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A modern telling of Scheherazade
My sister snored and night after night I’d lay in bed, wide awake, wishing I could have my own room, something that was impossible in our small house. In the room next to ours, my dad also snored and I have no idea how my mom could sleep, but she did. Even with the doors closed and the pillow and covers over my head, the snoring through our thin walls kept me awake. My sister and dad denied they snored. “No we don’t!” they both said, even when Mom and I said they did, so it became part of my every night ordeal until I decided to use the night to work on the stories I had been writing.
Ever since I was a kid, I had notebooks filled with stories about talking animals, ghosts and monsters, then, pirates, and, as I got older, stories about getting kidnapped and being saved by a handsome man, and they became love stories, some, by the time I was sixteen, so erotic I couldn’t help but play with myself. Before my night routine, I wrote when I came home from school, or on Saturdays when no one was home, but sitting in our kitchen in the middle of the night, drinking coffee, writing in the glare of my laptop and the dim light above me became something I looked forward to. It became my own world, where, with the kitchen door shut, I couldn’t hear the snoring.
After dinner, I’d do a little homework, then sleep while they watched TV. When my mom and sister went to bed around ten, and my dad after the eleven o’clock news, I’d go downstairs, make coffee, and write ’till I got tired around three or four, then sleep, curled up on the small green couch in the living room, my head on the pillow and under the quilt I kept behind the couch, the snoring from the rooms above me, not nearly as loud.
My parents and sister thought I was weird because of when I slept, and when I told them I can’t sleep with all the snoring, they just humphed and shook their heads at me and just said, “Sherry, why do you have to be so difficult?” And I’d say, “I’m not being difficult. I’m a writer and I like writing in the middle of the night. What’s wrong with that?”
Abby, my sister, was going to the community college and was studying to be a medical technician. She had read there was always a need for medical technicians. Abby was really a great older sister, except for the snoring, and I learned a lot about relationships from her because she was three years older and always had a boyfriend, once, for a whole school year, but usually a few months, then there’d be someone new and she’d be in love again. She’d look in the mirror when she was getting dressed for a date and put something on, then something else, turn from side to side and look at herself in the long mirror we had on the back of our bedroom door and say, “I wish I had bigger boobs.” I don’t know why she thought that because they seemed pretty big to me, especially compared to mine.
Usually, she just wore her tight, skinny jeans and a tank top, or T-shirt, but always had a scarf around her neck and dangling earrings. Sometimes, when she wore her black knee-high boots, she looked really sexy, like the women in one of the magazines my dad had. Mom would snort and squirm when he showed her a sexy picture and he’d laugh. Why he showed them to her I’ll never know, but that’s what he did; maybe he liked teasing her, but it was also mean because she was kind of plump and nothing like the sexy women. Abby liked those magazines and would sneak them into our room and we’d look at the pictures. Mom had her romance books and they had pretty sexy covers too—men with bare chests kissing a woman with long hair and her breasts showing.
Sex was always an undercurrent in our house, and except for the kiss when he came home, I never saw Dad hold my mom’s hand or hug, but his showing her sexy pictures and teasing, and her romance books, and Abby telling me about her dates and me writing love stories, sex was always in the air. I wondered if they ever made love, but thought his snoring must have really turned her off. So, for the last year or so, before graduating, I’d come down for dinner, eat and listen to whatever conversation there was, then go back to my room, nap until it was my time to write and escape the snoring.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and I remember reading somewhere–maybe it was online–“it’s more important to know what you don’t want to do and be open to what presents itself.” Well, I knew I didn’t want to be an accountant, or a receptionist, or a medical technician. They sounded too much like jobs. Somehow, I knew I had to do what I loved and that was writing, making up stories and hope I’d get published.
“So you want to be a starving writer,” Dad said.
Mom said, “Sherry, if you think some prince charming is going to come along like in Cinderella, you better face reality.”
After Abby graduated, she was seldom home and spent most of her time at her boyfriend’s apartment, but she’d say, “Get out of the house. bahis firmaları Go to community college after you graduate. You’ll never meet a guy writing stories. Get real, Sherry.”
