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Authors: Annetta Ribken,Baylee,Eden

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BOOK: Allegories of the Tarot
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I walked out of the dimly illuminated apartment
following the thirty-minute reading, thankful I had only paid twenty dollars
for it. Though I could relate to what the Tarot reader said about my career
choices, her implausible thoughts on my love life merely amused me. I filed the
experience away until a week later when I recounted the highlights to a friend
over drinks.

“You’re the most grounded person I know, Ellen. I didn’t
think you believed in stuff like that.”

I shrugged my shoulders. “I did it on a whim.”

“So, you think there’s something to it?”

“To what?
To
Tarot cards?”

“No, to what she said about the young man and an
affair.”

I scoffed.
“Of course not.
I
love Patrick. You know that.”

“Yes, but…” she leaned in and lowered her voice, “it’s
been awhile, hasn’t it?”

My cheeks reddened and I took a sip of wine. Marilyn was
my best friend, and I had confided in her about my situation. Still, I flinched
at the honesty of her words. “Like you said, I’m the most grounded person you
know.”

***

The alarm woke me in time to make breakfast for Patrick
every morning at 6 a.m. sharp while he showered. I knew I wouldn’t see him
again until late that night.

“Don’t eat so fast,” I said, placing a mug of
French-pressed coffee on the granite countertop.

“Can’t help it.
Staff meeting.”
Patrick reached for another almond
croissant. “They expect me to arrive first.”

I sighed. “Will you be home for dinner?”

“I doubt it. I’ll call if I’m able to leave early.” He
kissed the top of my head and headed for the door. “Have
a
good
day writing, darling.”

“Wait.” I handed him the travel mug. “Don’t forget your
coffee.”

“Thanks, love, or should I say, Electra?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “You still like the pen name?”

“I think it’s perfect for you.” He pulled out the key
fob from his jacket and started the car remotely. “Now I really must run or
I’ll be late.”

Thanks to his prestigious job as Director of Obstetrics
& Gynecology, I was able to pursue my dream of writing.
But
at what cost?

After Patrick left for the day, I sat down at my
computer and attempted to rework a pivotal chapter for my debut novel. The book
revolved around a May-December romance and for some reason, I struggled with
the sex scene. I chose the storyline based on the old adage of “write what you
know.” The rest of the story came easily, so it concerned me I could not hammer
out a short sex scene.

As I re-read the manuscript, words from the Tarot reader
hijacked my thoughts. How could she be so wrong? A young, sexually immature man
was the exact opposite of who Patrick was. It annoyed me I was giving it
another thought.

Memories of our tenth wedding anniversary in Paris came
to mind.
The city of love.
Though we didn’t make love
once during the entire week we were there. It wasn’t that he was not
affectionate; he just wasn’t particularly sexual anymore. At fifty-three, his
sex drive waned as mine was ramping up.

The ding of an incoming email vibrated in my ears. I
plucked out my earbuds and hit the mute button on the laptop.
Fuck.
I’d forgotten I inserted the
headphones to drown out the sound of the summer roadwork down the street.

Since my writing wasn’t going anywhere, I toggled to my
email program and opened a message from someone named J.D. Ellsworth. I hit the
link and his face appeared on screen. His name sounded familiar, but I’d never
seen him before.
Clean-shaven, boyish, big blue eyes—nice.
His mouth spoke to me. Lips were my thing, something about imagining how they moved
when talking, eating food…eating me.

My mind jumped back to the sex scene I was writing
before thoughts of the Tarot invaded; I immediately squeezed my eyes to
recapture it. Slow drifting human shapes writhed in my mind’s eye. A smile
crossed my face as letters formed words. The image merged with potential
sentences and I repeated the words in my head so I would not forget them.

Fluid, sensual, union, motion, all
great words colliding and trying to fall into place.
Only moments away
from cohesive structure, the picture blurred. In what seemed like
an instant, dark shadows
replaced the shapes and faded to
black. I remained still for several seconds, desperately hoping the scene would
return. It didn’t. The words had evaporated too.

My eyes shot open in frustration. I suddenly remembered
how I knew J.D. Ellsworth.

