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A word beforehand: Categorization seems to be primarily important to many Literotica readers. “A World Without Men,” contains an element of magical realism. It also contains lesbian sex, hetero sex, interracial sex, and a whole lot of weather and landscape. To my mind, my stories don’t fit neatly into categories. Their pedigree is as muttly as their author.
Also, a note about format. Literotica formatting collapses the spacing between sections in my stories, leaving the reader without a marker that signals a narrative jump. Alternating trios of slashes (///) and back-slashes (\\\) now serve as the marker.
Thank you for stopping by and giving the story a little of your time. Salud.
A World Without Men
The ferry rode high on full throttle across the sound. The pilot cut the engines back at the first channel marker and the bow settled as we turned toward the point. Even at this distance we could see the devastation along the island. Com tower down. Wind turbs and solar gone. Trees, copses of old sycamores, shorn of their limbs. All this on the leeward shore. My little house in the Mounds, facing the sea, had taken the storm full brunt. I felt anxious for the Sisters.
Plastic flotsam jammed the cove. Nine boats were sunk at their moorings. Four others were listing and near awash.
This is the state of the world now, I thought. There is no refuge. This is my life.
We couldn’t dock, due to wreckage. The ferry idled and the crew brought us ashore on the big life raft, supplies to follow.
Our approach to the landing took us under the shadow of a pair of wood masts, looming from the water at a list. They were the only things in all the area that looked pristine.
/ / /
We secured the raft and disembarked. My first priority was to see the house. Pending my divorce from Kevin, it was to become my permanent home.
My initial supplies would be stacked for me and I could deal with them later. I grabbed my pack and walked the 500 feet from the landing to the village center. Storefronts were boarded up, windows shuttered and taped. Torn vegetation littered the square. It looked Third World.
My seasonal neighbors stood in clusters, scratching their heads in commiseration, still disbelieving the scale of the storm. A few of them waved in greeting and called.
“Some mess, huh?”
All I could offer was a nod in agreement. Some mess, yeah. Like marriage. Like being alive.
“Hey, you saw the tower’s down? No cellular.”
Please, please, please, dear god, let my little house be intact.
“It’ll make you sick to see the dunes.”
It was a mistake to pause. John Dobbs crossed the square with a drink in his hand. He’s the island’s Sgt. Nosey. Eyeing my legs. I’m 32, he must be 70. Tall and jowly, with a gin blossom nose, florid and pitted with pores. Usually inebriated enough to think he’s charming.
“Macy,” he said, “your place didn’t do too bad, I hear.” He winked at me with his rheumy eyes. “Keep your optimism high, sailor.”
“At ease, John. I’m long out of active duty.”
His eyes scanned the street behind me for my husband. I heard the question even before he asked.
No, Kevin is not coming, not again, ever.
“No kidding, you came out alone? Really?”
Really, you creep.
Nothing wrong stateside, is there?
We’re divorcing, thank you.
Oh … so, why’re you the one to rescue the house?
It’ll be mine soon, mine alone.,
When will you be … available?
To you? Absolutely never.
“… Bill Shirley?”
The name woke me up. I’d stopped listening to him. To cover the lapse I said, “I know, Bill’s hard to get hold of. You’ve been out to the dunes?”
“Oh, they didn’t do too bad either. They’ll come back.”
“How much survived?”
He shrugged. “Thirty, forty percent?”
“Less than half is not too bad?”
“Well, yes and no. Forty’s better than zero.”
“They’ll take a decade to recover,” I said.
I said, “I have to go, John,” and took off.
“You need anything, Macy, you let me know,” he said.
Sure, John. Count on it.
“Get ahold of Bill as soon as you can.”
\ \ \
Under normal conditions the Mounds stood a brisk twenty minute walk from the landing.
The path ran through a pine wood, the Flats, one of the largest remaining on the island. The storm had left it puddle-swamped, obstructed by fallen trees. Every few hundred feet or so, staggered on the left and right of the path, were sites where pines lay on the ground like the spokes of a wheel, flattened by microbursts, winds that sheer down like a colossal foot stomp, storms within storms.
Not too bad, Sgt. Nosey said. Would forty percent of the house beat zero?
I reached the walkway that marked the beginning of the Mounds and climbed the wood stairs. Ahead lay that simplifying reality — assess, repair, rebuild. Meet the immediate needs for sanity and survival. Restore myself in stages. Call upon self-reliance. Rid casino siteleri myself of magical thinking.
