Iola: A Fantasy For The Future
By E.S. Wynn

“Hey there,” Iola nuzzles me, kisses my shoulder. “Wake up, lover.”
Soft blue light from Hausos VIII's primary star filters in through the window above my head. A soft curtain of black hair brushes against my eyes. I can feel the steady rhythm of her heart, her breath, can feel her warmth as she burrows between the blankets and me. When I reach out, turn toward her, wrap my arm around her, she giggles, digs in further, kisses my chest like it's bread and she's been starving all night. Pulling her against me, I bury my face in her hair, breathe in her sweet scent. She smells like tangerines to me, like sweet citrus in a summer sea breeze.
For a long while, we lay there like that, just holding each other, just breathing each other. My hand moves down the length of her back in a long caress, rests on the curve of her rear, squeezes once, playfully, then rises again, teasing her skin with the tips of fingers. Her own hands take in the planes and lines of my body, move slow and gentle as I shift against her, roll my hands over her shoulders, start to massage her.
The sounds she makes, breathes into my neck as she kisses my ear, my jaw, my cheek make me smile, make me want to keep going, make me want to keep working the knots out of her arms and shoulders. I love her touch. I love the way we hold each other. I love being this close to her, feeling her move against me, feeling her hands on me. When she whispers my name, whispers what she wants, what she needs, I smile even wider, gently lower her onto her back. Her eyes, the way they crinkle at the edges as a grin spreads across her lips– my heart skips a beat when I look into those eyes, when I see her looking up at me. She's perfect, I tell myself as I caress her, as I kiss her. She's perfect.
When we make love, we move soft and slow. We move with kisses, with hands rising to hold cheeks, caress foreheads, brush the little tips of hair out of each others' eyes. As the heat builds between us, we lose ourselves in one another, breathe one another– and then she rises against me, fingers pressing in against my skin, her own body taut, her lips straining toward need. Release comes like a wave, and we ride it together, a tangle of hands and arms and trembling legs. “Wow,” she says, hair scattered over her eyes. For a moment, it's all either of us can say. “Wow.”
“I love you. I love you.”
We lay there like that for a long moment, smiling, connected, neither of us wanting to part. She's so beautiful to me, and I can see in the way that she looks at me that she sees me in the same light, with the same eyes.
She kisses me deeply and sweetly when we part, then chases me across the bed and straddles me for a moment with her hands on my chest, pushing me into the mattress. Her midnight hair is long and sleek, spills over one shoulder, cascades like a falling river to cover one of her breasts. I reach out, rest a hand on her hip, holding her as she leans in, kisses me again, kisses my chest, then dismounts with a grin, half-stumbling over to a pile of clothes.
There's something so enchanting about the way she moves, about the ordinary little things she does, the moments of routine where she's just being herself, moving as if unobserved. I love watching her, love watching the way the dawn lights her curves as she leans over. I love watching the way her beautiful breasts move, alluring, like delicious fruit, ripe and full. She's not wearing her tattoos at the moment, but even as I watch, little lines of ink start to work their way across her skin.
Curious, enjoying the view, I prop myself up on one elbow, watch the elegant inkwork vining across her thigh. I haven't seen this design before– it's something new, something she's coming up with on the fly. Her eyes hardly seem to move at all as she mentally constructs the design, feeds the data to the utility-grade tissue lacing in her skin. Hands pick through clothes, and then she slides on the gray, sleeveless tanktop of a self-cleaning metamatter shirt. As I watch, she syncs her mind to the fabric, starts sifting through her collection of fashion apps.
I love the tops in her collection. I love watching her shirt shift size, cut and color as it dances through them. Band shirts and band shirt replicas– that's what most of the apps she has are. Classics, vintage groups mixed with modern and indie merch. A few ragged looking sleeveless pieces, a few comfortable long-sleeve shirts, but mostly band gear. Some of the names make me smile, bring back memories of concerts we've attended together. I love her taste in music. Rock, some metal, some sounds trending toward industrial and trance.
Halfway done creating the tattoo sleeves and legs she's planning on wearing for the day, maybe only for the morning, she looks up suddenly, notices me watching her. Her shirt settles on a white short-sleeve with the shape of a wide-winged angel emblazoned in black and gold across the front of it. Smiling again, she playfully asks, “What?”
