I've Already Forgotten You by Bill Tope

Since the age of 14, Lisa has treated men as a necessary evil, and wonders if she'll ever find love.

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"I've already forgotten you," Lisa whispered at the receding figure as he disappeared down the hallway, the way they always did. He didn't look back. But Lisa didn't hold his sudden departure against him. She had known John only a short time and he took with him only a small piece of her life. She ached.

Lisa had begun turning tricks at 14, to combat a failing grade in high school algebra. Mr. Uhe had been circumspect; married and with four children, he had led Lisa after school to a supply room off the teachers' lounge and done his business without a word. No warmth, no caresses, no sweet murmurings and no kisses, he pushed her against a cabinet and took her from behind, introducing the high school sophomore to sex without feelings. When he finished, and was zipping up, she rearranged her clothing and looked back at him.

"You passed algebra," he assured her gruffly. "You earned a C." Then after a moment, "If you want a B, meet me back here tomorrow, same time." She nodded.

Lisa, now 21, and a college sophomore, majored in math, with an idea to become a teacher. She discovered that she was really quite talented at math, once the pressure was off. Or perhaps she only wanted to prove to the universe that she hadn't needed Uhe's help after all. She was still embarrassed at the lengths to which she had gone all those years before.

Lisa disappeared into the bathroom, where she took a scalding shower, the way she always did - after. Using plenty of soap, she cleansed herself inside and out, unaware of the time she consumed until the water turned cold. Wrapping a fluffy towel about her, Lisa padded into her bedroom and regarded herself in the cheval mirror.

"Nice ass," was what John had told her. It was what he always told her as he used her body and humiliated her and as she once again experienced sex without love, without passion, without feelings.

There was a knock at the door. Dropping the towel and draping a robe about her shoulders, she hurried through the apartment and swept open the door. It was her boyfriend, Eliot. "Get in here, you!" she purred in a sultry voice.

Eliot took Lisa in his sinewy arms and embraced her lovingly. "What have you been up to, babe?" he asked.

"Studying - calculus," she lied.

Lisa had been dating Eliot, a player on the school's football team, recently demoted to bench warmer, for nearly a year, and he had no idea of the source of her income. She let him think that she had doting parents half-way across the country, who generously funded her expenses. Lisa had a partial academic scholarship, yet still needed five grand per month to pay for the balance of the tuition and the costly apartment and other expenses. It was an expensive school. Inasmuch as she was still young and pretty and fresh-looking and did not use a pimp, she found that by turning tricks every third day she garnered all the funds she needed. She plotted her class schedule accordingly. As she lay with Eliot on her bed, she recalled the first time that a pimp had attempted to coerce her into becoming part of his "stable."

He had been discreet: he used his "main girl" to get close to Lisa and shower her with gifts, which she said were free. Bello appeared one night and demanded payment, and she was taken aback. When she turned down his demand to use her in his operation, Bello beat her and raped her and told her she would get worse. He was careful to not strike her face or anywhere the marks would show. He demanded two thousand dollars, "Or else." When Bello returned the next night, Lisa fought back: she pointed a huge, ugly revolver she'd bought at a pawn shop and shot him in the dick. Reasoning - correctly - that Bello could hardly press charges against the woman he'd tried to terrorize into joining his sex ring, she'd dragged his bleeding body out into the foyer and left him there.

"I've got something to ask you, babe," murmured Eliot, getting hard again.

"What is it?" she asked. Sex with Eliot was tolerable, just. The degradation of turning tricks had spoiled sex for Lisa. But she loved Eliot and he, like all men, "had needs." Some men tried to show off their sexual prowess, but Eliot did not. Only 20, a year younger than she, he had never slept with a girl before Lisa, he told her. She could well believe it; he was amateurish in his lovemaking, but she felt safe in his arms. Or, perhaps it was just a reaction to the way that he held her tenderly and softly kissed her, as though she were something precious. She knew he cared about her. Other men tried to caress her clitoris as they inserted a finger into her vagina, eager to make her come. But she never had, not even with Eliot, although with him, she always pretended to climax.

