…”), hoping to a God he had never
much turned to before that she would be okay, worried more than
he could have ever imagined being worried when a man had approached
him, an older man with wet blue eyes, holding hands with a smaller
you her husband?”
was confused; it was hard for him to focus. “What?”
you her husband?” the old man asked again.
the woman in the car accident?” the smaller woman added.
so sorry,” the old man said, brokenly. “We didn’t
see her. We didn’t even see the red light. It was our fault.”
were driving the other car,” the woman explained.
looked around. Everyone in the waiting room was watching their
turned back to the old man, the woman leaning over his shoulder,
whispering into his ear. And Thomas suddenly felt something he
had rarely felt before. His pain wasn’t gone, far from it,
in fact, but he knew that he wouldn’t want someone else
to suffer the way he was, the way he would. It was as if a path
had opened before him; inherently, he felt it was the correct
path, and he leaned toward the old man and whispered, “I
know; I forgive you.”
don’t know if I could do it again, Lilac69 wrote. Maybe.
I wouldn’t want to have another affair, though. Did your
wife find out what you did?
it worth it?
Thomas wrote, and there was that guilt, floating around him like
a fly. He wished that, like a fly, he could bat it away.
would you want? he asked her. If not an affair?
just want to get laid.
laughed, and he glanced at his office door and adjusted the computer
monitor so that it faced him entirely.
we have that in common, he wrote.
I am a man. It’s always a priority.
sudden e-mail reminded him of his lunch plans.
he wrote to Lilac69, I’ve got to step out for a moment.
Are you going to be around later today?
be here, she replied.
minute later he logged back on and returned to the Dominos web
thought you had to go, Lilac69 wrote.
plans changed, he answered. He couldn’t leave her.
always had this fantasy, Lilac69 wrote, near the end of Thomas’
work day. Want to hear it.
have to ask?
I just meet someone somewhere, some stranger…I always imagined
myself in a park, and I see myself waiting at the railing, wearing
a short skirt, and a man would come behind me and slide my skirt
up. I wouldn’t even turn around, would never see his face…I
might feel his arms around my waist, or his hands over mine, or
him kissing my neck, but I would definitely feel his dick. Real
fast, rough…you want to hear something?
started fingering myself.
was already wiping cum off his keyboard and hoping that no one
walked into his office. He crumpled up a wet paper towel and threw
it into the trashcan next to his desk.
here, he typed.
fingering your penis?
you want to continue this conversation later? Lilac69 asked.
planned that the sex would be anonymous. No real names, no conversation,
no formalities; afterward, they would delete their IDs and they
agreed to never look for each other. The hotel would be the Renaissance
in Baltimore’s inner harbor; the time of their rendezvous,
one o’clock P.M. Thomas took off the entire next day before
he left his office and, as he did every weekday afternoon, drove
to the Wilson’s house.
be out soon, Tom,” Karen Wilson told him, standing in the
doorway. Thomas could hear Julia and Karen’s daughter, Rebecca,
talking in high voices somewhere behind her. “They’re
washing off makeup.”
that okay?” Karen asked, suddenly alarmed. “They came
home wanting to try some on, and I didn’t think it’d
be a problem.”
no problem,” Thomas assured her, although the idea did make
him uncomfortable. “Besides, it’s probably better
that you supervise something like that instead of me.” He
meant it; Thomas trusted Karen, and her husband Paul, a great
deal. Friends of his wife before she had died, they insisted on
doing whatever they could to help raise Julia, including watching
her for these hours between the end of her school day and his
appeared at the door, her cheeks red from scrubbing, faded blue
over her eyes.
ready,” she announced.
clearly not,” Thomas replied, and Karen laughed.
fixed her dinner when they arrived home, chicken and rice and
a small bowl of vegetables, and then she did her homework while
he logged back onto his computer and searched for Lilac69. He
didn’t find her, and Julia finished her homework early so
he turned off the computer, reviewed his daughter’s schoolwork
and they watched television for a bit. She fell asleep next to
him around nine, as she always did, and he carried her to bed,
logged back on and was greeted with an IM.
you excited? Lilac69 asked.
am beyond excited, Thomas pronounced.
wish I was fucking you right now.
masturbated together, and Thomas didn’t fall asleep until
five. The alarm woke him at six-thirty and he groggily climbed
out of bed. He staggered down the hall to Julia’s bedroom
and knocked on her door.
dad?” Julia had turned twelve a month ago and he had witnessed,
and been somewhat alarmed by, the changes in her behavior. A curt
“dad” had replaced her endearing “daddy,”
and she had started demanding more privacy; Thomas no longer felt
comfortable walking into her room unannounced. Their conversations
had also changed; Julia used to talk with him about anything,
even topics that he couldn’t imagine she cared about, such
as his job or childhood or favorite summer vacation. But now she
was only interested when he asked her about the boys in her class,
or her girlfriends…and he knew, ruefully, that those topics
would soon become her private concerns as well.
walked to the kitchen, flicking on lights along the way, and remembered
his secretive plans for the afternoon. He felt immensely happy
at the thought, especially since he hadn’t been with anyone
since his wife had died…and then he grew a little worried.
