Eve’s feet stung in response to the cold tile floor. It was the downside of taking such boiling hot showers, but nothing else eased the tension between her shoulders. She tiptoed into her tidy bedroom, marred only by the messy sheets and her cat Oliver, who seemed asleep save for one sliver on an open eye.
She rubbed Oliver behind his ears, who gave a pinched half-meow in response. He lifted his head and sniffed at the room. In the next second he looked at Eve, then hissed, and jumped off the bed, running into the darkness of the closet.
“Oliver! What’s wrong?” Eve went over to the front of the closet and craned her head in, looking for him in the back, in the dark. Oliver continued to hiss.
“Oliver, it’s me! What’s the matter with you?” He’d never acted like this in his life. The hissing continued. The cat was scared out of his mind.
“Okay, you should come out of there.” She hesitated for a very small fraction of one second, but reached in to get the cat, who clawed her badly. Eve shrieked and pulled back her arm, now marked with bleeding gashes. She winced as she stood over the bathroom sink, washing out her wounds. Her still-warm arm didn’t appreciate the tepid water.
“Why are you freaking out,” she asked the cat who was one thin drywall away from her. He provided no answer.
She took glances at herself in the bathroom mirror as she put antiseptic on the wound. I look the same as yesterday. She fluffed her hair, which post-shower had taken on the look of a bird’s nest after a thunderstorm. Her arm throbbed along the freshly drawn lines. She dabbed at herself and finished up, checking the clock in the kitchen. She had to leave soon to meet Tad for breakfast at the greasy spoon on 14th Street.
She checked that Oliver was still cowering in the closet, leaving him some chewy treats on the floor just outside the doorway, and headed out the door. She’d have to figure out what was wrong with the cat later. She hoped it wasn’t anything serious, like she’d seen with her cat Taffy, who at 16 years, had developed sudden lethargy and was gone two days later. Oliver was still a hearty 5 years old. And he’d had his rabies shot, so hopefully she wasn’t about to start drooling at the mouth and launching herself at small Japanese cars.
She headed up the street, busy with commuters already, and walked in her usual half-hunched style that minimized what she knew to be a stature much taller than most women could claim. She didn’t want any disdainful antagonizing from passersby today. Because she was so practiced at protecting her boundaries she didn’t notice the old woman she passed. But just after Eve brushed by the woman, who was herself protected against the November morning with a bright blue plastic headwrap, old trench coat, and fuzz-lined boots, the senior had the most enormous orgasm of her long life, and had to hold onto the building to keep from falling over.
Eve looked at her feet as she walked down the cracked sidewalk, the same stretch of street she’d traversed nearly every day since she’d moved to town fifteen years ago. They were too large, these feet, markers that she was unfit to be female, reminders of her fraud against her body. While she flagellated herself for her perceived weaknesses, she marked distance to the diner; from this downward angle she knew every uneven brick and patch of moldering concrete.
Her gaze was transfixed as she moped along, and one by one, each person Eve passed on the street each had their very own, but not so private, massive orgasm. There was Susan walking hand in hand with her girlfriend Zoey, who had just started Year 2 of the hateful Lesbian Bed Death dance, and who would see today as a sign from the Goddess that they needed to rekindle their romance, mainly by spending more money than they had at their local sex toy shop. Meanwhile Bruce, rattled by the insurmountable credit card debt he’d accumulated as he tried to convince his friends that the hundred thousand dollar salary he’d quoted them as his compensation for his occupation was real, welcomed the long moment of distraction. He had no idea, however, how to explain it, and found some degree of irritation at dropping his shopping bag from Tiffany’s with two very expensive candlesticks in it. Larry and Debbie, who had a marriage of convenience—known only to Larry, who was so far back in the closet he required a false wall to hide behind, as Debbie would later remark—enjoyed their first and only simultaneous climax just a few feet from an abandoned used car dealership on the corner of 14th and S Street. He realized soon afterward that he needed to come clean to Debbie, telling her that the jack hammering sensation just waiting for a Metro bus would never be replicated by having sex with her.
Yes, Eve was oblivious to all of this, surrounded in her own sadness at the impending death of her friend Tad, and she would have continued on her not so merry way but just then she noticed an elderly man attempting to cross the street and having trouble with the aggressive drivers, headed in the very important direction of the White House. She presumed all commuters were lobbyists. This made them acceptable for whatever invective she felt inclined to send their way.
