Pain scorched the young man’s esophagus. Pain burned the inside of his mouth. Good old pain. The young man welcomed the awful smell that accompanied the pain. “Pain is weakness leaving your body,” several of his coaches had quoted to him. This time, pain was empty calories and disfiguring fat leaving his body. The pain and the scent were signals. He was fighting to maintain what mattered.
He’d been quiet tonight. No one knew what had happened. He went back to his room for some much-needed sleep.
…But the young man didn’t see the light appear under his parents’ door just a moment after he’d gotten back into his bed.
Dionna was calling me. At 1:42 a.m. “Hey, Dionna,” I said, knowing my voice had to sound thick with sleep.
“Janice, please, please help us! He’s going to die! My baby boy is going to die!”
She sounded like dozens of mothers I’d heard. She wasn’t hysterical; she was reacting appropriately. “Stay calm, Dionna, please,” I said. “Have you called an ambulance?”
“No, it hasn’t come to that, thank God. But he was in there again, just now. I barely heard him, but I know he did it again. He’s going to kill himself; please help him!” Dionna asked, struggling with tears.
“Stay calm; he will be all right,” I said again. “I will help him, I promise.
“But if things are this serious, we don’t have any options left, besides in-patient treatment. Terrison has to come live with me. Sessions haven’t worked; medication hasn’t worked; only personal support and instruction will save him now.”
“Anything!” Dionna said. “I’ll bring him to your house tomorrow.”
“Listen closely, though,” I said to her. “You must not let him believe that he’s being punished. Make this move a change of scenery; try your best to assure him that nothing is going to change except for his address. Tell him that he will have all the freedom he has now; all the friends he has now; he won’t have to change schools-try as hard as you can to make it seem like no big deal.”
My best friend’s daughter sounded a little calmer. “He won’t want to go,” she said.
“Tell him it’s just for two days.”
“Can you really counsel him in just-”
“-No, of course not, but tell him anyway. I can’t help him unless I give him attention, rest, therapeutic information, and a new way of thinking about things. Don’t worry, sugar. He’ll know, deep down, that he’ll be leaving for a while, but he’ll also know that you’re helping him. And he’s a smart boy. Somewhere inside, he knows he needs help.”
On the drive back from the counseling clinic where I work, I thought about the trust Dionna displayed. I had had many patients-and most of them were around her son’s age-but her son was closer to me than any I’d ever taken. I believed I was capable of helping Terrison. But if I was wrong, how could I forgive myself? How would his family forgive me? Should I have told Dionna to get a doctor-ordered hospital stay for her son?
No, that was a last resort. I still had that card in my hand, if I needed it. I would use it if things turned for the worse.
I hadn’t seen Terrison since my husband Gregor’s funeral four years ago. Terrison had been a bright, quick, energetic young teenager then. He’d been thin, just as many boys his age were. I hadn’t seen him run, but I’d heard that he played center field for his baseball team and that he sprinted for the track team.
My condo had three bedrooms. One of them I kept pretty empty, in case a guest wanted to stay on short notice. I was getting back from work at 5:45 and Dionna and Terrison would arrive at around 8:00. That meant I had a little time. Once I got into a comfortable sleeveless blouse and equally comfortable shorts, I set about straightening up my little place.
Keeping the condo in good shape had its advantages: I finished getting the spare room as ready as I could for the arrival of a teenage boy in about 20 minutes. Then I made some dinner and watched the news.
The phone buzzed eventually. I saw the number and smiled. It was Susette. I’d known she would call: Dionna was her only daughter. Susette still got protective of her sometimes.
“How are you, Susie?” I said.
“I’m just fine, but I hear my grandson isn’t doing well at all. I just heard, from Dionna-and I had to know: are you sure you can handle it? Terrison can be hard to talk to, from what I’m told. I remember my Medgar and my Frederick when they were Terrison’s age; they were real trouble!” Susette sounded a bit nervous.
“I’m great, thanks for asking,” I said cheerfully.
There was a sigh on the other end. “I’m sorry. And I know I shouldn’t panic,” she said. “You treat people for a living. I just can’t stop myself, Janice. Dionna’s so scared and Terrison isn’t scared at all. That’s what I’m worried about.”
“No matter what it takes, I’ll help him. Even if he hates me for a few years afterward, he’s going to get better. Do you believe me?”
“I do…but even you can only do so much! If you need help-”
“-I’ll ask for it,” I said. “You know, you can come visit us and see for yourself.”
She said, “I’ll take you up on that. A week or so from now.”
“I’m glad to hear it; you know it’s been too long since we’ve seen each other.”
My laptop was temporarily set up in the living room and I was checking emails. I heard a car entering the condominium parking lot. Just after that, I heard a car door close and then another. I looked out the wide front window. That black-striped yellow ochre minivan was hard to miss. Dionna had arrived. She and Terrison were getting boxes and suitcases out of their van.
I automatically went outside to help them with Terrison’s stuff.
I got a good look at the kid. He had changed.
