Erotic Notion #60: The Revolting Breast
By Hapax Legomenon

99 Erotic Notions Index
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Lianna and Matt ran into each other several times over the years. The story is about the time he tried to fuck her.

They first met at a reception. Lianna served volunteer coordinator for a local charity, and she had organized the event to show appreciation for contributors and volunteers. It was an odd assortment of people; compared to the donors and other full-time volunteers, Matt's involvement with the charity had been minimal. He had helped to migrate the charity's website and handled some minor troubleshooting. He had never actually met Lianna before; they exchanged several emails and talked once by telephone. The only thing he remembered about it was that Lianna hated technological things and was relieved to have him do it.

The refreshments were nothing special, but Lianna turned out to be a young and pretty woman whom he lusted after in a lazy and generic way. The way she giggled as she announced upcoming charity events was silly and sexy. Lianna belonged to the class of women already spoiled by male attention who never noticed the random geek. All he could do was shake her hand and dream about the orgasms she must have had with her boyfriend. She was too young for Matt anyway. Did Lianna even remember him? Even though Lianna was involved in multiple conversations, Matt jumped in to introduce himself. Surprisingly Lianna remembered him and gushed about his contributions to the others. Matt added that he had also graduated from Southwestern University (something Lianna mentioned in her speech). Southwestern was a small school, and it was unusual to run into another alumnus. Lianna was delighted at the connection and said she graduated in 1996 (so that made her.... 28? Just 5 years younger). They talked for a while about teachers and college traditions, but it was evident that their respective experiences at Southwestern were radically different. He had majored in philosophy while she studied international business; she had belonged to a sorority that did social work for the city, while he just read sci fi novels and played intramural basketball.

Because of that slight connection (and his attraction to her), Matt wanted to keep in touch. The next day he sent her an email about a possible tweak to the website. Would she be interested? A few days later, she wrote a reply saying "That would be great!" A few days later, he forwarded an article about some methods for fundraising on the web (a topic surely of interest to nonprofits). Two weeks later, he heard about a local alumni function for Southwestern which he passed along to Lianna. He received no reply and indeed, he never saw her until two years later at another alumni function. Lianna showed up with a fiance, mentioning that she was thinking of going to graduate school. Matt mentioned a new consulting business he was trying to start. It was a strange and awkward conversation; he wondered if Lianna had any inkling how attractive he had always found her.

He totally forgot about Lianna until years later when he saw her in the lobby of his office building. He almost didn't recognize her. She was conservatively dressed and rushing off somewhere. She looked more confident and reserved and serious than he remembered. And despite the years, she still was striking to look at; that was undeniable. He did not actually say hello. (Would she even remember him?) He worked as a network technician and spent most of his time travelling off site to set up networks and phone systems. He passed by her office several times a day and saw her sometimes in the parking lot. Finally, he decided to get the meeting over with – if only to avoid social awkwardness. So the next time he passed her company's office, he stuck his head in and asked for her.

The receptionist pointed towards a door, and he knocked.

"Come in."

He found Lianna in a small office poring over documents. For a second he wondered if he had chosen a bad time.

"Lianna, I noticed you in the parking lot and wanted to say hi. I'm Matt, the webmaster who helped you out at Kidsworld."

For a moment, Lianna didn't recognize him, but the word "webmaster" made her smile in recognition. "Matt, it's nice to see you."

"Is this a bad time?"

She waved her hand at the papers on her desk, making it clear that even though she was very busy, she was glad to take a break. They didn't talk much. She had just started this job a month ago; she had finished a law degree and was now working as a compliance officer at a financial services company. He told her a little bit about himself and how he bought a fixer-upper in Hyde Park, started a consulting business and was now planning a trip to Peru. Lianna, he noticed, wasn't wearing a wedding ring. They chatted only for a few minutes – and he realize how out of place he was in a law office wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Lianna didn't mind, and he invited her to lunch in the food court two blocks away. "They have a great Indian vegetarian restaurant," he said.

"Funny. I wondered if it was any good."

They exchanged cards and he promised to call her on Tuesday or Wednesday about lunch. After it was over, he was glad he had taken the initiative. Not seeing a wedding ring made him wonder if Lianna was divorced. He would have gladly pursued her, although he had to proceed cautiously. He had misread these situations before, and besides, it would be good enough just to have a lunchtime companion once in a while.

The next week he called her as promised.

"Perfect timing." she said. "By the way, can my friend Darlene come along?"

"Sure," he said. Ok, now he was sure he had misread the situation. But when he stopped by at 12:30, Darlene (whoever she was) had already left for lunch, leaving just the two of them.

The walk down the street was pleasant, and it was nice catching up. Once she got away from her desk, Lianna relaxed. Though they barely knew one another, she treated Matt like an old friend. She wasn't especially eager to talk (that was odd), but she offered more biographical details; her marriage lasted had only 5 months (Bob was hopelessly immature for his age and stayed out late drinking). She almost laughed while describing him, as though a divorce were just another comic misadventure. She quit her job and moved to Houston for law school, then returned to Austin for her job. She was glad to find a job in her hometown (it took a while, she said), but living in Austin wasn't the same; the city wasn't half as fun as she remembered.