***

J.D. Ellsworth was part of an online writers’ group I
belonged to. Helmed by an ambitious young woman who updated regularly, I found
the group supportive of new writers, a forum where one could connect to someone
who might like us; I mean, really like us.

At the time, J.D.’s profile picture was a horse, as
pretentiously regal as I thought his abbreviated name and haughty surname
sounded. I had a slight complex about my name. Ellen Lee was perfect if I wrote
children’s books, but I didn’t write for kids. I wrote for adults only, and I
needed something punchy and original. It took me a few days to settle on
Electra—just Electra, writer of eloquent erotica. The one name gave it a
diva-esque quality, and the tagline explained what I did.

I never saw J.D. post to the group until about a month
ago when he appeared saying he’d released a book of poetry and short stories.
He included a link to a sample and requested the group give it a read. He even
said “please” and added a happy face emoticon.
His polite demeanor seemed genuine enough, so I made a mental note to
come back to it later if I had time.
That was my one and only
interaction with J.D. Ellsworth…until today.

I touched the mouse pad to bring my computer out of
sleep mode. J.D.’s face brightened the screen. As innocuous as his request was,
his timing sent an odd chill through me.

No one so good-looking could possibly be a poet. He must
have substituted the horse picture with some male model. Most poets I met
looked like Bukowski in his later years. They had no sense of their appearance
because they didn’t care about it. Their hair was a greasy mess, and they had
bad skin from too much drink and cigarettes. I clicked on J.D.’s website and
found more photos. It was him all right, not a model. He looked unbelievably
hot in each picture.

I sent J.D. a note, not revealing too much about myself.
Some people had funny ideas about writers of erotica; maybe he was one of them.
As much as I considered it important to make friends in the writing world, I
didn’t care to expose too much of my private life.

I wrote him a brief message, conveyed I had a fan page
specific for my author friends. I invited him to visit it and connect there if
he was interested. He responded immediately and extended a polite invitation
for his page as well. From there, we discussed the merits of self-publishing
and found out a bit more about each other as writers,
then
J.D. injected a tidbit, which surprised me.

I’ve written an
erotic short story and I’d love your thoughts on it,
the message read.

It was a favor authors asked of one another all the
time. Why then, did I find myself hesitant to say yes?

I’d be happy to
read it,
I finally typed.

He said he looked forward to hearing my comments. Nice,
polite, sweet—all words swirling around my brain as I stared at his picture and
started burning up. Springtime in Toronto was not yet above freezing, with one
more snowfall predicted for later in the week. There was no reason for me to
feel so hot.

My fingers strayed between my legs as I sat stretched
out on the couch with the laptop on my thighs. When I slid my hand down my
panties, the sticky wetness of my excitement did not surprise me. Lifting my
ass slightly, I inserted a finger inside, clenched the walls of my pussy, and
stroked myself for several seconds. I knew I wouldn’t be able to write another
word until I found release.

Reluctantly pulling my hand out of my panties, I caught
a whiff of my juices and it only aroused me more. What the hell, I thought to
myself. With a few strokes of the keyboard, I found my way back to J.D’s
original email. Using the same finger I had just used to play with myself, I
accepted his request.

J.D. Ellsworth and I were now officially friends via the
social network.

***

Two days later, he popped up on my chat program.

J.D.: good morning, how are you?

Electra: hey, good, yourself?

I was going to message you

J.D.: oh? Is it okay if we chat?

I prefer the immediacy of this over email.

Electra: sure, just wanted to tell you I read your
story

J.D.: what did you think?

Electra: in a word—delicious

J.D.: really?

Electra: yes

J.D.: glad you liked it

Electra: I did, it was hot

J.D.: you found it hot?

Electra: very much so

J.D.: hmm…may I ask what turned you on about it?

Electra: I like stories with masturbation,
particularly men masturbating

J.D.: oh yeah, I’d forgotten about that part

Electra: you have a unique way of writing

short
choppy sentences that
move the story along

kinda
like the act itself

J.D.: true, good way of putting it

Electra: well written for someone who doesn’t usually
write about sex

J.D.: Yeah, I guess it’s a fantasy of mine to be
discovered while masturbating

Electra: you’re a bit of an exhibitionist then

J.D.: I guess I am…and you?

