After having sex with her husband, Sabi left him in bed for the Frenchman on her laptop. Usually the wireless connection would fail halfway into a clip, but tonight the signal remained strong. Despite needing to get some rest for her bi-weekly oncologist appointment, Sabi stayed up the rest of the night. In the morning she would know if the chemotherapy was working or not. She didn’t want to think about the results of the PET Scan or the drugs. She didn’t want to brace herself for another assault of fatigue, nausea, constipation, and that damn metallic taste in her mouth. She only wanted to watch the Frenchman have sex with women.
The Frenchman appeared on her screen with a beautiful, young brunette in a scene filmed in some rented L.A. mansion. His floppy, brown hair clung to his sweaty brow as he sucked on her perky, dark nipples. She lifted a curtain of silky hair from her shoulders to facilitate the next shot of her pushing the Frenchman onto the white leather sofa and taking his dick in her mouth.
Nick bought Sabi the laptop so that she could watch movies while having meds pumped into her Mediport, a small, metal disc about the size of a quarter that sat under her skin below her collarbone. A catheter connected the port to a large vein. The meds were injected through a thick needle that fit into the port. After that first painful puncture, Sabi reached for the laptop and lost herself in movies. She ordered comedies–romantic, slapstick, and dark. During the first month of treatments, she watched two, sometimes three movies as six hours’ worth of drugs were pumped into her Mediport. By cycle three, which marked her second month of treatments, she was done with the comedies. She moved on to an old love: French films.
Old and new. Historical and arty ones. Films with little plot, some that made no sense at all. She watched philosophical love stories and musicals with tone-deaf singers. She made use of her high school French and turned off the subtitles. She liked how serious yet relaxed all the French actors appeared.
Nick hated the French films, said he couldn’t stand the apathy on display. She tried to convince him that what he was watching was really the opposite. “Don’t you see? There are no pretensions. They are dealing with life and not getting all emotional about it. Emotional reactions are superficial,” she said. “They only help us avoid our fears when in fact we should be facing them.”
Treatment days were grueling, long, nine-hour days, which began with a needle inside the Mediport and a nurse filling seven different sized vials for blood testing. Then Sabi had to report to her oncologist, who reviewed the results of her blood work to determine if she was strong enough to endure the scheduled treatment.
Nick and Sabi would spend their time in the waiting room looking through Better Homes and Gardens, staring at perfect couples inside quaint country homes, looking chaste, untarnished, undamaged by life. Looking as far removed from a sticky, sweaty orgasm as a patient in a coma.
After her last appointment two weeks ago, Sabi and Nick took a long bath together. Nick sat behind Sabi in the tub and carefully sponged her back, arms, neck, breasts, and inner thighs. When he was done, she kissed his soapy hand, felt him grow hard behind her, and then he slowly turned her around, so that she sat facing him. With her legs wrapped around his waist, he slipped his dick inside her. In the three years, they’d been together, they’d never made love this way, fucking slowly in the bathtub, skin slippery, no sounds coming from their mouths.
That night while Nick slept, Sabi squirmed in bed, wanting badly to dig in and rip out the Mediport. Instead, she tiptoed out to the living room and turned on her laptop. Still thinking of their lovemaking in the bathtub, Sabi searched for “couples having hot sex” on the internet.
It was astonishing to find so many free porn sites featuring plastic women moaning and groaning while wooden men grunted behind them, on top of them, underneath them, to the side of them. Impossible sexual positions where the men jackhammered away as if they were competing in an Iron Man competition.
And then she found the Brit. He wasn’t the greatest performer. He puckered his mouth when he mounted a woman and exhaled in a whistle when he came, but he had a cute accent and a nice, muscular ass. His belly rippled, and he had nice hands. He seemed to enjoy touching the women he was with. It was through watching the Brit that she found the Frenchman.
It was a threesome scene, which began with the Brit making fun of the other man’s accent.
“You a Frenchman, mate?”
“Oui, and I have a bigger dick than you.”
A buxom, older woman entered the room. The two younger men took off their clothes. The woman kept one occupied while the other lost himself in her lush ass. The Frenchman didn’t whistle when he came. He kissed the woman instead. A long, passionate kiss that seemed to take the woman by surprise. Sabi imagined what it would be like to be overpowered by the Frenchman. She wondered if he would kiss her passionately and then slap her tit. She wondered if she would be okay with that.
Sabi walked over to the queen-size bed, did a little shimmy dance as she took off her full-coverage bra, rubbed her tits, her pudgy belly, stepped out of her panties, removed the scrunchy from her hair, ran her fingers through her thinning curls, and pulled back the down comforter. She placed her hand underneath the waistband of Nick’s boxers, stretched it, and let it go.
Startled awake, Nick almost jumped out of bed.
“Stay there,” Sabi said, sliding next to his tense body. “Relax.”
