It wasn’t that Sebastian was ashamed of his wife, Grace, who was seven months pregnant with twins. It was just that before the pregnancy, her body used to fit into tight jeans, and even tighter sweaters, curves his tongue and his fingers traced like riding a roller coaster, up and down, and loops even. Now, it felt more like running a tongue over the Grand Canyon. Sebastian wasn’t ashamed of Grace. He just no longer wanted to have sex with her.
“I’m fat,” Grace cried, yet again, while sitting at the breakfast table.
“You’re not fat, honey,” Sebastian said, pouring coffee into a mug. He didn’t look at her.
“I’m ginormous,” Grace said again. Tears gushed onto the whip cream like sweet ivory ribbon covering a double stack of pancakes. The waterfall of sticky syrup dripped over the plate onto the wooden table where it drowned a fruit fly.
“You’re not ginormous,” Sebastian said, stirring the sugar in his coffee. He heard her slurp the pancakes. He stirred louder.
He didn’t hear her waddle her way over to him. For being in her third trimester and having gained as much weight as a pygmy goat, he was continuously perplexed at how silent she was on her swollen feet. She put her hand on his shoulder. Not expecting her, he jumped a bit and the spoon clattered onto the counter.
“You know what would make me feel better?” she said. Her stomach nudged his. He swore he could feel the twins kicking in objection. Her chest began to heave. Her body shielded the light from the window. An eclipse in the middle of my kitchen, Sebastian thought.
“I’m late, Grace,” Sebastian said. He scooted to the side thinking he was just maybe thin enough to squeeze between her and the stove. She eyeballed him. The tears began to spout again. She massaged her stomach in little circles.
“You don’t find me desirable anymore, do you?”
“Of course, I do, sweetheart. I’m just late and you know how I feel about, you know.”
“Stop with that. I told you nothing is going to happen to the babies. You haven’t had sex with me in ages. Do you know how crazy my hormones are right now?”
“Grace, c’mon,” Sebastian said as he inched by her, the heat of her body like a volcano.
“Fine, go. But I have needs, Sebastian Friedman,” he heard her say as he yanked his coat off the hook and sped out the door.
Sebastian stopped by the bookstore during his lunch hour. He strolled past the section of children’s books in numerous colors; past the section of How-To books: How to Cook Thai Food, How to Fix a Running Toilet, How to Enjoy Your Mother-In-Law. He stalked his way into the corner that held the erotica books. He opened them up to look at the pictures. The first time he found himself in the erotica section was out of curiosity and boredom, but soon after began to visit it more often during his work lunches.
He grabbed his favorite book – Don’t Knock Her Till You Try Her – Stories of a Former Stripper. He never once read the stories. He’d just flip through the pages housed in the middle. There he salivated at pictures of the author, Ginger Knockers. His favorite was of Ginger sliding up or down a pole – depending on how he held the book – clad in nothing but the floss around her waist. She gawked at the camera, her mouth parted, red lipstick, matching her red heels, her legs braided around the pole, her feet pointed at the ceiling of dimly colored lights, her hair hanging down soft and black like the wing of a raven, her whopping breasts on either side of her face, her nipples hard and poking at the floor.
Ginger looked like Grace. Well, like Grace used to look, before she gained weight, before her breasts were no longer tokens for him to suck on and taste. Instead they had become a source of nutrition. Grace’s ass used to be plump, her cheeks vibrating like church bells when he smacked it, but now her ass was as broad as the church itself.
He grumbled and thought that Grace just didn’t understand. He had needs, too.
Sebastian dragged his feet to the house and turned the key with hesitation. He knew Grace wanted to get it on and he didn’t know what to say this time. Over the last few months he had overused the following excuses: I’m too tired; aren’t you’re too tired; I have a headache; don’t you have a headache; I don’t want to hurt the babies; how can you be so sure it won’t hurt the babies; I have to work from home tonight; I have to fix the leaky faucet; I have to mow the lawn; I have to feed the dog – which caused a huge argument since they didn’t own a dog.
The house was calm, the lights off, and he remembered it was Tuesday – Grace’s Mommy-To-Be class over at the Y.
Tuesdays were his favorite. He’d get down to his boxers, mosey his way over to the closet, reach behind the box that held the Christmas ornaments, and take out the black lockbox. The key was behind the candle on the dresser next to an empty baby frame with Twins First Picture engraved on the bottom.
Grace and Sebastian started that secret box long ago. It housed porno movies that they collected over the years, lubricant (which had to be organic on Grace’s insistence), and her toy that she was reluctant at first to try, but quickly bonded with as the closest thing she could have to a threesome.
For the last six weeks, while Grace was in class learning how to care for her soon-to-be babies, to soothe them, Sebastian was soothing himself, ogling one of the movies and clasping his eyes right before he came imagining not Grace, but Ginger Knockers.
Sebastian tore off his clothes and snapped up the key on his way to the closet, pushed the Christmas box aside and seized the lockbox. He was hard already thinking of what was to come, only feeling a little guilty, but not enough to think twice about it. He hunkered on the bed and turned the key.
