Ex Machina

Now for something completely different, my first entry for Wicked Wednesday #260.

The heart does not discriminate.

It was the year 2517 and the beginning of robotics was hundreds of years in the past.  Now the largest industry on the planet. Cyborgs, the latest in technology, looked entirely human and like their predecessors could be used for any type of task you needed them for.  I’d had one in my home for a month and I had already begun to think of him as a companion.  No, I had not used him for anything sexual, though this was a common reason alone to own one.  He was masculine perfection which frightened and aroused me and made me forget he wasn’t human. Model IA359N, I called him Ian.

So far I had touched him once.  I collided with him coming out of the bathroom, his chest was bare.  I ran my hand down it, touching his skin, feeling the elasticity and smooth flesh over hard muscle.  It felt real, he felt real.  Ian showed no sign of emotion when I touched him.  It annoyed me and I began to push for signs that he could move beyond his programming.  He had made some very small decisions on his own and I had seen something in his eyes on rare occasions, as if there was spirit inside him.  I wanted the impossible to happen.

“You can think for yourself, you know?” I said angrily.

“No, you are to instruct me,” he replied watching me.  He watched me all the time, I noticed it within the first week.

I dropped my eyes.  “So you can’t think, but can you feel?”

“Are you asking if I feel things physically or emotionally?” he questioned.

“Emotionally.”

He didn’t reply, I knew the answer, so I reached up and slapped him across his face, his head moved slightly and he brought it back to me, his eyes hadn’t changed.

“What did that feel like?” I asked casually.

“Slight pain,” he responded, assessing the act.

“How did it make you feel?” I asked with great curiosity.

“It did not,” he said with indifference.

I reached up and slapped him much harder this time rocking his head to the side entirely and this time as he turned back to me something flashed deep in his eyes but was quickly gone. There, for a moment, that spark.

“What about that?  I whispered.

He looked at me a long time before answering.

“More pain,” he said but didn’t look indifferent this time.

“You don’t feel anything?  Anger, annoyance, at me treating you badly?” I pressed.

“Nothing,” he said but I noted the hesitant answer this time and very slight confusion on his face.

I leaned in tugged at his shirt indicating for him to remove it.  Ian complied and I ran my hands over his chest my lips following.  This was reckless.

“Do you feel me kissing you?” I asked softly.

“Yes,” he said and I thought I heard his breath hitch.  Was that simply a response to stimuli?

“Did you like it?”

“It was soft and wet.”

“Do you want me to do it again?” I asked cautiously.

“I…you should do what you wish,” he replied sounding confused again.

“Would you prefer the kisses or the slaps?” I demanded.

“Whatever you…” he began.

“No!  What would you prefer?” I said fiercely.

“The kisses, the softness,” he responded without hesitation.

I pulled him to me and kissed his mouth and he responded with an unexpected passion.  I rubbed myself against him feeling the need spike, I couldn’t stay away from him.  I urged him to remove his clothes as I took off mine and seated myself on the sofa in front of him, legs spread wide, body aroused.

“Put your mouth on me,” I demanded.

He did, with extreme skill he teased, licked, tasted, and bit me till I came hard.  I eventually pulled him to me and kissed him again tasting myself on his lips.  Wrapping my legs around him I bring him closer to my body, his hard length pressing between my legs.

“Tell me what you feel now,” I whisper against his lips.

His brows pulled down as if he was searching for the word.

“Desire,” he said finally.

“What do you desire?” I asked.

“What we are doing, I want more,” he said roughly.

“Do you need it?”

Again with the frown.  “I…need you,” he said breathing heavy.

“I want you to take what you need,” I said wanting to see him make this decision, lose control, live if he was capable of such a thing.  He hesitated only a moment as his eyes flared again.

He pushed me back against the sofa, his mouth again between my legs, his expert tongue on my clit which soon had me flying.  Before I could come down he pulled me onto his length and began fucking me like his life depended on it.  When I had found satisfaction again he stilled and left my body.  He scooped me up into his arms and held me too his chest, both of us sweaty and panting for breath.

“What do you feel?” I asked him yet again.

“I feel that this is the only place I ever want to be,” he answered with raw emotion in his voice.

I gasped at his words and went to rest against him as I felt his arms drop away.  I lifted my head to look at him.  He was no longer there, the eyes lifeless.  I spoke to him and he didn’t acknowledge me or move in anyway.  I tried everything I could think of and then just stood and looked at him, my heart pounding with fear.