Terrison was definitely a young man now. He was his dad’s height; he looked 5’11” or 6′ even. His shoulders had broadened quite a bit. His arms and legs looked skinny, but the muscles were very well-toned. I was used to seeing underweight people, so I was pretty confident in my estimate of his weight. He was 120 lbs., 125 at the very most. He should have been at least 155 lbs., judging by his build. His curly dark brown hair was cut very short. He was wearing long shorts, a Spurs tank-top-style jersey, and clunky-looking high-top basketball shoes. There was a thin gold chain around his neck.
He noticed me looking at him while I approached. For an instant, his eyes widened.
“It’s nice to see you, Terrison,” I said. “I hope you’ll have fun living here. Dionna, can I help with something?”
Dionna had turned to look at me as soon as she’d heard my voice. “I think we can handle it,” she said politely.
“Come on, there’s too much for just you two. I don’t mind helping!” I picked up the cardboard box that was sitting on the edge of the van’s rear end, under the open tailgate. “Follow me; we’ll put these things in Terrison’s room.”
Right after we’d gotten Terrison’s clothes and belongings into his room, Dionna took off, as I’d instructed. Terrison and I went to the living room. He sat on the sofa and I sat in my favorite chair, to his right.
“You know I’m your grandmama’s best friend,” I said to him. “But do you know anything else about me? For example, did you know that I used to be a clothing and makeup artist for a major agency? I also did some post-capture work on the images.”
“I don’t know almost anything about you, Aunt Janice,” he said. His voice was raw and throaty. I hated that kind of voice; it meant needless suffering.
“Just call me Janice, sugar. Now that I’ve got you here, I want to show you some of my work from the ’80s and ’90s.” I got one of my super-sized portfolios.
“Here. This woman was one of our best models. Carolyn Ruth Collins-this is how she looked with a little makeup, as photographed by a professional on an ordinary day, in an unscripted moment. Take a look at the lower part of her face. Take a look at her torso. And now-” I opened the next fold in the page. “-this is Carolyn with professionally done makeup and wardrobe. See the differences?”
Terrison looked up at me and nodded.
“She’s wearing a bathing suit in this shot, but you see how opaque it is? She had a thin nylon corset under that,” I said. I opened the next fold. “Now what do you see?”
“Her waist looks thinner,” said Terrison. “Her cheeks stand out more, too. Did they change her makeup to get that?”
“The photographer used his lights and his reflectors to get these effects,” I said. “He put a filter on the lens too, to soften the light. And the finished image comes last.” I revealed the final picture on the page. I looked for Terrison’s reaction while I opened the fold.
His eyebrows rose. His lips drew a little tighter. This picture had a lot of impact.
“No one has ever looked like this,” I said.
Terrison turned to me. “What?”
“Carolyn never looked like this. I ‘finished’ this photo; I used an airbrush very carefully, one millimeter at a time.
“Today, they do that kind of thing more subtly and more skillfully. They’ve got software for it.
“Remember, she was a beautiful girl to start with! The client wants what the client wants. The process was simple: find a slim, pretty model; exaggerate with makeup and wardrobe to make her look slimmer and ‘more glamorous’; shape the lights and shadows to amplify the illusion; finish with bald-faced deception wherever necessary.”
I slid the finished picture next to the most natural photo of the model.
“I heard about airbrushing,” Terrison said. “Damn, though-sorry!-”
“-It’s okay. I’m not here to judge you,” I said. “But what were you about to say?”
The skinny young man looked a little relieved. “I was saying that I didn’t get it until I saw it for myself. This is more than just airbrushing.”
“You’re right. Take a look at this one: Miles Tucker. He was the hottest male model we ever signed; he had commercials and ads all across the country.” I showed Terrison the progression of images, just as I had shown him Carolyn’s images. After Miles’s sequence, I showed Terrison three other models I’d put in my portfolio.
We talked for a few minutes about each example. Finally, Terrison looked up at me and asked an important question. “Why did you do makeup and wardrobe and photo-finishing, then?”
“It was kind of glamorous. It didn’t take a college degree back then. Plus, I didn’t know about bulimia or anorexia or other eating disorders. They were the dirty secrets of the industry.
“But if I had known, I still would have done it.”
“You would?” said Terrison. His soft hazel eyes fastened on me.
I put my hand on his hand. “Listen, sugar; there’s a chance that someone will be hurt no matter what you do with your life. I hope you don’t think that I’ve been showing you these pictures to condemn the ‘evil people in the modeling industry.’ I had a lot of great friends in there. I still have a few!
“I want you to know how this works. You needed to see for yourself that these pictures are fiction. Smoke and mirrors! You could think of them like a magician’s act.
“These pictures are harmless to most people. Here’s another thing you need to know: different people have different reactions. If you see pictures like these and you worry because you don’t look like the models, that doesn’t make you weak. It means you have a chance to learn more about yourself. You have a chance to grow as a person.
“You know why you’re here. I’m asking for your hard work.”
Terrison looked doubtful. “You’re asking me to work? What do you mean?”
“I mean I want your mom and your grandma to sleep easier at night, but that’s secondary. I want you to feel good about yourself. I can’t do anything but help a little; if you’re going to rise above bulimia, you’ll have to do it from within. I’m here to support you.”
“You mean you aren’t going to weigh me?”