"I want to marry you, Lis," he said, fitting himself between her legs and entering her. She gasped in surprise.

"Sorry, I didn't hurt you, did I?" he asked, withdrawing.

"No... no, I'm just surprised is all," she stammered.

"You can't be that surprised," he said. "We've been exclusive for nearly a year."

She nodded. "That's right. We have been," she lied.

Lisa sat up late, studying her equations by lamp light. It came very easy to her, she'd found. And to think, it had taken an insipid asshole like Uhe to show her the light. She shook her head and snapped the book shut. Tonight was a Saturday, which she kept sequestered for her boyfriend. Eliot would be by around eleven, after the game, at which time he would want a piece of her. Lisa had sex with her boyfriend as often as he liked, but she was coming to hate it more and more. There was no magic to it, the way she'd always thought it would be with the man she wed. She had agreed to marry him. With a husband as well-heeled as Eliot had told her he was, she could forsake prostitution and concentrate on her studies and on trying to be a wife.

Eliot thought that Lisa got money from her parents; it would've been funny if it weren't so tragic. Lisa had been raised by her grandmother until she ran off to the city and pulled tricks for a carbon copy of Bello. Her then-boyfriend, coming to her apartment one night, found her pimp shooting her up. He went berserk and killed the pimp. Frank beat him to death with the leg he tore off a table - heavy oak. He went to prison and there he stayed; he wasn't due to be released for fourteen more years. That was in California, where Lisa was born. She'd become a ward of the court for 13 months, and stayed straight until she turned 18, at which time the California Division of Juvenile Justice washed their bureaucratic hands of her. Her grandmother, meanwhile, had died, leaving Lisa a small bequest, with which she escaped to Boulder. She had tried desperately to find a job.

"How old are you, Miss?" the proprietor would ask, gazing appreciatively at Lisa's long legs, blonde hair and shapely figure.

"18," she'd reply.

"Well, Chick Fil A ain't hiring now, but I could use a personal assistant - after hours." And he'd grin rakishly.

His real meaning was all over his face and so she walked out, dispirited. Besides, the cost of living was so high in Colorado - even higher than in California - that Lisa didn't see how she could survive with a legit job. She had never felt so alone as when she pushed through that metal and glass door of the restaurant and found herself on the asphalt parking lot, with the crushed soda cans and discarded cigarette butts and a dead bird or two. So, acting impulsively for once, she enrolled at CU, taking a barrage of aptitude tests. Not surprisingly, math turned out to be her forte. While a ward of the state of California, she had gotten her GED.

She lived for the first month of school in her 14-year-old Camry, until it got too cold, and then she acquired a horny and insatiable stoner boyfriend and lived with him for six months.

So Lisa's future was mapped out: marry Eliot, quit selling her body, graduate from college and get a teaching job. It seemed so simple, but she knew it wasn't. If an inkling as to how she supported herself was to leak out, her chances of completing her education, let alone getting a teaching job at a high school or junior high, were almost nil. She'd be lucky to escape imprisonment. Fortunately, juvenile records remained sealed and she had no police record, amazingly, despite selling sex for the last 13 months. And she meant to keep it that way. She thought back to just yesterday.

"C''mon, bitch, suck my dick!" the little man demanded, standing in Lisa's living room and exposing himself. He had an inordinately small penis and Lisa felt compelled to laugh. But she held it in.

"Why should I?" she asked bluntly.

"Because I know you're a hooker!" crowed the man. "I know John!" he boasted.

This meant nothing to Lisa. She knew the real names of few of her clientele. To her, they were all johns. She stared blandly at him. "Never heard of him," she said dismissively.

"John," he bit off savagely. "Tall, dark hair, played linebacker for the Broncos ten years ago."

Lisa instantly remembered him. Big tipper. Rough. The recognition must have shown in her eyes, for the little man said again, "So, BITCH! Suck my dick!"

"No," she said simply.

"I'll turn you in to the sheriff for prostitution," he threatened next.

