One hot summer afternoon, with the air soft and heavy on her skin, while crickets rattled thickly in the trees outside, Anna sat on the washing machine as it finished its spin cycle and felt the vibrations shake their way up through her body.
She was close. She was very close, when Danny came home and caught her.
She didn’t hear the door. She didn’t hear him call out. The washing machine was spinning and rumbling, and a towel was rattling around inside it, and she hadn’t really thought to listen carefully because she didn’t expect him home for hours.
Her eyes were closed. Her breath was shallow. Her hands were gripping the sides of the washing machine to hold herself in place. She was close, achingly close, was clenched up tight, was holding her breath, holding back, trying to make it last. She was singing up towards an orgasm when Danny said, “Anna,” from the doorway right in front of her.
“There you are,” he said, then, “Shit, what are you…”
Anna jumped. She jumped so hard she bit her lip and skidded across the washing machine’s lid and had to grab the wall to balance. So hard her whole body felt tingly for a second afterwards, as if her heart had almost stopped.
She sat there and looked at Danny.
After a minute, because she was still being wobbled around, she reached back and pushed the power button and suddenly the room was quiet.
She didn’t know what to say. She was flushed. She was breathless. She was alone in the laundry in the middle of the day, and one hand were still clenched onto the washing machine’s lid.
“I was just seeing if it worked,” she said at last. “The washing machine thing.”
He looked at her for a minute and she couldn’t decide what that look meant. If he was upset or amused or something completely different.
“Right,” he said, and held up his wallet. “I just came back for this.”
Anna was still breathing hard, and her skin was damp, not just from the warm air. “I didn’t hear you come in,” she said.
“I didn’t expect you.”
“I should get going,” he said. “I have a thing. I just needed this.”
He kissed her, and left.
Anna sat where she was for a moment, waited until she thought she heard the car drive away outside. She wondered if she should turn the washing machine back on.
She decided not.
She wasn’t sure what to make of Danny’s reaction. He seemed calm, but he also hadn’t teased her. If she’d just caught him she’d be teasing him mercilessly right now, no matter what she was supposed to be doing somewhere else.
But she wouldn’t have cared, and perhaps he might.
She was a little worried. She wanted to ring him and ask if they were all right. She didn’t, because he was going somewhere for work, and it wasn’t fair to distract him right then. She wanted to know if he was upset, but not enough to make him upset just to find out.
Instead she did nothing.
An hour later she went to meet Laura to run. They ran together every second day, and took it seriously, and made bitchy comments about the other suburban housewives with their prams and lycra, even though they weren’t very different themselves.
“Danny caught me sitting on the washing machine this morning,” Anna said, after ten minutes.
“Why the fuck were you sitting on a washing machine?”
Anna looked at her, surprised. “Um, you know.”
“Well, yeah” Anna said. “But I didn’t hear him. And I didn’t expect him back so soon.”
Laura ran for a while. “So I kind of have to ask,” she said. “Is this something you do often?”
“Like you never have,” Anna said.
“Always found there were easier ways,” Laura said, a little primly. Very primly, Anna thought. Like she got herself off three times a day and didn’t want admit it, and was going to sneer at washing machines to cover that up.
“It’s pretty easy.”
“And yet, still….”
“I only did the first time to see if it worked,” Anna said.
“Course you did. And did it?”
“And that first time, that wasn’t today, right?”
“Not really, no.”
“So it did?”
Laura grinned. “Like I said. You’re a dick. What did Danny do?”
“I don’t think he cared.”
“I don’t think so. It could have been worse.”
“A yoga instructor?”
“So does he too? Look after himself too?”
Anna ran for a while, not sure she wanted to tell Laura that.
“It makes it okay if he does,” Laura said. “Doesn’t it?”
“I suppose. I never asked, though.”
“You don’t need to ask. Can’t you just, I don’t know. Tell?”
“I assume. I haven’t tried to catch him.”
They passed a group of runners coming the other way, and went quiet for a moment.
