Unconventional Relationship - Olivia and Ethan - San Francisco Story # 10, a short story by crankyvic. Date added: 2012-02-08. Times viewed: 1542.
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- Intro: An unconventional modern day love story, single parent, married woman having an affair, beach, run, a little bit of longing and lost soul type, a bit of BDSM sex stuff thrown in.
“Look, the sun is rising.” Olivia raised her arms and pointed forward while turning her head to Ethan. The beach was soft and sandy, and the bay was calm. One would never have guessed that it was January in Northern California. It was unseasonably warm for this time of the year.
Taking a short break from the jog along the beach trail, Olivia and Ethan were walking on the wet and seaweed-smelling beach, hand in hand.
The sun was rising just above the eastern island. The beach was deserted – it was just after 7 AM. Ethan was secretively enjoying this moment. He was wide-awake and feeling energized. He had never been to this side of the island. His sailboat was docked on the west end so this was a brand new experience, to see this calm beach, to be with Olivia, at last, in this town that he had frequented, because of his sailboat, and because of his prior relationship with another woman who lived here, but never with Olivia, the girl he had dated years and years ago.
Olivia smelled the mixture of sex, perfume and sweat. She was awake, sort of, or at least as awake as she could ever be at this ungodly hour. She was not a morning person, but runner’s high gave her the endorphins she needed to carry on a semi coherent conversation with Ethan. Plus, they had just had a quickie before the run, and sex, always got her into a good mood.
Her mascara was smeared all over, but she was oblivious to that. Olivia knew instinctively, regardless how their liaison might end, as in tomorrow, or down the road, or if it would not end at all, as in, their affair would last indefinitely; they’d have this sunrise to look back on. Regardless how terrible her memory had been, she would remember this. How poetic then, to see sunrise with Ethan, when her prior liaisons and she only saw sunset.
Memories were often created in those rare, unexpected, spontaneous moments. Not something planned, or forced upon. Memories required reflection, and Olivia reflected hard on this moment, for she knew it was one of those non-repeatable moments. Even if they saw sunrise again, it would not be the same. This was the first time. And you always remembered your first time.
She wondered if there was a deeper meaning to all of this. Sunrise was just as symbolic as sunset. One could imagine sunrise was the start of something grandeur, something hopefully, eternal, like her relationship with Ethan, whereas sunset could be interpreted as the inevitable ending of something, tragic or not. So could whatever Olivia and Ethan have, symbolized something more? Those were the private thoughts of Olivia, which she kept to herself.
II. Push and Pull
At that precise moment, Olivia instinctively wanted to hold Ethan’s hand. Olivia had always been a person who was a bit of touchy-feeling. She enjoyed intense hugs, kisses on the cheeks, the whole nine yards. She would prefer to exercise the French greeting customs but she was too shy to practice it with anyone. She was therefore, content with holding Ethan’s hand. Ethan was more reserved. Raised in the Midwest by his Nordic parents, he was subdued, proper, and not that affectionate in public. Olivia fantasized about doing it in public, for instance, and as she was holding Ethan’s hand, she developed the sudden urge to guide Ethan to that cove just a few steps away, where few could spot them, there in the open, she wanted to go down on Ethan, even though they just had sex. However, she knew Ethan would not have wanted that. So she kept this particular thought to herself also.
Ethan also fantasized about doing different things to Olivia, things that he couldn’t even put down on his emails to her. Things he would not say, but he’d just do. In most of his fantasies, he had imagined to keep Olivia, all to himself, and did whatever he wanted to do to her, whenever he wanted, but only within the confines of his bedroom.
Such was the push and pull of Olivia and Ethan’s relationship. It showed, even in the handholding business. While Olivia wanted to continue holding Ethan’s hand, Ethan was trying to break free of the hold. He started to talk with his hands. By the virtual of gesturing, Ethan let go of the small hand that was holding his own, all the while leaving Olivia wonder if she overdid it, whatever this was: this walking-on-the-beach- while-holding hands-in-public-business.
