Bad feelings. Bad, bad feelings in my tummy. The fear stirs up my intestines, makes me shaky. My teeth are clamped on my lip to keep my mouth from opening.
The tires scrape and crunch on the gravel as the car goes off the road. My heart pounds, helpless in the passenger seat. Did I make a sound? I hope not. She's looking at me with those hateful eyes, oh god. Please look at the road. The chardonnay wedged between her legs sloshes a little. It smells like piss. She is far from caring that white wine is supposed to be cold.
"WHAT? Wou'joo shut UP? Why don' YOU try to drive in all this….this fucking TRAFFIC? Judging me….I'll give you somethin to judge, you stupid girl! Pathetic little bitch!"
Traffic. There was no one on the road. No one but us… no one to see this. All my fault, all my fault…
The hot piss wine dumps out as she lurches towards me. "You're such a BABY!" She nabs a fistful of hair and yanks hard.
I jolt awake, slick with sweat and panting. My heart is pounding crazily in my chest. Nightmare, it was just a nightmare…not just a nightmare, a bad memory. Those memories from childhood continue to haunt me into adulthood. I try to catch my breath and realize I'm whimpering. Get over it… get over it. It's over, it's over, you're safe now… I tell myself this all the time. I know this when I'm awake, but when I sleep I don't know if it's all going to crash back at me and turn me into a child again…a baby again... a pathetic baby.
I realize I have tears in my eyes, and my thumb is in my mouth. She's right…she's right…I am pathetic…I'm twenty one years old and I cry and suck my thumb at night…I hate myself. I hate myself. I fucking hate myself. Please let Lark be asleep… please don't let her see me… I'm not just teary eyed at this point, I'm sobbing. I imagine her seeing my thumb, all wrinkled and covered in bite marks, and the tears in my eyes. I imagine her telling me all the things I know to be true about myself…I imagine her laughing at me…
I feel Lark's body stir behind me. Shit. She throws an arm around be and hugs me from behind.
"Ira, what's wrong love?" My chest floods with new shame.
"….nightmare" I manage to say. Talking is hard.
"Oh, baby I'm sorry. It's over now, and it was just a dream."
"No? ….Do you want to tell me about it? You don't have too." She knows what it's about.
My mom recently went to rehab. I never thought that would ever, ever happen. I've told people about her drinking problem, tried to do something, only to be patronized and talked down too and never taken seriously. I would tell her mother, she would talk to me like I was eight years old and didn't know what I was talking about and that she did, and that I was wrong. Then her family would close ranks around her, sweep everything under the rug. Even though I'm glad, even thought I know this is a good thing, it's been really getting me down. Bringing up memories I've tried to bury and attacking me with them when my guard is down.
"Mom…" I start but can't finish. I flip around and bury my face in her chest. I feel like crawling under a rock or something.
She holds me close. "You're safe now baby, she can't hurt you anymore." She leans over and picks up her tee shirt from the floor. She tilts my face up at hers, and wipes away my tears. I try to keep my bottom lip from shaking, but it's useless. I start crying like a baby again and just cling to her.
Lark patiently holds me, stroking my hair and my back, whispers "its ok…its ok baby" in my ear. For a few minutes I am overtaken with full body sobbing. I cry because I'm ashamed that I'm even crying. I cry because even though I'm awake, and I'm an adult, I still feel utterly helpless and afraid. My body still thinks I'm in the passenger seat.
Eventually my sobs subside, and I begin to calm myself. I focus on right here, right now. Her heart beats rhythmically in my ear and has a sort of hypnotic effect on me. Her hands continue to stroke across my hair and face. Clinging to her, my head resting on her chest, I feel safe. Her body comforts me in ways only a woman's can. I love her breasts so much…in both a sexual way and an insecure childish way. Right now I have one softly gripped in my hand and nuzzle my face around the other. Now I can start to doze off…ba-bump…ba-bump…ba-bump…
"Oh, babygirl, you're so cute when you do that I can't even stand it."
