by A.P. Prescott
Will had always enjoyed playing accompaniment to the dance classes
at his university. He would sit at the piano as the undergrad
ballet students warmed up. Beautiful. All of them desirable in
so many ways. He’d go through the material he had memorized
for his student recital in the other classes. But when she came
in, he would improvise. She inspired him. Even though it was a
ballet class, her body seemed more suited for tango or salsa.
Something passionate. The way her hair would escape the tightly
wound bun. How her skin glowed in the early morning sunlight.
How her breasts rose and fell in deep breaths as she practiced
at the barre. When the teacher wasn’t looking she would
add more feeling to her steps. She had caught him looking a couple
of times when her form turned sultry, and she would smile conspiratorially.
He had fallen lazily in love with that smile.
Thoughts about her followed him to his apartment. He would close
his eyes in the shower and think of how her hair and skin would
feel against his body as he lathered the soap. He thought of her
in bed. He stroked himself and imagined her straddling him in
grande plié, thighs taut, back arched, wearing only her
little ballet slippers. After he came, he would think of the class’
breathing exercises and match his breath with hers.
“I like your music,” she’d said the last day
of class, “I like how you play, and that you try different
styles. You actually get into it. Most of the others don’t
care.” It was the first time that she had spoken to him.
His mouth had gone dry, so he smiled and nodded, only managing
an “I’m glad you like it.” She smiled in a way
that he would come to remember in his fantasies, and she walked
away in pink slippers.
Two years later and now she was there before him. When the lights
had gone up, he had barely recognized her. As he approached the
platform, though, he had seen how her hair reflected in the lights.
Like a fiery halo. She was covered in paint and still as death.
Living art. Automatically he felt his lungs take up a familiar
rhythm. Inhaling deeply he could smell her; strongly female under
hot lights. He stood there too long, others pushing their way
to see her. The main exhibit. A small commotion and her eyes darted
towards him. He held his breath and waited for recognition that
never came. Her eyes turned away, and he followed. Grabbing a
glass of champagne, he walked around the other exhibits, but his
eyes maintained a steady fix on her. He was preoccupied and wasn’t
in the mood for small talk, so he smoked a cigarette and left.
The hotel was cold when he got back. The air conditioner churned
in the corner, spewing cold New York air into his room. He loosened
his tie, but left his sports jacket on, rubbing his arms as he
walked towards the window to turn the air conditioner off. He
sat heavily on the bed. The only reason he had gone was to mingle;
to ‘press-the-flesh.’ His agent would be livid. He
took the invitation and brochure for the event out of his pocket
and threw them on the desk. He hadn’t even bothered to look
at either. The brochure, though, landed upside down and she was
staring at him from the folded pages; ‘Leslie Stark’
the name he had never managed to learn. Large swashes of paint
covered her, meant to resemble flame. The only strip of clothing
she wore was a red g-string. He had seen her fully at the exhibit,
shaved smooth. But as he looked at the brochure, he found he couldn’t
take his eyes off of the little piece of cloth covering her. Such
a small barrier.
He walked into the bathroom with the brochure in hand. The cold
was waiting for him in there, too, so he turned on the shower
and then the red UV light on. He placed the brochure behind the
handle on the sink and undressed as steam filled the room. Bathed
in the red light he looked at himself in the mirror; he was darker
than usual, his dark brown hair almost black, his eyes intense.
He stretched in the warm air, feeling the heat against his skin,
loosening his muscles. He smiled at himself approvingly; a lot
better than he had looked a couple of years ago. They would look
good together, he decided. He dredging up memories of her from
their class and let his hand fall to his boxers. He remembered
her scent from the exhibit, and imagined how strong it would be
when she was aroused. He licked his bottom lip when he thought
of how she would taste. How it would be when he slid between her
legs, firm from years of dancing. Sweat beaded on his skin as
the air became thick. He took hold of his erection, giving it
a tentative squeeze. Too moist. Thank God for hotels and their
miniature bottles of lotion.
He had been right; his agent wasn’t pleased. “You
didn’t meet anyone? What were you doing out there? Jacking
off? You were supposed to get a feel for the scene, Will. Meet
some faces. Ingratiate.” A pause on the phone. “You
need an ‘in,’ or else no one will ever even hear about
you. You have to go again. I’ll hook you up with another
“And Will. Don’t fuck up this time.”
Closing night, and this time he dressed a lot sharper than he
had at the opening. He rented a suit for the occasion on his agent’s
suggestion. “The ‘beatnik musician’ look is
fine if you want to keep playing cafés and small venues.
But these people won’t even look at you if your suit costs
less than five-hundred.” Still, he didn’t tuck in
his shirt, and he wore mismatched socks. He also wore a pair or
red silk boxers. One had to have standards.
Before he left, he tucked the well-thumbed picture of Leslie in
between Psalms and Proverbs in Gideon’s Bible.