Electra: what about me?

J.D.: you write erotica, you have a favorite fantasy?

Electra: I have many, that’s why I write

it’s
a release

J.D.: release?

Electra: hmm…I guess we’re back on the topic of
masturbation

J.D.: ha, I guess we are

Electra: I think I’d better do some vacuuming,
chatting with you is…

J.D.: yes?

Electra: stimulating…to say the least

J.D.: I like the thought of stimulating you.

Pause.

J.D.: are you still there?

Electra: sorry, yes, I’m here, just thinking

J.D.: about?

Electra: vacuuming

J.D.: you mean hoovering?

Electra: ah, yes

J.D.: you enjoy that?

Electra: hate it, but it kills the sex urge

J.D.: Brill! Will you be online later?

Electra: unlikely, going out for lunch soon

J.D.: I forget I’m five hours ahead of you

Electra: true, how’s the weather in London?

J.D.: it rained earlier but warming up, and in
Toronto?

Electra: we are finally above zero

it’s
been a long winter

J.D.: nice, I hope you enjoy your day then

Electra: and
you,
have a
great evening

I quickly went offline and felt myself hot and wet—yet
again. Who was this man, and why did he have this power over me?

Flushed, I shut down my laptop and contemplated
vacuuming.

***

Electra: So, what does JD stand for?

J.D.: James Daniel

Electra: James Daniel Ellsworth, that’s a mouthful

J.D.: it’s not the only part of me that’s a mouthful

Electra: ha, you’re terrible!

J.D.: *grin*

how
did you come up with
Electra?

Electra: my real name is too boring for erotica

J.D.: Ellen is classic

Electra: I suppose

I don’t mind it

thankful
I didn’t have a
phonetically translated Asian name like some kids I knew

JD.:
Like what?

Electra: Hmm…let’s see

there
was Gee Sook Fat, Lee
Ho Tam, and the worst one of all…

J.D.: yes?

Electra: Hung Too Lo

J.D.: No way!

Electra: Yup, geeky boy I met in fifth grade

poor
guy spent his years
introducing himself as

“I’m Hung Too Lo, but call me Toby.”

J.D.: Poor bugger, hope he got it legally changed!

Electra: Yeah, me too!

Pause.

J.D.: I like talking to you

Electra: I like talking to you too

***

Our online conversations continued daily over the next
two weeks. Harmless flirtation, though I couldn’t say they were entirely
innocent. J.D.’s voracious sexual appetite aroused and amused me. More than
anything, he infused youth and excitement into my days. The fact that he had no
qualms expressing how I turned him on didn’t hurt either.

I limited my time with J.D. to the morning hours,
convinced myself our chats were for research purposes only. After all, I had
changed my story around because of him. My older man-younger woman story
experienced a role reversal. Penning two thousand words daily suddenly became
easy and I no longer struggled with the sex scenes.

On occasion though, reality hit when thoughts of the
Tarot reading surfaced. Each time, I shook the words out of my head.

Just be aware of
the difference between love and infatuation.

I didn’t love J.D.

I loved my husband.

I was a grown woman.

I knew better.

***

J.D.: oh, there you are

Electra: hey.
i’m
here but
just got out of the shower, brb

J.D.: i’ve missed you

Electra: Aw, that’s sweet

J.D.: I’m serious

Electra: I know, I’m dripping

J.D.: Yeah?

Electra: From the shower, silly

J.D.: Are you naked? Oh god, i could really use that
today

Electra: you’re incorrigible

J.D.: the thought of your wet skin, licking you,
tasting you

Electra: James…let me dry off and come back in an
hour, ok?

J.D.: you’re killing me

Electra: James, please…

J.D.: I’ll be waiting

Pause.

Electra: I’m back. Are you there?

J.D.: yes, i’m here and ravenous, just to warn you

Electra: you should be ravenous, part of being so
young

J.D.: 26 is not that young

Electra: don’t say that to someone who’s almost 40

J.D.: I want you

I want you, an older woman, dripping on top of me

begging
me for my young,
thick cock

Electra: Wow…you are ravenous

J.D.: Bloody well right

Electra: you really like that I’m older than you, don’t
you?

