How is it that seemingly unlikely people end up in unanticipated sexual intimacy? I mean, what are the forces, the precipitating factors that contribute to this improbable union? For instance, how does it happen that an older woman and a younger man - the friend of her son perhaps - end up entangled? Or in-laws? Or, in my case, with a nun?
I suppose that some of the necessary predilection would at least include the right temperament. But that's one of those true-but-trivial positions. Necessary, to be sure, but hardly sufficient. Think about it: the mere presence of an erection for example, coupled with a horny disposition hardly insures much of anything happening. As a case in point, I spent several years of my young life hanging out in that uncomfortable space, constantly armed and ready with nowhere to go.
No, desire by itself isn't enough. More's needed. A physical connection coupled with a temporal connection might add to the stew of spontaneous generation. Yes, there have been those times when, by good fortune and presence, the barriers of improbability have been breached. It had happened to me a time or two, but not as often as I might have wished. No, that's not enough. There's a huge difference between conventional, voluntary proximity and reluctant, involuntary closeness.
So, given the mix of sufficient predisposing personalities, however hidden, coupled with a forced physical proximity, unexpected shifts might occur.
I wasn't thinking of any of this the time I was thrown together with a nun. I didn't even have a secret lech for nuns; they were far down on my list of masturbation fantasies. Oh, in the seventh grade I had an attractive young nun who'd taken a kindly interest in my reading skills and I'd briefly wondered what she looked like under those long, black robes. But it hadn't been planted in my libido as a major jack-off fantasy. So when I'd accepted a two-day charter to deliver a 35' sloop to the British Virgins, I hardly blinked when I was unexpectedly asked if I'd take along a Sister Mary Joseph as a passenger.
I wondered briefly if all nuns were called Sister Mary Joseph? I vaguely recalled having a Latin teacher by that name. But I remember about as much of that teacher as I did the Latin that was force fed into my reluctant adolescent mind.
"Sure. Be glad for the company," I replied to the charter manager. He rarely asked for favors and besides, I thought he was a straight shooter.
An hour later, as I was finishing stowing my gear and provisions for the two-day sail, Mike, the guy who'd arranged this ferry job, pulled up in his jeep with the gaily-colored canvas top and tooted his horn. A black-robed woman in traditional, I mean old-fashioned, nun's attire climbed out. I saw a flash of black-stockinged calf as she lighted. Shading her eyes with her hand, she surveyed the length of the small sloop, her eyes ending with me. I smiled and waved to come aboard. She waved back, turned and said something to Mike who in turn, waved goodby and spun off.
She picked up a small black bag and walked to the gangplank where I stood ready to assist her. What little I could see of her face, I guessed she was about my age, middle thirties or so. As I extended my hand to help her step aboard, I smiled at our contrast, she covered head-to-toe in black and me, wearing nothing more than a faded pair of ancient Pusser's sailing shorts.
Even though there was a little cooling breeze, she was perspiring, not surprising given the intensity of the August sun in the Caribbean. And it was early morning. It was going to get a lot warmer, I knew.
"Thanks for giving me a lift," she said, extending a warm, firm hand and shaking mine. Her eyes were grey-green, level and intelligent. Strong eyes, I thought.
As I touched her elbow to steer her aft, I said, "Normally, I try to sail straight through doing these deliveries. But the weather's been a bit unsettled and I'd prefer to lay over at night. How much of a hurry you in?"
She laughed, wiping the sweat from her brow. "Actually, I'm way ahead of schedule. I don't have to be at the school until September. So please, do whatever is comfortable for you. I want to be a good... uh, shipmate?"
"Good, we'll just poke along then. I've done too many of these day-and-night sails, and I can use the rest."
"Sounds good to me. Where shall I put my things?" she asked, holding up her small bag.
"Tooth brush?" I asked.
"Hardly more. All my materials and clothes were shipped ahead. I suspect they're waiting there for me."
"Sister," I said, "it'll be a bit cooler as soon as we get underway, for there's a fairly constant wind out of the northeast, but I have to warn you, it's going to get a lot hotter before the sun goes down."
"Oh, darn! Really? I'm suffocating already in this Batman outfit."
