Time became some plastic thing, some unclear concept. Days turned in on themselves, inverted, AM and PM, no telling if the sun was going up or down.
Julia stopped opening the curtains at some point. She was on the third floor, but she still got self-conscious about being naked where someone could see. More and more, she woke up nude and didn’t bother with clothes, so the curtains stayed drawn, and the world got a little farther away.
There was television and books, but more than anything else, she made up rituals to keep her busy. The coffee, grinding and measuring, and pouring. It got more and more exact, with a little scale that came in the mail. Tiny metal burrs that extracted flavors more exactly.
She made the bed, with hospital corners. She cleaned the bathroom fastidiously, even though sometimes she didn’t shower for days. The smell of her body became fascinating to her—the changes, hormonal and hygienic. Food and sweat, and masturbation changed her scent, and she became more attuned to that.
She prayed sometimes, but she didn’t really think of it as a phone call to god. It was for her. It was a meditation. Maybe there was a god, but she didn’t really trust him if he were up there, after all the things his world did to her.
Her sister had told her it was a woman, it was a goddess, but Julia didn’t believe the world would be the way it was if a woman created it.
Still, she liked the silver cross she had gotten as a girl and the bible verses she had memorized during those few years when she had a passion for bible camp and a handsome minister.
And she liked the rosary. She hadn’t when she was young. It hadn’t been part of her parents’ tradition. She had read how the name came from roses, rosarium, a Crown of Roses. She had also read that they were sometimes made of roses. Rose petals made into a pulp and rolled into beads, and then dried and polished. That’s what her beads were made of. There was a surprising lightness to them that she liked.
She wasn’t sure how it started, but sometimes she took a long bath, with salts and oils and scents that filled her little black and white bathroom with a cloud of sweet, dense fog. She’d lotion her body after, which always felt strange and bordered on luxury and discomfort. Sometimes she did her eye makeup the way she liked. Nothing else, just her eyes. Just so she could see her old self looking back in the mirror, thick black outlining slightly reddened eyes—sharp wings at the corners.
Then, in her bed, with two candles on her nightstand, thick and dripping wax down their sides, she would hold the rosary in one hand and feel her lotion slick body with the other. Her body smelled like the perfumed bath and like the sea. The candles flickered, and shadows on the walls danced. Her body was hot from the bath and activated, receptive, elevated.
And she would count off those beads, one by one, with her fingers on her own little bead, that place between her legs that got thicker and harder. That place she had learned over decades to work and please, though it took time and patience. It was a patience she was practiced with.
The familiar climbing, reaching, eyes half-closed, half in a dream, a fantasy where there were no faces, only hands, and bodies, only demanding cocks and muscles and breasts and cunts.
Every time she rode the swell of her desire, she would count off a little bead. When she got to the bigger beads, she would climb higher, she would come closer, she would be Icarus to the sun of her orgasm, but she would swerve out of the way at the last moment.
Then back to the little beads, pleasure making sine waves, a geometry of chemical needs. It was a meditation, in a way. It was a sacrament to herself. It was something to do.
After an hour or two, her body would build tension. She would fidget. She would lose time, if she even had it anymore. Her brain would be as foggy as the bathroom, and she would revel in the dumbness of being wanton. She would hold that state, that needy confusion. She would feel her hips moved on their own, up and up, cunt hungry for anything to sate it.
Sometimes she would fall asleep like that. It wasn’t planned, but there was an exhaustion that would creep up on her. She’d wake up in the middle of the night, candles burned out, body finally dry and cool, rosary still in her hand. She’d put the beads away and pull her blankets over her, and slip back into that cycle. Fingers between her legs again, climbing once more. The edging and the need would flood her veins immediately. All that want she had built was still there, just behind a corner.
She would try and draw it out, but it didn’t take long. When it came, it wasn’t a crest, but a tidal wave. It was scary just before she came. Maybe that moment was what it was all about. Could someone die from too much pleasure? Would she?
In the seconds when she was there, in the orgasm, body taut and unable to take more or stand less, she felt everything all at once. It was bliss and pain and wonder and wonderful.
Then she would shake and wrestle with the blankets that were far too heavy, that were suffocating her. She would lay there feeling her heart pound and her thighs tremble, and she would marvel at how sacred her body was.