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‘I haven’t masturbated to the memory of my eight-year-old cousin. The clock in the corner, a Danish modern reproduction with a stylised cuckoo, chipped away the silent seconds. Melinda raised her head as if catching her husband’s scent. Lea sneered and Kim gave a mutinous flounce like a schoolgirl. ‘Melinda, have you tried watching your husband piss?
Engaging each chakra: the third eye chakra, the throat chakra, the heart chakra.’ Melinda and I snuck looks at her to see what the chakras were, but at root chakra Lea merely pushed the word out with her breath and I understood. Each spot bloomed with the flickering glow of a small flame. Lea asked who else wanted to take the floor and Kim said she could take us through the clitoralis erectoralis exercises. Kim had her eyes wide open now; she had a teacher’s steely focus as she guided Melinda in one fluid motion. At first the ripples merely welled up inside, then they spread out and my limbs flailed. My mind moved loosely over the smooth, blood-warm word. ‘I’d like to tie you up with catgut and whip you with horsehair.’ 9. Melinda was chattering away, trying to defuse the focus, I realised, that she was convinced was on her. And she said one more thing, a terse muttered phrase that fell through me like a depth charge. And Kim, who teaches pilates, said the most important muscle for achieving orgasm is the clitoralis erectoralis, the muscle that makes the clitoris erect. This is important if you’re going to be sitting on the floor rocking. yeah.’ Lea asked Melinda what she did and Melinda answered in the measured, brightly earnest manner of someone at a job interview. Look, it’s pretty far removed from theatre design – my original career path – but, you know, these days I find that it’s the best way for me to express myself artistically, while engaging with a diverse array of people, and obviously the income allows me a lot more creative freedom in my personal life.’ I felt myself blushing in sympathy. Lea lowered herself down first, in an elegant leggy sway like a camel. I picked up my violin and joined in at the summer storm, pulsing my clitoralis erectoralis with every second beat. On Saturday I bought some of the new-season peaches to take to Melinda’s. It’s the tiniest muscle in the human body, male or female. Melinda’s carpet is pure wool, no friction-sparking acrylic. Kim meditatively stroked the glistening pulp of an overripe fig. ‘I’ve done a lot of, uh, the painting on this place.’ ‘Of course,’ said Lea. ‘Unless we want to talk first about …’ I trailed off into silence when no one else picked up the conversational thread. I hoped I wouldn’t have to hold hands and bump feet with her. Any stone fruit was sensual when you thought about it. A vegan awareness deficit.’ There was a tense, brittle silence. Keep going, Mel,’ she said, and sprang to a crouch. Sometimes they sit facing each other in pairs with their legs parted and their feet touching – linking hands, they rock back and forth and groan and yell. I felt like a strong drink – strong in flavour not just in alcohol, like a good peaty single malt – but no-one else seemed to so I stayed quiet, and instead slurped the viscous liquid out of each oyster shell cup, each salty little bowl. For the next few days I held that meeting in my mind as a sweet little cushion to fall back on. Look at me.’ She jerked me harder and I felt the length of my inner quad muscle.
I said it reminded me of an article I’d read somewhere about a tribe in Uganda. ’ ‘We’ll bring the food with us.’ I picked up the platter and a water jug in a slippery, knuckle-cramping grip. I did my clitoralis erectoralis exercises on my bike, in line at the bank, to the spasmodic rhythm of a new student’s Vivaldi Summer movement. Would I be more sensual if I played the cello, had a big muscular instrument between my legs? I should have stretched for this – why didn’t we stretch?
I took the long way, by the creek paths, and practised the rocking motion we needed to do. Melinda answered the door in yoga pants and a reinforced sports singlet, with freshly applied make-up on. Vlad, her yappy little terrier, twined around her feet. I just ate anyway.’ ‘I wanted it to be special, you know. And this weed extract I got at the health store there.’ ‘But aren’t these things … ’ Kim’s lips twitched and she let out a quick bark. I looked down and plucked at the pleats in my slacks. Like a delectable piece of fruit.’ Is the cunt vegan? ‘Kim, if you could take Rona’s hands,’ she murmured.
Kim was sitting at the kitchen counter, wearing a leotard under a tracksuit. ‘I just don’t want to wear pants I can split from unaccustomed grinding.’ Melinda’s smile was tight. For the first time.’ The plate was loaded with figs, pomegranate seeds and asparagus. Kim brought them.’ She rattled a plastic bag in the sink. Melinda looked between us for a beat and then she dropped the tray on the bench. ‘There’s no manual for this.’ Kim and I drooped over the bench and howled. Kim and I shot each other a quick look because oh god it was happening now, all of it happening suddenly. engaging the clitoralis erectoralis with each breath …
Something that frightens us as a child can trigger our PEA – this is the basis of adult fetishes. A fear of being watched, say, or spanked, or out of control.
It can also be produced by the brain under stress, and associated with feelings of fear.
You dreary, cringing suck.’ A pressure was mounting, from the same squirrelly place that makes you run when you’re afraid. Everyone knows you’re not quirky – you’re fucking boring. Your piddling spinster job, your stunted life and your insipid little mind.’ Self-detonating eruptions of thought flared and shimmered. Lea rocked me harder and I tipped forward; my legs opened to an obtuse angle and my cunt pressed against the floor. ‘Lea, do you mean we have to transfer our PEA onto our husbands – I mean, our sexual partners?