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Copyright 2017 Laura Sutton

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Chapter 1: The Design

Chapter 2: Tracing

Chapter 3: Violet Waterglass

Chapter 4: Grape Artique

Chapter 5: Steel Blue Artique

Chapter 6: Hunter Green Waterglass

Chapter 7: Lime Green Transparent

Chapter 8: Lemon Yellow Artique

Chapter 9: Amber Artique

Chapter 10: Rust Transparent

Chapter 11: Ruby Red Artique

Chapter 12: The Pieces Come Together

Connect with Laura Sutton

Chapter 1

The Design


“Is anyone sitting here?” The question snapped me out of my sunning stupor. I shielded my eyes from the sun and squinted. Goddammit. It was that chubby blond that was married to Dr. Larsen in apartment 4A. I couldn’t remember her name but she looked like a Greta or a Frida—like she’d be carrying six steins of dark ale and getting her ass slapped by ruddy-faced Germans in lederhosen. That’s exactly the type of girl she was, too, the one that all the men carried on about. She made me want to puke and she was spreading her goddamned towel out on the lounge chair right next to mine.

“I guess someone is now,” I murmured. I glanced at the empty lounge chairs around the pool and cursed her straight to hell. I swear to God, I could sail a boat to the Arctic, build an igloo and roast a penguin, and the second I sat down to enjoy it, some asshole with a folding chair would come tromping over and snootily intone, “Penguins live in Antarctica. Not the Arctic. Mind if I join you?”

Frida beamed at me and let her terry robe drop like she was a goddamned movie star or something. She had on this ridiculously tiny, eraser-pink bikini. It looked like it had been sewn by pixies—the runty, weakling ones, at that. The little, pink triangles barely covered her nipples, much less the vast ocean of flesh. In fact, I had done a double take when her robe had first dropped because I thought they were her nipples.

“Mind if I smoke?”

“Huh?” I wrenched my eyes away from her tits to see she was holding a cigarette. “Oh. No, thanks. I don’t smoke.”

“That’s wonderful, dear.” She lit her cigarette and smoke drifted up like a charmed cobra. She reached into her wicker bag and produced a tattered paperback. It was one of those romances old ladies read, the kind with a half-naked cowboy on the cover. He’s the kind of cowboy that has never had a callous or a farmer’s tan. He leans against a split-rail fence and squints into the ambient lighting. A horse stands nearby—not too near, goodness gracious, no, because those things are unpredictable and, let’s be honest, they can squash you—and it’s staring uneasily at the cowboy’s pointy-toed boots and black, felt Stetson that have never worked a day in their lives. The storyline invariably revolves around the cowboy’s ‘rod’ and some damsel’s ‘mound,’ but you just know the guy has never actually touched a ‘mound’ because he’s very obviously gayer than a rousing game of croquet. Nonetheless, Frida looked pleased with her ridiculous book. She laid back, sneaking a downward glance to make sure she was still barely wearing a bikini. I, naturally, looked at her tits, as well. It was a group effort, I felt.

She wrinkled up her nose and said, “I wish we could lay out nude so we wouldn’t get tan lines. I just hate tan lines. Don’t you?”

I didn’t give a damn about tan lines. I just wanted her to read her gay porn and leave me alone. I said, “You do realize you’re pretty much naked right now, right?”

This sent her into a fit of laughter and I flinched, expecting bikini shrapnel. Somewhere, there were Sisters of the Benedictine Order down on their knees, praying fervently for the sole purpose of keeping this bikini intact. Frida, who looked like she spent plenty of time on her knees, as well, abruptly stopped laughing and let out a long, dramatic sigh. “You may be right. It doesn’t quite fit the way it used to.” Used to? I imagined her wearing it to swim lessons when she was three and it still seemed inadequate. She looked at me and I glanced away, pretending I hadn’t been staring at her tits this whole time like some lecherously horny sixteen-year-old boy. “Hey, aren’t you the girl that’s dating that idiot?”

I looked back and forced myself to maintain eye contact with her. “Probably. Which idiot?”