School was a drag and I couldn’t wait to be free of boring assignments when all I wanted to do was write and read books that were relevant to my life. I had a few friends I’d hang out with like Emily and Alisha and we’d get high and talk about guys at school and the bitch girls who thought they were better than everyone else, and the old teachers who thought they were cool, even when they weren’t, though a few of the younger teachers were okay, fresh out of college and just a few years older than us, but then Emily and Alisha got boyfriends and were better students than I was and went away to college. I was tempted to apply, even though I had a C average, but knew I didn’t want to be so busy I wouldn’t have time to write, and also didn’t want to have a huge debt like I read so many graduating students had. Sometimes, I got an email from Emily, never from Alisha, and I didn’t want to have anything to do with facebook. What a distraction it was and more and more I just wanted to write.
It’s not that I didn’t like boys. I did and was conscious of my appearance and liked how they looked at me, even though I dressed differently than the other girls: more bohemian, but sexy in an innocent and also exotic way. I had long, curly auburn hair, almost red, that I’d braid into pigtails or one long braid that came halfway down my back, but sometimes just loose and wild. My smooth olive skin and high cheek bones gave me an exotic look which I liked. People always commented on my green eyes and the dimples when I smiled. Though I was small, a little over five feet, my breasts became grapefruit size. I’d wear short, peasant skirts with flowers or Indian prints and different colored T-shirts with a leather vest I found in the thrift store where most of my clothes came from. Also, lots of necklaces and dangling earrings that made me feel like a gypsy. I had an old pair of jeans I loved and even though I had outgrown them and they were tight and had rips in the knees, I couldn’t part with them and have to admit, I liked how guys looked at me. I knew I looked good, but I was too shy to flirt, or know what to say when Pete Johnson asked if he could drive me home or would I like to go for a ride, or Mike, who sent me notes in English asking if we could study together, then watch a movie. I knew what they wanted, but I always chickened out and said I had stuff to do—which was true—my writing.
“You can’t just stay home and write. You have to get a job,” Dad said after I graduated.
I knew they were right and so I got a job as a waitress downtown in a pretty swanky and cool restaurant called, “Rosie’s Bistro” that served Mediterranean food. It was perfect because I made good tips and could write during the day, and then go to work at four and be home after my parents were in bed. I still couldn’t sleep in my room because of the snoring, and so I’d make some coffee and write for a few hours, then sleep on the couch, and then, when everyone was gone, write until it was time to go to work. Perfect.
As my stories became more erotic, letting me fantasize various scenarios, I started publishing on an online site for erotic stories and they were well received, and I started getting messages from other writers and readers and it became enticing. It inspired me to keep writing stories that I knew would get readers aroused and, I confess, me. It became so exciting to see responses, especially from men and getting private messages that were increasingly seductive and tempting. I can’t believe how hot it was to flirt and tease but know that’s as far as it would go. It was a game, except for one guy, Frank, who was really persistent and persuasive. His words just got to me, and I was so on the edge of giving in to his words that I slammed shut my laptop and masturbated in the dark, screaming his name, then when I came down, wondered why I did that. Why didn’t I just go all the way with him?
I admit it was tantalizing and writing erotic stories helped me explore my own sexuality, my desires, what kind of man I wanted, did I want to be married, or did I want to stay single and be independent, a free spirit, not bound to anyone, have lovers with no strings—that was appealing, but then I’d think would I ever want to be a mother and settle down in a sweet little house in the country, or a swanky condo with a doorman. I often fantasized about having a farm with a barn and a horse and having sex in the hayloft. I also found myself writing poetry where I could just explore my feelings without telling the whole story, get to the essence of what I was experiencing, what I was thinking and feeling. I wanted to go deeper. I remember reading about a poet who said, “See deeply,” and that’s what I knew I had to do if I was going to write anything really important. I wanted to write kaçak iddaa literature, the great American novel, something substantial, and remember reading something D. H. Lawrence said about how important it was to write explicitly about sex if you wanted to write authentically about the human condition. I knew writing about sex and relationships was important and of great interest to readers, but I had no real experience except for what I read online. I watched some porn, but after awhile it got boring because they’re wasn’t a story or a real relationship. Just fucking.
