Ophelia places her wet hands on her young hips and pauses a moment. The whites are hanging on the clotheslines, the darks are soaking in the washtub. The midday sun is high. She turns and looks up the hill at the big house. Cecelia is there, waving from the kitchen door. Ophelia waves back. She covers the washtub and climbs the hill for lunch. The food disappears from her plate quickly. She doesn’t make conversation and she doesn’t look up until the plate is empty. Within minutes, she’s back on her feet. She mumbles a “thank you” in Cecelia’s direction, drops her plate on the pile of dirty dishes, and shoots out the door. Cecelia watches as Ophelia clatters down the wooden steps and runs, wildly, back down the hill.
Ophelia runs past the washtub of soaking darks, past the freshly washed whites, past the water pump, into the grove of orange trees. With her heart pounding in her chest, she picks a tree. She touches it lightly, then lies down beneath its branches. Her fingers find the hem of her skirt and she folds and unfolds and folds and unfolds the cloth. Her teeth find her forearm and she latches on, nervously gnawing at her skin. Her eyes shut, then open, shut and open again. The wildness is tearing through her insides. She wills herself to keep her eyes closed.
Not five minutes pass before she hears the weight of his walk. She imagines the grass bending beneath the arch of his foot. She aches to turn over and watch him draw nearer, but that is not the game. The game is for her to pretend to sleep as Paul creeps up and lays fruit at her feet. This is how they played it yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. It was here in the orange grove that the game began. The orange grove, Ophelia’s secret sleeping place. The orange grove that no one entered during the lunch hour. The orange grove that Paul discovered two weeks ago. He discovered a sleeping Ophelia too. He placed three sugar apples by her side. He planned to leave them there and sneak off, but he found himself wondering. Is she ticklish? What does her laughter sound like? How much sweetness do those hips hold? Could her lips make me forget the hard hours of the day? He walked five paces away and sat down. He rested his arms on his knees and waited.
Two weeks ago, when Ophelia opened her eyes to find Paul there she lowered her eyes immediately. She accepted the fruit with a hesitant hand, but refused to return his gaze. They sat in silence until Paul had to return to the fields and Ophelia had to go back to the wash. The next day Ophelia rushed back to the orange grove hoping Paul would be there. He wasn’t. She wrapped her arms around her body and waited. He came five minutes later, carrying a small bunch of sweet bananas. On the third day Paul introduced himself. Ophelia let her name slide from her lips in a whisper. She could barely breathe under the weight of her shyness. By the fifth day, she could respond to his gentle questions. After seven daily gifts of tenderness and fruit, a fragile friendship was born.
Today Ophelia doesn’t feel shy at all. Her skin tingles under a million pinpricks of anticipation. When she is sure Paul is settled, she turns over and opens her eyes. Paul is there, sitting across from her, grinning. At her feet is the largest, reddest mango she has ever seen. She sits up and lifts it from the earth. Its heft presses against her palm. With downcast eyes, she bites into the skin. Juice leaps to the mango’s broken surface. She licks her lips, then clamps a piece of skin between her teeth. As she pulls the skin away from the fruit, her eyes rise to meet Paul’s. She is terrified by the intensity burning there. She drops her gaze and fixes it on the soft rounded mango mound. A small wave of pleasure ripples across her face as she opens her mouth and tastes sweetness. The mango surrenders to her and Paul witnesses every maneuver. His eyes are on her mouth, her lips, her teeth. He sees the juice streaming down her chin, crawling over her wrists, leaking from her elbows. In the warmth of Paul’s presence, she devours the fruit, bit by bit.
Ophelia holds the mango seed between wet fingers and sucks each end. As she is lost in this task, Paul inches closer and closer. Slowly, he reaches out for her right hand. She looks up when she feels his touch. With his eyes on hers, he pulls her hand to his mouth. Ophelia drops the seed. As it nestles into the grass, Paul presses his lips against her wrist. Her eyes shut instantly. She inhales deeply. With his mouth still pressed to her flesh, he breaks into a slight smile. He turns her hand over until her palm faces heavenward. His tongue darts out as he licks the tangle of sweetness clinging to her palm. The mango juice disappears from her skin, one slow tongue lick at a time. She lets out one big shivering breath as Paul slips from her palm to her fingers. He sucks each trembling finger, one by one, until the only fragrance left on them is his.
Published in Hot Women’s Erotica © 2005