“It’s gonna feel so good.”
Lily looked at the long silver object. “I’m not sure I believe you.”
“Just close your eyes.”
“I won’t be talked into something I don’t want to do,” Lily said.
“You said you wanted to five minutes ago. You begged.”
“I can change my mind.”
“You can,” Clare said, wielding the scissors so they winked in the early afternoon light. “But you look like a ragamuffin.” She opened and closed them, snip snip. Lily squeezed her eyes shut.
“Come on,” Clare cooed. “It’s what all the modern gals are doing.”
Lily opened her eyes and grinned. “Are all the modern gals doing what I heard you and Katy doing in your room last night?”
Clare cocked an eyebrow, smirking. “Enjoy the show, Nosey Parker?”
Lily giggled. “You made a lot of noise! Both of you!”
What she didn’t say was that she did enjoy the “show.” A farm girl from birth, she knew well about the birds and the bees. Until last night, though, she didn’t know the birds and the birds could get together.
And she’d never admit this to her new roommate, who was as modern as they came, but the sounds… did something to Lily. Made her feel awake, alive… in an intriguing way she’d never felt before. Not even when the neighboring farm boy had taken her virginity last year. That was all grunting and pumping and sweating (all on his part) – decidedly unglamorous. Her roommate and Katy though… another story altogether.
“Are you still there?” Clare snipped the scissors in the air once again, snapping Lily back to the present.
Lily gulped. You wanted to become a new person, she reminded herself. This is just the first step.
She nodded, closing her eyes. “Do it.”
“All right,” Clare said, gathering Lily’s long red tresses at the back of her neck.
Snap went the scissors.
Lily swore she could hear the hair she’d grown for her entire life, her pride and joy, crying for mercy as it hit the floor with a thud. After that, the scissors’ sounds softened to a comforting sound, like the distant rhythm of a train on its tracks, as Clare expertly trimmed. Lily kept her eyes shut, her senses heightened. She could feel her roommate’s breath on her neck.
“Ready?” Clare asked, snapping off Lily’s bedsheet. Lily felt the cool air on her bare shoulders and bit her lip.
When she opened her eyes, Clare was holding a mirror. Lily gasped at her reflection.
“I look older!” she blurted out. And it didn’t stop there. Her cheekbones looked like they could cut paper. Her blue-green eyes were huge. Even her eyelashes looked longer. Coquettish.
Behind her, Clare laughed. “Could give Clara Bow a run for her money.” She kissed Lily on the cheek. “Now,” she said, handing over Lily’s dress, “go get that job.”
“Excuse me!” Lily shouted after the departing woman, waving the book she’d left behind.
But she was too late. The doors of the elevated train squeaked shut and the woman hurried off. Lily watched her press her cloche firmly on her head and clack away on her black-and-white heels. Just like everyone in this city, she had places to go and errands to run. And Lily was left behind, trembling on the way to her first job interview, now clutching a small paperback.
After checking to make sure she wasn’t missing her stop, and without looking at the cover, she opened the book.
And immediately turned a glaring shade of red.
He pushed her up against the barn door, roughly turning her around. She could feel the rough wood under her hands as she waited, wet and quivering in anticipation of what she knew would happen next. “Oh yes,” she whispered as she felt him enter her, his member thick and hard against her inner walls. He began to move in and out, at first gentle, then rough. As he ravaged her, taking what he needed, she gasped over and over, enjoying the exquisite balance between pleasure and pain.
Lily slammed the book shut, struggling to catch her breath as the train passed by Marshall Field’s. She tried to concentrate on the window display, the beaded dresses and beautiful hats she couldn’t afford but longed to possess. Willing the blood to drain from her face, she began to feel it between her legs. She crossed them, bouncing her top foot up and down, but she couldn’t stop that odd sensation. It was similar to the one she’d had last night… when she heard Clare’s bed squeaking, Katy sighing and moaning. Lily felt a desire to do something about this feeling. She just wasn’t sure what.
One more stop. Her hands now sweaty, Lily gingerly opened the book to a different section.
Genevieve took him in her mouth, letting him fill her with his length, relaxing her throat just so. Grunting like an animal, he tugged at the roots of her waist-length hair, long since released from its restrictive style, flowing wild and free. She let out a sigh of pure pleasure, and Michael began to thrust, fast and frantic, until finally he released, and she swallowed every last drop…
Squeezing her legs together, Lily slammed the book shut and looked up.