When he arrived, he made a point to admire each of the models
before he even looked at her. He met a few ‘faces,’
made a few ‘ins,’ and met a few other artists who
were also hoping to ‘get a feel for the scene.’ One
of which, Chase, whom also had his shirt un-tucked, told him to
stay after the exhibit. That the people with the money always
showed up at the closing party. He drifted over to Leslie, her
body splayed over a white satin sheet. The crowd around her was
thinned somewhat, no one vying for space. He tried to detach,
take her form in as a piece of art, but her scent was even stronger
now after having been in the spotlight for so long. Finishing
the rest of his champagne, he went out for a smoke.
He came back in but hung back as the last of the viewers straggled
out, nursing his champagne in spite of the dirty looks the ushers
gave him. From that distance, he had been able to think more clearly.
He would play it cool, a line about “you probably don’t
remember me, but…” followed by the usual questions
about whether she was in school still or not. Slowly the hall
emptied, and the models began to stretch. He watched as she unfolded
her arms through the port-de-bras, chatting with her fellow models
across the hall, exchanging congratulations. He was just about
to approach her when she glanced in his direction. Smiling, she
beckoned him over to her. He held his breath in confusion, and
she beckoned him again.
“Hi piano-man.” She draped the sheet across her chest,
the bright colors of flame shining through the sheer fabric.
He was surprised. “You remember me?”
She nodded. “I liked your music. I hope you still play.”
“Yeah, I do. I’m trying to get a label, actually.”
“Well, this should be a good place to meet people.”
He paused as she stood up, aware of the thinness of the cloth
and the fact that she wasn’t wearing ballet slippers.
“Do you still dance?”
“Yes, but not professionally. I’ve always had too
many interests to stick with just one thing,” she said,
extending her hand. “I’m Leslie, by the way. I don’t
think we ever did get formally introduced.”
“Its good to see you again, Will. I hate to do this, but
I have to go. Celebratory party. You know how it is,” she
stood, the cloth clinging to the paint on her body. Just like
the cloth in the photo, the sheet was such a flimsy barrier, so
easily torn away. She stood on tiptoe and kissed his cheek, but
then turned to go. A few steps away, she paused and turned back
to him. “Actually, now that I think about it, there should
be some music people there. I could introduce you to a few. Would
you like to come?”
“Then follow me. I have to wash off. This paint gets everywhere.”
He followed her through dim halls; lead just as much by her scent
and voice as by sight. “I’m always demand my own dressing
room,” she said when they reached an out-of-the-way door.
“I can’t stand not having privacy.”
She grabbed his hand when the door opened and lead him through.
“You can take a seat anywhere,” she waved her hand
towards a little couch and chair. “I’ll be right out.”
He watched as she opened a side door into a little bathroom, leaving
the door cracked and letting a thin ray of light out into the
room. The thin sliver reminded him of peeking into the girl’s
gym room in high school. He watched as parts of her disrobed and
turned on the shower. The sound of the shower reminded him of
the other night, and he strained to see into the bathroom. The
shower curtain soon blocked his vision, though, so he looked around
the little room. There were roses and cards. A bottle of champagne
was nestled with ice. On the mirror were pictures of Leslie, smiling
and laughing. Steam filtered into the room and he loosened his
tie. He rifled through a stack of CD’s on the armoire, trying
to take his mind off of the sound of the running water. Floyd
Concil, Taj Mahal, Edith Piaf- she had eclectic tastes, and he
approved. Towards the bottom of the pile he saw a very familiar
case. He couldn’t believe it.
“My favorite track is number five. It reminds me of what
you used to play in class.” He turned to look at her. She
was wrapped in a towel. He hadn’t even heard the water turn
off. She walked towards him, her skin bright pink against the
white terrycloth. “I always loved your music,” she
said, and he could feel the heat from her body seeping through
his suit. “It took me a while to find it, though. You really
do need to get a larger label.” For a moment they stood
so close that they were almost touching. He was glad that he hadn’t
tucked in his shirt. But she simply smiled her mischievous smile
and turned to the wardrobe. It was full and practically all of
the clothes were red. She looked at him from the corner of her
eye, twirling her finger at him. He turned around obligingly.
He didn’t mind. The mirror on her dresser showed him all
he could want to see, just backwards.
“So, have you met the artist yet?” she asked as she
stepped into the gown. She was wearing the red g-string she had
been wearing in the brochure. He bit his tongue, trying to will
away his body’s Pavlovian reaction to seeing the little
strip of red cloth.
“I’m not sure,” he said and went back to looking
at her CD collection. “To be honest I’m not even sure
who he is.”
Her voice was breathy on his ear. “It’s a she, actually.”
He turned around to see her. The dress was stunning, bright red,
but sheer in several places so that her creamy skin shone through.
Clothed nudity, he remembered the term from some of his art history
classes. She smiled, slipping her hands inside his dinner jacket.
“You can’t go to the party like that,” she said
and before he understood what she was talking about, he felt her
hands undoing the zip on his pants. She pushed the waistband down
around his hips, her hand lightly pressed against the front of
his boxers. She looked up at him and smiled. He felt like he had
when she smiled in class. She was letting him in on a little secret.
He couldn’t move, wrapped up in the feeling of her hands
on him. It took him a moment before he realized she was tucking
in his shirt.
