Aphrodite's Gift


Hankies. These were Amanda's usual birthday presents from her nursing home patients.They would be consigned to the bottom of her dresser drawers. She couldn't work out what might be in the large white box Mrs Galanopoulos had wheeled over and forced upon her. "Used to be mine," Mrs Galanopoulos had said. "I've no use for it now. Tony's long dead. You use it. Get a husband, like I did." Amanda groaned.

They were always after her to get married. A fine big girl like her had no right to stay single, they said. A fine big girl. Wonderful. Wasn't that what they called Mama Cass? And as for a husband... Amanda counted on her fingers. She was thirty now, so she'd been divorced from Ghastly Gary for seven years. They didn't know that.

A confection of lace and ribbon nestled in the tissue paper. Amanda gingerly lifted it free of the box. It seemed warm to the touch, perhaps slightly damp. Mrs Galanopoulos had worn this? How many centuries ago? No wonder she was confined to a wheelchair now.

Amanda loved lingerie like this - on other people. She'd owned one teddy: the one Gary bought her for their wedding night. As soon as she put it on he exclaimed, "Oh Christ no, Mandy, take it off. Here, quick, hop under the covers and let me cover you up". She'd stuck to Bonds Cottontails and boys' t-shirts after that.

She checked to see her blinds were drawn, and stripped off her uniform. She stepped into the legs and eased it up over her soft figure. The lace stretched around her, hugging her close, letting her pale flesh shimmer through the chocolate brown flowers. The bra cups pushed her breasts together to create shadowed cleavage. Coffee coloured satin slipped over her shoulders and the same colour lace stroked her hips.

Amanda wasn't sure she wanted to look in the mirror. The sight couldn't be as good as the feel. Her legs would be swollen after a day at work and her face shiny. She turned to look in the wardrobe door mirror. She was looking seductively over her shoulder at herself. For a moment she thought "I'm gorgeous" before shaking her head and becoming more critical. She examined her lush figure for lumps and bumps but saw only curves. Her legs looked longer, and it didn't seem to matter that her face was shiny. Taking a deep breath, she turned to face the mirror fully. She liked what she saw. Strange.

Her bedside clock beeped. "Shit!" she said, and lunged to grab a t-shirt and pair of jeans. She had half an hour to get to school. She considered taking off the lingerie, then shrugged and pulled her clothes on over it. The lace felt too warm, too good to remove. The silken crotch slid against her as she moved.

Then it was off to night class to endure another three hours of torture. Every week she wondered what had possessed her to take up Ancient History. All her nursing friends were furthering their qualifications by doing Midwifery or District Nursing. Amanda had stabbed a pin into the TAFE brochure, and loudly announced to her friends and charges that she had always loved history and was keen to study it.

Amanda supposed she did like history. She did the reading and the assignments and dutifully attended class, but she certainly didn't talk about using her summer break to scrabble about an archaeological dig.

As she took her seat in the class, one of the students was boasting that he'd scored a place on a dig in Crete. "I believe they've unearthed some sort of building. Lots of separate rooms, lots of baths, quite a few stone tables or beds."

"Sounds like a whorehouse," Amanda said.

Carl stared at her. "Do you think so?" His eyes glittered.

Amanda wondered if he was hoping to get laid over there. Maybe by one of the Ancient Cretan whores. She idly thought of Mrs Galanopoulos, and then eyed up the man again. A woman'd have to be a cretin to lay him. Then Amanda wondered why she was thinking this way. She hadn't thought about 'laying' anyone in years. Ghastly Gary had seen to that.

"Good evening class." The tutor had arrived in a whirlwind of corrected papers, history texts, and a box containing several small statues.

Amanda fossicked in her bag for pen and notebook while he handed out their essay papers. She held her hand out for hers and then tugged when he wouldn't let go.

"Amanda, I'd like to see you after class," he said.

She gulped. Did it show that she had merely skimmed the required texts? She glanced her mark. High Distinction? So what was the problem?

"John?" she asked.