Disease, scam, lies; there were a number of things that could
go wrong. For all he knew, he could end up in a bathtub with his
better organs carved out. And he had a responsibility to Julia.
These thoughts panicked him, and he did his best to ignore them.
had finished making eggs and was setting down her glass of orange
juice when Julia walked into the kitchen.
eggs?” his daughter asked. “What’s the occasion?”
occasion,” Thomas said, as she settled in her chair. “Just
know you like them.”
Julia said, her fork already in her mouth. Every day she looked
more and more like her mother. Thomas had also been an only child
and never privy to observing someone else change and grow, and
it was remarkable for him to watch Julia mature; sometimes it
seemed like the changes happened overnight, as if she shed a skin
every dawn. She had always been thin, gaunt even, but her cheeks
were getting rounder, and her stomach and breasts had begun to
fill. It wasn’t because of a lack of exercise; Thomas took
her to soccer practice on Saturdays and, until she had expressed
a recent desire to quit, tae-kwon-do on Sundays. It was her mother’s
inherited body. Thomas often wondered what traits, if any, Julia
had taken from him.
set her fork down. “What are you looking at?”
staring at me.”
didn’t realize I was.”
stop it,” she said, irritably.
hurried to the computer after Julia left for school. Lilac69 wasn’t
online, but she had sent him an e-mail. A sense of dread rushed
over him; he hoped she wasn’t going to cancel.
can’t stop thinking about this afternoon, she had written.
logged off and promised himself that he wouldn’t use the
computer again; he didn’t want to appear overeager if Lilac69
saw he was online. He spent his morning on the couch, comfortably
rebelling against the notion of doing anything productive. He
ate a lot of crappy food, he watched and enjoyed some terrible
television and he fought the urge to masturbate.
ten o’clock he took a leisurely long shower and headed to
Baltimore. He parked at a shopping pavilion near the harbor and
bought and wore a new outfit–slacks and a polo and brown
shoes–and sat near the harbor, watching the water, until
he remembered that this was a place his wife had enjoyed. He stood
and left. It was almost one o’clock.
hotel was a short sunny walk from the shopping center, and he
asked the front desk clerk if a key had been left for a mister
Bottomley (not my real name, Lilac69 had assured him).
clerk looked through the desk, and Thomas realized he was going
to tell him no key had been left.
606,” the man at the desk said, and handed him a small envelope.
woman shared the elevator with him as it whirred up from the lobby.
She wore shorts and sandals and had French-manicured toenails
and was startlingly attractive. Thomas wondered if Lilac69 resembled
her…or was her.
doors opened to the sixth floor, and he stepped out alone. Room
606 was three doors down.
was nervous, nearly shaking, but he fumbled the key card into
the lock. He pulled open the door when the lock light turned green.
Thomas asked. He wasn’t sure if he should add the sixty-nine.
here,” she said, her voice high and timid. He was relieved
that she sounded as nervous as he was.
stepped into the room. He could barely breathe.
I turn on the lights?” he asked. He could see a small bathroom
on his right, and the edge of the bed around the corner.
deliberation in her answer. “No. But close the door.”
enveloped him when he did. Thomas walked slowly toward her voice,
his hand pressed against the wall, and lay next to her shadowed
form. He tried not to sound clumsy as he settled on the bed. His
hand accidentally brushed her body and he felt a coarse lace and
realized she was wearing a negligee; given the novelty of the
situation, he had imagined that, like him, she would be cautious.
Her readiness surprised him. They lay side by side for a moment,
not speaking, each looking up, and he was starting to think that
nothing was going to happen when she turned to him, swung her
leg over and mounted him.
body wasn’t heavy but it pressed down on him and the rush
of sensations–the feeling of her thighs over his, her pubic
bone grinding down–excited him. He could see a little, only
a little, of her in the dark: a small protruding stomach; short
curly hair; the curving outline of a shoulder as she bent and
kissed him; the smell of perfume on the side of her neck. Her
lips were chapped as their mouths met.
excitement was growing and her hips adjusted and pushed down even
harder. She lifted the lingerie off her body and he took off his
shirt. His fingers traced up her sides and she inhaled sharply
and squirmed; she was ticklish. Her breasts were smaller than
he had assumed; each felt in his hand like a soft small bun of
warm bread. She leaned over and, again, they lay side to side,
her legs now circling his waist, her nipple now between his lips.
A moan escaped her mouth. She reached down and undid his slacks,
roughly, and his dick spilled into her hands. He pushed his pants
off and, both naked, she pulled him hard, too hard and too high,
and he held her wrist and guided her hand slower and lower. He
reached for her and his hand disappeared between her legs and
he felt hair, and then wetness. She was so wet that his hand slipped
and his finger pushed inside of her too quickly. Her back arched
and she murmured “ow” and he responded with an “oops,
sorry” and, simultaneously, they stopped and laughed.
