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Tethys — Growing the Tribe
This story is a continuation of the earlier story, “Gesso, also concerning Tethys and her friends. I’ve tried to make it as stand-alone as possible, but it would probably read better if the first one was also read.
The work is fiction, but as a powerful, wise and quite dead Wizard is reported to have said, “…but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
My life is getting more complicated lately.
It’s eleven o’clock-ish, it’s hot, it’s humid, it’s Texas, it’s Austin, and it’s August.
It’s Thursday, and I’m running late. I usually take a half-hour run about mid-day, in the summer heat that’s about all I can take before I’m so overheated that I can barely gasp for breath. Heat exhaustion is a real possibility, and a wiser woman would do this in the early morning. I’ve never been a wiser woman. I like the heat, I just need to budget my exposure to it.
I am dripping, my minimal clothing, a sports bra and a small pair of running shorts — and good running shoes, of course — is completely wet. My skin and my hair also look like I just crawled out of a river. A hot, dirty, stinking river. My slippery hands can barely turn the doorknob for my apartment. Luckily, the key in the lock gives me enough torque to open it up.
I stumble through, kick off my shoes, and step out of my clothes immediately. I need a shower, but it needs to be a quick one. I’m running late. I have a lunch date, and not much time to prepare. I’d started my run early, but not as early as I planned. A night spent with Carl always leaves me ravenous in the morning, I spent more time at breakfast than I should have, got home later than I should have, frittered away what should have been productive time reminiscing happily about Tuesday’s adventures. There was some video I had to review, and it was good. I couldn’t avoid a masturbation session.
Afterwards, I tried to finish up the prep work for my commission — an oil painting of a mermaid, that I’d already decided to modify into a Goddess of the Sea. I should have known better. These things always take longer than you expect. I didn’t finish it, but I made myself run late.
I jump in the shower, wash off, and get a quick shave in. It’s not as quick as I’d planned either. I need to do my armpits, my legs, and my pussy. I find I need to do them more frequently than I used to. I’m 32. I must be getting old. No time to waste when I get out. Still, I have enough time to take a quick look in the mirror. Frankly, I like what I see. I’ve worked hard for it, and I don’t feel the need to be humble. My skin is a dark olive brown, with no tan lines. Summer is for being naked in the sun, and I indulge that desire whenever I can. My breasts are small, but well shaped and firm, solidly supported on a muscular chest. I’m lean, but not skinny. My curves come from firm, well worked muscle. I have been lifting weights, as heavy as I can manage, for the past couple of years, and it’s showing. It looks good, it feels good, and it’s been an amazing transformation in my attitude and my self-image. I’m not ashamed to be proud.
Now I need to figure out what to wear. I should have thought about it sooner and set something aside. It’s not a formal date, it’s not like I’m looking for a lover or a partner. Still, I’ve only met Hera once, and talked to her twice. She seems like a nice girl, and I want to seem like a nice girl too. Friendly and harmless, at least.
I pick out a light green pullover dress with a yellow flower print pattern. Not fancy, not shabby. It’s almost form-fitting, almost sheer. It’s opaque enough to not require a bra or panties. I found out long ago that simple dresses without underwear are my preference for warm weather. My makeup is minimal and my naturally tousled hair is under a semblance of control. I slip on my gold-emerald chain, the stone matches my eyes, Henri told me when he gave it to me. It’s the most expensive piece of jewelry I have ever owned, and probably ever will. My finishing touch is the pair of homemade wire earrings that clamp onto my unpeirced earlobes. I made them in a craft class at the community college years ago, and I still like them. I slip my feet into a cheap pair of canvas deck shoes, and I’m out the door.
My 2009 Hyundai Elantra is as close to self-driving as I can imagine, at least it seems to know the way to Whole Foods by heart. Parking is usually tough to find, but at least Thursday is not the peak day. I take full advantage of the air conditioning while I’m driving, but the rush of heat as I open the door and step out of the car is still welcome. The cool air inside the store is also welcome. Despite my anxiety about time, I’m not quite late. I recognize Hera immediately, in a booth in the dining section. She recognizes me at the same time, and we smile as I sit across from her at the table. Had she stood up for a hug, I would have returned it, but she remains seated, so I simply extend my hand.