He wouldn't say Lianna was flirting, but she seemed to enjoy his company and the opportunity to unwind about her life. She was still attractive though certainly not the knockout he remembered. Sure, she had gained a few pounds, so what? Matt wondered if just becoming a lawyer changed her perspective. The youth and enthusiasm he had once seen in the upbeat volunteer coordinator had been swallowed up by the lawyer persona. Her professional self almost seemed dull ... maybe on weekends she was more relaxed. Despite the fact she was unattached, she treated this outing as nothing more a professional meeting. Perhaps that all it was. What would she be like after work? In bed? He had no idea.

He knew the old Lianna was inside and he still wanted to know her; she was still charming in her own way. But he was different too. He wasn't as talkative or prone to laughter; he could be sincere and not feel the need to make wisecracks. He enjoyed his life ... even though he missed the tenderness and excitement of a relationship. Yes, he could admit that; it had been several years since he held a woman in his arms; he almost forgot how it felt to love and be loved. Nothing was wrong with him, and yet he couldn't help feeling that he was missing some valuable aspect of life. A serious relationship wouldn't solve his problems; if anything it would complicate his life (which by now had settled into a familiar and soothing routine). When he talked to Lianna at lunch, he realized how much he missed having someone to talk with on a regular basis. Lianna was still pretty in his eyes – no, she was gorgeous. Her personality had definitely changed, but he could deal with that; it was exciting to be in her presence.

As they ate, he tried to gain insight into the older Lianna (and into himself as well). Like him, she seemed to have accepted her lot in life (though it bored her). At first, he thought Lianna's negativity resulted from her boredom at eating lunch with him. But she seemed to appreciate his invitation, if only to escape the office. Maybe she wasn't feeling well? Was it that time of the month? Was she having personal problems?

Eventually they found a topic of interest to both of them. Futuristic books and movies.

"It's always interesting to see how people envision the future," Lianna said, "even if that vision turns out to be ridiculous. Futuristic movies say a lot about the biases and obsessions of the time period they spring from."

"'Purple Cloud'," Matt said. "Have you read that one?"

"I haven't had time to read futuristic fiction for a while – or any books really," she said. "I'm worry enough about making it through the week."

"Yes, I know what I mean. When I was 7 years old, I wanted to be an astronaut; now that I am 42 all I want is to be 7 again..."

"It's easy to grow tired of the genre," Lianna said. "Everyone has such hopeless visions of the future. Famines, space aliens, genetic engineering. I wish sci fi novels didn't always have to be dystopian nightmares."

"It would probably be boring to read," Matt said.

"It doesn't have to be interesting to be readable. Novels offer freedoms you don't find in movies. No need for special effects – just an imagination and proficiency with words."

Matt had just intended to bring her to lunch, but as time went on, he began to wonder if he should try to ask her out. On their way out, he mentioned a few potential outings: concerts, movies, plays. There was even a sci fi film opening tomorrow which she might like. She didn't respond one way or another. That was not a good sign. Later he regretted not inviting her point blank. What did he have to lose? Or was it too soon? It wasn't necessary to go on opening night, but the first night of anything promised excitement and anticipation, especially when surrounded by teenagers eager to be the first in a city to experience something. Neither of them was too old to forget youthful thrills, but bills and daily chores made it hard to be spontaneous anymore. Every so often a person needed something new or unexpected, even if the final result was still disappointment.

After returning from a meeting with a client, Matt stuck his head in her office and asked pointblank if she wanted to see the sci fi film tomorrow night.

Lianna politely declined, explaining she had work to catch up on. "I understand," he replied. "Maybe next week."

Lianna hesitated, then she explained that her schedule for next week was completely full (and might even be full on the following week). She spoke carefully and precisely, as though she were under oath and didn't want to divulge too much.

The rejection caught him by surprise. It was absolute and seemed to offer no future possibility. She didn't even thank him for the invitation. He had thought they had reasonably good rapport during lunch, but now it was clear he had miscalculated; there had been no rapport, only politeness, no sexual attraction, simply fulfillment of a social obligation.

"If your schedule changes or if you change your mind, let me know," he said before leaving her office.

"Ok," she said noncommittally.

As he drove home, he cursed himself for asking her out so soon. Why didn't he allow more time for them to get acquainted? No, this friendship was doomed from the beginning. He was man enough to admit defeat.

Later, that night, he received a phone call from Lianna. It surprised him. Lianna was the last person he wanted to hear from. But her mood seemed cheerful. At first, he thought maybe she had changed her mind, but instead she offered an explanation for her abruptness. It was a stressful time for her. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer three weeks ago and would have a double mastectomy on Monday.

"I don't want you to get the impression I'm rude; I just have a lot on my mind now," she said.

"Obviously," Matt said.

"I'm not keeping my condition secret, but it's not the kind of thing you spring on a person when you first see them," she said. "So don't take it personally; The next few months will be hard to plan for. I have no idea what I will feel like next week or the week after."