J.D.: LOVE it

Electra: why?

J.D.: I don’t know why, truthfully

I dream of seeing my cum leak out of you

Electra: oh god

J.D.: I want your pussy so badly

Electra: you want so much. You’re insatiable

J.D.: I constantly crave and need

Electra: I see that

J.D.: It turns you on, doesn’t it?

Pause.

Electra: yes, shows me you’re alive

J.D.: I’m alive for you

Electra: Charmer, how did you get to be so cute?

J.D.: haha, lots of world-weariness, travel, love,
heartbreak

Electra: you’re adorable

J.D.: so are you, and…

Electra: yes?

J.D.: and fucking sexy as hell

Electra: *blush*

***

I awoke in a cold sweat, breathless. The digital clock
beside me read 5:22 a.m.
Rolling
over, I bumped up
against Patrick who stirred and then draped an arm around me.

Willing him not to wake up, I took several deep breaths
and nestled against him.

J.D. immediately popped into my mind.

Fuck.

What the hell was I doing?

I only had a vague memory of the dream—an angel in a
purple cloak watched as I cried. I wanted forgiveness from the man near me, but
he refused to answer. I demanded he say something; he wouldn’t or perhaps he
just couldn’t. He moved away from me, slowly, until I could no longer see him.
That’s when I woke up.

I grabbed Patrick’s arm and wrapped it more tightly
around myself.

***

Electra: hi you

J.D.: hello

Electra: did you have a good trip?

J.D.: yes, it was good to meet up with some old mates

got
pissed every night though

I’m exhausted!

Electra: Ha, serves you right.

I think I know every place you ate at from your
updates

J.D.: yeah, I’m a foodie

takes
a lot to feed this six
feet frame

Electra: I don’t doubt it

happy
you had fun

J.D.: I missed you though

thought
of you lots

Electra: I thought of you too

J.D.: really?

Electra: yes

J.D.: I like knowing you think of me

good
thoughts?

Electra: Of course, only good

J.D.: I came five times this morning thinking of you

Pause.

Electra: now what can I say to that?

you’re
a semen machine

J.D.: I know

cum
everywhere

it
was a mess

Electra: you’re a baby

J.D.: Ha, I’m no baby, but I could be your baby

Pause.

J.D.: You still there?

Electra: Yes, I’m here

J.D.: crossing the line?

Electra: if only I knew where the line was

I’m afraid it’s been blurry the past few weeks

J.D.: Does that make you uncomfortable?

Electra: A little, only because our connection is
surreal

J.D.: it doesn’t have to be

Electra: what do you mean?

J.D.: Skype? I want to see you

Electra: no

J.D.: I want you, and I can’t help it

Pause.

Electra: I know but…

J.D.: but what?

Electra: we need to take a break

J.D.: why?

Electra: James, what we have between us

all
this sexual banter

It’s….

J.D.: what?

Electra: It’s a fantasy

you
know that, right?

Pause.

J.D.: what are you saying?

Electra: I need to end the fantasy

please
don’t hate me

J.D.: I could never hate you

Pause.

Electra: Still friends?

Pause.

J.D.: Always.

***

I shuffled the deck as instructed and concentrated on
what I wanted to know. The tiny, familiar apartment now comforted where it once
spooked me. The Tarot reader nodded as I handed her the cards.

“Nice to see you again,” she said.

I offered a sheepish smile.
“Nice to
see you too, happy to be back.”

“Good.” She started pulling cards from the deck. “Let’s
begin.”

***

Eden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to become
a full-time writer. Incorporating some of her favorite things such as travel,
culture, and a deep curiosity for what turns people on, her brand of writing is
sensual, sexual, and literary.

Spring into
Summer
 is her second collection of erotic
novellas and the companion piece to 
Fall into Winter.
Her latest release is a book of flash
fiction and poetry called
Hot Flash.

She is currently writing a psychological mystery novel
scheduled for late 2013.

Eden's laptop is attached to her hip and she rarely
sleeps, so connect to her via her
website
and other
virtual homes.

***

THE CHARIOT

Squashfest—A Sally Mae Riddley Adventure

By Annetta Ribken

The only thing saving my best friend from murder was the
fact it was illegal and I din’t want to go to jail.