“Hi, Tethys, I’m glad you came,” beylikdüzü escort she says. She’s a very pretty girl, in a delicate sort of way. Her facial features are soft and smooth, her skin finely textured, and pale in a way that suggests little tolerance for sunlight. Her eyes are as soft as her skin, a light greenish brown, large and round, giving her an expression of childlike innocence that I already know to be illusory. I linger longer on her hair. It’s red, but… There’s something else there. I don’t think it’s dye. A touch of brown. Maybe just a touch. It’s thick and full, had she wanted to look glamorous her hair would definitely not interfere. It cascades almost to her shoulders, splayed out at the ends in a way that reminds me of some posters from the 1940’s. She notices me looking.
“Lauren Bacall,” she says, twirling a strand. “I know it’s a bit presumptuous, and it’s the wrong color, but she’s kind of an inspiration.”
I nod. I do see the effect. And it’s not presumptuous, it actually works. Her face has that same general shape, and even the lips are reasonably similar, although Hera’s lipstick is a much more understated shade.
“So where would you like to eat?” I ask. “Here in the booth, up on the roof, or out to a park somewhere?”
“Let’s do the roof,” she smiles. “We can sit under one of the umbrellas and chat there.”
The buffet at Whole Foods allows for a large variety of choices, but the final selection is priced by the pound, and it’s not cheap. I go for the dense, protein rich items, and Hera concentrates on the salads. Now that she’s standing, I can get a better idea of her build. She’s shorter than I am, and almost as skinny as I was two years ago when I met Carl. Her pullover casual dress is similar to my own, but slimmer, a light blue, not-quite-sheer fabric, and as she bends over to scoop some peas into her serving box, I notice with amusement that she is not wearing a bra or panties either. My optimism increases, just a little.
We climb the steps to the rooftop patio, and fortunately there are a couple of tables shaded by umbrellas that aren’t taken. It’s hot, but we’re out of the sun. The food is good, but I’m thinking more about how to initiate the conversation. I’m the older one, Hera looks to be in her early to mid twenties, but I’m feeling awkward and clumsy. It’s an old familiar feeling that I thought had been cured by Carl, Taylor, Henri, and Sonia. Hera comes to my rescue.
“You look like you wouldn’t mind being out in the sun here anyway,” she says, nodding to my deep bronze skin. “It’s such a beautiful tan.”
“It’s my Greek heritage, I guess,” I shrug. I like to think I come from a lineage of 3,000 years under the Aegean sun.”
“I’m Greek too, at least nominally. And I’m as white as a ghost. I guess my heritage is the marble quarries,” she laughs.
“Do you know which part of Greece?”
“Chios. It’s an island in the Aegean, very close to Turkey actually. Both my parents were born there.”
My mouth falls open, and my eyes are as wide as hers. “Chios! MY parents came from Chios! Oh my god! We’re like cousins!”
We both leap to our feet, practically knocking over our chairs and spilling our food in our rush to meet and hug. It’s a big, tight hug, leaving no doubt in the minds of either of us about our mutual disdain for underwear.
The ice is broken, and our appetites enhanced. We sit and talk cheerfully, and it’s no trouble getting Hera’s life story out of her. Her parents are nothing like mine.
“My Mom’s a peasant farmer,” she says, and my Dad’s a wannabe historian. He’s a neopagan, mostly. He studies Greek history, and he’s really big on mythology. He’s the one that named me Hera, of course. They’ve taken me back to visit a few times. My Dad insists on taking pilgrimages to Delos, and of course they’ve fit Athens and the the Parthenon in there a few times. They emigrated just before I was born, I think they were tired of all the economic chaos going on back then. Plus they were too close to Turkey for my Dad’s comfort.”
“My parents are devout Greek Orthodox,” I said. If it were up to them I would have been raised in a nunnery. We never saw eye to eye much, and I hardly see them at all anymore. I’m their only child, and their greatest disappointment.”
“That’s a shame. It must be tough. I don’t know if I could make it without my parents’ support. I know that as an artist I’d be starving without them. Or at least I would have been. I’ve been doing a little better lately.”
“What do they think of your erotica?” I asked a little more pointedly than I intended. “It’s pretty explicit, at least what I saw in the gallery. My parents couldn’t stand the idea of me drawing skimpy outfits, much less full-on porcelain porn!”
Hera laughs. “They think it’s great. My Mom says they should have named me Aphrodite. I was one of those kids who they could never get to keep a diaper on, much less clothes. I was always stripping down and running wild every chance I got. They basically just threw up their hands and said ‘That’s our Hera!’ I got cured of that when beyoğlu escort I was about eight, and they left me alone for a few hours. I decided to go out and play naked in the back yard. When they got back, I was burned and blistered from head to toe. My naked shenanigans have been pretty much indoors ever since.”