Her description of her habit was so unexpected, I guffawed and then almost choked, trying to muffle it. "Sorry," I gasped.
"Don't think a thing of it. The Church has already changed their stance on nun's clothes. They're becoming much more liberal, thank goodness. But I had a brief interview by the Bishop and, apprehensive as I was in the presence of such an... ah... exalted person, I wore these traditional robes, I guess to try to impress him." She looked away and added in a softer voice, "I don't think it did." Then again speaking to me she added, "But my "real-live clothes" have gone ahead."
Leading her into the galley, I said, "If it's permitted and you're comfortable, you can wear some of mine. I have some extra, but they're all men's sailing clothes... " Finishing lamely, I added, "Shorts, T-shirts, things like that."
"Oh, would you? I'd be so appreciative. This all happened so fast, getting a ride with you I mean, I didn't have a chance to plan a thing. God provided, I thought, and I just jumped at it."
I pulled a Coke from the ice chest and holding it up, raised my eyebrows in a universal query?
"Yes, please. That'd be wonderful."
"There's a very small cabin here that you can use. There's only one head right here; we'll both have to use it. The pump for the toilet takes some getting used to. OK?"
She smiled and nodded. I find it's much better to get the ground rules out front. If there's a problem or an objection, it's better to know about it in advance. I knew I carried all sorts of misconceptions about religious orders and nuns. That, coupled with a slight problem I had with authority figures, might set me up to misunderstand.
Digging into my duffle, I pulled out another pair of shorts and a T-shirt. Then remembering, I dug into a locker and found a baseball cap. "Well, that's about it. Not very clerical, but certainly cooler and more practical."
"Can I change right away, before we get underway?"
"Sure. I'm going above to cast off. We'll motor in the channel. Come up when you're ready."
I put the small gang plank ashore and cast off the stern and bow lines before jumping back aboard. It's always easier to sail with more than one person, but from long experience, I knew how to do it with an economy of motion. I didn't have to think about the mechanics of boats and sailing. It was just something I did, freeing my mind for other things. Like thinking about Sister Mary Joseph. Geez, what a handle! I wondered if she'd mind if I shortened it?
"What can I do to help?" she asked.
Surprised, my head snapped around. She was standing on the aft deck wearing my clothes. She was almost comical. The shorts and the shirt were both too large. The bunched bottom of the T-shirt was belted into the sailing shorts. They, in turn, were staying up only by the grace of a cinched, built-in pull belt. She looked like a little girl wearing her daddy's clothes.
"You're laughing at me!" she protested with a smile.
I looked ashore as if to form an answer and looked back at her, secure in the knowledge that the sun at my back prevented her from seeing my eyes as I looked her over. Christ, she had breasts! And shapely ones too, made more prominent by her tiny waist.
"Sorry again. Don't mean to laugh. It's the contrast, you see. One minute you were my seventh grade teacher and the next minute you're... well, certainly not that! You look good! I mean, it's... it's more, uh, fitting."
"Thanks. And I mean it. What can I do to help? I'm a strong woman and I'd like to learn something about sailing. I'll be your uh, first mate. That OK?"
Mate? Suddenly, that term carried a vastly different meaning.
"Alright, mate. You take the helm. See that red buoy ahead of us? Steer a course to the right of it and I'll handle the main."
I'd done this a hundred times alone, but I thought it'd be better to give her something to do. I knew there'd be times later when her help would be welcome. After several minutes' busy work, we were healed over a little and sailing at a comfortable five knots. I shut off the diesel and sat back, watching her.
Her hair was auburn, wavy and longer than I thought nuns wore it. Shows how much I knew about nuns. Next to nothing. Curling around her ears, it framed her face nicely. Her arms and her legs were firm and nicely rounded; they were not pale as I'd anticipated. Actually, she had an olive complexion with a good base tan. She also had an athletic build and she looked strong. I told her so.
"It's the racquetball," she explained. I'd rather play tennis, but in the winter's cold, I'm glad for the exercise. You play?"
"Both," I nodded, and then to be honest, added, "but not in the last while."
