tagIncest/TabooThe Ugly Duckling Becomes A Swan

The Ugly Duckling Becomes A Swan

byR. LeBeaux©

When I was growing up, most folks I knew considered having sex with a relative—or at least a blood relative—as something horrid, disgusting, the province of perverts. And I tended to agree. My religious upbringing forbade such a thing and no one I knew would ever condone the idea. That's what I used to think, but looking back, the fact is the subject almost never came up in conversation, so it was really hard to tell what everybody actually believed (or did in privacy). I carried this viewpoint around with me until I attended college and was exposed to certain fallacies in the anti-incest argument, foremost being the obvious incest stores in the Old Testament.

Philosophical questions aside, the final proof for me was, as the saying goes, in the pudding, and the pudding was served the day my cousin Sally came to work at the newspaper. Sally was twenty-two, a recent college graduate, and she'd taken a job as an assistant editor on the City Desk. I was nineteen at the time, a gofer at the paper, and we would often pass in the coffee room or in the hall. We'd barely known each other before then, having grown up in different states and only visiting on the occasional summer vacation trip. She hardly paid me any mind at work, and it was obvious to me that the age and education difference presented formidable barriers to our becoming social friends. But one day, out of the blue, she asked if I could give her a ride to work from time to time when our shifts coincided. Her apartment was on my way, so I started picking her up whenever it was convenient for both of us.

Sally was thin, about five-foot-four, kind of tom-boyish with light auburn hair and big hazel eyes that gave her a waif-like look. She wasn't unattractive, but it was hard to tell much about her looks from a physical standpoint because she always wore loose-fitting slacks and frilly blouses that obscured any definition of her body. She also had a way of never meeting your eyes directly, which made it difficult to take in her face completely at any given moment. At first I had no interest in her other than as a friend, but after a few weeks of riding together in the car, things began to change.

The most interesting thing about her was that she reminded me a lot of my childhood girlfriend, Terrie, with whom I'd had my first sexual experience at the tender age of fifteen. The comparison was not in Sally's looks, but in her philosophy and the way she talked. Despite having gone through the tragic death of her parents in an auto accident only two years before, she was distinctly happy, but could turn serious on a dime when it came to subjects like politics or religion. Her favorite book was The Feminine Mystique, and she could quickly become angry over women's rights issues. Her anger was often spiked with a brutal, cutting sarcasm, and she easily matched wits with the men at work, often slicing and dicing them in debates until they slunk off in defeat.

After a while, I started inviting her home for dinner, and she eventually became close to the whole family. I even introduced her to Terrie. Terrie had moved to California a couple of years earlier and, to my great dismay, had subsequently decided she was a lesbian. We remained friends, however, often talking on the phone about our love lives. It was during one of those phone calls, when I was telling her about Sally, that she asked me to put her on the phone, and they hit it off so well I finally had to pry the receiver from Sally's hand before the phone bill got out of hand.

"You've got hold of a good one there, kiddo," Terrie said before we hung up. "You'd better not let her get away." I wasn't sure if Terrie realized Sally and I were only friends, but I agreed with her, figuring I would fill her in the next time we talked in private.

Privacy turned out to be hard to find, however, because Sally and I started spending more and more time together, and there was hardly a moment after that when she wasn't around. We talked a lot about all kinds of things, even sex, but always in a sort of clinical way, discussing subjects like domination and sexism and the arbitrary taboos of modern society. Occasionally the conversations would brush on more personal topics, but she always backed off before they got too detailed, and we never came close to being intimate, not even a goodnight kiss. And after she said how much she liked Terrie, I got the feeling she, too, might be gay. That possibility didn't bother me, but I was disabused of the idea about three months after we met, as we sat on her couch one Saturday evening.

We were talking about Terrie and lesbianism and Sally was trying to explain to me how women felt differently from men when it came to love and sex; how it was less of a physical thing for them, and how they could be attracted to other females for reasons that were complicated and hard for a man to understand. It wasn't a debate, because I was totally out of school on the subject; it was a candid conversation, and one I really appreciated because it gave me a better insight into how Terrie made her transformation. I was expressing my gratitude for this when she shocked the hell out of me.

