FICTION
The Reign of Rain

By Cody Dare

It all begins with rain.

"I am wet," Fiona says.

"All I did was hug you," Edwin murmurs in wonder. He has been reading those sex novels and he knows certain men can have that affect. But he had no idea that he was one of them. . .

Fiona looks at him hard. "It’s raining outside," she said, shaking her wet hair to remind him. "I’m soaking, dripping wet."

Ahh, now he understands. He feels drops on the tile floor, his bare toe eases into a little puddle, this small pond of her own making. He sees himself as the rainwater, falling upon her, draping her body with small droplets, caressing her with sensuous streams.

"Do you have a towel?" She tugs on his shirtsleeve to get his attention.

"Why yes," he says and goes to the bathroom, two thick maroon towels hang neatly on the bar and one is crumpled into the corner, left from this morning’s shower. He takes one of the neat ones, folds it across his arm like he is a maitre de and presents it to her.

"May I dry you?" he asks.

She inclines her head and he puts the towel over her gleaming damp hair and rubs gently. Then he puts her arms between the fold of the towel, blotting away the moisture. Her arms are thin and elegant as strands of pearls.

"Do you need other clothes?" he asks. The white shirt that falls outside of her jeans looks splotchy with rain and her jeans have dark spots on the ankles and streaks down the thighs. He’d like to be the one making her this wet. He wonders how he would do it, where he would touch first to begin.

"That would be nice," she says.

"Follow me," he says, before he even thinks of the disorder of his bedroom, the rumpled covers, the butt plug sitting on his nightstand, the sexy book sprawled across his pillow. She is in there before he can stop it. But she has gone to the bookshelf, and reaches out to run her fingers across the spines of the books. He throws a pillow on top of the erotica and tosses the butt plug under the bed. He thought she wasn’t coming, she was so late.

They had met for coffee twice, and he had thought maybe she was tired of him.

But perhaps she had just been waiting for the rain to stop.

He opens his closet door. Should he offer her men or women’s clothes? He has both, a few dresses, skirts, slacks left from lovers who had abandoned him and the stray pieces of their wardrobe, a dress he bought at a thrift store for a costume party, a dress, the red and slinky one, he bought simply because he wanted to see what kind of girl he would make. That was the one he wanted to offer her, a vintage looking affair of bright red, with a slink to it, slit thighs.

"Sensible or decadent?" he asks.

She is looking through some book, her lips moving. Perhaps it’s the collection of Emily Dickinson poems; perhaps it’s Borges.

"You wear decadent and I’ll wear sensible," she says.

"Well, I don’t really have anything decadent for a man." The sharpness of her tone is unnerving. He feels like he is about to fall.

"I’ll choose something for you," she says.

Now she steps past him and leafs through the closet. She takes out a pair of sweat pants, the bagging black ones and a white shirt, the one that was just laundered. She slows down when she gets to the women’s clothing, a shout of color in the dark closet.

She stops at Maureen’s ex-skirt, that’s how he refers to it. a long gauzy thing that he loved Maureen to wear without a slip. He liked to see her walking toward him, the sunlight revealing the outline of her full thighs, the flesh that bounced and winked as she walked. He would stop on the sidewalk and watch her. Sometimes he would wait outside for Maureen, just so he could see her walking toward him, covered yet revealed.

Fiona fingers the fabric, then moves past a gray suit to the slinky red. She takes it out and holds it up to her. Then she holds it up to him.

"This is the one," She says.

He feels warmth spread through him. He has held the dress up to him, he has masturbated with the dress draped like a fallen blond across his chest, but he has never had the courage to try it on.

"Put it on," she says, pressing the dress against his chest.

"I am really not in the habit," he says, taking a step back. If he were standing in a courtroom, he would say, "Your honor, I have never seen that dress before. I wouldn’t know that dress if it passed me on the street."

But he is in his own bedroom, between his own bed and his own closet and there is the siren dress, mocking him, and there is the siren woman, daring him.

"I’ll watch you put it on," she says and sits on the bed, looking at him.

"I really couldn’t, you know," he says, though when he thought she wasn’t coming, he had imagined undressing for her in the living room. He saw himself solemnly unbuttoning his shirt and slowly unzipping his pants, letting them fall around his ankles. Then he would wait until she begged him, something the women in that sexy book frequently did, begged him to take off his underwear and reveal the object of her longing.

But Fiona is not looking at him with any such longing. She is simply looking at him, like he’s a movie about to begin. She sits there, wrinkling his freshly laundered shirt, the sweat pants dragging on the floor.

It has been at least one year since a woman offered to watch him undress. He begins to unbutton his shirt, standing stern and straight, like he is a groomsman. When the buttons are freed, he gracefully shrugs out of the shirt. The air feels cool on his skin and he wonders what she thinks of his chest. He smoothes the shirt and returns it to the closet, to its designated hanger. He slips out of his shoes, removes each sock and folds them together back into the cradle of his left shoe. He unzips his trousers, slowly as he had imagined. The sound fills the room. He steps out of his slacks and feels awkward, only the white briefs are left. He holds his slacks in front of him and she says," Put those down and wiggle yourself into that dress. I want to see how it looks." She sounds impatient.

Her voice could be his mother’s voice, the voice of his second wife, the voice of his fourteenth lover. The voice reminds him, he is a muddled dreamy man, a man who drifts away from his masculinity.

Edwin touches the silky fabric of the dress and feels himself melting. He steps into the generous openness of the dress like he is stepping across a line that was never even drawn. He is princess and child as he pulls the thick satin straps onto his shoulders.

