The simplest way to explain all this is to reproduce, first of all, the document (henceforth "the File") I discovered in the bedroom writing desk of the summer home I purchased for use as a primary (and sole) residence eighteen months ago. Old Eckstown thrived as a resort town for some few decades, attracting tourists with its ski slope proximity, its horse show and apple dumpling jamboree, its clear blue lakes and the preternaturally early arrival of its kaleidoscopic fall foliage stippling the horizon in pointillist dabs of terra cotta, umber, Chinese sparerib. But the lake came to pollution, new ski lodges opened further to the south where falling winter temperatures had created ideal powder conditions, and the jamboree, alas, was never the same after the death of Mrs Abraham Hayes, the ex-mayor's wife whose crabapple butter and home-jacked cider were still the talk of old-timers around ice-fishing holes.
The house had been barely touched for years, its owners the Shipp family having less and less time to vacation as the usual family dramas circled vulture-like, and so when I purchased it it came furnished but negligently so. The upholstered chairs had been mouse-nibbled, and were fumigated and given to Goodwill; the lawn furniture had long since given way to rust and was discarded; and so forth. The writing desk, though, was of a beautiful ancient mahogany which betrayed its elegance at the slightest caress of dust-repellant, and it is likely its beauty which initially attracted me.
The necessary preliminaries accomplished -- groceries purchased, electricity and telephone service restored, mailbox installed on a wooden peg at the end of the winding bluestone drive with an extra-large flag the position of which I adjusted until I verified that I could see it from the kitchen window, the better to know if the post had arrived -- I investigated this desk, excavating from its cavities a hardcover edition of Boswell's Life of Johnson, sans dust jacket; a small and garage-smelling Old Norse lexicon bundled by means of thick elastic bands to a university press's history of the isle of Gotland; volumes of Keats and Pope; a print of the so-called goblet illusion; and finally, trifold and tucked into a manila envelope of unusual dimension, the untitled sheaf of yellow college-ruled pages I refer to as "the File."
The remainder of my investigation is best recorded as annotation.
I was never the cool uncle
Too old, too absent, too out of fashion
I was in my thirties
when J was born
Twice the age of "cool"
And seven years past "cool older guy"
I'd said "these kids today" before she was even born
and by the time she had a favorite band
I didn't know what kind of music they played
or why anyone would like it
I didn't live nearby
didn't "help raise her"
wasn't "always there"
not like some TV uncle wisecracking
My brother, he was the troublemaker, he was the wisecracker
I was the one you would've figured as the family man
4H, varsity basketball, Boy Scout (freshman year)
the football and barbecue
the one on one and horse
the do your homework clean your room
I puta piece of ginger
and watched her burn
a large piece of root -- we joked about it:
peeled it with the fish-shaped vegetable peeler in the drawer
the one with the corn-on-the-cob holders,
the folding wooden slats for putting hot dishes on,
the corkscrew and wine-stopper
Peeled it until you could smell the ginger in the other room -- fresh, not like
or the pink heaps of labia-folds they serve alongside sushi nowadays
but fresh and sharp and hot, like her
I licked my fingers
She licked my fingers
I licked her mouth and lost an hour
I licked her neck and
She lay on the sofa
one foot on the floor
the other against the opposite arm
toes flexing like a baby's grasping hand
an arm flung behind her, so young, so grown-up
the other on her chest
lifting her tank-top up to expose
that long expanse of tanned tanned skin
bare from toe to the waxing crescent of underbreast
I had tasted every inch of her
her hollow of a bellybutton
the gentle rise of her belly
the thin-furred mound of her sex
I put the ginger inside her
and she just giggled
-- at first.
"It's starting to"
I know, dove.
"Oh gosh that's"
I stroked her thighs as the irritants in the juice of the freshly peeled root burned her pussy.
Not as bad as chili peppers.
With her --
I never tried chili peppers.
But you could watch her burn
thrash her head back
like being tickled
run her fingers up her thighs and gasp
and I told her to think about something else
to think about puppies
to think about rainbows
to think about summer school and baseball games and swimming in the lake with
and I put my cock in her mouth
told her to suck
she gasped around it
but there was that special thing she did
and she loved feeling me
and when I came
when she gulped it down
I took her clit between my lips
and suckled her until she came
the ginger burning
and I'm sure they heard her across the lake
they must have heard
and she called me
I remember birthdays and Christmases and some Easters and
but there were three kids, hard to keep track of
this one into toy robots, that one Atari games
kids always want to show you something when you visit
look at this
look at this
hey look at this
an extra person around is more attention for them -- three
plenty to go around
Was she my favorite from the start?
I don't think so.
I don't think I had a favorite.
I don't think I paid enough attention.
And when I did -- kids were kids.
I mean I LIKED them.
But they were my brother's family.
I'm trying to sort out my first clear memory of her
not as "little girl"
(why do I usually say "brother's daughter," not "niece"?)
I noticed her as a woman:
as mouth, eyes, breasts, the rest
in that order
tender, pursed, full lower lip
brown, shy, teasing
small but perceptible
"dirty blonde," lithe, T-shirt and jeans but no tomboy.