Nick obeyed. He turned, so that their knees touched. He nuzzled her chest and licked her collarbone, shoulders, and the blurred, brown biopsy scar over her heart. When he tried to fondle her tits, she smacked his hand away.
“Stop that,” she said. “I don’t want you exhausting me; let me do all the work.”
She bit and licked Nick’s earlobe. He groaned. She licked the side of his neck, kissed his chest, twisted one nipple while sucking the other. He expelled a deep breath, closed his eyes, and tucked his hands under his head. She pulled down his underwear, squeezed his balls, and made him squirm.
Sex was necessary the day before chemotherapy. After treatment, she was too weak to eat, too pissed off to talk about how she felt. The Zofran and Ativan helped with the nausea, but after a couple of days, the drugs made her moods fluctuate. On the upswing she was vocal, laughing, singing, talking non-stop about how great she felt. On the downswing, she touched her body, felt for lumps, placed ointment on her scars, and patted the Mediport. “Scar tissue is building around it,” she told the friends and family she couldn’t avoid.
Both her family and Nick’s lived in other States. She begged Nick to keep the cancer a secret from them. She knew they would drive her crazy with their generosity and pity. She didn’t deserve it.
“Besides, the cancer is cureable. Why trouble them?”
Nick disagreed, begged her to change her mind time and again. But, she was adamant and knew Nick couldn’t argue against her tears.
The beautiful brunette had a bush, a rarity in cyber porn. She pulled on it and the Frenchman went wild. He pulled her legs so that her ass hit the edge of the white leather sofa and began to masturbate over her stomach. She tugged harder on her bush. He moaned, grabbed one of her feet, and sucked on her big toe. He yanked on his large, uncircumcised dick until cum squirted. It covered the brunette’s bush. As his frenzied movements subsided, the brunette rubbed cum over her pussy and began playing with herself. The Frenchman lay behind her, pulled her into his embrace, and whispered French words in her ear. The brunette climaxed.
Last night, Nick had screamed, “You’re amazing!” as Sabi fondled his balls then played with him until he was hard enough for her to climb on top. Weird that she could be so sexually aroused, yet feel so utterly unattractive. Her body felt old and tired. Her ringlets cut short in an uneven bob. Her once thick eyebrows now faint lines over dark-circled eyes. Her lush eyelashes now wispy.
Nick didn’t cum last night.
“Sabi!” Nick said, running into the living room. She paused a scene. It was five in the morning and still dark out. “What’s going on?” He stopped when he spotted her on the couch. “Are you feeling okay?”
“Yeah, I’m good.” Sabi closed the laptop and smiled. Nick looked so young and cute and loving. His glassy brown eyes softened; he ran his hand over his spiky, brown hair. He used to tell her all the time he could never live without her, but he didn’t say that anymore.
Nothing had prepared Sabi for her lack of emotions over the whole cancer thing. The oncologist had reached over his desk to squeeze her hand after the diagnosis. He said, “Go ahead and cry if you want to.” But she didn’t want to. She pretended to cry. Gave the oncologist what he wanted.
Before Sabi left the oncologist’s office, she had to do a bone marrow biopsy. The nurse instructed her to remove her clothing, don a paper robe, and leave the opening towards the back. She was told to lie on her side. She felt cool alcohol on her back and the burn of a local anesthetic. The oncologist said, “Take a deep breath.”
She felt a pinch near her vertebra. “I’m sorry,” the oncologist said as he drew a sample. A preemptive apology for the sharp pain that followed. She imagined a metal string extracted slowly from the middle of her femur, through her hip bone and out her back. The metal scraping each nerve ending as it left her body.
Nick didn’t go to the oncologist with her. She didn’t want him there. Later, when she told him the diagnosis, she said, “No crying, no feeling sorry for ourselves, and none of that ‘Why us?’, please.”
He’d fallen in love with a vibrant, healthy woman who’d read more books than he ever knew existed. And now she was sick, but it could be worse. There could be no hope for her, but there was.
She was stage two. The likelihood of a cure was 80%.
Today, they would know if the cancer was gone. If it was, her chances for a cure would improve to 90%. She was undergoing an aggressive treatment program. They risked infertility, dangerous scarring to her lungs, breast cancer, leukemia, thyroid disease. She might get an infection. She might catch pneumonia. She could have a fatal reaction to one of the drugs. But, she could be cured and alive. Healthy once again.
Nick stepped inside the kitchen. Sabi opened her laptop. With the volume on mute, she finished watching the Frenchman and the brunette. She wasn’t fooling Nick. He had walked in on her and the Frenchman before. He always made a face, but didn’t voice his disapproval.
She looked up her favorite scene with the Frenchman, “Manu Loves Dana.” She fast-forwarded through the first five minutes, skipped the lovely Dana’s strip routine, which concluded with her on all fours.