She puts her hands around my face and gives my forehead kiss. I realize with a wave of shame that my thumb returned to my mouth.
"I…I'm sorry…I'm pathetic…" I feel so small and insecure, so exposed. I curl into a tight ball.
"Hey. Stop it." She pulls me back to her and uncurls me. "Relax, ok? Look at me. You are NOT pathetic. If that's what she told you, she's WRONG, ok? You are incredibly strong for putting up with her, and trying to help her for all those years. You never gave up trying to help her, and you were going against your whole family. That takes some serious balls."
I giggled a little bit, and smiled. How did she do that? She could always make me laugh, no matter how bad I felt. She flashed her satisfied smirk of a mission accomplished.
"Don't feel bad about sucking your thumb, ok? I already knew anyways, you do it in your sleep sometimes." Softly, in my ear now, "It's fucking adorable."
I'm shyly smiling now, my embarrassment evaporating. "…do you really think so? You aren't just saying that to make me feel better?" She shakes her head.
"Everybody needs to do something to comfort themselves sometimes. It's normal." She tells me as she stretches and yawns. "Now come here, let's go back to dreamland. I think you've had your quota for bad dreams for awhile. If one comes this way I'll kick it's ass." More giggles. God, I love this woman.
"C'mere babygirl." Lark lies on her back, and I rest my head on her chest, my favorite place to sleep. Lark gives me a few soft kisses to the top of my head, and gently pets my hair and face. I place a few kisses onto her hands and wrists, and she starts to trace around my lips with her fingertips. My tongue pokes out to give them a little lick, and she inserts her index finger into my mouth. When I give it gentle suction, she removes it and replaces it with her thumb.
At first I just roll my tongue around it, tasting her. It fits perfectly on the roof of my mouth, and is slightly bigger than my thumb.
"Go ahead, babygirl."
I start slowly at first, with gentle suction, and soon fall into a tongue pulsing rhythm. Whimpers of satisfaction escape me without me even realizing it at first.
"Do you like that baby?" She asks with a serene smile. She knows the answer, but I give her a little "Mh hm" anyways.
Lark removed her thumb from my mouth with a little pop as it broke the suction. I opened my eyes and looked up into hers, but before I can think of anything to say, she directs my face to her breast. She sits up slightly, propped up against the pillows, and cradles my head in one arm, and with the other she places her breast to my lips. My hungry mouth latches to her with a little groan of relief.
I have suckled from her breast before, and she from mine. We do it when we make love, and as foreplay. This time was different though, this was pure comfort. I take her gently into my mouth at first, savoring the softness, the warmth.
"Can you stay here like this? Like…until I fall asleep?"
"I'll stay here for as long as you need, love."
She smiles serene and soft, looks at me with love in her eyes. I can tell she's feeling the glow. When we do this, we both feel a very powerful warmth rise in our bodies. I first felt it when she latched on to me the first time we made love. It's one of those things that cement into reality the idea that love is a real, physical condition, and that our bodies were made to love others.
"I love you Lark. You're so good to me….I love you so much."
"I love you too Ira" She tilts my face to hers and gives me a slow, passionate kiss. She ends it with a peck on my forehead as she directs me back to her waiting breast. "Now it's time for you to relax. Just think about good things, happy things…"
After a few minutes, I start to suckle rhythmically. I can feel my consciousness slowly fading as everything focuses on right here. The ancient, primal reflex is stirring in me and awakens. Everything else is melting away. Now reflex takes over, I take in her breast with no conscious action of my own. When this happens to me I swear it's like a drug. I whimper like a child, but I'm not embarrassed. She lovingly strokes my hair.
"Good girl… relax, that's a good girl…" she murmurs, and I can feel the glow in her voice.
How is she so good at giving me exactly what I need? After waking up in the passenger seat, helpless and afraid, I needed comfort. She gave me comfort. I needed to be taken care of, protected, I needed to feel safe. She made me safe. The world isn't so scary when she takes the wheel, takes care of me, and I'm in her passenger seat. The view from here makes me feel like the past is far behind us, and everything is ok.