The Culmination

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Jeremy strode out the door into the beautiful afternoon and saw the emerald sky making love with the tall oaks that lined the green hills surrounding his small town, smiled at the sweet summer smells of barbeques and grass layered within the distant shouts of children playing and the hum of insects in the hot, still air. Ten feet from the open door of his squat brick office building he turned, sucked in a sweet breath of clean summer air, and shouted, “No! Fuck YOU! I QUIT!”

Smiling still, he pointed his boots toward the edge of town and began to walk.

Without much of a destination, Jeremy walked past the cute shops that catered to the summer tourist trade, their aisles and windows crammed with customers escaping the summer heat, past wilted sidewalk vendors that tried in vain to keep cool in the shade of their canvas umbrellas, past the edge of downtown and the baking down-home sign welcoming one and all to the fabulous shopping mecca of Myer, Massachusetts, past the sweet little suburban homes (though there wasn’t any urban to be sub to) that sprouted with roomy regularity from the softly rolling earth, earth preparing to leap excitedly into the hills from which Boston could not be seen, regardless of the weather.

He hadn’t a thought in his head.

Jeremy looked in through plate-glass windows to see televisions on, cool blue attempting to defeat the hot orange invading from outside, exhausted housewives having succumbed to gravity and the heat in the overstuffed comfort of their couches. He chuckled at the small band of children having a water balloon fight at half-speed, their energy sapped by the sun, the game of escape almost pointless because they all looked like they wanted to get hit. Several panting dogs watched him from shady porches as he passed, the interesting smells of sweat and leather he left in his wake not tantalizing enough (and what could be?) to inspire the energy cost of investigating.

Jeremy sweated through his shirt under the arms and between his shoulders, walking briskly, enjoying the day. At one point he deposited his open-topped briefcase on a sidewalk corner to stretch, reaching into the sky and grunting with pleasure as his spine crackled, and then he simply walked away from his bag without so much as a backward glance. The scattered clouds looked lonely and out of place. One was a lion, he decided, but the other looked like a speeding car grafted onto a beetle somehow, and he left it to its own devices.

He walked happily, his problems over and yet just beginning, his slender back straight and his head held high, green eyes sparkling in the afternoon light as only the eyes of a young man without cares and a whole summer afternoon ahead of him can, swinging his arms through the fragrant air as he put one foot in front of the other, smiling softly, as if at some private joke.

He didn’t know it, but he had a very specific destination.


Sweet Jessica.

After they’d settled into their routine, Jeremy’s visits to Jessica’s home became as enjoyable as excruciating frustration can be.

In other words, they had the time of their lives.

Their mutual attraction had begun immediately, and after a few awkward moments when Jessica’s mother left the room, they had found to their ever increasing pleasure that they clicked like neither had ever clicked before. They were an erector set, Jeremy would think ruefully (he liked naughty but juvenile comparisons, as do we all) when he was walking home, his erection painful and demanding. They fit together so well he was afraid of the possibilities: they were an erector set that could be used to construct a Mars lander, an internal combustion engine, a ticking time bomb.

They found they shared a passion for John Coltrane and ballroom dancing; each was well-versed in environmental politics and the philosophy of the mind; their enjoyment of hiking ran parallel to their love of long afternoon naps; each enjoyed cooking with olive oil, the novels of Neal Stephenson, swimming pools without chlorine, mowing the lawn, and waking up early on weekends. They were both right-handed and their favorite color was teal (teal like a Carolla, not like the Caribbean). Their names began with the same letter. They were both slender and well-kept, good-looking because they didn’t care how they looked.

Jeremy looked like a painter, a young artist, who had gotten lost and ended up subbing as a doctor. He had the quiet confidence of a natural talent, and part of what Jessica found so appealing was wondering how many things, exactly, he was talented at. His hair was dark and straight, cut mostly short, a tad wild around the edges but mostly well-behaved. He had an edge about him that spoke of a bewildering combination of deep wisdom and a childlike, manic intensity, a mad willingness to try, well, just about anything. He was lean, not in a hungry way, but in a ready way, like a musketeer or a minuteman, and he wore his clothes like a man who feels perfectly at home no matter where güvenilir bahis he was. His height was just right.

