Miranda’s Journey

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Miranda pulled down her night-shorts, and began to rub her clit. “Ohhh,” she said, imagining that the fingers giving her so much pleasure were those of a handsome lover rather than her own. “Mmmmmm.”

The bed felt so comfortable, so soft, especially after spending last night in her tiny fold-up tent. She couldn’t help it. She needed a release. She purred again as her fingertips increased their pressure. Would someone else know how to manipulate her pussy the way she did? She was a master, having logged all manner of practice over the years. How many times had she brought herself to orgasm? Five hundred? A thousand? Who knew? But she did know one thing.

No one else ever had.

It wasn’t for a lack of options. Scores of boys at school had flirted with her—some with a touch of class, others with all the civility of a caveman with hair on the back, and furry knuckles dragging along the muddy earth as he trudged by. But it wasn’t easy. It felt like everyone expected her to lose her virginity whenever it suited them. And not just the boys. How many of her girlfriends had asked her, “Well, Miranda? Aren’t you ready? Rick really likes you, y’know. You’re missing out.”

“Ohhh,” she said, as she inserted two fingers into her vagina, already dripping with moisture. “Fuck me,” she said to the dark room, to some imaginary lover whom she pictured taking her, then and there. “Just fuck me.”

Now with her other hand, she reached under her top and played with her nipples. They were hard and erect, and sensitive to the touch. These, at least, had been fondled by someone else. Just last month, Bobby Gregson, a boy she dated for a couple of weeks, was kissing her so good and so long, and she let him get a feel. He had reached under her bra, and squeezed, and, honestly, it felt good. And exciting. But then he reached for her crotch, and she stopped him.

“Fucking cock-tease,” he’d fumed. Needless to say, that had been their last date.

“Oh yes,” she sighed. “Ohhhh.” She felt her body tense, felt her nerve endings scream and dance, ready to erupt. A glorious feeling of inevitability washed over her like a wave. It was a feeling she knew well, and always wished could last longer. “Oh yeah, oh God, oh God,” she said as she came, her hips bucking and jerking as she continued to finger herself, until, spent and satisfied, she went limp, her limbs relaxed now, her body sated.

She sighed again, absently continuing to play with her nipples. She hoped Aunt Marie hadn’t overheard. But no. It was a big old house, and Aunt Marie’s room was way down the other end of the hall.

Suddenly feeling thirsty (cumming sometimes had that effect on her), Miranda hopped out of bed, and padded on bare feet downstairs, to the kitchen. Opening the fridge, and grabbing a can of Diet Pepsi, she thought back to last night. What a difference. She’d been camped in the woods, in her sleeping bag, under the glow of a gibbous moon, listening to the night-creatures as they rustled about, scurrying through the undergrowth.

Her parents thought she was crazy, and told her in no uncertain terms not to do this. But she was eighteen now, and they couldn’t hold her. They could enforce a curfew, establish house rules perhaps, but they couldn’t stand in the way if she decided to take a few weeks and walk across Upstate New York.

“Why?” they had asked. It was the day after her high school graduation ceremony. “Miranda, it’s dangerous. A young girl, all alone like that . . .”

She shrugged. She could defend herself. She wasn’t worried. Besides, she had been the star member of the track team, and could run like a deer, if things ever came to that. But she doubted they would. She’d stick to the main roads, walk only during the day, camp deep in the woods, and stay at relatives’ houses along the way whenever possible, just like tonight with Aunt Marie.

She would start out right on her own side street, where she’d lived all her life in the old blue cape she called home, and go through her small town, ten miles north of Albany, heading west. Her journey would come to an end on the east side of Rochester, in the affluent town of Pittsford, where her Uncle Jim and Aunt Helen ran a bed-and-breakfast. They had already agreed to let her spend as many nights as she wanted at the B & B, free of charge. She wanted none of that, though, and had already paid them in advance for three nights’ stay. Hopefully that’s all it would take, or if she were lucky, it would happen before she even arrived in Rochester. Only time would tell. And then she would walk back home, thinking, reflecting on all she had experienced and enjoy the remainder of her summer before going to college in the fall.

But right now, she didn’t want to think about college. There was only The Walk, as she had come to call it. The Journey.

“Why?” her mother had asked a second time. “Why are you doing this, Miranda?”

“I need to discover something about myself,” she had answered.

And about sex.

It was complicated.

*

After downing the Diet demetevler escort Pepsi, Miranda went back to the guest room, flicked on the light. She was wired from the caffeine. Smart idea. Drinking pop before bed . . .