The day's warmth and humidity was taking it's toll in perspiration and despite the capacious of the borrowed T-shirt, it began to cling to her, mostly to her rounded breasts. Her bra was clearly evident. I naturally noticed things like that, but in this case, it carried an extra charge. I was enjoying looking at this nun's body, at least as much as I could see.
"Sister Mary Joseph?" I asked.
"Would you mind if I called you something shorter? Maybe MJ, or something like that?"
She laughed and answered, "No one's ever called me "MJ" before. Actually my baptismal name is Mary, but sure, call me MJ if you like."
"Thanks, that'll feel better." Reaching into a small top-side storage, I pulled out a tube of sun block left there by a previous passenger and passing it to her, said, "You'd better put this on... everywhere that's exposed... the sun'll fry you in an hour, even if you've got a fair tan already."
"I'm used to tanning well. It's the Mediterranean blood I think, but you're right. I'd better be careful."
I put the autopilot on our course and then watched as she covered her arms and legs. As she lifted one foot to cover her calves, I noticed one leg of the baggy shorts gap well open, affording me a view almost up to her crotch. I caught a flash of white panties.
I'd put on sun glasses as I always do, for the bright sun light hurts my eyes. I have a slight impairment of my pupillary constrictor muscles and can only constrict about half way. Still, I didn't turn my head away and when she suddenly looked up, she saw me looking between her legs.
She flushed and lowered her leg, but kept on chatting. I hardly heard what she was saying, so taken was I with her obvious healthy good looks and innate sexiness. And why, I wondered, was there an added charge because she was a nun? Was it the unavailability? Or did I simply enjoy the kinkiness of it? Probably both.
A strong gust healed us to starboard and unprepared, she lost her balance. Instinctually, she threw an arm and a leg out as she fell back and then hung there, over-balanced on her behind, unable to come upright again. And this time, the pant leg of the baggy shorts fell completely open, exposing an entire thigh to her panties and crotch. It was broad daylight and I stared at the darker gusset of her white panties and the dark pubic hair curling out of her panty crotch. The view lasted seconds, no more, but it was imprinted in my mind. I was looking at a nun's white panties, right at her crotch. God, what a jolt!
MJ regained her balance with a good natured laugh and asked, "Does that happen often?"
"Infrequently on relatively calm days like this, but when it kicks up... " and I let it finish itself.
Sitting back against a floatation cushion again, she asked, "So tell me, why'd you become a sailor?"
I thought a moment before answering, "I didn't."
"I don't understand."
"I don't think of myself as a sailor. Yes, I sail, but that's not what I do. That's not who I am."
"I understand that you're not what you do, but how do you mean it?" she asked, persistent.
"I've driven a truck, but I don't think of myself as a truck driver. And once I learned about electronics and could fix a televison set, but I don't think of myself as an electronics technician."
"But I think of myself as a nun."
"Yes, there's that. And I can understand it, for you've given your life to it, haven't you? To God? Something like that?"
"That's certainly part of it. There's commitment, to be sure. If you were to ask me, 'Who are you?' I'd see myself as someone in a black robe; I'd see myself as a nun. What do you see?"
"None other, cap'n."
"Well, it's not what I do. It's what I AM."
"And that is?"
"I'll tell you something about me. It's no secret. Secrets'll kill you."
"I'm a guy who used to drink too much. I don't do that any more. That's the central organizing fact in my life, Sister."
She looked at me, one eyebrow elevated. I'd seen that look before.
"Yes, really. Now, I don't drink. Not at all. Haven't in a long time, but I used to. I was... no, I am an alcoholic. It's important for me to recognize that I'll always be an alcoholic and in that recognition, I don't have to drink."
"I've heard about that. AA I think. One of our priests had a problem and he... "
I interrupted; I'd heard those stories hundreds of times from pros. I didn't want to listen to a second-hand report. "So you see, Sister, when I think of myself, it's not what schools I've gone to, what degrees I have or what I've done, but rather, it's who I am. Simple, huh?"
"Hardly... but I think I do understand a little. And what happened to 'MJ'? I was beginning to like the sound of it."
"Yeah, I retreat to formality when I'm apprehensive, MJ."
