STORIES #91 ~ #100

These stories are inspired by the 100 Days project film clips of John Timmons’ (corresponding clips are linked below each title) and each is in response to his own daily piece or that of one of the other participants.

Note #1: only the most current stories are accessible, to secure the text and particularly, the images from being nabbed by and displayed on public sites.  If you would like to read some of the stories that are here, simply email me at for the password.

Note #2: Days #72 through #96 may have two stories posted, as part of another project called 24/7 hosted by Folded Word which calls for a story a day through the first three weeks of August.




I use my time as if each minute were a diamond, uncut, unpolished. The world surrounds me yet I am not the focus of the sun. Everything I am is mirrored in another. I walk within a crowd and see how very close we are in body, numbers, eyes and mouth and tongue.

The difference then is in the using of what we’re given. Who will scramble words to make a statement and who will scramble them again to understand a much preferred alternative. I will write a story or a poem. Someone will read and sing it. Someone else will crumple it into a ball and toss it high enough to dent the moon. What? You tell me those are craters? Yes, well how do you think they got there?

I come together with you here at this gathering. Inside, no longer scratching at the window pane and fiddling with my keys to find the one that will magically or simply metaphysically unlock the space. I’m almost welcome, for a little while.

From here to there (or here to here, depending how you see it from where you are standing), I walked the path as if I knew the way. Breadcrumbs left behind are picked and eaten. Sometimes I stop and look around and smile at the silk pillow of a peony, the embroidery of a spider’s web. Sometimes I cry with the slice of a quicksilver blade. It’s there, I’ve seen and felt it too. I can reach inside the chambers of my heart and find the feeling without the need for guiding labels.

Lately I walk slow and slower. I fall behind. The weight of diamonds held me back. I stop and take one out, carve it into carats, shine it with the fine 00 of my hair. I’ll  leave it on the trail behind me as a humble gift. It’s all I have to offer.





“Here. I’m in here.”


“Turn the light off. It’s all right. I’m all right.”

“No you’re not. You’re bleeding. Let met get a wet washcloth.”

“Thank you. I’m fine. I was just resting.”

“He did it, didn’t he? What was the fight about this time? Nothing?”

“Ah, nothing, yes. He’s gone.”

“For good? I hope so.”

“Don’t say that. He’s your father.”

“He’s a bastard. He’s a bully. You should’ve left him long ago.”

“It’s just when he drinks…”

“That’s all the time lately. Ma, I’m not here to protect you anymore. I can’t be. You’ve got to leave him.”

“And do what? Easy for you to say. You got a life. I’m glad for that. How’s Jenny?”

“She’s fine. Don’t get up–stay there. I’ll get you some soup or something.”

“No, no don’t bother. I’ll have something maybe later. Maybe just some tea.”

“I’ll make some.”

“No, I’ll make it. You won’t know how to make it.”

“Tea? Of course I know how to make tea.”

“A man shouldn’t have to.”

“No, Ma. A man should.”



(the dress)

The magic was in the dress. She’d tried it on at Filene’s on a whim. To at least experience seeing herself dressed up like that. The pretense that she was actually going to a prom. When she got home, back to the reality of a bedroom walled with muscles, chest hair, and sexy, penetrating eyes, Dennis called.

He wasn’t by any stretch Prince Charming. She said yes even though they’d only dated twice and that was back in Freshman year. His acne was much better now. At any rate, he’d have to do. The only other guys she’d been out with were now both tied into steady relationships.

Cynthia went back and bought the dress the next day. Her mother said, “Are they really wearing low-waisted dresses anymore?” Cynthia just smiled and nodded condescendingly but the truth was that she really didn’t know or care. She just knew how it had made her feel.

Her parents paid for a visit to the hair and nail salon. She came out looking not like herself and she loved it. When she put on the dress, stood there in her high-heeled shoes and saw her reflection in the full-length mirror, she almost cried. Her parents glowed, her father told her she was beautiful.

Dennis came to pick her up and fumbled with a corsage of double white camelias. His jaw hung open when he’d first walked in and seen her. She knew that it was true about the dress, and how like bridal gowns it had the power to make the wearer beautiful. She felt like a princess. They danced and she felt herself moving to the music as gracefully as a ballerina across the floor. She didn’t want to leave, didn’t want the night to ever end. Dennis drove to The Point and parked. He left the music playing softly. Eventually he brought her home.