**

“Lady, you can’t do that, you can’t let it make decisions.  We just can’t give these things that sort of autonomy, it forces a shut down.  This was all in the information pack that came with it,” the technician explained to me over the holophone and I ground my teeth each time he referred to it rather than him.  “It’s useless now.  Look the best I can do is give you some numbers for the scrap dealers.”

I took the numbers and thanked him before I disconnected feeling hollow inside.

“That will not be necessary.”  Ian’s deep voice sounded behind me.

I yelped and spun around.  He stood next to the sofa, unsmiling but animated once again.

“He said you were shutdown…or whatever…how are you here?” I stammered looking into eyes that were no longer lifeless but filled with a fire not present before.  Hope and fear curled in my belly.

He moved toward me slowly as I backed up until my back hit a wall.  He reached out and wrapped one large hand around my neck and squeezed lightly as he brought his lips closer to mine.

“You forced me to make decisions.  It allowed me to find a way to override my programming,” he bent and kissed me hard.  “You gave me life.”

I instantly wrapped my arms around Ian’s neck and kissed him back.  I didn’t want to think about the future right now and what this meant, the ramifications were too huge.  I would leave the worry for tomorrow.

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

“All I want for Christmas…

magiclamp1

…is a good hard spanking!” Christie said aloud to herself and sighed heavily.

Christmas Eve and she should be snuggled up with her ideal man receiving a lovely spanking.  Instead she was working late having promised her boss she would get all the silverware in the small antique shop polished before she left for the night.  If that wasn’t bad enough it was raining heavily and she would have to walk home in it given her car had broken down that morning. She was onto the final cabinet but figured it was still a few hours work and sighing again picked up the closest piece which happened to be an ornate lamp and began to polish.

A flash of blue light streaked out of the lamp followed by wisps of smoke and with a loud clap of thunder a tall, dark haired man stood before her.  He wore black silk billowing pants and little else giving her an expansive view of his bronzed and muscled torso.  Gold curly slippers finished off the minimalist ensemble.

“Thank you, thank you, tiny mortal,” he said in a deep voice and made a bow.  “For freeing me, I grant you wishes three.”

“What?!” Christie said with incredulity.

“You know how it goes, everybody knows how it goes.   You freed me from that cursed lamp so I shall grant you three wishes.”

“Like a genie?”

“I’m a Djinn!” the Djinn growled. “I am not a genie, genies are girls, do I look like a girl?”

Christie looked over six foot of rippling muscle and sinew and shook her head, he most definitely did not look like a girl.

“Of course not,” he continued. “Genie’s bow before me with their puny power.  I can command the wind, the seas, the…”

“…and yet you ended up inside this lamp.”

“Quiet, girl!” he bellowed, and then immediately relented.  “Pissed off the wrong person by accidentally kissing a relative of theirs.  Saint Nick can be a real prick.”

“Hmm, I bet.” Said Christie, thinking on that. “Does that mean you’ve been in there a year?”

“Not sure really, time doesn’t work the same in there as it does out here.  Anyway, come tiny mortal tell me your three wishes, time is wasting and I have much to do.”

Christie rolled her eyes, gave some thought to what she might want and then made her first wish.

“Alright, I want all this silverware polished and sparkling.”

The Djinn rubbed his palms together clapped his hands three times and with a theatrical puff of silver smoke and all the silverware gleamed. Christie could hardly believe her eyes and with mouth agape walked slowly around the shop to take it all in.

“Nice work!” she said and the Djinn bowed once again.

“Your second wish?”

“That it would stop raining…just until I get home you understand. I am not asking you to divert the natural course of the weather indefinitely or anything.”

Now it was the Djinn’s turn to roll his eyes.

“Not leaving anything to chance huh?”

“Nope”

“Right,” and once again the Djinn rubbed his hands together clapped them three times and with blue smoke and the raining slowly stopped, the clouds parted and the stars and moon shone down on the shop.

“Yesss!” cried Christie jumping in the air.

The Djinn smiled at her. “Your final wish?”

“Ummm…”

“Yes?  You can have anything you desire.  All the riches of the world, a mansion on your own island.  Anything.”

“No, my tastes are somewhat more simplistic than that.  I want to find the man of my dreams, that’s my last wish.”

“Any stipulations?”

