The men and boys are creatures of the land. They run and climb, feeling the breeze and the sun. They see the wonders of the land, the flowers and plants, the view from the hills. Women and girls are creatures of the sea. They swim and dive. They see the wonders of the sea floor, the intricate reefs, the complex life and beauty there.
Wet skin is uncomfortable for the males, and feeds primeval dread. Dry skin for the females prefigures the dust of death.
Tara had had three periods, so she was now permitted to undergo the initiation rite to leave girlhood behind and assume her rightful place among the women. In her 19 years her body had finished growing, and she knew the intricacies of women's work, particularly the crucial task of finding shellfish. But now with sexual maturity she was ready to take the final step.
First came the confessions. She had swum with her mother and separately with each of two elders, and been encouraged to share anything shameful she may have done in her life so far. They reminded her that it would soon be known in any event.
As soon as she was old enough to know right from wrong, she had been told that as a woman she would have no secrets. She must be good and if she strayed she must report any transgressions without delay. So at age 11 she had reported eating five succulent Right Clams she had found during the famine instead of delivering them to the elders so they could be given to those most in need. She had been so hungry! When the famine was over and everyone returned to health, she had been forbidden to eat for three days. At age 15 she and her friends had dumped a bucket of water on two sleeping boys, and they had been punished by staying out of the water for twenty minutes, and she shuddered remembering that, experiencing roughly the discomfort the boys would have felt at her prank. But mostly she had been good.
Now as she swam with her mother all she could think to confess was a more private sin. She had watched three young men laughing and joking as they sat on the shore eating seafood. In this mild tropical climate none of them needed clothes and would have been puzzled by the concept, so she had also seen the strange tube between their legs and found it moved her in a way it had not before. Seeing this her hand had drifted between her legs and started a gentle rubbing. It had felt good, and she had had trouble stopping once she started. Her mother had given a gentle smile and said this was no shame, but another indication she was ready for her initiation. She did know how reproduction worked, and had seen from afar couples engaging in the reproductive act, but had not approached them. When she was young she had had no desire at all to approach, and in the past year or two she had kept her distance as custom required despite a growing curiosity.
Her mother noted that with her recent "sin" she had gotten a start on her next task. She was to rub herself until she had that warm feeling, and then work at inserting a finger into her vagina, then work gradually up to inserting four at once. Her first sex would be tumultuous enough that discomfort between her legs would be an unwelcome distraction.
She had seen love boats, but as her time for using one approached, she studied them with special interest. They allowed a man and woman to have sex while he remained completely dry and she remained completely wet. The boats had the general size and shape of a long rowboat, the wood cut and painstakingly joined by men. At the back was a wooden platform where a man could comfortably sit while waiting for his mate. The rest of the bottom of the boat was made of several sheets of the skin shed by great brown seaweed at the start of the rainy season. The skins had been joined to form a transparent waterproof sheet like a thin clear plastic and fastened carefully to the sides of the boat inside at water level. It was waterproof but loosely attached. A man could easily take a fold in his hand and lift it a foot in the air or plunge it a foot beneath the water's surface. A man lying on it stayed dry. A woman could position herself under the fabric, working her body into position so she was supported by submerged boards that were part of the boat. With a man's weight on her she would not sink deep into the water, but she was still thoroughly and blessedly wet all over. She used a thick hollow reed to breathe while keeping her head wet. She could easily wriggle out between the boards and duck below, just as the man could lift himself up. Both came to the union freely, and both could leave at any time.
Tara and her mother had agreed on Tomas as her First Time Lover. Her mother had had sex with him in a love boat and confirmed that he was physically and mentally suitable.
She would be initiated at dawn, and at dusk the night before Tara and Tomas had met at the water's edge and held hands for a minute. He had smiled at her, and she tried to smile back but felt shy and embarrassed.