Jessica looked like a farmer’s daughter who’d been hijacked by the volleyball team: broad, open features and a ready smile combined with a capable physicality that hinted she was ready for anything. Her hair was long, straight, and blonde with darker roots, and it caught the sunlight with a hint of amber, a secret coaxed out by heat. She had an ability to focus that Jeremy found frankly terrifying, should she ever use it for ill, and a calm way of talking about serious things that made her seem much older, much wiser. She was actively curvy, her breasts as large as her waist slim and her hips wide, and she carried herself with an ease and grace that made her the envy of women twice her age. She had many freckles.

The first time they saw each other they had known exactly where they belonged together, and it was sweet knowledge, but painful. The most wonderful thing of all was they way they made each other laugh. They did it to each other with an ease that continually surprised them both. The laughter they shared was not the “isn’t that funny, what you just said” laugh of an encouraging friend or lover, or the “I’m laughing ‘cause I don’t know what else to do” laugh of a smitten admirer, or even the “yes I’ve seen that too” laugh of an inside joke or a cultural reference. This laughter was open, loud, and directly from the belly. Jessica would point out that Vivaldi was very short and his music made her hair kink up and the simplicity of her tone, as if this were not at all surprising, as if this was something everyone experienced, would cause Jeremy to barrel from a chuckle to an outright guffaw. Jeremy liked to imitate political leaders in the Green and Libertarian parties, and something about his earnest, strutting walk and the wildly inappropriate statements that would fall out of his mouth (“I want to strengthen the family unit and harmonize with foreigners, but continue with my program of inserting things into my butt, and the butts of those I love”) once made Jessica laugh so hard she spat crackers and cheese onto the ceiling.

Everything was pretty much perfect.

Except for one little thing: Jessica wasn’t very good at calculus. Jeremy was. He had graduated college the year before. Jessica was about to graduate High School.

Jeremy was her tutor.

Oh, sure, she was eighteen and all; heck, she passed that milestone back in December. And Jeremy wasn’t exactly sizing coffins, either. The problem was that pesky old community “morality” that tended to assert itself around the newly adult: sure she could smoke (she didn’t) and vote (she would) and enter into military service (you kidding?), and while it wasn’t exactly against the law for there to be anything between them, the understanding of the powers that be is that they wouldn’t exactly be on equal footing. That whole student/teacher thing.

So, phooey, right? Darn it and too bad, try again next time, don’t forget to write.

Well, not quite. The thing is that usually the teacher is quite a bit older than the student, and the student is usually in college, impressionable, open to the perverse stamp of someone hoping to manipulate a forming mind. There was nothing impressionable about Jessica at all; she didn’t idolize him or lionize him or canonize him or anything like that, she simply knew exactly how—and how often—she wanted Jeremy, and it didn’t have anything to do with what he knew about fucking Calculus.

They made as many excuses as they could for not working. Jeremy was often thirsty, and quick trips to the kitchen (which for some reason required both of them) became long, drawn out conversations of the type only a change in scenery can inspire. Jessica’s mother had an elaborate garden behind the house, and Jessica often found it necessary to show Jeremy just how much the apple buds had opened, that the irises were doing fine and the crocuses were on the mend. Jessica doodled while thinking, and they occasionally found themselves just buckling down and drawing together in silence, each working on something they would tentatively show each other later, knowing it would be warmly praised but nervous all the same. Sometimes they would sing.

The thing was that they were perfect for each other, and they knew it. They just couldn’t talk about it, or even mention it. They were only allowed to steal glances when the other was concentrating on the work, Jessica taking in the line of his jaw and his capable hands, Jeremy sweeping his eyes down the curve of her waist, the sweet darkness of the hollow between her breasts.

Sometimes he would imagine what it would be like to kiss her freckles, to feel his hand nestle against the small of her back, do dance with her. Other times her clothes were shredded in their haste to remove them, and she sweated and cried out under him, staring into his eyes, and he would climax, breathless and alone, confused by her absence.

