The first time I masturbated, it was 2am and my mother was sleeping soundly next to me on her bumpy old mattress. The bloated black striped cats on her blanket patterns kept winking at me then, surrounding me and laughing. “You don’t know what pleasure is ‘til you’ve tried that,” I’d like to think their eyes said.
I had been sleeping next to my mother since I was 12 because shadows started to follow me around the house. They would watch me play the piano, or go out to get the mail. I used to feel their eyes dig holes into my skin whenever I was told to give my dog a bath. They would be silent things during the waking day, these shadow people, but during the night, when they entered my dreams, they’d show their true, raspy voices and biting teeth.
We went to several doctors and New Age priests but not one could explain the reality I was living in, so, in order to make me feel safe at night my mother let me sleep by her side. Though her warmth did not completely make them go away, it kept them at bay, and I was once again able to get a decent nights rest.
That night was different, though. I was 16, and had just awoken from the dreadful pain of my usual nightmares. I had dreamed that I was naked, hanging on to an edge of a cliff, screaming for someone to help me. I looked below and saw the darkness that swallowed the Earth. Then I looked above me, and saw these two dark transparent hands grab mine. At first I thought someone had saved me, but the hands did not lend me the strength to pull me up. Instead, they slithered past the edge and reached past my arms. The fingers pressed against my bare skin all the way down and reached over in between my legs. I felt something just about to go in when I was suddenly pulled back into reality.
I awoke, my eyes wide. My body glistened with sweat, my chest rose and dropped deeply, silently, and in between my hushed exhales my fingers quietly, mindlessly, numbingly traced over my lips. I looked at my mom’s back in fear, her body rose silently, deeply, and silently, too. I didn’t want her to know what I, at the time, vaguely knew I was going to do myself. I stared into the darkness that both consumed and separated us.
Then suddenly, possessed, my fingertips snaked down my neck. My skin felt like electric surges, guided by my fingers, surged through my veins. Synapse to synapse exploded as my forefinger, middle finger, index finger followed until they felt my breasts, my nipples, traced my belly button, my thighs, the cotton of my underwear.
“This is it,” I’d like to think the cats were saying as they watched me. “This is it!”
My fingers started rubbing against the crease between my thighs. Softly at first, like a lover, but with each stroke they grew fearless, and their strong, ceaseless, determined motions sent waves of want and lust over my soul. My whole body, in mute bliss, rocked in timeless rhythm. I felt anxiously filled with desire, I felt paralyzed with confused pleasure.
I had no idea what came over me, but I wanted more.
My fingers slipped beneath my underwear, and I bit my lip harder. I closed my eyes, and prepared myself to surrender. That thing by my vagina, or as I later learned, my clit, was throbbing. I gasped as my fingers, moist with sweat, pressed against and rubbed against it. I had placed my other hand down my underwear, too, to feel the intricacies of my vagina’s lips. I can remember so vividly how foreign my own body felt at that moment.
Shutting my eyelids tighter, biting my lip harder, I slipped one finger up my pussy.
The first time I masturbated, I rubbed my clit while fingering myself.
It felt like I was feeling for the first time. The ecstasy I felt when I climaxed, I had never felt before. The shadow people, the body of my mom sleeping next to me, the black striped cats and their red shoes melted away. My mind was silent, my body screamed in pleasure.
The first time I orgasmed it was like clockwork – natural and inevitable.
I started sleeping in my own room after that. My mother never asked why.
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