"I'd like you to just hold it."
Anna and I were on her bed. She was comfortably nestled under my arm, the Kindle on my tummy. We were taking turns choosing a video to watch. I was showing her images of herself taking her own pleasure, and more intimate scenes with Miranda. She was showing me YouTube videos of girls riding horses. I give her credit for persistence. She was somewhat annoyed that I seemed to enjoy the horse videos too. I suspect that there's something physical in girls' attraction to riding. Spreading their legs around a huge, powerful animal, feeling its supple strength move beneath, the thumping pressure just there. I'd point out when I saw the rider lean forward, the expression on her face changing just for a moment.
"It's not like that," she said. "You think everything is about sex."
"I do not think that everything is about sex. It's just hard to imagine that you wouldn't feel something."
"I don't know. Can I find out? Can I?"
"Perhaps. What is the appeal, if it's not that?"
"Just... I'm not sure. Like, being free. And steering him. Going anyplace."
I extrapolated on her idea. "Freedom. Control. Power."
"The man at the mall," I reminded her. "You had power over him."
"The perv. Power over pervs. Yay?"
"Over people. Today, mostly men, and only some men. More than you imagine. Every day, you'll appeal to more men, and women. And boys and girls. You're lovely. You have power over me, even now."
Her eyes flicked over my prominent bulge.
"Perv." This had become more gentle teasing of late.
"You're curious about it, I know. You thought about your mother's boyfriend, when you were in his lap. You felt his excitement. His lumpy lap when he held you. The man at the mall. I saw where you looked."
"It made me feel sick. In his lap."
"You were frightened. But the man at the mall. Me, now. Knowing that you've aroused me. Are you frightened? Does it make you feel sick?"
"Ya." I held her for a moment. She relented a bit. "Sometimes."
"But not always."
"I guess not."
"Would you like to hold my penis, Anna?"
"My turn to pick," I said. I showed her a video of Miranda. It was early in her tenure with me. She'd had such a difficult life with her family.
"If I give you a hand job, can I have a cigarette?"
"No. That's not how things are here."
"What if I blow you? I really want a cigarette."
"No. You've quit smoking, as of now. And we don't trade for sex. It's not a transaction. It's mutual joy."
She laughed. "You're an idiot. You can't get something for nothing."
"Did you ever have an orgasm before you came here, Miranda?"
"I don't think so. Sometimes it felt okay. Mostly it was just... getting it over with. When it didn't hurt like a motherfucker."
"Language. And since you've come here?"
She shrugged. "I guess I figured out why people like it."
"Have I asked for anything in return for the pleasure I've given you?"
"Not so far. Matter of time."
"Why do you suppose I do it?"
"You're getting me hooked so I'll be your willing little pedo cumslut. Like Daddy did with cigarettes. I had to blow him if I wanted a smoke. This is better, I guess. Less cancer."
"Have you watched me, when I lick you?"
"How do I look?" I said.
"Stupid. But... happy? Like a stupid happy puppy."
"Sex is awkward. It does look stupid, if you're not actively involved. But yes, happy. It makes me happy to give you pleasure. To see even for a moment all the pain and anger and degradation drain away from your face, to see you feel some joy. It's profoundly beautiful to me."
"And gets your rocks off. Perv."
"Yes, that too. The beauty of it makes it so."
"If you really like making me happy you'll let me smoke. Right now. It's driving me crazy."
"Sorry, no. I'll try to do other things to help you feel better."
"Ask. Within reason, please."
She paused for a moment.
"So if I told you to lick my asshole, you would?"
"Yes. With pleasure."
I did. The scene went on for a while. Miranda came several times with a steady stream of expletives. It saddened me to remember how jaded she'd been at just ten years old, cynical beyond her years. That she was smart enough to understand what was done to her made the tragedy all the worse.
Anna said, "I was totally grossed out. When you did that to me."
"And now?" I asked.
"I can't help it. Like you said about my body. I can't help the feelings."
"Because they're natural. You're unlearning before you can learn. Miranda had no shame to unlearn, only anger and hate. I showed her that I had no agenda other than her pleasure."
"But... you kept her... you're keeping me... cuz you want sex."
"I want a sexual partner. To share sex, not have it. To give and receive freely. She came to understand that giving pleasure can yield joy even more powerful than access to her next Marlboro Light."