“I don’t know his name. I know his type, though. He complains that you don’t give him blowjobs but he never goes down on you, right? You’ve never once had an orgasm with him because it’s all about him, so you’ve gotten to the point where you don’t want to have sex with him but you sure as hell don’t want anyone else having sex with him so you end up doing it anyway?” She cocked an eyebrow at me.

“You’ll have to narrow it down some more.”

She went on, “He doesn’t open the door for you and he has a habit of looking at other women right in front of you, and you’re thankful he cums so quickly because he uses spit as lube and that says it all right there.”

“Okay, so we’ve narrowed it down to a male.”

“And he drives a blue Jeep with his stereo cranked so we all have to listen to his shitty music whether we want to or not, and trust me, nobody wants to.”

My cheeks burned with humiliation. Jesus, she could’ve just said “Blond, 170, about yay high” like a normal person.

“Hey, I’m not knocking you. Trust me, I’ve dated plenty of losers in my time. I once dated a guy who wouldn’t let me eat at the dinner table with him. His name was Garrick. He had a rule that I had to stand at the counter to eat while he sat at the table. A few times, he got mad and said his food wasn’t hot and he swung his big, ol’ arm across the table, knocking everything to the ground. I had to get down on my hands and knees and clean up spaghetti and broken glass. Can you believe that?”

I opened my mouth to ask if the spaghetti was indeed cold before passing judgment, but she prattled on. “He had a small dick. It’s always the guys with small dicks that treat you like shit. After him was Trevor. He played guitar and drove this ratty old truck that had big holes in the floorboard. Scary piece of crap. I always thought I’d get sucked out and run over. You know, I’d probably still be with him if he wasn’t so screwed up in the head. Know what he’d do, though? We’d go to the store, but he never wanted to go in. Always sent me in while he waited outside. He’d be there leaning up against his truck, smoking a cigarette and looking like some commercial for jeans or some shit, and then something would just get in his head and he’d drive off and leave me there. Stranded. No explanation. No warning. Who does that? I thought maybe he was getting mad at how long I was taking, right? But then one day, he sent me into a convenience store to get cigarettes and I just happened to glance back and there he was, driving away. Just frickin’ driving away. I waited around, expecting him to come back. But you know what? He never came back. Never once. I’d call him. He wouldn’t answer. I’d call again. He still wouldn’t answer. I’d end up getting a ride home, then he’d accuse me of sleeping with whoever gave me a ride. Know what he said? He said all women were cheating whores… even his mom. She was a cheating whore, though, so… yeah. There you go. Jesus, you should’ve seen the fights we had, though. They were just awful, but you know what, the makeup sex more than made up for it.”

The sudden silence took me by surprise. The only thing that stopped women like this from talking was sleep or death. I glanced at her to see which one it was. She was staring off into space, possibly reminiscing about makeup sex. Possibly dying. It was hard to tell. I sat in silence. Maybe that guy put those holes in the floorboard on purpose. Maybe he just wanted to sit by the pool in some goddamned peace and quiet. I started thinking maybe I might be inclined to drive her across town and leave her somewhere, given the chance. While thinking up this great plan, my eyes rested firmly on her tits. It had become a hobby of mine or something. That was probably how lesbians were made. Mix a few minutes of sex talk with some big tits and, presto, I can open my own damned jar, thank you very much. I decided I had probably better scurry away before she made me her bitch, but then she suddenly sat up and exclaimed, “Oh Jesus, and then there was Ivan! He was horrid.” She swung her feet down and leaned in closer to me. “Get this, the first month we dated, I figured he was impotent. He just couldn’t get it up, so we never had sex. I was like, no big deal, he’ll never cheat on me, right? So one day, we were at a concert—totally surrounded by people, mind you—yet he pulled up my skirt and did me from behind. A few days later, we were spooning on a blanket at this public park. It was broad daylight but he had sex with me right there as if there weren’t two hundred people around. But guess what? He still couldn’t get it up in the bedroom. I figured he needed the exhibitionism, right? No big deal, though. He only lasted a minute, if even that, so people probably didn’t think it was sex anyway. I’ve seen guys scratch their balls for longer than that. So we went to his parents’ house for Christmas and we were all sitting there in their living room watching some game show or something. Ivan and I were laying on the floor with throw pillows and blankets, and he was all messing around with me under the covers, and I was trying to act as if nothing was going on, right? Then he rolled over onto me and just started screwing me right in front of his parents, but he was knocking into the Christmas tree, and all the ornaments were swinging back and forth and clanging against each other. It sounded like a tinker’s wagon coming down the road. Clang, clang, clang! So, then this glass reindeer fell and hit the ground, shattered into a hundred pieces, and the tiny, gold antlers flew at his parents. They didn’t even notice. They were just sitting there watching us like we were on TV instead of right there in their living room, not giving one damn that their Christmas tree is being shaken to bits. Can you imagine? So, the angel on top of the tree keeled over and just hung there, bobbing up and down, and I was watching it instead of his parents because, believe me, there is just nothing more awkward in the entire world than making eye contact with your boyfriend’s mother while he’s banging away on you. So then Ivan started groaning and making this horrible noise like he was dying, and I made the awful mistake of glancing at his folks. His dad, he was just bug-eyed and had spit going all down his chin, and he was grabbing at his crotch. His mom, she was just watching him play with himself and, I swear, she looked like she was gonna beat him to death with a baseball bat. It was the craziest thing I’d ever seen. So that night, I told Ivan to piss off and go sleep on the couch. I was still fuming, right?”