It took a while for the news to sink in. At first Matt was shocked, then he started asking informational questions which only led to more question. Chemotherapy? Biradial what? Sentinel lymph nodes? Tamoxifen? CT Scans? He realized that Lianna was swimming in an ocean of medical details, frantically trying to stay afloat. It was as if she had just learned she would be living on a remote island and had to take a crash course in the natives' language. Earlier today Matt had been obsessed with trying to update his flawed romantic history with the help of this woman. Now, he saw that romance must have been the furthest thing on her mind. They only talked for 20 minutes, but it was enough to make his romantic aspirations seem petty and ridiculous. He couldn't get over it. Breast cancer? Lianna was 37? Not only close to the end of her fertility, but one step closer to death. He couldn't accept that. Even at her age, she was still beautiful. There were still several years left for lonely men to lust after her.

After that conversation, he searched the Internet for information about breast cancer. What exactly did it mean to be "Stage 3"? He glanced at the survival rates and the side effects of various treatments. The websites featured stories by breast cancer survivors and suggestions for dealing with side effects. One photo showed the breasts of an anonymous and faceless woman. One breast seemed to be nothing more than a large misshapen crater. He was not squeamish about looking at such photos, but tried to picture this damaged body with Lianna's face on it.

He called her the next morning and repeated his invitation. "Going to a movie will get your mind off things."

"I'll be fine," she said. "My mom and sister will be flying in on Sunday to keep me company."

A paralegal interrupted them to ask for a file. After Lianna handed it to her and said, "I have a lot to do before I go on medical leave. "

"I can imagine," Matt said.

"When does the movie start?"


"That's early," she said. "Can't we just stop by a cafe instead?"

Around seven o'clock they met and walked to 6th Street, which was already full of people.

"Do you date a lot?" Matt asked.

"Not really." She said this with resignation, as though this fact made her a little sad, but it was a minor sadness in the grand scheme of things. "I certainly won't have time for a lot of things this year. Each day will be a challenge. Do you know that chemo is supposed to trigger early menopause – soon I'll be a postmenopausal woman." She laughed. "It seems so absurd."

"Yes," he said, marveling at how healthy she appeared.

"After the diagnosis," Lianna said, "nothing seems the same. Even this job doesn't seem important. Ok, I need the health insurance. But I no longer care about the same things."

Students crowded around club entrances, talking and laughing. At one club, more than a hundred youngsters stood waiting in line. Lianna smiled, vaguely remembering the time (not so long ago) when she walked down 6th Street without a care. Matt and Lianna felt older, no longer able to enjoy youthful pleasures so carelessly.

Eventually they spotted a cafe with a free table and sat down.

"I have been thinking about what you asked yesterday," Lianna said. "What do I care about? I care about my dignity. I care about how friends will remember me. I care about fighting against a disease as best as I can. All humans die someday, but I'm sorry; I can't imagine not being here ten years from now. Even if I'm sick, I still have so much capacity for enjoying things. I have books to read and movies to watch. I'm not even talking about the joy of meeting new people or watching children grow old. I've never been to Europe or the Grand Canyon. I've never taken a ballroom dance class or learned Photoshop. I can still do all these things."

"I agree," he said. "Cancer won't prevent you at all." Yet her need to point this out only reminded them that time was dwindling (not just for her but everyone), and that goals now required extra effort.

"Just think," Lianna said. "The next time I come here, I'll be bald and wearing a wig. By the way, I tried on a few wigs at the Wig Factory. A few look halfway-decent." She flipped open her camera and showed him a photo of her posing with a short brown wig.

"With all the strangers on this street, nobody would notice if you were bald ....or even topless...."

"Maybe not topless," she said with a laugh.

He had hoped to get her mind off the cancer, but the subject had infected her mind as well. That's all she talked about. He didn't mind really, but the preoccupation was unhealthy. Today (and maybe tomorrow and the next day), she was breast cancer. It had become an unavoidable part of her. In a way the cancer had humanized her by making her seem defective and fragile. Although she was a good person at heart, she barely asked about his life. Like it or not, cancer had already become her boyfriend, and that seemed wrong.

"Let's go down this block," Lianna said. "There's a magic shop somewhere."

They walked along, peering through the windows – a furniture shop, a jewelry shop and then the magic shop. Instead of going in, they peered at the items in the store window.

"Suppose you didn't know you had breast cancer," I said. "Would you enjoy tonight any more?"

"I don't know," she said. They walked down a sidewalk for a minute before she spoke. "Of course, I don't really know you either."

"Do you want to know me?"

She laughed. "Not a good time to ask psychological questions."


She looked into another shop window and continued walking. "I don't want to do any more navel-gazing than I need to."

"Do you want me to treat you like a sick person?"

"That is the reality, I'm afraid."

"The trick lies in trying not to act sick. Pretend."

"I remember when I used to feel like you," she said. "The only thing I used to care about was finding good coffee or a date for the weekend."

He took her hand and kissed it. She looked at him blankly.

"Is this why you asked me out – so you can kiss me?"

"One of the reasons."

"Sorry, I'm not in the mood for any of that," she said. "You have to realize that on September 18 my life totally changed."

"That was when you learned the news?"

"Yes. Let's cool it for a while. My emotional state is too raw."

