Twelve short stories about sex in public
explore all the possibilities - including my own mystic take
on the pleasures of voyeurism and exhibitionism: Innana's
About the story Innana's Temple
In ancient Sumeria, Mina's life of drudgery
held one consolation: her beloved Corin. When he abandoned
her, she gave up her will to live, allowed the priests to
buy her for Innana's temple, and vowed never to speak unless
the gods themselves spoke to her.
She lives cloistered with two old women,
knowing nothing about the religion she serves or her purpose.
A half-glimpsed festival, from which she was hurried away,
feeds her fantasies while she bathes in the hot springs deep
in a cave.
Now read on...
Now, when she glimpsed one of the priests,
she imagined the powerful bare skin beneath his skirts.
In the hot springs, she relived those naked bodies.
Her imaginings varied with the moon. Around the new
moon, before and while she bled, her body longed for
violence. She imagined bulky muscles pinning her down
and stubble scratching her breasts - or lean strength
gripping her and sharp teeth nipping at her neck. In
the happy calm of the waxing moon, she daydreamed that
one of them, someone gentle and only a little older
than her, crept into her room at night and woke her
with kisses. She painted the details patiently - her
surprise, his soft lips, the slow travel of his mouth
down her neck towards her waiting breasts… her shift,
lifted over her shoulders, and his breathstruck wonder…
She knew, theoretically, what the outcome should be.
She'd heard the grunting at night, when her mother was
still alive. She'd seen the shadows of the men's tools,
in the fading moonlight. She knew, from animals, that
when they looked like that, they were ready. But her
body knew nothing, and her fantasies fizzled into confusing
thoughts of skin and bodies and something that would
make the ache between her legs better. At full moon,
her nipples stood like pebbles and she wanted them all.
In her mind, the naked dancing men advanced towards
her and ripped her veil and silky gown away. They rubbed
their thigh muscles against her, and passed her between
their strong arms. She was queen of them all, stroking
their jutting flesh, and yielding to their hands. She
granted their wishes with her lips and let them suck
benediction from her breasts. And then - and then…?
She knew enough to think of them pushing that part into
her, but didn't know enough to imagine how that might
be. All this beauty, she thought forlornly, admiring
her nakedness in the water, wasted. She wondered constantly
what they wanted her for. She'd assumed they wanted
her to be a priestess, but the chief priest called her
Bride of An, they pampered her, and she was given no
duties. She was also given little instruction. They
seemed to assume she knew much more than she did about
religion, but she'd learnt nothing. Pride stilled her
tongue and her face. She'd made her vow and she'd keep
When the cold winter winds came, the
old priestesses muttered more loudly about her trips
to the spring. They hated leaving the shelter of their
rooms. She ignored it, kept her face impassive, and
walked anyway. Somehow she knew they wouldn't physically
drag her back, and had to follow. One evening in early
spring, the rain was lashing down and her body raged
back and forth with the storm. She stalked from room
to room until she couldn't bear it anymore, and lifted
her woollen cloak with an imperious glance at the priestesses.
"Gods, isn't this enough water for her?" grumbled one.
Half a year into her silence, they seemed to have forgotten
she could still hear. "I'm not dragging my bones out
into that, she can just sit back down again."
"Oh, let her go," said the other. "They're all up at
the Temple of Innana anyway. She'll be safe enough."
The other hesitated, and shrugged. "Go," she said loudly
to Mina, miming with her hands. "We stay here. You go.
If you want."
Mina nodded, and left.
Alone in the cavern, she hung her single
torch on its bracket and undressed slowly. Her hands
ran lightly over her breasts, relishing their new weight.
As her fingers brushed her nipples, she shuddered. The
water lapped at her skin as she slipped in, sending
new shivers through her. Already, the fantasy was unspooling
in her head and it was men's admiring hands, not water,
caressing her. She played gently with the slopes of
her breasts, feeling how the tremors rushed and receded
with each stroke. Each time, her hand drifted a little
further and the newly awakened skin came alive. Then
the skin just beyond that would tingle agonisingly,
begging to be touched, and she would return her fingertips
to her collar bone and stroke slowly down again, just
a bit further. Without those two old witches here, she
could do what she liked. Her head fell back, and lifted
again to watch her little buds clench. One elbow supported
her against the ledge while her body floated to the
surface. Her fingers reached her nipples and she lurched
with excitement. Her eyes closed as her hand began to
trail down her belly. Her body was telling her what
to do, where to touch next, how to tantalise the fleshy
inside of her thighs and the little valleys where her
mons met her thighs. Her palm skimmed her floating downy
hair. She could feel how her lips pulsed and yearned
to be parted, and let a finger nestle closer in. The
shock of pleasure made her whimper. She heard it echoed,
and her eyes sprang open. There, by the side of the
pool, stood Corin. Swiftly, she curled into a ball,
hiding herself. Her eyes shone with anger.
"I'm sorry…" he said, "I didn't mean to spy…"
She raised one eyebrow, sardonically.
"I know." He hung his head for a moment. "But I couldn't
bear it any more. I slipped away from the temple to
find you. I had to know if you forgave me now - now
that the gods have answered my prayers."
All her old fury, lulled by comfort and lust, returned.
She turned her back.
"Mina, please. Look at where you are - what you
have. How could I have condemned you to life in a clay
hut, scrabbling in the earth for crops? That
would have been our life together. The gods told
me this was better, I trusted them, they gave you everything
I asked for… Isn't this better? My love?" His voice
was breaking. She turned around and looked into his
tear-filled eyes. She spat in the water, and swung back.
You may think food and hot water is all there is to
life, she thought angrily as his footsteps receded,
but I'm kept from the one thing I wanted. To know you
sliding into me. To learn what my body's howling for,
with you. I'd rather have lived in a cowshed with you
than the finest palace alone.
The thought was grand and elegant. She repeated it to
herself several times, trying to shake the feeling that
it might not be entirely true. She slept on down, not
hard-packed dirt. She wore flowing silk, not rough cotton
stained with dirt. She wallowed every day in the hot
water of the spring. Her hands were soft and her skin
glowed with good health. The walls around her at night
were clay, not reeds, keeping out the howling winds
of winter and the baking sun of summer. And yet, for
all the comfort her body was kept in, its most vital
purpose was denied. She wanted to scream into the echoing
chamber, What do you want from me? Silent till
the gods speak to me, she reflected bitterly. Silent
and unused to the grave.