Whatever awaited, I meant to meet it.
/ / /
The lee of the property came in sight. The backyard had been turned into a pond that isolated the shed. The privacy fence had been flattened, all except the gate, as if foot-stomped like the pines. Patio furniture, which had been stacked and covered, lay tumbled across the shallow flood.
Weathered shingles too, dozens. Torn from the windward side of the roof. I thought of a thousand decks of wet cards.
The back of the house, shuttered whenever we were away, looked intact.
From the side path came a view of the ocean, listless and gray. Before the path turned the corner, the seaward reach of the property came into view. I dropped to my knees.
\ \ \
The landscape had been warped. There was too much sky. It registered first as They’re dead. The Sisters, all three, on the ground.
I couldn’t reconcile myself to the reality. These beautiful old trees. Sister cypresses. Guardians, seers. Companions. Killed? Toppled landward by the storm. Trees that had aged together, so old their branches reached into each others space, outstretched limbs entwining. In the dark they could look like one entity, a single tree standing with three peaks and three trunks.
They had fallen as one.
I picked my way into their midst, ducking, bending, stepping over, pushing through, finding space, snagged and scratched, enveloped by the smokey, sweet smell of the wood and brushed by their evergreen leaves that grew in fans and retained enough moisture to dampen me good.
I emerged from the tangle, and walked close to one of the trunks, running a hand along its papery bark. Ahead stood a strange wall, something out of a fairytale. The Sisters’ roots were fanned in the air, so heavily intertwined between trunks that the sod had come up intact. They had entwined above and below.
It would take a crane to set them upright, if that would do any good. Heavy equipment on the island would have other priorities for weeks to come. You couldn’t get a crane here, anyway.
Somewhere within me was a refusal to believe that nothing could be done, but, Oh, my Sisters. Their lives were already slowly, slowly ebbing away.
\ \ \
I stood with them a long while, scanning the shore. The storm surge had taken enormous bites from the dunes. Up the coast, all the distance to where it disappeared into a haze, ramps of sand ran to the surf. In its few hours of rage the storm had reshaped the coast.
Resigned to loss, I turned and took my first full look at the front of the house, and was, in the opposite way, stunned. The lack of significant damage seemed implausible.
Half of the roof stripped of shingles and paper. The facade muddied. Shutters all intact. No glass. Wood filagree trashed. Gutters and drains, eh. The trellises in the surrounding gardens all flattened, but what could be easier to replace?
My real fear was interior damage, leakage, sagging ceilings and water stains that resembled clamshells, spreading from the upper corners of walls. Warped floors. Salted wires. A breeding paradise for toxic molds.
Before going in, I circled the house, unlatching the shutters, thinking if I had had the choice to save either, the house or the trees, as much as I loved, and needed, the house, I would’ve saved the Sisters.
/ / /
I hadn’t factored the loneliness waiting inside. Out of blind habit I flicked the wall switch. Nothing of course, no surprise, and yet the lack of response — well, that says it, the lack of response. That had become Kevin and me.
After opening the windows, I stood quietly near the couch. A melancholy light divided the walls at long angles and, despite the background of low surf, the house rang with stillness.
The Sisters were dying a prolonged death. I was alone in the world. Boo-hoo me.
I sat at the table and felt that I could let myself have a good cry, a swollen-eyed, tear streaming, snot flowing cry — and nearly did, only the full blow of emotion waned before its peak, and very few tears came. Self-pity is an ugly thing.
/ / /
The sun broke through and brightened the water. Upstairs I saw no bordered stains, no buckling paint, no drooping ceilings. If the roof had leaked, the insulation might have absorbed whatever water had come through. I checked and double checked. No smell of mold. All the house seemed to need was air.
I went outside and began to pick up debris. The breeze blew cool and sweet off the water, and I applied myself as if on active duty again, diligently, with focus. Most of the damage in the front required only simple tools to clear, a hammer, a pry bar and a saw. I tore out what remained of the trellises and stacked the wood. The fence required extensive dismantling and salvage, a multi-day job, something for later. After a few very productive hours, my spirits rose with a sense of self-rescue. Rescue my house slot oyna = rescue my life. A little diligence, a little patience, a little fortitude, a little sacrifice, that’s really all it would take, a lot of littles adding up.
The breeze grew stronger as the afternoon wore on. The low, dark line of clouds on the horizon suggested that night would come early. It renewed the urgency to take care of my roof.