"Later please, Amanda," he said, waving down her question with his hand. "Now, if you've all finished discussing your social lives, can we get on with tonight's topic? Carl, this was your specialty. Can you tell us what you've read?"

Cretebound Carl leaned forward. Amanda sat back in her chair and looked over at him as he began to speak. "It was really hard to find any specific writings about Fertility Rites, but-"

'No wonder he was looking forward to the Cretan whorehouse,' Amanda thought. She listened for a while, taking a few notes, then found herself staring at John. She could just see his crotch. He was sitting astride his chair, one foot wrapped around the metal leg, the other leg stretched out in front of him. The denim of his 'relaxed fit' jeans was pulled tight across his groin and she could see the outline of his penis. He dressed to the left, she decided. Realising what she was thinking, she looked quickly back to Carl. She wondered which side he dressed. A woman on the other side of the room asked a question and Amanda tried to focus on the ensuing discussion.

"...elaborate sexual practices to honour the harvest..."
"...holy whores..."
"...sexual initiation..."


Amanda was glad when the coffee break came. She went to the toilet and splashed her face with cold water. She thought sternly about the time she'd worked at an STD clinic. She thought about washing old Mr Smith's pale and gummy body. She thought about cleaning her house, doing her laundry, and working in her neglected garden. Somewhere she'd read that flowers were the genitals of plants. "Damn!" she said and stomped over to the cafeteria to eat.

All the hot food was tired and dry, rather the way she normally felt after a day's work and an evening at school. Tonight she felt warm and glowing and...she felt a sudden gush between her legs...wet.

Amanda bypassed the coffee and chocolate, knowing they were reputed to have aphrodisiac effects. She settled for mineral water and an apple.

"That looks nice," Carl said, sitting beside her at a cafeteria table. Her mouth full, she nodded and offered him a bite of her apple. He smiled and sunk his teeth into the crisp flesh. She nearly choked on a swig of mineral water when he produced a banana from a paper bag. "Want to share?" he asked. She was about to refuse, but instead nodded. Hysterically, she wondered if she were in the movie TOM JONES and no one had told her.

They passed the apple and banana between them, then started on a bunch of grapes.

"Hey, Amanda, I was wondering...there's a new exhibition at the Museum. Want to see it?"

Amanda stared at him. He was smiling back at her. His eyes were nice, she thought. "Oh, er, yeah, I guess, I mean, sure, okay. You mean you want to go with me?"

"Yeah, that is, if you want to. You don't have to, I just thought-"

"That'd be great." She took a long drink. "Is this a date?"

"Oh, ah..." He trailed off and shrugged. "I guess."

"Oh, okay." She grinned. "I don't date much, so I wasn't sure."

"Really? How come?"

"Bad experiences in the past. But you know, I keep doing it."

Carl nodded. "Yeah, me too. I keep having relationships because what else is there?"

They had spent three semesters in the same classes and had never exchanged more than pleasantries and heated opinions. Amanda had always thought of him as a perfect candidate for 'Desperate and Dateless'. Herself also. They swapped phone numbers and ambled back with Carl regaling her with his previous dating nightmares. "...and when I came out of the bathroom, there I was in my pyjamas, and she was wearing a Batman costume-"

"Ahem!" John gave them a dirty look as they resumed their seats. "Now, Olivia, you did the reading for the second half of the class. What can you tell us about the Greek concept of love?"

Amanda didn't hear anything more of the class. She kept sneaking looks at Carl. He really was rather nice. No, she scrubbed that thought. Nice was the last thing she wanted. She wanted wild and wanton and- She gave herself a hard pinch on the leg.

After class, Carl gave her a wink and left her to the querying eye of John. He sat on the edge of his desk and didn't speak until the last student had left.

"If it's about my paper," Amanda began.

"No, no, your essay was great. Well-researched, well- written, easy to read..." He trailed off.

Amanda suddenly knew that he had no idea why he wanted to speak with her. The silence between them stretched out.

