Thirty nine didn't seem so bad.
In fact, thirty nine seemed pretty darned good.
I had just recently come to the realization that I was old enough not to be consumed with the opinions of others, yet young enough to retain the belief that everything in the world ultimately worked out to my personal advantage. It was a nice place to be.
Perhaps because I was revelling in my new-found comfort with aging, my girlfriend's birthday gift of a psychic reading seemed a bit "odd" at best and — frankly — "weird" to be less magnanimous.
Yet here I was. At 4:00 p.m. on the Thursday afternoon before my 40th birthday, I stood in front of a modest house that looked more like a cabin (minus the lake) than any home I had ever noticed in this neighborhood. As I rang the doorbell, actual chimes clanged out my arrival: "Bing. Bong. Bong. Bing..."
I fluctuated between curiosity and self chastisement for venturing down this road. I didn't even notice the knob turn, but the next thing I knew the door was opening to reveal a diminutive man of unrecognizable age standing in a modest foyer.
Now you have to understand that I am barely above the 5 foot mark in the swimming pool, so when I say "diminutive" I mean TINY.
"Katie?" he inquired.
"Um ... Kate," I responded.
My correction didn't faze him. He waved me in and, though he never offered his name, I followed him down a narrow hallway, past a small living room with flames flickering lazily in the fireplace. The effect was serene, but being mid-June, the timing seemed off. As we walked, I glanced through open doorways. Each space had comfortable furnishings and complimentary mood lighting. I could feel my body relax as we turned into a cozy office.
Still not speaking, my psychic buddy gestured to a leather lounge chair. It never occurred to me to question his instructions. I sat and then sprawled out in its inviting repose. My mind lost any concept of time, so when he finally spoke I wasn't sure if I'd been relaxing for seconds, minutes or hours.
"You are much more than you seem," he stated noncommittally.
Me and everyone else, I thought to myself, but simply mumbled a generic "Oh?" in response.
I'm not sure if I actually heard a sound, but it was almost as though I felt him chuckle at my thoughts.
"You have issues yet to be resolved," he continued.
"Probably, yes," I conceded.
Silence again. The temperature in the room began to climb and my cheeks flushed. A mild sense of discomfort crept in as my mind replayed his comments. Before I had the chance to ask for clarification, he spoke in a soothing tone:
"Today I think you will have a special treat. We will take you into your past. We will go to a place in your mind where you've been too afraid to journey. This will change your life forever."
This wasn't exactly what I had in mind. Tarot cards, maybe, but hypnosis ... One part of me was quite convinced that he was full of shit, another was moderately curious and yet another was nervous and wanting to leave. Ultimately, the emotion that won over my behavior was that of a coward. I didn't want to make a scene. So I continued to lie across the leather lounger and listen sceptically to his voice.
"Today we will go back," he said again. "Back to a road not taken that would have changed your experience as a corporal being..."
I didn't say a word, holding onto suspended belief.
"Relax," he encouraged. "Relax. We won't go anywhere you don't really want to go ... Relax and let your mind guide you."
I did as he suggested and relaxed. My shoulders sagged slightly and it seemed as if my body was getting very heavy and far away from my mind.
Dimly I mused about where I would end up. Maybe I would go away to school after all. College had been fine, but I'd always imagined all the things I could have been if I'd taken the leap to go away to the one of the Ivy Leagues that had been recruiting. Or maybe now was my chance to take the junior magazine editor position that I was too good for 15 years ago...
It truly felt like my body had begun to hover, spinning slightly while my brain watched. Never one for amusement park rides, I was relieved to find the experience didn't last long. My senses moved back under my control and into focus. Blinking several times, I found myself away from the office and all by myself. I took in the details of the living room where I now sat, but had no idea of its locale or significance. It was a nice space. The furniture was comfortably expensive. A re-run of Night Court emanated from a very large, very old TV in the corner. Or maybe not a re-run.
"Oh, my GOD!" I thought to myself. "I could relive any event of my life and I'm HERE?" I demanded in my head.