I smiled at the youth. He’d been through some sessions, all right. “No. I won’t tell you how much to eat, or how often. I won’t try to order you to do anything.
“I know a lot about healthy living. The first rule: you need a healthy attitude. You need to want your body to function well; that’s what’s most important.
“And I’ve taken enough of your time! You probably want to unpack and set up your room and all that. Unless you’ve got questions or want some help, I’ll leave you to it.”
He said, “Does the room have cable and internet hook-ups?”
“Sure does,” I told him. “They’re over here; let me show you.”
My mornings are always early. At 5:45, my alarm rang. It was Wednesday; that was a jogging day. I got suited up, did my stretches, and quietly left the condo, locking the door behind me.
My walks and jogs are usually when I do my calmest thinking. This morning, I thought about the quiet, intelligent, vulnerable young man who had just spent his first night under my roof. I was confident that he hadn’t purged last night. It was a good sign, but only a sign. When a person’s routine is interrupted, she or he often takes two or three days to adjust before returning to that routine. Besides, a change of address is usually stressful. That kind of stress makes one tired; he might have been so tired that he had skipped throwing up for that one day.
Well, I don’t just teach positive thinking, I practice it. I told myself that we were building momentum. I would do a great job of intervening. Terrison would substitute healthy behaviors for unhealthy ones. Providing alternatives was part of it, just the way enlightening him was.
I luxuriated in the gentle morning light. It was late spring; it was southwestern Georgia; it was a wonderful place and time. Terrison had been an athlete several years ago. Now he wasn’t. He hadn’t yet admitted it to himself, but he’d quit because he was weaker and more easily injured than his peers now. Could I get him back into the sunshine and remind him how fun it was to simply run?
It was 6:20 when I got back home. There was no sign that Terrison was awake yet. I didn’t know when school started for him. Oh well, I’d find out soon.
I took a quicker shower than usual, on the off-chance that my young house guest would need it right away. I got dressed for the day and went to the kitchen. I wasn’t sure whether I ought to make breakfast for both of us. I put on an apron and made some white rice with a little ham and a fried egg. It would be easy to save the extra rice and ham and frying another egg or two would be simple.
No sign of Terrison when I finished preparing breakfast. I started eating.
The sound of a door and then the shower running told me that something had wakened him. I took my time with my juice and my food, because I still had to give Terrison a key to the condo before I went to work.
I gathered my purse and briefcase. I turned to the Weather Channel and looked at our forecast. I started checking my texts.
Terrison appeared from the hallway.
“Good morning,” I said. “There’s rice and ham, if you want. Here’s your key to the front door, too.”
He looked less tired than he had the day before. I smiled and put the key in his hand. “I might be back a little early this afternoon, but I might not,” I said. “Have a good day! We can talk when we both get home.”
Sure, it might have sounded like I was making him a really low priority. He was a senior in high school, so I thought that was a risk I could take. What I had to do at this point was build some trust and show him that I wasn’t going to smother him or make demands.
My workday went by quickly. I had six patients to counsel. One of them was new to me; the others I’d seen before. One of the girls was still having more difficulty than I had hoped; I referred her to a physician who could (and hopefully would) give her a prescription that would help with her anxiety.
A few minutes before 4:00, I got back home. I figured Terrison would be there already and he was. He was in the kitchen, drinking a vitamin-rich smoothie. He turned when he heard me coming in.
The young man was in a talkative mood. “Were you really in my grandma’s class?” he asked.
“Sure was. I knew her all through grade school and high school.”
“You just…don’t look like her. You don’t talk like her. You look like you’re Mom’s age.”
Compliments like those don’t miss the mark. “Thank you, sugar!” I said. “I’m careful about how I treat this body; it’s the only one I’ll get, after all.”
Terrison didn’t flinch from my gaze. “I’ll only get one, too. I know that. And I know you want me to gain weight-”
“-Not really,” I said.
He leaned back against the counter behind him, looking at me skeptically. “You don’t…really?”
I went to the kitchen and stood in front of him. “I want you to be healthy. Up here.” I touched his temple. “I think that if you get more self-respect, you will gain weight, but that’s just an effect. I want you to feel good, in your own skin.”
“How?” he asked.
“There’s too much to tell it all at once,” I said. “That’s why it’s not easy to beat a disorder. But for starters, I want you to know that you can feel better than you do. Remember how good you felt when you were playing ball and running track? If you stop throwing up, your body will start functioning better right away.”
“Everyone’s going to be so much better than me now,” Terrison muttered. “I won’t ever catch up.”
I put my hand on the side of his face. He was startled. “Actually, that’s exactly what you’ll do. You’ll get good again. You need a new challenge.
“Here’s what we’ve got: old challenge was to stay thin. You did. It’s no challenge anymore.
“New challenge is to become healthy and strong.
“You know who thinks you won’t be good in sports anymore? You do. Your peers do. But do you know who’s seen kids in your position go on to run in state track meets and win tennis and basketball championships? I have.
“Step one of the new challenge is that you stick with me through the 5k race coming up six weeks from now.”
He smirked. He didn’t laugh, but he smirked.