"Would you like to have sex with me, Tim?" she asked.

My mouth must have dropped open because she started to smile, but I finally managed to get it working. "Where the hell did that come from?" I said with a chuckle.

"From my heart," she answered, and she placed a hand on her chest as if she were getting ready to say the Pledge of Allegiance. The gesture was so silly I knew immediately she was kidding, and I almost laughed. But she remained in that position, smiling at me and looking like the little waif I'd seen in her before. When she cocked her head, as if to say, "I'm waiting," I began to fear she might not be joking.

"You're serious?" I managed. "I mean, we...we've never... that kind of thing has never come up before." I watched her face for signs she was about to laugh, but her expression didn't change. Finally, I guess when she realized I had run out of words, she dropped her hand back into her lap.

"I know I'm not all that attractive," she said shyly. "And you're probably worried about the incest thing, but that's really a bunch of horseshit if you ask me. If we'd never known each other and had met, say at a concert or something, would you still be reluctant?" My tongue seemed to have gotten trapped in a thick ball of cotton, and when I didn't reply, she continued. "Whatever, I'm not going to rape you, so you don't have to worry. Actually, I'm not very experienced—sexually, that is—which could be another drawback. But I'm willing to learn, and you could put a bag over my head if you want."

I started to laugh, but when I saw her face scrunch up as if she were about to cry, I stopped myself. "Hey," I said. "Don't take that the wrong way. I wasn't laughing at you. I laughed because what you said about not being attractive was so funny—I mean funny because it isn't true."

"You mean," she said, almost in a whisper, "you don't think I'm ugly?"

"Good God, Sally," I said. "What would ever give you that idea?"

"Well, my mirror, for one thing. That and the fact that we've known each other for quite a while now and you've never even tried to kiss me. Anyway, I figured..."

This time I really laughed, and I reached out to touch her leg so she would know I wasn't laughing at her. A smile began to creep onto her face then, and soon we were both laughing uncontrollably.

"That's incredible," I gasped, trying to catch my breath. "You've always acted like a good buddy, and then there's the 'incest thing' as you call it. So I thought what you thought: that you weren't interested in me." By then she had taken hold of my hand and was looking expectantly at me. I took her other hand, and we awkwardly pulled each other close. It was a chaste, Victorian kind of kiss, with both of us holding hands and leaning toward each other until our lips met across the space. Even so, I had never felt such an intense spark. When I drew back, her eyes were still closed and she was smiling.

"That was nice," she said. "Do you think we could do it again?"

The rest of the evening was like a fairy tale. We were so careful and so slow, we almost seemed like kids on a first date. And we were, in a way, because for the longest time all we did was kiss and hug and talk about our lives. It wasn't at all like our earlier conversations; we were getting to know each other for the first time, learning to talk on a deeper level and share things from our hearts. Eventually false ego drained away, and the honesty in the room was so overwhelming it felt like you could cut it with a knife.

Without thought, I told her all about Terrie and me and how much it hurt when she left and decided she was a lesbian. Sally reciprocated with the story of her first and only sexual encounter with a man, and how grateful she was for it, because growing up she'd always felt like an ugly duckling, and was hardly ever asked out on dates. It happened during her last year at college, she said, and the guy was one of her career counselors. They had a long talk one day and he asked if she wanted to continue the conversation over dinner. She was shocked and scared and thrilled all at the same time, and when he suggested they go to his apartment, she jumped at what she thought might be her only chance to find out what sex was like.

He was gentle, she said, and he didn't protest when she told him she wasn't going allow full penetration. From her description, he didn't seem to have had much experience.

"I let him use his fingers," she said with a blush, "and it was nice, but nothing like I had hoped for."

Even though she didn't get much out of it physically, she said she was so happy to finally find someone who wanted her, she cried. He thought he had hurt her, but she reassured him. "I tried to act like it was great, but it was sort of like I was somewhere else, watching it all happen from a distance. I don't know what I was supposed to be feeling, but whatever it was, it sure wasn't anything to write home about."

