The next morning, Erica’s feelings were complicated.
She left for work without looking in on Will. Some of that was because of the embarrassment she felt. What had happened the night before had been a huge step for her to take, feminist or not. She thought about it as a step she had taken, even though he was intimately involved. His position had already been established, years ago, and she was the one who had done something out of character with who she thought of herself as being. Going to school was a normal part of her routine, and she wanted to feel more … normal.
Another part of it was because a little piece of her wanted to go into his room and do it again. She wasn’t stupid, even when she tried to reject obvious facts. She knew she had enjoyed what had happened and that bothered her, because she wasn’t sure whether it was his pleasure … or hers … that made her want to repeat it. She told herself she had done something for him … because she loved him … and because he deserved what happiness she could provide.
But she had enjoyed it too, and that shocked her. The pleasure she had felt went far beyond “just doing something for Will.”
Another thing that was complicated was the brother/sister part of things. The part of her that was his sister was happy she had been able to make him happy. She did love him. He was all she had in the world. The teacher part of her saw the word “incest” scrawled on the wall in dripping, red letters, a condemnation she would be ostracized for. She’d never given much thought to the concept of incest before, much less wrestled with the morality of it. It was wrong. That’s what she’d been taught. Everybody knew that.
She didn’t try to convince herself that merely opening her robe for him and letting him masturbate while looking at her didn’t constitute incest. She didn’t indulge in semantics. She knew what had been going through his mind as he stroked, both back when she was fifteen and now. He’d been imagining having sex with her and those were incestuous fantasies. But the truth was that this didn’t feel like incest to her. It was just a sister taking care of her badly injured brother, helping him find what pitifully small amount of joy he could in a harsh world that didn’t care that he’d given up everything for his country … for her.
As she pulled into a parking space at school, it wasn’t too difficult for her to decide that it really wasn’t anybody else’s business anyway. This was between her and Will.
That wasn’t the end of it, of course. The routine of classes settled her emotions initially. Then, at one point, a boy in her class was staring at her breasts. That didn’t surprise her. What surprised her was that she didn’t feel the urge to pull him aside and give him a tongue-lashing about objectifying women. Instead, she thought of Will. There hadn’t been any feeling that she was being objectified while he stared at her. She had perceived only adoration and appreciation for her femininity.
She was thinking about that during a break in classes, when it occurred to her that the women who let men see their pictures in magazines thought they were doing the same thing. That she had done it in person, rather than on a printed page, only made her think of strip clubs, where women exposed themselves for the lustful gratification of the men watching. She was so distracted by this conundrum – that she had behaved like a common stripper and had not felt objectified – that a girl in her next class had to raise her hand and ask, “Are we going to start class?”
She remained unsettled until after school let out. She looked forward then to the musical practice, because she thought it would take her mind off of what was bothering her. That only lasted as long as it took her to see Bobby Dalton, working with two girls and a boy on fastening sheets of cardboard to the tree frames they had made. Bobby’s smile, and his easy banter with the kids, who obviously thought he was “cool,” or “boss,” or “groovy,” or whatever other word was in vogue, brought about the completely unexpected and unwelcome image in her mind of her exposing herself to him too. She told herself that the only reason that had popped into her head was because she wondered whether his reaction would be anything like Will’s.
Then she blushed furiously, chastised herself for losing control of her thoughts, and threw herself into practice. The problem was that she kept finding herself looking for Bobby. She noticed it when she couldn’t see him and moved until she could. When she realized she’d done that, it bothered her a lot.
Attraction between members of the opposite sex (or the same sex for those of you who are gay or lesbian, for that matter) is something that has been studied thousands of times, but rarely published. That’s because nobody really understands it yet. It defies logic.
You will find articles about how the biological urge causes us to evaluate others as potential partners. They say we do it all the time … literally. Every person you meet gets evaluated almost instantly, according to scientists. What they can’t tell you is how that evaluation works.
They know that some potential mates are discarded immediately. Sometimes the reason is obvious, but quite often it is not. What is even more curious are the ones who are not discarded. When that happens, there is … interest … on some level. For the sake of argument, let’s identify four basic levels.
1. “I want you right now!”