She stopped talking as Mr. Jared from 9A approached. Nobody really knew what Mr. Jared did for a living. Anyone that bothered to speculate eventually presumed it to be something spectacularly dull. He had a fondness for fried foods, sandals with black socks, and calls from his mother every night. His skin was mottled. His teeth were yellow. His nose was bulbous. He was bulbous. Most unnerving of all, he always looked like he had just chopped onions. As he walked past us, those watery eyes of his just so happened to be goggling at Frida’s tits like some lecherous perv. His head swiveled like an owl’s and he smacked his knee into a chair he never saw coming. After he bumped into a second chair, he headed right for the deep end of the pool. I watched—giddy with anticipation. The only thing better than that would’ve been walking out into traffic or off a high-rise. Unfortunately, to my dismay, he grabbed onto the chair he had almost punted into the pool and sat down. He then switched chairs twice more before finding one with the best boob-viewing angle. I considered offering to switch seats with him.

Frida whispered, “Look at his shorts.” Sadly, he had an erection. I say ‘sadly’ because it was me looking at it. The only thing worse than looking at an ugly guy is looking at an ugly guy’s erection. My stomach turned and I cursed her to hell for pointing my attention to it. She said, “He sure ain’t a looker, is he? Just disgusting. Anyway, where was I?”

Whoring yourself around, I thought to myself. “Christmas caroling and a romping good time with the folks?”

“Oh yeah. Ivan. So I made him sleep on the couch because I was ticked, right? So in the middle of the night, I woke up to Ivan screwing me, basically shoving me down into the pillow. That ticked me off even more. I mean who the fuck does he think he is, you know? So I tried getting away from him but he had me pinned down. You just can’t budge when some guy is on you. It sucks. So I just gave up and waited for it to be over. But then he lifted my ass and—oh my God, you wouldn’t have believed it!—it was amazing! I just laid there, just blissing out, and then he let go of my wrists and starting rubbed my clit. Nobody had ever done that before. Why is that? You’d think that would be like a requirement. Anyway, you know how most guys change what they’re doing right when you start liking what they’re doing? He didn’t. He just kept rubbing and banging away and I ended up having an orgasm so big I thought I shit myself. You ever had that happen?”

“I’m sure I’ve shit myself before.”

She laughed and said, “So then he started banging all rabbity—you know how guys do that at the end? It’s like a drumroll before the finish, I think. So he was doing that, the drumroll thing, and he started making this weird whining sound and shaking all over. The whole bed was shaking. It was like an exorcism, I swear to God. Not that I’ve ever been to one. That’s just how I imagine them to be. Anyway, just before he left the room, he turned back to me and said, ‘I filled that pussy up good, but you better keep your legs up in the air a while to let it take.’ It was his goddamned dad! Can you believe that?”

