Ina had balked when her friends first suggested they all drive down to experience Mardi Gras together.
“It’s all just a citywide drunken frat party with floats — a shameful modern bacchanalia disguised with cheap beads and papier-mâché.”
One of her friends looked at her and shook her head.
“Where is your soul?” she asked, and Ina shrugged her shoulders.
“I’m not in the business of souls, Chelle – you’re the one studying psychiatry.” Ina was in medical school and beginning to believe she’d made a mistake. They’d dragged her down with the pretense of reliving old college spring break memories.
“We graduated just four years ago — do we really need to be reminded?” she said… but she had gone.
She had made the mistake of packing light because it was Louisiana, but it had still been cold. Since she was broke, she had nothing to wear that evening but her friend’s light sweater and a white cotton tank dress that grazed her legs mid-thigh. Everyone except her drank deeply and got into the spirit of the night – she just drank red wine and shivered in a warm corner of the bar.
“You know, you’re the only one adhering to tradition,” Chelle said, pointing to her glass of wine.
“If tradition is being pissed off and freezing,” Ina answered.
Suddenly, music started to make the walls of the bar tremble, and her friends all dropped their shot glasses and ran out into the street to watch.
“Hey, where you goin’?” she yelled after them, but her voice was swallowed by the gregarious roar just outside the open doors of the bar.
There was once a time when I would’ve been the first one out that door and outside, she thought. She looked over at a couple of young women openly fondling each other in the dark and felt something inside her stir, but she pushed it down. The constant stress of school had hardened her.
She realized she hadn’t fucked for months, and her face screwed up into a frown.
“Is the wine sour?” someone asked, and she looked up to see a smiling young face.
He was incredibly handsome, and although she would’ve most probably told any other man — young or old — to fuck off, she looked up at him and remained silent.
“You need another drink,” he said with a broad smile that showed all his white teeth, and she didn’t argue as he poured her another glass of wine and sat it in front of her.
“Drink! It’s a time to celebrate life,” he said joyfully, and the musical lilt in his voice made her look more closely at his face.
There’s something about his eyes, they’re incredibly welcoming, but there’s a hint of something else…
He pushed the wine closer to her face, and she couldn’t help noticing the graceful thrust of his slim hips as he sat. He looked straight into her eyes and licked his lips. Her lips parted with sudden arousal. He smiled knowingly, and she looked away.
“Wow, sorry about that,” she said, looking down at the ruby liquid in front of her.
“Sorry about what? The night is still young, and you’ve still got a lot of wine to drink,” he said, and dipped his finger into the surface of the wine and pressed the ruby drop into her mouth. She jumped, but her lips wrapped around his finger and sucked. He curled his finger, and the pad caressed the top of her mouth. As he pulled it out, he gently tugged on her full lower lip.
He’s so beautiful. His rich brown curls glowed in the yellow light of the bar, and he seemed to be giving off a heat that was softening her very bones.
Must be the wine.
“To you!” she said, and chugged it. For a few seconds the heat around him coursed through her.
“To us, tonight,” he said, and she noticed his eyes weren’t so much brown as a rich ochre that gave her goosebumps. She felt pleasantly lightheaded, and she began to feel the urge to dance.
“Good,” she heard, but when she looked up again, he had already walked off and was headed to a dark cove at the other side of the bar.
Her lips curved around the word Wait, but it barely came out a whisper. He touched a young blonde’s shoulder as he passed her by, and for a split second her face seemed to light up with a mellow golden glow that rivaled the lights above her head. The girl turned to the man next to her and gave him a private smile and without a word, they left their drinks at the table and walked outside.
“How odd,” she said out loud, and noticed that the glass in front of her was full again although she hadn’t seen anyone fill it.
Maybe I was distracted, she thought.
“To us,” she said, and drank it down. She looked toward the door facing the street and it was teeming with people yelling at the passing floats.
She stepped down heavily into the street. Her eyes moved from face to face, and she realized then that she was looking for him. The crowd pushed her forward and back rhythmically as the people in the floats threw beads and little trinkets and the people around her reached for them; it felt like everyone was inhaling and exhaling as one. She stood and watched the glittering display with a beatific smile on her face even when an older woman standing beside her took off her top and roared for attention. Hands came from everywhere and squeezed her nipples and pinched the pale flesh of her tits. She remained still and looked at the collective face of the crowd.