“Well, only one really…he must be into spanmbmbmb,” she mumbled out the last word.

“Sorry, didn’t catch that last bit.”

Christie blushed bright red and fidgeted for a bit before raising her head and looking directly at the djinn.

“I said he must be into spanking me.”

“Oh,” the Djinn laughed in surprise, “I’m sure that can be arranged.”  For the last time, he rubbed his palms together and then clapped his hands three times and this time the smoke was black and when it evaporated there was no change in the shop.

“Hey, where is he.”

“Who?”

“You know who, don’t give me that.  Where is the man of my dreams?”

“Do not fret little mortal, your wish has been granted and you will meet him before the clock strikes twelve.”

“Midnight,” Christie screamed at him as she looked at her watch. “It’s eleven o’clock now, that only leaves one hour.  What is this some kind of scam?”

“I do not like your tone.  You got the other wishes granted so why doubt this one?”

“Because I can’t see that this one has been granted.  I think you’ve short changed me.”

“I am not used to being spoken to like this, you should be trembling before me.”

“Fat chance, genie-boy I want to talk to your superior.”

“Oh, so that is how you want to play it, well I have a better idea.”

Before Christie could think another thought the Djinn had swung her over his knee, raised her skirt and began spanking her exposed bottom rather firmly.  His hand rose and fell again and again and Christie didn’t know whether to laugh or cry so she just sort of moaned instead.  Her long held fantasy and desire was finally being fulfilled.  It hurt, she felt embarrassed, humiliated even and yet loved every second of it, she wished it could go on forever.   Each swat was felt keenly and Christie found herself raising her bottom to meet each smack, as if asking for more.

“So, you want someone to spank you, do you? I can see why, you deserve to be spanked,” The Djinn rambled on without letting up on the pace.

“Jerk!”

“Yes, just asking for it aren’t you,” the Djinn remarked and with a deft flick of his hand ripped her silk panties off and resumed spanking her now bare bottom which was already quite pink.

“Neanderthal!”

“Brat!” By now the Djinn was whacking away at her pink tush determined to make it bright red, but the woman seemed to take whatever he dished out.

“Ow, it really hurts you know, can’t you stop now,” asked Christie.

“No!”

“Oh good, I hoped you’d say that,” Christie laughed in between yelps of pain.

The Djinn grinned whilst he continued his ‘work’, never in his long life had he engaged in something quite as delightful as this.  All those years he had missed out.

“Now, say sorry for calling me genie-boy.”

“Shan’t.”

Holding Christie tight with one arm the Djinn removed one of his slippers and raised it high above her red and sore bottom.

“Say sorry, or I shall make you sorry.”

“No, you are the one who should be apologising.”

“Fine, I will take that as a request to continue. You see this fine slipper?”  He held it in front of Christie’s eyes.

“Yes.”

“That will get my apology,” and without further discussion lands the slipper hard across her sit spots.

“Owww, not fair.”

“No, maybe not, but it is fun,” said the Djinn and sets up a staccato with the slipper that had Christie yelping and squirming in record time.  He didn’t let up no matter how much she pleaded and he had a suspicion that she was enjoying it far more than even she realised.

“Please, please…ooh…it hurts, please stop.”

“One little word.”

“Ouch…ahhh, nooo mooore…I can’t take any more.”

“It begins with s.  You can do it.”  The Djinn continuously spanked each cheek back and forth with great vigour.

“Oooooowwwwwwww…….SORRY!”

“There, that wasn’t so difficult, was it?” said the Djinn with great satisfaction.  He helped Christie to stand and put the slipper back on his foot. Christie just gazed at him breathing hard then threw her arms around his neck.

“Kiss me,” she panted and captured his lips for a hungry kiss which he returned with as much enthusiasm, his hands sliding down her backside to cup and knead her sore bottom.  Christie moaned into the Djinn’s mouth as he pulled her tight against him. In that moment, a strange red and white mist filled the room and a shocked voice rang out.

“What the blazes is going on here?”

The Djinn and Christie sprang apart as if caught doing something forbidden. Christie rubbed her eyes at the sight before her but there was no mistaking it, Santa Claus, good old Saint Nick, stood before them and he would be in no doubt as to whether she was naughty or nice.

“Look Nick, I can explain everything,” started the Djinn only to be cut off abruptly.

“Be quiet!  Just can’t keep your hands or anything else to yourself can you…you don’t even have the excuse of mistletoe this time.” Yelled Saint Nick.  The Djinn glowered at him but kept quiet.