“You’re thinking, ‘That’s no challenge.’ Okay, young pup, prove me wrong.”
His smirk faltered. “I think I can do it. But I’ve never run five kilometers before,” he said.
“If it was easy, everyone who tried would succeed. Fact is, most don’t,” I told him. “But you have youth on your side. Fitness is two components: diet and exercise. I never got certified as a trainer, but if you want me to show you what runners need to fuel their bodies, or some stretches, or some workouts, I’d be happy to.”
“…Okay,” he said.
“Here’s what you need to be ready for, young man,” I said. “Your body is going to change. It’s going to look different. You will feel that it is a good thing. You will love the new you.”
It went slowly during the first week or so. (Dionna called me once during this week. I lied to her and said he was eating more. I was a little sorry to do it, but I preferred it to letting worry continue to gnaw at her. She would see whether Terrison was making progress or remaining stuck in his rut quite soon.) In the earliest days, Terrison cut back on how much he’d been eating. That did not worry me; since he wasn’t going to ‘purge’ it, he would need less food in the beginning of his healing process. Soon enough, he would eat more and drink more and he would begin to gain mass and strength.
The best signs were that he began to sound better and look more rested. He was only throwing up at school, or he had managed to quit doing it altogether.
I did my part by complimenting him and encouraging him often. As he began to start looking and sounding healthier, I engaged him in talk more often.
About two weeks into Terrison’s stay, I said to him, “You’re really looking strong, sugar. I could take pictures of you-one or two a week-to record your progress, if you want. I won’t use anything to manipulate the images, I promise!”
He took my light-hearted offer in the spirit I meant it. With a toothy smile, he said, “Okay, Janice, I guess I feel comfortable enough to do that.”
I smiled back at him. “Nice! As photographer, I will visually direct the shot, of course. We’ll get a good one; then we’ll do our best to repeat the wardrobe, the pose, the setting, and everything we can, so we can compare apples to apples when we look at all the photos.”
“You’ll ‘visually direct?’ Then what do you want me to do?” he asked.
“Pick out a pair of pants or shorts that you’d like to pose in,” I said. “I’ll pick the backdrop, pose, and lighting when I see what you’ve picked.”
In a few minutes, we had our shot. Terrison was in medium blue basketball shorts, standing against the pale yellow wall of my hobby room. He unconsciously flexed his muscles until I asked him to relax. Besides the indirect natural daylight, I used three of the track lights on the ceiling and one very strong lantern-type light on a tripod to provide some drama for the shot. (Had it been my imagination? To adjust the track lights, I’d had to use my step ladder-and I could almost swear Terrison had looked away when I’d climbed down-as though he’d been checking out my legs.) The strongest light I bounced off a collapsible gold reflector, getting nice backlight and softer shadow patterns.
Once I got the image, I loaded it to the computer. “Let’s wait to look at it until we have at least three to compare,” I suggested. “Then we’ll be able to view them the way we did with the ‘model progression’ photos.”
The next day was Friday. Terrison surprised me by waking up a minute or two after I did and asking to go along on my jog. Not wanting to squelch his optimism, I told him that first I should show him how to stretch so he didn’t pull anything. After that, we’d do a little run. He agreed. We stood across from each other and I demonstrated various stretches for him, which he mirrored. Some of them he’d already known, because he’d been a sprinter.
I kept the actual run a little slower and much shorter than usual. Sure enough, Terrison was flagging by the end. His body had lacked proper fuel for so long that his stamina was lower than it ought to be. Since he was so young, he’d have no trouble building his endurance quickly.
“You’ve done far better than I expected,” I told him when we got back to the condo. “It’s way too early to say whether you’ll meet the challenge or not, but you’ve got an excellent start. You look so good running, too!”
“So do you,” he said. His eyes didn’t quite meet mine. I guessed he was a little flustered by my compliment. I didn’t know why; I certainly hadn’t been trying to embarrass him.
It was early evening of the same day. I was about half an hour later getting back from work than I normally am. Fridays are often late days for me.
Apparently, I’d been quiet about getting back into the apartment. Apparently, Terrison had thought he would hear me.
Instead, I surprised him. When I started walking down the hall, I heard low sounds coming from his room-probably from his computer. Since the volume was down, I didn’t know what I was hearing.
I suppose I should have guessed; but it’s hard to think about my friend’s grandson as growing into a man. The door to his room was open a few inches and as I walked past, I saw the entire scene. Terrison was checking out a video. It was the kind of video most guys (and some women, to be fair) watch one-handed.
And that’s how this young man was watching. I only got a glimpse-because he didn’t seem to know I was there and I didn’t want to scare or ashame the hell out of him-but I could tell he wasn’t too far from finishing himself off. His swollen penis looked pretty impressive: shiny with some kind of coconut-scented lubricant, erect and purple with hot blood.
Very quietly, I kept walking, just a bit past his door. I sensed an opportunity to build trust and to help his body image, if I could just get the timing right.
Listening for the right moment was everything. I had to hear that moment when he came, then the moment when he started remembering there was an outside world and he was still living in it. I strained my ears.
The casters at the bottom of his chair creaked as they rolled. I judged that this was the time. I knocked once, said, “I’m home, Terrison,” and walked right into the room.