“I can understand that,” I giggle. “I didn’t do anything naked except bathe when I was a kid. I didn’t even know it was a possibility until I hit puberty, and discovered my own sexuality and porn at the same time. If it weren’t for internet porn, I’d probably still be a virgin.”
“Probably not,” Hera shakes her head. “Most likely you would have gone out totally clueless and gotten yourself raped and traumatized. God, I’m sorry if I said something wrong… that didn’t happen, did it?”
“No,” I assure her. “Nothing like that. I was still clueless, though. Porn is just about sex, it doesn’t illustrate anything about navigating the dating and relationship side of it. That was all trial and error.”
“Porn was never a big deal at my place,” Hera continues. “My parents just assumed all the kids were watching it. They never tried to filter anything, they just warned me not to get into anything unnatural.”
“Did you?” I ask.
“Not that I know of,” she smiles. “Like you, though, there’s been some trial and error.”
She studies my arms and shoulders, and takes a sidelong peek at the opening in my dress below my arms. “I don’t see any tan lines,” she notes. “Is that beautiful skin bronze all over?”
I smile in return. “Sure is! It’s summer. I spend a lot of time outdoors, and most Saturdays I spend at Hippie Hollow with my friend Carl and a couple we know.”
“I’m jealous,” she sighs. “I would love to be a nudist somewhere other than at home, and to do it with friends, but you know… that old sun.”
“Well, home isn’t all that bad either,” I reassure her. I’m nearly always naked at home. Even when I’m painting. Except sometimes I wear gloves.”
“Really? I do my pottery nude! I get clay smears and splatters all over me, sometimes I identify with the old mud people of Borneo! I love it! It feels kind of sexy, as long as I don’t let it dry and cake too much.”
My imagination is reeling. I not only want to see it, the idea of doing it excites me. I picture myself bending over a potters wheel, the wet clay building on my hands, coloring my skin shiny gray all the way up my forearms. When they clog, I wipe them on my breasts and belly. I become a porcelain sculpture of my own!
“Would you like to see my studio?” Hera’s voice is almost pleading. “I hardly ever get to show it off to anybody.”
“I’d love to!” I answer, and I mean it. “I think your work is so sexy and inspiring. You’ve already got me reconsidering my whole career.”
For years I’ve been painting according to a single basic theme — an idyllic landscape, whether mountain, forests, seashores, hills, fields, that contain a lonely-looking woman dressed in a psuedo-classical drapery. Oil is a wonderful medium for deep, rich color, it allows endless permutations of texture and layering, and I’ve gotten good at it. But oil is a pain. It smells, it takes forever to dry — and you have to let it dry between certain layers– and it doesn’t lend itself well to spontaneity. Spontaneity hasn’t been an issue for me. The theme is always similar. It’s been moderately successful. My sales have been steady, and the uncontroversial subject matter goes well in medical offices and corporate conference rooms, but it’s been a long time since I felt challenged or excited about it. Since meeting Carl, then Taylor, then Henri and Sonia, then Joe and Jo, my attitude has been gradually changing. As my life has been getting more boldly erotic, so have my artistic desires. And when I saw Hera’s work at the gallery last Tuesday, a garish in-your-face work of acrylic erotica, I found myself desperately wanting to produce something pornographic.
I follow Hera to her place, an older neighborhood north of the university, with small wooden houses, big wooden houses, big trees, formal gardens, and unkempt yards full of prairie brush. Students and professors co-mingle closely, if not always comfortably. Hers is one of the smaller houses, a rental on a raised foundation, with a slightly ramshackle unattached garage and shed at the end of the driveway behind the house. It has a screened porch on the front and back, and as we walk through the front door I notice worn wooden floors, partly covered by strategically placed throw rugs, and soft plush furniture — not new, but in good condition. It looks comfortable, lived in, and inviting. There’s a faint, lingering smell of spices, and a fainter but recognizable aroma of cannabis.
It’s a two-bedroom house with one bathroom, a living room, and a kitchen. Built in a time when people still usually cooked at home, the kitchen is large and well laid out. Hera leads me through the place quickly. An easel and a stack of canvases and painting supplies take up half of the living room. The master bedroom is the ceramic studio. Plastic sheets cover bostancı escort bayan the floor, an electric potter’s wheel sits in one corner by a mud-splattered mirror, and most of the rest of the room is taken up by a wooden table, cabinets, and shelves, all piled with pots and figurines in various stages of drying or glazing. More pots and sculpted pieces adorn the screened back porch. There are paintings on all the walls, all done in the Hera style I’ve seen in the gallery, all erotic, and some as baldy pornographic as any I’ve fantasized about.
