The Maddening Hour


Kim Chen awoke on her back slowly, her senses flicking on one ear at a time followed by the eyes blinking open to slits in the darkness. It was long her fantasy to awaken all at once, like a super hero, razor sharp senses immediately ready to face whatever lay outside the confines of easily dispatched slumber. In fact she awakened like someone at the bottom of a deep pool of viscous ink-slowly making her way to the surface.

Without looking at the dimly glowing night table clock she knew it was the maddening hour of three a.m. give or take ten minutes. The time every night when her demons would rouse, and hating being alone, awaken her. At least it seemed that way.

But in case the awakening had to do with something external, she lay still, trying to hear whatever she had heard. There was the rumble of far off thunder which she never would have heard. The breeze in the trees heralding the coming storm was a gentle soporific. Maybe it was the tic-tic-tic of the sycamore branches against the window of her husband’s room that in the blanket of night could be heard as easily as if it were in her room.

She slid to a sitting position on her silk sheets, legs dangling over the side and in a moment, slipped naked onto her feet. In repose the house glowed throughout, dimly lit by scattered solar lights making navigation through the rooms and hallways easy. She padded down the hallway.

Glancing into her husband’s room, she saw the offending branches scraping the pane, backlit by the cloud crossed moonshine. Not entering, she was surprised by how foreign his room seemed to her now. She spent so little time in there, had nothing to do with buying or placing the furniture. It was as a parent’s room to a child. She had no connection to it and wanted none.

She knew this house would be hers when they split. He was the one who wanted it, chose the site, built it, but he grew tired of it in-process. By the time they moved in he was thinking about the next thing. Given the opportunity he would settle into the hillside apartment that he somehow didn’t think she knew he had bought. Or maybe into the townhouse that had bought together to downsize into when they retired. He was always thinking three steps ahead like that.

She loved the anchor. The many rooms; moving from bed to bed like Goldilocks–never sleeping in the same place too long. She had enough of that hard-scrabble tiny living shit when she was a child. No, the thought of being alone in this pile of bricks didn’t bother her. It didn’t! It was so difficult getting people to be with her-to understand her-to GET her that she tired of the constant education. It was easier alone.

In the center of hallway she turned to descend the wide staircase, sliding her hand along the polished oak bannister, less for support than for the cool feel of the hard, smooth wood against her warm hand. The vision of Mike following her naked ass up the stairs just a few short weeks before-seemed like months-flashed by and she let it go.

Near the bottom she froze, startled by the form facing her from the window beside the large entrance door. Some other worldly wraith-white and-shaved, so nothing to break the pale but the dark nipples against her milky skin; button eyes sewn onto a doll. Her runner’s legs weren’t obvious, her flat stomach nothing but a creamy smudge. Her face, nondescript from here. She looked away from the reflection. It wasn’t her at all.

Beside the door she snatched a cashmere shawl off the clothes tree and wrapped it around her shoulders. It hung no lower than her navel. She stepped out onto the porch and felt the breeze, almost a wind now, lift her hair gently off of her shoulders.

Standing there she noticed a ghostly flash off to the right-just inside the stand of trees that they had left on the property. The roiling clouds blotted the moon but for a silvery glow. She trained her eyes away to better catch the movement in her peripheral vision and saw another-deeper into the trees. She fantasized that they were wolves-her pack of wolves-her spirit animals-that she nurtured and that now patrolled her ramparts-sleek sentries against…what exactly?

Didn’t matter. She knew that they were actually coyotes skulking through the woods. At least they weren’t rangy mutts-especially the gray one-the largest of them that she was fairly sure was the first flash she had seen. Presentable animals, not bad, but not wolves. Not very worthy spirit animals.

She sat in the chair, the wooden slats chilling her bare bottom. Now that she was out, they would melt deeper into the woods and she would hear them, but wouldn’t see them again as they warily watched her.

She sat back and let the night slide across her body. The air blew up her legs and she allowed her hands to move. She could feel the goosebumps on her quads where she rubbed their firmness-then on the inside of her thighs where she stroked the softness. Again, there was a flash of Mike, and the softness that he brought. That she didn’t want. Then.

She opened her shawl and tentatively touched her taut nipples. Her head lolled back as she squeezed, feeling her juices rising. She slid her hand down her belly and settled on the soft hairless mound below. Her heat settled there. She could feel her consciousness sliding away, giving way. Her finger had just touched her swollen self when she withdrew her hand.

With a thousand dollars-worth of toys and equipment upstairs she was not going to masturbate again in the middle of the night on her porch to the sound of coyotes in the distance. Just wouldn’t. Might like to, probably needed to, but she knew what it would feel like when her finger touched her clit, which was now more awake than she was. But just didn’t feel like going through the mechanics of it again. Somehow, the thought of lubricating silicone seemed more of a chore than loading the dishwasher.

Had she scared Mike off for good?

This was the only time of day she missed cigarettes. Not while drinking, not after sex, not after a run, but now. In the maddening hour where she sat alone without even a bad habit to keep her company.

(Roughly follows the saga of Poor Mikey)


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