She looked in the wall mirror. A blonde-haired, blue-eyed, tanned eighteen-year-old looked back at her. Everyone said she was beautiful. Tall, nearly five feet ten, athletic, fit and toned, with high cheekbones and a warm, friendly smile. What was not to like? She didn’t know—but she never thought she was beautiful. Acceptable, maybe, on a good day. But beautiful? That seemed too strong a word, no matter what others told her.

She turned, looked at herself in profile. She had a nice butt, even she had to admit that—toned and tight, yet still round and shapely. Her tits? Not much to write home about. She wore a 34B bra, and had come to terms that she would never have much up front. Of course, the guys at school didn’t seem to mind. They kept after her, as if in a horn-dog championship competition. Who could fuck Miranda Jenkins first? Who would she lose her virginity to?

She sat on the bed, took out her diary. It was old-fashioned, she knew, keeping a diary in pen and ink. Some of her girlfriends mocked her about it. Well, who cared? She’d never been a conformist. She was the only girl in school who listed The Honeymooners as her favorite TV show. Half the class had never even heard of it. If they only knew she considered Ed Norton the sexiest man she had ever seen . . . Norton was hilarious. He made her burst out laughing every time she watched. She admired a six-pack and a pair of guns on a guy as much as the next girl. But it meant nothing if he couldn’t make her laugh.

And when the time came on this Walk, on this Journey, when she met the right guy, surely he would be someone with a sense of humor.

She began to write . . .

*

No one back home understands. Sometimes I wonder if anyone ever will. I don’t even know if I do—at least not totally. “Like, totally,” as Laurie would say! I miss Laurie, and all my friends. I guess I didn’t realize that this little hike across the great state of NY would be so lonely. It’s nice seeing Aunt Marie, but it’s not the same as my friends. Oh well. This is something I wanted to do, and I don’t regret it—yet.

I still haven’t found him. And I wonder sometimes. Here I am walking, searching, but will I find him? Who is he? Is he my age? Or is he older? Thirty? Forty? I remember talking to Laurie about that once. “No way would I do a forty-year-old,” she said. “That’s gross, with a capital G. Ick. I mean, like, my dad’s forty!” Well, so’s mine, but if I found the right guy, and he WAS forty, I would. I really would. It’s not like I’m looking for a soul-mate. Just a onetime thing. It’s so weird. I mean, I like some of the boys from my class. But it never felt right with them. I’m not a tease. At least I don’t mean to be. It’s just . . .

I don’t know. I’ve thought about waiting, maybe even till I’m married. But that’s SO old school. I mean, really. Everyone tells me I’m old-fashioned, but not in that way. It’s just, I don’t know. If I don’t want to wait—I guess somehow I figure it’s better to do it with a stranger, someone I might meet just for this purpose. Someone I won’t ever see again. Some people would call that cheap and slutty and dirty. But I’m not looking for a boyfriend. Or even a lover. Just an experience. I want to know what it feels like, and I don’t want to wait for years and years. And I don’t want to get involved with anyone. I have too much to do, with college and everything coming up.

Sometimes I hate that I live in a small town. Everyone knows you, and knows who you sleep with, it seems. That’s one of the reasons I’m taking this Walk. When I find the right guy, I want him to be a hundred miles away. I don’t want my parents to know his parents, or whatever.

I don’t know. I’m eighteen, but sometimes I feel so much older. Weighed down. So many expectations. Everyone wants me to do great at college and get some great job after I graduate, and probably they want me to, oh, I don’t know, like become president of the United States or something. It’s flattering, but it’s a lot of pressure.

Sometimes, I just want to do something for ME. And I’m doing this for me. I want to discover things. I want to feel things. I want to know things.

I want to be free . . .

*

“You’re up early,” Aunt Marie said. She was a heavy woman with graying hair, in her midfifties, Mom’s older sister. “But I was prepared, just in case! There’s scrambled eggs, toast, and bacon.” Still eating her breakfast, she pointed at the stove.

“Thank you, Aunt Marie,” Miranda said. “It looks great. I’m starved.” She grabbed a plate, filled it with the eggs and toast, but avoided the bacon. She’d been a vegetarian since she was fourteen.

She sat at the small oval table in the center of the room, opposite Aunt Marie, hoping she wouldn’t notice the lack of bacon on her plate.

