Impact 14: of The Gaze

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For those who pay attention to such things: When Sarah is alone the story is in the past tense. When Claire and Sarah are together the story is in present tense.

Thanks to HaltWhoGoesThere for copy editing.

Impact of The Gaze

I’m more than a little confused watching Claire meditate on her luggage. She won’t explain herself, and despite the absurdity, seems totally serious about whatever it is she’s doing – so I’m giving her space to do it.

Besides the fact that she’s perched on a suitcase, she looks so business-like and prim in her skirt and sharp white blouse, so perfectly suited for the first-class lounge. All morning she’s been preoccupied and fretful. I tell myself she’s just anxious about her trip. She’ll fly to Belgium and then Paris for work; will see friends and family she hasn’t seen in months and will be gone almost two weeks… from me.

I’m anxious too, I guess.

I study her, enjoying her beauty while I can, trying to soak it up, to consume her with my eyes. Her hair is twisted up in a deceivingly casual looking bun, finished with an artful fan of her gold plumage that is catching the morning light. The way her hair is pulled up exposes the wonderful round of the back of her skull.

With the exception of her ears, which stick out enough to be darling and girlish and make my heart break, Claire’s head is compact and sculptural, perched on the long beautifully curved column of her pale neck. Her effortlessly straight posture makes her square set shoulders look as if they might unfold into wings. The narrow cage of her ribs looks lighter than air, held so beautifully above the powerful muscles of her ass.

Her Rimowa roller bag, with its silvery rivets and structural ribbing, is closed and fully packed – was ready to go until she laid flat on the kitchen floor and sat on it. Seated so low to the ground, her skirt is pulled tight over the compressed flesh of her glutes. Her knees are held together in front of her, her purse and travel-bag cradled in her folded lap. Her hazel eyes are fixed, staring sightlessly out through the apartment, her back is to the front door.

The painted lines of her lips are crisp, the shapes of her cheeks accented with a powdering of rouge, charcoaled lashes and a hint of color around her eyes, lend her expression the composed stillness of an idol. She is an embodiment of the airways, a jet-set Salting Madonna, nursing her carry-on. A haute couture Buddha seated on a brushed aluminum pedestal.

I am worshiping her from above. Sitting at the butcher block island on one of the high-backed Navy stools, beside the remnants of our breakfast, I am trying to imagine how I can tell her what she means to me, how I might possibly tell her how afraid I am that she won’t come back to me.

As I pick at the remains of our croissant my hands feel less substantial than the flakes of dough, as if they are just shapes cut from paper. My heart is tight and high in my chest.

I think of how Claire murmurs in French, wishing I could say everything I want in a language she only half understands. When I’ve tried swearing and calling Claire names, ordering her to do things the way she commands me, it doesn’t work. It comes out laughably half hearted, rather than the hot spikes of lust she gives voice to.

I wish I’d thought to bring her a keepsake, some little thing to remember me by while she is away. I imagine giving her a gold locket with a braid of my hair or an image of my watchful eye, like the “lover’s eyes” Prince George of Wales exchanged with Maria Anne Fitzherbert when he was secretly wooing her.

That would have been a wonderful gift. I feel a pang of regret that I’m only thinking of this now.

‘Are we secretly wooing?’ I wonder as she stands and rights her suitcase.

After brushing her skirt smooth with her hands she perches on her stool next to me. She still looks pensive, but no longer so worried. I pull back my hair and put it in a ponytail for her as she explains her Russian folk magic. I wish I had made myself up a bit more, had maybe borrowed a sexier outfit from her.

“Time to go…” she announces, starting to rise from her stool, but I stop her.

Pushing her thighs down and rising first, I press forward, opening her knees.

“No,” I’d whispered, “not yet.”

It’s not a command, that’s Claire’s way. I don’t have her confidence or authority to order her to do things.

“Please,” I say, not wanting to beg, but trying my best to put all my need and desire into that one word, willing that little sound to carry all my affection and my fear. I unbutton the cardigan and push it off my shoulders, wanting her to see my breasts, how hard my nipples are. She is smoothing her hands over the tight fabric of the slacks I’ve borrowed, cupping my ass with a casual possessiveness we’ve both come to expect, to take for granted.

