“All right, class. Let’s do some standing meditation.” Sasha gathers the four students into a small circle. Leslie takes her usual place to Sasha’s immediate left and assumes the standing meditation posture, but not without trepidation. Meditation taps into the deep wells of sorrow in her. Many of the memories she has repressed for decades became released as she practiced standing meditation. This had started soon after John had moved in with her, and she realized it was because she was having the first spectacularly joyous and positive sexual experience in her life. In her past, none of her partners had matched her libido or her creativity in bed. What’s worse, most of her partners made her feel like there was something wrong with her because she wanted sex so often and in so many different ways. They were intimidated by her appetite, and they thought she was weird because of it. In addition, the abuse she had suffered twisted her view of what she had to offer in a relationship—mostly being the perfect sex doll. So, she sometimes wondered how much of sex she enjoyed for the act itself and how much she enjoyed because she was trained to enjoy it. John had thrown her paradigm out the window, and meditation was tapping into the pain Leslie held around the subject of sex. Her first recovered memory had been seemingly benign.
It had started as a normal Saturday. The girls did their chores in the morning, and then things turned strange. Mrs. Chang made the girls put on their best winter dresses, changed into her favorite bright pink woolen dress, and she dragged them to the part where they ran into a tall, smiling, handsome Taiwanese man she introduced as Mr. Liu. Leslie remembered that the day was chilly, but the sun was shining brightly. Even though Mr. Liu was affable to the girls, Leslie hadn’t liked him from the start. She liked him even less when Mrs. Chang insisted the twins call him Uncle Liu in the old-school way.
Mr. Liu bought the girls hot chocolate, taking special care to have it doctored exactly as each girl liked it. Lisa had told him she wanted marshmallows in hers, and he had turned around and asked Leslie if she wanted marshmallows as well. Leslie shook her head without saying anything; she did not want hot chocolate at all from this man. However, Mrs. Chang was insistent, and Mr. Liu finally wormed it out of Leslie that she liked whipped cream in her hot chocolate. Lisa asked if she could have some as well, and Mr. Lie said no. This created the first crack between the girls—one that would never be mended.
Mrs. Chang scolded Leslie as Mr. Liu went to fetch the hot chocolate. When he returned, Lisa immediately started sipping hers whereas Leslie simply held her cup in her mittened hand. It was only when Mrs. Chang ordered her to drink did Leslie lift the Styrofoam cup to her lips, and then she methodically chugged down the hot chocolate over Mr. Liu’s protests. She finished her hot chocolate quickly, ignoring the blister that was forming on her tongue. She thanked Mr. Liu for the drink, threw the cup away, and spent the rest of the afternoon trying with little success to avoid talking to Mr. Liu.
Leslie had freaked out over the memory. It didn’t matter how banal or harmless it appeared, it felt dangerous to her as she relived it. She had a vivid imagination with complete sensory recall, so when she had a memory, it was exactly like experiencing all over again. She had rushed out of the studio, breathing shallowly as she did. She didn’t remember much about the episode except that Sasha had hurried after her and managed to calm her down. For the next few classes, Leslie had skipped the meditation and done a few simple Bagua drills instead until she was able to handle meditation again. Unfortunately, the next time she did meditation, about a month later, she had an even worse vision of her past.
“No. I’m not going. I don’t like him.” Leslie said that to her mother the first time Mrs. Chang said they were going out with Mr. Liu. Predictably, Mrs. Chang reacted violently. Whatever Mr. Liu wanted, Mr. Liu got. Leslie never protested again.
Mr. Liu was a clever man. He knew that if he came on too strong, he would risk alienating Leslie completely. His plan was, quite simply, to divide and conquer. He subtly pitted the twins against each other, making his favor for Leslie quite clear. He knew from listening to Mrs. Chang blather that Lisa was used to being treated like a princess. It quickly became obvious that not only did she not know how to deal with being treated as second best; she really didn’t like being put in that position. Mr. Liu noted how she would get angry when showed favoritism to Leslie, and consequently, he did it more often. Mrs. Chang was still enthralled by him, so she dismissed any complaints that either girl had of him. Mr. Liu was highly amused at how easy it was to manipulate women—show them some attention, pay them compliments, and most importantly, listen to them, and they would do anything he asked them to do.
Everything was working to perfection—except for Leslie herself. In Mr. Liu’s experience, a child who’s told she’s bad and unwanted will glom on to anyone who showed them a modicum of kindness. A neglected child was usually pathetically grateful for any positive attention and willing to do whatever he asked as long as he paid said attention to them. Mr. Liu had fully expected it to work the same way with Leslie. She apparently hadn’t gotten the memo, however, because no matter what he said or did, she remained distant from him.