“Oh, stupid demirlibahçe escort me, I forgot!” Aunt Marie said. “Forgive me, sweetie. I should’ve remembered you don’t eat meat. That’s probably why you’re so thin and pretty. Not like me.” She backed away from the table and patted her ample stomach, then pushed forward again. “I love my meat.”

Miranda laughed, took a bite of toast.

“Your mom called earlier,” Aunt Marie went on. “She asked if maybe you might consider turning back, and going home. You know, before you get too many more miles away.”

Miranda shook her head. Mom just didn’t get it. “This is something I have to do,” she said. “I already told Mom that.”

Aunt Marie shrugged. “Well, I don’t understand it any more than your mom, sweetie, but I was young and restless once too. Just be careful.”

Miranda forced a smile. If she heard one more person say, “Be careful,” she thought she’d scream—loud, long, and shrill. She may have only just graduated from high school, still only a teenager—but she wasn’t stupid. Oddly, she wondered if Aunt Marie was a virgin, too. She suddenly was dying to know. She couldn’t imagine being in her fifties and never having experienced sex.

“You will text your mom tonight, right?” Aunt Marie said through a mouthful of bacon.

“Of course. On my trusty old Tracfone.” She pulled it out, and they both had a good laugh over it. Unlike any of her friends, unlike pretty much anyone her age she knew, she disliked cell phones. Get a smartphone? Not a chance. Her Tracfone got the job done just fine. And always was the butt of jokes whenever anyone saw it. (“I had one of those once, in a different century,” people would say.) She rarely used it—only when she needed to. It couldn’t access the Internet, couldn’t do much of anything, except make calls and texts. On her Walk, she kept it turned off all day long, but texted a few of her friends and her mom every night. Just to let them all know that, yes, she was alive, and fine, and no bandits had tried to kill her or maim her.

“Did you find anything to watch on TV last night, sweetie?” Aunt Marie said as she finished the last of her bacon.

“The Honeymooners were on!” Miranda said. “There were even a few Lost Episodes.” She knew the shows off by heart. She owned all the DVDs. But she never tired of them.

Aunt Marie smiled. “You’re a sweet kid,” she said, mimicking Norton on the show, and they both laughed.

*

She was making good time. She’d already gone twenty miles since leaving Aunt Marie’s, and it was only three o’clock. Every day, the walking got easier, the forty-pound backpack lighter, despite being nearly one-third her body weight. If she really wanted to, she was sure she could walk across the whole country.

She was in the heart of the Mohawk Valley now, and she drank in the scenery like the thirsty traveler she was. Lush meadows undulated as far as the eye could see. Corn farms dotted the landscape, the stalks already several feet high. Cows grazed languorously on tall grasses. Hills rose and fell, gently, as she walked across the breast of the state. How many people who had never stepped foot in New York thought of it only as the Big Apple, the bright lights? How misguided they were. At its heart, the Empire State was rural.

She entered the town of Little Falls, a picture-postcard kind of place, making her think of a set piece for an old movie. It brought to mind Frank Capra and baseball and all the corny aphorisms of small-town American life. Looking at the quaint old houses and awning-covered storefronts, she could easily imagine Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed from It’s A Wonderful Life (her all-time favorite movie—yet another thing her friends mocked her about) passing by and saying hello to everyone.

She spotted a tree-shaded park, complete with basketball courts, tennis courts, and a playground. And benches and tables. She went to an unoccupied red picnic table, took a load off her feet. From her pack, she pulled out her Igloo water jug, took a long drink, and then grabbed a couple of Power Bars. She was carrying only a small amount of cash. She’d packed enough food for two weeks—mostly bars, granola, nuts, crackers, and dried fruit. Every now and then she’d stop at a diner or a café for a hot meal. Just like with the walking itself, she was rapidly adjusting to this diet-on-the-go.

Piece of cake, she thought, but instantly regretted it. Cake sounded good.

In one of the basketball courts, maybe fifty feet in front of her, a group of middle-aged men were engaged in a three-on-three full-court game. They were sweating like pigs—she could only imagine how bad they smelled—and gasping for air at every stop in play. Weekend warriors, probably, trying to turn back the clock.

“Hey, you ain’t from around here, are you?” a kid’s voice said then.

Miranda turned around. A sandy-haired, freckle-faced boy smiled at her.

“I’m from just outside Albany,” she said. “Name’s Miranda.” She extended a hand—she dikmen escort liked the looks of this kid. He, too, made her think of apple pie and baseball. Homespun America right there before her eyes.

