This is an abridged excerpt from Anna Sansom’s latest book, ‘Desire Lines’ (published by The Unbound Press).
When I first met my Pirate, I desired to be hers. But she offered me friendship only. Friendship was a good start and I was pleased that she would even consider me worthy of that. She was older, cooler, wore leather; I was still youthfully naïve and sometimes liked to be home, for cocoa, by ten.
We were just friends the first night she stayed over. I only had a single bed and there was little choice but to press our bodies close together: one big spoon and one little spoon; synchronized turning in the night.
My desire for her followed me around like a lost dog. It would scratch at the door, whining and begging to be let out. The dog was my constant companion and came everywhere with me: including into the small office where I worked. One day I gave in. I opened a new document on my PC, decreased the font size so it couldn’t be read from the next desk, and began to type a story, shaping my lust into erotic sentences that I hoped would seduce her in body and mind. That first outpouring of emotion was a story that featured thinly disguised versions of ourselves. She was the pirate who sailed into town, fascinated all the ladies, and unsettled all the men. I was the maiden who looked her straight in the eyes and offered a complicit smile, before waiting for her outside of the tavern. I offered her willing flesh with no attachments. As Captain of her ship, her below-deck chambers did have enough room to swing a cat: she swished knotted leather tails over my back and buttocks before fucking me roughly with her fist. In return I drowned myself in the brine of her cunt, swimming without air as she rode my face and came with her fingers tangled in my mermaid-maiden hair.
She knew I wanted more than friendship. I had already declared my love for her in the kitchen of my shared flat. She had barely concealed her sigh, commanded me to sit down, and then straddled my lap. Taking my face in her hands, she summoned my embarrassed gaze to meet hers. “I am not the one,” she said simply. “But I love you,” I countered. “But I am not the one.”
I wasn’t able to tell her that I wasn’t looking for “the one”. I desired her. I loved her. And, still only in my early twenties, I wanted to shag her. She was the most sexually confident woman I’d ever met and I wanted to roll around in that confidence like a lottery winner on a bed of dirty money. I wanted to inhale her through every pore of my skin, absorbing the electricity of her self-assurance through osmosis.
The only spoken words I had to express the depth of these desires were “I love you”. Switching to my written voice I could say so much more. In the context of a story, I could describe to her the magnetism of her presence and the way I could feel her proximity in any room, even with my eyes closed. I could reveal how I danced my fingers over my pubic hair, imagining hers in their place and where else they would travel to. I could deposit myself at her feet, hands clasped behind my back, eyes lowered, heart pounding with impatience and fear, and know that – because this was just a story – there would be no shame to my capitulation.
Her response to my story surprised me: she adopted my characters and wrote me a tale of her own in return. Reciprocation was a potent aphrodisiac. Each new story we shared swelled the sexual tension between us. I didn’t need to be “the one”; I was the siren: luring her ever closer to the precarious position of friend turned lover.
When Fantasy Becomes Reality
It was theatrically fitting that our first time together was on an island: reached by ferry, not pirate ship, and in the pristine overnight accommodation of a four-star bed and breakfast. In contrast to the explicit scenes we had each imagined and penned over the preceding weeks, we made love on the floral-sheeted double bed, at three o’clock in the afternoon, with the TV on to disguise our carnal noises from the guests in the room next door. Audrey Hepburn watched on in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In our fantasies, the voyeurs had been the raggle-taggle bunch of the ship’s crew.
Reality and fantasy can be uncomfortable bedfellows. I couldn’t come. We were expected at dinner. The end of the movie signaled time up and quick showers before joining the other guests at the single, family-style, polished mahogany table. We went for a walk after the meal. Strolling hand-in-hand as we had done many times before, yet this time with the knowledge that my fingers, laced between hers, now held the memory of her intimate scent.
One day she invited me to a showing of Baz Luhrmann’s newly released Romeo and Juliet. We sat in the back row of the cinema. “Put your coat in your lap,” she instructed. I lay my jacket across my knees. It was my biker’s jacket: heavy, thick leather and shiny buckles. The weight of it across my shoulders was reassuring to me as I stomped my way through the streets at night. The smell delighted me every time I put it on: an acknowledgment of my own sexual truth and my desire to release my animal self.
The movie started in a blaze of sound and color. My Pirate worked her hand under the leather across my lap, and tucked her fingers between my thighs. She separated my legs a little more to her liking and began to stroke me, adding to the heat already residing in my crotch. Her eyes were fixed on the screen ahead, while her fingers played out their own story: easing open the button on my jeans and finding the elastic waistband of my knickers. Staring straight ahead too, I shifted a little in my seat, positioning my cunt closer to her fingers and allowing her to dip into the pooling moisture that she had drawn there.
The movie was beautiful, compelling, emotional: an MTV-styled telling of the classic tale of love found, love forbidden, and love lost. I was entranced by the story and by the intensity of the sensations deep in my belly and womb. Tears were rolling down my cheeks by the time the lights came up: equal parts grief for the star-crossed lovers and for the emptiness I felt when my Pirate had finally disconnected her fingers from me.
The clandestine meetings between Romeo and Juliet mirrored this afternoon cinema rendezvous. It wasn’t our parents who objected to our coupling, however; secrecy was required to protect our respective girlfriends.