Running to the bathroom I remembered, I flicked on the light and stared at myself in the mirror.
It was me alright, but so long since I'd seen myself this way.
What was I? Fourteen? Sixteen? My thoughts raced and I waded through the memories to make sense of my surroundings.
This was the Davidson's house. I was babysitting. It had to be the year I was fifteen. Amy Davidson was eleven - still in need of supervision when her parents went out at night. Amy was the result of a second marriage. Dr. Davidson had left his first wife to marry his nurse or secretary or something and Amy was their child. The Davidsons went to all kinds of functions in the evenings. This had been a great way to make money before I was old enough for a "real" job. Amy really wasn't a lot of work. We mostly watched MTV and just hung out while her folks went to charity or work events.
"Oh, my God," I uttered aloud this time as I looked more carefully at the reflection in the mirror. The fifteen year old me looked back. Visions and memories flooded my thirty nine year old brain.
I would have just finished my freshman year, I thought as I studied my lightly tanned skin and bright eyes. If I remembered correctly, this had been the year I discovered that I could still get A's without working too hard — all in all a bad lesson to learn. Continuing to check myself out, I grinned at the young face and body. My hair was quite blonde and fashionably full. I was back in the era of big hair. I couldn't help but laugh out loud.
This year my parents would go to India to a conference and leave me with friends much of the summer. My buddy would become quite entrepreneurial and work for the local drug dealer to supply all the middle-class kids in my neighbourhood with recreational supplies. The bonus for me was that he was quite generous in sharing extra product with our circle of friends. This was the summer I had made up my mind to lose my pesky virginity and would ultimately share that awkward moment with George. No. Wait. George was too interested in drinking to help me out there. Jeff! That was his name. Running my hands over my body while I mused, I remembered my teenaged self being frustrated with all the curves. My breasts were already full, and my hips flared out in the hourglass I'd come to terms with in my 30s. Pity I hadn't appreciated how seriously sexy I was at 15.
"Youth really IS wasted on the young," I scolded my reflection out loud.
Back to Jeff. I hadn't thought about him in years. One night after babysitting (was it today?) I would thank Mrs. Davidson for the $20 bill she handed me and head over to Jeff's. We'd drive to the park near the river and fumble around in the back of his pickup, awkwardly getting the deed done while Amy and George pounded back an entire case of beer. Charming.
Jeff would call the next day to check up on me but I would blow him off. I hadn't been looking for a boyfriend, simply someone who could help me out with my little problem. I never saw him since.
And now here I stood. I had nearly 40 years of experiences to choose from and this is where I ended up? For what reason? Was my "virtue" the issue at hand? Give me a break.
A sense of responsibility kicked in as I realized I was actually babysitting and should probably check on Amy. The passing of a quarter century didn't change the familiarity I felt with the house and I headed straight up the stairs to her bedroom. The light was on, but she was out — a book still in her hand. I gently took it away, marking her place and setting it on the bedside table. She sighed, but was clearly deep asleep.
Turning out the light and closing her door, I surveyed my surroundings anew. There was the Davidson's bedroom, the second floor bathroom, bedrooms for both Sam and Penny — adult children from Dr. Davidson's first marriage who, to the best of my knowledge never actually lived in this house — and the guest bedroom that I had slept in when they'd had a couple of overnight trips. The formal living and dining room were downstairs, along with the family room where I'd been watching television. It felt odd to revisit this setting. With no real objective in mind, I began to wander around, reacquainting myself with someone else's house.
Meandering through the master bedroom, the mirror on the dresser caught my eye. Surreal. I headed into the on-suite bathroom for a better look.
Cute was the word that best described me. Once upon a time I hoped I'd be "stunning" but "cute" really was most appropriate. Now I didn't mind it so much.
"Cute works," I told the teenager looking back at me.
Preening and turning, I wanted to see every inch of my younger self. Fascinated with my reflection, I began taking off my clothes. Pulling my shirt over my head, I admired the lacy white bra against my golden skin. Flawless. I loved it.