“Well,” she says as she completes the very short tour. “We’re both artists, and we both work in the nude, so why don’t we both get artistically nude together?”
I like this girl. She doesn’t waste time. My dress nearly shoots over my head, and my sandals and necklace follow nearly as quickly. I place everything on one arm of the couch in the living room. Hera is as quick as I am. We stare at each other’s naked bodies, and both of us draw in our breaths at the same time. Hera’s lines are smooth and symmetrical, her breasts are small like mine, her shoulders delicate, her belly flat, and her hips slender. She’s not as skinny as I was a couple of years ago, but she could afford to gain a few pounds. Her skin is as shiny white as the procelain figures she sculpts — before she glazes them. Her pussy is shaved as bare as mine. Why are all the nude women I’m seeing lately bare in the cunt? I’m not complaining. It’s beautiful. I notice something shiny hanging between her legs, almost like a string from a tampon, but this looks like a gold chain.
She hasn’t blinked since we undressed. “Tethys! You. Are. Amazing! You’re beautiful! You’re flawless! I’m so in awe of your beautiful bronze skin. I could never have that color, even if I faked it. And it’s so smooth and even on you.”
She steps up to me and touches my arms and my shoulders. “You look so strong. You are powerful, aren’t you? And look at those legs! You’re packed with muscle, but it’s not bulky. It really looks good on you!”
She takes my hands and examines my fingers and palms. I don’t know how to react. I stand there, entranced. I’m the older one. Somehow I feel I should be taking the lead. I had planned to. But Hera is one step ahead of me.
“These are definitely the hands of an artist. But your palms. Those calluses. You work hard with your hands, don’t you?”
I take Hera’s hands in return, and study them. They are smooth and flawless.
“I guess the clay is a great skin softener, isn’t it?”
“It is, but I still have to moisturize,” she laughs. “But what do you do besides oil painting? On the palm side of your hands it looks like you’re a mechanic or a farmer, but there’s no nicks on your knuckles. And you’re built like either an athlete or a laborer!”
“It’s a bit like labor, I guess,” I smile. Until a couple of years ago I was a lot skinnier than you. My friend Carl that I mentioned earlier introduced me to weight training, and I’ve been working out with him at his house three times a week. It’s transformed me, obviously, but I guess a little roughness on the hands is the price I pay. He’s a great coach, by the way. Not to mention the sex is worth coming back for as much as the workout! We lift naked, and it’s the sexiest way to build muscle I can imagine.”
“That’s intriguing!” Hera looks wide-eyed. “I bet Carl gets just as much out of it as you do. And I’ll also bet you’re very good.”
I’ve been feeling a growing wetness throughout the conversation, and now I’m starting to smell its scent as well. It’s not all coming from me. Before I can even think about it, Hera has led me to her bedroom. It’s not a large bed, but it will easily fit two, and unlike the used furniture elsewhere, this bed is soft, fresh, and luxuriously feminine. Hera sits at the front and splays her knees apart. I see the hanging chain more clearly. It’s attached to a ring pierced through her clitoral hood, with a couple of beads alongside at the attachment point.
“You like it?” she quizzes. The ring’s always there, but I only wear the chain on special occasions. It’s better than a tattoo!”
“It’s beautiful!” I confess. “But doesn’t it get in the way of certain things?”
“Well, I can easily move it aside when I pee,” she flicks it casually. “I guess I do have to be careful when I’m fucking, depending on the position. But I like it doggy style, because the the chain hits the guys balls when he thrusts into me and bounces forward. It makes for a pretty complex jingling sensation on my clit!”
“So you like guys as well as girls?” I’m truly curious by now.
“I wish I could say I don’t make a distinction, but that would be silly,” she says bluntly. I’m not heterosexual, I’m not homosexual, I’m not bisexual, and I’m not solo-sexual. I’m all of those, it a way. I’m sexual. I love the human anatomy, that’s why it’s my art form. And I love human genitals. I really love them. Cocks, cunts, penises, vaginas, pussies, dicks, clitorises, labia, scrotums, foreskins, glanses. All of it. I love how they look, I love to examine them minutely, and study them in detail. I love drawing and sculpting them. I love how they feel, and how they smell, and how they taste. And skin in general. I love the things that make us feel, that turn us on, that excite us. I love sensuality, sexuality, and passion. I live for it, I can’t get enough. I’d probably double my artistic output if I didn’t spend so much of my free time fantasizing and frigging myself.”
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