Moments from The Four

Contains sexually explicit content. Do not read if under age 21.

A thump. Eliza shifted, settled deeper into her bedclothes. Laughter. Sounds diminished at a few shushings.

Eliza opened her eyes. Watched dancing red shadows. Somewhere, she heard a man’s deep voice cut short, and then more giggles. The shapes on the walls grew, undulated together, spun in complicated patterns. Faces appeared, distorted in all directions; simultaneous to an almost heard tempo.

Eliza sat. Her vision cleared. The fire caused the illusion, but…without leaving her bed, she looked towards the door of the room where images of panting females still hung. What? No, that’s not right, they’re nuns, not…panting females? What am I thinking? She rotated her body off the bed’s end, and looked through the open door to the noisy room. She saw shadows there too, more important, she heard…

Not knowing how she got there, Eliza hid just by the door, she wanted to see. See without being seen. Sneaking, that’s what she was doing. Creeping around where she wasn’t wanted. I’m tired of being left out… Eliza inched forward. There! I was right! Eliza stopped and almost ran away. Maggie and Lavena and at least three…men? Yes, men!…occupied an opulent couch beneath the painting of a sad looking girl-woman, her clothing devoured by serpents…No, the serpent-woman wasn’t upset after all. Eliza walked closer. What’s she thinking? Closer. The young woman in the picture should be frightened, yet her eyes, what was it about her eyes? Sharp, focused pupils; green irises, face predatory…”You should be in bed.” Eliza started, Nathan held his hand as if to usher her back. Nathan? He can’t have made it through this snow… Eliza retreated, and found Aileen. Aileen and Nathan. Come from nowhere. Now Aileen’s soft prettiness changed to resemble the hunting woman’s, her black hair reached the floor. The usual quick movements lengthened, sustained, her being sexual.

Lavena and Maggie dominated the couch, had it been there before? Their legs entwined around two men. Men? Who are they?

Lavena’s laced blouse opened, and Eliza tried not to stare at the way her breasts fell out, or at the man sucking a nipple, while the other gent struggled to free his head from beneath Lavena’s full skirt. Perhaps feeling left out; Maggie reminded him she was there by taking his…

Eliza woke. Morning. Only Lavena, Maggie, and the Recluse in the cottage.

~~

She almost heard music. Almost. Strings plucked softly, humming, no voice. She sat a little straighter. Lavena prattled to Maggie as usual. Eliza thought she heard the words; “Lord what she do next time” and “pigeon poop” float from their conversation over the high-pitched ring of boiling water. She tried to clear her head and listen to the sounds her mind craved: soft, open. Her awareness relaxed: purples, golds, reds—light. Pleasure coursed through her.

A strong, metallic smell: “Eliza, your water’s ready. Did you hear me?” Eliza came back from internal places and focused on the woman who leaned over her. Eliza pressed back into her seat. Sweat dripped from Lavena’s face onto hers. Eliza blotted the droplets. Repulsed.

From this angle she had a clear view of the underside of Lavena’s chin, which sprouted a scattered patch of bristling black whiskers. Over her lips grew a distinct, though thin, mustache. Eliza shrunk. Lavena looked into her eyes as if she knew what she thought, but didn’t care. “Come on it’s getting cold. We’ll heat it one more time for you now. Maggie!” The bulky shape of Maggie lumbered in to heat her bath.

Eliza sidled into the room, but didn’t act until Maggie left, closing the door behind her.

Breathing audible, frightened excitement beginning, Eliza tiptoed over to the door and put her ear against it. No lock on the door…I don’t hear them. Oh wait! A couple of squeaking, scraping noises; some soft thuds. They just sat down at the table.

Reassured, she put the women from her mind (especially the bearded Lavena) and walked straight to the chair next to the tub: the freezing air hurt. She shivered, and got into the bathtub before she undressed.

She grabbed the waist of her tunic and pulled it over her head. Crumpled, and tossed it in the direction of the chair. Though she was supposed to wear a small chemise top and knee-length drawers, only a pair of long black stockings covered her to mid-thigh. Off balance, she teetered on first one foot and then the other, and pulled these off. Naked at last, she sat, leaning into the heat until submerged past her shoulders.

She didn’t have to wear a stupid cover either. She’d realized the truth of the little convent in the woods after the snow episode: she could be what she wanted.

Before, terrified of Lavena’s censure, and even of Maggie, she had scavenged the storage area until she found a ripped, filthy piece of burlap. Later, she used it to drape over herself in the large iron bath in case anyone watched her on those few occasions she bathed. Now, she stopped bothering. As though a muffled binding smothering her face and squeezing her brain lifted, all the pressure that engulfed her conscience vanished.

Alone in the slippery water, naked, she touched and then rubbed her skin. Almost reached for, but avoided, her opening and lips, unused to the idea, but becoming aroused in the process. Excited, moving fast in case someone appeared to challenge her, she felt her breasts with the backs of her hands, and sighed, watched erect, pink nipples poke through the water’s surface, the soft, oily, hot water in the iron tub sensuous, an intense pleasure—unlooked for and thrilling. Her desires, hidden fantasies, all within reach, if she figured out how.

Sight abruptly shifted. She froze, unable to move. A sound in the room pilfered her attention. Music again? She strained. Tinkling bells, strings; dissonance. Someone played?

Eliza’s face prickled. Heated. The Recluse leaned against the locked door. Locked? After a moment, Eliza got out of the water but didn’t dress or cover herself.

Outside the windows, snowflakes whipped. Wind, despite muffling drifts, blew eerie ghost-tones against the walls.

The Recluse did not seem upset.

~~

At the convent in the woods, Dream:

Nervous. Fear. Exhilaration. Two little houses. Goes inside one. Fears pain-remembered; doesn’t care. Scissors? No, that’s not right. It was her hair, not that. Remember? Breathing light, but deeper. Don’t care don’t care don’t care. Moan. Here! Robes fly behind. Rush and embrace. Grips clothing, flesh. Pull into you. Devour. Climax. Pull harder. Fears pain again. Pull anyway. Doesn’t hurt this time. This time? Never happened. Spread arms, rush forward. Hard. Yes. Give me. Get on top. Sit carefully. Slide in my hot wet. Hurts. Excitement; not pain. Explode and pain gone. Cries, moans, breathes.

~~

She wakes. Alone. Grips bedclothes. Sweat everywhere. Hears steps outside. Eyes widen in darkness. Listens hard to silence. Dreams. Remembers. Forgets.

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