There was no signal given, no look between them, and certainly no moment of considered agreement. Amanda felt herself propelled forward just as John lunged. They collided, her breasts hot and heavy against the hard, flat surface of his chest. She could feel the length of his erect penis press into her belly and her groin fit into the crevice of his legs. Amanda wasn't sure how it happened, but then they were on the floor, tearing at each other's clothes. John kicked the classroom door shut with his foot and rolled on top of her. His jeans were down around his knees. Amanda was naked. All she remembered later was finding four empty condom wrappers in her handbag.

When she crawled, tingling and tired, into her bed early in the morning, the last thing she took off was the lingerie. It felt as though she stripped off her remaining energy. She slept without moving until her alarm clock announced another day of nursing.

Amanda was aware, all through the day, that she had been well loved the night before. Her nipples came erect at odd moments and there was wetness between her legs. She could feel the outline of John's hands on her breasts and the opening fullness of his penis within her. Her body remembered even if she didn't. And she could still feel the imprint of the lace against her body.

At four o'clock it was time to bathe Mrs Galanopoulos. As she undressed the woman's frail body, Mrs Galanopoulos cackled. "Did you like my present?"


"The girdle."

Amanda frowned. "What? Oh, the lingerie. Yes, thankyou, it's wonderful. I wore it last night and-" She blushed.

Mrs Galanopoulos laughed. "You feel good today, yes?"

Amanda didn't know how to reply, so she concentrated on lifting her into the bath.

"That girdle, it's very special. It's been in my family a long time."

"Really?" Amanda had long ago learned to humour her elderly charges. They imagined, they invented and reinvented, and sometimes talked in unrelated words.

"Long ago, we worshipped the old gods. My ancestress, she was very pious. Aphrodite gave her Her girdle."

"Uh huh."

"She had many boys, many babies, she married."

"Don't you mean she married and had babies, all boys?"

"I know what I'm saying. All the women in my family have used the girdle." She smiled. "I used it to capture my Tony. He was a good man." The way she said it made Amanda raise her eyebrows as she sponged the old woman's back. "My daughters, they didn't wait. They married Australian boys who keep them working. No time for babies. My son-" She made a choking noise. "He likes boys, he likes girls' clothes. He would wear the girdle, but I can't talk to him. He says I don't understand." She snorted. "He doesn't know our culture. All of the old Greek men way back, they liked boys." She shrugged. "None of them come to see me any more. They say I'm old- fashioned, I don't understand life today." Her hands splashed angrily in the water. "They don't deserve Aphrodite's blessing. But you, you're a good girl. You need a good man, I can tell. You use the girdle, you'll have a fine time."

"Just tip your head back Mrs G, and I'll wash your hair. So this..this girdle, you're saying it's magical?"

Mrs Galanopoulos nodded vigorously, blurting water as Amanda poured it gently over her.

"Mrs G, there's no such thing as magic."

"That's the problem with you modern girls. You don't believe in magic, you don't weave it for yourselves so how can you make it with a man?"

Amanda wanted to tell her that she certainly 'made it' last night, but held her tongue. She finished bathing her charge and lifted her from the bath. Mrs Galanopoulos stretched luxuriously on the fluffy floor towels.

"You wear Her girdle, have a good time, stop hiding your body away." Amanda busied herself drying the old woman, and tried not to think about her habit of buying clothes one size too big.

The lingerie was puddled beside her bed where she'd skinned it off the previous night. It smelled of sex. Quickly she rinsed it in the laundry trough and draped it over her clotheshorse.

She was in a hot bath when the doorbell rang. Groaning, she dragged on her bathrobe and answered the door.

"Er, g'day, I'm from next door." He smiled nervously. "Mike, remember? I met you when I first moved in."

Amanda nodded vaguely.

"I was wondering if you had any cake tins. I mixed up a cake and forgot I didn't have anything to cook it in."

"What size?"


"Never mind." She left him standing there while she found a round cake tin. Walking back towards the door, she passed the clotheshorse. "Magic, huh? Well, we'll see." She hauled the damp teddy on and shivered. Covering up with the bathrobe again, she returned to the door. "Here, twenty inches ought to do the job."