They massaged each other more genuinely now, kissing deeply, and
Thomas remembered a time, after he had been married almost a month,
when he had thought, not unhappily, that he would never kiss a
different woman again. He enjoyed kissing Lilac69, touching her,
feeling her nipple expand under his hand, her pussy opening and
closing over the tip of his finger, the way her hips started to
swing back and forth…
know we said we wouldn’t,” she said, speaking softly,
her lips an inch from his; he felt her breath. “But…”
Her voice dragged.
I go down on you?”
He nodded, and their noses touched. “I’d be okay with
she said, and her body turned, curved, and she curled by his legs.
Her hand wrapped around his penis again and she kissed and caressed
the head. Her lips closed over it and he felt her suck, and he
heard her lips softly smack when she released. Her tongue slid
over the tip, thirstily. His rush was starting–a low sound
left him, surprising him, and her lips wrapped around his shaft.
He felt himself fill her mouth.
going to come,” he told her, urgently.
stopped and pulled back.
you bring a condom?”
it on.” And she rolled away from him and off the bed.
waited a moment to let the rise settle, and then he fumbled around
the sheets until he found his pants, took the condom out of the
pocket, tore open the packet and pulled the slippery condom on.
He saw her silhouette lean over the base of the bed.
behind me,” she said.
did. She leaned over, her ass a dark heart in front of him and
he slipped inside her easily, too easily…she’s had
kids, he thought. Thomas realized she was playing with herself
while they fucked; he could see her arm draped on the bed and
he felt her other hand, felt her fingers firmly rub her clit as
he disappeared inside. Her moans were louder now, timed with his,
turning into cries as his hips pushed against her ass. He was
so close to coming that he nearly pulled out but, sensing his
state, she bent her lower back and lifted her hips and pushed
into him. “Come in me,” she implored him, her voice
high. His thoughts were everywhere, as uncontrollable as if they
were slipping on ice…and then they were all wiped away by
a moment of sudden surprising tenderness, as if he had found whatever
had been missing in him, whatever had been lost, here in this
dark room, in her. Thomas came like he was trying to drown her,
and he leaned over her body and reached around her hips and squeezed
her body closer to his. The intimacy of his arms seemed to surprise
her, and she said a faint “oh” and her muscles relaxed,
pulled out of her and shuffled around the bed. They lay next to
each other, breathing roughly, exhausted, holding hands. The room
smelled of her sex. She squeezed his hand briefly, released it
and stood. The woman dressed. He watched the shadow of her leg
lift as she slipped on one shoe and then the other, slightly off
balance, leaning on the bed for support.
I see you?” he asked.
hesitated. “I thought we said…”
mean now, with the lights on, before you go.”
door opened and the light from the hallway spilled in, but she
ducked out so quickly that Thomas saw nothing but a moment of
dark, curly hair.
then she was gone. The condom was cold on him.
was a parents-teachers conference later that week, and Thomas
couldn’t help but feel that he was the one in trouble as
he talked to each of Julia’s teachers. He wondered how they
would react if they knew he had had sex with a stranger he met
online–the idea seemed grossly irresponsible now that he
had done it. But none of the teachers had anything negative to
say about him or his daughter: “Julia is a good student
but a little quiet, which is certainly understandable…given
was surprised that they characterized her as quiet. Thomas had
thought, from her excited conversations with her girlfriends and
her seemingly endless list of boys, that Julia was chatty in class.
To learn that the opposite was true, and probably because of the
reason her teachers suspected, disturbed him. His idea of his
daughter was wrong. He was even more distant from her than he
even worse, over the last week he had essentially ignored Julia
because he was obsessed with Lilac69. He wanted to see her, or
talk to her, but she was no longer online, and the e-mails he
sent to her were returned as undeliverable. He had no street address
to go by, no idea of where she lived other than the city of Baltimore.
He called the hotel and made up an excuse to try and track down
the person who had reserved the room, but they refused to give
him any information. He even considered going from row house to
row house, knocking on doors until hers opened. The more time
passed during which he didn’t hear from her, the more desperate
couldn’t believe that she had abandoned him this easily.
couldn’t contact her again; he knew that, he knew that…but
he was so goddamned lonely. He wasn’t sure what he had expected
– some sort of relationship or maybe just an occasional
meeting – but he hadn’t thought that it would end
this quickly. He felt like he had been drinking from a fountain
and the water had suddenly stopped. And he knew that he would
never hear from Lilac69 again; she had too much to lose. He, on
the other hand, had nothing.
life was spiraling down. A daughter growing estranged from him;
a job that he didn’t care for and, at best, was adequate
at; now, adulterous sex with a stranger. How different life turned,
all because of one night.
okay?” Julia asked him, as they drove out of the school
don’t seem okay.”
can tell,” she told him, as the car’s headlights cut
into the night. “I’ve been watching you.”
Julia said, and she crossed her little legs and ran a hand through
her hair the way her mother used to, and Thomas felt his heart
fill and ache at the movement, like the moment when you think
you see somebody you once loved, “you watch me, and I watch
you. That’s the deal.”
the deal,” Thomas agreed, gratefully. His daughter leaned
into the crook of his arm and they drove home.
is a freelance writer currently lost in New Zealand.
© 2007 by