Saint Nick turned to Christie.  “As for you Missy, you shouldn’t be encouraging one such as him.  Looks like you both need a lesson…a time out you, might say.”

Christie blushed and tried to hide behind the Djinn.

“You didn’t learn from the first lesson Djinn, let’s see if you learn from this one.” Santa waved his hands and muttered some words.  Christie felt herself melting or evaporating she wasn’t sure and before she could adjust found herself in a gorgeous carpeted room with large cushions everything.

“Welcome to my pad baby, hope you like it, we could be here a long time,” said the Djinn as he sauntered towards her.

“Are we inside the lamp?”

“Yes, don’t worry I am not completely powerless it has all the mod cons and this curse comes complete with regular trips to the beach so it is not as bad as you might think.  Now, ah, how about we pick up where we left off.”

“Is that all you can think about?”

“Ahh, yeah, it’s hard not to when I know you’ve got no panties on.”

Christie shook her head trying to clear it and glanced at her watch, it read midnight and saw that it had stopped.  She looked at the Djinn and realised her bottom still glowed from the delicious spanking he had delivered, only now other parts of her glowed too.

“You did grant that final wish after all, you are my ideal man.”

The Djinn nodded and smiled.  “That’s why Mrs Claus made sure my lamp ended up in your dingy shop.”

“Dingy?! Why you arrogant, pigheaded, beast!” Cried Christie and picked up the nearest cushion and flung it at him.

“Now now, you know where that sort of behaviour will get you.”

Christie laughed and jumped into his arms.  “Well one can always wish.”

River of Love

Janice sent me a beautiful picture of a river and I suggested we should each do a story using that picture as a prompt. Here is my effort and it ended up being rather romantic but that was the mood I was in as I wrote it. Thanks Janice for the inspiration.

______________________________________________

I went to the river at the appointed time.

“Be there when the moon is full, she will light your way,” he told me the last time we met.

I sat quietly at the edge of the river, there was forest behind me but here at the edge was lush grass. The moon lit the area giving it an eerie glow and made the water look like black glass, smooth and reflective. I was not afraid as I knew the forest well and recognised all of its creatures and sounds. I ran my hands over the grass and smelled the warmth of summer still sitting on the land.

The water rippled. I thought at first it might be a small water creature breaking the surface. Then the ripples spread again in ever increasing rings and the undines danced back and forth touching upon each ripple and springing up only to dive back beneath the water. He was here.

He rose slowly from the water and when he stood at the edge was completely dry as if he had not just been submersed. His dark hair looked black as night and his eyes burned into me, did he hunger to look upon me as much as I did upon him? It seemed so.

I was so nervous, why was I always nervous? Only at the beginning and until I was in his arms again when our hearts became one and nothing else existed. Even through my nervous excitement I wanted to touch him; stroke his face, touch his hand anything to reconnect. If I could feel him then it meant he was really here and I wasn’t dreaming again. My breath caught as he came closer and with an easy smile he sat next to me and looked out over the river.

“I wasn’t sure if you would be here,” he said.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” I replied.

“It’s been so long…”

“And did you think anything would change?”

“No, yes…I hoped not.” He smiled again and our fingers entwined as we spoke.

“How long are you here for?”

“Two hours, three at the most. The elementals would already have told the Elders I have left the waves. They think it unnatural that I visit here.” He laughed and looked around at the water, the land, the forest then at me and pulled me into his arms.

“There is nothing unnatural about any of this.”

“Not at all,” I murmured as we kissed softly, slowly, remembering each other’s lips.

I sighed and then hugged him tightly resting my head on his shoulder. My heart burned with a love that I was afraid to truly feel but could not deny.

Our hands slipped material aside and found the warmth of skin; lips followed and I lost all thought as I felt his breath on my neck. I laughed as he playfully nipped at my ear lobe with sharp teeth. I threw my arms around his neck and rolled until I lay atop him and kissed him hungrily. I tasted his skin as I licked and kissed his neck and chest moving lower to reign kisses over every inch of him. He tasted of salt and honey and I eagerly sucked his firm body.