“You two should just fuck more,” Laura said. “I mean, really.”
“Yeah,” Anna said.
“Get him to go down on you.”
“We do,” Anna said. “He does. That isn’t why…”
Laura was looking surprised.
“I just get…” Anna stopped.
“I don’t want to talk any more.”
“I’m not going to.”
“I’ll tell everyone you sit on washing machines.”
“Yeah right. What everyone. You’ll tell Cathy, that’s all.”
“I don’t care,” Anna said. “No-one else will believe you. And I’m not talking about this any more.”
“Just answer. You get what?”
Anna shook her head.
Laura grinned. “Please? I won’t tell anyone. You get what?”
“Fucking horny, all right? More than he does.”
Laura looked over for a moment, like she was actually sorry.
“Don’t,” Anna said. “Stop looking at me like that.”
“You should make sure he’s okay with it,” Laura said, after a while. “He might not be.”
“Run,” Laura said, and sped up, and then Anna only had enough breath to run, which was probably the idea.
Anna was lying on the sofa reading when Danny came home. He went past and said, “Hi,” and went upstairs to change.
She put the magazine down. “What?” she said. “No kiss?”
He didn’t answer, so she thought he hadn’t heard, but he kissed her when he came back down.
He got a beer, and sat down and turned on the TV. She reached over to touch his arm, but he moved it away.
“Are you pissed off or something?” she said.
“No,” he said.
“You sound like you are.”
“Why would I be pissed off?”
She sat there for a moment. “I don’t know.”
He stared at the TV and didn’t answer. He’d probably been brooding about it all day.
“I’m really asking,” she said. “Why? I don’t get it.”
“How would you feel if you’d caught me?”
Anna thought for a moment. “I wouldn’t care.”
“How would you feel,” he said. “If you’d caught me, and we hadn’t had sex for a month and a half because I was always too tired.”
“I’m tired at night,” she said.
“But not in the day.”
“Well, no, not in the day.”
“So why don’t we at night? When I’m actually home? Why not after work?”
“I don’t know,” Anna said.
She’d never really been horny at night. When she went to bed she was tired and wanted to sleep. She preferred sex the morning, when she was awake and had energy, but they didn’t seem to have time for that any more. Danny was always dashing around looking for things first thing in the morning, was always running late.
“Why not now?” she said. “That’s what you mean, isn’t it.”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you want to now?” she said. “Right now?”
He shrugged, and stared at the TV.
“Talk to me,” she said. “Please.”
“It’s been a month and a half. And probably two before that.”
“Yeah,” Anna said. “I know. But we’ve been together for ages. It happens.”
“I know,” he said, and looked annoyed again.
“You could have asked.”
“I do, I….” He looked over at her, then back to the TV.
“What, when you grope me and kiss my neck and shit?” Anna said.
“That’s not asking. That’s like, if I want to. It’s half-hearted. Only if I’m up for it too.”
He looked at her. “Yeah, I suppose.”
“So, I mean, I won’t be if I’m tired.”
“So, what? I should say, hey Anna, I know you don’t want to but how about you put out for me?”
Anna sat there for a moment, then said, “Well, yeah.”
“And you can just go to sleep, and I’ll try not to wake you?”
“It sounds worse when you say it.”
“Shit,” he said, and changed the channel they were watching.
“Nothing. That’s fine. We’ll do that from now on.”
“I don’t understand why you’re so upset.”
“So tell me.”
“That’s part of why.”
She thought. “That’s stupid.”
“Yeah,” he said. “Of course it is. Fuck.”
“I don’t get why you’re upset.”
She sat there a while longer, but Danny seemed to have stopped talking, was staring grimly at the TV. She got up and went to make dinner.
After they’d eaten, Danny went back into the lounge and the TV. Anna loaded everything into the dishwasher and wiped the bench and then went and stood in the lounge doorway.
“Hey, um,” she said. “Want to fuck me?”
Danny looked at her.