After washing up and changing into jeans and a loose sweater, I headed back to town to find Bill Shirley and make arrangements to have my house, my life, my soul, made whole again.
\ \ \
Bill was an island man of old school, a caretaker of many properties throughout the year. He was short and round, with bulging eyes, and his shoulders shook when he laughed. He could look thuggish when he was peeved. Kevin had gotten a kick out of him.
He never locked the side door to his shop. I made my way to his crammed little office and uncrumpled some paper to write a note.
Hey, busy Bill, half my roof’s gone. See me, please! With love, Macy.
I left it propped on the dusty surface of his desk.
/ / /
Leaving the shop, I saw that John Dobbs was still guarding the square, still a drink in hand. If anyone on the island knew Bill’s present whereabouts, it would be Sgt. Nosey, but I didn’t want to endure his leer, and I didn’t want to feel obliged to him in any way whatsoever. So I detoured, and the choice to avoid him dulled my mood, and the feeling worsened on the walk home. It was a weak thing to have done.
\ \ \
The buzz of a chainsaw — a series of long, angry raspberries — came from the direction of my neighbor’s house. Reva’s. A free spirit. Kevin never liked her. He once described her as privileged by the spoils of divorce, that she was dilettantish and self obsessed. “She’s a gypsy,” he said. “What’s that mean, ‘She’s a gypsy?’” I said. “She shifts, she changes, she’s one thing, then another.” “Kevin, is this her, or you?” “You can’t tell who she is. She’s a divorcee phony.” He might’ve been drunk when he said it, and he might’ve had the hots for her and gotten stiff-armed. Though she never said anything, I don’t think she liked him either. We weren’t close, but we were friendly. I should check in.
And there, pinned to my gate, flapped a message from Reva.
Macy – You luck. I’m blessed to be alive! Come
and see what happened here. Maybe I can
camp with you for a while? Love, Reva.
I went right over.
/ / /
She had an elegant home, sleek, architected, anchored on steep bedrock. Her second ex had had it built during a prior marriage. The antithesis of my little house. The front door opened to a wide balcony, facing a glass wall with an unobstructed vista of ocean.
The chainsawing came from the left wing. I called her name as I let myself in. The air smelled oily, like Bill’s shop. As the chainsaw idled, I called to Reva. Immediately, the chainsaw revved, once, twice, then raged and bit into wood.
Reva turned the corner from her bedroom hallway, and greeted me with a smile that turned teary. We hugged with an unexpected warmth. Then, she began to shake in my arms, as if crying, then it seemed she wasn’t crying, but laughing, or teetering between both.
She patted my back and broke the hug.
“Come, see,” she said, and led me by the hand to the disorienting remains of her bedroom.
\ \ \
The room was in splinters, strewn with wreckage. It had become an arboretum. Sunlight, swirling with motes, poured from above, broken into shafts by limbs and leaves. Bill Shirley, further obscured by branches and a fog of chainsaw smoke, was directing a Latino workman on the other side of the room.
“It’s like a club from heaven,” Reva said. She meant club, like a mace.
I could see it now, how her sycamore had fallen, smashed through the the roof, and suddenly filled the room with its branches. One of them had crushed her bed.
I asked, “When did this…?”
“Middle of the storm. Thank god I had to pee. The bathroom wasn’t touched.” A moment later she said, “My guardian angel stepped on my bladder.”
I should have been laughing, but in a rush the fallen tree, this carnage, Reva’s near death, my aloneness, the storms to come — The fate of the Sisters fell upon me, and with it a reeling sense of loss, an irrevocable loss, whose scope was not yet fully known.
“Macy, Macy,” Reva said with concern, “it’s only a house.”
“It’s the state of our world,” I said.
“I’m ecstatic to be alive right now, Macy.”
Then Bill called my name.
“You just hang on,” he said, which didn’t sound promising.
We spoke to each other across the tree, or through it, me toward its top, Bill at its trunk. Depending on where we stood, we could see each other or not.
“You couldn’t have gotten my note,” I said.
“Knew you’d be around.”
“Can you help me?”
“Have Kevin do it. Save yourselves a bundle.”
“Kevin’s not coming.”
Bill canlı casino siteleri turned away, spoke to the workman and pointed to separate limbs. “Cut that one first, then that.”
He turned back to me. “No trouble between you, is there?”
“The Mounds is my only home now.”
Reva put her hand to her heart.