Hooking my fingers into the waistband of my skirt, I wiggled it down to a puddle at my feet and then stepped out. I stood in my underwear and appraised my image. I hadn't yet discovered thongs, but my bikini panties hugged my hips. Looking over my shoulder I could see the bottom of my round cheeks sticking out from underneath the thin strip of white cotton. Firm. Sexy. Suggestive. Running my hands over my belly, I faced forward again and smiled at myself. The flat stomach was to die for and it perfectly accentuated the ripe fullness above and below.
"Very hot," I congratulated myself and continued with what was starting to feel like a striptease.
Unclasping my bra in the back, I held it in place rather than letting it fall. I wanted to go slowly, to savor this experience. The straps slid down my shoulders, resting on my arms as I lowered the lacy material. The top of my aerola were in view and I purposely brushed my nipples with the fabric and slid it further down.
Finally dispensing with the bra all together, I cupped my hands under each breast, feeling their weight. My fingers explored the familiar yet foreign territory and the skin beneath my touch reacted immediately. I could feel it tighten, my nipples stiffening, and I marvelled in the sensation of self-stimulation with a body that was a distant memory.
My breathing had quickened and I wasn't nearly so delicate removing my panties. Fully naked I watched my fingers moving toward my young pussy. For years now I had been waxing myself bare, so the light covering of blonde hair was quite different, but I enjoyed the gentle tug as I rubbed against it.
Using just the tip of my middle finger, I brushed along the length of my closed lips. This, too, I relished, going back and forth slowly. The heat radiated and I knew how moist I'd be when at last those lips parted open. The teasing foreplay had my heart racing and I ran my fingernail up my slit, loving the moan that came from my throat.
Desire took over and I masturbated earnestly, watching my reaction in the mirror. Sliding faster up and down my wet lips, I swirled the juices over my swelling clit. Gasping, I widened my stance and leaned against the counter while I worked myself over. Lost in the pleasure I was caught off guard as I went to push my eager finger deep inside and was met with resistance. The realization that I was still a virgin dawned in the back of my mind, but slowed me only momentarily. Redirecting my attentions, I concentrated on my clit, rubbing furiously until I felt my body tense in the familiar pause that preceded a shuddering orgasm.
Panting, I gripped my hand between my thighs, pressing tightly against my spasming pussy. The warm glow of release was seeping down my limbs and I relaxed into the vanity, still standing, still regarding the view in the glass ahead of me. My breathing was returning to normal my brain moved back from animal instinct to reason. I shook my head in disbelief at the whole scenario and began to climb back into my clothes.
Glancing at the clock, I figured that the Davidsons would probably still be away for another couple hours so I went back to aimless wandering.
Penni's bedroom was neat and tidy. There were a couple of photos, but no other personal items. The pillows were plumped and carefully arranged. My guess was that no one besides the maid had been in there for ages. Sam's room was a different story. Clothes were draped over a chair. Papers littered the desk and a knapsack spilled half its contents beside the bed. He must be here for a visit, I mused.
Nosey, I started poking around. The stacks on top of the desk were scripts.
"Oh, right," I muttered out loud. Reaching way back in my memory banks I had a vague recollection that Sam did something in television. In New York, maybe? Something like that. I couldn't quite recall. We had met briefly once, but I could only conjure up an image of someone tall with dark hair. No facial features came to mind.
Carefully I lifted the edges of the pages, scanning the headers. Just the fact that it was television made it interesting, but no names of big stars jumped out and I didn't want to get anything out of order. I moved to the knapsack. It seemed haphazardly dumped, so I felt safe sitting cross-legged on the floor and rifling through. A few books, a binder, nothing extremely personal. Curiosity nearly satisfied, I felt along the bottom of the pack. A small paperback was wedged crosswise and I manoeuvred it out to plain sight.
I almost choked as I read the title: "The Story of O."
Settling the rest of the knapsack back into place, I opened the cover and began to skim the text. I had heard of this book, knew it's premise, but never actually read it. Clearly, Sam had. He was starting to occupy an entirely different space in my brain.