“It’s still early,” she said. “I just thought…”
“Aren’t you done for the day?”
“Ah,” she said. “Didn’t finish. Got interrupted.”
“I didn’t keep going after you left.”
He looked at her.
“Hey,” she said. “I’m out there. I’m asking. Want to?”
“I’m a bit tired.”
“Oh,” she said, and was a little hurt. “Really?”
“Okay,” she said. “Up to you.”
“Sorry,” he said.
She went upstairs and read in bed. When he came up, she said, “You didn’t tell anyone, did you?”
He hesitated a moment before he said, “No.”
Anna she decided she didn’t believe him, and wasn’t sure how she ought to feel about that.
Anna went to Laura’s the next day, even though it wasn’t a running day. Laura lived four blocks away and was one of Anna’s few friends nearby. She walked over and sat on Laura’s front steps and sipped the awful instant coffee that was all Laura ever had.
“It got worse,” Anna said. “I tried to get some last night and he turned me down.”
Laura looked at her. “Of course he did.”
“I’m fucking horny,” Anna said. “I didn’t finish.”
“How often do you guys?” Anna said.
“Ah,” Laura said. “Fuck off.”
“I need to know. I need a comparison.”
“Not telling you.”
“It’s not the same.”
“It kind of is.”
“Because you’re both girls?”
“Okay. So what do you think is normal. For me?”
“I don’t know.”
“A couple of times a week?”
Anna sat there for a while. “Oh shit.”
Laura looked at Anna for a moment, then patted Anna’s arm.
“Want sex?” Anna said.
“Seriously? I mean it.”
“Cathy might not like that.”
“Go home and fuck your man.”
“I tried,” Anna said sadly. “I really did.”
“Yeah, but you also sat on a big vibrating machine half the size of a car. That might be a bit of a threat, don’t you think?”
“Maybe,” Anna said.
They sat in the sun for a while.
“Hey,” Anna said. “Is it easier? With a girl? Sorting out all this shit?”
“It’s not easier?”
Anna was almost disappointed.
Laura’s partner Cathy came home and kissed Laura, said hi to Anna, and went off into the back of the house.
“She doesn’t like me,” Anna said.
“She doesn’t not like you.”
“She doesn’t like me.”
“She doesn’t know what to say to you. She doesn’t have anything in common with you. She hardly has anything in common with me.”
“We’re such a pair of housewives,” Anna said after a while.
“Who did you tell?” Anna asked Danny later that night. Because she hadn’t believed him the first time she asked, and the wondering had been bothering her a little.
“About me. What I was doing. Who did you tell?”
He hesitated again. “I didn’t tell anyone.”
“I don’t believe you,” Anna said.
Because he’d hesitated both times. Because he always talked to someone, always told a friend what was going on when something was bothering him.
Danny looked at her, then walked away.
“Hey,” she said, but he was gone.
So perhaps he had told someone. That worried her a little. She wasn’t sure she wanted his friends knowing she liked to get off on household appliances.
It turned her on, too, for some reason. Maybe she just wasn’t getting laid enough, but part of that thought turned her on. That someone might think about her, doing that, while they had their own quiet time alone.
Several times, Anna tried to organize sex, but Danny didn’t seem interested. Each time he said he was tried.
In the end, after a week, she said, “Fine, I give up. Tell me when you want some.”
She thought that might prod him into starting something, but it didn’t seem to. She waited a day, horny, but he didn’t try and fuck her. She waited another, and he came home late, and after they ate he just got into bed and rolled over to sleep. She was horny. She was hornier, because she was being intentionally deprived. She didn’t do anything about it, though. She went to the supermarket, and then cleaned the bathroom, and tried to bide her time until Danny was ready.
After four days she decided he wasn’t going to fuck her ever again. At least not for weeks. He was punishing her, for whatever reason, so she may as well just do it herself.
She stayed away from the washing machine though. She didn’t quite trust it not to being her bad luck.