“And, if you don’t mind, I’m going to make another
couple of adjustments,” she finished tucking him in and
zipping his pants, but then reached up to open the first few buttons
on his shirt. “Much better.”
He had never been to a party celebrating the successful closing
of an art exhibit. He was unprepared. When they entered, his arm
linked with hers, a torrent of people came crowding around them,
dragging her away for toasts before he even had the chance to
“Dude, you didn’t tell me you knew Leslie,”
Will turned around to see Chase standing behind him. Chase looked
down to his belt. “And you tucked in your shirt.”
“You know Leslie?” Will looked at Chase. He was much
better looking than Chase. Surely she wasn’t with him.
Chase rolled his eyes. “I don’t know her know her.
I just know she’s big. I mean, imagine being twenty-three
and having your own exhibit. I mean, damn.” Will stared
at Chase for a moment. That was why she was the main exhibit?
He really should have read the brochure instead of just looking
at the pictures.
“You can introduce me, right man? I mean, she knows people.”
Chase pushed them both through the crowd of her admirers, grabbing
champagne for both of them, too.
“So I guess I’ve met the artist now, eh?” They
stood in the elevator going back down to her dressing room. She
was leaning against the wall. He didn’t look at her.
“I figured you knew, but you hadn’t said anything.
I was just curious whether you were here on your own or whether
you were here for the introductions,” she said, directing
his chin to look her in the eye. “I was glad when you proved
my suspicions wrong.”
Will allowed her to direct his gaze. He was surprised that her
smile didn’t hold her usual mischievous look. It was open
and innocent. Her eyes, though, were bright. Her glance held him
as she pressed herself close to him. Warmth rose and gripped his
stomach as she stretched her feet entendue, pulling him into a
kiss. Her hair still smelled of musk and heat, all the more potent
in the small space. His deep inhalations made him light headed.
She pulled him out of the elevator the moment the doors were far
enough apart for them to squeeze through.
She pushed him into the dressing room, following, her body held
in the same way as when she allowed her passionate side into the
ballet barre. He could feel the stirrings of melody in his mind
as she slipped her hands inside his sport-coat, pushing the shoulders
down and off, and hastily un-tucking his shirt. He pressed her
against the wall, kissing her beautiful red lips and trying desperately
to feel her skin through the sheer fabric of her dress.
“Always figured you smoked,” she said against his
mouth. He ran his hands down her sides, feeling her quick breathing
echo throughout her body. She moaned when he managed to push her
dress down around her feet. She stood unashamed before him. He
thought of how he had imagined her, and how reality had not done
her justice. His reverie gave her time to even the score. She
quickly undid the buttons of his shirt, unzipped his pants, and
pushed them down around his hips. Her touch was hot as it cupped
his erection. Her delicate hands had more strength then he would
have guessed, and he groaned as she squeezed, rubbing her thumb
along the underside of his shaft. Slowly she pulled away, edging
them closer to the couch, but he pulled her against him as he
sat down in the chair. He grabbed her hips and pulled her down
into his lap.
She straddled him, her skin flushed. She was beautiful, something
out of a fairy tale. He could feel her wetness soak through his
boxers, and he arched his hips into hers as her scent filled the
air. She worried her lip as he pushed upward, rocking slightly
against him, her breasts brushing against his chest, her hand
massaging him. He could feel the firm resistance of her muscles.
He kissed her, biting her lip teasingly, just as she was teasing
him. Remembering how he had fantasized about removing the restraints
of her leotard years ago, he brushed his hands over her bared
breasts, delighting in the way she stretched into his touch.
Shifting slightly, she encouraged him to lift himself off of the
chair as she pulled his boxers down, releasing his cock from under
the elastic band. She smiled at him as he sat back onto his chair.
Then she lowered herself onto him, taking each inch in slowly.
She was hot and wet around him, and he couldn’t help but
grunt when she had settled fully onto him. Christ, he though,
as he learned what they said about the control dancers had over
their muscles was true. She clenched around him, using his shoulders
as the barre as she pliéd. He stroked the tight muscles
of her legs, thrusting with the rhythm she set. Will’s mind
blurred with music, the beat of drums and the deep notes of the
piano. He kissed her neck and chest and rubbed her clit for as
long as he could, but gradually his gut tightened, the strong
muscles around him clenching, and his vision darkened.
“Oh. Yes. Yes. I can feel it,” she groaned against
his ear. He rubbed her gently with moist fingertips, then her
entire body went taut and she moaned in time with the rhythm of
her orgasm. She squeezed him between her thighs, and he felt as
though he would be broken in two.
They rested against each other, their sweat-coated flesh pricked
in the light of release.
“Better than I imagined,”
He raised his head to look at her. She smiled. “You can
tell a lot about a person by how they play an instrument. And
you were by far the best accompanist I ever had,” she said,
disentangling herself and walking towards the bathroom. He heard
the sound of the shower being turned on. After a moment, he followed
Prescott lives in a small apartment in
Boulder CO. She is a student at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied
2006 by A.P. Prescott