“I can’t send you off this way,” I explain as I push my fingers under the hem Sincan Escort of her skirt and up the sides of her thighs. “I need to leave you with… something to remember me by.”

Claire blinks in surprise as I begin to kneel, forcing my hands up to her hips, stretching the little skirt, finding her panties with my fingertips. For an instant I am afraid she will tell me no, that we are out of time. But as my nails hook the waistband of her panties she gives me a smoky look, scooting forward off her stool and standing for me so I can pull her panties down. Bowing low, my hands impatiently jerk them off over her shoes.

“When you’re alone in your hotel, or waiting to be seated at a dinner party, or being driven to visit a collector – this is what I want you to think about,” I beg her, pushing her skirt up over her waist. My chest feels hollow and my voice sounds high and reedy. “I want you to think of me like this – on my knees for you, holding me by my hair. I want you to remember my open mouth. I want you to picture my lips sucking you, to think about my tongue licking you.”

I push her until she is leaning against the kitchen island. She grabs the butcher block for support as I lean forward and staring into her eyes lewdly smear her pussy with the flat of my tongue. She shivers as I take her bare ass in my hands and squeeze.

I am the one possessing her now.

We watch each other as I begin to eat her out. I can tell how much she gets off on seeing me this way, on my knees, eager to please her. There is a part of her that looks so assured, so obviously secure in her place, standing over me, naked from the waist down. Of course I should do this for her, of course she should want this from me. I think about the way she spanked me, the wild look in her eyes, how she has always wanted to spank a girl. Claire doesn’t feel ashamed taking what she wants from me. But there is another part of her expression, it’s not shame, it’s wonder. Part of her looks as amazed as I feel, amazed that any of this is happening. It’s all so impossibly strange and unlikely after all.

Is it disbelief I see in her eyes? Part of me can’t believe this is happening, that I’m doing this. Does she feel the same way?

It’s that feeling that scares me, that the further she gets away from this, from me, from what we’re doing, the more absurd and unbelievably ill-conceived it will all seem. That when she’s in the company of her friends and family in Paris she will question all of this; me. Not for one second do I want her thinking of me as a misadventure; bagatelle.

“AHH!”

It’s almost as if I am pulling that sound from her throat. I’m struck by how good I’ve gotten at eating Claire’s pussy, how much I enjoy the call and response between our bodies. Here on the floor of her kitchen as I shamelessly trill, lick and suck, I can feel her excitement growing. Focusing on her, the every inarticulate movement of her throat, change in stance and posture, the tiny shifts she makes towards me, the feverish glaze to her eyes, the rising color on her cheeks.

“MmMmmMmnn-“

I’m moaning into her when Claire begins to swear.

Muttering in French she reaches for me. A stream of quiet filth pouring from her tongue as she grabs me by the ponytail, gripping it like a handle. Gripping it and using it to move my mouth exactly where she wants it, to do what she wants. This is what I’ve wanted.

For so long I’d imagined myself as someone who didn’t like sex, as someone with a weak sex drive, but the only alternative to that in my world, the only word I had for wanting sex was “slut”; the only image I had for having sex was “whore” – words that terrified me.

She’s calling me those things and worse. Sucking her clit on my knees I’m not afraid, nothing she says scares me. What I’m afraid of is the idea of not being Claire’s slut and not being Claire’s whore; of losing her.

As Claire begins to orgasm she calls out, a clear wordless cry. Hunching her back and bending her knees, she reaches behind her, gripping the butcher block island for support. Seeing her this way, her beauty broken down, longing pouring from my tongue, I feel whole. The idea of losing this, of going back to the miserable sexless thing I was before, that’s what I am afraid of most. She floods my mouth with her joy, sprays my face with her pleasure.

As the plane landed I was thinking about how we said our goodbyes. Parting on the street, the taste of her cunt still on my tongue, filling my nose, Claire had taken hold of me at the curb before getting in her cab. The driver, who had put her bags in his trunk and was holding her door for her, had stood by dumbly as she had held me tight and pushed her tongue into my mouth, bending me backward with the force of her kiss. Lifting me back upright, she had stared into my eyes as I got my balance and caught my breath. She had been smiling, pleased with herself and pleased with me.