"You thought I'd judge you, didn't you?"
I shrugged. "Many folks do."
"I've my own history. I wasn't always a nun, you know. I'm quite aware of humanness. No, I try not judge people. I try to accept them just as they are and hope they'll accept me as I am."
"And how's that?" I asked, curious. This was no ordinary nun, I thought and then smiled. I didn't know any nuns at all. How would I know ordinary?
"Most days I'd like to think that I'm a daughter of God, that I've given my life over to his care, but the fact is, quite often my ego gets in the way. And my humanness."
Laughing, I said, "I know about ego, but what do you mean about humanness?"
"Goodness, how'd I get into this?"
"You don't have to talk about anything that's uncomfortable."
"Yes, I know, but strange as it sounds, I think I'd like to. I need to be honest. Perhaps I need to be honest with myself... honest outside the confessional. Somehow that doesn't seem to count, the confessional I mean. The anonymity serves to protect me from the bare truth."
"You on the lamb or somthin', MJ? You know, church collections or somthin' like that?"
"I know, I know. I often try to hide behind repartee. Don't let me side track you."
She pulled both knees up and leaning forward, wrapped her forearms around her legs as she gazed off into some unfocused middle distance. I looked at the undersides of her thighs.
"It's just that I'm not sure... " and she trailed off.
"I'm not even sure of what. My faith perhaps. Or, as scary, if I'm really cut out to be a nun. I mean, I'm not completely happy... I have these... uh, thoughts... these desires. They're unsettling. Do you know what I mean?"
"Maybe. Not sure." Then, taking a big chance, I asked, "Sex?"
For a moment, she looked pained. "Yes! That's it." She looked aside, perhaps in thought or perhaps in embarrassment. "That's what's bothering me and there's no one I can talk to. Father Weston always tells me the same thing." Then, dropping her voice, she mimicked the Father: 'Just pray, Sister. Pray to God.'"
"Sometimes. A little. But mostly, I'm left uncertain, agitated, almost jittery."
Not knowing anything about her and less about the chaste life of the religious, I didn't know what to say, but trying to keep the topic alive, I asked, "MJ, were you inexperienced... I mean, were you a virgin when you became a nun?"
I felt my face become warm when I suddenly realized that I'd spoken of her virginity as if it were in the past tense.
"Uh... I didn't mean... " I started to say, but she just laughed.
"Not even close! I became sexually active when I was a teenager and I loved it. Actually, I continued to love it right up until I made the decision to enter the convent in my mid twenties, somewhat later than most." She gave me a shy smile and added, "I suppose I thought that when I became a nun, it'd be no problem."
I nodded, thinking she knew what I was feeling when she caught me looking between her legs. I glanced away, feeling guilty and then looked back, making eye contact again. She has a very soft smile.
"That's the problem. It'd be easier if I'd never tasted the fruit, but I did and I'm bedeviled with the memory and the urges. My body seems to have an agenda separate from my mind."
She laughed again and said, "I haven't heard that word in years, but yes, that's the feeling."
"Yes, I suppose that's another word for horny?" She gave it an interrogatory inflection and looked at me as if for confirmation.
"Well, I stayed chaste one time. For a year. Actually for a year and ten days, but who was counting? But I must confess that I didn't think of my humanness as I grew twitchy!"
"A year? But why? I mean, if you didn't have to... "
I shrugged. I didn't know what to say.
"Character building?" she asked with a gentle smile.
"Whatdaya' think? Did it work?
She starred at me with an appraising look and said, "I suspect you already had lots of character. Were you in jail?"
I glanced at her, ready to protest and then felt silly when I saw her smile and the twinkle in her eyes. Two could pay this game. Still, my face felt warm.
"Just a confinement of my own making," I replied.
"Yes, I know about those jails."
Checking the wind direction and my heading, I interrupted, "I'm gonna make a starboard tack, wanna help?"
Jumping up, MJ said, "Sure. Tell me what to do."
Pointing to a line, I said, "When I come about, the boom'll swing way over to this side. Help me pull in the line, but be careful. Watch where you're standing," and I pointed to a spot, "... so you're not hit by the boom when it swings over. Okay?"