That didn’t deter him, however; indeed, it only excited him further. Though he wouldn’t admit it, he had gotten bored with his last conquest because it had been just too damn easy. He was like any other man in that he thrilled in the hunt. In addition, all his previous girls had been white. He had never had a Taiwanese girl, and that added even more spice to the equation. So, he was intrigued by this little girl who acted as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. He knew he could probably get Lisa with little effort, but he didn’t want her—he wanted Leslie. He bided his time. He wooed. He seduced—all to no avail. He was getting frustrated when the twins turned seven, and there was no sign of a thaw in Leslie. He knew that his window was short, and he was convinced that he could win her over—he just had to get her alone. That was actually easier than he had expected. He just had to get Mrs. Chang drunk, have sex with her, and then suggest that he take Leslie for the weekend. He said he thought he could really connect with Leslie if he had some time alone with her. Mrs. Chang, the silly fool, said yes while her body was still lost in the haze of her orgasm. She didn’t even question the wisdom of allowing a grown man to be alone with her seven-year-old daughter. She just said what she always said to this man, “Whatever you want, George.”
Leslie had snapped back to reality after having this vision, dazed and disoriented. She hadn’t known who she was or where she was, much to the consternation of Sasha. Sasha had led Leslie outside and ordered her to breathe smoothly and slowly. After several minutes of this, Leslie started to remember all the vital information—who she was, where she was, and that Barack Obama—not John McCain—was president. She had refused to talk to Sasha about the vision because she knew how batshitcrazy she would have sounded. She didn’t have any proof that it wasn’t anything other than a hallucination, but Leslie knew in her heart that it had actually happened. She didn’t do standing meditation again for two more months.
“Touch your tongue lightly to the roof of your mouth.” Sasha’s voice washes over Leslie as she endeavors to follow the instructions. It’s a losing battle, however, because as soon as she relaxes, images of John floods her mind. In fact, she remembers the first time they had said, “I love you” to each other. It was a month-and-a-half after they had first met.
“You are amazing.” Leslie propped herself up on her elbow and gazed down at John. He had a self-satisfied smirk on his face of a man well-fucked. Leslie stroked his chest hair as she snuggled into him.
“So are you, baby.” John hugged Leslie fiercely, and she melted into his arms. She felt so safe in his embrace, as if no harm would ever touch her again. Her heart was full of love for him, but she did not want to spook him by saying it too soon. She had fallen in love with him, much to her surprise—it had never happened before—within a month of knowing him.
“You have opened a whole new world to me. Thank you so much.” Leslie kissed John hard on the lips so he could feel how she felt about him. She could feel him harden against her leg, so she wiggled against him to encourage this development. Even though they had just had a rousing round of sex, she was ready for more. With him, she was always ready for more. She was so wet with wanting. She was about to slide herself onto his cock when he stopped her. “You don’t want to?” Leslie asked, a little hurt.
“I love you, Leslie. I have wanted to tell you that for some time now, but I wanted to do it while we weren’t having sex.” John stared into Leslie’s eyes before breaking into a smile. “It seems like we’re usually having sex.”
“I love you, too, John,” Leslie said, tears filling her eyes. She felt her heart swell with joy as she kissed him again. After breaking away, she asked, “Now can I?” John nodded, and Leslie slid onto John’s cock, savoring every inch as it entered her. She had never been with anyone so big, and while she normally didn’t care about size, there was something delicious about having him be almost too big to fit inside of her. He had joked that he was turning her into a size queen, but it wasn’t so much of a joke, after all.
Afterwards, they cuddled together, not caring about the mess they had made. Leslie used to like to shower immediately after having sex because while she loved the activity, she hated the messiness of it afterwards. However, it didn’t bother her at all with John, and she was more than content to lie in his arms until he fell asleep—which was usually within minutes after they finished sexing. This time, however, he didn’t succumb. Instead, he turned to Leslie and stared at her for a long time. She gazed back at him, not at all uncomfortable with his scrutiny.
“Marry me, Leslie,” John said, placing his hand over Leslie’s. “I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
John and Leslie had had several discussions about marriage. She was against it for several reasons, the biggest being she had seen how destructive it had been for her parents. They should never have gotten married, and once they realized that, they should have never stayed married. Leslie had seen how they functioned in the latter years of their marriage—two individuals living separate and not even parallel lives. She knew about Mrs. Chang’s affair with Mr. Liu, and she had a hunch that her father had had a few dalliances of his own. She wouldn’t have blamed him if he had. In addition, it bothered Leslie that straight people could marry when gay people couldn’t. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t marry a woman she loved if she could marry a man she loved. Now, Leslie knew she did not want a woman as a life partner—they made much better bedmates than lifemates—but it still bothered her that she couldn’t marry one if she so chose.
John understood Leslie’s misgivings about marriage, especially the societal ones. His parents hadn’t had the best of marriages, either, but John was optimistic enough to feel that he could learn from their mistakes. He sympathized with Leslie’s outrage over the social injustices concerning marriage, however, he still didn’t rule out the possibility of himself getting married. He wasn’t comfortable with the hypocritical nature of his belief, but he also knew that human beings were often a mass of contradictions. Besides, he had a romantic streak. He wanted to declare his love to the world by saying in public, “This woman is the woman I adore and want to spend the rest of my life with.” He made no apologies about that.
“John, you know how I feel about marriage,” Leslie said after a lengthy pause. “I think it shows how much I love you that I am actually considering your proposal.”
“That’s good enough for me right now,” John said, kissing Leslie firmly on the mouth. “Good night, baby doll. I love you.” With that, John fell asleep with Leslie in his arms. She lay awake savoring his proposal. Even if she didn’t say yes, it was nice to be asked.