Cynthia went up to her room and half-tore the dress off when the zipper stuck where he’d caught it in his clumsy grabbing. She stripped down naked. She had bruises on her thighs, her arms, and a hickey on her neck. She put on her robe and hurried into the bathroom and locked the door. She started pulling at her hair, throwing hairpins into the sink as she found them until her upswept hair fell free. Raked her fingers through the tangles then brushed it viciously. She stared at her face in the mirror. The magic of the dress had worked. She was surely changed.  So that’s what it’s all about, she thought, and she started to cry.



(perspective #5)

His mother told him once that he’d been stuck in her birth canal. That after a frenzied few hours of causing pushing, tearing pain, Henry had stopped to take a nap. That as she ground her teeth down to her gums and bore down until she thought her heart would pop out between her legs, he settled like a bottled wine cork. She said that he’d refused to leave the soft and squishy world he lived in because he’d gotten a glimpse of hard edges, the cold gleam of stainless steel. She said that hesitant reluctance to leave the womb was a precursor of his lifetime habits. She lovingly called him her little “Fraidy-cat” and laughed.

It was true, Henry seemed a beat behind the rhythm of the crowd. It wasn’t in intelligence–he was really very smart. Nor was it out of trepidation, but rather a very real quirk in his sense of timing, or maybe time itself as it related to his particular physical place within it. He’d arrive as keys turned in the locks. He’d run in panting gasps to follow flashes of the backs of other runners. He’d fall in love just as a woman dumped him. And worse, those seconds late turned into minutes, could add into hours and soon to days that threatened to leave him hopelessly behind.

“Where were you Friday night?” asked Kevin.

“Oh, yes, I’ll go,” Henry replied.

It was getting obvious to his friends that Henry was a special case and they mostly learned to work around his tardy response to life. What’s a minute here and there, a day? Time was adjustable and Henry did his best to catch up, often arriving what he’d considered hours early just as a concert or a class was wrapping up.

Henry met his wife Chloe because she’d stopped to tie her shoe. This was, of course, while he was still in his early twenties and had accumulated a lag of only a short bit of days that he’d managed to spread out over several months.

“Hi,” she said. She stood up and glowed all blonde shiny hair and periwinkle eyes. Henry was dazzled.

“Will you marry me?” he said.

“Goodness, you don’t screw around,” she answered.

They were perfect for each other, or maybe the circumstances were just right, or the stars were aligned for success. Or maybe time was finally on Henry’s side. There was little disagreement. Chloe’s argument would be winding down just before Henry opened up his mouth to speak. As for Henry, things were fixed before he even noticed something to complain about. Life was good.

Henry and Chloe lived a happy and long life and raised two children who presented them with several loud and noisy grandchildren. The couple were healthy up through their late eighties. Henry was, of course, a bit behind in aging which did piss Chloe off a tiny bit, but she was a few years younger anyway.

Then sadly Henry was left alone. His family had all moved to distant states and all his friends were gone before him. When Chloe died, he wandered through the house in hopes that he’d just missed her by a minute. He was tired and lonely. After a few months (our time), Henry got an idea.

He realized that friends and family had kept him at the very edge of living. That Chloe had indeed helped keep him young. He realized that it wasn’t just the lack of proper meals and exercise that weighed him down and started causing wrinkles, an aching back, and a shuffle in his walk. It was the sudden flush of time spent all alone.

He laid down on his bed one evening after dinner. He set his phone to dial for 911 just as his son had taught him. He pulled the covers up to his chin and waited till it was time for him to go.



(i don’t think it’s stalking)

She thought she had lost him. She stopped, scanned the crowded sidewalk, seeking the beige raincoat. Her breathing was noisy and panting, amplified as echos of the quick rhythm of her heartbeat. She’d learned to make the main focus the color, the size of his bulk, his height. Though today, nondescript beige in a gray-colored city was difficult.

There he was, she’d spotted him. Standing at a storefront, pretending to window-shop. He knew that she knew he was there. She stepped back from the crowd, edged against the wall, slipped into the main doors of the store. She took the escalator up to the second floor, taking each stair up as it ran. She left through the dishes and pottery department. In the parking garage she took the stairway up one half level, walked at a brisk pace to the far end of the lot and slipped into an elevator down to the street. She was then almost two blocks away. She hailed the first taxicab home.

She slipped out of her shoes and hung up her coat, her heartbeat still loud in her ears. She poured a glass of wine, sat on the couch and put her feet up. She closed her eyes and put her head back then snapped back to attention and looked at the door, made sure the locks were all set though it’d become automatic. She rested her head back on the cushion and sighed. It wasn’t a good way to live.