My erotic stories were really getting popular and I decided to see if I could find a publisher and have a real book, something that would be in bookstores or downloaded. I had a lot of stories and I knew they were hot, but I also knew they had substance and intriguing plots. It wasn’t just the sex I was interested in exploring, but I loved telling a good story with believable characters. My poetry was really sensual and the responses I got from my readers overwhelmed me with their appreciation. I was getting more messages from both guys and women who wanted a relationship, but at eighteen, almost nineteen, I was still a virgin, even though my fingers got a lot of action.
I was making good tips as a waitress and really enjoyed giving good service. It was like performing, and I liked being friendly with my customers.
There was this guy, Angelo, who came in three or four nights a week, always with a different woman. He usually wore a dark suit, sometimes with a tie, but usually with just an open collar. His dates were always young, much younger than he was. Sometimes he’d come in with the same woman and I got to recognize them—there were a few like that, but then he’d come in with someone I’d never seen before. He was handsome, in a rugged sort of way, with long dark, curly hair down to his shoulders, a little gray and a stubble beard, that was kind of sexy. His suits looked expensive and he was always immaculate and seemed classy in a unique way that made me wonder what he did, how he lived, how he could afford to eat in an expensive restaurant so often. Everyone said hello to him when he walked in. He always hugged Rosie, who liked to greet customers and he’d kiss her cheek, then the hostess would escort Angelo and his date to my table in the dark booth which he reserved.
He’d smile and say, “Hello, Sherry” and look up and down my body in an almost predatory way that sent a little tingle when our gazes met, but then he’d quickly turn to his date and take her hand. We didn’t wear uniforms but could wear our own clothes with the understanding they’d be clean and professional, though a few of the waitresses wore tight skirts, or slacks with nice blouses or sweaters and said it helped their tips, which, by the way, we pooled. After the place closed, the staff could have a meal and share a bottle of wine and we’d talk about stuff—how slow the kitchen was, how we hated when people would call us over and ask for something with food in their mouths. We’d laugh and gossip and listen to one of the waiters tell a stupid joke, but one night, Mindy, one of the older waitresses, said I should watch out for Angelo. “I see how he looks at you, Sherry. He’s dangerous.”
“What do you mean, he’s dangerous?”
“Can’t you see he has a harem of women. Three or four nights a week he’s here with another woman, but he always asks for your table. Listen to me, watch out. He has a reputation of wanting women he can dominate. You see the young women he comes in here with—some pretty slutty, if you ask me, others like virgins he wants to seduce and become his slaves. He also has some older women, who take him with them on trips. He’s a gigolo who gives these rich, bored women what they’re missing at home.”
“How do you know all of this?”
“I know. Believe me, I know. I’ve worked here a long time and there was a time I was his regular server and almost in his harem, then he started asking for this new young waitress named Renee, and she told me the whole story. She learned the hard way and stopped working here after coming in with bruises and told me all about Angelo. His name may be Angelo, but he’s no angel, mark my words. So watch out.”
What Mindy said intrigued me and I wondered by the way he looked at me whether he was interested in me. What did she mean he’s dangerous? Why did Renee come in with bruises then quit and move away? Why did he always come in with so many different women around my age or not much older? When I came to his table he’d always say, “Hello Sherry. How are you, tonight?” while looking me up and down, then he’d take his date’s hand and introduce me, (I’m not sure why). I’d say “pleased to meet you,” then turn to Angelo and ask, “Would you like your usual bottle of wine?” He’d say yes or ask for something different, but when the busboy came over with water, bread and olive oil, and I walked away to get the wine and glasses, I could kaçak bahis feel his eyes on me. Then one night, I don’t know what came over me, but I turned around and our eyes met and I narrowed my eyes, letting him know I knew he was checking me out and saw him chuckle. When I brought over the bottle of wine, he looked me up and down again and said, “You look so nice tonight,” then he reached for his date’s hand again and say, “and so do you.”
