Yumi was the wife of a friend. Once, I joked that the sound of her name embodied the both of us - you know: you, me - but she looked back at me as if she didn't understand. Of course she couldn't, for I had fallen deeply and secretly in love with her.
The things which transpired and which I am about to relate are all true, and although I know that some of what I did is indefensible, I hope that people who know me might someday see this and think less harshly of me.
Yumi's husband Ken was transferred to our office from the Tokyo section. Close in age and with certain life experiences in common, we soon became friends. It was only natural that I would meet his wife eventually.
Yumi was tall for a Japanese, and slender. She had the kind of beauty that grew on me the more I saw of her. It was in the way she moved; even the most simple gesture could make my heart ache. Before I got to know her she seldom betrayed much emotion but her elusive smile was enchanting and as radiant as the sun emerging from behind a cloud.
When I met Ken and Yumi I had recently broken up with my longtime girlfriend. Since I was often in a low mood my new friends went out of their way to cheer me up. I spent many an evening with them at their house and that is when my admiration for her blossomed into - what some might call an obsession. Seeing her, the clouds of my disaffection would suddenly lift, and in those moments I would live in hope, vain though it may have been.
Yumi cooked elaborate meals while Ken sat with his feet propped up on the coffee table and served me drinks. As the guest, my offers of assistance were politely but firmly declined. While Ken and I drank and laughed together I secretly kept one eye on Yumi moving silently about the kitchen. I will never forget the gentle curve of her fingers as she held a knife or the way she bit her lip when she was concentrating on something.
Over the next several months Yumi's natural reserve diminished as she became more comfortable in my pre- sence. Seeing her personality emerge so slowly was like patiently watching a flower open its blossom, revealing a secret wonder within. Her shy demeanor concealed a forceful personality, a penetrating wit that could run circles around her husband and me when she unleashed it. I felt pleased to have penetrated one of her layers, however superficial; the thought that the process could go on to unfathomable depths made me surrender myself more completely to the secret passion I had developed for this beautiful, untouchable woman.
One night I stayed with them quite late. I'm not sure what the occasion was, but we were all in a jolly mood; much sake had been consumed. Excusing myself, I made my way down the hall towards the bathroom. Due to my drunkenness, I must have missed the door for I found myself stepping into the master bedroom, illuminated only by what light spilled in from the hallway.
So this is the bed where Ken and Yumi, I thought... I squeezed my eyes shut; the image was at once tanta- lizing and painful. I could hear the musical sound of her laugh drifting down the hall. Knowing I should leave, I moved to the dresser instead - where I noticed one drawer slightly ajar.
Hardly aware what I was doing, I reached in and pulled out the first thing my fingers came into contact with, a pair of Yumi's panties. Almost blind with nervous excitement, I slipped them into my pocket and hurried from the room.
In the bathroom I examined them, turning them around between my trembling fingers. How delicate and feminine her body must look when she had them on. It was some minutes before I could compose myself enough to return to my hosts, and for the rest of the evening the offending garment burned a guilty hole in my pocket.
The next day, sober, realizing what I had done, I felt too ashamed to even look at them. For days the panties lay at the back of my dresser drawer, gone but not forgotten. Their presence ate away at me until the day Yumi called with an invitation to dinner and I pulled them out at last.
I had only the intention of slipping them back where they came from, but with Yumi's voice fresh in my ear and the soft fabric between my fingers I was overcome. I sat on my bed for quite a while, letting my fingers play over them, imagining the parts of her body they covered.
That evening, knowing I had something intimate of hers in my pocket, I regarded Yumi even more carefully in my secret way and the private thrill she provided me was greater than ever before.
When the chance came, I returned to the bedroom. My motive was only to replace what I had taken and be done with the forbidden pleasure; but pushing the stolen panties to the back of the drawer, my hand brushed against a fabric even softer, even more al- luring in its texture. My heart sank. I knew I was succumbing to a compulsion.
Powerless to stop myself, I drew out another pair of panties and stuffed them into my pocket in place of the ones I had just returned.
Once again upon arriving home my initial reaction was shame; I hid them in the back of my drawer. But more quickly than before I found myself drawing them out, holding them in my hands while I thought of her.
The next time I went to see them I knew I would once again exchange for another pair. When the moment arrived, I drew out three and chose the prettiest: silky yellow things with a white lace fringe.