Right on top of Grace’s toy (which was clear since she said the flesh ones freaked her out), on top of the bottle of lube and all those porno movies with naked women and fake boobs, was a pamphlet with Sebastian scribbled in black marker above the title, A Husband’s Complete Guide to Pregnancy Sex. The pamphlet was pale orange with two caricatures, one with a round belly, sitting on a bed, holding stick hands. He immediately felt himself soften and snagged the pamphlet. He peeped down at the box and saw that the new bottle of lube he had bought was a quarter used. The vibrator glistened and the movies were out of their cases. A post-it note said, “I have needs, Sebastian Freidman.”
After putting his pajamas on and tucking the lockbox behind the box of ornaments again, he sat on the bed and opened the pamphlet. He didn’t suddenly feel attracted to his pregnant wife, but he couldn’t explain the tinge of jealousy towards her Mega Size Jack Rabbit. She had only ever used it in front of him, so he could watch, or he used it on her while she satisfied him. They were a team. But now it was just Jack and Grace. He was Sebastian Fucking Friedman and no plastic battery operated toy was going to make him feel like he couldn’t do his job as a man. Plus, the toy didn’t have eyes to see how fat Grace had gotten, so of course, it was easy. He had the hard job.
He opened the pamphlet:
Sexual Positions During Pregnancy As she grows, the traditional man-on-top position is more uncomfortable for pregnant women. The pregnant woman should not be flat on her back because the growing uterus can compress major blood vessels.
“Great,” Sebastian murmured. He looked at the next page. Stick figures accompanied each position because a real artist was probably out getting some.
Try the following instead:
Have Her Get on Top! This position has been shown to be associated with higher levels of sexual satisfaction in pregnant women. It puts no weight on her abdomen and allows her to control the depth of penetration.
When Grace got home from class that night, the hint of Chinese food on her breath and grains of rice in her bra, she found Sebastian perched on the bed, the pamphlet propped up on the nightstand.
“Oh, Seb,” she said and tottered over to him. Sebastian staggered a smile, thought about how she probably said, “Oh, Jack,” just earlier that day. He said nothing, just leaned in and kissed her imagining Ginger. It managed to get him hard enough, and he lay on the bed, the room gray with moonlight.
“Get on top,” he said.
Grace giggled and quickly clapped her hands twice like she was a cheerleader at the big game. She wiggled out of her maternity clothes. Sebastian lay there, his eyes closed, trying to stay decently hard. He felt the bed bounce and tilt to one side as she got on. He heard her breathe heavy and moan a bit. Well, this isn’t so bad, he thought.
“Seb, help me. I can’t lift my leg high enough.”
He opened his eyes and saw her outspreading shadow. She was kneeling next to his pelvis, lifting one of her legs like a St. Bernard peeing on a fire hydrant. He corralled her leg and swung it back and forth until it made it over to the other side of him. Her hands socked his chest and some of his hair caught in her wedding ring.
Grace panted, “All that moving got me nauseous. Help me get off . . . you know what I mean.”
That wasn’t the getting off Sebastian had in mind.
The next morning, she thanked him for at least trying. He patted her on the hand and went to work. At lunch he went back to see Ginger Knockers.
When he got home, Grace was in the shower. He opened up the lockbox for a quick peek and saw the lube was even lower now and Jack glimmered again. Sebastian got upset and moved Jack to face the upper right hand corner. That way he’d know for sure if Grace was seeing Jack behind his back.
He looked at the nightstand and saw the pamphlet again. He wasn’t a quitter. He heard the shower running and Grace humming The Itsy Bitsy Spider.
He opened up the pamphlet:
Lie side-by-side in the spoons position. This allows for only shallow penetration. Deep thrusts can become uncomfortable as the months pass.
“How was work, honey?” Grace said, her hair dripping, her towel looked like a handkerchief over her gibbous body.
“Get on the bed. We’re trying this again,” he said, tossing the pamphlet on the nightstand. She rocked onto the bed and lay on her side facing away from him. He focused on the birthmark on her lower back, the shape of the Philippines and the color of light toast. He thought this would help him forget the two squatters in her stomach.
Sebastian wormed his way in there, but didn’t feel much. He thought of his twins and how they were probably crammed in there next to one another, with their knee-less legs crossed like they were meditating, their hands underneath their non-existent chins, shaking their heads and rolling their eyes.
“Sebastian, I’m not comfortable,” Grace said. He stopped poking her and turned on his back.
“Thanks anyway,” she said and got up to blow dry her hair.
At breakfast the next morning, Grace said, “The traffic report is bad. You should leave a few minutes early.” She tucked his lunch into his briefcase. She didn’t seem to want him anymore. She seemed to want to get him out of the house quicker.
“I’m sure you’d like that,” he mumbled.
Grace didn’t hear him. He thought of this again hours later as he sat in the bookstore.
When Sebastian got home that night, Grace was napping on the recliner. She looked so peaceful, almost beautiful. He tiptoed over to the bedroom, took out the box, and when he opened it, Jack was facing the lower left-hand corner. They were caught.