What game is he playing? I wondered when I opened the wine.
After that, I went to my other tables and then took Angelo and his date’s order and, though he paused and smiled when I brought their meals, he was focused on seducing his date, but, then, after an after-dinner drink, he said, “Goodnight, Sherry, Thank you for such good service,” and left a generous tip. But the way he gazed into my eyes with those dark eyes and devilish smile made me remember Mindy’s words, “Watch out!”
The night after I caught him checking me out and smiled back at him, Angelo came in just before we were closing and asked if I’d like to have a drink with him. I had just finished cleaning up my station and so I joined him while the others were gathered at the big table just outside of the kitchen, eating, drinking and laughing. Well, I love Martinis and decided, why not since I can’t afford them and he was treating. Rosie served us since the others were done for the night. I wondered why she didn’t mind Angelo being there after we had closed, but could tell they had a special relationship– maybe he was an investor or something.
“Thank you for letting me have a drink with Sherry,” Angelo said when she brought us our Martinis.
“Anything for you, Angelo. Enjoy.” She smiled at me but didn’t say anything, but I could tell she knew I was going to be another conquest. I glanced back at the others, who acted as if they weren’t paying attention. Everyone knew Angelo was a fiend for young women and knew why he wanted to have a drink with me after hours, but, while they were eating and talking, Mindy glanced over at me and warned me with her eyes to watch out.
When we clicked glasses and took sips, he looked at me over the rim of his glass and I could see he was enjoying looking at me, which I liked, but also knew he was being seductive and remembered him doing the same thing with all of his dates. The writer part of me was always watching what was going on, observing, somewhat detached, almost like a movie camera recording scenes I might use in a story, but I was also engaged, wanting to experience Angelo’s charm and enjoy the ride. If he was dangerous, I wanted the danger and felt confident, I’d be able to handle whatever happened. Even if I didn’t know what other young women experienced, I did know that Renee showed up bruised and quit working there. Be careful, Sherry went through my mind.
I have to admit his dark eyes were captivating, and he was definitely handsome with the shadow of a beard, a slight, playful smile; he seemed really fit, not muscular but tight with broad shoulders and curly dark hair showing where his white shirt was half unbuttoned. His hands were immaculate, obviously manicured with one large, beautiful ruby ring on his ring finger–the hands of a business man, or a musician rather than a laborer.
“So, why did you want to have a drink with me?” I asked when I put my glass down.
“You know why, Sherry.” He smiled with a devilish gleam in his eyes, his head cocked to the side.
I didn’t answer, but took another sip of my Martini and nodded with a slight grin, letting him know I knew.
“I find you attractive and liked how you turned around last night and knew I was checking out your ass and gave me that look.”
“Yes, I saw you, but I also see you’re in here with a different woman almost every night. Do you want me to be part of your harem, another woman you can fuck and toss away like trash.”
“Maybe.” His eyes widened at my boldness, then he smiled and sipped his drink.
I surprised myself by saying that, but his surprised eyes and smile emboldened me and I thought, what the hell, I’m going to show him I’m not one of his bimbos. I took the olive from the glass and rolled it around my mouth before swallowing, then licked my lips, moving my tongue slowly, my eyes fixed on his.
We had some small talk–did I like working here, what music did I like, what did I want to do with my life. He acted interested, nodding, smiling, asking probing questions. I told him I was a writer and had published some stories online.
What kind of stories?” he asked.
I hesitated a moment before telling him.”Erotica.”
“Really. I’m delighted to hear that.”
“You’re the first person I have ever told what I write.”
“I enjoy good erotic stories. Did you see the movie 50 Shades of Grey?”
“Of course and I read the book.”
“I’d love to read some of your stories. By the way, I know some publishers of erotica. Maybe I could get you a deal if I like your stories.”
“Well, maybe that could be arranged. I’d love to read them to you.”
“I’d like that. To be read erotic stories by a beautiful author would be unique. Very interesting.”
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