Not every day, just weekends like this, though sometimes in the evening after work. It was a cat and mouse game she was put through. Exhausting. Each nerve on edge like an electrical plug a hair’s breath away from an outlet. The near palpable buzz of the reach through that space. She took another sip of her wine, the false warmth of it trickling its way through her body, down into her feet. Relaxing before she could trust herself to get up and make something for dinner.

The police had been called once. Nothing had been done. It had to be a physical threat, they had said. The game escalated. She had to be more careful now to keep a safe distance behind him.



(wounds of remembering)

Gina’s memories stabbed at the oddest times with the finely honed edge of a rapier. Images flashed in an overlay on top of current decorator designs that she’d plan for a client. Or mingled within a landscape, taking it over. It was disconcerting. It was frightening. And it hurt.

At night her dreams would roll out in an old movie that led to a door. She’d open the door and the nightmare image of long ago friends would seep in like spilled liquid moon. Though the noon sun sometimes burned her eyes with bodies torn up by a war and a battlefield she couldn’t possibly have seen, the night was more closely aligned with the greatest fears of her past. They streamed in through her window, crept up on her pillow, oozed past her eyelids and into her mind with the light of the moon.

Gina saw a psychologist. The dreams got more vivid as more memories were called up with saw blade precision. Blood ran redder. Bad teeth and rotted tobacco breath of dead aunts assailed her senses. Uncles grew taller than towers and their hands were the size of webbed snowshoes. The psychologist was pleased with her progress. Gina stopped seeing him. The memories became monsters she couldn’t blink past or swallow with a chocolate glazed donut.

One night they got particularly bad. Every bad scene in a Hitchcock film, every evil gnome in the forest of Golden Books, every slight by the prettiest girl in the class, every snicker and condescending smile was an image that crowded around her as Gina shrunk smaller and smaller than dust. She ran until the wind picked her up and carried her over the trees, beyond the stars, and set her down on the moon.

That was the last nightmare of memory she had. And though the sun still burned her hands, every night she rode in on a moonbeam and slid inside somebody’s dream.



(wounds of remembering)

One by one he stared at the pictures, burned them into his eyes. Then he tore each one up into confetti since confetti was generally harmless and if one is struck by a single flake, it was as gentle as snow.

His past was one long series of hammer blows, one right after another. His father a drunk, his mother a mouse, himself a cartoon of pimples and errant teeth and a nose that overshadowed an overbite and a roll-under chin. His problems in learning preceded the dyslexia discovery. At nineteen he was hit by a bus. His body was lanky yet bent at the edges like paper curled by the sun.

He burned all his clothes in an ashtray. It took him some months to complete. The furniture took even longer to shred into toothpicks that were easily set aflame. The old metal bed and the couch springs he cut up and rebuilt into art that he sold at the summer shows on the green. He made a little money and with that which he saved up from his job as a street sweeper, he boarded a flight to Peru.

He settled into an outlying village at the border of jungles that grew into mountains. He made a new start as a carver of flutes. He learned the language and answered to the first name he liked and made friends with a few of his neighbors.

But when the sun dove into the black waves of horizon and he closed his eyes to sleep, the images burned at the back of his eyeballs as if they danced around fire. One by one they rose from the ground and assembled into grotesqueries much wilder and more frightening than real. They infiltrated his dreams of bright colored birds and the sweet heavy scent of the jungle. Though he lay down each night on his pallet, he was restless and got little to no sleep at all.

So one day, one by one, he turned his finely carved instruments into splinters, and he burned his small house and his bed.



(when billy’s in the car)

I knew I knew I knew that they’d blame me as if it were my kid instead of just a baby brother. They’d told him several times to sit back down and not lean out the window to try to catch the trees as they flew by and even I myself did once. I was looking out my own side window and ignoring him and his stupid questions and that stupid song he kept repeating till you want to scream. They tuned him out I couldn’t ‘cause I’m not a parent yet and little kids still get through the mind (I think it’s through the ear) and know how to annoy you.

“Where’s Billy?” asked my father in the rearview mirror though I only saw his lips I knew he’d been the one to ask. We all looked at each other and our images in mirrors catching eyes and counting heads and falling short. Daddy stopped the car in a screech that echoed through the car and it went sliding off the road onto the grass and they both looked at me and I said “I dunno.” Then my mom started screaming and Daddy had to calm her down and then we all got out and searched the backseat underneath the floormats and the trunk and then they stood with hands on hips and glared at me. At me!