During the time that our friendship turned sexual, we had both acquired other relationships. We were both polyamorous, except I had no words for, or any understanding of, that concept back then. All I knew was that I loved my girlfriend, and I loved my Pirate, and I wanted to be in a relationship with both of them. The fact that my Pirate and I both had other girlfriends was not enough to deter us, but it did make us furtive. The only model I knew was monogamy, and that meant that the only way to have two lovers was to be prepared to cheat on one. My desire convinced my heart that betrayal was necessary.
Life in Another World
One day we sailed away together. I had a small rucksack packed with overnight necessities and had booked us a room in a hotel. The trip would take about two hours on the water with an easy wind. My job was to make tea and occasionally take the tiller, while my Pirate dealt with the sails and other technicalities. My hand rested on the tiller and I thought back to those first story exchanges. We always wrote ourselves as the heroines of the stories. In the realm of fantasy, I was sensuous and submissive; my Pirate was daring and dominant. In her story, she had straddled the tiller and fucked me with it, the smooth, polished wood sliding inside me, its passage eased by the slickness she had built between my thighs. Now here I was with my hand lightly gripping the shaft of the tiller, feeling the varnished surface cool against my palm. It was wider in girth than I could ever take in real life and had a bulbous head that would have been impossible for me. But my encounters with my Pirate were not limited to the confines of reality. They existed in my Otherworld: a place where we could meet, unencumbered by our other roles and duties. No longer girlfriend or daughter or lover. Simply she and me.
That was how I reasoned my deceit: Otherworld was my parallel universe; my Sliding Doors. In Otherworld, I could be the most authentic version of my sexual self. Here I was able to rub my cheek against the leather of her boots, crawl naked across a room, and welcome the sharp bite of her teeth around my nipples.
In the days before mobile phones and social media, it was easy to disappear and be left alone. Time had a different feel: there was no checking in to be done, no updating of statuses, no fear of missing out. This focused time was a gift. The evening and the darkening night stretched before us: me, my Pirate, and a bed. The only fly in the ointment was the unplanned arrival of my period earlier in the day. We looked at the white sheets on the bed and I fetched a towel from the bathroom: we were going to make a bloody mess.
One day she sailed away without me, moving to another country and another time zone. We agreed that I could visit her for a few days and I packed my bag for a five-night stay at her small apartment. The length of time was significant. “Give me a week,” she’d once promised, “and you will be mine forever.”
We had dabbled with power and pain in our affair. My early stories had clearly stated my interest in sadism and masochism, domination and submission, and it was my Pirate who had first introduced me to the hardcore, leather dyke, erotica of Pat Califia. My Pirate was good with a flogger and excellent at giving commands and direction. I was open to discovering more of what my body and soul could take in pursuit of my pleasure, and hers. My orgasms were still unreliable, but my willingness to explore was consistent.
We pushed the boundaries first in our shared fantasies, and then in real life. One of her stories had featured a scene that initially shocked and then quickly captivated me. The story took place the night before the pirate was due to set sail once more. The evening had built to a crescendo and there was just one more thing the pirate wanted to do to the maid before she bid her adieu. The cabin was lit by candles. In the flame of one, the pirate placed her insignia ring, held in place by tongs until it had absorbed enough heat to show a faint glow. The maid, naked as per the pirate’s preference, was challenged to show her obedience and loyalty by pressing her flesh against the hot metal. She would be branded, like cattle, by the sign of the pirate.
She waited until the last night of my visit before showing me the shaped metal wire and the pigskin-covered journal that she had been practicing on. In the absence of those two extra days, she invited me to give her a piece of my skin in exchange for my freedom. This was her way of owning just enough of me to give us both the reassurance of the endurance of our bond, despite whatever circumstances life might throw at us. We had long agreed that a full-time relationship between us could not work. But, for a few intense days each year, we were magnificent.
She demonstrated the heating of the wire in a candle flame and the press and smolder as it made contact with the pigskin. We both looked at the permanent imprint left on the cover of her book and then I ran my finger over the mark. Her mark. What did it mean to want her to mark me? In the story it had been about self-sacrifice: the maid had to initiate the movement onto the heated ring. My loyalty and obedience were not in question. To accept a branding, though, would be to declare myself hers. It would be a mark of ownership – even if just for a few days or nights every year.
I offered her my arm and pointed to a patch of virgin skin between two freckles. “There.” “Are you sure?” I held my arm in place and nodded. She reached for a length of rope: “I don’t want you to jerk away.” “I won’t,” I assured her. “Just in case,” she replied as she secured my arm in place and held the metal to the flame. It only took moments for it to begin to glow. I closed my eyes. A moment of intense searing and then her hands undoing the ropes and her mouth on mine, kissing me deeply. We’d done it.
The scar is my permanent reminder of the love and passion we shared. We had over a decade of growing together before she was diagnosed with a cancer that quickly took her life. I was grief-stricken. It was so very lonely in Otherworld without her, and no one fully knew or understood what had gone on between us. The extreme lows I felt after her death mirrored the extreme highs I’d experienced during our times together. We were so very human in our fears, our fights, and our vulnerabilities, and yet – when we were together – we were also divine.
Following the path of my desire was messy and painful as well as glorious and courageous. It took me on numerous incredible journeys – journeys that I still make today as I continue to explore the ever-evolving landscape of my sexuality and how I need to express it. I regret the lies and secrecy that shrouded our relationship, but I do not regret one precious moment that I shared with her. She held the unique place of best friend and lover. A piece of my skin is forever hers and a corner of her heart will forever be mine. 🌋