My mouth dropped open in horror. She nodded. “Yeah, that’s pretty much how I looked, too.”

I couldn’t tell if she was drunk or high. Maybe she was an attention-seeker or simply one of those women who will talk you to death just to keep themselves from getting bored. I seemed to attract the talkers who felt it was my God-given duty to sit there and nod for two hours while they detailed their husbands’ impotence, bowel issues, and eagerness to help the neighbor lady with her stopped up drain and open legs. Most women didn’t come up and start talking about their clits, though. It was like she was trying to shock me. I threw aside my fears of being lured into lesbianism and asked, “What did you do?” My voice sounded slightly hysterical and I kicked myself.

She paused a moment, then said, “I know you’re going to think I’m awful. I would, too.”

“You beat him to death with the Christmas tree.”

“No. The next day, Ivan was a real jerk, you know? We fought about nothing worth fighting about, really, and I ended up going outside and…”

I nodded and said, “Yeah, and?”

“And I had sex with his dad. Again.”


“A few times.”


“Probably more.” She looked thoughtful. “No, actually, definitely more.”

“I see.”

“Maybe like ten?”


“We were there a week, so we did it as many times a day as we could get away with… in the garage… the shed… the car… his bed… his wife went to the pharmacy a lot,” she explained. “Easily a dozen. Let’s see, seven times three is…”

“Please stop.”

She gasped. “I told you you’d think I’m awful!”

She was goddamned right, too. “Well, enough about you. What happened with Ivan?”

“Odd thing, Ivan’s convertible mysteriously ended up in the ocean. Nobody ever figured out how. Weird how things like that happen.” She smiled mischievously and laid back down and got comfortable. “Things changed after that. I changed. I quit accepting every little piece of garbage that floated down the sewer. I took up tennis lessons and ended up meeting my husband there.”

I couldn’t imagine Frida playing tennis. Hell, I could barely imagine her walking even though I’d seen her do it. I tried to appear interested rather than incredulous. “Your husband, the doctor?”

“Yes, but Bruce isn’t a doctor. He has a doctorate in philosophy, so he has the title of Doctor, but not the money.” She glanced around, then added, “I doubt we’d be living in this shithole if he was a real doctor.”

I had no opinion on the topic of the shithole, but I had an opinion about philosophy. “I’ve never cared for philosophy. I never understood it. My philosophy teacher was an alcoholic, so I always sort of figured once you understood philosophy, you needed to stay drunk in order to cope.”

“Did you have sex with him?”

“Who? My philosophy teacher?”


“I… no… what?”

“I figured that’s why you brought him up.” I stared blankly and she just shrugged, “I don’t know. I don’t understand it, either. Have you ever sat around listening to a group of men talk about existentialism? It’s as exciting as watching old people eat pudding. Come to think of it, that actually sounds more fun. There’s nothing worse than listening to philosophy talk.”

“There are worse things.”

“Name one.”

“Giving a homeless guy a blowjob on the bus.” I braced myself for her story about having done just that.

She paused a moment, then asked, “When did he last shower?”

“The last time he went to the doctor to get his syphilis treated.”

Her nose wrinkled. “Does he wear pool slides? I could never go down on a guy with syphilis that wears pool slides.”

“He hasn’t worn pool slides since he was in prison.”

She pursed her lips, then said, “Hm. I’ll have to think about it.”

“He likes to discuss existentialism while getting blowjobs.”

“Damn. I might know him.”

“So let me get this straight. All this time, we’ve all been calling him Dr. Larsen—your husband, not the homeless guy—and expecting to be miraculously saved if we drown or choke or get a leg ripped off while opening a box of snack crackers and he’s not even a doctor?”

She shook her head. “Snack crackers? Who calls them snack crackers?”

“Everyone calls them snack crackers. It says it on the box. So, if the good doctor is so boring and can’t even stitch a leg back on, why are you with him?”

She started ticking off points on her fingers. “One, he’s good-looking. Two, he hasn’t abandoned me at a store.”