He was young and old; strange yet familiar…
Her reverie was disturbed by the graze of warm fingertips on the inside of her thigh. She looked around quickly, but there was only a solid wall of people – it could’ve been any of them. She decided to get a little nearer to the buildings where there were less people, and as she walked, she heard a familiar laugh.
She turned, only to find a small group of men looking at her naked legs with unguarded interest. One of them had bold blue eyes, and she felt her legs twitch to walk up to him and kiss him right in front of his friends. She imagined his hands traveling up her skirt and pressing the wet fabric of her panties into her cleft while another set of hands pinched her nipples through the thin fabric of her dress…
She wanted it – wanted all of them.
Her head was spinning, and she rocked back on her heels into someone. They wrapped their arm around her waist to steady her, then walked away before she could see their face.
The music had reached fever pitch as a new float passed near the bar. She couldn’t really see it without her glasses, but it was festooned with ivy leaves and bunches of silly purple orbs.
“To new life!” a bright cranberry-haired girl yelled beside her, waving a plastic cup of something. She looked like one of those goth girls her roommate used to date in college.
“To spring and rebirth!” the girl beside her yelled back, and they both drank from their cups. She felt like it was far more than a cursory toast; a little thrall of energy ran up her spine. She was surrounded by people and she temporarily closed her eyes to take it all in.
I’m surrounded by life.
She’d seen death too many times since she’d started her internship, and it was comforting to feel people’s warmth around her. She closed her eyes again and listened to the music. The vibrations crashed against her body and make even her clit vibrate.
Must be the alcohol.
She felt a warm hand press against her belly, and another one travel slowly up her skirt.
Reminds me of the blue-eyed man, she thought, and her eyes remained closed. The hand slid into her panties and began to stroke her clit. Warm breath stirred the hair near her ear.
It’s the music and the crowd…
Fingers slid inside her, first her pussy, then her asshole. She was in someone’s arms, all warmth and pleasure, and she laughed out loud. A strong hand cupped her breast and tugged her nipples through the fabric as she looked toward the parade. She felt the fat smooth head of a cock press against her seam and her swollen cunt lips spreading to accommodate it.
It’s just the spirit of it all, just the people and the floats…
She felt more than heard herself groan as it found the opening of her pussy and slid into her slowly. For a few endless seconds, it didn’t move and she felt so full there were tears in her eyes.
It’s been so long…
The rhythm of the music was constant and pulsing, and it vibrated in her chest and in her clit and in her throat all at the same time. She felt it move, thrust deeply into her seemingly in the same rhythm as the music and it was so big her limbs trembled. She was suddenly warm enough to sweat, when before she’d been cold.
Cold and empty, but now I’m full…so full!
The colors and smells around her intensified, the smell of sex and wine and perfume and paper and piss all filled her flaring nostrils; her chest burned and her breaths got shallower and shallower. She was so happy to be there, standing on that street on that afternoon, that she yelled out her joy. It came out sounding like moans, but no one seemed to notice as the rhythm increased.
She began to lose strength in her knees but she was held by it, by the crowd and the music and the energy, and her heart roared in her ears and her pussy began to twitch powerfully as her orgasm moved through her. The rhythm was relentless and the more her body surrendered, the deeper it seemed to get until even her cells sang with deep, inexpressible joy.
She was finally full of life again; that magical place had shaken the slow creeping death from her limbs. She cried out but the crowd roared so loud it stole her voice, and her pussy, brimming warmth, throbbed in the same rhythm as her heart…
She felt wetness on her cheeks and when she tried to touch it, she realized that her hands felt cool moisture as well.
She blinked her eyes slowly and got her bearings.
As she came to, she saw that the palms of her hands and her cheek were pressed up against a brick wall. She could see the crowd at the mouth of alley, but the roars and laughter were distant. She felt warmth dripping slowly from between her legs, and her nose caught the scent of something she hadn’t smelled for a while –her sex, mixed with someone else’s.
It couldn’t be…
She pushed off the wall, incredulous, and touched herself. Her clit was still sensitive and swollen from her orgasm, and she shivered although her body was covered in a sweat that gave off a subtle scent of honey and green things.
Nah…it must’ve been the wine.
She heard a soft laugh somewhere behind her, and turned her head just in time to see a tall, muscular shadow fade slowly into the dark.