“Jason, there you are!” A woman, fortyish, pretty, approached. She eyed Miranda, looked at the backpack. Her features hardened, and that made her look older. “Who are you, miss?”

“Miranda!” the boy said. “And she’s from Albany.”

The woman still eyed her distrustfully. Miranda took a hearty bite from a Power Bar.

Before another word could be spoken, one of the guys in the basketball game screamed, the sound of it echoing through the park.

The woman jerked her head, her eyes shifting from Miranda to the game. “That sounded like your father!” she said to the boy.

A moment later, a sweaty guy with a bald spot ambled over to them. He was limping, holding his lower back.

He swore, but the woman glanced at the boy and then glared at him.

“Sorry,” he said. “I just aggravated my damn—er, my darn back again.”

“Oh, Phil.” The woman went to him. “I told you to take it easy. How’d you hurt yourself?”

“Diving for a loose ball. Thought I could get to it. I did, but . . .”

The other players from the game were there now, and Miranda’s first guess had been right. They sure did smell.

“Can you go any more, Phil?” one of them said.

“No,” the woman answered for him. “He’s on the IR until I clear him.”

Two of the men swore. “Damn. How we gonna finish the game, then? You sure you can’t tough it out, Phil?”

Phil looked at the woman, obviously his wife.

“No,” she said, shaking her head.

“I’ll play!” the boy said. “Let me! I’m good!”

They laughed.

Miranda stood up. She felt the men’s eyes on her, ogling her, undressing her. She was wearing a T-shirt and a pair of red shorts, her hair tied back in a ponytail. She felt very unappealing. But the guys didn’t seem to think so. One of them, a short, pudgy sort with a goatee, seemed on the verge of drooling.

“I can play,” she said. She could use the diversion, and the Power Bar had given her a renewed vigor.

The pudgy guy snorted. “Is that a fact? C’mon, Phil, get back in the game! We need you.”

“Hey, I bet she’s good!” the boy said, going up to Miranda. “Look how tall she is!”

“Which team needs a player?” she asked. Basketball wasn’t her best sport, but she was a good ball handler, a pesky defender, and she was sure she could run circles around these guys, even after walking close to eighty miles over the past three days.

The pudgy guy swore under his breath. Great. Not exactly her first choice for a teammate, but the other guy on the team, a lanky redhead who looked a little younger than the others, appeared in good shape.

“You even understand the game of basketball, baby?” a guy from the other team said.

“The name’s Miranda,” she said, and took the ball from him so fast it left him just standing there, mouth agape. She dribbled, twirled the ball on her index finger, a skill she had acquired last year—just something to do for the hell of it.

Now all of their mouths hung open.

“No fair!” a fat guy on the other team said. “You had this planned the whole time, I bet. She’s a ringer!”

Phil Laughed. Then the pudgy guy laughed. Then they all did. Even the woman who’d been giving her a hard time.

“Let’s play,” Miranda said.

*

Her team won, 40-32, and she was the difference. She had a dozen assists, nearly as many steals, played suffocating defense, and chipped in four points. At one juncture, late in the game, she stole the ball, raced the length of the court, and did a showboating reverse layup.

When the game was over, her teammates each gave her high fives, and so did Phil.

“I can’t reach that high,” the little boy said. “How about a low five?”

She felt good with these guys, and with Phil’s wife and son. It had been a nice break, a welcome distraction from the loneliness of her Walk. But she knew she should be on her way.

They asked her where she was headed and why. She told them—all except for the sex part. And that’s the most important part, she thought. But they were interested just the same.

“You rock, Miranda,” the boy said as she turned to leave. He ran up to her, gave her another low five.

She laughed. It was a good feeling, a good moment, one she would remember fondly years down the road, she was sure. It was a beautiful day in this picturesque little town with the rolling hills and cornfields that surrounded it.

It was good to be alive, and to be young.

*

I guess you can’t expect to sleep in a bed every night. I got spoiled at Aunt Marie’s. Tonight I’m back in the woods. It’s so pretty here, though, I don’t even mind. And it’s a nice night—the moon’s almost full, too. Wonder if I’ll turn into a werewolf or something.

Mom still doesn’t get it. I mean, God, here I am, like almost a hundred miles from home now, and still she’s saying things like, “Come home, Miranda. Don’t go any farther.” And I’m like, “Mom, I’m almost halfway to Aunt Helen and Uncle Jim’s B & B already. If I was gonna turn around, it would’ve happened before today.” But I can understand. She’s worried about me, and, maybe it’s selfish, but in a way, that feels kinda good.

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