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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Everything I Ever Wanted

Reflections On Sex At Midlife

When I was young, I dreamed of meeting a woman in a small, secluded room cut off from the rest of the world, someplace where my acts had no consequences. She wasn’t necessarily someone I knew; our lives didn’t touch. She had a certain look — auburn hair that just touched her shoulders; deep brown eyes; small, firm breasts with perfect pink nipples — and she performed particular acts I had always dreamed of: sliding down my torso to take me in her mouth as she eyed me coyly; slinging her legs over my shoulders as I entered her. She wanted whatever I wanted, and was deeply satisfied by what we did, satisfied as she had never been. She thought I was the greatest lover in the world.

The Mother Material

When I was five, my mother would lift me up onto the green hassock in our living room so I could see myself in the big mirror over the couch. She’d brush my hair and pull it back into a ponytail just like hers, then send me out to play in the yard while she changed the baby’s diaper.

Three Spheres

Linda Cogswell — initial intake notes:
Ms. Cogswell is a 37-year-old SWF who has had more than 30 hospitalizations, all for suicide attempts or self-mutilation. She scratches her arms lightly when upset. Was extensively sexually abused as a child. Is now requesting outpatient therapy for bulimia. Ms. Cogswell says she’s vomiting multiple times during the day. Teeth are yellowed and rotting, probably due to stomach acids present during purges.

My New Car

After years of searching, R. said, he’d finally found a perfect master. This was the real thing, R. insisted: a spiritually evolved being who operated on a completely different plane of consciousness, a living saint who could set him free.


Spin Cycle

I’ve always thought there’s something lusty about laundromats. Perhaps that’s why I’m so taken by the young woman I notice as I fumble for change to start my two loads. She’s very European — or at least that’s what I imagine. She sits on a low ledge by the window, reading a worn paperback copy of Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native. Her nose is large, but it suits her. Come to think of it, all her features are large, except her breasts. Her eyes are huge, brown, and inviting. Her lips are big and painted bright red. She turns a page and then runs her fingers through her short dark hair.


Mariette tells me we still have beautiful legs, both of us, even if our faces have gone to seed. I am fifty. She is fifty-three and not from this country. A few minutes ago, I was driving into town to a friend’s to decorate Easter eggs when I saw Mariette walking along the road. At first, I didn’t recognize her. She was dressed in brown tights, a cherry pink top, and a turquoise headband, and there was clear mountain light all around her. She looked wonderful. I was jealous.

Phone Sex And World Peace

The man she loves might become a monk. He is up at an Ivy League divinity school studying Saint Benedict and looking forward to spending a week of his winter vacation at a monastery. She was hoping they could go to LA, but that was before he dumped her.


They had driven down the coast from San Francisco on a whim and located what seemed to Ruth to be the most expensive inn between Carmel and Big Sur. The owner was a delightful man, an elegant old Austrian; “A Jew of the old school,” Wayne said knowledgeably, as if he had any idea what that meant. Almost ninety now, the innkeeper had known Freud in Vienna. He had known Wittgenstein. “A very sad man, Wittgenstein,” he said.

Readers Write

Under The Covers

My best friend lived in a building that had once housed an old water tower. He was working on his doctorate in physics. I had just finished my bachelor’s and was preparing to move away. I gave him a bookshelf I wasn’t taking with me, and one evening I went to visit him under the pretense of seeing how he’d set up the shelf. I had once asked him to marry me, but he’d turned me down because of his girlfriend (whom he hadn’t seen in years and who had no interest in marrying him).

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸


There is only one big thing — desire. And before it, when it is big, all is little.

Willa Cather

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