2. “I want to know much more about you, and I want to start learning it right now!”
3. “I like being around you, but I don’t really see you as somebody I’m going to hop into bed with.”
4. “Get lost, turkey!”
There are many more levels of interest, but the odd thing there is that people don’t react to their levels of interest the same way every time they meet a potential mate.
Take, for example, a man and woman who are in the same work environment. Let’s say she is attracted to him. In our hypothetical work environment, she’s not likely to pursue a level one relationship. Level two is much more likely, but may be delayed until later, after work. But have those same two people meet in a bar instead of at work, with some alcohol thrown in, and level one becomes the first choice instead of the second. Same people … different processing of interest.
Why the difference? Scientists will argue about that for a hundred more years.
This all matters because another thing the scientists all agree on is that we start establishing levels of attraction, or our sexual filtering system, when we enter puberty … sometimes even before that. It all depends on when certain hormones begin to be produced and start racing through our bloodstreams. That’s complicated too, and it takes many people almost a decade for the hormones to level out and for that filtering system to result in a match that they’re willing to really go for. There are lots of missteps along the way. We learn from those missteps. It’s really just part of the maturation process, which is also not understood by scientists.
What really complicates all this is that you might bump into what could be level one people dozens of times … just not in the right circumstances. Maybe you’re sick that day, and not paying attention. Maybe you’re already in another relationship with a level two person who might make it to level one. Maybe you have a pet peeve that puts what would normally be a level one candidate into a level three position.
Now throw in another concept … that we all go around with semi-invisible signs that sometimes say, “I want to be in a level one (or two) relationship with you!!”
As I said, it’s complicated.
Now, if you’re wondering why the author went off on a tangent … here’s the reason.
Erica Bradford adopted certain principles when she was in her early teen years. They were feminist principles, and some of them were designed to interrupt or even destroy the rating system. As a result, her sorting mechanism was shoved into a dark corner. It never developed, because she wasn’t looking for a mate. In fact, she was actively avoiding potential mates. Whenever she felt something that, in another girl, might start a level two relationship, she didn’t understand those feelings of attraction, so she made it a habit to avoid the boy that caused them.
Another way of looking at this is that, as she avoided being “objectified” by the boys in high school, if a boy looked at her breasts, he was level four. And, boys being boys … they all looked at her breasts.
In college, she continued that, which was made easier by the simple fact that she was working on becoming independent of the need for a man to “take care of her,” which to her meant “enslave her.” She saw herself as a modern woman who was going to change the sexist attitudes of the society in which she was born.
Which brings us to what we’ll call level five in men: “Fuck you, bitch!”
Erica had been pretty consistently on level five of the men she met when she left college and began teaching in Chicago.
So, instead of spending a decade refining her sorting system, Erica suppressed the feelings her hormones were trying to get her to pay attention to. She got virtually no experience at dealing with attraction. She was basically stuck with only levels three and four of our hypothetical list.
But nature is stronger than most of us will admit. She will be denied only so long. Given the slightest crack in armor such as Erica Bradford had built around her, one of Mother Nature’s tendrils will sneak through it and take root. No man-made (Okay, wo-man-made) armor can withstand that force of nature.
Which brings us full circle back to Erica, as she kept sneaking glances at Bobby Dalton on the stage of the Granger High School auditorium.
She didn’t understand why she was doing that. She didn’t understand why the image of his naked chest kept coming to her unbidden, in the dark, in her room. She didn’t understand the tingling in her nipples and the irresistible urge to masturbate. She didn’t understand why she was so eager to get back home, where Will was, and where something exciting might happen when he went to bed that night. She didn’t understand any of the attractions that were battering at her, because her sorting system had rusted solid from disuse.
When she got home from school, things only got more confused. Will was watching TV, and he acknowledged her arrival, asking how her day had been. He acted as if nothing had happened, which made Erica’s world tilt a little, and made her feel like she might slide sideways if she didn’t compensate.
Then, throughout supper, he still didn’t bring it up. She was on pins and needles, because she was no longer sure how he felt about what had happened. She knew how she felt. Though she hadn’t analyzed it, she was the kind of person who made a decision and then just stuck with it. If “that” was what she had decided to do … it had to be the right thing … didn’t it?
