It arrived on Wednesday, in an unremarkable brown box. The package had no return address, but Keri could see from the postmark that it had been mailed from Amherst. It had to be from Jeremy, couldn’t possibly be from anyone else. They hadn’t spoken in four months. Maybe he still wants me to forgive him, she thought. Fuck him. The box was light and made no noise when she shook it. She sat down on her hand-me-down couch — nearly squashing her tabby, Priscilla — and tore it open so quickly that one of her nails ripped. Keri liked to think of herself as low-maintenance, a young-thirties gal who taught her eighteenth-century literature classes in jeans and T-shirts and only wore heels if someone got married or died. But all her life she had been complimented on her pretty hands — had almost been talked into becoming a hand model once — and she still manicured them regularly. Keri bit the nail off in a swift, compulsive gesture. She folded back the pink tissue paper, expecting to see — what? Chocolates.
Something made of porcelain or glass. That was what lovers sent each other, wasn’t it? When they wanted to reconcile? But this object was made of a soft, pliable plastic. Keri fished the object out of the box, and gasped. Her first impulse was to throw it across the room. But she stopped herself. She had to admit that there was something worth admiring there, something about the handiwork of the thing.
Although it had been awhile since Keri had seen the original, there could be no doubt this was an exact replica of Jeremy’s erect cock. It had that same gentle curve, as if bowing in deference. Prominent veins traversed its length. An impressive, yet not overwhelming, size. Most peculiar was the shape of the head. It had that same smooth helmet design that most circumcised cocks do, except that it puckered a bit near the tip. “As if it’s trying to whistle,” Keri remarked once during a languid, post-coital moment. “He only wants to kiss you, my dear,” Jeremy said.
That was before she’d caught him with the redhead from the coffee shop, the one young enough to be one of their students, months before she took the tenure-track position in Arizona. “Oh does he now?” Keri slid her body down Jeremy’s and pressed her lips against the cock’s head. It was slightly sticky, and smelled like both of their bodies: a musk of salt and brine. “Wait, don’t,” Jeremy said. “That tickles.”
“Such a sensitive man.” She slid back up until her chin rested on his chest. “How am I ever going to live with such a sensitive man?” They’d been talking about adding her name to the lease — she spent most of her nights there anyway — but the remark made Jeremy go quiet. After six years, Keri could sense that internal shifting in him. “Jeremy?” “Sorry, hon, I’m nodding off.” Keri let it go at that. Her body was still rippling with the aftershocks of pleasure, enough to make her feel drowsy too. She curled into him, her head still resting on his chest, and traced a line down his torso with the tips of her nails. She’d painted them Seashell Pink. Her hand drifted down, until her fingertips touched the curls at his crotch. Jeremy was snoring lightly by then, but his cock had not entirely softened. It curled upwards, toward his belly, toward her hand, as if seeking her out on its own. When she smiled, it seemed to lift slightly. To pucker itself even more. Now that same cock sat on her coffee table, curving toward her once again. Keri was both offended and flattered. There was, of course, the possibility that this was some kind of cruel joke. She wondered if the redhead knew that Jeremy had sent her the likeness.
Maybe it was something the two of them had planned. Then she had an odd thought — what did Jeremy’s cock think of this new woman? Perhaps they’d had a rift, the cock and Jeremy. Perhaps the cock wasn’t as happy as Jeremy had pretended to be during that last phone call. While Keri pondered the possibilities, Priscilla, who had sulked in a corner of the room after having been almost sat on, approached the coffee table with her pink nose quivering. “No, girl.” Keri picked up the cock before the cat was close enough to swat it. “That’s not for you.”
Keri’s class seemed to drag slower than usual. She’d planned a lecture on Pamela. The novel was considered scandalous when first published. Her students just yawned. “How does Pamela struggle to maintain her virtue?” Keri demanded of her class. Chuck, a sandy blond who’d come to the university on a baseball scholarship, raised his head from the crook of his arm and murmured, “She negs that one dude who tries to scam on her.” “By ‘dude,’ I take it you mean her employer, Mr. B?” “Yeah, him.” “Okay, good. Any other examples?” At length, Lin, her brightest student, said, “She hides those letters.”
“That’s right!” Keri said. “She hides them in her purse.” Lin frowned. “Her purse?” Keri felt her chest flutter. “I may have misread the passage,” Lin said, “but I thought she hid the letters in her petticoat.” “Yes, yes, of course,” Keri said. She took a step backward, bumping into the podium. This was something that would never happen to Jeremy. He was a professional. She’d been a grad student when they first met. He was an assistant professor of English and philosophy, fresh from his doctoral triumph. “Let’s break early today,” she said, in exasperation.
“We’ll continue with Pamela on Friday.” Keri didn’t open her purse until the room was empty. The cock was still there, nestled between her wallet and address book. She touched it lightly. How had Jeremy done it, she wondered. And why? Was he trying to deconstruct himself? Even after all their discussions, Keri didn’t entirely understand Jeremy’s deconstructionist theories. But she’d learned, after the first few years, that listening to your lover’s ideas — no matter how opaque — was part of the package. When Jeremy started in on one of his rants, she’d find a way to distract him, usually by reaching for his cock. When that part of his body hardened, the rest of Jeremy seemed to soften, until he was the sensitive, pliant man she’d grown to love. Was that why she couldn’t just get rid of the thing? Because she’d always thought of his cock as the key to Jeremy’s heart?