"I'm sorry."

"No, that's okay. It's not your fault I'm sick. Let's just walk," she said. "No need for kisses."

"You probably don't want to hear this, but I'll say it anymore: even today you still look very pretty."

"Thanks, I guess." she said.... "Beauty is so unimportant to me right now."

"It is still important to me," he said... "A man is always drawn to physical beauty."

"After a while people appreciate inner beauty more."

"Both are important."

"I'm not exactly looking for a man to sweep me off my feet at the moment."

"Aren't you focusing too much on your cancer? "

That remark annoyed her. "I don't need anyone telling me what I should be focusing on."

"Does breast cancer mean that a person can't fall in love?"

"Golly," she said, turning away. "How long have I known you? A week? I've having major surgery. I'm losing important parts of my body. Maybe a guy can't appreciate what I'm going through. It will take months or even years to recuperate...assuming that I even survive..... Not only will the chemotherapy make me crazy and weak and nauseous, for a while my bodily fluids will be considered hazardous material. I'm not even going to talk about my hair falling out. Most people have menopause in their fifties; I will have it before my 40th birthday! I'm ready for this battle, but I can't be distracted by men who think I ought to chill out and fall in love."

"Fine. Just tell me what you want to do tonight."

"I want company. I just want to forget. I just want to look around."

"That's fine. But I don't think you should reject other people just because you're sick."

She threw up her arms in disbelief. "Haven't you heard anything I've said? I'm not looking for a boyfriend right now. Do you understand that?"

"Maybe you mean what you say and I should respect that. But a week or a month later, aren't you going to wish you didn't reject this opportunity so hastily? Wouldn't you have wanted to give it a chance?"

She paused. "You don't understand. For the next year or so I can't even think about dating anyone. It's out of the question."

She walked ahead in silence. She seemed both angry and sad, confused and determined to hide her fear. Matt felt exasperated. Anyway, it had been unrealistic to think he could fall in love with such a woman so quickly.

"Okay, let's forget about it," Matt said. "What do you want to do, sit down?"

"Let's just walk."

They walked around a small courtyard and sat on the bench, watching people go by. After a while, they resumed walking and slipped into a small club where a blues guitarist was playing. The man was incredibly talented; after he ended his guitar solo and the band joined in, everyone in the crowd roared with delight. Lianna was barely interested but stared ahead uncomfortably. Eventually she turned to face him; Matt could see anxiousness on her face, a sadness she had been trying to hide but which the music had uncovered. The music had not been giving her joy (even though the musician was outstanding). As the music drowned everything out, they looked at each other; she looked so nervous and helpless, as though she were a bug aware of how easily she could be crushed. More than anything he wanted to help, but his efforts were making her angry. It was stupid; a few days ago he thought Lianna a striking and charming woman, but now she seemed bitter. Yet there was dignity in her suffering and even a beauty Mark found irresistible; he could not take his eyes off her for even a second.

He motioned for her to leave the club, which she did. "Do you want to walk back to the office?"

"That would be nice," she said, and they walked in silence. At a red light they noticed a car full of men with greased hair and leather jackets; perhaps they were going to a fifties costume party. They were arguing loudly about directions, and as the light turned green, two men in the back seat started kissing passionately. Matt found it amusing, and when he glanced over at Lianna, he saw that she did too.

"Have you ever been to the Oasis?" he asked.

"The restaurant on Lake Travis?"

"Yes, have you ever gone there to see the sunset?"

"No, but I wouldn't mind doing that."

"We could go tomorrow if you like."

She considered the idea. "Tomorrow I have to clean and pick a few things up. Maybe I can finish everything by late afternoon."

At the parking lot, he leaned over and gave her a small but deliberate kiss. She did not object, but did not seem to find it pleasing either. Perhaps she allowed it just to be rid of him. Or maybe she was acknowledging that a single kiss was unlikely to do much harm. Or maybe she wanted to prove to herself that her sickness had not closed the door to future possibility of romance.

The next day he picked her up at 4:00. He didn't know how her mood would be after last night or whether he had taken things too far, but Lianna was fine – and even cheerful. They arrived at Oasis early enough to find a choice table to view the sunset. While they drank tea and munched on appetizers, the subject of cancer never came up. Instead they talked about irrelevant things; friends at Southwestern, space elevators, the best way to eat pomegranates, crazy parties at law school. For the first time it felt like a date and they were rediscovering adolescent amusements. But this was not about childhood. It was about trying to forget the world of doctors and chemotherapy and death. They were pretending. At the same time, he was drawn to her. She looked perfectly healthy and even more attractive than he remembered. He wanted to fuck her. It was terrible to phrase it like that, but as soon as he admitted this desire (despite the cancer and consequences), his thoughts turned to ... when?

After the surgery and chemotherapy? That would be next to impossible for the next few months. During his frantic attempt to learn about breast cancer two nights ago, he read about the various sexual problems facing breast cancer survivors. After treatment, even if she were physically ready, it was doubtful that she would be emotionally ready. Could he deal with the reduced (or nonexistent) sexual contact? He was sexually starved as it was. Breast cancer wouldn't remove this desire for her; it would just involve more work and possibly be less central to the relationship. He could see Lianna's own alienation from her body; it was as if she wanted to disown it. Yet until Monday morning those breasts were still hers.