That afternoon, after her run, after a shower, she sat on the edge of the bed in a towel, deciding. She needed an orgasm, but she wasn’t sure she ought to.
She needed to come, and she didn’t know why she was waiting.
She leaned over and opened the bottom drawer where she kept her vibrators. She had to check a couple to find one that worked. It had been a while, the batteries were flat, or been stolen for the bedroom TV’s remote.
She lay back and told herself it wasn’t that bad, that everyone did, and started to enjoy it.
She started to enjoy it. She started to get close, and know this was what she’d needed all week.
Then Danny said, “Anna, for fuck’s sake.”
She jumped. She jumped so hard the vibrator flew across the room, towards him.
“Anna,” he said. “What the fuck are you doing?”
She looked at the vibrator on the floor in front of him. It was still buzzing away to itself, turning in a slow circle on the wooden floorboards, juddering.
It was perfectly obvious what she was doing, and she didn’t know why he’d asked.
“I didn’t hear you come in,” she said.
“Yes,” he said. “Again.”
“I didn’t expect you.”
He looked at the vibrator. He bent down and picked it up and, after a minute’s fumbling around, turned the end and switched it off. He held it out to her.
She took it. It was still a little damp, on the base. From the sweat on her hand. She didn’t know what else to do, so she just sat there.
“Why’re you home so early?” she said, after a while.
“I’m not. It’s five.”
“Oh,” she said. “I must have run longer than I thought.”
Then she realized that sounded quite bad. Like she was wanking all the time.
He seemed to be thinking that too. “Is this normal?” he said. “Is this what you normally do all day?”
She looked at him for a moment, then shrugged.
He threw his jacket onto a chair, was looking at her legs.
“Want to?” she said, and waggled the dildo near her face.
It was supposed to be sexy, but he said, “For fuck’s sake,” and walked out the room.
She sat on the bed and looked at the empty door, hurt. Shocked, and confused, and hurt. She didn’t understand. He always liked it when she played with herself while they had sex, but apparently not any more. He was completely disinterested, not the slightest bit turned on. Even though she’d been naked and horny and obviously would have if he’d just joined in with her.
Instead of wanting to fuck her, he’d just seemed annoyed.
After a minute she put on some clothes and followed him downstairs.
“You have a problem,” he said.
“I really don’t think I do.”
He looked at her for a minute then went out to the garage and only came inside to go to bed. That was a bad sign. He wasn’t nearly blokey enough to actually have something to do out in the garage, so was probably just been sitting in his car, listening to music, and that meant he was angry or upset enough he needed time alone.
Anna didn’t know what to do.
The next day, while he was getting dressed for work, Danny said, “It’s Laura isn’t it? You’ve been hanging around with her too much.”
“She can’t be married.”
“She’s been with her girlfriend for years.”
“You know what I mean. She likes women.”
“Yeah she does,” Anna said. “So fucking what?”
“Nothing so what. Just is that why this is happening?”
“You. What you’re doing all of a sudden.”
“I really don’t get how,” Anna said.
“I’m just asking.”
Anna thought about what to say. She didn’t want to be angry, not after last night, but she was.
“Don’t be a fucking prick,” she said. “I don’t have any other friends since you made me move to this shithole city.”
Danny looked at her for a while.
“That’s probably why,” Anna said. “If you want a fucking why, it’s probably that. I’ve got nothing else to do but wank.”
Danny came over to the bed and kissed her. “Sorry,” he said. “For that. For needing you to move.”
“I know it’s hard.”
“No,” Anna said. “I’m happy we moved. I shouldn’t have said that.”
Danny looked at the alarm clock, and said, “I need to go.”
“Are we okay?”
He nodded, concentrating on the mirror, doing his tie up.
“Are we?” Anna said. “Or are we in trouble?”
He came back to the bed, his tie still undone, and kissed her. “No. We’re fine. We’ll sort it out.”
“I’m sure. I didn’t mean that how it sounded. I’m just worried about some shit at work.”