"And then I'll tell them you paid me a hundred bucks to suck that miserable excuse of a dick you got between your legs." She smiled meanly. "Got a wife?" she inquired. "Or a girlfriend or kids? A job?" The little man seemed to melt back within himself, like a withering candle. Without another word, he restored his miniature dick to his trousers, turned on his heel and quitted the apartment. That was close, Lisa thought.

Lisa completed her final appointment on Thursday. Eliot had decided that they would live in Lisa's apartment following the wedding. Which suited Lisa down to the ground. She was less than a mile from the college and sometimes, when the weather was pleasant, she biked to class. The couple were wed in a civil ceremony one week after Eliot proposed. He explained that his parents were in Europe for the foreseeable future and Eliot therefore had no access to funds; but he couldn't wait to tie the knot. His father, he had told her, was president of a Denver bank.

But the other shoe dropped a week after the wedding. Eliot approached his new bride and asked nonchalantly for $10 thousand.

"What?" yelped Lisa, looking up from a textbook.

"I have to pay my tuition, babe," he explained.

"But, what about your athletic scholarship?"

"Got cut from the team."

"But, why?"

"Sonofabitch new coach hates Jews," he explained bitterly. But he didn't elaborate. "Just cut me the check, okay?" he asked impatiently, holding out his hand.

"What about your parents? Your dad's the president of a bank," she pointed out.

Eliot laughed out loud. "My old man is a teller at a bank," he said.

"But, you said..."

"I hadda say something," he protested. "You, an heiress, and me, the son of a teller and a housekeeper." He laughed again. "It doesn't matter, does it? We love each other and what's mine is yours and what's yours is mine, right?"

Lisa's head spun. She had no choice. She decided to come clean. "I don't have rich parents either, Eliot," she confessed.

"Then how do you afford to live here?" he demanded, waving a hand at the opulence of the expensive furniture and lavish furnishings.

Lisa stared at him with suddenly dead eyes. "I'm a prostitute."

He peered into her eyes but could see no mirth, no punchline, only devastating reality.

"I gave it up before we were married. I wanted to devote myself to you, Eliot." Eliot didn't say anything; he simply stared in wonder. "None of the men meant anything to me, baby. I quit because I wanted to belong to you."

After a long moment, Eliot shook his head and said, "Well, you're going to have to start turning tricks again. I've got just one more semester before I get my engineering degree and then a semester of post-grad work. Then you can take it easy."

It was Lisa's turn to stare at her new husband. "You want me to continue to have sex with other men?" he asked hollowly.

"Babe, that's just the way it's going to have to be. I mean, McDonald's ain't hiring."

So, Lisa resumed her regimen of a different customer every other night. When Eliot decided he wanted to trade in his four-year-old car for a newer model, he asked her if she couldn't work an extra night a week. He offered to pimp her out, but, fearing for the very lives of them both, because of Eliot's abject stupidity, she put him off. One night he came home, reeking of tequila and cannabis, and told Lisa he wanted her to entertain a couple of his teammates from the football squad. They were loud and insistent and aggressive until she told them she would phone up their coach to confirm that they had his approval. The other men left without a word.

Caught up in an unfamiliar word of drugs and alcohol, Eliot dropped all his classes, too late to receive a refund on his tuition. "We'll be alright," he told Lisa lamely, lighting a joint.

Things continued apace, with Lisa beginning her junior year the following fall. Eliot, having reached an epiphany on his own, buckled down for a while and repeated his dropped classes. He passed them all, then decided to forego the post-grad studies to get a job sooner rather than later.

"Besides," he said, always searching for an angle, "if I get hired, the firm that employs me will pay for my education." For once, Lisa had to agree with him.

Eliot seemed to have little concept of what Lisa did to put food on the table and pay the rent and make payments on his new car. He simply didn't seem to care. On those occasions when the johns met up with Eliot, who often sat in the living room reading the newspaper while his wife worked, they took him for Lisa's pimp and accorded him the respect due a six feet three inches, two hundred twenty pound man. Sex with Eliot didn't get any better for Lisa. He was yet inept, not to mention disinterested. At their one year anniversary, he hadn't touched her intimately in months. Lisa shrugged off his disinterest.

And then Lisa met Baby.