They continued to see each other, but the sex never got any better, and even though it often left her frustrated, she somehow knew it wouldn't improve with intercourse, at least with him. The day she graduated, he asked her to marry him, but she wasn't in love, and after thinking it over she realized it wouldn't be fair to him, or to her for that matter, so she turned him down. Since then, she'd gone back into her little shell, protected by the anger and humor and sarcastic façade she had learned to hide behind so well while she was growing up.

What was so odd about the evening was that we ended up not having sex after all. We talked late into the night, and we stopped from time to time to kiss and marvel at the new chemistry we felt. But I never laid a hand on her sexually. The subject came up from time to time, and she said she was looking forward to it. But somehow we always got off on another topic, until we finally fell asleep on the couch in each other's arms.


I woke the next morning stretched out on the couch alone, covered by a quilt and smelling coffee. Sally came in from the kitchen wearing a long, nearly transparent nightgown. She sat next to me, and when she leaned over to give me a morning kiss, I thought, this must be what married life is like. Finally we managed to break away from each other. She pulled me to my feet, handed me a cup of coffee and the Sunday paper, then pointed me toward the bathroom. "There's an extra toothbrush in the cabinet," she said as I rounded the corner. "And you'd better use it, too. Your mouth tastes like an old pair of dirty socks."

How she knew exactly how I always started the day, I would never know, but I sure wasn't about to complain. I went through my routine and when I was done, I stepped out the door to ask if it would be okay for me to take a shower and nearly knocked her over. I caught her and steadied her as she held out the towel and terrycloth bathrobe she'd been carrying. Again, I was nearly bowled over by her almost psychic ability to know precisely what I wanted. When I leaned to give her a breath-freshened kiss, she smacked her lips as if she'd licked a lollypop. "That's much better," she said. Then she gave me a little shove back inside and tried to pull the door shut behind me, but I caught it with a finger.

We stared at each other for a long time through the open bathroom door, and when I reached out a hand for her, she looked down at the floor. "I, uh . . . I think I know what you want to do," she said in a lilting hesitant voice. "But, I . . . well, I'm embarrassed. I'm really not much to look at, Tim. Believe me. And I don't want to disappoint you before . . . before we . . . Oh, shit! I can't even say it."

I put a finger under her chin and lifted it until our eyes met. "Listen," I said, lowering my voice until it was almost a growl. "You've got to stop that crap. I told you once you are not ugly, and that was an understatement. Fact is, you're beautiful, and I want very much to see all of you." With that, I took the towel and bathrobe from her hands, dropped them on the floor, and began to slip the flimsy straps of her nightgown off her shoulders. Again, she looked down, but she made no effort to stop the silky garment as it fell in a soft flair around her ankles. And despite the fact that I had seen quite a bit though the translucent fabric, once she stood before me completely naked, I was rendered speechless.

She was slender, though not really thin, and her skin glowed like silk of her nightgown, with an underlying luminance, as if the dim light from the hall were somehow shining through it. The gentle flair of her hips curved down into the smooth skin of her legs, which seemed almost pixie like with their slightly muscular firmness. She lowered her hands to cover the feathery wisp of pubic hair that grew in an almost invisible V, while my eyes slowly moved upward, taking in every centimeter of her body and coming to rest on her perfectly rounded breasts. Involuntarily, I reached out to gently touch a suede-like nipple, which jerked and became rigid under my fingertips. A shiver went through her body as I slid my fingers up until my palm rested against her cool skin, and when I closed my hand around her breast, she gasped as if she were having some kind of premature orgasm.

"Look at me," I demanded in a quiet though insistent voice. And with a nervous shrug and a slight nod of acceptance, she slowly raised her head. I'd never been able to examine her face very well because of that habit she had of not meeting my gaze head on, but now she seemed to accept the inevitable and didn't try to hide. As a smile of resignation softened the grim stiffness of her lips, I was nearly struck dumb at the beauty that shown like the subtle glow of an opal from her skin.