“Oh,” Anna said, feeling guilty. “Bad shit?”
“Everyday shit. But just what I’m thinking about right now.”
“Sorry,” Anna said. It bothered her to make trouble when Danny had to go off and deal with the world, and she just stayed at home and did nothing.
“No,” he said. “It’s just shit. I have to go. Can we talk about this later?”
“We don’t need to talk.”
Anna nodded. “It’s all fine.”
He kissed her again. “Thank you,” he said from the bedroom door, and “Bye,” halfway down the stairs.
After that everything seemed to be fine. Anna tried to talk that evening, but Danny said not to worry, that it was fine, he’d overreacted.
He still kept going to sleep at night though, and not trying to fuck her.
A week later Anna saw Danny’s friend Luke in the supermarket. Luke said hello, then looked at her, a little strangely.
“What?” she said.
“Nothing,” he said, and acted all innocent. Acted too innocent, like he was hiding something.
That made her wonder.
Anna understood men talked too. She understood that sometimes you asked him to tie you up, or fuck you in the ass, and then all his friends were going to be looking at you funny for a few weeks. It was just how it was, and she talked too, so she didn’t really mind.
Except she did mind about this. She wasn’t sure why.
That night Anna said, “I saw Luke. At the shops.”
Danny nodded. “Okay. How was that?”
“Who did you really tell?” Anna said. “About me.”
“I didn’t tell anyone.”
“Did you tell Luke?”
Danny hesitated, then said, “Yeah.”
Anna blushed. She knew she was blushing all over. “I wish you hadn’t,” she said.
“Sorry,” Danny said.
Anna shook her head. “It’s fine.”
“I shouldn’t have.”
Danny kissed her. Anna stood there, embarrassed. She was still blushing. She was wet, too, and she didn’t quite understand why.
Anna saw Luke again, a week later. He lived a few blocks away, and worked nights, so it wasn’t surprising she kept running into him. He looked at her again, the same way.
They were in the baking aisle, and there were other people around.
“Meet me outside,” she said. “I fucking mean it.”
She sat on a bench and waited, her trolley beside her. Luke came out with a couple of bags. He seemed like someone who walked to the shops for something to do.
“What did Danny say?” she said.
“Don’t like,” Anna said. “He told me he did.”
Luke looked at her.
“So what did he say? Tell me.”
“It’s not just that. There’s a bit more.”
“So explain it to me.”
Luke talked for a while about Danny, how he was busy at work, and distracted, and worried he wasn’t giving Anna enough attention and also worried he couldn’t, because he was too worn out. He talked about how Danny thought Anna wanking was almost like cheating, and Danny never had, and it didn’t seem fair that Anna was.
Luke seemed to be being careful not to be specific. He never said sex, or wank, or that Anna had been humping a washing machine. He talked around the words they both might find embarrassing.
Anna listened, and wasn’t sure this was what she’d actually meant him tell her. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to know this, to fix things with Danny, or if she wanted to know that Luke was jerking off twice a day thinking about her.
She might have been looking bored. She might have been seeming distracted.
Luke suddenly said, “Can I watch?”
Anna looked at him and wondered what to say. “Not a chance,” she said.
“Just once,” he said. “Please.”
She looked at him, and realized he was serious, and was a bit surprised by that.
“I’ve been thinking about you since he told me,” Luke said. “Doing that.”
Anna didn’t know what to think. Knowing that was alarming, and a little creepy. And sexy too.
“Every day,” Luke said.
“Because it’s you.”
“I know you.”
She thought about that and almost understood. “I’m not going to fuck you,” she said, quietly. “I love Danny.”
“I’m not going to do a thing with you,” Anna said. “Nothing like that. You just watch.”
“So why do you want to?”
“I like to watch.”
Anna nodded, and didn’t really understand, but didn’t care that much either.
“Just once,” Luke said. “Please?”
“Once,” she said. “Except it’s not really, is it? Once until we both want to again, and then again. I know how that goes.”
“Once,” he said. “I swear.”