When it came time Escort Ankara to say goodbye in Buffalo I was the one who had kissed her. I hadn’t bent her back or pushed my tongue into her mouth, but I had kissed her like a lover, and done it in front of my mother, shocking us both.

Two days later I’d said my goodbyes to Wes over coffee and to Kelly, half asleep and still in bed. I had kissed them both on the forehead. I’d had to push Wes’s hair out of the way. He had smelled of coffee and dirty hair. Kelly, her bedclothes stretched and twisted around the body of a woman, had smelled like a little girl.

I would have caught a cab but my mom had insisted on driving me to the airport. The drive had been awkward, neither of us knowing what to say.

“He loved you with all his heart,” she told me as I pulled my bag from her trunk. She didn’t hug me, we didn’t kiss.

The flight home had been mostly full and entirely uneventful. We had passed through blue cloudless skies all the way to LaGuardia. The jetway was stifling, hinting at the heat to come, but the airport was cool and dense with crowds of road warriors, all of us dragging our rolleybags, pushing through bottlenecks of plastic sheathed construction. But it felt good to be on my feet, moving forward. I got outside and was met with a blast of heat. I felt myself wilting in the humidity but the line for the cab stand moved mercifully fast.

I kept touching the little gold locket at my throat, nervously checking to be sure it was still there, reacquainting myself with it. I could remember how much I’d loved exploring the sharp primitive engraved surfaces with fingertips as a girl. I had rediscovered it, right where I’d left it years earlier, in my childhood jewelry box. It was among the barrettes, enamel pins, and cheap costume jewelry. I’d found it while hunting through my high school things in the crawl space.

My father had given me the locket when I was twelve or thirteen. It had been among his mother’s things when she died. Heart-shaped and chased on both sides with a swirling foliate pattern, it was hardly as large as my thumbnail. Originally it had been on an old cable chain, long enough that it had dangled closer to my belly than my breast. It had held two tiny black and white photos of an unsmiling couple when my father had given it to me. I asked him who they were, he’d said he didn’t know, “probably family”.

I might have asked Aunt Jane, but the photos were long gone, and she had already left for Florida. I could remember taking the old pictures out. They had been on thick brittle paper, their surfaces a glossy lacquer. I’d intended to put a picture of some imagined future boyfriend in the locket, but I never had. And whatever that younger-self had done with my grandmother’s photos or the cable chain was lost to time.

I don’t remember ever really wearing the locket much. My mother had forbid me from taking it to school, afraid I’d lose it. But I had liked to open it and look at it, and spent hours studying it. I could remember prying open the smoky crystal windows and swapping out the pictures a number of times. When I’d rediscovered it in the crawl space I had laughed to find the locket held pictures of Bella and Gringo, our old cats, both of which had died years ago.

Even in my haste to get to Buffalo, before I left my apartment, I had had the wherewithal to find and put on the cross my mother had given me for confirmation. I hadn’t worn it in years, but didn’t take it off all week. In bed with Claire, after taking off my shirt, she had touched it with her fingertip, pressing it into my skin, but said nothing.

As my flight home took off it occurred to me that, even when I was terrified by the turbulence on my flight out, convinced the plane was going to crash, I’d never clutched at the cross. It had hung around my neck almost entirely forgotten all week. I didn’t touch it when Wes told me dad was dead. I hadn’t thought of it at mass as I eulogized him, or at the cemetery as his body was lowered into the ground.

So while my seatmates looked on with curiosity, I’d taken off the little gold chain, removed the cross and replaced it with the gold heart. Before I put it back on I opened it again. On one side was a tiny swirl of my hair, hardly enough to be considered a lock. The pale red strands were a translucent rose trapped behind the little heart shaped sliver of crystal. Facing it was my eye. I wondered if Claire would recognize it. The picture I had cut it from was one I’d sent home a few years ago. By coincidence it was a picture Dr. Hendren had taken. It was of Darci and me at a departmental party when we were working together for her as research assistants. We were dressed up, arms around each other smiling. It was taken well before the night of the drinking game.

I chose it because my eye in the picture was just the right size, and because it wasn’t a photo my mother would miss, but also because of my expression in the picture. Eryaman Escort Bayan Perhaps it was my imagination, or me projecting my desire, but my eye looked heavy-lidded and adoring.