Now as dawn approached she swam to the love boat with her mother. Her mother would wait at a discreet distance in case Tara broke away overwhelmed and needed help. They embraced for the last time as mother and child, then Tara proceeded to the boat. She saw Tomas sitting on the platform at the rear just before she dove to assume her position. Tomas lowered himself onto her partway, and she thrilled to feel the warmth of his body through the thin membrane. He used his hands to slowly stroke her all over, touching shoulders, stomach, and thighs, but paying special attention to her breasts -- it felt so good! He then set his hand between her legs and by depressing the waterproof sheet slightly he massaged her much as she had done, but he somehow knew what to do to make it feel even better. She could feel the whole area throbbing, engorged, warm as never before. She was scared but she was ready. There was a small opening in the sheet that was sealed with the gum of the date tree. As he slid his engorged penis through it the gum kept the seal. Then he held the tip of his penis right at her opening and pressed in a little, back and forth just a little. She wanted it all the way in! Soon he obliged, surging into her several inches. Tendrils from inside her vagina gently sought and adhered to the tip of his penis, drawn like a magnet. Nerves touched nerves. Just as she was thrilling to the sensation of being filled with a penis, her mind went reeling.
Along with all her own feelings and memories she had all of his. She felt his penis as her own, and wondered at the strange sensation of hardness and the pleasure in flesh that extended out from his body. She experienced his memory of lust watching her as she swam up to the boat and appeared beneath it, how he found her breasts and thighs so sexy, and especially her vulva. And she felt his overwhelming urge to slide his penis into her, the pure pleasure as the tip of his penis parted her vaginal tissues and slid in. Shifting mental focus slightly, she felt his pleasure and mild amusement as he now felt her amazement and excitement at sharing minds. But then she was lost in his memories, of running on land, sleeping in a hammock in a hut. She touched a memory of him pissing, feeling him point his penis, release, and how the urine didn't come out instantly as hers did. She could feel it flowing down the length of his penis before bursting forth as a proud arcing stream. She felt his puzzlement in his boyhood memory looking at the girls and women, bobbing in the water, swimming far out, such strange creatures. His darkest secrets were taunting a younger boy, putting a harmless but scary bug on his father as he slept, and something that Tara understood all too well: During a famine he had been out foraging and eaten some prime fruit instead of handing it in to be shared. The two of them were inwardly amused at their parallel sins. The amusement echoed back and forth between them, and then she caught his passing thought that many of the villagers had done that at one time or another when they were young. She caught his memory of his own first time in a love boat when he had been initiated, his nervousness lying his body on a woman under the sheet. Fresher in his mind was his experience initiating another girl just a few months before. His feeling of not just pleasure but pride at being chosen, of conquest and possession, and then a touch of shame at those feelings. Now she let herself feel thrilled at being possessed and they felt the echoes of that between them. She began picking up a weaker version of her mother's intimate thoughts as transferred to him during their recent sex. Then Tara felt his thought that she shouldn't go too deep into these memories, there would be plenty of time to discover more. She would get the direct memories of other men and boys when she mated with them and her vaginal tendrils affixed to their penises. She would also get weaker experience of the mental lives of women as experienced by her mates during previous sexual encounters.
Then she became aware of him starting to move his penis in and out, slowly at first and then faster. She felt the amazing warmth and pleasure in her vagina, the rightness of his hard member inside her, and felt the echo of him feeling it too. From his mind she felt the pure pleasure of vaginal walls smoothly caressing him, the lust for more, for deeper penetration. His and her physical desires perfectly complemented one another. As her warmth and pleasure built she felt his echoes of it and his open, supportive desire for her to luxuriate in it. After a delicious, tantalizing buildup she felt her own immediate convulsions of ecstasy, and she felt his experience of her pleasure provide the final trigger for his pleasure breaking into ecstasy, which in turn washed back to her. He was thrusting in as fast and deep as he could go, and their ecstasies intertwined. And with it all the strange stirrings inside his body, a sort of tickling, and the convulsion as the semen shot down the length of his penis in one pulse, then two pulses, then a third.