It promised to be a warm and sunny day.
III. The Unconventional Relationship
When Olivia reluctantly agreed for Ethan to come and meet her up for a run, by the beach, on an early Sunday morning, she was not really thinking. She just wanted to see Ethan, and she loved to run. Seeing Ethan and running seemed like the perfect combination. She left out the fact that he would be coming to her house, on an early Sunday morning, where her husband Jason was away on a business trip, or the fact that it was way earlier than her normal wake up schedule. Olivia was a night owl, and Ethan was an early bird. They were polar opposite when it came to sleep schedule, but they were otherwise two peas in the same pod.
It was an unusual week. Olivia had wanted to spend an evening with Ethan, that did not happen because Ethan had his son that week, and when he was on child duty, he stayed at his son’s place, aka, not his own place. Olivia never really questioned the arrangement, whether Ethan slept in the same bed as the child’s mother, or what type of relationship Ethan had with the child’s mother. This was San Francisco, co-parenting was a popular method to raise children for those women over forty and “single”. She knew that Ethan was a father, he fathered a child with a woman whom he dated, but he was not intending to marry her, or anyone for that matter. Ethan would never get married, or thought that he’d be a father. So when the woman was pregnant, they reached an agreement of a sort where he would be present in the child’s life as the child’s father. And Ethan had become a good father. He spent nights at the child’s house, and he supported the child financially, it was as if he went through a divorce with the child’s mother, yet, strangely enough, better than the outcome of most divorces, he and the child’s mother could live under the same roof, in a civil manner, and he could take care of the child, form a relationship with the mother, and still date others. Others, at the moment, as it turned out, was Olivia, a married woman with children of her own.
Such was the unconventional relationship Olivia and Ethan formed. A story that, under normal circumstance, would have been an outlier, would lead to terrible ending that hurt everyone involved.
But in this case, both Olivia and Ethan reached the same conclusion or illusion, depending on how you would look at it, that their relationship could possibly last, even grow over time, and that they would be happy, living in this customized life tailored for just the two of them.
IV. Ethan and Olivia
When she first extended her hand to Ethan, he said, “Wow, your hands are still cold. We have been running. You are still cold.”
“No, I actually feel alright, but my hands are often cold.” Olivia explained, while enjoying a moment where her hand was being held by Ethan, being warmed up as they spoke.
Minute before, they had been jogging on the paved beach trail. Ethan wore a black fleece running shirt and jogger’s pants, also black, and suitably, he donned a black hat. He looked quite severe. Olivia thought to herself. She secretively wished that he wore brighter colors more often, it would have been more festive, more European, and it would compliment his light but turning gray hair and his green eyes better than black, the non reflective non color.
Ethan used to have blond hair, now in his mid 40s, his hair had become darker and was turning gray. He was about 5’10”, good looking and in shape. He could pass for being in his late 30s. Olivia thought to herself. He just needed to get his hair highlighted and keep his face clean shaven, maybe a bit more rigorous beauty routine that involved a periodic injection of Botox to get rid of his wrinkles around his eyes. He was otherwise the definition of a “pretty boy”. Olivia enjoyed his physique, and how well he looked.
Ironically, Olivia wore black also, but she was convinced she pulled off black better than Ethan did. She’s 5’2”, petite, with medium length dark brown hair with golden highlights. Her jet black hairs days were long over ever since she discovered a few gray and stray hair in the mirror. She saw her hairdresser and demanded that she was to be made over. “No more grays please”. She pleaded. They turned her into an edgy looking Asian woman. Some friends and colleagues thought that she ought to work in downtown New York, edgy and pretty, where all edgy and pretty women belonged.
She was never edgy, but she considered herself pretty once. Her lighter hair with golden highlights suited her pale skin better, as it turned out. She looked softer, and more approachable. In fact, the reaction was immediate. People would approach her even if they didn’t know her. They seemed to want to talk to her and they smiled at her often. She realized for the first time, how you looked changed people’s perception, and therefore your self-image, in this case, the self-image was improved.