John couldn't help feeling that a window of sexual opportunity was closing. But Lianna didn't care; she was almost anti-sexual. No, that was not fair. She was just reacting to circumstances. As a patient she would constantly be needing help. If he loved her, he would have to embrace this neediness – even if it was less to give pleasure than to lift her from pain.

Every kind of love was accompanied by an emotional burden, but usually this burden was a hypothetical, too far in the future to worry about. And really, was he that desperate? There were lots of other nubile women to meet. He and Lianna were still at the introductory stage; he could walk away and stay casual with little emotional damage. Yet the odds of running into another woman like Lianna seemed low; what if he never did? While they chatted at the Oasis, he tried to imagine what intimacy with Lianna would be like. The mental act of undressing a woman (which had always been a secret source of delight) was now an attempt to imagine the ugly disaster of cancer. He pictured Lianna totally bald and with bandages instead of breasts. He pictured her frail body naked on the bed next to him; he pictured her vomiting; he pictured trying to fuck a woman whose vagina was completely dry or whose crazy hormones suppressed her libido almost to the point of asexuality. It scared him. Deep down he knew he was capable of this kind of love even if wasn't ideal. He would be the first to admit that sex seemed less important than the mortal threat hanging over Lianna like a quiet and oversized demon. Was he supposed to pretend this demon didn't exist? Love was beautiful and supposed to overcome obstacles. But what if it didn't? What if it imposed a sentence of frustration and burdens? Don't be stupid; all couples dealt with mortality at some point; he just faced it before there even was a relationship. Could love grow without that initial period of carefree sensuality? He was not a saint. As he inched closer to middle age, he still wanted passion just as much as he had when he was 20. Even as the market for romantic liaisons dwindled, he still liked to imagine passionate rendezvous and – don't deny it – marrying a sexually exciting woman. He was in love with the idea of love, as they say. He couldn't pretend otherwise. On this day – quite apart from the specter of cancer, he still lusted after Lianna; for a moment, he could forget that she had cancer and believe they were just on a date and this was just a prelude to a night of passion....

The food at the Oasis was mediocre (certainly not worth the 45 minute wait), but it was nice and relaxing to feel the autumn breeze. Both of them gazed over Lake Travis, watching the sun go down. At first, they were oblivious to it – paying more attention to the excessive wait for the enchiladas to arrive. But the wait wasn't unpleasant. One remark about a bookstore led to a conversation about going to high school in the 1980s, which branched out to various conversational tangents: the Austin music scene, career miscalculations and the exact moment of time each of them learned about the "real world." Then he realized how dark it was.

"The sun is going down," he said.

"Oh, yes," she said, scooting her chair around for a better view of Lake Travis. They could see two faraway boats speeding away, but from their vantage point, the boats hardly seemed to move. The sun was lowering – even though to their eyes, the movement was imperceptible.

"How much time is left?" she asked.

"Five minutes?" he said, but that was just a guess. The conversation petered out to a few occasional remarks; their eyes were distracted by the possibility that their eyes might miss the exact moment when the earth would swallow the sun. People around them kept chattering even though both of them had run out of things to say. The lack of conversation wasn't unpleasant; it was even relaxing to sit and wait for an ordinary event which happened every day without notice. In the fading light, Lianna's face still looked lovely; yet her beauty which was once self-evident now was easy to overlook. She still laughed like before; it was the laugh not of a young girl but a corporate lawyer who knew her time on earth was limited. Under the florescent office lights, she was a pretty face whose blemishes were becoming harder to disguise. But under the fading light, she still looked more beautiful than ever. While she gazed at the skyline, he spent more time watching the way the lowering of the sun held her attention. This was a woman who still found pleasures in things; he imagined how that same face would look as it experienced the excitement of a thousand caresses. To fuck Lianna would be glorious. A bell rang to announce sundown, and people at nearby tables started cheering. Lianna looked over at him, amused at all the fuss.

"Okay, now I can cross sunset at Oasis off my list. Next item: visiting the Grand Canyon."

An hour later, they were heading back to the car.

"By the way, I picked up a book for you," he said.

"Really? What kind?"

"It's in the back seat of the car. It's a recipe book written by a breast cancer survivor."

Lianna laughed.

"You're not into cooking?"

"Well.... someone at work gave me a similar book, maybe even the same one."

"You're kidding me!"

"It's probably a different book." When they came to the car, he showed her the book. Lianna giggled when she saw it.

"Shit," he said in mock-anger. "I wonder if I have the receipt."

"You should always keep your receipt. Anyway, it was the thought that counts," she said, giving him a quick hug.

"I couldn't decide whether to get you this or a yoga book."

"A yoga book would have been interesting," she said.

"I figured that yoga might help you reconnect with your body and maybe deal with the pain."


"If you want, we could stop by the bookstore to exchange it."

"Not now," she said. "Do it next week."

As he started driving, the phrase "next week" hung in the air. That point in time seemed far away.

"So what's next week's schedule like for you?"

