Play Me

Play me like a guitar—
Let your fingers pluck and caress;
Strum my strings until
you find the right chords
to echo my parting lips;
Let your tongue curl as you
feel the rhythm loosen your limbs;
Make love to me in acoustic riffs.
I’ll tell you when to stop—
Our song isn’t over yet

A Love Affair with Jazz

Jessica didn’t know much about Eartha Kitt—only that she played Catwoman in the Batman television series and had an affair with Eddie Murphy in Boomerang—but she would’ve done anything to get out of her dismantled apartment. Her grandmother’s shattered china on the kitchen floor. The hole in the wall next to the photo of her mother. The front door, almost completely off its hinges after Whitmore slammed it behind him and kicked it with all his strength before finally leaving.

When Bruce called in the aftermath, Jessica said yes before he could ask the question, and now, as she sat at the table in the dimly lit restaurant, listening to the jazz musicians’ tribute to the late singer, she couldn’t help but feel intoxicated. Transcending the problems of her current relationship, she snapped her fingers, rolled her neck, and let out a deep moan.

“I knew you would like it,” Bruce whispered in her ear. He was suddenly standing behind her, massaging her shoulders. She hadn’t noticed him leave his seat across from her.

“You’re trying to seduce me,” Jessica said. “You know I have a man.”

“A man?” There was a hint of sarcasm in his voice. Jessica tried to laugh, but her weak chuckle pained her side. She knew this blissful moment couldn’t last. Even as she yearned for Bruce to wrap his arms around her and move her body with the soothing notes of the trombone, saxophone, and trumpet in harmony, every other man in the restaurant resembled Whitmore. She felt trapped, the walls closing in, the airways to her lungs blocked.

As if reading her mind, Bruce placed a hand on Jessica’s cheek. He wiped away invisible tears with his thumb. He nuzzled her neck and inhaled her perfume. “Lilacs,” he said smiling.

Jessica pursed her lips. “Dance with me.”

Bruce took her hand and together they glided to the dance floor just below the stage. The music had stopped, replaced with a rhythmic beat on a djembe drum. Jessica lifted the hem of her skirt, bounced and rocked her hips as the woman on stage sang into the microphone deep from the back of her throat.

Come oooonnnn-a my house . . .

Jessica danced and spun and let Bruce take her by the hips and pull her into him, his lips grazing behind her ear. She forgot about Whitmore. His unreasonable demands for affection. The tantrum he threw after she’d declined his third proposal. She threw her head back, wrapped her arms around the back of Bruce’s neck, pulling him closer to her. They danced for what seemed like hours.

The final beat on the drum sounded, and the piano, bass, and horns returned.

Oooooh, John, pleeease don’t kiss me. Ooooh, John, pleeeease . . .

Jessica rubbed her cheek against the coarse stubble on Bruce’s chin.

Oooooh, Bruce,” she echoed. “Pleeease . . .

And he kissed her.

—Nortina

Originally published February 12, 2015

K is for Kitt

Originally posted April 13, 2015 for the A to Z Challenge

Bruce arrived a few minutes early. The sound of his knocking rattled against Jessica’s brain. Paranoid that Whitmore might have returned, she drew her knees to her chin and curled into a ball on the couch next to the door, waiting for him to burst in. By the time she mustered enough courage to unlock the door and pull it open, the clock had already struck nine.

“I thought you might’ve changed your mind,” Bruce said. He was wearing a blue cardigan with a dark gray button-up underneath. He ran his fingers through his hair, making it swoop over his face the way it had on their lunch date. He tugged on the bottom of his jacket and coughed into his fist. “I noticed the wood in your door was split down the middle. Almost like someone tried to beat it down. You might wanna—”

He paused when Jessica stepped outside. Her nose was red and her eyes swollen from crying. She still wore her yoga pants and t-shirt from the gym, the collar of her shirt soaked from where she wiped her tears.

“What happened? Was it him?” Bruce asked as if reading her mind. He placed both hands on her checks and brushed away the tears with his thumbs. He pulled her into a hug, resting his chin on top of her head.

“He’s more delusional than I thought,” she cried into his shoulder.

“I’ll take you to a place where you can forget about him,” Bruce said.

eartha

Jessica didn’t know much about Eartha Kitt—only that she had played Catwoman in the Batman television series and had an affair with Eddie Murphy’s character in the film, Boomerang—but as she sat at the table in the dimly lit restaurant, listening to the jazz musicians’ tribute to the late singer, she couldn’t help but feel intoxicated. Transcending the problems of her current relationship, she snapped her fingers, rolled her neck, and let out a deep moan.

“She just makes you want to forget everything around you,” Bruce whispered in her ear. He was suddenly standing behind her, massaging her shoulders.

“Just to live in the moment,” Jessica said. She had forgotten how underdressed she was. All she wanted was for Bruce to wrap his arms around her and move her body with the soothing notes of the trombone, saxophone, and trumpet in harmony.

Bruce leaned in, nuzzled her neck, and inhaled her perfume. “Lilacs, and a hint of must,” he said smiling.

“Shut up and dance with me.”

Bruce took her hand and together they glided to the dance floor just below the stage. The music had stopped, replaced with a rhythmic beat on a djembe drum. Jessica placed her hands on her hips. She bounced and rocked as the woman on stage sang into the microphone deep from the back of her throat.

Come oooonnnn-a my house . . .

Jessica danced and spun and let Bruce take her by the hips and pull her into him, his lips grazing behind her ear. She threw her head back, wrapped her arms around the back of Bruce’s neck, pulling him closer to her.

The final beat on the drum sounded, and the piano, bass, and horns returned.

Oooooh, John, pleeease don’t kiss me. Ooooh, John, pleeeease . . .

Jessica rubbed her cheek against the coarse stubble on Bruce’s chin.

Oooooh, Bruce,” she echoed. “Pleeease . . .

And he kissed her.

—Nortina