He stayed pressed in as she processed the sensations of afterglow, of penis starting to shrink, of his memory of confusion during his first time when his woman had pulled away from him -- but also his assurance to her now that it would be OK. So having shared with her exactly when he was going to do it, he withdrew, and the penis pulled away from the tendrils within her, and suddenly she was left with only her own feelings and sensations. She slipped out beneath the boat and swam to her beaming mother and they hugged, both women now.
She truly understood now why she could have no secrets, and the peculiar intimacy of feeling Tomas's secrets, even the ones he would rather not have shared.
She craved the pleasure of sex and the deep-down feeling of rightness, of its alignment with her nature as a woman. She and Tomas took their positions in the love boat and joined again every day at dawn for five days.
She was fascinated by the melding of minds and gradually learned to handle it without any trace of panic. One aspect was the small embarrassing thoughts that womenfolk would never mention among themselves. She caught his thought that her nose was long and unattractive and felt shame that he found her wanting, and also a little anger that he had told her that. But of course he hadn't told her, it was just in his mind and he could not hide it from her. She felt reassurance from his memories of women's noticing features of his they found unattractive, such as his prominent brow. On the other hand she found that brow and every other feature of Tomas entirely perfect in every way. She also caught how he had found his First Time Lover to be flawless, and how that was due partly to the great pleasure she had initiated him to, and how it had lessened with time.
He had flaws. He was not so good at climbing tall trees for fruit, and she felt his shame as he knew that, and how the other men also knew that and his status was lower as a result. She felt compassion for him. She on the other hand was an excellent diver and could go deeper and stay longer than many of the women.
They felt in each other's childhood similar feelings of embarrassment at not knowing what the older kids did, of feeling inadequate, of being unsure of their place in the world, whether seeming friends were true friends.
So the revelations went, seemingly without end. The world of melding minds lent itself to all warts being uncovered. It also led to the knowledge that positive feelings were genuine. There were no white lies.
Men foraged far and wide for fruit and wild grains, and shared them with the women at the water's edge. The women shared the shellfish they gathered. The fruit and wild grains were the main source of calories, while the shellfish were the main source of protein and minerals. When fruit was scarce the women worked harder to find shellfish to compensate in part, and when the shellfish was in short supply the men climbed higher and ranged farther afield to find what they could.
Each gender had a spoken language that was totally incomprehensible to the other. Aside from some primitive sign language, sex was the only way the two genders could communicate.
Women could not get pregnant unless they wanted to, which solved the contraception problem. Infants were raised at the water's edge. They nursed in the water with their mothers, but slept a short distance up the beach snuggled against their fathers. Up there was air to breathe without complication. Babies were tolerant of both water and dryness, but the gender preference soon emerged. Loving mothers came out of the water for minutes at a time to let their boy babies nurse, and the boys weaned themselves earlier. Girl babies came ashore only to sleep, and loving fathers doused their sleeping daughters with water periodically. But before long the girls learned to sleep at sea, in what we would call a dead man's float, instinctively lifting their heads every five minutes or so for a deep breath. Once his daughter was out to sea a father's work was done, as was a mother's once the boy was weaned.
Men and women both loved sex. Love boats were great but a scarce commodity, so much of the sex happened on land or in the water or halfway between. The man shared the woman's distaste at being exposed to the air, and the woman shared the man's discomfort with wetness. It was still well worth it to them, though the encounters tended to be briefer. The man felt the woman's itch and craving for his penis to thrust within her, and the satisfaction of having her vagina filled and the sheer pleasure of the sexual motion relayed to her clitoris. The woman felt in turn the man's fundamental hunger to penetrate, and the exquisite pleasure as the tip of his penis felt the warm wet friction while sliding between her vaginal walls. All of this pleasure and desire echoed back and forth between them, blending and multiplying. Simultaneous orgasms were the rule, not the exception.
