Little Prick

This is a revisitation of a much shorter piece that I reworked.

Wea00816I sat up amid the swaddle of bedding in the berth and rolled up the sleeve of my cotton nightdress, waiting in a tangle of fear and anticipation, hating the idea of having a piece of metal stuck in my arm and yet bearing the pathetic hope that the medicine would make me feel instantly better. As the minutes ticked by and the ship continued to roll, always it seemed in the opposite direction to both my head and my stomach, the idea of the needle changed from frightening to benevolent and then to a mythical instrument of deliverance. My desire to feel its prick, to see it slide beneath the surface of my skin grew in proportion to the misery of my nausea.

To my twelve-year old eyes, the ship’s doctor was a god. Austere and handsome and uniformed in a crisp white shirt with gold on the epaulets, he had watery blue eyes and sandy blond hair that was going grey just in front of his ears. He entered the cabin, requisite stethoscope dangling from his neck, carrying the sort of bag borne by doctors in really old films. He was so perfectly doctorish and he was going to cure me.

“I hear there’s a very sick little girl in this cabin,” he said, closing the door behind him.

For a moment, I thought the seasickness had gone. “I’m not a little girl,” I said. “I’m almost thirteen.”

“Oh, pardon me,” he said, putting his bag down and unlatching it. He glanced back at me and smiled. “A very sick young lady.”

The nausea came back just in time to swish and break against the wave that was tilting the ship in the other direction.  I just nodded, worried that if I opened my mouth, there’d be vomit instead of words.

The wrapped syringe he took out of his bag looked small and well meaning. So did the little bottle of clear liquid he placed on the lipped dressing table. It shifted slightly as the ship rolled again.

“I can confidently guarantee that you’re going to feel much better in less than ten minutes.” The doctor tore the wrapper off the syringe and uncapped it. Standing with his feet apart, he held it up to the light as he pushed the little needle into the soft pink rubber top of the bottle and drew out the clear liquid.

Ten minutes. I pushed up my sleeve. How long is ten minutes? I could die in ten minutes. Ten minutes seemed ten years too long.

A tiny spurt of liquid erupted from the tip of the needle and he placed it, with a plink, into a little metal tray. Back in his black bag, he rummaged around and pulled out a little foil square, which he ripped open. I could smell the sharp sting of alcohol, like a soothing promise, and yanked my sleeve up higher, over my shoulder.

The ship’s doctor tilted his head and gave me a consolatory smile. “No, I’m afraid this one doesn’t go in your arm. Please lie down on your side and face the wall.”

Maybe I wouldn’t have been struck dumb in horror had he been uglier, or a lot older, or wearing a white coat, or if I’d been in a doctor’s office, or if I’d had the foresight to wear undies under my nightgown.

“Go on, lie down,” he prompted.

Heart racing and my stomach knotting, I slid back down into the berth, rolled on my side, and stared at the mute, semi-gloss bulkhead.

“That’s a good girl.”

He pulled the covers down with what I imagine now was utter dispassion. But trapped in a slow, stately ritual of monstrous humiliation, I lay frozen, unbreathing as he drew up the hem of my nightgown with embroidered strawberries on it. I felt his hand on my thigh, warm as took the fabric with it, baring me in a terrible unhurriedness. Up over my hip. The coolness of the air against my butt was my only measure of exactly how horribly naked I was under that nightie.

In fairness to the doctor, he was probably doing all of this with as much efficient speed as possible in consideration of the 300 other upchucking passengers he had yet to see, but to me, stars were born exploded and became red dwarfs over the course of my modesty’s total annihilation.

“Now,” he said, swabbing the upper part of my left butt cheek with the chill alcohol swab,  “You’re going to feel a little prick. Just a little one.”

It was the faceless voice, bored and cold and topped with the cherry of superficial optimism, which would, in later years, send my thigh muscles into clenched quivers. It was the admonition to lie-completely-still-please that would bring the blood to my chest and cheeks and turn my nipples into hard little beads of need. But, most of all, it was that moment when the needle dimpled my flesh, just before it breached skin, that would forever remain the faithful source of my most productive masturbatory fantasy.

In that creaking, rolling room, blinded by a vista of plain white wall, still as a corpse, I felt the needle push into my flesh and, even before I felt the chill liquid seep into my body, I gasped, pressed my balled fists between my legs, and shuddered through my first and most titanic orgasm. I twitched, gasped again, and felt the stinging slide of needle sinking into the meat of me. I shook and my cunt spasmed with a violence that obliterated the needle’s ache.

The doctor said nothing. I said nothing. He withdrew the needle, drew my nightgown down over my nakedness and pulled the up the bedclothes.

I was still staring at the white wall when I heard the cabin door close gently. The nausea was gone.

The next day, even though the sea had calmed, and the ship had stopped rolling, and even though I had plowed through an adult-sized breakfast, I told my grandmother how sick I felt again. And again, she called the ship’s doctor.

  12 comments for “Little Prick

  1. TFP
    June 6, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    I imagine a striking military man in uniform would trigger such a memory out of the subconscious of a grown woman, say at a graduation ceremony. Yes, a woman sitting in the audience next to her husband. The speaker approaches the podium, a distinguished military man in starch white magnificence, she grasps her husbands arm as the long repressed memory returns in a sudden flood. Blushing as she lowers her head slightly, crossing her exposed legs from under the dress, trying to keep the erotic thoughts at bey as her temperature begins to rise in a hot flash.