Bill paused, nodded, then said, “You then. Save yourself a bundle.” The chainsaw spit raspberries again and he shouted, “I’m up to my chin, Macy.” There was nothing of the jolly man about him.
“Can you get me the materials?”
Reva wove her arm around mine and led me from the room, saying, “So, we’ve each had a wake-up call.”
“I feel stuck in a bad dream.”
“You wanted the divorce, no?”
Her concern stopped me cold, as I became aware of my selfishness. I said, “I’m sorry, Reva. I didn’t mean — your bedroom’s been destroyed — You could’ve lost your life — I should be — Kevin’s not important — that’s not — just — come stay with me.”
“She turned, face on, and said, “I feel truly blessed and set free. Tell me. What is it?”
And I told her. Down, all three, on the ground. Now her life, her room. Caught up in a sense of loss. Their deaths as harbingers of greater destruction. Overwhelmed for a moment. Better. Sorry. Thanks.
“It’ll be all right,” Reva said. “Something good is coming for you.”
With an affectionate squeeze, she let go.
“When you’re ready, I’ll help you clean up,” I said.
“Clean up? The room’s a total loss. I’m gonna have Bill seal it off.”
“Till you rebuild?”
“I’ll never be able to afford to. You know,” she said, shaking her body as if throwing off weight, “the house was too goddamn big, anyway.”
/ / /
She packed a few of her rescued personals in a small bag, while I went back and arranged with Bill to have shingles, nails and tar paper delivered. She left the bag outside her front door, and we took a winding path to the beach below, walking between monstrous bites in the dunes. The stormwater had packed the sand so hard and flat, it wouldn’t accept a footprint. The surf was still roiled, off color. The wind blew chunks of brown foam that rolled like tumbleweeds across the hard flats.
We passed tangles of driftwood. Wracks of onion weed that were drawing clouds of flies. There was enough plastic junk to sate a landfill.
But the storm had also created perfectly cleared, open spreads of sand, and temporary tide pools as far inland as the dunes. Many of them had teemed with creatures stranded by the receded water, little crabs and small fish and sea stars. Seagulls were still hovering and screeching above the pools, diving to pick out a meal.
Reva found a whelk shell intact among skate eggs.
“Still, somehow, something beautiful survives.”
We skirted the broken skeleton of shark.
She caught my arm. “Trip hazard,” she said, and pointed at something sticking up from the hard sand. It looked like a finger, beckoning. I bent to it and saw that it was cast metal.
“It’s a spout,” I said.
We found sticks and began to dig. We had to excavate. The spout widened, we reached the body. With two thirds dug clear, we were able to pull it free. The thing was heavy, packed with sand.
Reva said, “It’s shaped like a slipper or a boat. Looks Ali Baba.”
“Maybe a teapot?”
“I’m calling it a lamp.”
Despite the crust, we could make out that the surface had been artfully worked. We dunked it in one of the pools. The gulls that had already picked the water clean returned to see what we had found, circling overhead and complaining.
“The lid’s stuck,” Reva said.
“Rub it and make a wish.”
Reva closed her eyes, pictured her desire, and rubbed. She cradled the object, smiling to herself. In a few moments, she opened her eyes and said, “I want to meet the genie.” Then she extended it to me and said, “Now you.”
I took it and hesitated, “It shouldn’t be for me,” I said.
“It’s your wish.”.
“The Sisters restored? A world without men?”
“Don’t you dare!”
“I don’t know what to wish for yet,” I said.
As we walked back, carrying our sculpted, cast metal find, Reva said, “Men mostly suck, but…”
“And there’s cryogenics.”
“Ha! And toys.”
“Toys. I’ve never any,” I said.
“Fuck, why not?”
“Abstinence, when called for.”
“Oh. Okay. Really? Abstinence shouldn’t be too hard to achieve around here.”
“It’s about guaranteed,” I said.
“I mean, who’s here to be un-abstinent with?”
“The likes of John Dobbs?”
“Geez, I’d rather fuck a goat . . . or a genie.”
“Or a woman.” I covered my mouth. “What made me say that?”
“World without men,” Reva said, “don’t you dare.”
\ \ \
We stopped at her place briefly to pick up her bag. The chainsaw was still in its fury. As we approached my house, the wind carried the sound of hammering.
We exchanged burdens, as my arms felt like they were falling off from having carried our find from the beach. As we rounded the corner to the front of the house, Reva saw the Sisters and placed her left hand over her heart as she grabbed my arm. Her eyes brimmed with tears.
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