"Please, I don't want to talk about next week."

"I understand," he said. "I just want to know when to check up on you."

"Oh, right," Lianna said. "All the hospital information is at home."

Lianna's apartment seemed in partial disarray, with shopping bags beside the refrigerator and papers on her living room table. Lianna opened her laptop and searched for the hospital information. "Do you want me to print it out?"

"That's a good idea."

Matt played with her poodle while Lianna went to the kitchen to prepare tea. He looked around and saw elegant furniture, New Mexico knickknacks and framed photos of people on her bookshelf.

"Turn on the TV if you like." Lianna called from the kitchen.

"No, that's ok."

After she brought herbal tea, she went over the hospital information with him. So many details. As she talked, he rested his hand briefly on her shoulder. Lianna immediately went back to the kitchen to fill the dog's water dish.

The next move was his, and he knew it. His attraction to her was no longer spontaneous but something he sought (without really knowing why). Tonight she was receptive to romance (in his opinion) but wary. Romance was still not a foregone conclusion. For a moment he imagined just remaining friends with her; would it be so bad? He tried to look at things from a logical point of view. There were all kinds of risk in romance; rejection, loss of independence and even death. What did he want? Romance? Passion? Or simply a chance to fuck the older version of the woman he once lusted after? The thought of it still appealed to him even though he had no idea how it would happen now that they were alone. She wasn't a happy person anymore. She worried, she complained, she was too serious. After he tried to hold her hand, she pulled away. "Tonight is not the night to start something romantic," she said.

"Sorry, I didn't..."

"No it's okay. Just keep me company. That's all I want tonight. Stay close to me. I don't want to be alone." She leaned against him, facing the wall.

"I've had problems sleeping," she said. "I think it's nervousness. I get up in the middle of the night and go online to read the breast cancer forums. Perhaps I hope to learn something. But when I browse through medical news and blogs, I keep stumbling upon memorials to women who died. It's depressing. Many were strong and successful woman who lost their fights. I came across a wonderful blog by a woman named Billie who collected practical tips for dealing with chemo. I sent her a short email to show my appreciation, but 30 seconds later the email was returned undelivered. I realized that her last entry was last February after six years of blogging. Her last post was nothing special – just a description of a doctor's visit, but after that, nothing. It took me by surprise – and it could have been me. I'm sorry; it's hard being normal around a man tonight." He liked the way she described him as a man.

"Sure. Let's just enjoy the company."

"I just....I just have no idea what the future will be like. A few months ago the future seemed boring and unpredictable. I didn't dread it. But now everything seems melodramatic and frightening. What is my life going to be like next week or three months from now? I worry that doctors will be controlling my life now....I worry that I'll end up agreeing to whatever they propose ... no matter how heinous. How can I – or anyone else stay sane?"

As she talked, she flipped randomly through a magazine without paying it attention. She seemed so high-strung. He took her hand and held it. Then he said:

"Do you want to make love?"

For a split second he thought she hadn't heard and was about to repeat it, but Lianna was trying to process it.

"Do I?" she said with a slight laugh. She was less offended than amused. "I don't know. Is that your solution to things?"

"It's a solution," he said.

"If I said yes, would it make you happy?"

"Of course," he said. "But it has to be your desire also."

He stroked her shoulders.

"But why should I do it? What would it mean?"

"Whatever you want it to mean," he said.

"But are you in love with me?" she asked.

"I think so. I know it's sudden."

"Why do you think you feel that way?"

For a moment, he could think of nothing to say. "Because you're beautiful and I want to know you better."

She sighed and said, "At least you're being honest."

"Can I kiss you?"

"Why ask? Aren't you supposed to be in love with me?"

He bent over to kiss her. It was not particularly passionate; it was just a soft and simple kiss. "What did you think?" he asked.

"Sorry, I'm trying to get used to the idea."

"Would you like another?"

"Ok," she said and embraced him. She tried to relax and enjoy the sensations. As he held her, they watched her dog Dino prance around the room.

"The cancer treatments are going to fuck up my sex drive," she said. "I'm not going to be a sexy young woman anymore."

"But tonight you are still beautiful."

Normally a woman's ambivalence would have made him hesitate or even back off. But tonight was different. He felt he had to do everything possible to seduce her. She needed to stop acting like a sick old woman. It was all in her mind; she still had the ability to captivate men. He kissed her again.

"Did you like that?" she asked.

At first, he was going to turn the question around and ask her the same thing. But he realized she was trying to take pleasure from his enjoyment.

"It was wonderful," he said.

"I know this may sound strange. But I'm almost indifferent to passion tonight. If we do it, that's fine; if not, that's fine too."

"Are you trying to make me mad?" he said.

"Not at all! I just don't think tonight is about passion ..."

"What do you mean?"

"It's about keeping me distracted or not being alone..."

"Is that so wrong?" he asked.

"I guess not," she said after a moment's reflection.

"This is your night," he said, "but if you are not really into it, I won't enjoy it either."

"What do you expect me to do?"

"Want it more."

"I'm sorry," she said. "I have a lot on my mind."

He slid his arm down her chests and over her breasts. There was no hiding his intentions anymore.