Mike grinned. "Thanks. Say, you don't know how to line it, do you? The recipe says I have to line the tin."

Amanda didn't think the lingerie was doing its job, so she invited Mike to bring his mixture over and they'd cook it in her oven. She didn't feel the slightest bit interested in him. He was at least ten years her junior and sweet-faced. He was probably a virgin. All that young, unspoiled flesh going to waste....She would practically be performing a community service, ridding the world of another oversexed boy. She was thirty, he barely out of his teens. They were both at their peaks, so the text books said.

His clothes were easy to remove and the chocolate cake mixture poured easily over him. Just like a Paddle Pop, she thought.

She had to wash her lingerie again later.

Mrs Galanopoulos would not take back the lingerie, no matter how hard Amanda pleaded. "I gave it to you, it can't be given back. Only one can take it back now." She made a surreptitious sign of the horn with her hands.

So Amanda tried to avoid the lingerie. She put it in the bottom drawer of her dresser and yet it was among her undies the next morning. She hid it behind her jigsaw puzzles at the top of her wardrobe, but when she went to get her uniform, it was hung neatly on a hanger. Each time she saw it, there was the pulling need to wear it, have it caress her body.

The evenings that she succumbed and Mike didn't 'pop in', she scented her bath water with rose oil and bubble bath, drank port by candlelight, and loved herself with her fingers. She bought herself more lingerie, several uniforms that fitted, and threw out her Cottontails. One of the orderlies started watching her wiggle whether or not she was be-lingeried. When she found herself wearing her 'blessing' in anticipation of her Tuesday school night, Amanda decided enough was enough.

She wished she'd taken more notes in class. Her text books did not provide the details of deity worship. Amanda supposed that to summon a Goddess of Love, one only needed to skip around a Maypole or something. The closest thing she could find was the local oval.

It was midnight. The summer air was warm, the grass slightly damp. Amanda, clad only in her lingerie, skipped around the football goalposts clockwise, then widdershins, chanting: "Aphrodite, come to me. Take your girdle, let me be". She felt incredibly ridiculous until in a shimmer of rose pink light, Aphrodite appeared. She lifted a perfect eyebrow at Amanda.

"Oh mighty Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, I, er, come to offer back your Girdle."

The Goddess frowned, then said something in Ancient Greek.

Amanda tried speaking slowly, then loudly, finally miming her problem. She flung her arms wide. "Too much, too much," She touched her genitals, then slid her right index finger through the circle of her left hand. "Sex, er screwing, no, lovemaking."

Aphrodite scratched her head, asked an incomprehensible question. Amanda pointed to the lingerie. Aphrodite stared hard, then understanding lit her face. She laughed. The stars in the night sky twinkled their amusement. The Goddess touched Amanda lightly on the head. Amanda's head spun and for a moment it seemed the stars were within her, lighting her body, and making her blood sparkle. When Amanda could focus again, Aphrodite and the lingerie were gone.

Footsteps sounded on the gravel path circling the oval.

"Hey you, what are you doing there?"

Amanda was bathed momentarily in torchlight. She picked up her clothes and ran.

"Bloody streakers!" came the voice of the caretaker. "Come back here."

But Amanda was a big strong girl and quickly outdistanced him. She was halfway home before she paused to dress. She was still puffing a little as she shut her front door.

She mentally kissed her love life goodbye as she readied herself for bed. She almost didn't hear the knock at the door. Mike, she supposed. Wait until he discovered there was no more magic between them.

Amanda opened the door. Mike smiled at her. She waited for the disappointment to cloud his face and for her own indifference to set in.

"Hi," he said. "Look what I brought." He held out a bottle of chocolate topping and a tub of ice cream. Amanda let him in the door in wonder.

She could feel the damp warmth of the lace suffusing her. Aphrodite had taken nothing from her. The magic was within.

It was far into the night, as Mike lay curled against her, a chocolate moustache darkening his face, that she realised what this meant. She thought about Mike, and John, and Carl. Now that it was under her control, she could hone it down to one man. Maybe. Eventually. She grinned.

The End