Or maybe, just maybe, she’d been more in love with it than him. That’s ridiculous, she told herself. Still, she felt it would be rude not to address the cock before snapping shut her purse. “Don’t worry,” she told the replica. “We’re going to get you home right away.” In the car, Keri couldn’t help opening her purse again and looking at it again. Suddenly it felt wrong to keep the cock locked up like that. She put it down on the seat beside her, but then worried it might roll off onto the floor if she had to make a sudden stop. You’re being silly now, Keri chided herself. Then she laughed out loud, not out of shame, but some more playful feeling, something light and girlish. Maybe she should call Jeremy. Ask him what was going on. She imagined how the conversation might go: “What’s with the, um, present?”
“Oh that,” Jeremy would say, as if he’d already forgotten. “I thought you might miss it. I’m sure you haven’t gotten laid since the breakup.” That conversation would end with Keri throwing the phone against the wall. Or, maybe: “What’s with the cock in the box?” “I still want you to forgive me, Keri. So I thought I’d send him on ahead as, you know, sort of an ambassador.” Or, perhaps even: “Just what do you mean by sending me an obscene thing like that in the mail?” “Obscene? Honey, you know your own id has thought of much worse.” The final option, the one that kept her from calling, was the thought that the redhead might answer. Even though it had only been three months, Keri knew from mutual friends that she’d already moved in. This was Jeremy’s way of punishing her. He’d asked her to forgive him, after all, had made quite a campaign out of it, right up until Keri announced she was moving to Arizona. But another part of her wondered if perhaps the redhead had simply walked down the path to Jeremy’s heart, the one that she, Keri, had cleared. Maybe it didn’t make a difference to Jeremy which woman moved in, now that he’d decided it was time for that kind of commitment.
No, Keri decided, if Jeremy wants to talk to me, he can call me himself. She looked down at the cock, seat-belted in on the passenger’s side. As the car swayed into traffic, it seemed to nod in agreement.
Keri took a bath, shaved her legs, and began preparing dinner. The cock reclined on the living room couch, waiting. It was after her first glass of wine that she realized how much she’d missed having the erotic charge. How she’d unconsciously shut her body down after finding out about Jeremy and the redhead and moving nearly 3,000 miles away. Her days were filled with lesson planning and research, her nights spent in deep, dreamless sleep. She hadn’t considered the sexiness of her own body in months. Not that other people hadn’t noticed. Keri’s male students blushed and stammered when they came to see her during office hours. Even Lin — who would probably earn the class’s one “A” — couldn’t help touching herself compulsively in Keri’s presence. She constantly rearranged her clothes during their private conferences, tugging at her skirt hem, pushing her shirtsleeves up to her elbows then back down again.
At first Keri thought maybe she intimidated the students. But now, as her blood moved hotly through her veins, she realized she’d been ignoring some pretty overt sexual signals. She’d also chosen some pretty provocative material. The eighteenth-century stuff was much sexier than most people thought. Even Jeremy had to admit that. Jeremy had loved it when Keri read him eighteenth-century pornography. As she stirred her pasta sauce, she recalled a particularly vigorous lovemaking session that occurred after reading him a few chapters of Fanny Hill. Keri sat down beside the cock, with a second glass of wine and her whole-wheat pasta. “Would you like me to read to you later?” she asked.
The cock, curled toward her, seemed eager for anything. When Keri finished her meal, she took it in both hands and lay back on the couch. “You did miss me, didn’t you?” The cock was silent, but she thought she could detect a change within it. It was a subtle thing, like Jeremy’s moods. The cock was waiting for her next move. Flush with wine, Keri began stroking the cock. But it stoically resisted getting any harder. “It’s all about me tonight, isn’t it?” Keri whispered. “You were always a more generous lover than Jeremy allowed you to be.” Keri got up, dimmed the lights and put on Kind of Blue.
Then she turned and began removing her clothes slowly. First the blazer, then the T-shirt and jeans, were thrown across the back of a chair. The clothes-tossing startled Priscilla, who darted from the room. Continuing her seduction, Keri removed her lace brassiere, the nylon panties decorated with pink tulips, the sexy little things she liked to wear beneath her professorial armor. She slid back onto the couch. Taking the olive oil from where she’d left it on the coffee table, Keri poured a small amount on her palm. She rubbed the cock, which glistened like the real thing. Keri lay back and ran the cock over her body. She rubbed it down her arms, over her belly, across the insides of her thighs.
With her eyes closed, she tried to pretend that it was Jeremy, running his fingertips over her skin. Telling her that she was not only beautiful, but smart and capable, everything he had ever wanted in a girlfriend, everything he had ever wanted in a wife. But the fantasy kept dissolving. Keri pictured Jeremy’s face: his expression was so fucking condescending. When Keri opened her eyes, there was only the cock, the cock that she had used for pleasure countless times, the cock that she had teased and treasured, and yes, if you really got down to it, had loved. This, in her hands, was a deconstructed piece of the man who had betrayed her. Could she take his cock out of context? Could she make love to it without knowing how it had been made, why it had been sent? Could she take it into her body when she couldn’t be sure if she ever wanted to touch the real thing again? Her body slick with olive oil, her skin warm from the wine, she held it in her hands and set about finding out.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR:|
|Mary Kann graduated from St. Christopher’s parochial school in 1988 and has been looking for ways to be naughty ever since. Her short stories have been published in Salt Flats Annual, Small Spiral Notebook and The Hartford Advocate. She lives outside Boston and is currently working on a novel about Niccolo Paganini, reincarnation, witches, and characters who drunk dial almost as much as their author.|