“Once,” she said. “Just once, and we never talk about it again.”
“Thank you,” he said. Not yes, or great, or anything else. Just thank you, torn out of him like some need was being met.
“Follow me home,” she said.
She thought about that, then nodded. “Yeah,” she said. “Why not?”
She went and loaded her shopping into the car and wondered what she was doing.
Luke knocked. Anna went and let him in.
“Don’t talk,” Anna said, and walked off towards the laundry.
Luke didn’t. He closed the door.
“Lock it,” Anna called. “Deadlock it.”
She heard a click. She went and found a towel and put it in the washing machine. Then sat on it, and waited.
Luke came and stood in the doorway.
Anna reached back, and pushed the power switch on. Pushed the button that skipped straight to the spin cycle. She closed her eyes, and breathed in, and felt the washing machine start up.
This was strange. It was cheating, but it wasn’t, and that idea turned her on.
Luke was going to watch. He wasn’t going to touch her, and wasn’t even seeing anything of her he shouldn’t. She was fully dressed, in jeans and a top. She even had shoes on. He could see far less than he had before, since he’d seen her in a pool several times.
All the same it was different.
She felt the machine start to spin, felt it’s rumbling move up through her body.
She opened her eyes. Luke had moved closer, was watching carefully.
“Come over here,” she said. “Come closer.”
He did, until he was right in front of her, almost touching her knees. After a minute he took her hands, carefully, held them gently, and that was nice. It was intimate, almost beautiful, given what they were doing.
It was strange being watched. Sexy, but strange. She was very aware of him, and couldn’t relax.
“Don’t touch me,” she said. “Don’t touch me any more than this. Don’t do anything stupid.”
Anna closed her eyes again and made herself relax. She felt the washing machine’s vibrations, felt her insides squirm and shake and shiver.
She opened her eyes. Luke was staring like this was something wonderful she was doing for him.
She wanted to do something wonderful for someone. She wanted a connection, contact with another person. This was good. This was sharing sex with someone, no matter how odd the sex was, and that sharing meant something.
She closed her eyes again and started to breathe fast. The washing machine’s vibrations were turning her on. Luke was turning her on. She held Luke’s hand, and felt the deep rumbles of the washing machine inside her, and got closer and closer.
“I’m almost there,” she whispered.
Luke didn’t answer. She might not have spoken loudly enough for him to hear.
“I’m about to,” she said, louder, and Luke said, “Yes.”
She came. She came, and gasped in air, and felt her insides shake in time to the washing machine. She opened her eyes at the end, and looked at Luke as the last little ripple went through her. He was staring at her like she was some miraculous and wondrous thing.
Her breathing slowed. She reached back and turned the washing machine off and wondered what she’d just done.
“Shit,” she said.
“That was wonderful,” Luke said.
“That was wrong,” she said, suddenly worried.
“I shouldn’t have done that.”
“It’s fine,” Luke said. “I won’t say a thing.”
She thought. Looked at Luke, and thought. She was still breathing hard. She could still feeling herself wet and tingly inside.
“Never again,” she said. “Just once, remember?”
“Promise you won’t tell,” she said.
“I won’t.” he said, “I promise.” Then “Thank you.”
“Yeah,” she said, unsure if she should be feeling this guilty. She’d just done something terrible to Danny, had betrayed him, and she wasn’t even sure why.
She sat, and thought, and realized that suddenly she didn’t feel so empty and lonely after all. It wasn’t the sex, she thought. This wasn’t sex at all, since Luke had barely touched her. It wasn’t the sex, it was having an orgasm with a human connection, that was what she’d needed.
She might actually be happy with this, she thought. Happy with once ever, just to have tried it. Tried being watched, and cheating, both.
“You should go,” she said.
Luke nodded, and squeezed her hands, and said, “Thank you,” again, very intensely. Then he let go and went out the door.
Anna sat there and looked out the window and wondered what she’d just done, and how something terrible could feel so perfect.