"Aye, aye, skipper."
Noting that she was standing where I'd indicated, I turned my attention to the busy work that'd occupy me for the next few seconds as the boat's forward momentum carried it across the wind. As the boom was whipping across the deck, MJ stepped forward for some reason and catching her movement, I yelled, "Back!"
The boom just brushed by her, knocking her off balance and she toppled right over a stay wire into the water. In moments she was bobbing astern and as I turned directly into the wind again, I looked back to see her waving an OK to me. Fortunately she was directly astern and the wind drifted the boat back to her without having to come around.
With the main flapping in the breeze, I ran to the stern and lowered a small ladder. MJ appeared to be a strong swimmer and came right up to the hanging ladder the first time and with little help, scampering back aboard. She was laughing but there was a trace of fear in her eyes as she grabbed my hand and said, "Thanks. Does this mean that you're now responsible for my life?"
"Yes. But only for the next few days. After that, it's God's turn again." I stared at her, soaking wet, the thin T-shirt clinging to her bra-covered tits, nipples full and prominent. I thought I'd love to 'take care' of her.
"Guess I"ll have to change again," she observed, wringing out the tail of the T-shirt, exposing a good portion of her midriff.
"MJ, I've got lots of shirts, but those are my only extra shorts. There's a Tobago Cays shirt at the bottom of my bag that someone gave me. It's XXL and is way too large for me, but it'll work as a night shirt for you."
Sweeping her short hair out of her eyes, she laughed again and looking at me shyly said, "Any port in a storm."
I approved of her steady, non-hysterical response to the sudden dunking.
Using the hatch cover as a hand hold, I swung down into the main cabin and turned to lend her a hand stepping down the ladder. Her legs appeared longer to me, in part because the shorts were jammed up between her thighs. I seemed not to be able to help myself, for I continued staring at her legs and her crotch all the way down the ladder and it wasn't until she said my name that I looked up into her eyes.
"You're staring," she said in a soft, mater-of-fact, non-accusatory tone.
"Uh, sorry," I replied. My face felt warm.
"That's okay. I understand," she murmured and then stood for a moment, looking at me before saying, "The shirt?"
"Oh yeah, the shirt... it's right here somewhere... " I was mumbling to myself as I rummaged in the bottom of my bag. "Here... this is it," and handed it to her. All I could see were here nipples. She'd gotten a bit chilled and her nipples had become even more prominent. The wet shirt clung to her pebbled areolae, making dark, bumpy circles plainly visible through the shirt and bra.
Seeing the direction of my gaze, she glanced down at her shirt front and said, "Oh! Goodness. I didn't know. Sorry."
Mimicking her, I said, "That's okay, I understand."
Hearing her own words, she broke into a bright smile and said, "I hope so."
There were no other boats on the horizon when I'd last looked and I knew we were well away from any shallow reefs, still I felt an imperative to check things out topside. More, I wanted to remove myself from the hole I was digging with such persistent alacrity.
The breeze had died off a little so it was easy to catch the wind and return to the new heading. After putting the boat on autopilot, I sat back with my feet braced and contemplated the horizon, a more compelling sight than my navel. She'd had panties on under my shorts; I'd seen them briefly. Now they were wet but would she wear 'em anyway? Or - my mind ran with this one - would she have on only my large T-shirt? If so, I might get a look at... and her voice nudged me out of my reverie, "If I fall over board one more time, I'll be in big trouble, huh?"
She came up on deck, pinning her hair back, her arms up, raising the hem of the shirt. I looked her up and down, admiring her lithe lines and shapely legs.
"MJ, you are the best looking nun I know."
"I'm probably the only nun you know," she retorted, sitting opposite me, gathering the hem of the long shirt under her thighs.
"Well, there is that," I agreed, "but when I was in grade school at St. Columbia... " and tailed off.
"You're kidding!" she said, looking surprised, pushing the shirt down between her thighs, still holding her knees up but together. The shirt fell away from the back of her thighs affording me a glimpse of her legs.