“You're beautiful,” I answer, and it makes her grin wider. Quick, she crosses to me, gives me a peck on the lips, then pulls back just enough to look me in the eyes. While I watch, her skin lacing spins a quartet of tiny, shining rings that clip in from the top of her left ear down to the middle. Two hoops, small and silver, spin themselves from the lobes of her ears, swing free as they separate from the skin that spawned them.
“You're beautiful,” she says, laughs a little. “Soulmate.”
“Soulmate,” I answer back, watch her as she turns away again, shirt already flicking through designs, changing shape, changing color again.
The gray, formless shape of a metamatter skirt becomes a pair of dark denim jeans, hip-hugging but loose and open around the ankles. The shirt shifts, drops to hang around her hips– a fashion app for something silver-gray and casual that falls in waves from her shoulders, looks comfortable. The tattoos moving across her skin settle on a design, and as she crosses to the bathroom mirror, she uses her index finger to make little modifications, erases bits here, traces new lines and new flourishes there. Dressed in my own metamatter sheathes, I flick through my mental catalog of fashion apps, shift through shirts until she says “ooh, that one.”
“You like it?” I ask, meeting her smiling eyes in the mirror. The shirt is a sleek button-up done with a blue and black flecked design that shimmers like liquid. It's one of my favorites.
“It's one of my favorites,” she says, almost as if she can read my mind. I grin, set the blue-black design for the shirt, then sync with my pants. Shades of black and gray– that's what I cycle through. A pair with a good fit, comfortable fabric, a hue of black that looks good with the shirt. I find it almost immediately. After a moment, Iola turns to face me, looks me up and down, grins and shakes her head. “Damn. Handsome.”
Tissue lacings scent our sweat as we leave our home, cross into the sun together. Jasmine for her, a clean musk for me. We're both wearing sandals, both smiling. Hausos VIII is one big beach, it sometimes seems. Lanes and atolls of white sand interspersed with long strips of clear, shallow water. The planet's primary star hangs bright and blue in the sky, bright enough that I reach into my breast pocket, mentally trigger the molecularizer there with a design for a pair of sunglasses. Aviators, polarized lenses. They coalesce into my hand in a matter of seconds, and as I feel the full weight of them, I lift them, slip them on. Almost at the same instant, Iola slips on a pair of her own, smiles at me.
When we're out, we walk hand-in-hand, never stray far from one another. Here and there, in among the brightly-colored app and aug boutiques of Hausos VIII's only shopping district, she sees something that catches her eye, or I do, and we break from one another for a moment, slip into the crowd. Anything you can imagine, everything– there's a shop or a kiosk that carries it here. Apps, art, music and printed services from all over the galaxy are advertised in holographic displays that move and talk, skim the public interest profiles of passerby, then tantalize them with specific products and offerings carefully tailored to their interests. Iola gets drawn in by the sound of a local band who falls within her preference range, spends some time listening before selecting a couple of tracks to stream to the neural lacing in her cortex that serves as a music database. The shine and fire of a new shirt draws me in, and the kiosk's integrated intelligence lets me try it on, lets me experience it for a moment before I change my mind, flick back to my original shirt and cross back into the crowd to find Iola.
Later, we go for a run along one of the planet's longer beaches. Like playing children, we chase each other, kiss, let fingers and hands dance together in a dance of love, then run on again. When we get tired, we find a spot to settle on the sand, mentally trigger our pocket molecularizers to print up everything we need to synthesize a picnic lunch. A pair of discs, palm-sized– we set them in the sand, watch them as they go to work, turn the matter of the world around them into plates of fine china heaped with steaming cuts of synthesized pork glazed with a pineapple teriyaki sauce. Utensils, two bowls heaped with steamed rice and a couple of coconuts filled with a cocktail of fruit juices round out lunch. As we eat, we talk about the stars, about art projects we're both working on, ideas we have for new fashion apps to sell in the marketplace, plans we have for the future. She has a painting half-formed in her head, and she shows it to me as a tattoo that rises suddenly across one of her thighs, replacing the inkwork already there. The concept is interesting, a portrait of her mother and father, almost like an impressionistic devotional honoring their years of marriage, the family they built and nurtured and kept strong together. As I watch, the picture changes, becomes a portrait of Iola and I infused with images of the future we plan to build together. The message of the piece makes me smile, and in the moment, she takes my hand, presses it first to her heart, then to her lips, finally holds it against her cheek, closes her beautiful eyes.