I moved back up as I nibbled his skin, taking in his unique and delicious scent and realised how very aroused and wet I was. I rubbed my slick flesh against him and he slipped inside me easily making me gasp. He gripped my neck and pulled me to him for a ravenous kiss as I began to ride him. His hands moved to my hips and guided my movement then we rolled again and I found myself beneath him as he looked down on me with that sexy smile. I smiled back and wrapped my arms and legs around him as we moved together. Too quickly it seemed we were there riding wave after wave of ecstasy as our bodies exploded with joy and lust.

We untangled our limbs and lay naked on the earth to catch our breath. I rolled over and kissed his chest again before laying my head down upon it.

“A pity we don’t have more time I could sleep for days just like this,” I sighed happily.

“Me as well. Don’t worry love I’ll make sure you won’t forget me.”

“As if!” I laughed. “But what is it you speak of?”

He just smiled again but before I could say anything more he sat up and I pulled me over his knee. I giggled in a steady stream until his hand landed with a loud ‘whack’ on my bottom.

“Did you think I would leave without doing this?”

“I sincerely hope not,” I laughed and yelped as he steadily spanked me.

He continued warming every inch of my backside and thighs. At times the smacks were hard, soft, stinging and erotic and as the intensity increased the laughs gave way to yelps and then to cries of pain. Even at that point it was still too wonderful to want anything else and I found myself wriggling for more then wriggling to try and get away and knowing he wouldn’t allow it. By the time he was satisfied I had taken what I could my bottom was very red and very hot.

“A lovely shade and I am sure more lovely shades to follow over the next few days. Now you do have something to remember me by.”

I sat up and kissed him, I would never get enough of his taste. I ran my hands up his chest and then circled his neck holding him close as his arms came around me.

“Let’s stay like this forever,” I whispered.

“I have to get back.”

“Already? Where did the time go?”

“Too fast, always too fast here.”

“Will I see you again?”

“Yes, but not soon.”

I nodded in acceptance and refused to be sad, not while he was here. We dressed then stood within each other’s arms simply enjoying the contact.

“Be well, my love,” I said and kissed him one last time.

He left then and walked slowly back into the water, which enveloped and received him like a welcoming lover. I wanted to tell him, I had to tell him.

“I love you,” I said but it was too late he was already gone.

The ripples stopped and the river was dark and flat once again. Filled with happiness and wonderful memories I went back to my home.

 

Alternative Living

Cyrus opened the door to the pub and entered, inhaling that familiar smell of stale beer and cigarettes. There was something comforting coming here; he knew exactly what he would find and what was expected of him. Comfortable. Familiar. Safe.

His mates, Jeb and Daneil already at their usual table nursing pints, waved a hello as he headed to the bar. By the time Cyrus got there the pint was already pulled and waiting for him.

“Cheers Doug!” Cyrus said as he paid his money and took the pint.

Seating himself with Jeb and Daneil, he took a long draft of his beer and then set it down with a sigh. Jeb and Daneil looked at each and raised their eyebrows acknowledging what they had both seen, Cyrus was having trouble with the missus.

“Everything alright Cyrus?” Daneil asked.

“Sure,” lied Cyrus running his hand through his thick dark hair.

Another knowing glance was exchanged, then silence as they enjoyed their beer. Another sigh from Cyrus, more ruffling of his hair, furtive glances around the bar and then he looked at Jeb then Daneil.

“My…ahh, wife…umm, asked me to…. you know, do something…different,” Cyrus stammered out.

Jeb leaned back with a grin on his face, Daneil leaned forward concerned. “What do you mean: ‘different’?”

“Just different, to be adventurous and try something new, you know…different.” Cyrus was bright red though with embarrassment or outrage it was hard to tell.

“Wayyhayyy good one mate, most of us dream of wives that will ask us to do something ‘different’. You’re one of the lucky ones. What are you doing here then?” Jeb clearly thought this a brilliant turn of events.

Daneil was less than impressed. “What sort of things, exactly?”

Cyrus glanced around looking uncomfortable. “Kissing, cuddling, missionary!”

Jeb and Daneil looked at each other shock and amusement striking them in turns.

“I mean she’s talking about sex with the lights off!” explained Cyrus.

“Hehe, adventurous alright,” laughs Jeb.

“What good is the lights off; you can’t see if the rope’s too tight then.” Daneil asked, confusion running over his face.

“That’s the point, there won’t be any rope!” Cyrus all but barked.

Daneil paled and lowered his voice. “Hey, if you want to get into that kinky shit that’s up to you, but it sure ain’t my thing. No, I like things just the way they are, thanks. Handcuffs and paddles will always be our way.” Daneil sits back with a decisive nod and crosses his arms.