"Is this your cart or mine?" asked the plus-size dark-haired woman, grabbing hold of Lisa's shopping cart.

"That's mine," replied Lisa with a smile. "I think this one's yours," she said, pulling forward a second cart, which was loaded with precisely the same five grocery items as her own.

"Sorry," said the woman, blushing. "I'm so inept."

"But you've got good taste in groceries," insisted Lisa.

"Yeah," said other woman. "I guess it's true what they say: great minds think alike." They chatted for several minutes.

Later, the two women met again at checkout, one behind the other, and resumed talking. After dealing with demanding, demeaning, and annoying men nearly every day, Lisa found speaking to this woman, whose name turned out to be Baby, rather uplifting. They hit it off. Promising to get together for coffee or lunch, they exchanged phone numbers. Lisa figured it was but a pleasantry and that she'd never see her new acquaintance again.

But, next day, Baby phoned. "Are you interested in doing some Chinese?" she asked. Lisa, glad to be remembered, immediately agreed. They met at what turned out to be both their favorite Boulder restaurant and, unsurprisingly now, ordered the same entree.

"Were we separated at birth, do you think?" asked Baby, who was easily 10 years older than Lisa.

"Yes," agreed Lisa with a nod, "we could be twins."

"Yeah," scoffed the other woman, "like Schwarzenegger and Devito." Lisa laughed. "I'm Arnold," added Baby sheepishly.

"Come on," chided Lisa. "You're beautiful. Your complexion is magnificent."

"You're not so bad yourself," murmured Baby, holding Lisa's eyes a for second too long.

After lunch, Baby asked Lisa, "Do you want to check out the new display at Beschloff's," referencing the ground floor women's apparel shop in the Hilton Hotel complex. Lisa, not wanting a pleasant afternoon to end, agreed. When they got to the boutique, it became clear that the women weren't really interested in fashions.

"Here, feel this fabric, Lisa," murmured Baby, drawing close and touching the other woman's hand. A frisson of electricity raced up both women's arms. Lisa looked up into Baby's eyes and saw there a speculative gleam. She had seen that same look often enough in men; it was desire. Oddly, Lisa felt it too. Taking Lisa lightly by the arm, Baby led her to the front desk of the hotel and slipped her American Express card onto the counter.

In the room, which Lisa later learned cost $800 per night, Baby opened the windows in the eighth-floor suite and inhaled robustly. "Want something to drink?" she asked.

Lisa shook her head no. She had a "client" that evening and she had learned the hard way never to engage a john when compromised.

Baby opened the mini-bar and extracted a vodka, twisted off the cap and upended it, then glanced at her lover-to-be, who was staring into space.

What precisely am I doing here? Lisa asked herself. But the answer was manifest: she had felt actual desire for this woman, something she'd not felt for another person since her benighted experience with her eighth-grade algebra teacher when she was 14. She was curious - no, eager - to explore the possibilities. But, she knew literally nothing of this woman, other than she had good taste in groceries and restaurants. Lisa's natural caution won out.

"Could we... talk?" she asked Baby.

Baby pulled out another vodka miniature. "You mean before we have mind-blowing sex?" she asked and laughed. She already sounded half-loaded, thought Lisa.

"Uh-huh. Tell me something about yourself. Are you married? Any kids? Where do you live? Do you work? Do you own a kitten?" They both smiled at the last question.

"Yes. Three. Aspen. No. No," replied Baby in rapid succession, then took a sip of her vodka. When Lisa didn't say anything, Baby went on, "Yes, my husband knows what I do - and doesn't give a damn; the kids are 12, 8 and 6, and they don't know; I've lived in Aspen all my life; I don't need to work; and a kitten sounds nice, if it could only survive the kids. And you?"

"I... I'm a student at UC; I study mathematics and want to be a high school math teacher. I'm married too, for the past year, and frankly, I've never done this with a woman before. And I love kittens, but Eliot is allergic."

"Eliot's your significant other?" asked Baby.

Lisa nodded. "Yes, but he's not as significant as I'd hoped he'd be."

It was Baby's turn to nod. "So, what is today?" she asked. "Payback?"