“Sir, do you need a hand,” Eve asked.
“Yes, sir um, ma’am. That would be nice.” He was in an old, but clean navy pea coat, plaid brown pants, and dark sweater. He held his hand out for Eve to take, and although Eve hated touching people, she took it. The man jerked hard almost immediately, pulling away.
“Are you okay?” Eve was shocked at the electric pulse he’d felt. It was stronger than a static charge, but hadn’t seemed to hurt him any.
“Did you feel that? Dear God, lady, didn’t you notice that?”
“Notice what?” Christ on a cracker, why did she pick today to help somebody? Why didn’t she ever learn?
“Um, I guess it’s nothing.”
They began to start to cross again, and Eve put her hand on the back of the old man to steady him. And once again the man let out a shudder, looked down at his trousers, and stopped. “Who are you,” he asked, a little out of breath, and looking Eve up and down.
“I’m just . . . I’m just trying to help. Do you need to get over there or what?” This man was really getting on her nerves.
“Yes, yes, I do. Got a doc appointment.”
You sure need one, thought Eve.
“Just uh, don’t touch me, okay?”
“Whatever. Let’s go.” She shook her head absentmindedly, annoyed and wanting this over with.
They crossed the street, the old man waving her off and thanking her at the same time. Eve turned back around, and hurried across to where she’d begun before the walk sign ticked down to zero. She was panting by the time she reached the curb, next to a line of people waiting for the 90 bus. No sooner had she arrived on the corner than the following occurred all at once:
- The young woman last in line shouted “Oh, sweet Jesus!” and grabbed reflexively at her crotch, a move she’d been fantasizing about making for her increasingly distant boyfriend.
- A businessman of color in a very fine blue pinstriped suit—which he regarded as the only outfit that wouldn’t cause the police to give him the once over—suddenly squeezed his eyes shut and let out a loud groan as he clutched at his briefcase.
- A middle aged Latina woman, on her way to her job at a downtown hotel, grabbed at the cold metal of the bus canopy as she announced her excitement.
- Two teenaged white boys with an affection for hip-hop communicated via their street wear choices suddenly looked embarrassed at the warm wetness in their briefs and boxer shorts, respectively. Later one of them would wonder if his sudden excitement was because he secretly fantasized about his friend.
Eve took all of this in and then realized that everyone up and down the street was looking at her. They all looked flushed, though some seemed happy about this and others not quite as happy.
She bolted down the sidewalk, the sooner to reach Tad and tell him something was in the water.
She banged through the diner’s greasy door, sending the bell into a fury of ringing. She plopped down in the booth across from Tad, who was always either here, in his apartment, or somewhere en route between the two.
“What is up with you,” Tad asked through a mouthful of toasted honey bun and coffee.
“Something weird is happening out there. You won’t believe me.” Eve’s heart pounded in her chest.
“Try me. I’d share some of this with you, but it’s too good.” Tad was surrounded by sticky bun crumbs and dried glaze.
“That’s fine. I think everyone on the street outside just had a mass orgasm.”
Tad stopped chewing for a second. “Really? You’re right that I don’t believe you. But why do you say this?” Mastication resumed.
“I saw it happen, I swear. They were grabbing at themselves as if they were in a porn film by Busby Berkeley.”
“Now there’s an image.”
The sullen waitress headed over to the table, and looked down at Eve. “What would you like today,” she droned.
“How about a house salad with ranch on the side,” Eve began. All of a sudden the waitress grabbed the table with both hands, dropping her notepad and pen, and throwing her head back. She shut her eyes and spasmed twice. Then her head fell forward and she drew in a deep breath. “I’m sorry,” she said, frowning in confusion. “What did you want?” Her cheeks flushed, and Eve realized it was the first time she’d seen her not her usual shade of statue white.
“A house salad,” Eve said.
The waitress jerked again, letting out a low moan. Tad and Eve stared at their server.
“I got it, I got it.” She walked away, staggering a little.
“Okay, I believe you,” said Tad, turning back to Eve. “But why don’t I get a free orgasm? Life sucks.”