But he wasn’t looking at her … and he wasn’t talking about it. Did that mean he regretted it? Did that mean he didn’t want to see her again? It made her jumpy.
Erica finished the dishes after dinner that night, but only because she made herself do that. She was jittery. She didn’t know what to do. It was only eight, too soon for bedtime. But her nipples were torturing her. She had never needed to rub this early. Finally she couldn’t take it any longer.
Will was watching TV again when she walked into the room.
“We have to talk,” she said.
He looked up. “I know,” he said softly. “I just didn’t know what to say.”
“Just say whatever you feel,” she moaned. “If you’re sorry, then just say it.”
“I didn’t mean to make you mad,” he said. “I really do love you.”
“I’m not mad,” she said, confused. “Why did you think I was mad?”
“You just ran out,” he said. “Like you couldn’t stand to be there anymore.”
“No!” she yelped. “That wasn’t it! I had to…” She couldn’t say it in front of her brother. She thought that was interesting … that she could show him her body, for the purpose she had shown him, but couldn’t admit she did the same thing she had just watched him do. “It wasn’t because of what you did.”
She blinked. That wasn’t entirely true.
“I mean what you did didn’t bother me. I just got excited and … um … I just had to leave.”
“You’re really not pissed off at me?”
She went to him and got on her knees beside the chair. Her hand went to his chest.
“No, Billy,” she said, her face close to his. “I told you. I love you. I’ll always love you. I wasn’t mad. I’m not mad now. I did that for you. I did it because you deserve some happiness. I’ll always want to make you happy.”
His eyes took on a wet look.
“Does that mean you might … do that again someday?” he asked. There was a note of longing in his voice that made her want to giggle.
“I’ll do it whenever you want me to,” she said.
“You’re kidding!” he gasped.
“No,” she said.
“Do you want me to do it again tonight?” she asked.
She told him to go get ready, and that she would do the same. She didn’t have any experience at being seductive, and didn’t know how to go about that, so she just stripped naked and put on her robe again. That had seemed to be okay the night before.
When she got to his room, his readiness was evident. He was lying on top of his bed, naked, and his penis was standing up, though leaning to one side a little. He wasn’t touching it this time, and she could see it better than before. As she walked around the bed, she peered at it, and took in the full looking sack that was below that long, bumpy looking thing.
His eyes followed her, but neither of them said anything.
For lack of anything else to do, Erica just opened the robe again. She had the sudden image in her mind of a man in a trench coat, flashing people who walked by. It caused her to open the robe wider and shrug her shoulders. The robe slid off her shoulders and down her arms. She caught it with one hand, and let it hang.
She didn’t know how to stand. She had seen models walk and strut, but of course she’d never practiced something like that. Just standing there, though, seemed stilted somehow.
“I don’t know what to do,” she said.
“You don’t have to do anything else,” he sighed, his eyes drinking her in.
“I feel stupid,” she said.
“You’re so beautiful,” he sighed. He still hadn’t grabbed his penis.
“Aren’t you going to … um … do it?” she asked.
“In a minute,” he said. “You have no idea how many times I dreamed about something like this when I was in the Army.”
“About me?” She felt a little flutter in her belly.
“Yes,” he said. “Do you remember Beth Gardner from school?”
“You took her out a few times,” said Erica.
“Yes. Well we kind of necked a little, and one night she said she’d jerk me off if I wanted her to. Of course I said yes. She wouldn’t take her top off, though. As she did it, I laid my head back on the seat of the car and closed my eyes. It was like I was peeking at you. You were there, in the car with me.”
Erica’s nipples screamed for attention. Her left hand had the robe still hanging from it, and her right hand came up without conscious thought to squeeze her right nipple. The explosion of sweet shooting jets of joy made her drop the robe so she could squeeze the other one too. Then she realized what she was doing, right in front of her brother, and dropped her hands back to her sides.
“Don’t stop!” he gasped, reaching for his prick, finally.
She blushed. “But it’s nasty.”
“I could never think of any girl but you,” he panted. “On all those dates, I kept thinking of you. I liked the girls, sometimes, but even then you were still in my head. In the hospital … when the nurses did this for me…” His hand started pumping. “I thought about you.”