Olivia had large almond shaped brown eyes, arched eyebrows, high cheekbones, and a curvy body. Born to a northern Chinese father and a southern Chinese mother, her facial structure was distinctively northern and her body type was southern. In her native country of China, where she grew up, she was always considered pretty, but not because of her facial structure, but because of her pale, whiter than white skin tone. She had very light complexion and that was enough for her to be the subject of envy. But in United States, Olivia did not feel the same advantage. She was pale just like the rest of the white Americans. She wanted to be tanned, have olive skin like her daughter did, but she was not successful. She got sun burned. So in her late 30s, she learned to always put sunscreen on and wear hats when she’s outside. A mother of two, some of her friends felt that she behaved still like a girl, an unmarried girl who bore no children. She looked like a girl without children, or married, she laughed out loud, got excited over teen books, and she was always so animated. She took a great deal of pride in her exercise routine. She worked out daily. She hired a personal trainer; a young 24-year-old lesbian who flirted with her regularly while kicked her ass in sessions.
She had what many would say a perfect life – a great job, an equally accomplished husband with Ivy league pedigree and a very Anglo-Saxon last name, two children, one boy and one girl, both were at self-sufficient ages, bicultural and bilingual. They owned homes in other countries. They were among top 1% household, though they did not live an extravagant lifestyle, they were well positioned to retire to a warm climate place with arts and theatre. Their children went to private schools. They had planned for them to attend east coast prep schools when they were older, as in Andover/Exeter. They lived in a large Victorian house on this island, 20 minutes away from San Francisco.
But Olivia wanted more. She fantasized about a fabulous sex life that involved kinks. When Olivia met up with Ethan, she thought Ethan was the male version of herself. He was in tune with his feelings, but distant at the same time. He analyzed situations, and discussed sex in a clinical way that Olivia found refreshing. And underneath it all, he was wild and fantastic in bed, and he was into the same kind of kinks.
For her run with Ethan, Olivia picked out her outfit the night before. It was a black Tee from Africa and Lululemon jogging pants. She also dunned a Black cap from a store in UK. Underneath her unique T-shirt was the $100 sports bra she bought not long ago. She did not wear cheap clothing or accessories when it came to exercise. As Ethan told her once, certain things that you use often, like eyeglasses or briefcase, you should calculate the cost based on a per-wear bases, it’s worth investing in those things that you used often. Ethan had worn nice eyeglasses and he had a new hand made briefcase.
Such were the conversations being held between Olivia and Ethan. Mundane and trivial, but those were the conversations. As lovers, you didn’t have to deal with the immediate realities.
Realities were for the rest of the world they lived in. With your family, your spouse, your children and your friends, you discussed about money, economic conditions, politics, utility bills, illness, weird growth under your arm, and the latest issues in your children’ development.
But as lovers, Olivia and Ethan’s interactions were often limited.
V. The Game of Words
“You are very pretty.” Olivia told Ethan as they were walking on the beach.
“Are you sure that you are not gay?” She asked Ethan, this was their ongoing dialogue.
Ethan found her repetitive and their conversation was tiring. She questioned his sexual preference every time they met. It was as if it was a game, or she had forgotten the last conversation.
“No, I’m pretty sure of it. And, YOU know it!” Ethan would gave her the same answer, as he always did.
It WAS a game of a sort for Olivia. Ethan denied being gay, and Olivia asked him anyway each time they met.
“I’ve got you figured out.” Ethan would tease Olivia. “I think you go around and tell everyone that I’m gay.”
“No, I do not.” Olivia would deny.
“Well, maybe once upon a time. But not now.” Olivia would then change her answer.
She was pleased somehow that Ethan continued to play this silly game with her. It was juvenile, yet she had no interest in stopping this game. It was how they interacted. They teased, they made out like two teenagers. They were in their own ways, reliving their youth, but this time the stake was much higher, there were more to lose, but they did not care.
