The night sighed listlessly in
the stale air of a summer evening. The weather had fluctuated
between downpours and scorching heat for days. It felt like
years. The air conditioner rattled from the corner as it
struggled to breathe chilled air into the small room. On the
bed, a man shifted, flipped a pillow over to lay back on its
cooler side, though both were damp with sweat. Gray-blue light
played strangely on his face from the television. His
expression was blank, yet the passing colors and shadows cast
varying simulations of emotion across it like a blanket
masking an ennui that went deeper than the surface levels of
his mind. He was bored right down to his soul. He sighed and
tried to ignore the sweat that dried on his temples.
From the doorway, a woman watched
him with restless hazel green eyes. She wiped the light
prickly film of sweat off her upper lip with her fingers and
shoved her hands into her pockets. She removed them again
after a moment. For once, her hands weren't cold, and she ran
damp palms over her hips to dry them. She smiled at the man
when his eyes flicked over to her at the motion, but it did
not hold his attention. She turned away to continue her
aimless pacing around the small hot apartment. Stopping at a
window, she looked out, pressing a high cheekbone against the
glass. It felt cool and she stayed there until her flesh
steamed the window, obstructing her view of the empty street
and its lone streetlamp. She considered going for a walk. A
low chuckle from the other room distracted her from the
thought and she turned away from the view of the street.
Another thought crossed her mind. She shrugged and smiled.
'What the hell,' she thought. 'Nothing better to do.'
The light switch clicked as
she flipped it on. The new light revealed a gray tiled
counter, low budget white vinyl flooring with faded little
blue flowers on it and basic white porcelain and chrome. The
mirror doubled the mediocrity if not the size of the small
bathroom. She took a hard look at her face. It was a
fine-boned face with big eyes and full lips. She saw fair
skin, slightly lined, and fine light hair that hung straight,
shading her eyes. It needed a trim, she thought, as she ran a
hand through it and picked up a comb. It shone like old gold
when she combed it, and was soft like a baby's, falling in
gentle waves onto her shoulders. It always looked like that
when she combed it, but tangled again quickly unless she used
hairspray. He hated hairspray, and so did she. She watched
herself strip in the mirror. Even though she was over thirty
she was still fairly slender. She eyed her smallish breasts
critically and her flat stomach less harshly. She left the
bathroom hoping it was good enough. It was the best she could
Her bare feet told her the carpet
needed vacuuming as she padded back toward the bedroom. She
hoped he would smile. She looked forward to his smiles. They
seemed as hard to catch as his attention during one of his tv
shows. She wondered how he could stand so much of it.
Television usually bored her out of her mind. She paused
briefly at the door then strode in, walking tall on long legs.
He sensed motion at the corner of
his eyes. 'Probably her again, checking on me. Wonder why
she doesn't just sit down. Too hot to wander around...' he
thought before turning his head to look. His eyes flicked
toward her habitually, then stopped as her nudity registered
in his brain. He sat up a little and saw her grin. He knew
that look: mischief, mixed with something that made him
uncomfortable. He gave her a little smile and she walked
toward him. He saw her take one step, then a shout on the TV
snared his attention. A couple were fighting, but he'd missed
what it was about.
A trickle of cool air washed over
her as she stood there grinning, then passed when the
oscillating fan moved beyond her. Her nipples tightened with
the welcome chill, and her heart raced as she waited to see if
he would smile. A flush of delight mingled quickly with
disappointment as she caught and held his attention only to
lose it again to the tv. She shifted her path from the bed to
the tv. She turned the angry couple off abruptly. When she
faced him again, she smiled and stretched languorously, like a
cat after a long nap. The motion pulled her stomach flat and
accentuated her legs. While not fully aware of this, she
suspected it and held the position longer than her body really
needed the exercise. She smiled again, but not from her eyes.
The fan crossed her once more and she sat on the edge of the
bed, staring at him with the same question she always stared.
She never waited long for an answer. Time had taught her that
he did not know how to hear the question. In the back of her
mind, she knew that maybe it was because she would not ask it
in a way he could hear, because she was afraid of the answer.
She crawled towards him slowly on her hands and knees, the
soft bed threatening to unbalance her at every move.
He wondered why she looked at him
like that. Familiar frustration nagged at him from within, but
he ignored it since she was coming toward him, pale flesh
filling his eyes, wisps of blonde hair waving around her face.
If he didn't pay attention, she'd bite him. Hard. She'd done
it before. It had hurt. And there was all that bare skin...As
she came up alongside him, he welcomed her with an
outstretched arm. She was soft, but he knew the stubborn will
hidden within that body. He both admired and hated it.
She cuddled close, beginning to
perspire immediately at the contact. Even the old cotton of
his tank top seemed coarse against her skin. She nuzzled his
shoulder with her lips, then turned her face toward his. As he
leaned down to kiss her, she slipped her hands around him,
grasping the edges of the shirt. When their lips parted, she
tugged at it. His weight still pinned it against the pillows
and he had to sit up to let her pull it over his head. When
the fan passed next, she felt him cool, almost clammy
afterwards. She held him tightly, until he felt warm again
against her skin. When his hand trailed up her side, she
relaxed, her trust renewed. Though his palm was coarse with
callouses, the touch was gentle. She knew it could be
otherwise. The hard won muscles against her body reminded her
of the force he commanded and she did not.
He turned, his motion guiding her
onto her back. His actions remained gentle, yet firm. She let
him move her, smiling up at him with welcome. All her physical
defenses were released and she felt the oppression of the day
slipping away little by little. He moved cautiously under her
hands, less as if he might hurt her than as if he was trying
to entice a shy animal to eat from his hand. She was not shy,
but he could still see the thing he did not understand in her
eyes. Sometimes, when he was very careful, it went away. He
wanted to make it go away.
He closed his eyes and kissed
her, until he could not see it. After a time, when he opened
them again, he looked for it. Her eyes were closed, but she
held him with restless hands. 'Just like that pacing' he
thought briefly, until the tingling of his skin drowned out
the thought. He ran his hands simultaneously up from her belly
over her breasts and up to each side of her throat. Slowly,
ever so carefully, he moved, until she lay relaxed and
smiling, her eyes simply waiting when once more they opened to
his. He smiled back, a full smile with even white teeth, no
longer shadowed by the cloud she cast on him with that look.
As he felt her tension melt under his hands, he began to close
He worked hard with his hands.
They were very strong. He put up with pathetic co-workers and
stupid bosses all day long. He stood in the heat and the cold
working outside so he could have a home to relax in and forget
them. He gave her things because he loved her. He tried
everything he could to keep that look from creeping into her
eyes like accusations. Like she didn't trust him.
Just then, her eyes opened,
silent questions the color of a fall forest staring up at him.
His heart jumped, and he tightened his fingers and buried his
face in her chest to shut them out. 'WHAT?!' he
wondered in a silent scream. God, he was so sick of it; sick
of this boring life, his boring shitty job, and her beautiful
sad eyes challenging him every fucking day.
Shock was followed by pain, but
not terror as his hands tightened around her throat. She
gagged, then choked, and tried to look up at him. His face was
blank, his mind elsewhere. Her fingers clawed at his arms
until they were both sticky with blood and her thoughts began
to fade. She was glad it was finally over. The question died
out of her eyes. 'At least', she thought, 'he
finally answered. '
©2001 Sonja Torres