Her hands came back up. She couldn’t stop them, but at least she could keep from squeezing her nipples right in front of him. She rubbed her hands across her breasts, mashing them and moving the heavy globes around on her chest.
“Yes,” he hissed. “Do that some more.”
“Why?” she cried.
“Because I always wanted to touch them,” he moaned.
“That’s horrible, Billy,” she squealed.
“I know,” he wailed. “I couldn’t help it.” His hand whipped now, so fast she just knew it had to hurt. “I couldn’t help this either!” he gasped.
Again she saw the long ropes of white sperm arching into the air. His hand was still moving at a blur, though, and these ropes went everywhere, getting on his chest and thighs, and the bed itself. His right arm sparkled with droplets of white as he groaned. He didn’t curl up this time. Instead his hips lifted up off the bed a little and he grunted. His hand suddenly stopped, down low, with the head of his penis exposed, and a shot of white popped out of it. Then his hand went up and came back down to stop again, and another lump of white jetted into the air. He did that three more times, each time lifting his hips to meet his hand as it came down and froze. He huffed a grunt each time too, as if his voice could summon the white stuff from inside his body.
Erica abandoned her own rubbing and her fingers pinched and pulled at her stiff nipples. She pulled her breasts apart, as if she were trying to split her body in half, and pinched harder as her breasts tried to snap back together. She’d never had an orgasm before without touching between her legs and, to be honest, this feeling, if it even was an orgasm, wasn’t as intense. But it was exquisite, and it made her pussy cramp. She felt a flood of heat in her vaginal canal and knew she was getting wet. Her body had betrayed her that way before, producing slippery fluids as she shamefully rubbed. It had never been like this, though. She felt a line run down her inner thigh as the fluid dripped out of her.
She stood there in shock, as she realized she had had an orgasm right in front of her brother.
“Ohhhh, Erica,” he panted. “That was so good.”
Her feelings intensified as she realized he didn’t think badly of her for having her own sexual pleasure. Her world tilted a little further as she rationalized that all she had done was the same thing he had. The intense flush on her face and upper chest began to fade. She realized she was still pulling at her nipples, and released them. Her breasts bounded back together, bouncing off of each other and then reassuming their firm, thrusting appearance. She looked down to see her nipples were almost purple, instead of their normal pink. They were extended almost an inch. They didn’t itch anymore, though, and she sighed with relief.
“Thank you, Sis,” he sighed. “I really needed that.”
She almost said, “I did too,” but kept that inside. “I’m glad,” she said instead. Her eyes went to his semen. It was everywhere. “You’re all messy,” she said. “Stay right there. I’ll get a washcloth.”
She completely missed the irony of telling him to remain where he was, when it was a major effort for him to go almost anywhere. It wasn’t until she was actually in the bathroom, running the water to get it warm, that she realized she’d left her robe on the floor in his room, and was running around naked. It felt completely abnormal, but there wasn’t anything she could do about it. She felt the wetness between her legs and used the washcloth to wipe at that first. Then she got it wet and wrung it out several times, delaying walking back into his room naked. She dabbed between her legs again, pressing hard to wipe herself clean, and then had to rinse out the washcloth yet again. Ten minutes had gone by before she went back to him.
He was, of course, still lying there, with his eyes closed, looking relaxed. He looked so peaceful that, when he opened his eyes and reached for the cloth in her hand, she shook her head.
“You just lie there and relax. I’ll do it.”
She was immediately sorry she’d said it, as she looked at the drops and stripes of white on his body and realized she might have to touch it. She clamped down on her emotions, though, and used the warm cloth to swab at the spots. She lifted his hand and held it up while she cleaned his arm. Some of what was on his hand got on her fingers, but she ignored that, initially. When his arm and hand were clean, she used the cloth on those fingers. Then she did his abdomen, sweeping the cloth toward his penis, which lay there, shriveled and short, just a brown lump of tubular flesh now. She went around that to do his legs. She looked at the stump of his left leg, for the first time, really. It had been amputated just below the knee. The skin on the end was smooth and pink, which looked odd because it changed to that flaming red lumpy looking thick appearance on the outside. The napalm had only burned the outside of that leg. He had lost it because of the shrapnel.