It was some time after my thievery had become routine that I descended to the next level of transgression.
It began with a torrid, erotic dream. I awoke to find myself drenched in sweat, with a throbbing erection. Trying to hold the fleeting dream images in my mind, I began to relieve myself of my urgent, painful desire.
It was then that I brushed against something soft and silky, cool to the touch. Yumi's panties had been under my pillow; somehow during the night they had become dislodged. The cool silk felt soothing. I wrapped the sheer fabric around myself, imagining it to be Yumi's lips enveloping me. Draped over my thighs, I let the slippery fabric be the satiny cascade of her hair. I fantasized about our bodies combined in all manner of sexual couplings until I emptied myself into the bunched up panties with great, throbbing liquid bursts.
The next morning I discovered the panties encrusted with come and I was mortified. I quickly washed them in warm soapy water to remove any stains I might have left. After that, I recoiled, stuffing them in the back of my drawer again, not willing to acknowledge that I had descended more deeply into the realm of my obsession.
My resistance didn't last long. By the time Ken and Yumi entertained me again I was dying to try it once more. The next pair in my possession I laid out neatly on the edge of the bed. Stroking myself while I imagined Yumi placidly waiting for my offering, I sent a thick jet of come over the crotch strip, imagining it to be the soft enfolded lips of her sex I was wetting with my sperm. This time I had the warm soapy water ready in advance.
When I next saw Yumi I found it difficult to look at her; but when I did, oh what profound and secret de- light! I burned to know when she would slip on a pair of panties I had soaked with my come; the thrill of that would be almost unimaginable!
By then, I knew Yumi owned roughly fifteen pair of panties and I arrived at the crazy notion that I must come into each and every one of them to be certain that when I saw her she would be wearing one of 'mine'. I vowed to undertake the systematic project of stealing each of them in turn even though I knew it might take me quite some time to reach my goal. For some reason, the idea such a drawn out plan thrilled me in a way I find impossible to explain.
Right about then, I noticed a subtle change in Ken and Yumi. There was a stiffness to her, a formality that I had not noticed before. Ken began drinking more heavily and behaving more rudely in front of his wife.
One day when we were alone he confided that they were having problems. Yumi was unhappy in America; she wanted more autonomy but, by his own admission, Ken was too overprotective to grant it. He characterized her demands as nagging.
For a moment I was secretly afraid I would not be able to see Yumi as often, but Ken reassured me. They con- sidered my presence a welcome distraction.
The frequency of my invitations increased. During that time I made excellent headway on my project, but I also rediscovered the cause for my obsession. The thought of Yumi unhappy pained me greatly and I came to realize how much I cared about her.
I know this must sound ludicrous in the midst of such a sick, twisted revelation. It was just that my love for her, as impossible as it was, took a torturous, twisted route to its fulfillment just as a river that is blocked sometimes finds a subterranean route to the sea. Knowing her husband didn't appreciate her as I did only made my situation more tragic.
Ken's birthday was a few weeks away when Yumi called me to help her set up a surprise party. I needed to keep him away from the house for an hour or two while she got everything ready. Not wanting to let her off the phone too quickly I asked if there was anything else I could do to help, but she assured me in a breezy, indifferent tone of voice that she would handle everything.
When the day arrived I persuaded Ken to let me buy him a drink after work. He thought Yumi was taking him out to dinner later that evening, confiding in me that things were still not great between them and that he wasn't really looking forward to it. He had three glasses of scotch in the hour we were together.
The surprise worked and, as far as I could see, Yumi's party was a success. Everyone seemed to be having a good time except the birthday boy himself. Ken con- tinued to drink heavily as the evening wore on; he seemed to be in a morose, morbid humor and the guests all tiptoed around him carefully.
With such a crowd it was easy for me to break away to make my switch. But slipping my hand into the familiar drawer I was shocked to find it empty, save for one tightly bound object.
I broke out in a cold sweat.
Drawing out the little bundle, I discovered it to be a pair of black silk panties tied up with a red ribbon. I whirled around as if to find someone confronting me, but there was no one. The sounds of the party were like a dull roar in my ears as I slipped into the bathroom and undid the little parcel.