In such a world monogamy was the exception and promiscuity the rule. A monogamous man could learn only what his partner's senses perceived and would therefore miss the direct experiences of all the other women. The faithful woman would learn only of the meadows and hills one man had climbed, instead of the land traversed by all of the village's males. Women could use language to describe what they had seen, but the way to get a direct picture was to have sex in turn with the same man. The youth could describe the mysterious flower to the elder most accurately by way of a shared mate to echo the image. Sensations and memories bounced back and forth between men and women as sexual partners changed.
Naturally a person would more often choose a partner with interesting experiences to share. So men sought out the most beautiful trees and flowers and the most magnificent vistas from the hills. Sharp memories of fields of wildflowers would earn them a greater variety of vaginas to surge inside. Women swam great distances to look at the most colorful reefs and fish. A giant school of red fish swimming as one organism could earn them ecstasy from the intrusions of many different penises. At times the desire for interesting memories conflicted with the more mundane task of gathering food.
There was one other important fact of life. After puberty both men and women needed sex. If they went months at a time without it they started feeling listless, nauseous, and depressed, and eventually they died. Since men and women loved sex so much it was rarely an issue. But when it was, it was serious.
Frank was 22. Like all boys, he had masturbated as puberty stirred his loins. Three months ago, puberty had nudged him a step further along his path. Gobs of sticky fluid came out when he had an orgasm. It was time for him to be initiated into the society of men.
Three times Frank had put off his confessional walk with his father Jake. Finally he was ready. They walked in silence for miles. In misery he admitted that several years before he and his buddy Carl had walked far along the coast to the west, and while there had done something wrong. They had lured a young girl to the edge of the water with a luscious piece of fruit and had grabbed her and pulled her out. She struggled a little as they tried to look between her legs because they were mightily curious as to what girls had down there, then they let her go. Frank was relieved to have it off his conscience, but he knew that confession was not the end of matter. It was a serious offense, and Jake was furious with him. All boys learned from an early age that they must never, ever try to make a female do anything she didn't want to do. The same applied to everyone, of course, but a special emphasis was needed for the opposite sex because it wasn't always apparent to a boy what a girl wouldn't like. It was more serious because Frank had waited until his confession to reveal it. Carl had died a year before falling from a tree, so he could not be punished.
After this revelation Jake walked up to his chest in the water for a rendezvous with Anna, one of the women elders. He was the supplicating party so this union would be almost entirely underwater. Nonetheless his penis was hard for the mating to come. He slid it into the vagina centered in the luscious rear end of Anna, one of the women elders, to discuss an appropriate punishment while fulfilling their longing for sexual union. After some negotiation they reached an agreement and sealed it by a strong mutual orgasm. The plan made Jake shudder.
Frank waded alone into the disgusting water where Anna was waiting. She grabbed him by the penis and pulled him out farther until he could not touch bottom, paddling his arms madly to keep his head above the water. From below him she then pulled down on his penis, and inexorably Frank felt the water closing over his head despite his thrashing. He tried to hold his breath but in his panic ended up spluttering and choking. When he was breathing again he was merely disgusted by the water that felt like worms crawling in and out of his skin. But twice more Anna pulled him below the waves. The last time he started swallowing water and after some unforgettable terror he lost consciousness. Anna swam him to shore where Jake dragged him out. But after a few days of nightmares he had recovered, and was ready for his initiation.
Myra was his First Time Mate. She knew of his transgression and was chosen in part because she had a greater level of comfort with this kind of sin than many of the women. She assumed her position beneath the love boat. Frank fondled her a bit awkwardly through the flexible sheet, and she in turn fondled him. He slid his penis through the tight hole in the sheet and felt it seal tightly around him. Myra's vaginal opening was waiting, engorged, pulsing, and hungry. He positioned himself and slid in. The warmth of her tissues felt great as he parted them. Then he was staggered by the confusion of double thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Within a few seconds it suddenly stopped. Myra had pulled away. He heard her shouting and weeping as she swam off. Sorting out his confused memories of the brief experience, he saw what he reluctantly concluded must be something he got from her thoughts: a vivid picture of what had actually happened with the girl he and Carl had captured, a picture he did not want to remember. A picture he had hoped would stay hidden or at least vague and murky.