VI. Over the Years
Ethan had fine and eclectic taste. Olivia always liked him because of it. He seemed almost feminine in some ways, in a way that other women might find curious, because he lived in San Francisco. He’s always been a bit too pretty, Olivia thought, and Olivia’s mom used to tell her that she should never go out with someone who’s prettier than her. But Olivia liked that about Ethan. She was always attracted to pretty men, though she always seemed to end up with men who were more masculine, significantly taller and less neat.
Olivia contemplated of contacting Ethan for a good three months before making that move. They were once upon a time, lovers. But that status quickly faded, and they became amiable but distant friends. Ethan dated a lot of women, Olivia dated a lot of men, neither one of them seemed cared about each others’ dating status, sometimes when relationship ends, it did not have to be all dramatic. It was a peaceful transformation between Olivia and Ethan. They took strides in moving on with their lives. They stayed in contact, loosely, mostly through emails, and when Facebook became the default communication venue, they found each other and became Facebook friends.
Over the years, they exchanged nonchalant emails. They kept each other posted of their mutual friends. They had been curious of each other’s lives in a way that most people who dated but stayed friends would. They did not dwell on the past; they focused on the present and future. But somehow, Olivia felt that the sexual energy never went away with Ethan. He never got enough of her when she called it quits, the last time. Olivia had gotten married, had children. Her physique changed, her mentality changed, and her life changed. For a while, she swore off relationship, friendship, in particular with men. That “while”, lasted ten good years.
VII. Memories, Recalled
Years and years ago, Olivia had just gotten married. She met a charismatic man at a party. He was interesting, educated, intelligent and highly successful. Olivia was drawn to him, and it would appear he her. They exchanged lengthy emails over the period of two weeks, and he shared his entire life with her. For a short, almost brief moment, Olivia thought that she had lost her head, and fallen in love with this man. He was approaching their developing friendship casually, but there was that chemistry, the elusive chemistry that overturned anything else logical or rational. They went out for dinner. At a date restaurant. It was the only time during those years Olivia felt that she was cheating. She did not tell her husband about this dinner, even though they never actually touched or kissed.
The meeting was proven to be a test to her own faith in marriage, and she couldn’t go there, wherever there was. This man apparently felt the same way. They did not advance. In the middle of the dinner, Olivia looked out of the window, and there was Ethan, walking with a guy, passing by the window, the window where Olivia was facing, oblivious of Olivia, sitting there with a man who was not her husband.
That was the last known memory of Ethan for Olivia. Though Ethan would recount their last encounter much differently.
“I came to your house for a party.” Ethan recalled when the last time they had dinner with his son.
“I don’t remember that.” Olivia denied it vehemently.
“Do you usually have some sort of Christmas party?” Ethan was being patient. He found that to deal with Olivia, one must be patient. She was excitable, and she could be very stubborn.
“Yes I did.” Olivia admitted it.
“Well, I was there, for about an hour and half. I met your friends. But I didn’t stay long.”
“I met your husband, your children, both of them.”
“Were you by yourself then?” Olivia was getting interested.
“Yes. I didn’t know anyone who was there, and I didn’t stay long. It would have been weird. To be hanging out with the girlfriend from a decade ago and her family for too long.” Ethan explained, softly, as he always did.
Olivia wrinkled her nose. She tried not to frown, it would make her developing wrinkles quicker and she’d have to get on with her Botox appointment more often. She was vain, like Ethan, that way.
She was a little taken aback by Ethan’s description of her, “a girlfriend”. She didn’t think of Ethan as her boyfriend then. She never did. He was a boy, a friend, but not a boyfriend.
But she didn’t correct Ethan. She had solidified her status, this time, as his girlfriend. She liked that status; it felt surprisingly natural, despite her marital status.
So it must have been when Ethan saw her last. A couple of years ago.
He further validated his statement that morning.