"Once, in seventh grade I think, at recess I was showing a photography magazine to a younger nun who'd been kind to me and while I was paging through it, looking for a particular picture I'd wanted to share with her, a black and white picture of a nude woman suddenly popped up. In my confusion and embarrassment, I fumbled and before I could go on, she placed her hand on the open magazine and commented on the non-nude picture on the facing page. Can you see this tableau, MJ?"
"Sure. What happened?"
"Well, nothing happened but I always wondered what she thought. I mean, she had to have seen the naked woman and she had to have known how embarrassed I was."
"I'm sure she did, on both counts. She probably took some vicarious pleasure in pretending to look at the other picture."
"You think so?"
"I would have. But then, that's part of my problem, these earthly thoughts."
We looked at each other, me wearing only an old pair of shorts and she wearing only a large T-shirt. I was acutely aware of her, not just as a nun, but as an attractive woman who was nude under my shirt. Or was she?
"MJ," I asked, "you wearing anything under that shirt?"
She looked down a moment and then into my eyes. "No," she answered, "why?"
I considered for a minute telling her some lie, some bullshit that would have aimed at making me look good, but without thinking about it very much, I knew that wouldn't work for me. I'd have to tell her the truth, but how best to word it? And what was the truth, anyway? That I was just being open and honest with her? Maybe a little, but more, I suspect, that I wanted to get in her pants. Except at the moment she wasn't wearing any.
"Why? Because you're an attractive woman. More actually. Because you're a sexy woman." Jesus, I thought, what the hell was I doing? I wasn't sure what I was doing, but I wanted to follow this thread, so I continued, "You think of yourself as a nun. I don't, at least not entirely. I think of you as more - as a woman. Seeing you like this is pleasing and it's exciting."
She just stared at me, wide eyed.
"Am I offending you, MJ? I don't mean to be discourteous, but I've this unsettling habit of being frank. I say what I'm thinking... most of the time anyway... and further, I tend to ask for what I want."
She leaned forward a little and still looking at me with that same quizzical expression, she asked, "And do you get what you want... most of the time?"
"Seldom," I laughed, "but I try not to make up other people's minds for them. I let them decide for themselves. I've been told to ask for 100 percent of what I want, 100 percent of the time, and then be willing to negotiate a win-win compromise. So tell me, am I offending you with this line of questions?"
She sat and stared at me for a long time; I didn't think she was going to answer. Then she passed her hand in front of her in a kind of a chopping motion, apparently to add emphasis to her words, and said, "I must confess that in most social situations I've been in since taking the vows, I would have been offended. I don't understand it, but for some reason I'm not. It's refreshing. Your honesty, I mean. No, I don't feel offended - that surprises me a little - and there's some part of me that finds this whole situation just a little thrilling. Perhaps I'm being tested. Do you think?"
"It's been said that nothing happens in God's world by mistake. Perhaps we're both being tested. What do you suppose the message is?"
She smiled and countered, "You're answering a question with a question, but that's all right. You've been frank. I shall as well. Is that okay with you?"
"The truth shall set you free," I quoted.
"But first, it'll piss you off," she appended.
"They teach you that in the nunnery?"
"Yes, but not exactly in those words. I got that rendition from my father."
"A wise man?"
"More than I knew back then. But I don't want to talk about my father. I'm much too selfish right now. I want to talk about me. Actually, I think I NEED to talk about me. Will you keep a confidence?"
Making a small adjustment in the sail, I observed, "We certainly have the time to talk and I've never had a need to share a confidence. What ever you tell me, MJ will stay with me."
Nodding, "You can take that to the bank."
Again she studied me for a long moment and then seeming to make a decision, she leaned back and said, "I hardly know you, but I feel that I can trust you. Heaven knows, I need someone to talk with. Someone outside the Church, that is."
The breeze caused the mainsail to snap and at the same time, it rustled the bottom of her long T-shirt. I caught a flash of her thighs again, still well below crotch level. I couldn't tell if she saw me looking.
"I'm a good listener and I'll tell you my truth if you want it. Still, it's been my experience that many people just want to be heard. They don't want to be fixed, just heard. And some don't even want the truth."
"Yes, I do want to be heard, but I think in addition I need some reality testing, some feedback. Let me just start and we'll see where things go."