Sabi found the right spot on the six-minute seven-second mark. Manu was on his knees in front of a spread-eagle Dana with his nose and mouth buried in her pussy. They fucked on a chocolate velvet sofa. Manu held Dana’s head and kissed her eyes and nose, mouth, and tits. He pounded into her, said she was beautiful. So foocking beautiful.
Dana didn’t look anything like Sabi. Dana had olive-skin and almond-shaped eyes. She looked petite next to the burly Frenchman. He deftly maneuvered her into a reverse cowgirl position, his head and torso disappeared behind the lovely Dana, his large hands on her narrow hips, lifting her pelvis up and down over his very large dick.
If her PET Scan came back clear today, if the cancer cells were gone, then she would continue treatments as a preventive measure; three more months of chemotherapy followed by three weeks of radiation to her chest.
“You should shower and get dressed. Our appointment is in a couple of hours.”
Sabi turned up the volume on her laptop. Dana moaned, “Fuck me!”
“Come on,” Nick said. He closed the laptop screen and took it away.
Sabi stood up and hugged him. She buried her nose in his neck and sucked on it.
“Sabi.” He pulled away, but she held him by the waist. “We have to go,” he tried again.
“Please fuck me, Nick.”
“We don’t have time for that, sweetheart.”
Sabi gave up, grabbed her laptop, and carried it to their bedroom. She placed it on top of their bed, opened the screen, and stared at the frozen image of the Frenchman plowing into Dana’s ass. His face caught in a grimace, his hands digging into her hips, and Dana looking straight into the camera, biting her bottom lip.
Sabi opened her closet, pulled out a long tunic and a pair of leggings, dug through her pile of high-heeled boots and grabbed a pair of black Converses.
Take a shower first. Get dressed. Wear a nice bra and panty set.
She would have to strip at least once for the oncologist and Nick, because Nick insisted on accompanying her to the exam room. “For moral support,” he had said.
He didn’t trust her. Why would he when she was already lying to her family about the cancer? Nick would sit on a chair across from the exam table. The elderly oncologist would gently knock before entering the room. He’d give Sabi a warm welcome and coldly say hello to Nick.
Nick hated the oncologist. He also hated when the oncologist felt for swollen nodules on her throat, the sides of her neck, along her collarbone, under her armpits, and her groin. It was because of Nick that Sabi always kept her bra and panties on.
Nick came into the bedroom. He smiled when he saw the clothes on the bed, but frowned at the laptop. Not too much, but enough to let her know that the sight of two people fucking was not all right, not healthy, not funny, and not appreciated.
After her shower, she spotted Nick on the bed, watching something on her laptop. She recognized the Frenchman’s voice. Come for me, baybee.
“Why do you like this guy?” Nick spoke without taking his eyes off the laptop.
Grabbing a wide-tooth comb from the dresser, Sabi combed her hair, making sure not to pull too hard on the few knots or scratch her sensitive scalp. “I don’t like him. I don’t even know him.”
“You could have fooled me. I mean, he’s got a baby-arm size dick, so I can see why.”
“Oh god, are we really going there?”
“Is it the anal? We’ve never done that. Do you want that?”
“No. Look.” She slapped down the laptop screen. She wanted to yell at Nick, tell him to stop asking so many damn questions. “It’s just a way to distract myself, that’s all. It’s got nothing to do with the Frenchman, or his big dick, or the fact that every woman he touches convulses in orgasmic bliss.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
“What I mean is I don’t watch the Frenchman because I want to fuck the Frenchman; I watch him because I wish I could be the Frenchman. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me; I want you to be filled with lust for me, for my body. I want to feel alive again.”
Nick grabbed her hand and pulled her down on the bed.
“What are you doing?”
“I love you, Sabi.” He tugged at the towel wrapped around her body.
On her back, she looked up at his serious face, feeling surprised. He covered her lips with his.
It was not the kiss of a loving husband or a frightened man. This was a darker, more deliberate kiss. Not emotional, but raw and needy, like he couldn’t get enough of her. She gave herself up to it. Let him take her. He pushed his way inside her. It was like nothing they had ever shared before. It was rough and dirty.
She left the bed after it was over and took another shower. She dressed and threw some mascara and blush on her face. She picked the Monet silk scarf to wear, the one with the water lilies.
“You look pretty,” Nick said when she walked out into the living room.
“We should get going,” she said, stopping by the mirror on the wall to put on some red lipstick.
Gessy Alvarez earned her MFA from Columbia University. Her stories have appeared in Bartleby Snopes, The NewerYork, Black Heart Magazine, Camroc Press Review, Thrice Fiction, Connotation Press, Pank, and other publications. She features interviews with writers and poets at her blog, Digging Through the Fat: ripping out the heart, and is at work on a collection of short prose.
–Art by Sagi Kortler