Olivia got a text from Ethan at 6 AM that morning. “I’m taking off now.” He said. She was surprised by how early it was, but strangely she was awake. She couldn’t sleep when she knew that she’d see Ethan soon. She wanted to be with him.
Ethan had arrived just after 6:30. The porch light was still on, because it was still dark outside, and he knew exactly where she lived. Even though technically it was the first known memory to Olivia that he’s been to this house. He gave her a small kiss. All smiles.
“Good morning sleepy head.” He greeted her politely.
“Come on in.” He stepped into this house, and took off his shoes. Somehow he knew that was her house rule. She wondered if this was how he came by the last time when they had a party, he coming in, taking off his shoes, wandering about in his old girlfriend’s house.
“Yes, I had definitely been in this house before.” Ethan said, as if it was more to himself than for Olivia to hear.
“Have you seen the remodeled master bathroom?” Olivia asked.
“No, I don’t think so. It wasn’t done then.” Ethan answered. He was waiting.
“Come, let me show you.” Ethan did not have to wait long for the invitation.
“I’ve seen the upstairs, you know. The last time I was here.” Ethan told her.
Olivia looked back and gave Ethan a peculiar look, as she climbed the narrow but steep stairs first. She was again surprised by her lack of memory.
Ethan followed her to her bedroom. She showed him the marble tiled bathroom and he said, “That was nice.”
There he pinned her against the wall. She found her kissing him back, as if she knew this was going to happen, even though she never thought the feasibility of it. He was growing hard. She felt him.
“Just a quickie?” Ethan asked.
Olivia found herself leading Ethan to her bed. Ethan was then on top of her, clothes were off and they were intertwined. It felt natural. Having Ethan inside of her, it was what was needed, for both of them. Life was complete with each other. She needed Ethan like flower needing the sun. She needed his presence in her life, to feel alive, and more than anything else, she needed Ethan to feel the calmness. He was her very own brand of Zoloft and Lamictal, which she had been prescribed to by her shrink. With Ethan’s presence, she felt loved, loving and collected. Those early days of anxiety, caused by her lack of knowledge of whether he would become a constant force or not, gone.
She knew he needed her just as much as she needed him. They were each other’s oxygen.
VIII. First Contact
Olivia remembered how she made that decision to reach out to Ethan. She was reaching back out to many people whom she had become distant with over the years. Ethan was the last on her list, for exactly what reason that it took that long for her to communicate to him, she couldn’t tell. But she knew that he was the least likely candidate to be reacquainted with.
Then one day she saw Ethan posted something on Facebook, it would appear that he was going to a place near where she was. In a moment of non-thinking, Olivia responded by saying that she was nearby. Ethan corrected her politely and let she and everyone who were his “friends” know that he was not where she thought he was. He was in fact far away from it. He explained to his other “friends”, that Olivia was in a different place. As Olivia had little interaction with Ethan over the years, she was surprised that he called her name out in his reply note. It stirred up something. It felt intimate. Few of her friends would call her by her full name. They would always call her Oli. But Ethan always called her Olivia, if he did not call her Baby, or Sweetie.
It was strange to hear from Ethan to call her by her full name. Beneath the politeness, there was that implied intimacy, and sexual undercurrent. Olivia thought that she was making all of this up in her head. But she took notes. She took a mental note to get back to Ethan one of those days, via private messaging on Facebook.
She did just that. A few weeks later. He replied immediately. The dance of emailing went back and forth for a while, until Olivia persistence paid off.
The rest, as they would say, was history.
Olivia never thought that far ahead, but four months later; she’s definitively in a relationship with Ethan, one that she had not thought through on how to move forward with. Whatever it was, she and Ethan both knew that they wanted to continue. It would be inconceivable to find someone who was into the same kind of kinks, shared that much in common and demanded that little of each other.