"Okay, let's start with the truth. Not any truth. Your truth. You know, the one that'll piss you off?"
She wrapped her arms about her knees and looked up at the mainsail for a moment before starting. "It's always been true for me, that I don't like to hear unflattering things about myself. Since becoming a nun, in some ways it has gotten worse."
"Expectations set you up?" I asked.
"Of course. I think I should be this or I should think that. I'm never as good as I think I should be."
"Good as in holy?" I asked.
"Yes, that's it! Not just a good person. More than that, I think I should be at least spiritual, if not totally holy. At times I expect that I should have attained some spiritual peak un-attained by Jesus Christ!"
"You're your own toughest critic, aren't you?" My pants were binding and I pulled the crotch away. I saw her eyes fall. "Is my fly open?" I asked with a frown.
She laughed and said, "Please, don't make me look there!"
"You're fun and I like that. It's okay with me, but you know, you're beating around the bush, don't you?"
"Yes, I am. It's difficult for me. It's as though I've got to tip toe around this for a while."
"Want me to just listen or to prompt you a little?
She slid her foot back and forth, making wet marks on the teak deck with her toes. "Uh... both, I guess. What I mean to say... well, I'd like you to listen, but there are times I need a little help." She cocked her head and asked, "Does that make sense?"
Nodding my head, I said, "Yeah." Then adding the prod, I suggested, "It was about keeping a confidence, remember? You asked me if I could keep a confidence."
"It's not likely that I'd forget. I'm edging toward very thin ice."
I waited. She knew what was bothering her. I didn't have to remind her of that, but she had to take her own time about it. It had started, I thought, when I told her I found her attractive. That was new for her, or at least, the first time in a long time. Too, this was probably the first time in as long that she'd been sitting with a man wearing no more than a thin T-shirt. A T-shirt with nothing under it. The cat was clearly out of the bag. Would we chase it?
She surprised me.
"You said you'd been chaste for a year?"
I nodded. Where was she going with this? I thought this was about her.
"What did you do after that, if I may ask?"
I smiled at the memory. "Became a rabbit."
"As in making love like one?"
"Making love is one expression. Rutting's another."
"An understatement. Renewed interest, awareness, drive and, oh yes, pleasure. That's some of it. I'd come to enjoy a new freedom, a freedom from the bondage of self - some people say."
"Would you call it excess energy? Sexual energy?" she asked.
Still not seeing where she was going with this, I nodded my confirmation.
"Well then, you might be able to understand what has been happening to me." She paused. I waited. "I was sexually active and then sublimated all my energies. I attempted to substitute my religion and my work for my passion. I was naive. I really thought it'd be no problem." She fell silent again, looking out across the sea, but not seeing. I recognized her process.
After a bit, I commented, "And it didn't work. It was still a problem."
She glanced back at me. "Was... and is."
"Horny," I said. It wasn't a question.
She nodded and then smiled, "But I tried to think of it in other terms."
"Yeah, same thing."
"Same thing. That's as good a term as any. Actually, better than most. Horny... doesn't beat around the bush, does it?"
"So, what do you do? Pray or masturbate?"
Her head snapped back to me, her eyes momentarily dark in anger, then she softened. "Prayer, yes. It helped at first, but less so later. And yes... this is difficult to say - I mean right here, in front of you, looking at you - but yes, I did uh, relieve myself." She looked down and then rushed on, "I HAD to. I'd have gone crazy. You don't know what it was like,"
"You're right, of course, MJ, I don't know - couldn't know what it was like. I'm not a woman and I'm certainly not a nun. But I do know about the body's physiologic needs, about desire, about horniness. My body simply has its own agenda and it's independent of my philosophic beliefs or my spiritual state. I suspect - but I don't know for sure - that your agenda isn't a lot different."
She reached over and touched my knee. "I'm sorry. That was condescending of me. You're absolutely right. At base, we're all the same, we're all human. I'm sorry I was patronizing of you."
I made a dismissive gesture with my hand and said, "Thanks, but don't give it a thought. I didn't. If we're going to be honest with each other, let's not walk on egg shells. Say what you're thinking. And you were thinking about masturbation... or what ever you called it."