“Come on, Sally Mae. It’ll be fun.”

“Becky Jo McFee, I been to a hundred Squashfests and
there ain’t nothing fun about ‘em.” I zipped up my hoodie, grabbed the milk
pail, and dashed toward the barn behind the trailer, hoping Becky Jo got the
hint. But no, she was right on my tail, even though I knowed for a fact she
hated the smell of cow shit.

“You ain’t been to a hundred Squashfests. They’re only
once a year and you ain’t but sixteen. Quit bein’ a drama queen. Oh, come on. I
don’t want to go by myself. Think of it as a girl’s night out.” Her voice
sounded muffled and I turned to see she’d pulled her sweatshirt over her nose and
had to laugh despite my everlasting irritation.
Downright
comical, that girl.

“What’s so funny?”

“You, with your sweatshirt.
You
look like a damned fool.”

Becky Jo pulled the sweatshirt higher over her face. “I
can’t stand it, Sally Mae. In science class, Mr. Slater said there’s these
partic-u-lates in the air from the cow shit and I ain’t breathing them in. Now
quit tryin’ to change the subject.”

“Particulates.
That’s what you’re
worried about?” I pulled the stool over next to Molly and started milking.
“Jeezum crow.
You’re gonna nag me until I say yes, ain’t
you?” The barn felt warm compared to the autumn chill outside, and the familiar
hissing of the milk into the pail sounded a mite comforting.

Becky Jo shifted from foot to foot, although I knowed
the stubborn thing warn’t about to give up.
“Yep.
Sure
am. You need to get out for a night.”

My face flushed when she said that. She was talking
about my mama, who’d been drunk every damned night for the last two months,
even if she din’t say it right out loud. Ever since my daddy done run off,
leaving me and my sissy, Sue Ann, to make sure Mama din’t kill herself drinking
by choking on her own puke or settin’ the trailer on fire with her cigarettes.

“You just let Sue Ann take care of business for once and
keep her hootchie ass to home. Do her good to let that thang cool off a little.”

I couldn’t help it. First, I snorted, then Becky Jo
giggled, and that was it. We busted up.

Poor Molly mooed and turned her head, looking at us as
if we were crazier than Mad Hattie, the swamp witch. That just made me laugh
harder, and next thing I saw was Becky Jo rolling around in the hay like she
was having a fit, howling and holding her tummy.

“All right, all right.”
I wiped
the tears of hilarity streaming down my face with my sleeve and got back to
milking, while Becky Jo finally sat up with hay sticking out of her hair. This
almost set me off again, but I was afeared if I laughed any more I’d pee all
over the milking stool. “I’ll hightail it out after supper and meet you by the
creek.”

Becky Jo grinned and I had to grin back. Maybe this
Squashfest wouldn’t be so bad.

***

“This sucks.”

Becky Jo swallowed a bite of her battered and fried
butternut on a stick and said, “You know, Sally Mae, you got yourself a real
bad attitude. I can’t say as I blame you, but damn, girl.”

Celebrating the wonders of squash was a tradition in
Dinksville every fall. Although the array of large zucchini might be
fascinating to some people, especially Mabelline Townsend who probably had
something else in mind for the vegetable besides what’s for supper, it din’t
impress me much. Neither did the Smash
The Hubbard With
Your Head competition, which Beau Miller won most every year. Seein’ as he had
the hardest head in town, that warn’t
no
surprise.

We pushed through the crowd down the midway between
booths of Pitch-Til-You-Win and Ring-Around-The-Spaghetti Squash with people
lined up for a chance at a giant stuffed cucurbita, passing food trucks lit up
and probably teeming with all kinds of bacterial life forms.
Here’s this girl so worried about breathing ‘particulates’
of cow shit, and she’s eating fried squash out one o’ these death traps.
O’course
I din’t say this out
loud
 
on
account just thinking about it made
me want to urp.

“Get off my grits, Becky Jo. You’d be a mite irritated
your own self if your daddy up and left with your mama so drunk every night
somebody’s gotta babysit her.”
Two months
now.
Two months since my daddy took off and nobody knowed
nothing ‘bout where he went.
I never thought my own daddy would do us
like that.

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