I reach with my fingers to turn the page of the book, my thumb on one side of the page, my index and middle finger on the other. I close my eyes and rub my thumb in small circular motions—the paper feels soft and yet subtly coarse. It is a comforting, familiar feeling and one I have enjoyed since childhood.

When the trauma takes a backseat in my life I become more aware of my blessings as well as my longings. Feeling the paper reminds me that I am a sensual person. I am grateful for the way this connects me to the world and sad that I cannot directly share my sensuality with anyone.

In this moment what I am missing is not sex, but the reciprocal expression of sensuality. I remember how lovely it was to explore her body with my fingers. It was a form of creative expression on a living breathing canvas. Her breath, her smile, her laughter—her entire nervous system—guided my brush strokes.

I smile as I write this, as the memories of it flood back to me. I cry as well. I am grateful to have so much in my life and I’m sad that something so essential is missing.

I take a bite of my apple. It’s a lovely and satisfying balance of sweet and tart. Another bite: my teeth puncture the peel. I watch the juice drip between my thumb and index finger. I lick that part of my hand and taste how saltiness of my skin mixes with the flavors of the apple.

This will have to do.

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