Her eyes, I saw, were not hazel, but a vague, almost transparent hue of blue-gray that seemed to disappear into pools of shimmering water, as if I were looking straight through to the light-blue surface of the wall behind her. They were wide-spread and much larger than they'd seemed before, slightly slanted upward with an almond shape that made me think of those lovely Eurasian girls who were the product of couplings between service men and orientals during various wars. The rest of her features, her thin straight nose and wide narrow mouth, were almost obscured by the incredible power of those eyes, and the whole picture was perfectly set off by the elongated heart shape of her face.

My erection had begun to press painfully against my jeans, and I noticed her eyes lower until they focused on my groin. When she hesitantly reached out to touch me, a reflex made me jerk backward, but her curious look embarrassed me, and I quickly relaxed, allowing her hand to rest gently against the growing bulge.

"Can I . . .? Can I see you now?" Her voice was like the mewing of a kitten, and as I nodded silently, she unclasped my shorts, allowing them to drop around my ankles. My underwear provided no challenge to the increasing stiffness behind it, and it took only a slight pull on the elastic for it to burst through like a raised drawbridge to rest against the back of her fingers. She playfully wiggled her knuckles against me for a moment, but when I took her hand and urged her on, she grasped me gently, as a look of awed fear spread across her face.

"I . . . I've never seen one before, you know?" she said, staring while I grew larger and larger under her touch. "Is that, uh, normal? I mean, it seems so big."

"Well," I said, my voice cracking with the tactile sensation, "it might not be, at least for me. But it does speak to your irrational idea that you are somehow not attractive. Isn't it obvious? How do you think I could get . . . this way, if your beauty didn't have an incredible effect on my libido?"

She smiled then, as if someone had told her for the first time in her life that she was not an ugly duckling, that she was desirable and capable of evoking that desire by simply standing naked before a man. "I guess," she said shyly. "I guess this means you're ready?"

"Oh, God, am I ready."

"Okay then, I think I have to apologize, because I don't want to, uh, do it right now. I mean I want to, but not at this particular moment."

She had not released me, and I was about to explode, but I definitely didn't want to do anything that might upset her. I was, however, curious, so I said, lying through my teeth, "I have no problem with that. Really. But, if you don't mind, could you tell me why, exactly?"

Suddenly, she seemed to crawl back into her protective shell, releasing me and looking away. But when I pulled her against my chest and hugged her, she sighed in my ear and answered in a timid, withering voice.

"I sort of have this thing," she said apologetically. "It's kind of irrational, and it probably stems from some childhood trauma or some silly idea about hygiene, but I don't want to do it if both of us aren't perfectly clean. Call it a fetish or something, but before we . . . uh, continue, I need to be clean—inside and out—and you need to take a shower. Is that okay?"

"Of course it's okay," I lied again. "I was just wondering, that's all."

"Great," she said, gleefully pushing away. She pecked me chastely on the cheek, then shoved me back into the bathroom. And this time I let her close the door behind me.


I took a long, hot shower and emerged to the smell of bacon cooking. I went into the kitchen and put my arms around her from behind. "That smells good," I said. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"How do you like your eggs?" she asked without answering, and for the first time I realized she couldn't actually read my mind.


While we ate breakfast, I again thought about married life and how nice it would be to wake up to this scenario every morning: the two of us, after a long night of interesting conversation and maybe a little love making, sitting at the breakfast table together, eating great food and silently enjoying each others' company. It almost seemed like a movie; a fantasy too good to ever come true.

Afterward, she let me help with the dishes, and then, to my great disappointment, she suggested we go for a walk. I tried not to let the frustration show in my face, and somehow managed to act cheerful as we got dressed and walked around the neighborhood. When we came to my street, I remembered I hadn't been home last night, and realized Mom would probably be worried. I started to tell Sally we needed to stop by my house, but she smiled and said she'd called Mom earlier and told her I'd fallen asleep on her couch.

"I don't think she believed me," she said with a laugh, "but she did appreciate the call. Your mom's pretty cool, you know. In fact, so is your whole family." Then she got misty eyed, so I hugged her.

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byR. LeBeaux© 3 comments/ 65951 views/ 15 favorites

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