    As I have mentioned in the past, you leave much for the reader to imagine, so I imagine…

  2. June 6, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    Always so powerful

  3. June 8, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    The first version being “Jouissance Précoce”. This is very interested RG. I see the additions you made and appreciate why you made them. The Doctor is a different character. I don’t imagine an austere physician saying “I hear there’s a very sick little girl in this cabin…” That’s a statement meant to ingratiate himself. The Doctor in the earlier version makes no such effort. The young woman’s response also implies a different sort of relationship between the two, which is confirmed by the final paragraph.

    It’s interesting.

    I don’t think it’s helpful to say which is my favorite but, as you know, I greatly admire the first story. The two stories attempt something different. I’ll put it this way: In the revision there seems to be an adult behind the voice of the girl/young woman. In the first story, not so much. One can experience the surprise in the first story as if in the present, as experienced by the 13 year old. In the second story, less so.

    The change from “little pinch” to “little prick” is perfect. Yes. I notice you give more emphasis to some of the other sexually suggestive parallels. “dimpled my flesh” is also a strong change.

    The last sentences: “…I told my grandmother how sick I felt again. And again, she called the ship’s doctor.” Entirely changes the character of the girl/young woman. Where in the first version one gets the sense of a realization, a stunned awakening and the beginning that will wipe away the “girl’s” innocence (that is, in it’s way, perhaps more erotic), the second version makes her, in a sense, more of a “Lolita”. This is where I most strongly sense the adult writer’s presence, written almost with a wink. In other words: ‘It’s all okay. I get it. I’m going back for more.’

    The title also brings an erotic writer’s self-consciousness to the whole (though, in the passage itself, I think the change is smart). Perhaps you overplay the suggestive parallels in this second version?

    I think perfection lies somewhere between these two.

    • June 10, 2016 at 12:38 am

      Thank you Will, I think you’re probably right. I felt that the girl’s ‘innocence’ was too twee, and so while it wasn’t my intention to make her more of a Lolita (because she’s NOT the object of anyone else’s desire) I did want to confront the reader with her active desire, rather than painting her as some oblivious ingenue, which while perhaps more pornographic and fantasy-worthy, isn’t as monstrous as a child who manipulates adults into giving her injections that get her off. Meanwhile, I felt that attempting to use a more childhish voice WAS disingenuous and more self-conscious from a writerly perspective. I felt is was more honest to make it clear that while the protagonist is a child, the narrator of the story is no longer one.

      • June 10, 2016 at 1:21 am

        Your perspective on voice is really worthy of conversation. I’m trying to think of the last time i wrote a 1rst person narrative (erotic) from an “underaged” perspective. I *have* written a 3rd person narrative, and one inspired by your first story. I’m not sure it would have occurred to me to describe one narrative voice as more or less “disingenuous”?

        Do you think it’s possible to write an erotic story, as an adult, from a thirteen year old’s perspective without being disingenuous? — or does that only pertain to something in this story?

        • Remittance Girl
          June 10, 2016 at 3:01 pm

          Yes, I think it is, as long as you ‘show your work’ – i.e. allow the mechanics of the truth – the character is not the writer – to show. The 20th Century belief that the writer must always be an invisible hand is a stylistic turn like any other. We sneer at earlier diegetic styles, of reader address. But in a way, “Dear reader” is more honest and more transparent. I think that different stories lend themselves to different levels of authorial presence. This story isn’t in the present tense. It is narrated by a the character at long remove from the event (“that would forever remain the faithful source of my most productive masturbatory fantasy”). I just felt it was more honest not to try and cover that up in this particular case.

  4. June 12, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    It has always been fascinating to me how a person can “imprint” on scenes from his/her youth and this story ably explores this idea. Also interesting was how you decided to make her twelve instead of thirteen as she was in your original draft.Very bold! The ending makes it clear that the protagonist subconsciously knows what she wants and is embarking on an exploratory journey. I’d love to see you write more in this genre.

    • June 18, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      Hi there. Thanks for commenting on this. I felt that twelve seemed a better age for this. I felt it helped insert a little more monstrousness that starts to fade as we being to sort out the rules of social order better in adolescence.

  5. JaneAnne
    October 16, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    The literary device of “voice”, its choice and its edit captivates me as a reader. There is a story (or stories if you choose to see it from multiple viewpoints) and then follows the inner and outer voice of editing. Among the great pleasures of your work one is your choice of storyteller. ” The Waiting Room” has always struck me as very rich for that reason. The mystery afforded by its tentative introduction of a third party voice enriches the experience of lifting the curtain on internal as well as external eroticism.

  6. Namira
    March 19, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    This is a beautiful piece. Reminds me of all the times ive felt unjustly turned on under circumstances that were probably not very erotic. Also an ode to teenage sexuality, society likes to pretend that it doesn’t exist. But sexual desire has a very wide range in both intensity, frequency and the age we start/ stop feeling it.
    Id like to read something by you that deals female with sexuality in old age. Ive read a lot of older male/ younger female, but mostly from the younger one’s perspective. An older female / male from female perspective would be nice. Especially one that looks at the changes that women’s bodies undergo.

    • March 20, 2017 at 8:20 pm

      That’s a great challenge I shall try to attend to

  7. Valerie R
    July 18, 2017 at 1:23 am

    I love how such a short vignette can convey such a well developed scene and characters. Wonderful!

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