There’s a pout where his bosom should be and a gaping back, where the zipper yawns openmouthed.

Fiona stares while he zips the dress most of the way up.

"Twirl," she commands.

This too he has imagined, how the dress will float around his calves and flirt with his thighs. He pirouettes but her stern glance makes him awkward. She unbuttons the top two buttons of her wet white shirt and says, "You can do better than that."

Of course, she is right. He notices what a rational person she is, bossy and slightly rude.

Perhaps he doesn’t like her after all. He puts his hands on the skirt of the dress, as if he is about to make a curtsey. He flings himself into the twirl and this time and dress billows and echoes around him, his legs airily exposed.

She takes finishes unbuttoning her blouse. She puts it on the bed, and stands there, her bra sturdy and daunting in its stern white architecture. He cannot even guess at the shape of her breasts or the color of her nipples. The bra meanly covers them over, curtains them with thick shields of padding.

"I’m thirsty," she says. He likes the way her shoulders seem colored of honey, the lean firmness of her upper arms. "Do you have a diet drink?"

"Well yes," he says. "Coke. Do you want Diet Coke?"

"Fine," she says. The skin above her jeans has a slight pucker, as though she packed up a lot of weight and left the poor skin empty behind. He wants to lean down and kiss that orphaned skin, but Fiona is moving back to the bookcase.

Edwin walks into the kitchen, floats really, because the dress is with him, around him, informing him that he is a softer finer creature than he thought. If only he put on this dress earlier, perhaps so many of them would not have left him. He gets a glass, the pretty blue one, the dress whispers, and fills it with ice and the coke. "Don’t bring the can," the dress suggests, softly.

He glides back into the room and now Fiona is out of her jeans. Her stern cotton panties, up to her waist, match her bra. She looks clinical rather than sexy, although there’s something sexy in the tyrannical tone of her underwear. They had talked last time about playing chess and now he knows, she can beat him.

"Here’s what I’m thinking," she says. She is holding Catcher in the Rye, a battered paperback version that he got from a guy one year at summer camp. "I’ d like you to fuck me while you’re wearing that dress. What do you think?"

He thinks his mouth is dropping open. He thinks he doesn’t like her abrupt and detached tone. He thinks his cock is hard enough to ram her through the wall.

"Do we know each other well enough?" he asks. His cock is rising, rising against the silk. He wants to take her right now, push her back onto his bed and fuck her with no niceties whatsoever.

"Not really. But that’s just the point of it. I want to see what it’s like, without a lot of emotional ballyhoo. Do you know what I mean? If you take me as a man, I’ll be scared. But if you dress as a woman, I won’t be threatened. At least, I think I won’t."

She stands so still and serious, that he doesn’t know what to think.

She moves toward him and takes the Coke out of this hand, puts it on the bedside table.

Then she lifts up his skirt, the tingle of cold air on his thighs thrills him, though his impulse is to put his hands on the fabric and keep her from revealing him. But she has seen the full-blooded glory of his cock pushing against his briefs. She pulls out the waistband of his underwear and his legs seem to buckle. She tugs the elastic down to his hips, just letting the cock thrust out, keeping the balls trapped and waiting.

She reaches behind and unsnaps her bra. Her breasts are stretchy, like they’ve fed many babies. She pulls down her panties, and he sees the tiny stretch marks everywhere, like little incisions, where something has been lost. She looks vulnerable in this nakedness, not like the fierce feminist who grilled him on his reading habits and challenged him to chess, but like a weary mother with so many children she just might lose count.

He reaches out for her, kisses her, hard and deep, his cock pressing against her. He pushes her onto his bed, arranges her on his pillow, in the center of the bed, still standing with his cock jutting out from under the folds of his skirt, red silk sliding down his shoulders, red silk caressing his rump.

He fumbles in his bedside for a condom and slides it over himself. The dress rustles and reminds him to love her. Take her and love her, the dress says. He presses himself into her and she opens to him, he melts right into her and he feels the center of her flowering against him and he feels the flow of the red dress covering his buttocks and his legs and he feels himself gentling and gentling, until there is only tenderness in his movements.

Her eyes are closed, her hands fisted, her mouth open, her breathing like small fast trains. Her hand is down at her pussy, in between his cock and her clit, stroking with him. When he comes, it’s like spreading cream cheese, smooth and strong, a long pure orgasm with no rush to it. She jerks and moans, moves her own hand faster until she cries out, "Oh God!" shudders and then lies still.

He pulls the covers around her and goes to flush the condom, then looks into the mirror. There he is, his same body, but different clothes. He smiles and sticks out his tongue. He bats his eyelashes and laughs. And then he holds up his skirts and twirls until he is so dizzy he can’t stand up.

"I’m going," she says. He must have fallen asleep right there on the carpet. Fiona is dressed, back in her own clothes. The rain has stopped and the twilight brings its own gray silence.

"Do you want to stay and talk?" he asks, though he is not sure he has anything to say.

"Not this time," she says, her voice sharp. He’d like to lift her shirt and see those little puckers of skin, remind himself of her vulnerability. He’d like to fill his mouth with her weary sweet breasts.

"But how about next Tuesday, the coffeehouse, after work, say around 6:30?" she says, combing her fingers through her hair.

"OK," he says.

Then she is gone and he is alone. It’s time to make something to eat, to call a friend, to turn on the TV, to. . .

But all he can do is carefully step out of the dress and reverently hang it back up. Then he looks through the bright side of his closet and wonders what the pink skirt and sweater set that Cynthia left behind would do for him.