My timing had been good. He’d gotten his cock wiped off and his underwear pulled back into place, but he was otherwise unready. His reflexes were quick enough to grab a pillow from his bed and put it on his lap. It was kind of cute that he didn’t want me to see that he was hard! The video was still playing on his computer screen.
Pretending not to notice his action, I stood next to his chair and looked at the monitor.
He said, “Ah…I’m-”
“-Is this the kind of adult video you normally like?” I asked, sounding as professional as I could. I turned and looked at him.
He licked his dry lips and said, “Uh, I guess.”
I said, “It’s like those fashion model pictures, in a way. These people are paid not to look or act like ordinary people. Those two women: they’ve each had boob jobs and one of them has had a tummy-tuck. Look at their makeup, too. Those two men: one of them has obviously had liposuction. They both wax their bodies: chests, legs, and arms, and probably one or two uncomfortable spots.”
Terrison was looking at me like I’d sprouted a third arm. I ignored his shock. “Can you do a search for ‘amateur milf,’ sugar?” I asked.
Wordlessly, Terrison did as I’d asked. The first 20 results popped up in thumbnail form.
“A lot of these ‘amateurs’ clearly aren’t!” I put a friendly hand on Terrison’s shoulder. “Let’s see, though…There. Third row down, all the way on the right. That looks like a real woman and a real man. Do me a favor and click on that.”
“Okay,” he said, voice faltering slightly.
We watched the first three minutes or so of the video together. The woman got on her knees in front of the guy, opened his pants, and started sucking his dick. Then the guy helped her to her feet and pulled off her shirt. She unhooked her bra and dropped it to the carpet.
“Yes,” I said, as we watched the pair undress completely. “These two people are pretty much like common people. The guy looks nice-and natural, except for shaving or waxing some of his body hair. What do you think; is that woman attractive?”
“Yeah,” said my young guest.
“Her waist has to be 27 inches-maybe 29 or 30. The man’s is 32-34, or as much as 36. But they look good. They look like they’re leading healthy lives. And as you can see, they’re not having trouble finding dates just because they don’t look like supermodels!”
The trust was building. Terrison looked squarely at me. “You don’t mind that I’m looking at this?” he asked.
“You’re an adult, sugar: a really young one, but you’re an adult man. You watch what you want to, as long as it’s legal.”
“Thanks.” But even though I backed away and left his room, he still turned off the video and left the site. People’s mindsets don’t change in five seconds.
The next morning, as soon as I woke, I rushed to the bathroom, doffed my sleeping gown and panties, turned on the shower, got into the water, and began diddling my joy-buzzer. I’d had lots of dreams, dreams of hot sex, dreams of cocks and pussies and asses and tits. While I flicked my clit, I closed my eyes and enjoyed the feelings.
Was this because I’d seen Terrison’s penis? It had been a couple of years since I’d seen one. I hadn’t touched or ridden one since a couple of years before that, not too long before Gregor had had his fatal aneurysm. Now that my libido had come out of hibernation, I wondered if I could-or should-let it go back to sleep, or see if I could find romance again.
Some of these thoughts had been born of Terrison living in my condo. Sure I’d seen his cock, but what was really stirring me was his youth, his energy, his willingness to attack the future.
How much future I had left was certainly anyone’s guess. But was I living to the fullest? It hadn’t mattered to me for a while, but I was beginning to care about that again.
While Terrison and I ate lunch on Saturday, I told him my daughter was coming to visit me at about 4:00. “She hasn’t seen you in years and she knows you’re living here. She’s forceful, too. If you’d rather not see her, I understand. But if that’s the case, you should make yourself scarce by 3:30.”
“I don’t mind seeing her at all,” said Terrison. “What’s her name?”
“Mira,” I said.
“What’s her full name?” Terrison asked.
The young man displayed his quick mind, as he’d done plenty of times since he’d come to live with me. I’d hesitated for only a moment before answering, but that was enough for him to realize I hadn’t told him the entire truth. “Her first name is Miracle, but I’d call her Mira if I were you,” I said.
“You named her ‘Miracle?’ What for?”
“Because after a couple of years of trying to have a baby, Gregor and I went to see a specialist and that specialist said that my chances of getting pregnant were slim and my chances of carrying the child to term were infinitesimal. He said that if we wanted children, we should adopt.
“So we did. We adopted my precious Shauna when she was a newborn. And we thought she was the only child we’d ever have unless we adopted another.
“But only two months later, I did get pregnant.
“Well, during my second prenatal checkup, the doctor told me I’d better abort the pregnancy-or the baby and I were about sure to die.”
“Whoa,” Terrison said. “So why didn’t you?”
“I told that doctor that we were in God’s hands. If we were supposed to live, we would, but there was no damn way I was going to take away my baby’s only chance. He asked me if I didn’t mind leaving my husband alone, bereaved, with an infant to look after by himself. I told him Gregor was up to the challenge if it came to that.”
Terrison and I stared at each other. “That’s pretty incredible,” he said. “And you and the baby did live and that’s why you named her Miracle.”
“Gregor named her that. The doctors had me in a coma and were fighting to save me from bleeding to death internally.