"I'll tell you what it is," said Lisa. "It's the bolt of electricity I felt run up my arm when you touched my skin down in the boutique. You felt it too."

Baby nodded and had another vodka. She took Lisa by the hand and said softly, "If we're through exchanging biographies..."

Eliot was irate when Lisa got home - six hours late - because she'd missed her appointment to entertain John. "Where in hell you been, Lis?" asked Eliot peevishly, slurring his words." His efforts to secure employment had gone nowhere, Lisa knew, owing to his new hobbies.

Lisa stared at Eliot. For a former athlete, he was fast disintegrating. He had a protuberant belly and fat was eclipsing his once muscled limbs. He always had a cigarette or a joint in his mouth and a beer in his hand.

"I made it up to him, though," Eliot explained.

"What'd you do, suck his dick yourself?" asked Lisa with a smirk.

Eliot took two giant steps forward and slapped Lisa hard across the face. She fell back and gasped. As useless as Eliot had become, he had never before struck her.

"No, bitch! I told him you'd do it with him for free, on your next date. He's a regular. I got a guy coming over, you can fuck him and make up at least some of the bread you blew today."

Eliot had never even sworn at her before. He had become everything that a pimp was, absent natural cunning, basic intelligence and street smarts. Holding her cheek, Lisa refused to cry.

For the next week, Lisa made all her classes and her dates, and things returned somewhat to normal. But now she hated Eliot, for what he had become and what he represented. During summer break, Lisa didn't take classes, but continued to study the texts for her next semester. The classes were getting harder.

During the second week of break, Baby called her at home. She said she wanted to get together and suggested they meet up at the Hilton, where they had reconnoitered three weeks before. Lisa agreed.

"Hey, girlfriend," said an ebullient Baby, embracing the other woman. Lisa hugged her back a little uncertainly. She had mixed feelings about her relationship - if it could be called that - with Baby. But, again, she felt turned on. Without another word, they disrobed and soon lay entwined upon the king-sized bed. Afterward, as Lisa sipped a mineral water and Baby drained another vodka, Baby peered closely at the other woman.

"Hey, doll," said a sated Baby, embracing the other woman. Lisa held back. "Are you alright?"

Lisa nodded. "I was just a little surprised to hear from you again," she explained.

Baby nodded her understanding. "You thought that before would just be a one-night stand, huh?" Lisa said nothing. "Listen, doll, I've got a lot on my plate: kids, husband, Aspen, the garden club, all that shit. But, I want to make time for you in my life, too."

God, thought Lisa wretchedly. Sounds like a line from one of the johns she "dated" four times a week. She looked listlessly at the other woman and sighed.

"You don't believe me?" asked Baby.

Lisa twisted her lips wryly. "It's just that it sounds like what I've heard all my life - from men - and if I'm going to form a new relationship, I'm maybe not interested in settling for bits and pieces of the other person's life, you know what I mean, Baby?" "Look, I could help you out with college. Tuition's a bitch..." Lisa wondered what Baby could possibly know about poverty, but she said nothing. "Look, I'll pay your tuition and your room and board and your textbooks and your fees, living expenses. I'll put you up in a nice apartment, get you a car, you name it, doll..."

Lisa blinked. Maybe this was something to consider. Of course, the last time she'd allowed a supposedly wealthy figure into her life, she had married and then lost him to dissolution in almost the same breath. She shook her head. At their first meeting, she had explained the Eliot situation to Baby, as well as her youth spent without parents, so now Lisa asked, bluntly, "How do I know you're rich? How do I know you even live in Aspen and not outside an Outback Steakhouse somewhere? How do I know any of your story is true, Baby? Forgive me, but I've been burned before."

"I understand," said Baby. "You've grabbed the shit end of the stick your whole life, and where do I get off, promising you the world? Here's my driver's license," she said, taking it out and offering it to Lisa. She looked at the address: Red Mountain, otherwise known as Billionaire Mountain, home to the 1%. "This room is $800 a night," Baby reminded her.

"I saw you shopping at a Kroger's," remembered Lisa. "Since when do the rich and famous do their own shopping, and at a discount grocery?"