She’d missed her stop.
“Oh, horsefeathers!” she murmured, rushing out the door, heels clacking on the wooden platform.
She shoved the book into her handbag.
The first question Mr. Harold Williams asked her was, “Can you type?”
The second was, “Were you one of those suffragettes?”
Still distracted by the book (which now seemed to be glowing at her from her handbag – was she going mad?), Lily had to ask him to repeat each question before she responded.
The first answer: “Yes.”
The second: “I was only fifteen, but I would have if I could.”
She waited in trepidation after that second answer. Her hair brushed her cheekbones, light as a feather, her bangs tickling her forehead. She’d have to get used to these new sensations. Lily crossed her legs again and tried to stop the bouncing, which only happened when she was very, very nervous.
It didn’t help that her potential new boss was very, very handsome.
Then Mr. Williams nodded approvingly. “Good. Women pay taxes, they should vote.”
“Yes!” Lily answered a little too loudly, after an awkward pause. This interviewing business wasn’t easy.
This downtown office was a different world. She’d never seen so much glass in her life. Mr. Williams’s office looked over the whole lingerie factory, a very elegant fishbowl. Below them, the whirr of sewing machines was almost musical as hundreds of ladies (and a few gentlemen) pieced together the frilly undergarments for which the company was known.
So many scanties in one place. Would Lily ever stop blushing?
“Excuse me, Miss Johnson?” Mr. Williams was looking at her, expectation filling his warm brown eyes. Lily suddenly thought of the man in the book, pushing into the woman from behind. She wondered if that man’s eyes were as thoughtful, as deep as Mr. Williams’s.
Lily looked down at her lap. “Yes?” Her voice squeaked. Oh, horsefeathers.
“Are you fast?”
Mr. Williams must have noticed her face redden, because his serious expression became an understanding smile. “Forgive me,” he said, showing his even, white teeth. “What I mean is, I need a secretary who’s quick on her feet to run my errands, pick up my lunch and such.”
What would it feel like to crawl under his desk on my hands and knees, take him in my mouth and pleasure him?
This time, however, Lily’s sudden urge didn’t embarrass her as it popped into her mind, but gave her confidence. Maybe she was a modern girl.
Recrossing her legs, Lily said, “Yes sir, I’m fast. I’m new to the city but I grew up on a farm downstate. I’ve fed animals, planted crops, detasseled corn and taken care of my five little brothers and sisters since I was” – she held her hand about two feet above the ground – “yea high.” She smiled.
“I’m a country boy myself, Miss Johnson,” Mr. Williams said. “Minnesota.” There was that smile again, so dynamic. Lily did her best not to swoon. “I think we’ll be a good match.” He rose from his chair, sharp in his gray wool vest and trousers that likely cost more than Lily’s entire family farm. “Can you start Monday?”
She had a job! In a big glass office in the city! “I sure can!”
“Excellent,” he said softly, a gentle timbre to his voice that gave Lily the shivers. But that was nothing compared to when he shook her hand: his firm grasp, the brief contact of skin on skin, the warm gaze in his eyes… Oh my.
Suddenly, Lily couldn’t wait to get back to the train, and her found book.
Back at the apartment, Clare whooped and scooped Lily off her feet, spinning her around. “You’re the bee’s knees, kid!” Her perfume was strong and rosy, her cheek soft and powdery against Lily’s. They didn’t know each other well – Clare was an old friend of Lily’s older sister Rebecca, who was now a farm wife – but Lily welcomed the embrace.
Clare set Lily down. “We’re going out to celebrate.”
“A speakeasy?” Lily asked, her eyes lighting up. She hadn’t been to one of those joints yet, but she’d heard plenty…
Clare laughed. “Don’t think you’re ready.” She considered for a second, then snapped her fingers. “I know where we can go.”
“What’s everyone looking at?” Lily whispered to Clare as they entered the smoky railroad apartment. A record was playing, but no one was dancing – even the table full of hooch was waiting with no takers. Everyone was huddled in a corner of the room, pulling on cigarettes and crowded around… something.
“My doctor gave it to me!” squealed the hostess, Clare’s friend Abigail. Pushing back her jeweled headband with one hand, she hoisted an object in the air.
Lily and Clare scooted closer to get a better look at the contraption. Round on one end, oblong on the other, it looked almost like the blow dryer Lily’d seen in a magazine, if it weren’t for the bristles attached to the long end.