“I don’t give up, Terrison. I don’t think anyone should give up.”
His hazel eyes were moist. “I see that,” he said.
As though he’d been inspired, Terrison set himself to the task of competing in the 5k run. He came to me for advice and guidance practically every day. In a month, his voice sounded normal. To my eyes, he’d crossed from “skinny” to “slim” as well.
I wanted to hear his opinion. After I’d taken his picture for the third week, I set the photos side-by-side in front of him.
“What do you think?” I asked.
“Is it bad if I say that I think I look good in all of them?” said Terrison.
I scooted a little closer to him on the sofa. “That’s not bad at all. You are good-looking.
“But…let me ask you if you feel better today than you did when we took the first one.”
“Yeah. I’m not tired all the time and it doesn’t hurt to eat and drink some of the things that used to hurt me. And when I look at this last picture, I can see my muscles really well. I can still see my ribs, too. So I’m not fat.” Terrison put his big left hand on my back. “Plus, you know, if Mom could cook like you, I would’ve started eating right a long time ago.”
He and I both cracked up laughing.
I was relieved to hear his joke. He was here for a serious reason, but making light of it meant that he believed he had power over his disorder. He didn’t have to take it as seriously anymore.
Before I knew it, the day before the race dawned, cool and a little foggy. Terrison and I stretched together and set off on our jog. It was shorter than usual, since the 5k was the very next morning.
After the run, we did a bit more stretching than we usually did. I showed my young pupil a few partner stretches too. During the stretch where we spread our legs, put the soles of our feet against our partner’s, and pulled each other forward, I noticed Terrison looking down my shirt. Lately, he’d been dropping a step behind me whenever he had an excuse to do so. I’d seen him in a store window; he was checking out my ass. It was pretty flattering to get that kind of attention. I didn’t let on that I’d noticed.
The morning of the 5 km race, I drove us to the start point: it was in one of our neighboring towns about eighteen miles away, in their main park, near the river’s edge. We were two runners in a field of about 450. I told Terrison we would probably get separated, so we should meet by the car afterward.
“Terrison, you’ve never tried to race this far before. Just take it easy and finish. If you don’t like your time, don’t worry; there will be another 5k in a month. You’ll do great if you relax,” I said.
“You sound as though you don’t plan to take it easy on me,” said Terrison.
“Did I mention I won my age category last year? No, I won’t take it easy on you. But I will wish you the best!”
I finished in 22:19. That was my best time in three years. I began stretching a little as I walked toward the scorers’ tent to report my finish and wait for Terrison.
He caught up to me in mere moments. His time had been 22:43. He sounded a little disappointed, but he was grinning; he’d accomplished something he couldn’t have done a month earlier.
The town’s sports reporter gave me a quick eight-question interview, since I’d won my age group again. They wanted to take my picture, so I put my arm around Terrison’s waist and posed. He put his arm around my shoulders and went with it.
Then we sat on the grass and did our cool-down stretching routine and got back into the car.
Terrison surprised me by taking my hand and walking from the garage to the condo with me. Once we got inside, he squeezed my hand a little and said, “You just killed it out there today. I never…I never knew people like you existed.”
“You did great yourself, sugar. You’re so alive and so intense. It’s amazing how quickly you learn. I’m proud to be with you,” I told him. I leaned in for a quick hug with this tall young man.
He hugged me back. But even though I let go of him after a few seconds, he kept holding me.
“Sugar, we ought to shower,” I said, feeling a little embarrassed and a little excited.
He cupped my backside and hoisted me into the air.
No way this was happening! No way he really wanted me like this! I let out some kind of squawking sound. Now he and I were level with each other, studying each other’s eyes. And we kissed.
When he put me back down, I started undressing, right there in the living room. He watched me for a while, then he decided he should get out of his clothes.
“You look wonderful to me,” I said softly.
“You look beautiful, Janice,” he said.
I playfully set my hand on his chest and trailed my fingers along his torso. I lightly grasped his hardening penis-he smiled widely at that-and led him toward my bedroom.
For a moment, we sat on the edge of the bed and hugged. “Are you sure you want to do this?” I asked him.
“Don’t you want to?” he asked.
“I do very much. But do you?”
“Yes, yes, I do. Ever since the day I moved here, I was interested in you. The feeling’s just built since then; what you say, how you look at me, the way you’ve been touching me more often and dressing skimpier for our runs to motivate me…”
(What! Had I been doing that? That must have been his imagination. I wasn’t getting handsy. I surely wasn’t dressing sexier for him!
He kissed me again and I responded with energy. Again and again, I tasted his lips. I ran my hands to his chest, to his abdomen, down to his groin. He quickly touched me in return, gently fondling and tugging my B-cup breasts, caressing my wide hips, moving slowly to my shaved pubic region. My body hummed with excitement.
“Wait a second,” I said, probably mumbling a bit into his mouth. I went to my bedside table and got a little bottle of lubricant. (I don’t get as wet as I did before menopause, but I’ve learned to make the best of it.) I squirted a largish dollop of the fragrant lube on Terrison’s hand and quivered when he began to work it into the sensitive skin of my labia. While he was busy with that, I got a little more and rubbed it on his cock. The youth’s warm, blood-filled penis was hard as a steel rail by this time.