“My heart,” her lips shape the words, and when she opens her eyes again, I almost want to cry. Her grin spreads, and then she pounces me, drops me backward into the sand and we're laughing, rolling around, finally coming to rest with her looking up at me, her long, shapely legs wrapped around my hips, her expression one of breathless wonder.
“I'm so lucky to have found you, my heart,” I say to her, and the words make her smile again. One hand rises in a tender gesture, cups my cheek, thumb brushing away the buds of happy tears.
“You were always the man from my dreams,” she says, blinks at the wetness gathering at the edges of her own eyes. “You were always my heart.”
“And you were always mine,” I whisper back, kiss her nose, kiss her forehead, linger when I kiss her lips.
“I've been working on a poem about us,” she says when the kiss ends, her legs relaxing a little, one arm coming up, inkwork there going blank, reappearing as lines of poetry in scrolling cursive. Smiling, I help her back into a sitting position, gently cradle her arm as the words appear across it. The lines shift a little as she edits them mentally, finally breathes, smiles, leaves them set on skin. Beautiful, is all I can think as I read the lines. The way the words come together, the way each distinct sound mingles and highlights the others as they pass my lips lights a fire in my heart, makes me love her all the more. I shake my head, grinning, and it makes her smile again.
“What?” she laughs, and I lean down, kiss the words on her arm.
“You,” I grin. “You're perfect.”
“Ha!” she says, brings her arm back to where she can read the lines. “No really, what do you think?”
I think everything you write is beautiful, I want to say, but those words never pass my lips. Shifting closer to her, I take her in my arms, look at the lines again with her, trace words with my thumb as we talk about how the concepts and sounds in each stanza echo or color one another. Only once does she make a change, restructure a line to improve the flow of the piece, and then she's tinkering with what will come after, adding new lines, testing them silently with her lips before laying them down in ink. Smiling, I watch her, watch the gentle movements of the sand and seas beyond her. Beautiful, I think, and as she works, I kiss her hair, massage her shoulders until she melts into me, poem half-finished, open-ended on her arm.
After lunch, we trigger the pair of printed discs with mental commands, watch as they convert the leftovers and discards of lunch back into air and sand. In a few moments, nothing remains to mark our break except us, except our footprints, the sand on our skin, in our hair.
Hausos VIII's primary peaks at just short of a hand's breadth from the crown of the sky, hovers for a moment, then begins to descend again. The planet's secondary, a huge, boiling ball of angry red, pulls itself from the horizon slowly, sluggishly, looks smaller than the primary only because of its distance from Hausos VIII. Using mental commands, Iola and I turn the metamatter in our clothing into wing-suits, each ultra-light and sleek, fitted with tiny flight-strips that give us lift, put us into the gentle currents that rise just above the sand and the seas. Like a pair of lazy birds, we float a handful of meters from the ground, just float.
Until I give Iola a wink and a grin and take off toward the suns.
Hey! I catch her reaction in the transceiver laced into the tissue of my brain. It's like a telepathic nudge, friendly and felt soul-deep. As I glance back, I can see her chasing me, hair whipping out behind her, grin wide and shining. As she gets closer, I push in my arms to build up more speed, put a little distance between us, watch as she does the same. When I finally slow to let her catch me, she rockets in from my left side, soars off ahead of me, looks back, that smile almost begging me to chase her, catch her.
It's a dance of wings and wind we weave in the skies together, the two of us chasing each other at intervals, laughing as we brush against one another, soar together over Hausos VIII's clear water and pristine sand. When it ends, she loops lazily through the sky, glides back to me, reaches out for my hand, and then we drift slowly, float as one form, almost dancing, two wings of a single bird. Like angels, we tuck our heads into each others' wings, hold each other, just hold each other as we descend, bare feet touching sand in a landing so soft it's almost sensual.
Before the two suns in the sky can meet, we're back at home, cuddled up together as we read, as we work. Painting, Iola uses her index finger like a brush, takes the canvases she's working on and lifts them off her skin with a gesture, works on them while they float mid-air in front of her. Colors change at the speed of thought, each stroke exactly the subtle hues she imagines as she lays them out with practiced grace. Her work is impressive, her skill enviable, and as I watch her, my mind weaves words into my own holographic pane, spills and sprawls loose thoughts, then rearranges and reshapes them, stitches and sews them until they become lines of prose or poetry. Sometimes we lean on each other. Sometimes I hold her. Sometimes she sprawls out and lies with her head in my lap. Sometimes I stretch out beside her, lean in, kiss her legs, caress her feet, her ankles.