The family resemblance --
my (our) nose
her mother's eyes, I think, or her mother's mother's
God knows where she came by that mouth
God knows where she learned what to do with it
I never put my cock in her pussy
We agreed on that, first silently and then
She was a virgin then and stayed one
I had everything else
clinically her maidenhood remained intact:
my penis unpenetrating
The first time:
Her skirt pushed up
Her panties pulled down to her knees
On her stomach on the bed
Not the master bedroom bed, mine
Not one of the slim awkward beds in the kids' room, hers
But the guest bedroom, neutral
Covers still on
Quilted bedcover, thin because it was a summer home
blue and white and butterflies
Too-thin pillows, the kind you have to fold in half
Her ass spread
my fingers digging into her cheeks
her fingers clutching the bed
unelasticking the corners of the fitted sheet
her asshole --
not a petal
not a flower
not some weird --
creepy even --
-- but her asshole
in my face
my fingers massaging it
to let my tongue in
envisioning my tongue root-deep in her
fucking her with it
but in reality little more than wet poking around the rim
sucking the tender puckered skin and feeling her shiver
while she fingered her pussy
which I could smell
it drove me crazy
I didn't fuck her that afternoon
not if that doesn't count
She was twelve
It fell off, faded away
(that I know of)
(except mine, maybe, mixed with sadness nostalgia)
it just became awkward
and then -- boring? believe it or not
I think if we had kept it going --
I think we both knew this
-- I think we would have let ourselves get caught
I think we would have needed that excitement
And by then, she was no longer a virgin
But I still hadn't fucked her
She jerked me off
while we watched Johnny Carson
under the blanket even though it was 80, 90 degrees
both of us sweating
both of us pretending it wasn't happening
even though we were the only ones in the house
(It wasn't my idea
to take her there)
(It was all
supposed to be
Her hand was so --
-- she barely knew what to do with it
sometimes gripping too hard
but that time, that first time
it made it so much hotter
so much more wrong
and I loved
oh GOD how I LOVED
that it was HER hand on
I wasn't forcing her
I wasn't tricking her
She was jerking me off
but doing it
because she wanted to
And right then
before I came, even
but after too
she transformed from something I wanted --
someone I wanted, an object I looked at --
to a sexual thing, a creature, a being.
I will always hear
her little swallowed
when I came on her fingers.
And sometimes when I think about it that first time went further.
She took me in her mouth
she moaned for me
told me how much she wanted it
all of it.
Did we talk about it? Eventually.
It went for almost three years,
we had to talk about it.
But I don't remember the first time.
What we said.
Except telling her that she didn't have to
and she couldn't tell
but she didn't have to
but I wanted her to
but she couldn't tell.
Sometimes I wanted to threaten her
thinking about what could happen to me --
what people would say
Christ, our parents
Cousins! neighbors! Mother's bridge club!
prison? do the parents have to press charges?
-- sometimes it made me so angry
so pissed off
no pussy worth this
no prize this great
how dare she
how could she not see what I risked
how dare she act
it was all on me.
that was all undone by
bewilderment and guilt
when she asked me eyes downcast small voice looking at her fingernails and picking at them
foot crooked under her besatupon
if other girls liked anal sex so much
and if it made her weird
if she was a pervert.
Like she was going to cry if I said yes.
We never -- I never
and I don't think she ever
-- had any desire to "date."
No going out to movies (except once:
Last Tango In Paris
at the old rundown theater with the balcony and everything
and the old-fashioned popcorn popper somehow majestic and snooty even
she jerked me off through almost the whole movie
and butterymouthed swallowed my cock down her throat and happily gulped me off
No tableclothed dinners
no parks or picnics or tip-a-canoes
She had two boyfriends
during the time we
There is something amazing
I'm not religious -- not beyond Christmas
-- but divine, I truly think that
about being with a girl in those years
seeing her develop
not from afar, but
in your bed
in your arms
her thighs spread
as she learns what pleasure her body can give her
As her breasts grow
in your mouth
under your hands
even their shape changing
It's nothing you can recapture with another woman another age
Maybe it's not better
But it's its own thing unshared
with any other.
I don't think I'm attracted to
to that age specifically
but after her --
especially after the first year,
when there was nothing except
That One Thing
that we hadn't done yet
-- I did find myself looking at young teenagers
Watching the way they moved.
Looking at their mouths.
Creating in my mind's eye -- for the benefit of my mind's
-- personalized techniques by which each of them
the neighbor girl
that girl in the grocery store
that Girl Scout
that girl with the Daisy Dukes at the gas station, the sun shining through her hair in this utter Farrah Fawcett moment she was four years too young for with no one around to appreciate but me
sucking my cock.
Wondering which of them were sluts waiting to be brought out.
Which of them would always be timid.
Which would need to be coaxed.
Which fingered themselves every opportunity they got
as J confessed to me she did
something I wondered if I had caused
or merely foreseen.
And which I wanted credit for.
I've never been with anyone --
-- not even in relationships that lasted years
and years and years
intermittently or continuous
-- whose sexual activity described such a clear arc
across the years.