I looked at Terrison’s face. His eyes were closed while he enjoyed the sensation of my fingers stroking his dick.
“Let me ride you,” I said into his ear. I pushed him and he collapsed onto his back.
Putting my knees on either side of his ribs, I held his firm shaft and coaxed my tight pussy into accepting the throbbing head. An inch at a time, I lowered myself, hissing at the strained pleasure-pain of the entry. I heard Terrison suck in his breath also. I glanced down and saw his mouth set in a happy grimace, his eyelids squeezed shut. Adorable! This had to be his first time.
I started rocking my hips, then “hopping” using my thighs. My short bounces got higher and higher while my happy pussy broke its fast and swallowed the young man’s cock over and over. I took one of Terrison’s hands and brought it to my chest. He got the idea; his fingers and palms started kneading my sensitive tits immediately.
“Yes! Yes, yes, yes. That’s so good,” he said. I quietly chuckled and picked up my pace.
“You’re making me feel great too, sugar,” I said. I settled my hands over his hip bones to help maintain my rhythm. Terrison was definitely full-grown; his big, slippery cock felt very satisfying as it rubbed eagerly along the walls of my ecstatic twat. Every time my ass slapped onto Terrison’s pelvis, a jolt of pleasure rushed through my clitoris.
My hands slid higher, to just under the hazel-eyed hunk’s ribs. The angle of my pelvis changed to stimulate us both more. I worked my thighs and glutes harder and harder, picking up the pace.
I was about to make it to “full gallop” when Terrison said, “Janice…I’m gonna…cum if you…don’t slow down!”
“You won’t get me pregnant,” I said, my voice sounding a little like a purr to my ears. Most men love to hear their partners describe the action for them, so I kept speaking a bit longer. “Ooh…so go on and fill me up with your hot, gooey sperm. Oh! Come inside me, sugar. Ooh, yeah…thrust that enormous cock deep inside me…enjoy yourself…!”
He hadn’t been exaggerating. The short, rapid motions of his pelvis stopped suddenly. His hands locked onto my hips. Burying every millimeter of his solid, virgin cock in my clenching, slick pussy, he shot his load. I didn’t get a real orgasm, but I had several pleasurable little peaks. How good would this young man be with a little more stamina and experience? As it was, the sex was great!
His gaze seemed fixed to my pussy as I straightened my spine and pushed myself off him, letting a thick stream of spunk drip from my open lips and slide down his sloppy shaft. He looked almost dazed, awed by the experience.
I moved forward, then I laid my body atop his and kissed him lovingly. For several minutes, we simply cuddled and kissed and reveled in the afterglow of the joining of our bodies.
Finally, I got up and held out my hand to him. “Let’s get that shower, you sexy man,” I said, coaxing him into action.
While we were in the shower (it was one of the types that’s disabled accessible, so it could easily fit two people) I drew Terrison into a conversation about what we’d done. “How do you feel about us?” I asked the youth while he washed my hair and back.
“You’re so honest with me, Janice. I really want to be honest with you.” I didn’t have to see his face to know he was flushed with embarrassment and the memory of how he’d felt a few minutes ago. “…Could you tell me how you feel first, then I’ll tell you?”
“Sure thing, sugar. I feel more alive than I have in quite a while and I have you to thank! I’ve known I was fit and healthy-but now I feel sexy and womanly-I feel younger, frankly. I feel great. I care a great deal for you, even though I didn’t know you very well when you came here. And while my feelings for you were motherly in the beginning, they’ve changed. I suppose that’s obvious!” I laughed a little and Terrison laughed with me. “I’m really happy: happy to have you for a lover.
“Now that I’ve said that, I should also admit that I’m a little scared. If your grandmama finds out we’re fucking, she’ll probably kill me. Do me a favor and don’t tell her, okay?”
“Don’t worry; Mom would kill me!” he said with a chuckle.
“It sounds like we agree about the wisdom of not telling your mom or grandmama.
“So, I’ve told you how I feel. You don’t need to tell me everything, but would you share some of your feelings with me?”
He cleared his throat: a sign of lingering nerves. “It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever felt,” he said. He finished with my hair and back and slid his arms around my belly. I put my arms over his. “Really…I hope you don’t think I’m a pig…I’m hoping you said, ‘…we’re fucking’ because we’ll do it again.”
He didn’t see my grin. He probably heard it in my voice, though. “You are one heck of a good listener!” I said. “Yes-I was hoping the very same thing. In fact, I was thinking I’d go crazy if you kept living here and I didn’t get any more of that glorious sausage.”
This time, I heard his grin. “You’re one heck of a speaker,” he said. “And since you said ‘sausage,’ I’m guessing you’re going to-”
“-Hey, hey!” I said seriously, pinching his arm lightly. “Be careful. I don’t mind talk that blunt, but a lot of women aren’t thrilled to hear things like those said aloud.”
“Really?” he asked quietly.
“If you’re going to say it, at least use figures of speech. Go on, try one.”