The panties were of an exquisite silk fabric, rimmed all around with a delicate black lacework pattern. Most notably, on the front there was emblazoned two Japanese characters in a brush-stroke script. I had no idea what it meant. As I held the panties before me, puzzling over the meaning of it all, a small scrap of paper fluttered to the ground. On it were three words: "I Know," and two other characters that I recognized to mean 'Yumi'.
My first instinct was to flee, jump out the window, run away; I certainly couldn't return to the party and face her. The room seemed to be spinning; I was taking great gasps of breath. Lowering myself to the edge of the tub, I tried to think, but no thoughts would come, only the clamoring of a thousand guilty voices, each one blaming the others for my misfortune.
I am not sure how long I stayed. Gradually a voice of reason rose above the rest and began to prevail. Why would she wrap them up in a little bow? Could it be... she isn't angry? I was just beginning to entertain the possibility when a knock sounded at the door and an unfamiliar voice asked if anybody was using the bath- room. I had no choice but to return to the party.
Yumi was busy catering to the guests. Did her eyes flicker past me as I stepped out of the hallway? I tried to stay as far from her as I could, watching her, warily looking for some sign. Graceful and demure as ever, she gave none.
I pondered leaving quickly, going home and waiting to see if they ever called me again. She knows, she knows! It kept going through my head. But how? What had given me away? Was the gift-wrapped pair of panties an angry gesture, full of sarcasm? Was it a signal? And if so, of what? How could I possibly find out?
I was standing, mulling over my situation when a com- motion arose from across the room. I caught a fleeting glimpse of Ken rising, staggering, people moving, some backing away, others stepping forward to help. Then there was a crash. The coffee table was overturned and Ken lay sprawled on the carpet. I joined the crowd that encircled the fallen birthday boy. Someone remarked that he was drunk, trashed to be certain. Hands lifted him to the sofa and laid him out.
The party dissipated quickly after that. Yumi was the recipient of many helpful offers but she declined them all, seeing the guests off with impeccable poise and grace even after her husband had made such an ass of himself. She asked a few small favors of me: pick up these cups, re-cork this wine - things of that nature
and I got the distinct impression she wanted me tostay.
After the last guest had gone, I helped Yumi to restoreorder to her house while Ken snored away on the sofa, a look of placid oblivion on his face. She worked with infuriating, meticulous care while my heart raced with a mixture of curiosity and dread. I had no idea what to expect from her and she gave no sign as to her feelings.
Finally, when all was in order, she returned from the linen closet and draped a blanket over Ken.
Motioning for me to come close, I found myself standing beside her, looking down at her sleeping husband. I had been avoiding her eye until that moment; now her gaze was fixed on me, serene and penetrating. My obsessive fantasy world had run smack up against flesh and blood. I quailed.
She began by telling me how she had discovered some- thing was amiss, speaking softly so as not to wake her husband. She owned fifteen pair of panties; one for each day of the two weeks between laundry days, and an extra pair. When one was gone it was easy to notice. But even before that, she had noticed my interest in her and was curious what I would do about it, if any- thing.
She carefully avoided revealing her own feelings how- ever. She told me what Ken had already revealed - that their marriage was not working out. In fact, she was planning to leave for Japan soon, and possibly not re- turn.
Then she wanted to know what I had done with her under- things when I had them. Her question was simple, direct leaving no room for obfuscation on my part. Still, I tried to avoid being specific.
Speaking in a whisper, looking nervously down at the sleeping Ken, I began telling her a small part of the story. I think I said I had simply 'admired' the stolen panties, or something equally ridiculous.
My words fell flat as I talked myself into a corner from which there was no escape. Yumi's eyes seemed to be driving me onward, towards my own destruction. I babbled on and on without saying anything until, ex- hausted, I ground to a halt and we stood for a moment in silence.
Then a magical thing happened. Seeing no other way out, I began to tell the truth, admitting for the first time to another living person the things I had been doing, what I had been feeling for all these months.
The words flowed more easily now, like a cool clear stream running over a smooth bed, with no impediments to block its course. I felt exhilarated, lighter than air, realizing what a burden my obsession had been. Yumi listened intently, quietly, until I had told her everything.
When finished I was exhausted. I remember drawing several deep breaths, waiting for her reaction, like a skater looking up at the judges for the final stand- ings.
Then Yumi completely took me by surprise. She quietly asked me to undo my pants. I didn't know what to think I was so startled. Was she going to take my underwear in exchange? I know that sounds ridiculous, but that is what went through my mind in that instant.