With a practiced eye, I raced through the pages. Every now and again I'd backtrack, reading more slowly through the passages that held me fixated. The raw sexual release I'd experienced earlier was no deterrent to the excitement now pulsing through my veins. I shivered and unconsciously clenched my vaginal muscles as if prepping my body for more.
Deeply engrossed, I held the book tightly in my left hand, not wanting to miss a word as I swung my legs around and leaned my back against the bed. In a more comfortable position for another round of self gratification, I let my knees fall apart while my right hand slid under my skirt and sat, ready and waiting, in the waistband of my panties. I continued reading, devouring the experiences of O.
This was the visual that greeted Sam as he stood in the doorway of his bedroom.
"Well," was all he said.
The sound brought me careening back to the realization of where I was and what I was doing. Literally jumping at his voice, my hand flew out from between my legs. They snapped tight together and I gripped the book guiltily in front of me. The blood that had been coursing with ecstatic passion was completely hot with panic. My chest felt tight and I had to force myself to breathe. My brain futilely grasped for something to say, but the wheels spun uselessly.
I sat frozen into place and stared up at the scowling face towering above. Mortified at being caught, I had the added horror of remembering that I was a teenage girl in a grown man's bedroom, reading his personal stash of porn.
"Well," he said again. "Isn't this interesting?"
I swallowed hard and started trying to speak, "I ... um..." was all I managed.
"You be quiet," he instructed. "Did I ask you to speak?"
His face was impossible to read, but his voice left no room for misinterpretation. I shook my head meekly.
I wanted to disappear into the floor. How long had he been home? What had he seen?
Why was I such an idiot?!
Leaning down, Sam reached across my body to scoop up his knapsack. My arms and legs automatically pulled in tight, trying to somehow be smaller and out of his way. He straightened and reached out expectantly. I knew he wanted me to hand over the contraband, yet I was locked.
Again I jumped when he started to speak. Each word was low and deliberate:
"Give ... me ... the ... book."
My arm shot out in compliance, but he didn't remove the damning evidence from my hand. His eyes drilled into me and I looked down, embarrassed, and suddenly began to shake as if I were dead lifting a gallon of milk rather than a small paperback.
Mercifully Sam relieved me of my burden and I reverted to a tight ball at his feet.
"Look at me," he instructed.
I did so briefly, but then dropped my eyes in humiliation.
His voice was hard, "I said: Look at me."
With considerable effort, I turned my line of sight up to his face. A lump sat hard in my throat as I scanned his features. The effect was an overwhelming sense of vertigo, but I dared not turn away again. In self-defence I focused on the bridge of his nose and fought desperately to gain control over my breathing and to find some kind of composure.
"This is what you do when you babysit my sister," he said flatly.
As I started to open my mouth for a reply, he barked sharply, "DON'T speak unless I say you can."
We stared at each other for endlessly long seconds before he spoke again, "You know that you are in very deep trouble here, don't you?"
It was a rhetorical question. The gravity of the situation indeed weighed heavily and Sam did nothing to ease my discomfort. Standing in silence, he regarded me intently.
Slowly he crouched down, moving so that his face was barely a foot away from mine. I squirmed, his proximity making me exceedingly uncomfortable.
"I'm trying to decide what to do with you," he said quietly and I watched his eyes scan me from head to toe.
The change in his voice sent chills down my spine and I found myself shaking again.
He still held The Story of O in his hand and he waved it in front of my face, "You were quite absorbed by this, weren't you?"
Gulping dryly, I nodded ever so slightly in agreement. He raised an eyebrow, but seemed satisfied that I hadn't actually spoken.
"Don't you think you're a little too young to have these ideas in your head?"
I didn't think he was truly looking for an answer so I kept quiet and stared at his mouth as if trying to decipher what might be coming next.
"Imagine my surprise, " he continued conversationally, "when I saw my book in one hand and then watched what you were doing with your other hand..."
Blushing furiously, my shoulders sagged and I looked down.
Sam leaned in closer and I felt his breath on my neck as he spoke, "You are a very, very naughty girl, aren't you?"