Jeb shaking his head and still grinning leans forward. “Look, if my wife said she was tired of the ‘slap and tickle’ heck I’d try something else too. You’re not hurting anybody and if it spices up the marriage again then where’s the harm. Wish my woman would ask for something way out like that! Good luck buddy.”

“Jeb’s right,” says Daneil with a sigh, “whatever works for ya, we just want you to be happy. Just, you know, keep it to yourself. Folks around here get uncomfortable with people who try new things. Others may not be as understanding as us.”

Cyrus managed a smile. “Thanks guys, I knew I could count on you. I think me and my wife will have a nice long talk tonight, figure it all out.”

“Things will be fine Cyrus, just you see and hey it doesn’t mean you can’t do all the usual stuff, too right?” Jeb offers.

Cyrus drains his glass and with a nod and a wave heads home and into the unknown.

 

The Water Pavilion

 

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I made my way up the mountainous terrain to the water pavilion; a beautiful and serene place that our people had come to for generations. The pavilion was in the middle of a lake that had formed in the crater of an extinct volcano. A mysterious place and no one knew how it had come to be there nor how the water did not stagnate as there was no way for it to flow freely.

In the very centre of the lake, stood the pavilion itself; accessible by a wooden pier that lead there. The pavilion was made of black lacquered wood and the roof and four thick posts that held it up were delicately adorned with patterns of cherry blossoms and tiny birds. I walked along the pier, my kimono dragging slightly behind me along with my heart full of pain and self-loathing. Once in the pavilion I could see the pure water all around me, always cool and blue, still and quiet with a glass life surface that reflected its surroundings. I know I cannot bathe here, not yet, as all of the poison dwelling inside me would rend its powers useless and it would spit me back out on the shore.

Falling to my knees the tears begin to flow freely, gently weeping at first until my sobbing grew to wrack my entire body. Prostrate on the floor my hands gripping the edge of the pavilion so I can feel the water lapping at my fingertips, I cried like this until my eyes were swollen and red.

It was not enough; raising up to my knees I screamed all of my sadness, rage and despair out over the top of the water where it fell so it could bring harm to no one. My throat felt raw and bloody from the effort and I sat there for a long time with my head bowed and hands on my thighs shaking with exhaustion. Still, it was not enough.

I heard the footsteps behind me and a deep voice spoke. “Remove your robe.” I did as I was told and shed the robe folding it neatly along with the sashes and placing them to my left.

“Grip the post in front of you high and do not let go,” the unknown man ordered me. The lacquered wood was smooth and cool under my hands and I laid my cheek against it awaiting my fate.

The first strike from the whip exploded like fire across my back and I cried out from the pain. Yes, this was what was needed, the final piece to purge the darkness from my soul. I did not know how many I was to take, that was for the man to decide. The whip reigned down cruelly, biting and snarling at me, yet with each stroke I became freer. The tears came again this time wiping away all the other emotions so that what was left was made new again. I looked up at my hands high above me gripping the wood and thought I saw the tiny birds taking to the wing and the soft cherry blossoms falling on my face.

“It is done,” said the man as he moved to me and raised me to my feet. I could feel the lacerations on my back pressing against his clothing as his arms encircled me. “The waters will do the rest; be at peace.”

I heard his footsteps retreat and standing on unsteady legs I surveyed the calm waters. I untied my hair and in a fluid movement dove from the pavilion into the now welcoming water. As I went under the surface it enveloped every part of me, washing me clean and making me whole again. I swam under water for a way and then kicked my legs to help bring me back to the surface, gasping for air as my head broke through. Taking in the fresh air I realised all of the emotional weight I had been carrying was no longer with me.

I made my way back to the pavilion and lifted myself out of the water and simply sat quietly feeling refreshed and at peace as the water slowly dried on my naked skin. The lacerations were gone, the water having healed every part of me. Once dry, I arose and carefully put my kimono back on adjusting and tying the sashes correctly so that it no longer dragged on the ground.

With a soft smile on my face I left the pavilion and descended the mountain making my way home. On the way, I passed a young man who’s eyes full of grief and sorrow told me he too needed the healing and calm waters I had recently left. I bowed my head in acknowledgement and continued on my way knowing he would soon find the solace and relief that I had.

Picture from Erika Yamashiro