She dabbed at the bedspread, but it seemed to smear more than clean. Finally, she looked at his groin. The stuff was in the brown hair that spouted from the base of his penis, and partially covered his testicles. It was her first close-up look at a man’s sexual organ. Shame made her want to look away, but curiosity was stronger.
At first, she just tried to swab all over that area, like she had rubbed her palms over her own breasts, earlier. His throat issued something between a moan and a choke.
“Am I hurting you?” she asked anxiously.
“No,” he sighed. “I just can’t believe you’re touching it.”
“Do you want me to stop?” she asked, not sure how to interpret what he’d just said.
“In about ten years,” he sighed again.
“Billy!” she yipped, as she finally realized he wanted her to touch it.
“I can’t help it,” he whined.
“You can’t help anything, it seems,” she chided gently.
“It just feels so good,” he said.
“This?” she asked, rubbing the cloth all over his groin.
“Yes!” he groaned.
She realized, suddenly, that his penis looked more substantial somehow. It was longer than it had been when she’d started, and less wrinkled looking. With a start she realized it was actually getting hard again … right in front of her eyes!
She spread out the cloth out on his right thigh and put her hand flat on it. Then she tried to move the whole thing, so that the cloth would remain between her hand and his penis, which, for some reason, she wanted to see what felt like … with the cloth between her skin and his, of course.
The cloth moved up his thigh to his balls, and bunched there. Before she knew it, her hand slid off the cloth and was lying on the bottom of his penis. Her first impression was shock at how warm it felt.
“Ohhhhh fuck,” he groaned.
She sensed the approval in his voice, even though the word was vulgar and suggested something else. Instead of jerking her hand away, she let it lie there.
“Is this okay?” she asked, wanting more information.
“Please don’t stop,” he answered.
“This is so wrong,” she moaned as her traitorous fingers bent, to wrap around the half hard thing.
“I don’t care,” he panted. “Please don’t stop, Erica.”
“I can’t believe I’m doing this!” she said, mostly to herself as she felt it get even harder in her hand. It was soft in a way that wasn’t like anything else she’d ever felt. It had the consistency of very firm gelatin, but wouldn’t break apart like that. Her hand squeezed, and she remembered him squeezing it. The sound he made was exactly like the sound he’d made when his hand did this.
Soon it wasn’t soft any more. Not on the inside. Her hand just naturally slid up and down the column, just as his had.
“Ohhhh yesssss,” he hissed. “You don’t know how good that feels, Sis.”
He was right. She didn’t know how good it felt. But he was telling her, and the appreciation in his voice spurred her on. It had looked so easy when he did it, but it wasn’t easy for her at all. Moving her hand in that way used her muscles in ways she’d never used them before. Her palm seemed to catch at the tight skin and drag. She stopped to get it wet with the washcloth again, and her hand slid more smoothly on it then.
“Oh thank you,” he whispered, beginning to pant.
“You’re welcome,” she said automatically, frowning at the thing in her hand. She’d been doing this for what seemed like ten or fifteen minutes, but it wasn’t spurting for her, like it spurted for him.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Nothing,” he panted.
“It’s not spurting,” she complained. She was doing this to make him happy, but obviously she wasn’t doing it right.
“It has to be done just right,” he gasped. “But what you’re doing feels soooo good.”
She went on, but her hand got tired, and the muscles in her forearm did too. She finally had to stop.
“You’ll have to do it,” she said sadly. “It’s not working.”
His hand came to his penis and began stroking.
“Stand up,” he said. She had been kneeling beside the bed.
She did and his eyes roamed over her breasts.
“They’re so beautiful,” he panted. She knew he was talking about her breasts.
“I hate them,” she said.
“Why?” he cried. “They’re so perfect!”
“They’re huge,” she said. “Men stare at them.”
“Of course they do,” he said, his hand slowing a little.
“Why?” she asked. “You obviously love them. Why is that?”
“I don’t know,” he panted. “I can’t really explain it. I just love looking at them. They look so soft. One time I almost asked you to teach me to dance, just so I could feel them against me.”