He wanted to confront her, but what would he say? He had ignored her advances for months, and saying anything now would make him seem like he was intimidated, even jealous. He had to win her back. He plucked the pamphlet once again and read over the other positions.
Make love sitting down. This is another position that puts no weight on her uterus. Sit on a (sturdy) chair and have her straddle you. She can control the rate and depth of penetration by standing up more or by squatting down.
He knew that wouldn’t work. There wasn’t a chair in the house that could hold both of them except the toilet. He read the small, bordered box in the corner with a cartoon light bulb over it.
Oral sex safe during pregnancy. Normal oral sex won’t harm her or your baby. In fact, it can be a good solution if intercourse is deemed too risky.
The only thing you must avoid is blowing air into her vagina. Blowing air can cause a blockage of a blood vessel by an air bubble (known as an air embolism). An embolism can be potentially fatal for her and your baby.
He knew that wouldn’t work, either. Sebastian had a tendency to sneeze at odd times for no reason. He went back to the list of positions and read the final one:
Get her onto her hands or knees in the doggy position. This is a good position for later on in her pregnancy when it’s a relief to have weight taken off her pelvis. Penetration can be quite deep in this position. If she finds it uncomfortable, hold a pillow between her bottom and your lower tummy. This will prevent you from pushing too far inside her.
He marched his way down the hallway and tapped her on the shoulder a few times. She wiped the drool from the corner of her mouth.
“Let’s go,” he said and clutched her hand to help her up.
“Now?” she said, half asleep.
After ten minutes of her slow pace they got to the bedroom.
“Get on your knees. You know, like a dog.” He pointed to the bed, undoing his belt.
“You have such a way with words,” she yawned.
“You used to love this position,” he said.
“It’s been so long, I forgot,” she said, and then, “Why are you putting a pillow under my ass?”
“So, I don’t penetrate too deep or something. Stop asking questions.”
Entering Grace was like putting a cucumber in the back of a semi truck, but Sebastian was determined. He was going to satisfy his wife. Through better or for worse they were vowed to one another. If he could get through this, he could get through anything. He probed her and wondered if the twins thought someone was knocking on the backdoor.
Then he heard it, and at first he couldn’t believe it. The sound was long and loud.
He pulled out, although he was never really in. Grace’s face was on another pillow, her mouth open.
“Grace!” he said. She snorted and woke up.
“What? Did I leave the stove on again?” she rolled to her side and struggled to sit up. She saw him standing there, exposed and soft. “I’m sorry. I’m exhausted.”
“What, you couldn’t get enough of Jack today?” Goosebumps started to form over his body as he said it.
He turned his head, pointing to the closet with his chin.
Grace snickered. “You don’t have sex with me for months. Make me feel hideous while I’m carrying your babies, and now you are jealous of my vibrator?”
“I’m not jealous,” he said, and began to put his boxers on.
“I know I don’t look like I used to, but I needed my husband to make me feel like he still thought I was beautiful. You did this to yourself. What do you expect me to do? I’m still a woman, Sebastian. You thought I didn’t know about your Tuesday night flings with Orgy Paradise Island 78 and Oiled Up Women Wrestlers of Japan? I don’t care that you satisfy yourself to those movies, but not once did you ask me to join you. Not once did you think ‘Hey, Grace wants to get off, too.’” Grace sat up, her hands propped behind her like columns for support.
Sebastian sat down next to her on the bed, only briefly meeting her eyes.
“You didn’t care to make me feel like a woman, so I went to the next best thing.”
He looked at the carpet.
“Now, I’m going to sleep.” She lay down and brought the blanket over her shoulders.
Grace was still asleep when he got up for work the next day. He noticed the pamphlet had fallen to the floor, and he left it there.
At lunch, he went back to the bookstore, but didn’t really know why this time. He did pick up the book, but didn’t go to the picture. Instead, he flipped to the back. There was a picture he had never seen before. Ginger Knockers as she was when the book was published over a decade ago. Ginger Knockers whose plaid button-up shirt couldn’t hide her saggy boobs, whose wrinkles outlined her face like a maze. Her lips were now red like spoiled beets. Her hair was like dirty snow and thinning like dead grass.
She didn’t look like Grace.
Sebastian went home and passed Grace in the kitchen pouring another handful of marshmallows into her hot chocolate.
“Let’s go,” he said and took her hand.
“Really, I appreciate the effort, but-”
He pulled at her, and she careened after him into the bedroom.
He watched her topple on the bed as he reached into the closet. The lockbox wasn’t even locked this time. The key stuck out like a plank, the bottle of lube almost empty. Jack was at rest. He snatched it and turned to her. He couldn’t help not being sexually attracted to her while she was pregnant, but he knew he could satisfy her.
Sebastian kissed Grace. Jack nestled between both of their hands. They were a team again.
About the author…
Cyn Vargas writes because it’s her way of legally exposing herself in public. A Top 25 Finalist in Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers, her work has appeared in Hair Trigger 33 and the Story Week Reader. Cyn is currently a MFA candidate in Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago. www.cynvargas.com