Jessica liked türkçe bahis to think of how it would happen, knowing he wouldn’t try to sneak up on her like the other boys she knew did; a hand on the knee, then slightly higher, then between her legs…no, he would come to stand behind her in the garden and take her in his arms and pull her close, and she would turn her head and he would kiss her. Or she would return to the den where they worked with a glass of water and he would be standing in the middle of the room, looking lost and confused, and she would go to him and she would kiss him on the cheek and look at him, and then he would lean in to kiss her, his eyes never leaving hers, a thousand years of distance slowly unspooling as they came together. And other times she would be in the kitchen when he arrived and their clothes would make a trail to the hallway, where they would succumb to gravity and she would mount him against the wall, holding his head to her breasts as she rocked atop him.

So many times in those two short months had she imagined asking him to meet her in the grove behind the garden, so many times he had written imaginary notes she would miss and would be found by her parents. He had once debated the relative merits of kidnapping her, and had rejected the idea, mainly because they wouldn’t get very far before they would have to pull over and get it over with. They fretted and toyed with outlandish ideas, but prudence and propriety always won out and they would part frustrated, dying with unspoken need, their eyes hungry but shy, afraid if they looked too long they would be unable to deny any longer what they both had known forever.

So they parted warmly three nights a week. Warmly, but quickly.

And now it was June, and it was so hot you couldn’t breathe, and school was almost over and so was the best thing that had ever happened to them.


Jessica shrugged the sundress over her head, ignoring the multitude of buttons that ran down its front, as she shouted down the stairs. “Don’t forget the flowers, mom! Petal Power is the one right across from the post office!” Her mother’s voice floated up to Jessica as she grabbed her brush and ran it quickly through her hair.

“I know honey! It’s the one with the green awning! I’ll be back to pick you up at, what, eight?”

Jessica sagged with momentary defeat, then mustered her forces and marched into the hall and descended to the first landing, looking out over the airy living room and her mother, who was fumbling her keys from her capacious coat pockets. “Mom. The awning is red. And if you’re not here at six I can’t get the presents before the dinner.” She spoke with the air of someone taking great pains to be reasonable when murder was not far away. “Now go. I’ve got to work on my speech.”

Her mother looked at her with a mixture of love and exasperation. “Okay, honey. And I’m sure it’ll be great. Dad and I are so proud—“

“Mom.” Jessica’s mother paused, swallowed, nodded distractedly, then smiled brightly and walked out the door, sticking out her tongue as she disappeared from view.

Jessica sagged against the banister, a smile on her face in spite of herself. She let her arms dangle over it toward the hardwood floor and made a zombie sound, her hair hanging in front of her face. I bet the undead would have no problem with an Honors Society Dinner, she thought, maybe if I just died, I wouldn’t have to do this. No, her parents would still make her go, they’d just prop her up in front of the lectern and read her speech for her. She grinned at the image of her father crouching behind her, sweating and trying to keep her rigid body from toppling forward as her mother raised her voice and quaveringly thanked everyone for their support.

She straightened and smoothed her dress down over her hips. She absently tapped her brush against the banister, thinking of how wonderful it would be not to go, how she could just go down to the office block instead, to number 72, where Jeremy worked, get his address from the nice girl behind the counter, and go to his house. He’d said he had a little apartment on the other side of town, and Jessica imagined it was clean but untidy, with thin, interestingly patterned rugs hanging on the walls, and books everywhere. He would come to the door and he would see her and the life would leap into his face. He would grin then, and bow his head to her in that old-fashioned way of his and ask her in without missing a beat, and then they’d—

She had a sudden flash of standing in front of her peers at the Dinner and saying, “Sorry, but I was lollygagging and have no speech. Here is a sexual fantasy instead, one involving myself and my calculus tutor, wherein we attempt to make love against a wall. Enjoy.” A little moan of frustration escaped her lips as her hand tightened on the brush. No. She had to go through with this. There was one week left in her high school experience, and if she’d learned anything there, it was that your responsibilities very güvenilir bahis siteleri quickly became a prison, and if you try to get out the guards in the towers will shoot you.