"Did you like that?"

"Yes," she said with a hint of sarcasm.

He rested his hand over her lap in a blatant erotic touch. "You need to want it more," he said.

"What do you want from me?"

"To fuck!"

Lianna laughed. "Matt, tonight is supposed to be romantic. Aren't you supposed to get me in the mood?"

"Close your eyes," he said.

When she did, he put his hand on her cheek and over her hair, ending with a kiss.

"Was that romantic?"

"I guess," she said.

"Are you ready to fuck now?"

"Matt, if you continue talking like that, I'm going to ask you to leave."

"Talk like what?"

"Using the F-word."

"Oh, that," he said with sarcastic recognition. "I had no idea the word offended you. Ok, I promise not to use that word again."


"Except when we're fucking."


"I'm kidding." He whispered into her ear, "Would you like to go to the bedroom now?"

"First, let me take Dino into the backyard," she said.

As she opened the back door to let the dog out, he put his arm around her. Dino wandered about the background, investigating the random smell or blade of grass.

"Dino is probably the closest friend I have at the moment, and he hasn't a clue that I have breast cancer."

"For tonight, I can pretend you don't have cancer."

He was just being light-hearted, but his remark came off sounding awkward, and Lianna didn't even acknowledge it.

Minutes later, she had changed, and he was shirtless. Both were seated on the bed.

"How long has it been since you've gone to bed with someone?" he asked.

"Two years," she said. "And you?"


"No wonder you're so eager to get my clothes off."

"I can't lie; I have wanted you for a long time. But I wouldn't be trying so hard if I didn't think you were special."

"Your romantic lies are so charming."

"Do you want me to be in love with you?"

She paused. "I don't know."

"Do you want a man to be in love with you for one evening at least?

"You should not use the L word so casually. For all I know, tonight could be the end of the story."

"Don't be ridiculous," he said. He lay her down and helped her remove the blouse and the bra. She had already turned off the lights, but he could see the outlines of her topless body.

She seemed delicate and vulnerable..... He immediately laid his hands upon her as a gesture not of grasping but healing.

"Please don't touch me there," she said, crossing her arms over her chest.

"Does it hurt?"

"No, it just feels weird.... That whole area feels like foreign territory to me. Now that I know what's going on under the skin, I almost wish I could lop off those breasts myself."

He paused and reflected. "The odd thing about breasts is that there's nothing remarkable about them. They are small and delicate and visible on almost all women's outfits, yet there are so rarely exposed....except in movies. Their proximity and perpetual unavailability drives all men crazy. Were your breasts always this sensitive?"



"How does a woman so young and beautiful have the misfortune to have breast cancer?"

"Life sucks and then you die," she said.

"Did you like it when other boyfriends touched you there?" he said, slowly caressing the areas around her breasts.


"Did you like to caress them yourself?"

"Well ..."

He bent over and kissed her shoulder. "Aside from the last year, have you have been happy with your breasts? Generally, I mean."

"That's a stupid question," she said. "Are you happy with your ears or your toes?"

"Did they give you pleasure?"

"It's hard to explain. They're like useless appendages which could kill a person."

"But did they ever give you pleasure?"

"Of course..."

"Let me touch them," he said, moving his hand slowly over the curves of her chest. "They like to be touched, don't they?"

"Actually, it feels a little revolting."

His right hand came across a small lump underneath her nipple.

"That's it, isn't it?"

"That's right," she said, with a kind of resignation. "Don't touch too hard. It's somewhat painful."

"I'm sorry."

"No, that's okay," she said, bringing his hand back to her. "A little bit is fine." He stroked it lightly and moved to the other breast, which seemed perfectly ordinary.

"Did you say both breasts had cancer?"

"Yes, my right breast is cancerous too, but there are no visible signs, just mild inflammation."

"Does it hurt?"

"It feels fine. You can touch it."

"Does it feel good?"

"It feels all right."

He was confused about whether to keep touching her breasts, so he moved his hand down her chest and hips. He embraced her slowly, enjoying the touch of her skin without experiencing an urgent need to fuck her.

"Who was the first man who touched your breasts?"

Lianna thought for a few seconds and giggled. "My middle school science teacher!"


"I was in Mr. Levinton's classroom when I tried to reach for a bottle on a shelf before it collapsed. As I tried to keep it from falling over, Mr. Levinton rushed beside me and tried to take hold of it. But he accidentally brushed his hand against my boob for a second as he tried to hold up the shelf."

"Did he do it on purpose?"

"No, it was an accident! But still I was embarrassed about it for the rest of the day, and my friends teased me about it."

"When was the first time you let a man touch your breasts?"

"In high school. My boyfriend and I were in his car, and he slipped his hand down my bra."

"Did you like it?"

"It surprised me! It was not a bad feeling; I just wasn't ready for it... But within a few weeks it became part of our romantic routine."

Matt bent over a kissed her breast slowly. "Did your boyfriend kiss them?"

Oh, yes," she said. "Many times..."

"That was me. I wanted your breasts at the time. Your lovely teenage breasts. I wanted them when I wanted you...."

She lay there quietly while he kissed her there.