“What in the world’s it for?” cracked a tall man with slick dark hair, sounding a little awed and a little afraid.
Abigail inhaled, looking around at the crowd of twenty or so, her wide dark eyes heavily lined with kohl. She was an actress, and clearly relished her moment. Finally, she squealed, “Hysteria!” and the whole crowd burst into laughter.
Lily laughed along, not quite getting the joke. Sensing her discomfort, Clare reached for her hand and squeezed.
“You ever use it?” Clare asked, hand still in Lily’s.
“Noooooo! Would you?” Abigail’s eyes flashed, a wicked grin on her red-painted lips.
Clare crossed her arms over her button-down shirt – tonight she’d worn trousers and suspenders. Her long frame looked positively stylish, and Lily marveled at her audacity. “Frankly, that contraption gives me the heebie-jeebies,” Clare said.
Maybe it was the table full of hooch, the borrowed beaded dress she was wearing, much too fancy for a house party but somehow just right. Maybe it was her newly-acquired job, knowing she’d be working among scandalous lingerie, for an incredibly handsome man. Maybe it was that odd sensation she’d felt for the first time last night, that she couldn’t stop thinking about now. Something, or everything, emboldened Lily. Made her want to prove she wasn’t a scared country girl anymore.
Lily found herself saying, “I’ll try.”
“Lily,” Clare said softly. When Lily turned to her, Clare whispered, “you don’t have to do this.”
“I know,” Lily whispered back. “I want to.”
Lily turned to Abigail. “So, uh, how does it work?”
Five minutes later, Abigail shut the bedroom door behind her, and Lily was left studying the invention. The one that, as Abigail demonstrated over her dress, Lily was supposed to put in an area she’d previously only touched to wash, and even then briefly, carefully, as if it could break. The same area that felt warm and tingly when she heard Clare and Katy last night, when she read from the book, when she shook hands with her new boss.
Her cheeks grew warm, but she wasn’t embarrassed. She was excited.
She heard laughter behind the closed door. Everyone was listening, to hear what she’d do. To see if she’d get scared and stop, or not start at all.
But Lily had come too far to go back.
She pressed a button and the small machine began noisily vibrating. Lifting her dress with one hand, she decided to use it outside her undergarments first. The bristles at the end scared her, and anyway the whole thing was vibrating, so she held the long end just beyond the bristles to that secret place.
The sensation started slow, light as a feather, just like when her bangs brushed her forehead during her interview with Mr. Williams. Relaxing, even. Lily sighed – this was good for her nerves, which had been steadily mounting all day. She felt a building pressure inside her, growing more and more, and Lily gasped.
“Whatcha doin’ in there?” a male voice drawled from outside and everyone laughed, but Lily barely noticed. She shoved her underthings aside and put the contraption directly on a small, hard spot that was pulsing, throbbing with increasing intensity. Lily had the feeling she was hurtling toward an unknown destination, but what it would be, she wasn’t sure.
Suddenly, her vision went blurry and her mind flooded with a series of images, like photographs but clearer, sharper, in color. She breathed in and out, slow and deep, as the sensation built and the images came to life like a motion picture:
Clare and Katy, mouths locked, bodies clinging, moans loud and hungry. I want.
The man in the stable, mounting the woman with fierce intensity, pushing in and out until they both screamed in ecstasy. I want.
Mr. Williams, dark and smoldering, his teeth white against his olive skin. I want.
And – this was a surprise – the tall boy she’d just met with the slick dark hair, his gray eyes twinkling, as if daring her.
I want it all.
Oh. Oh. Oh. OH!
The waves of sensation ran from between her legs up through her entire body, as Lily moved her hips against the device, swiveling them in a way she never had before. Arching her head back, she realized she was making sounds, her hungry, prolonged cries bouncing off the walls of Abigail’s bedroom, with all the movie posters and pictures of film stars, but she didn’t care, she didn’t care about anything except how good it felt, how good she felt, how beautiful it was to want, her and him and this and everything.
Soon the waves would subside and Lily would be left buzzing, blood coursing through her veins. With her cheeks painted an entirely new shade of pink, she’d open the door to thunderous applause, realize she’d left the contraption vibrating on Abigail’s bed.
But for now, Lily rode the toy over and over and over, pressing the vibrations to her secret place, her cries breathy and sweet, never wanting this to end.