How many layers of mascara was she going to apply? I watched her tip forward over the sink, staring into the mirror slightly cross-eyed. She swept her eyelashes with the brush, catching the individual strands at the base, then dragged them up and to the side. Suddenly the lashes turned a rich brown, dense and thick.
She backed up from the mirror and batted her eyes a few times smiling back at herself.
“Mom?” I asked, chin propped up in my hands.
“How many layers are you going to put on?”
“Oh, I think that’s the last of it dear.” She set the mascara down and picked up a cylinder of rouge and a blush brush. Forcing a medium smile into the mirror she blotted her cheeks with the powder.
“Are you done yet?”
She looked down and traded the blush for a comb and started raking it gently through her hair. “Almost dear.”
I sat up cross-legged against the headboard, the question weighing heavily on my mind. She wouldn’t mind. She never minded in fact, even when I asked all the awkward questions, or wanted all the juicy details.
“Mom, what’s it like? The first time?”
She stopped unexpectedly and put the comb down on the sink edge, adjusted her slip strap, then turned toward me.
“The first time for what my sweet?” She wrapped her hair up into a loose bun and fastened it with a few bobby pins.
“Oh you know.”
I paused, then panicked a little, curling my knees into my chest. Maybe she didn’t know what I meant. Didn’t want to breach the subject with her 14 year-old daughter who was smitten with a certain someone on the premises.
“The first time Mom.” I searched her face. “Sex?”
A little jolt shot through her face and she began to smile.
She plopped down at the foot of the bed and squeezed my foot.
“Oh honey. Is there someone special in your life?” Her face was colorful with the rouge and mascara.
“Um, no.” I lied. “Not at all.”
She pulled my foot out from under my bent knee and started massaging it.
“You’re sure? It’s okay to tell me.”
“I know Mom. But. Well. No, there’s really no one in particular.”
She could see right through me. I just knew it.
“You know you can trust me darling.”
I trusted her completely. Told her everything, every time, knowing that little shocked her, even the notion of this daughter losing her virginity to perhaps the hottest guy I’d ever known.
“I, I just wanted to know what to expect. Like, does it hurt?” I searched her face again. She kept rubbing my foot and smiling.
“Well, at first yes. A bit. But it’s a good pain.”
“Yes. It’s a pain you grow to enjoy rather quickly.”
She pulled a stray strand of hair off my shoulder and let it float to the floor.
“Enjoy pain?” How could someone enjoy pain, and quickly?
“Well, it sort of fades into pleasure. And then becomes something you desire. Someone begins to knows you in a way no one else ever has.” she said this last part with a shamelessly seductive look on her face and squeezed my ankle tightly.
I recoiled my leg back quick. “Ah, Mom that tickles.”
“Ha, ha!” she laughed and went back to the sink to survey her hair in the mirror.
“Now, if there’s someone you’re interested in, don’t be too eager. Don’t let him think you’re interested.”
“You mean like play hard-to-get?”
“I mean exactly that. Make him think you’re, well, just not thinking much about him.”
She pulled out a long, velvet burgundy dress, then held it up to her body and did a little waltz in front of the mirror.
“Let him work a bit. Chase you some. Observe you.”
“Should I be mean to him?”
“No, no. Not mean. Just a little…” she searched for the words visibly “out of reach.”
I scratched my head and stretched my legs out. This didn’t entirely make sense. Don’t be interested. Make him work for it. Don’t be mean. OK, I trusted her.
“Oh, and don’t show too much skin. Take this dress for example.”
She stepped delicately into the yoke, pulled it up to her torso and scooped her arms into the long, velutinous sleeves.
“My arms are completely covered,” she said, elongating both upper extremities in a T formation, “but my wrists are slightly exposed.”
She turned one arm over exposing her wrist under the lamplight. I leaned in to focus. It was soft and pale, the bluish-green veins tracing delicately under her skin.
“See? It’s just a little skin. But with the rest of my body covered, that hint of flesh is a feast for the male imagination.”
She smoothed the velvet panels over her thighs, picked up the bottle of Shalimar and dabbed a few drops on each wrist, and then on the nape of her neck.
“I don’t get it.” I said. “How’s a little flicker of my wrist going to turn a guy on?”
Her smile flattened slightly. “Come over and help me button the back.”
I went and stood behind her figure reflecting in the long vanity mirror.
“Take these.” she said, motioning to the hook and eye closure at the back of the dress.
Her skin was soft and fair. The effluence of Shalimar rolled over me and I closed my eyes for a moment, then clumsily fussed with the closure.
“Sorry, it’s just so small.” I concentrated, my upper lip warming a bit.
She was very calm and still.
“That’s OK honey. Take your time.”
I bent open the hook slightly and aimed it into the eye.
She remained motionless, save the shallow rise and fall of her chest as she breathed and the delicate pulsation of her carotids.
I continued to fumble a bit, then clasped the narrow slot and backed away as she turned around. She was radiant.
“You see?” she said calmly.
“My neck. Did you notice my neck as you closed the dress?”
“Yes. It’s soft and smells really nice, and I could see your blood pulsing in your neck.”
“Ah ha!” she snapped her fingers in approval. “My neck is not my tits or ass. It’s my neck and it’s just barely showing.”
I think I understood a little.
“It’s a little window into the woman I am. Not showing too much, but certainly just enough.” She smoothed her bun back away from her face, slipped into her shoes and headed toward the door.
“Wait Mom. Is that it? Play hard to get?”
She cupped my face in her hands and grinned. “Darling, that’s it for now. Next lesson I’ll teach you the importance of not wearing underwear.”
And with that she walked steadily out the door without looking back.
Not wearing any underwear?