"I'm grateful to be the last man to kiss your breasts. Maybe to you showing your breasts is an ordinary event – like a sunset – but for me it is a beautiful vision, a special moment. "

"No, don't say that," she said. "The sun rises every day. But the breasts – once they're gone, they're gone forever."

"Do your breasts want to feel pleasure tonight?"

"They are no longer my breasts."

"But they're still sensitive to the touch," he said, slipping his hand down her body.

She giggled nervously and drew his hand away.

"Have you ever kissed another woman's breast?"

"No!" she cried indignantly. "You are such a pervert."

"Have you ever touched another woman's breasts?"

She thought a moment and said, "Once I helped a girlfriend try on a formal dress and touched her boob."

"But it wasn't erotic?"


"Did you ever want to?"

"Don't be ridiculous."

"I like your breasts.....They are still sexy."

"Enjoy them while they last," Lianna said. "But they were never my erotic center anyway."

His brushed his hand over her underwear. "That will be the next place to explore."

"No stupid, I'm talking about my brain. They say the brain is the most erotic organ of the body."

"How interesting. And where is this 'brain' you keep mentioning? I can't to wait to caress it." He ran his fingers down the back of her head. Lianna laughed. "I don't want your breasts to be jealous." He kissed her chest again, moving to one of the nipples. "Have you given them names?"

"Honestly, that has never occurred to me."

"Then we must name them. This breast is naughty and adventurous. Her name is Britney."

"No! Not like Britney Spears?"

"Ok, ok, how about Marla..."

"I can live with that."

"But this special. Her name is Patricia. She is sad and lived a sad life. She dreams of something better. She longs to visit distant lands, perhaps visit the Canary Islands.... And yet she knows it is not meant to be.... Patricia has a beauty that is almost tragic....."

"You sound ridiculous."

"Patricia and Marla won't be around much longer. I need to make sure they are happy." He nibbled down her chest.

"Please," she whispered. "Not too hard."

"Sorry." He tried a softer motion. "Is this good?"

"Yes," she nodded, eyes closed.

"You are so delicate today," he said. "I don't want to cause any pain."

"Don't worry – I'll let you know," she said.

He removed her panties, sliding them down her nervous legs. He bent down to give her pussy a respectful kiss. While he searched for sensitive places, her eyes glanced at the ceiling, agitated and lost in thought. Was she even enjoying herself? He continued the caresses, listening for sounds of appreciation. A short laugh came from her lips, then silence. His kisses moved up her body, lingering at the curves of her breast, hoping to elicit sighs. Her body was tense and stiff. But her skin was soft to his fingers; she made a low hum of enjoyment as her limbs began unwinding. Finally, with his assistance she moved into an entirely sexual realm.

"You can take me now," she whispered. Although the declaration sounded passive and detached, she was in fact ready for anything. Her legs rustled against his own, and her arms began to wander around him as well. They were going to fuck! The moment was finally here. He positioned himself to start the lovemaking, but just as he was about to dip into her, she hesitated and moved back... "Wait –" she whispered. "I forgot my diaphragm. I'll be back in a sec," she said, heading to the bathroom.

"No problem," he said, momentarily caught off guard.

When she returned a few minutes later, she said, "We need to be careful," she said. "I cannot get pregnant under any circumstances. The chemo would poison any baby. My God. Pregnancy would be such a tragedy. I cannot under any circumstances have a baby."

The passion of the moment had broken.

"How effective are diaphragms anyway?" he asked.

"Pretty effective. 90-95% effective." she said.

"Is that good enough?" he asked.

She paused. "It will have to be," she said.

"I have condoms in the car. We could use that too if you want."

"That's a good idea," she agreed. He dressed and returned to the car. Five minutes later he returned to her bed, naked again and with a condom and ready to fuck. But was she ready?

As he sat down and kissed her again, a question popped into his mind.

"Did you ever want to be pregnant?"

"Of course. But it doesn't matter now."

"It's a shame we have to be so careful."

"It's not important!" she said, kissing him again, almost in a rush. Her legs were spread open and she lay waiting for his body totally without shame. He dipped into her again, and Lianna sucked in her breath (was he going in too fast?)

"Is that ok?" he said.

"It's fine."

He turned her on her side and tried again from behind, pushing into her. At the first push she made a loud moan. As he moved again and grabbed her breasts, she winced and pulled away. He must have grabbed her breasts too roughly.

"Sorry. I didn't –"

"Don't worry about it. Keep fucking me.... Don't treat me differently. Fuck me like any other woman."

He pushed again, and she groaned. The groan sounded more angry than sexy, but she reciprocated with frantic kisses.

He kept pushing in, and then gave one huge thrust which made her recoil in pain. He hesitated, but she reached behind to keep his body close to hers. "Don't stop," she whispered quickly.

"Do you like it?"

"Fuck me. Goddammit, just fuck me!"

Written Feb 2010

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"Do your breasts want to feel pleasure tonight?"
"They are no longer my breasts."
"But they're still sensitive to the touch," he said, slipping his hand down her body.
William Merritt Chase 1849-1916
Lord William Merritt Chase(1849-1916)
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