'I was shopping for my Aunt Fay; she lives in Boulder," explained Baby.

"But why do you even want me in your life at all?" asked Lisa.

"I've been married to my husband for almost fourteen years; in that time, we've become strangers. Even when we were doing it, I'd never orgasm. It's like something died inside of me. Do you understand?"

Lisa nodded. She did understand.

"But with you, I..." She had the grace to blush. "Have you been with many women before, Lisa?"

Lisa shook her head. "No. You were my first. Beginner's luck?" she asked with a little smile.

"Kismet," corrected the older woman. "Look, you can stay married if you want to; I am. But if you want to dump him, I'll pay for the lawyer." Lisa stared at her. "I mean it. I want you in my life, doll."

"But, for how long?" Lisa had to think of the future.

"When do you graduate?" asked Baby.

"In two semesters."

"I'll deposit the dough for tuition, expenses, the whole nine yards, in your account today, I'll just give you a check and you can cash it."

"It won't be cheap," Lisa warned her new benefactor. "It takes at least five grand a month, and..."

"Doll, I'm made of money! I'll write the check before we leave."

"And what do you expect for your investment," asked Lisa, all business now.

"Affection. Attention. Love, maybe..." Lisa drew a breath and let it out. "What is it, dear, are you afraid of feeling like a prostitute?"

Lisa's head jerked up at that but she said nothing. Baby hadn't asked how she made a living.

"I can be very generous, Lisa, and I've the means to do so. Look, I'll give you a check for six months' expenses and you think it over. If you decide it's no deal, then I'm out a little pin money and no hard feelings, okay?"

Lisa agreed.

At the bank the next day, Lisa used Baby's generous check to open an account in her name only. The joint account with Eliot received nothing. When she returned to the apartment, she received surprising news: Eliot had finally found a job, with a powerhouse engineering firm in Denver. Over the last several weeks, Eliot had cleaned up his act: stopped drinking and getting high, and really made an effort. As a reward for his success, Lisa took him to bed. She still didn't feel anything even resembling arousal, but it felt good to be back in his arms. Maybe they could still somehow make it work. She still cared about the man, if only for the way he used to make her feel.

Afterwards, as Eliot got dressed, he pulled a suitcase from the closet, opened it and tossed a couple of items inside and then locked it again.

"Going somewhere?" asked Lisa, surprised.

"Duh!" quipped Eliot. "Denver! I said I got a job, don't you remember?"

"You're going now... alone?" she asked quietly, surprised again.

Pulling on his jacket, Eliot looked disdainfully at his wife. "What do I need with a goddamn whore, when my future is set? You didn't really think I'd take you along, did you? You'd make me the laughing stock of the firm!" He laughed hollowly and let himself out.

Lisa sat on the sofa, where they'd just made love, and considered what had happened. At length, she was inclined to treat the episode philosophically and decided that this was but one more mark in favor of accepting Baby's offer.

The affair with Baby continued, until it didn't. Meeting up with her every Thursday at the Hilton, they dined, Baby drank, and they were intimate. Baby always climaxed multiple times, but Lisa never did. She never had, though she developed strong feelings for the other woman, more of a powerful friendship than a romance. Baby was true to her word, and funded Lisa's education as promised.

On the final Thursday afternoon, Lisa turned up at their regular room and knocked softly on the door. Nothing. She knocked again and finally the door was opened. Baby was fully dressed, although she had made it a habit to answer the door in a flowing gown. Her features were inscrutable. And she wasn't drinking. Lisa stepped across the threshold and tried to hug her lover, but Baby quietly shook off the embrace. Then Lisa saw that they were not alone.

A tall man in a suit, in his late 40s, rose from the sofa and said, "Is this the woman, Barbara?"

Barbara? thought Lisa. She had never known her lover's real first name.

The tall man turned to Lisa and said, "My name is Cornelius and I am Ms. Treemont's attorney." Lisa furrowed her brow. Why did her lover have an attorney with her here? The lawyer held out a sheaf of papers, plus a manila envelope. Lisa automatically accepted it. "Ms. Tanner," he said, addressing Lisa by her surname, "You've been served." The other two people instantly left the room without saying goodbye.