IX. Unconventional Relationship, Defined
For Ethan, Olivia was the perfect woman. She was low maintenance. She wrote to him consistently, she shared her thoughts with him. She wanted him. She accommodated him. She never threw a tantrum; she very rarely got upset with him, and if she did, she did not let Ethan know. She was always, patiently waiting for him to return to her. She would not demand a marriage, which Ethan would never be able to provide; she would not even demand a traditional relationship, which Ethan could not afford.
For Olivia, Ethan augmented her life as well. She had finally the sexual freedom that she was looking for throughout her life. She felt cared for again.
They had toyed around a proper terminology to define themselves. A couple of weeks ago, while in bed, she asked him, "What are you to me?" He said, "I am your boyfriend." "I shall be your girlfriend then". Olivia answered back. So it was settled. She knew that she was as close as a girlfriend would ever be to Ethan. And that was enough.
They saw each other every few weeks. He had a life outside of hers. She his.
It would be a story with no ending. Though each of them secretively wished that they would see each other more, they knew that whatever this was, it would take time to develop. They were OK with that ambiguity.
X. The Waiting Game
On the way back from the run, they lingered over a real estate office, where a number of houses were listed. Ethan told Olivia that this town reminded him of his home in the Midwest. This island was known as Iowa on the Bay. It was filled with Victorian houses and a restored art deco theatre. Ethan stopped at the real estate office's window, looking in. There was a small craftsman house. The advertisement of the house just said “Cute”. Ethan read it out loud. “Cute.” He wondered, for that split second, what it would be like to live in that house, with Olivia, till the end of the day.
Then, he tucked the thought away. He had to get back to the city to watch his son.
Olivia thought of the same thing, she thought how it would have been to live with the man she was so madly in lust with. She might be in love with.
She imagined how it would be like to wake him up with her mouth. She loved having him in her mouth. It was never the same with anyone else. She had never wanted another the same way she did with Ethan. She felt a magnetic pull, a primal force when she was with Ethan, the body ached for what the body ached. She had a vision of her being tied, bond to the bedpost, she was being ravaged, as Ethan forcefully entered her while he covered her mouth as she was about to scream for the pain that she could no longer endure. Then her vision changed, she had the other vision of Ethan caressing her, tenderly rocking her back and forth, while she sat on him, with her lips pressed hard on his, her soft hair draping over his face, and he dreamingly called her “Oh Sweetie”. Those were contrasting images of their sexual dynamics. Both had happened before, and likely to occur again. Both were normal for them, and both were invigoratingly natural. These memories were toxic and completely addictive.
Ethan put his lips on her, kissing her gently and briefly. It was time to say good-bye.
“When can I see you again?” Olivia asked.
“As soon as I’m back.” Ethan answered in earnest.
“Will you write to me when you are on the road?” Olivia asked again.
“Of course I would.” Ethan replied.
"There is my car." Ethan walked towards it. Olivia stayed behind, she looked on, as he smiled, this time, a bit forced. She knew his mind was already onto another thing, another item on his busy Sunday agenda, one which did not include her.
"I have to go." Ethan said. Goodbyes were always like that. Olivia felt a tuck, a rush of accutel pain, like part of her was ripped open, the part that pumped oxygen in and out, her heart. She felt physically ill. She needed to lie down all of sudden.
"Have a good day." Olivia smiled back. That was always the default answer for Olivia. She would never reveal her true self. The stake was too high, and that was really not the point. Ethan wanted to see that happy Olivia, the one who joked, laughed and was always lighthearted. Not this emotional being, who got hurt just as easily as the next woman. Olivia vowed never to be that woman, the weaker sex, the one who demanded men's attention and affection.
Olivia also knew better. Ethan would not write when he's on the road, or call. It would probably be another two weeks before Ethan resurfaced again. He had a company to run, child to care for, and trips to make. He took break from Olivia and disappeared into thin air, as if he never existed. Such was their other dynamics. One that involved non-communication.
It would not be the first nor the last time she’d not hear from him in between. She told herself that she was OK with it. This trip would not be an exception.
She would wait, patiently, for that next run, for that next memory to be created.
She would wait, for they had nothing, but time.
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