“Three, he hasn’t sent his dad to my bed.”

“The night is young.”

“Actually, his dad isn’t bad-looking at all.” She stared off for a moment, likely recalling the time she slept with her husband’s dad, then continued, “Four, he has a decent job, and, five, he’s good in bed. Bruce wants to please me. That there is what makes him worthwhile. I sort of had to maneuver things around a little, but I won’t be faking an orgasm for the rest of my life.”

“Maneuver what things around?”

“Well, a few months after moving in together, things started going downhill. He always said he had to work late. What the hell does a philosophy teacher have to work late for? And when he was home, he either had his buddies over for poker, or he sat and read the newspaper. If I tried to talk to him, he acted like I had interrupted something really important. So, we didn’t talk much. Oh, and he never complimented me. As a matter of fact, I was only interested in sex because he wasn’t… but we were supposed to be getting married. I didn’t even know if we should with it already that bad. So I read a bunch of self-help books. They all said the same thing: spice up our love life or he’ll wander into someone else’s bed. They said I had to guide him, and if I did the things they said to do, he’d be starry-eyed with passion. One of them actually used those words—starry-eyed with passion—like a cartoon or something. So, I thought up ways to spice up our love life. I told him we should drive to the beach and have sex under the stars. He said, ‘That’s illegal.’ I said, ‘Would you consider a threesome?’ He said, ‘What are we? Barbarians?’ So, I decided to stop asking and start doing. We went to a murder mystery dinner, because that’s what philosophers do for fun, you know, and there was this older couple sitting across from us. So, I started giving Bruce a handjob under the table. He kept pushing my hand away from him and I kept sneaking it back and finally he just let me do it. When he came, it shot across and hit the lady’s ankle or something. She looked up and said, ‘Did you feel that? I think the ceiling is leaking.’ Bruce was mortified but I thought it was hilarious. A week later, we went to the movies and I unzipped his pants, then dropped popcorn in one piece at a time. I said, ‘Oops. Let me clean that up for you,’ and I started sucking him off, right? Did you know they have employees watching for that? This kid comes up and says, ‘You can’t do that here,’ and I was like, ‘Think I can’t? Then watch this,’ but Bruce grabbed my arm and pretty much dragged me outside, saying I was going to get him thrown in jail. But you know what? Things got nice after that. He seemed interested in me again. He brought home flowers… cooked fancy meals for me… bubble baths. That lasted about a week, then everything fizzled to nothing again. The only time he seemed to actually enjoy himself was when his buddies were over for poker. They came over every damned weekend, too. I’d just take a sleeping pill and go to bed instead of listening to them drone on and on about Nietzsche and the stock market or whatever the hell they talked about. Probably sat around comparing penises; that’s what guys do. Anyway, it got to the point I was taking a sleeping pill every day. Well, eventually, I figured out Bruce was having sex with me while I was knocked out. And it wasn’t just like once in a while. He was doing it all the time. You can just tell, you know? You can tell when someone else puts your clothes on, especially your underwear. And besides, you can tell when someone has had sex with you, right? You’ve had it happen, haven’t you?”

“Well, sort of. I never slept through it, though.”

“Well, trust me, you can tell. So, I set up a camera in the bedroom and that very first night, got a hit.”

“Damn. How did he not notice the camera?”

“It’s a hidden camera. I found it online… some store that sells nanny cams. I bought the houseplant. It’s an ugly fake ivy in an ugly gray basket. The camera lens is hidden in the basket handle. You’d only notice it if you knew it was there. They also had an air freshener cam, but the lens looked too obvious. The fake ivy seemed safer. No guy is going to sit around looking at a houseplant, much less examining the quality of the basketry.

“How much did the fake plant cost?” I had already decided to hide one in the bedroom.

“I think it was four? Four twenty?”

“Wow! How did you not put one in every room?”