Alone in the suite, Lisa sat on the bed, the bed she'd shared with Baby - or Barbara - many times. She scanned the legal papers with little comprehension, then opened the envelope and examined a single photograph. It was a man she knew well, physically. He was a client, a "date." He was a big man, with an athlete's body, and he was in her memory forever thrusting his pelvis into hers, desperate to get her to come.

"Get off, you bitch, get off!" he said through clenched teeth. "You're frigid, just like my goddamn wife! You'll come, or else!" She feigned climax and he bought it. I should have majored in theater, she thought to herself. And he had the nerve to ask, "Was it good for you, sugar? No matter. You've got a nice ass, doll!"

Lisa turned the photo over and on the back was written, in Baby's hand:

"This is my husband. I believe you've met. You know him as John."


  1. I’m dying to know what they sued her for? (I’m a lawyer). This epic tale feels real. It’s like…you meet someone and you truly do not know what they have been through. I was captivated by the story. It was so sad…but not self-consciously sad. This story will stay with me a long time. Fantastic job!

    1. Hi June, and thanks for the nice remarks. Who says anyone’s suing Lisa? Maybe she’s just being served to appear for a deposition; or does someone get “served” for one? (I haven’t got a clue, so I didn’t go into it very deeply). One of my reviewers assumed that Baby was suing her husband for divorce, but such gall, in the light of Baby’s own perfidious behavior, would be truly Trumpian, wouldn’t it? BTW, I’m impatiently awaiting your next story; the last one was outrageously successful. Maybe you should retire early and just write; didn’t hurt John Grisham’s or Erle Stanley Garner’s bottom line. Thanks again!

  2. Bill, ohhhh! A subpoena to testify…the possibility didn’t occur. Thank you. I appreciate your kind comments. I’m working on another story. Your story is mesmerizing in its realism and its sympathetic main character. Gosh I hated her husband! Thank you, again!

  3. As usual, Bill, your crisp prose rattles along, compelling the reader to remain glued to his (or her) seat. I was a bit confused by the ending. I did not understand what Baby was doing there with the lawyer. She gave no reassurance to Lisa that things were okay between them. I truly wanted these two women to end up with each other, even as friends. I assume that Lisa could not orgasm as the relationship also had a transactional element to it. Lisa and Elliott's relationship was rather mercenary from the start. Each one of them thought the other had money. Both were naive enough not to check out the other person's families. Maybe they should have gone to State schools? Sadly, with astronomical tuition fees in the US, prostitution is now common on campuses. The smarter women and men set up online accounts and strip for the camera. Much safer.

    1. Thanks for your usual cogent, to the point remarks, Rozanne. I left the ending deliberately uncertain because, as I’ve said before, I like for the reader to help in writing the story, particularly what happens next. Lisa’s inability to climax sexually, even with a lover she genuinely liked, was probably due to several issues in her background. Sex for her for the whole of her life has been transactional. I thought I’d let our resident mental health professional, Adam, respond to that question. He likewise, always has cogent comments. Thanks so much, Rozanne, I’m glad you liked the story. (It’s getting tougher to get published in FOTW, ya know? Drat!). But I guess it’s all for the best, as a rising tide lifts all boats, or something…

    2. Hi Bill, good to know. So for my ending, I hope Baby will file for divorce. Lisa will graduate and get a normal job. The two of them will become closer as the transactional exchange is no longer necessary. I will let Adam weigh in on if this is possible.

    3. I agree. It would be the best of all possible worlds. Thanks again.

  4. A powerhouse of an ending, made all the more ominous through the sting of ambiguity. Excellent pacing by the way. Lisa is a strong woman throughout, and I choose to believe she will finish her school, move to Canada, and meet the person of her dreams there.

    1. Donovan, you’re not a Canadian, are you? But you’re right, a change in scenery might be advised. Thanks for reading and writing.

  5. A poignant exploration of Lisa’s struggle with her past and search for acceptance. I appreciated how the author handled the complexities of human relationships, resilience, and self-worth. Well done, Bill!