“Well, this is a bit awkward. Let’s see…I hope you like hot and juicy,” he said after a moment.
“Not bad, for such an early attempt. Most women wouldn’t mind that kind of reference a bit.
“By the way, I do like hot and juicy!”
I woke on my right side, with Terrison’s long arm lying on my waist. I felt very comfortable. A tall, warm man spooning me was nice first thing in the morning.
Sliding his arm from my body, I sat up. After a moment, I stretched. It was a good thing that I made a point of staying limber, or I would be cringing in pain from yesterday’s exercises.
After the 5k and taking Terrison’s virginity, I’d had a fairly normal day.
Until he was ready to go again, that was! Not long before supper, he’d hugged me from behind and I’d felt his hard cock pressing against my thigh. Not subtle, but I had definitely wanted it too, so I’d taken the hint and we’d gone for Round Two. That time, I’d given him oral for a couple of minutes; then I’d asked him what position he wanted. He’d gone for the tried-and-true missionary. He’d gotten off before I did, but when I started rubbing my clit, he took the hint and used his fingers on me. I was glad that he was a quick study; in about three minutes, I had the first orgasm he’d ever given me (or anyone!)
Before bed, I’d suggested that we sleep together in my room if he wanted. The conversation and the undressing led to Round Three. Just as eager and energetic as I’d anticipated! I introduced him to doggy-style. He loved it; the way he used his hands on my nipples and my pussy, I loved it myself!
Now it was a new day. I sashayed to the shower, conscious of my hips swinging as I hadn’t been in quite some time.
I was wearing a summer-weight yellow cotton dress with printed red and blue magnolias when I returned to my room and nudged Terrison’s elbow. It took him a few seconds to wake and remember where he was. Then he realized he was naked in my bed and pulled the blanket a little closer around him; it was cute! But there wasn’t going to be any playing right now, so I kept my eyes on his.
“It’s Sunday morning, sugar. Are you coming to church with me?”
He looked dumbfounded. Unfortunately, I’d seen that coming. Fortunately, I knew what misconceptions were in his young mind. “…Janice…we-wouldn’t it be hypocritical to go?”
“It would not. Not at all.”
Confusion and doubt showed in his sleepy eyes.
I explained. “I can tell you’re worried about a couple of things. That’s okay.
“Was it wrong for us to consummate our relationship yesterday? I don’t know, honestly. But when you think about it, it doesn’t matter much. We all make mistakes every day, isn’t that true?”
“Yes,” he said. His face was very open. I could tell that even though he trusted me, he wasn’t willing to simply believe whatever I told him. That was good.
“So we, and everyone who shows up at church this morning, have done things wrong since last week. That doesn’t make us hypocrites. A lot of people use the word ‘hypocrite’ without knowing whether it applies or not.
“If I went into church and didn’t pray for forgiveness and wasn’t thankful to God, I’d be a hypocrite. But I’m not going to do that; I’m going to be sincere when I confess and when I give thanks.”
Terrison considered the idea. “I see what you’re saying,” he said slowly, “but I always thought of sexual things as worse somehow.”
“That’s due to the strange way our society emphasizes some things it considers wrong and downplays others. Don’t worry, sugar. If you want to go to church, you can without being a hypocrite. If you want to come with me this particular morning, try to be ready in 40 minutes.”
He went with me that morning. He often did-two or three Sundays per month.
Terrison ended up staying at my place for seven months. When he moved out (to an apartment much closer to the college which had accepted him for the semester that started in January) he looked and acted like a confident, strong, happy, wise young man. For the next three years, we had “lunch dates” or “weekend visits” pretty often.
Dionna came to visit me one Friday evening. It had been three weeks since I’d gotten together with Terrison.
I invited Dionna into the condo and we had tea together. My friend looked a little…sad. I knew she was visiting for a reason. Although I was curious, I let her take her time about telling me.
She set down her nearly-empty cup after we’d chatted a while. “Janice, I have to tell you this: Terrison’s got a serious girlfriend.”
“Thank goodness! The way you were looking, I was worried that he’d lost a lot of weight or something,” I said.
She gave me a penetrating gaze. “You have a shoulder to cry on, if you want it,” she told me.
I knew that she had found out about the kind of relationship we’d had. “I’m not sad,” I replied. “Unless she’s no good. But Terrison’s a very nice young man and I hope he and she get married and have a family if that’s what they want.”
Dionna got up and came to stand beside me. “I don’t know whether to be happy or angry or sorry or what!” she said. “Remember when Terrison started college? I went to help him move in. He broke down and bawled like a baby just when I was about to go home. He told me everything, including that he’d fallen in love with you.”
“He said that?” I asked. Quite unexpectedly, I felt a lump in my throat.
“You’d better believe it. But instead of coming here to tell you off for sleeping with my baby, I cooled down and remembered that you’d saved his life. But now…I tell you he’s serious about a woman and you’re stoic. I’m wondering if he ever meant-”
Dionna stopped talking. I didn’t have any idea why.
Until she wiped my cheek.
Then I did need her shoulder.
Once I stopped crying, she hugged me and I composed myself. “I loved him too,” I whispered. “I always will.”
“He’ll always love you,” Dionna said.