Content Warning (CW): sex


Isabelle Ryan


After, he carries me into the bathroom. Two plush towels wait folded on the lid of the toilet; I let my shaky hands stroke them while he prepares the shower, adjusts the temperature, the pressure. We rinse together almost touching, his hand bracketing air around my hip, just in case. My legs tremble but hold. I know I’ll ache tomorrow, high up around my thighs, pulling at the small of my back. I’ll lie awake awhile, pondering the not unpleasant pain, and wonder what I did that made me sore. I’ll stretch, and then I’ll know. Now, instead of pain, I feel his absence. He washes me, head bowed and humming. His eyelids are heavy, his lips curved: spent and blissful. I put my arms around his neck and think about moving beneath him, flexing my hips, the reverence of his name in my mouth—wanting and begging and giving as much as I received, or hoping to. I think about the muscles of his back, fluid then taut, a grunt in my neck slurred into a confession (his first). I think about kissing his cheek, his shoulder—whatever I could reach—and his slow, regretful withdrawal, how I wept and touched his face.

Now, he lifts me out of the shower and dries me, drapes a towel around my shoulders. Bashfully, he fingers the smallish purpling marks on my skin, asks if any of them hurt. Grinning, I tell him no, not a bit, and this—pointing at my side—is my favourite. He kisses the bruise: asks forgiveness for and with the culprit. He dries himself and ducks my fingers ruffling his hair to scatter diamond droplets. Foiled, I hug him from behind, nudging my nose into the secret spot at the nape of his neck, searching for his scent, his sweat beneath the soap. He’s still damp and warm; loose curls brush my brow. He chuckles. His back shudders and stills. My body moves with the gentle rise and fall beneath his skin, like wings making ready for flight. He takes my hands and kisses them.

In the bedroom, we slip shivering beneath the sheets. He lies flush against me, one hand on my hip. Cherubic curls pillow on my chest; I stroke them, twist them round my fingers, tug gently and release. He sighs, rippling gooseflesh down my legs. I tell him, slowly, how good I feel, and how much I love him. His lips curl against my skin. Then, more slowly still, I tell him I’m glad he was my first. He must have known before today, but the way I gasped and almost came apart on the tips of his fingers would have confirmed it. He set a pace for us, slow and steady for my comfort; I was at once achingly grateful and wanting him more badly than I had thought possible. He props himself up now to look at me. His curls catch gold and silver in the dropping light. He smiles.

Isabelle Ryan is a writer from the UK whose work has previously appeared in with confetti and Not Deer Magazine, with a piece forthcoming in Sledgehammer Lit. Isabelle tweets @Ph4ntomR3q.