    — David Henson

    1. Thanks so much, David. I’m happy my intent came through and you enjoyed the story.

  6. BT - I can't remember what I said when I gamma read this (I'm not up to beta yet). It may well have been about the open-ended ending. Mr. Mirth

    1. I don’t recall what your reaction to the story was at the time, Mr. Mirth; likely your pilloried my characters as “sexually sterile” or some psychobabble. Seriously though, I think you did mention the uncertain ending. Thanks for reading it – a second time – Duke.

  7. I am not a psychoanalyst, but I suspect a psychoanalyst would say that for Lisa, Instead of being furious with her algebra teacher for raping her, she is rather identifying with her abuser and re-enacitng the rape over and over again, a repetition compulsion, via her profession of prostitution. She has basically managed to monetize her trauma.
    Lisa presumptively would have had significant psychological issues prior to that first sexual experience at age 14, issues focused particularly around trust/mistrust and abandonment, especially given the history with her grandmother/guardian and her becoming a foster child as a teen.
    An analytic approach to her anorgasmia would focus on exploring this deeper history.
    A more cognitive-behavioral approach to her anorgasmia would focus on masturbation, sex aids, psychiatric medication trials, all focused on her learning how to orgasm, and discovering what fantasy content leads to such an outcome as a way to explore her sexual identity.
    Most modern psychiatrists would proceed with the cognitive-behavioral focus, then as the patient learned to orgasm and discovered their sexual preferences and identity, usually at that point psychoanalytic material from their childhood emerges as well.

    Kudos to you Bill for writing a story with such a vivid character as Lisa!

    1. Yikes! I need you on speed dial, Adam, for when I write these muddled characters with psychological problems. You really came through, and answered any questions I might have had. Thank you! Coincidentally, when I was constructing Lisa, I felt she felt she was being raped each time she submitted to the sexual exploitation and consequent humiliation.

      Adam, you really know your stuff, and it’s a privilege to read your intelligent and meticulous reflections on all things psychological. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  8. You never disappoint Bill. This is a compelling, tragic story with great pace and grit. All the characters are written so well, and even though Lisa's luck only ever seems to lift slightly and temporarily I like to think she's somehow going to be ok. The plot and twist at the end are superb and I really didn't see that coming. I'd like to see this story continue - an epilogue of sorts anyway to hear how Lisa overcomes this new turn in her life.

    1. Nice of you and the others to read and comment, Paul. I appreciate it, particularly as you, the prolific David Henson and Rozanne and the incorrigible Duke Hanley (Doug Hawley) number among my favorite authors. I suppose I could create a sequel, given that at the conclusion of the story, Lisa is only in her early twenties and has her whole life literarily in front of her. Just what might become of her is up in the air: Donovan wants her to move to Canada; Adam thinks she needs sex therapy; and Rozanne is rooting for a “happily ever after” for Lisa and Baby, so the possibilities seem endless. Adam has shown me that I need to bone up on sexual trauma and related disciplines before I can handle writing her second act. I really, really appreciate all you talented writers for your interest, suggestions and remarks.

  9. Bill, you've quickly become must-read for me after discovering you over here earlier this year. Your character-building is wonderful, I come away feeling like I know Lisa's entire story, all the details sprinkled along to build a complete picture. Strong ending too, the SOB husband splits for greener pastures, while Lisa (and the reader) get a nasty surprise, not at all what I was expecting! Well done, sir!

    1. Thanks so much, Cliff. Two things have come from reading all the generous comments from readers: 1) everyone loves Lisa; and 2) Eliot is, as you say, a SOB. Thanks again.

  10. I'm not sure what it is about Lisa that makes me feel both sorry for her and extremely mad and frustrated at her self-deprecating tendencies and social downward spirals that seem to make her life a constant cycle of getting the short end of the stick. I really appreciate the well-done characterization in this story. Nice job.

    1. Thanks, Nick, for your observations. I guess Lisa is a mixed bag of noble aspirations, self-deprecations and everything in between, but aren’t we all. I appreciate your reading my story and taking the time to make a comment.