Anna chewed her lip, her hand on my chest.
"Your turn to pick," I prompted.
It took a long moment for her to answer. "Show the one of me. The first one. With the... thing."
"Are you sure?"
"Ya. I know you like it."
"I like it very much. Do you like it?"
"I guess so."
I started the video. We watched quietly.
"Would you like to hold my penis?"
I kissed the top of her head.
"Not really," she said.
"It's okay," I said.
"I guess I will."
"Okay," I said. I waited. "You can take it out."
She was awkward and careful with her fingers at my buttons and zipper, slow and deliberate. I helped a little.
As I was exposed, already at full mast, "Have you seen one before?"
She shook her head. "Not... like that."
"Not erect, you mean."
"You did that to me. You made my cock hard, because you're so lovely. Just hold it."
Her slender fingers encircled tentatively. I shivered. "It's warm," she said.
"Yes. That's so nice. You won't hurt it."
"It's not so bad. Weird."
The tip of her finger traced along the ridge of the head and down the cleft underneath. I twitched.
"Almost like it's alive," she whispered.
"It is. It thinks on its own too. It knows what it wants, just like your cunt."
"Please lick me," she said.
"Will you hold it while I do?"
"Okay," she said.
I kissed her lips softly and made my way south, moving to lay beside her and allow access. She held me in a distracted way as I worked until she stiffened and trembled, her small hand clenching into a fist around me. I moaned into her bare quim, sparking a new shiver. I kissed my way back to her mouth. Her face had a different look somehow. I tried to parse it.
"I'm proud of you, Anna."
She smiled, a pure smile, unfiltered. She was proud of herself, as she should be.
"I'd like you to just hold it."
Jacob and I on his bed, trying to focus on some reading. He was persistent in getting his hand down my pants.
"What's the point of that?" he said. "That's boring."
"The point is that you can't immediately put every penis you see into your mouth."
"Not immediately. I like to get it hard with my hand first sometimes."
"That's not what I mean." I pushed his hand away. "Let me show you something." I pulled up a grainy video, something shot in a psychology laboratory in the early 1970s. There was a young boy sitting at a table, staring at a plate containing one single marshmallow.
"Ummmm," said Jacob.
"Just watch," I said.
The boy looked around furtively, then began to fidget. He poked at the marshmallow with one finger. Then again. Finally he snatched it up and stuffed it into his mouth. An adult entered the room and the boy looked up at him sheepishly. In the next scene, a different boy faced off with a marshmallow. This boy looked around the room, stood and explored it. Sat again and played a game with his fingers. He eyed the marshmallow at times, but seemed to make himself look away. A short time later, an adult entered the room. There was no talking, but the man put a second marshmallow on the plate. The boy gleefully ate one, then the other.
"Okay. So. What the fuck was what?" My young ward was perplexed.
"Language. It was an experiment. Can you understand the rules?"
"I guess... if you didn't eat the first one, you got another one?"
"So, the second boy, the one who waited. His chance of success in later life is higher than that of the first boy. He's more likely to do well in school and in work and in all things that require patience and persistence. He's learned to wait for what he wants if waiting will give a better result. He's thinking ahead, making smart tradeoffs. Not just stuffing his mouth with every penis he sees. Sorry. Every marshmallow."
"Your father tried to teach you this. You told me that he didn't let you masturbate in the morning so that your orgasms would be better later on."
"This is somewhat different. This is more about you choosing versus just following a rule. Like when you decided to make the timer longer so that you could concentrate more on your art."
"So. Just hold it."
"How come you never fuck me?"
"I know. But I want to know. Don't you like to fuck boys?"
"I do. We're on a journey together, Jacob. Your life so far has shaped you in particular ways beyond your control. I want to give you a chance to discover who you really are. Have you ever been with a girl?"
"You mean sex. No."
"Have you ever thought about it?"
"I would think you have a deeper understanding of girls than most boys your age, given your feelings. Girls may well appreciate that. You might find that being with a girl lets you feel and express that part of you too, in a different way."
"Maybe. I don't really know any girls."
"Well then. I do. I know a girl that you might like, in fact. We'll give that some thought, why don't we."
He shrugged and tugged at me. "Just. Hold."
A deep sigh. "Can I have a marshmallow?"
"Later," I said.
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