Or something like that. She squared her shoulders, took a deep breath, and marched determinedly back upstairs. She had a speech to write.

She’d gotten almost all the way up the seven stairs between her and the rest of her life when Jessica quailed again, sensing the unending progression of dinners, ceremonies, meetings, and conferences that lay ahead of her. A probable major in Business Communications (what her father called, “essential for any young person who wants a future”) or, less likely, Biological Systems Management (“high-falutin’ forestry”) meant she would be in college for at least six years (!), and after that it was either the workaday world in Boston or New York or the research arm of yet another university.

Suddenly her plan seemed like a huge system for incurring countless responsibilities, rather than one that would provide her with the opportunities she hoped for. She reeled atop the stairs, her long hair swinging in the still air, a little groan escaping her mouth. Why couldn’t she imagine anything else? Why did it all seem a prison? Couldn’t she follow Jeremy’s path? Take college courses at a small university with no definite plan, just follow the “inscrutable exhortations of the soul” like some excellent dead guy had said. Yes, that was more like it. She wandered down the hall to her room, lost in her reverie. She could ask Jeremy what he had done, get the details, and then come to a decision about the rest of her life!

The urgent details of her preparations for the Dinner began to fade in the face of the vision which now sprang into Jessica’s head.

She would smile up into his face and cross the threshold into his little apartment (she was smiling, in her room, her eyes far away, hands clasped in front of her stomach) and see his simple dinner laid out on a low table, a glass of wine untouched, book tented above his plate. He would close the door softly behind her and just stand there, not filling the air with idle chatter, while she looked around his room and then turned to face him (she brought one hand up to her flushed cheek while the other traced up her stomach and rose over the swell of her breast) and he would be looking at her, hungrily, but with that lovely patience he brought to all things, and then they would come together—

Jessica came back as she realized where this was heading, considered for a moment, and gave herself permission. She lay back on her bed, idly undoing the top buttons of her dress, already slipping back into the fantasy. This will help, really, she thought, a bit of a de-stresser is just what I could use. It wasn’t as if it took much time, anyway…

But she was already far away. Her eyes closed and her face relaxed, the pinched concentration slipping away like a ghost melting into the air, and she slipped one of the thin dress straps down her shoulder, pulling the dress down to expose the top of her pale breast, savoring the feel of her skin under her hand as it slid away from the strap and down her arm. Her other hand moved down over her body, imagining it was his hand, revelling in the smoothness of the fabric and the tautness of the skin beneath, finding the crevice between her legs and kneading softly against the mound there. Her lips parted and she released a deep breath in a long, contented sigh, moving one hand across the fabric that stretched over her full breast, finding her nipple hard, waiting. She began to knead it softly, her other hand pressing at the heat between her legs.

Jeremy was kissing her now, his lips soft but strong, expressive in their desire. Her arms were clasped behind his head and she pulled him into her, pressing her soft body against him. He bit her lower lip and lowered his hands to her waist, where he began to run them up and down, over her hips, around her stomach, back and over her ass. Jessica lifted one leg and leaned further into him, resting her knee against the wall and grinding her pelvis into the hard mass that pressed against his slacks. His hands encircled her ass as she began to unbutton his shirt, kissing his cheeks and down his neck to his chest, lowering her leg and crouching before him, running her tongue over the smooth skin of his chest, finding his nipple, licking it, biting it. He was groaning now, his head thrown back and his hands running through her hair. She finished unbuttoning his shirt and pulled it open, exposing his flat stomach as she rose to kiss him again, her hand trailing up his thigh to the thick bulge in his pants, kneading and pulling, their tongues intertwining in their mouths.

Jessica was breathing heavily now, her cheeks flushed, wet lips parted, and she slowly gathered the fabric of her dress in her hand and luxuriously slid the short hem up and over her thighs, exposing her simple underwear, the crotch damp and dark. Her hand slid between her underwear and her warm skin, finding the first tangles of hair and sliding through them to the twin mounds that rose there. She slid her middle finger between those lips and began to explore the wetness she found, her pussy hot and dark.

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