Frida started counting out loud the number of rooms she had and doing mental math, which was not an easy process for her, so I had plenty of time to think about the possibilities. I could hide a few in the living room and kitchen. Heck, if I could put one in the elevator, I’d have a goldmine. People were always busy picking their noses or slipping their hands down their pants, or someone else’s pants. Supposedly, Ms. Talbot, the elderly widow in apartment 12B, was “physically assaulted” by the just-as-elderly Mr. Havens, apartment 17C, in the elevator. Everyone suspected it was old Ms. Talbot who did the assaulting because, long before the incident, Ms. Talbot was known as the crazy, old lady who would lift her skirt and say, “Want some candy, little boy?” to anyone and everyone. The general consensus seemed to be nobody wanted candy. As a result, the overall health of the tenants greatly improved by taking the stairs, including the elderly Mr. Havens who had plans to run his first marathon in the spring.

Frida proudly exclaimed, “Two grand. That would be two grand.”

“What? How?”

“Five rooms would make — “

“Oh. You didn’t mean four dollars.” The elevator doors closed on my scheme. Frida looked confused for a moment, then burst into laughter. I took that moment to stare at her tits once again as slyly as possible while she dried her eyes. When she quieted down some, I asked, “Didn’t that piss you off that he was doing that to you? I’d be pissed.”

“Yeah, it did. At first, it did. But it was also a huge turn-on. I don’t know why it was, but it was. I even started cutting the sleeping pills because I wanted to be awake during it without him knowing I was awake, right? The first time, it was just over half a pill, and I remember him pulling my underwear down and shoving himself in, but it was like I was dreaming it. Like I wasn’t really there, and then I guess I passed out because I don’t remember anything else. The second time, I took maybe half or less, and I think I made it through about half of the way before knocking out again. The third time, that was just a quarter. My God, it was like floating on a cloud and getting screwed. Seriously, it was just amazing! That’s all I could think about after that. I’d be staring out the window during dinner with my heart racing just thinking about it. He’d come home and tell me about a traffic jam or what he did for lunch that day and I’d just stare at his mouth and imagine it on me. I wanted sex all the time. All the time. I even started dreading poker night because he didn’t bother at all with me, but every other night, oh my God! Not long after, I started dressing up for it… like role playing, I guess. I mean I couldn’t dress up like Little Bo Peep or anything because who goes to bed dressed like that? But I could pretend to just fall asleep before I had a chance to change. In the end, he seemed to favor the good girl over the slut. Weird, huh? Here’s an example. I once dressed up in a yellow Angora sweater and a pencil skirt with heels. That was something I would’ve worn to church, right? Well, he’d just touch me for the longest time, stroking me above the clothes, even taking photos. When he finally unbuttoned the top button of the sweater, my God, it was such a thrill! It was like, yes! Now we’re getting somewhere! Because he’d teased the shit out of me and didn’t even know it, you know? So, then he undid a few more buttons, and pulled the sweater down under my tits so they were out there, totally exposed, and he’s sucking on them real hard, like he’s trying to get milk from them. Most guys don’t do it that way, you know? They just squeeze, or if they suck, it’s in the hickey way, but Bruce was doing it right, God bless him. So, then he started pulling up my skirt real slow, like he was scared he’d wake me up if he did it too fast, as if sucking on my tits like that wouldn’t have. Who knows, maybe he was just relishing the moment. Anyway, so he finally managed to get the skirt all the way up. So, for like ten minutes—ten frigging minutes!—he’s pulling my panties over to the side and fingering me. Then he spends a few minutes rubbing his cock on me, sliding up and down and going in and out, and the whole time, I’m like holy shit, this is amazing! I mean, that’s what women want, right? But guys never do it. So then he slides it in and starts screwing me, and I started realizing he’d been videotaping this because he was—I don’t know—it seemed like he was positioning more than normal, you know? I don’t know how to explain that. But I opened my eyes just enough to see he actually was. When he was done, he dressed me again, then fell asleep besides me. Aww. Now, compare that to what happened when I wore the slutty lingerie. You know those babydoll nighties? The ones you can see through? I wore one of those, black, with some thigh-high stockings. He came into the room, dropped his pants, and just shoved it in with no how do you do, no nothing. He lasted maybe two minutes. No caressing, no videotaping, just wham bam and then he left the room. Why would that be?” She shrugged in response to her own question.

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