I felt for the locket around my neck as I climbed into the cab, pinched it as I gave the driver my address. I held it like that as we weaved our way out of the curling decked ring roads feeding the airport. Squeezed it between thumb and index finger, a talisman, against what, I wasn’t sure, but my stomach was in knots.

Perhaps I was just worried Claire would think that it was corny, or dumb. When my father had given it to me I’d loved that it was heart-shaped, but I’dbeen a child. I worried Claire will think it’s childish, that she won’t want to wear the little heart. Or worse, she would feel compelled to wear it but it would embarrass her.

I was anxiously holding the little heart in my fist looking out at the traffic around us. It wasn’t quite midday – well after rush hour – but traffic was still snarled on the BQE. Staring up at the hazy sky I tried to relax, tried to let the cabbie absorb the stress of the stop-and-go crush of cars, tried not to worry too much about what Claire would think.

Crouching naked over her suitcase in my mother’s basement, Claire had told me she had gifts from Paris hidden in her bags, that I must not look. So when I’d found the locket I’d been ecstatic and knew my mother must have a picture of my eye that would work. Because Claire knows so much about art, I wondered if she might have heard of a “lover’s eye,” but I doubted it.

While keepsakes of hair were fairly common through the Nineteenth Century, the eyes are obscure. According to Dr. Hendren there probably were never more than a few hundred of the miniatures made. They were a fad enjoyed by a small circle of wealthy Britains for less than half a century, the earliest, the one Prince George gave to Anna dated from the mid 1780s. Most were no bigger than my pinky nail, with watercolors on chips of ivory and set inside ornate brooches, rings, or golden charms meant to be given to lovers – tucked into pockets, or pinned close to the breast. Evidently Prince George wore his hidden under his lapel.

I’d learned about the eyes in the first women’s studies class I’d taken my sophomore year with Dr. Hendren, Emma and The Cultural Heritage of The Female Gaze. I remember how infatuated I’d been when she had shown us dozens of slides of the strange little objects.

She had explained that, like the tradition of making jewelry with human hair, the eyes were from a time before photography, when “lovers were desperate to give each other not just images of themselves, but part of themselves.”

Dr. Hendren was young for a professor, only a little older than I am now. She had short black bangs framing a pretty face, pale skin and big eyes. She had an unadorned almost raw-bone beauty, but a sly hipness. I remember trying to imagine what her life was like outside of school, but she had been very private, sharing very little about herself. She’d worn little or no makeup and always dressed in skirts and dresses that were fitted to her slim figure. Her manner had been reserved, even cool, but not unfriendly.

“You can call me Casey when we’re in the office,” she had told me, trying to put me at ease. I’d never become comfortable calling her Casey, even after she had asked me if I’d wanted a job as her assistant. I’d been tongue tied, but so excited by the invitation.

“It’s mostly grading papers,” she admitted. “But there’s research too, and you’re good at that.”

I’d worked with her for the rest of the year and had been so happy when she had rehired me after my summer interning in New York. When Darci had begun working with us my junior year and seen how nervous I was around Dr. Hendren, she had teased me.

“You totally have a crush on Casey!” she’d cried, her voice rising with her excitement. I’d blushed scarlet and denied it, which had made her laugh. But she’d promised not to say anything to anyone.

In her lectures on the lover’s eyes Dr. Hendren had explained that eighteenth century British culture “was infatuated with with seeing and being seen,” that because social codes limited public interaction between the sexes, looks could more easily be exchanged than words, and that these limitations also triggered the “more illicit phenomena of peeping or keyhole-spying.”

On one particular slide she showed us, a woman’s eye looked bashfully from the center of a circular pin that resembled a peephole.

“As if hinting at her more lascivious desires,” Dr. Hendren had explained. I had been sitting at the front of the class, and remember feeling as if she had said this directly to me.

I had thought of those “more lascivious desires,” when I masturbated in her office. I would imagine her kneeling primly at the other side of the door, her eye to the keyhole, watching me. At night, alone in my room, I would sometimes reverse our roles, imagining my bashful eye looking through a “peephole”, watching Dr. Hendren undress. The fantasy always involved her catching me. I would cum imagining her standing over me, naked and shocked, knowing she was going to make me do something as punishment.

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