At some point, she takes a deep and cleansing breath, looks at the painting she's been working on, then saves it and closes it. New lines of ink dart snakelike across her skin, forming the vines of some new design, and then she reaches out, runs one lithe-fingered hand through my hair. When her fingers descend down the back of my neck, play across the curve of my shoulder, I shiver, close my eyes. "I like what I'm reading," she says, peering in at the holographic prose hanging in the air in front of me, a paragraph of my manuscript in progress. I smile, and then she leans in as if to kiss me, stops just short of my ear. "Read it to me later?"
"I'd love to," I smile back, melting with the heat, the sensual sweetness of her touch. I love reading my works in progress to Iola. She's well read, has a keen mind and enviable taste when it comes to prose and poetry. I've learned to trust her eye, her ear, often rework whole passages after hearing her suggestions.
"Later," she says again, and I agree. She runs one hand up under my shirt, caresses my back, then lets it slip away as I rise, offer my hand to her.
She smiles as she takes it, as I help her to her feet– and then she's in my arms. For a moment, we're both breathless, and then she pulls me closer and we're forehead to forehead, chest to chest, staring eye to eye.
And then I'm kissing her, and in the kiss, I can feel her need, her spirit. I can feel the fire flaring in the center of her being, alive and hungry for more, for me. I can't deny her. I need it too. I need her, now.
Hand-in-hand, we cross to the lush meadow of the yard behind our home, find a place between the fruit trees and the tropical flowers where the tall grass lays down as soft and alluring as a bed. Hungry for one another, wanting to savor the taste of what we're about to share, we strip each other in the sunlight, take our time worshiping the one we love.
Every inch of her is sweet. Every movement and breath calls to me, wakes every inch of me to electric attention. I start by kissing her, kissing her ears, kissing the nape of her neck, working my way down to her shoulders, her chest, but by the time my lips reach her breasts, she reaches out, guides me back to her face, her eyes, tells me what she really wants me to do with my mouth.
Her thighs are like candy to me. Her sweat like fine wine. I breathe her, taste her, tease her, devour her until she's drenched with sweat and shaking, hardly able to move. Only then does she guide me forward, find the strength and drive to push me down in the grass, return the favor.
When we make love, we move as one, hold each other, guide each other, take and take and take with primal ferocity. The sounds that tear from us are animal, full of need, full of lust. Our hands tighten across skin, across hips and sides and chests and arms and then I'm burying my face in her hair, all but screaming her name as our hips lock together in the throes of sweet release. Howling, we hold that last pose for a long moment, shivering and shaking as we ride the wave of pleasure together– and then taut muscles give way and we fall apart, fall sprawling side-by-side, panting for breath. Still gasping, I reach for her, pull her close against my chest and hold her, just hold her as she closes her eyes, shudders with the passing release.
“Wow,” is all she can say again. I nod, grin. I can't even speak. Being with her, the experience of coupling with her transcends anything I've ever felt. The way we move together feels right, feels almost instinctual, as easy and right as play. One of her hands crawls across my chest, traces lines as her tattoos flicker and fade, leave her body a blank canvas. Between ragged breaths, she looks up at me, looks at me with those beautiful eyes and whispers, “shower?”
Pulling in a deep breath, I nod silently, watch as she smiles, kisses my chest, then pushes herself up onto her elbows, tries to get her feet under her. As soon as she's reached her knees, I move into a crouch, rise, offer her a hand and help her upright. For a moment, she loses her balance, grabs onto me, and as I hold her, we meet each others' eyes, laugh a little. In the pause, I pull her close, hug her, then gently turn her, walk behind her as we guide each other to the shower.
The water cascading from the high-flow head scours the sand and sweat from our skin. Holding her, I watch as she takes the length of her hair in both hands, squeezes the water from it, then piles it on top of her head, secures it with an abalone clip. I marvel at the way she moves, at the way she opens her mouth as she leans back, eyes closed, breasts beautiful and free. Mesmerized by her beauty, I reach out, let my hands settle on either side of her waist. She smiles as I lean in to kiss her between her breasts, as I trace a line of kisses from her chest to the place where her thighs come together amidst runnels of running shower water. My hands move as I move, drift down from her waist, caress down the curve of her hips, down the backs of her thighs to the backs of her knees, and as I hold her, kiss her, she shivers, laughs.