“That’s silly,” she said.
“Maybe,” he panted. “But looking at them always makes me want to do this. I’m sorry, but I just love looking at them.”
“You’re different,” she said, confused in her mind because that was true. She didn’t feel the revulsion when her brother looked at them. He was doing it right now, and all it made her feel like was squeezing her nipples again.
“You liked it when I did this,” she said, bringing her fingers to her nipples, which had faded back to just largish bumps on the tips of her breast flesh, “didn’t you.” She pulled at her nipples.
“Yessss,” he hissed.
“I don’t understand that,” she moaned, pulling harder. She knew that if she kept doing this she’d have another orgasm in front of her brother.
“I don’t either,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to touch them. Maybe that’s it. Maybe seeing you do it is almost like me doing it.”
He was flushed now, at least the normal part of his face. The other half … the mask, as she thought of it … was always dark red.
“I’m gonna cum!” he gasped.
She would never know why she did it. It didn’t make any sense at all to lean over and dangle her breast above his flashing hand. And it made even less sense, when his hand went down and stayed there, to lower the tip of her body to touch the tip of his. The result, however, was something that would change her life forever.
His hot semen gushed forth and inundated the nipple she had just been squeezing. The heat of that transfer … from inside his balls to coating her nipple … was like an electric shock to her whole body. In later years she would learn that any time she wanted to have an orgasm, all she had to do was squeeze and torture her nipples. She had some inkling of that now, and this feeling was very similar to it. Her fingers came back to her breast and she held it, manipulating the nipple, rubbing it over the tip of his penis as it spurted again. His hand came up, hit her flesh and flashed back down, making another spurt come out. Instinctively, she switched breasts, and let him paint her other nipple too. Then, mindless of what her fingers were touching, she stood back up and tried to squeeze her nipples.
The slippery coating defied her grasping fingertips, and reduced them to what amounted to masturbating the long stiff tips. The orgasm that produced ripped a groan from her throat, and her knees went so weak that she had to sit on the edge of the bed or fall down. She felt his arm move against her back, and a stripe of heat landed on her skin. What, if she’d have had time to think about it, would have been disgusting, now seemed like a caress his body delivered to her.
There was just that one stripe on her back, before his balls were empty, but she sat, trying to squeeze her nipples, extending the explosion of pleasure that was somehow mysteriously connected to the sexual opening between her legs. Her right hand fell and her legs opened to let her long middle finger plunge into her body before she even knew what she was doing. A tiny part of her brain screamed at her to stop doing this in front of him, but her back was to him and she pretended his eyes were closed as well, as she finished herself off with a finger that was slippery from much more than her own juices.
She would have fled again, except that she was just too weak to move.
Eventually she tried to apologize. His objections were vociferous.
“You want me to feel good,” he said. “I want you to feel good too!”
Like a fourteen year old virgin on her first date where a boy got his hand in her pants, Erica Bradford let her brother talk her into believing that nothing wrong had happened.
That night established a pattern in the lives of the Bradford siblings. There was almost an assumption that this would become the bedtime routine in the house.
For the next five days Erica went to school feeling like someone should be able to just look at her and know what she was doing at home, at night, with her brother. And each day, no one noticed a thing and she relaxed. Then, after school, she saw Bobby, and her sorting mechanism started yelling to her unconscious brain that he was a level one. He was always smiling, always friendly to the kids and to her. Once in a very long while his eyes dipped to take in the thrust of her breasts, but they never lingered long.
Her nipples stiffened each time that happened, and at other times that didn’t make any sense to her. Once, when he was bent over, picking up a board, her view of the tight jeans stretched over his backside brought stabs of “Squeeeeze me!” from the tips of her breasts. She thought it was insane.
She was always eager to get home after play practice. Twice she masturbated Will before supper, unable to wait to find her own release as she tried to learn how to make him spurt. That specialized skill eluded her, though, and he always had to finish it himself. He didn’t care. He’d tell her when he was coming, and she’d put her nipples where his slick offering would cover them. She masturbated herself while she was doing him, and kept doing it after he came. By the third day, she no longer cared if he saw her sliding one of her spermy fingers into her sex.