She seemed to brace her shoulders. Did nice things with the front of her T-shirt. "My dad used to tell me to call a spade a spade."
"And not a excavating appliance?"
That earned a flash of white, even teeth. "Yes. It's not like I've been so sheltered that I don't know the language including its idioms. Remember, I used to be a uh, horny chick?" And she laughed at her own description. I hoped she still was. I harbored few illusions about myself.
"So you got horny and prayer didn't always work and you couldn't sleep at night and you became restless and irritable and then, in some moment of weakness or desperation, you'd break down and masturbate and then suffer the guilt of the damned?"
"Whew! Have you been listening in on my confessions?"
"No, my own. A long time ago."
"Are you still feeling guilty?"
"Not even close."
"Why? I mean, how... ?"
"MJ, this may sound strange to your ears, for it's leagues away from the Church's position, but I've fired the God of my childhood and I've hired a new one. My God rejoices in me. He/she/it rejoices in my humanness and in my sexuality."
Her tone betrayed her surprise and her confusion. "I'm surprised. I know I shouldn't be, but I am. Do you really believe in God?"
"No, not your God, MJ. My God. There's a huge difference. I used to be afraid of your God. I suppose I thought of him as a cross between a white-bearded Charlton Heston and Atilla the Hun, a stern, unsmiling, cosmic score keeper who knew what a worthless sack of shit I really was and my only reward was going to be the warm place."
She looked at me with wide-eyed wonder. I half expected her to put her fingers over her open mouth or to glance upward in fearful expectation.
I continued, "I once asked a guy if he believed in God and he said no, that he considered himself a 'Christian atheist'. When I asked him what the devil that was he replied, 'I don't believe in God, but I'm still afraid of him.'"
She pointed out the obvious: "But you must believe in something if you're afraid of it."
I shrugged, then asked, "MJ, what'd you do with your wet clothes?"
"Your wet clothes. If you left them say, on the floor, they'll never dry. Even hanging up below decks, it'll take a while. Up here, they'll dry out in less than an hour."
"Oh. Yes, of course. Shall I get them?"
"I'm not your mother superior, MJ. Your call."
As she was getting up she commented, "Isn't it amazing how I defer to authority?" She smoothed the shirt over her hips which pulled it tight across her breasts. I looked at her tits.
"Uh... I'll get them," she said and went below.
I checked the wind and the direction. No change. There seldom was in these latitudes. Sitting back, I wondered to myself, "What do you think you're doing? Sure she's attractive, sexy even and sure, you'd love to get into her pants, but you don't have the right to fuck with her head. She's trusting, uncertain, even a little troubled and terribly vulnerable. What kinda sexual predator are you, anyway?"
"Thanks for making this talk easier for me," she said. She'd returned so silently and I'd been so lost in my own thoughts, I'd not sensed her presence. "Where shall I hang these?"
"There's a coffee can with clothes pins by the binnacle. I usually clip them to the stays on the windward side. Use extra clothes pins. We won't turn about for a lost... " and looking at her garments, I added, "... pair of panties."
She stiffened a moment and then chuckled, "You're trying to desensitize me, aren't you?"
"Is that what I'm doing? Hell, I thought I was just trying to talk dirty."
Pinning the brief white panties in question, she said, "I've never met anyone like you. You pretend your tough, but it's clear that you're well educated. You pretend you don't care, but you do."
"Yes, you, Mr. Smarty Pants. I'm catching on to you," she said, hanging her white bra and the last of her wet clothes. "Yes, I think I'm getting your number."
"Well, if you figure out who I am, let me know, won't you? I've been working on that one for a long time and every time I think I've got it nailed, I lose it. And by the way, you might want to hang those clothes on the port side."
"Why? This is the sunny side. Tell me, are you a control freak?"
I shrugged again. Seems I was doing that a lot. "Yeah, I guess." I eyed her clothes and allowed that a strong gust from the northeast could heal us over enough to catch a wave and dowse her laundry, but it'd been steady for the last few hours. I let it go.
"Do I have to?"
"Move my clothes?"