When I rise, it is because she guides me, brings me into the water, kisses me deeply and passionately on the lips as the shower soaks us both, slicks our skin even as we close the distance between us. Hands open to summon soap from the spray, and together we lather each other, scrub each other, move as one body, almost dancing, almost making love.
And that's when she begins to sing.
The words come soft and slow at first, barely more than a whisper, but I recognize the tune. Something sweet, something romantic that we've both listened to so many times. Our song, I think. One line ends, and I pick up the words with her as the next begins. Cheek to cheek, holding each other, eyes closed, we sing together, sing of love, sing of the sweetness and the sense of safety that comes with being so close, that comes with a connection as deep as the one we share. Her voice, the way she sings is so soulful, pulls at my heart, brings the warmth of fresh tears to my eyes.
And the words build, fly from us. We sing until we're both crying, until we're both belting the lyrics and almost dancing under the spray from the showerhead. Grinning, we move like two halves of one form, so alive in the moment that nothing else matters. The choruses become almost spiritual as we share them, and as the end of the song looms before us, we lock eyes again, sing the final few bars with one voice, the words coming so quietly, so intensely.
The last word of the song quavers on her lips, but she doesn't look away. For a moment, we simply stand there together, watching each other, and then she cracks a smile, breathes a little laugh and turns back toward the showerhead, washes her face. Kissing her neck, her shoulders, I hold her while she starts to hum another song, something happy, something serene sounding. Already, the lines of new inkwork are crawling across her skin, moving almost as if dancing to the tune she hums.
The suns meet in the sky and then begin to descend together. Dusk sets in, and we watch it while we share a meal on the flat deck-roof of our home. Her clothes have shifted to become a single piece, a long, flowing dress of creamy silk, open in the back, shimmering in the half-light. When the primary and the secondary stars touch the horizon, we raise our glasses, clink them in a toast to another perfect day. In another moment, the automatic lights around our home come on, float in the falling darkness like faeries or fireflies.
Alone, together, we spend the evening hours dancing, stopping only to talk while we hold each other, laugh together, explore ideas and concepts together. Sometimes she dances alone, bare feet moving across the rug, an anklet of cowry shells jingling with each sylphlike step. The intensity, the passion in her eyes, in her words as she moves, talks about the techniques of artists that fire her imagination mesmerizes me. There's so much within her, so much wisdom, so much brilliance that I can't help but fall in love with her anew with each passing moment, sometimes just sit there grinning, nodding because I'm in awe of her, of how lucky I am to have her love, to have her in my life. The more excited she gets, the more the tattoos in her skin shift, take on new shapes and new patterns. It's beautiful to watch, the way the lines dance as she dances, the way they move as she moves.
As the night deepens, our dancing slows, and the conversation becomes more relaxed, more soul-deep and spiritual. Eventually, we both end up on the couch, side-by-side, face-to-face, taking turns nodding and listening while the other talks, gestures. It's like a form of communion, the way we seem to understand one another, take in and absorb everything the other says. There are moments where we add things or interrupt each other, finish each others' sentences, but the quick conversation feels right, comes welcome.
And when the conversation comes to what feels like its natural completion, we share a laugh, rise as one and cross out into the sand to watch the line of Hausos VIII's ivory moonlets climb above the horizon. The shards stretch out across the night sky like a string of stars or diamonds, shine in the midst of the endless heavens, and as we look up at them, she drifts back into my arms, fingers finding mine, hands guiding me to the front of her dress, to a place just over her womb. She feels so warm in the night, so alive. I close my eyes, breathe her in, let myself float, her hair so soft against my cheek, so soft and fragrant.
“I love you,” she says, and I pull her a little closer, softly rock her as we stand. I open my eyes, and the moons above are blurry with the buds of grateful tears. The night around us is vast, open, doesn't feel empty or cold with her so close, so real. Leaning in, I kiss her ear, nuzzle at her neck until she smiles, laughs, spins in my arms and reaches up, pulls me into a kiss that's long and slow, a kiss that makes the world fall away for a moment, leaving only us, just us.
“I love you,” I whisper when the kiss ends, and her eyes are so open in the night, seem to drink me in. Reaching out, I pull her close again, and she lays her head against my chest, closes her eyes. Holding her, caressing her hair, I look up to the sky, to the moonlets shining among all those endless stars, and I smile.
I smile because every day with her is this sweet. Every day.
Let the rest of our days be this perfect, this easy. I think.
And they are. Even in the midst of the worst storms we will weather as one, they are.

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