I protested, gesturing to her sleeping husband lying below us, but Yumi was firm and insistent. I felt like a naked child before her, completely helpless. Drained by my confession, I lacked the strength to go against what she wanted.
When I stood before her with my trousers around my ankles she had me pull my shorts down and then lift up my shirttails. I was highly aroused, but the fear that Ken might open his eyes at any instant, and maybe also from too much drink, I had only the faintest stirrings of an erection. Normally even imagining myself in this position would have provoked in me the most heightened state of arousal. Now I felt embarrassed to have only such a modest offering to show her.
Yumi took back the pair of black silk panties. She knelt before me. Looking up at me, she said: "When Ken and I were married I vowed never to touch another man. I have no intention of breaking that promise now."
And with that, she took the panties and wrapped them around my semi erect penis. Opening her mouth, she engulfed my entire length and began sucking me through the panties, so that her flesh never actually touched mine.
The warm moist pressure of her lips clamped around me
enhanced the familiar sensation of silk sliding alongmy skin. I swelled until she could no longer containall of me and she began rocking her head back and forthsending me into ecstasy.
I looked down and our eyes met briefly before sheclosed hers again and her brow got that little furrow in the middle like when she was thinking very hard about something. She slowed down and through the thin layer of silk I could feel her tongue exploring the ridges and contours of my now achingly erect penis. Then she clamped her lips around me more tightly than before and she began moving back and forth over me with real purpose.
When I began to squirm about, stifling little cries of pleasure, Yumi withdrew her mouth and rose to stand beside me. She whispered in my ear that she wanted to see me do what I did with her panties when I was alone. Her voice sounded husky and out of breath. She put a hand lightly on my shoulder and motioned for me to kneel. She reached down and slid the panties off me and laid them out on the coffee table, just the way I had described laying them out on the edge of my bed.
As I knelt down beside the low table, Ken stirred in his sleep momentarily. In panic, I began to rise, but Yumi's hand was on my shoulder, pressing me down.
I remained motionless for a moment or two before she gave me a light tap on the back indicating I should go ahead. I was looking directly at the sleeping Ken as I began to tentatively stroke myself over the panties Yumi had spread out for me.
Even in my nervous state, I found myself very near the point of orgasm already. I looked up at Yumi; she was standing over me, looking down with her arms folded. I could see her chest rise and fall as she took several deep breaths.
In another few moments there was no holding back. My hand was moving like a blur over the shaft of my penis. I could feel Yumi's eyes burning on me as I rose slightly from one knee so that I could aim the thick shots of my come downward, directly at the characters emblazoned on the crotch of the panties laid out before me. She put a hand out to steady my trembling body as the orgasm that shook me seemed to go on forever.
When I was done, Yumi cleaned me off with the bunched up panties, which she quickly whisked from the coffee table. While I put on my pants, she went to the kitchen for a damp paper towel with which she cleaned off the coffee table. My aim hadn't been perfect.
The things that happened afterwards were dreary: the breakup of Ken and Yumi's marriage; the way they became so consumed with their bad feelings for each other that they didn't have time for me any more; Yumi's return to Japan.
We never discussed what happened. After that day, it was as if we began to drift swiftly apart. Bringing up what had happened seemed like it wasn't worth the ef- fort considering there was no future in it.
She became so preoccupied with her marriage falling apart and I had become so depressed knowing I was los- ing her that the few times I saw her again were all shaded with melancholy.
A month after Yumi returned to Japan, I received a small package. Much to my surprise I discovered it contained the very same panties that had played such a role that night, or at least an identical pair.
Along with them was the rather cryptic note that said when I figured out the meaning of the characters printed on them I could come and talk to her about it.
It took me a while to find a Japanese dictionary, then a while longer to figure out how to find one character among the thousands that all seemed to look alike. I was too afraid to ask someone to simply translate it for me in case it was obscene or embarrassing in some way. What I finally discovered was they stood for love, the physical act of love...
The flight to Narita is twelve hours from where I live. I'll need to wrap this up now since they want all electronic devices turned off; you know how it is. I hope the man next to me couldn't see too much of what I was writing, but it doesn't matter much anyway, I suppose. I'm more concerned about whether this trip is a fool's errand or not: to fly halfway around the world on such nebulous hopes...the diaphanous fabric of a dream.