“Didn’t you see what happened?” they asked as if I was supposed to watch him even safely strapped into his seat. I told them No but golly-gee for goodness’ sake I think that he’d been snagged up by a tree.

“A tree?”

“An oak,” I said and nodded. I’m sure now that’s what happened. Billy thought the trees and houses and the road ran by instead of us and likely while I wasn’t looking a branch reached in the open window and grabbed him by his hair and now he’s dangling in the air somewhere and singing and frankly that’s all right with me.



(when billy’s in the car)

I close my eyes and concentrate. Unthink today away until I’m back in yesterday and this time I will make the right decisions.

It’s easy yet it takes some understanding of the partnership of time and space and the movement of the light and how it shies away from darkness. It’s often at the edges of that fragile connection of dawn or dusk that one can lose one’s way. It’s thinly subtle as a razor blade that cuts both ways.

Twelve years ago I left my home and family. The glint of white white teeth peeking out from garnet glossy lips became to me religion. Weak I was, and am. And all because the yesterdays before that fled before the blinding sunshine of today. I’d forgotten all I’d come to know as right and just. Filed away the lessons learned in dusty places sealed with cobweb locks and keys and combinations long lost in days and months and years.

I am alone again. The lips have lied themselves into another’s heart. Time, I have discovered, is just a state of mind labeled for convenience. Without mankind the earth would stand quite still. I bring myself back into the hope of youth, the wonder of the future rolled out like a golden ribbon through a forest dense and green with expectations, opportunities.

I’m there now, almost there, and very close. Children laugh and run around a kitchen table in a backwards game of tag. My wife stands at the stove unstirring sauce, rich and thick and I can smell the herbs she’s simmered in the pot.

I reach to settle in, to grab the moment within my grasp. I feel its warmth in fingertips that tremble with excitement. But then I catch a glimpse of white white teeth and shiny garnet lips curled up in invitation.



(when billy’s in the car)

Sarah stood still and watched the world go by. Though she went inside at night to sleep, she’d dress and come back out with coffee and an English muffin and stand on her porch to see how far it’d gone while she had been sleeping.

Her parents had been old and needy by the time she was in her late twenties so she never had a chance to meet her soulmate. Sometimes she thinks that if she had, she wouldn’t have gotten so intrigued with the rotation of the earth. On the other hand, few people knew what she knew. Oh yes, they understood the workings in a scientific manner but they didn’t really understand because they hadn’t really watched it for themselves.

Sarah liked the autumn best of all, when trees flashed by in colors like a pinwheel spinning. That’s how she learned about blending paints. Where yellow bled to orange next to red. And leaves fell into crumbled dust and eventually to nothing with the movement of the fall.

As she grew old and older Sarah noticed that the world had turned so far she lost her footing. She’d come outside with her morning coffee in a cup three-quarters full and sit down in a rocker on the porch. Sometimes when she was feeling wicked she would rock crossgrain to the rotation and get quite dizzy as if she’d ridden a wild mechanical ride at the church carnival in summer that she tried only once before she learned its secret purpose. Then sometimes she would turn the chair parallel and rock hard to catch a flashback of a moment that happened before the one she lived in now.

Eventually the world had moved so far that Sarah would step out and notice that the slant of where she stood and where her head was was such that it would likely topple her to the ground. She learned to keep a good grip on the railing. She walked bent into the rotation just to balance. At day’s end she would pull herself hand over hand back through her front door.

A neighbor found her dead one morning lying flat and parallel to the pull of natural earthly circumstances. Though her coffee cup was upright in defiance, she had gone as far as she could go within the cycle and finally met and matched the angle of the ground.




He read the message again. It still made no sense: PLS CL I ND S 4 X

Please call India? North Dakota? Four times? He was pretty sure about the PLS CL but he could be wrong on that. Goddamn it. That’s what was bad about a fifty year year-old screwing around with a twenty year-old. He snickered. Because that’s about all that was wrong with it. The rest of the equation was sheer pleasure.

Technology. He was up on it because he was born just a few years ahead of it yet still pliable and eager to catch up. But man, it was developing so fast nowadays that everything new became old in a month. Money was the only way you could keep up with the latest and greatest newfangled thing. He did spend a lot of money on constantly updating and upgrading gadgets; for his kids and his college-going mistress.

Wait a minute, maybe the S 4 X was her cute little code for sex. She needs sex. Or better, she needs sex four times. Yay! Wait a minute; maybe that wasn’t so much better. He’d better stop at the drugstore.

He sat at the small table at Starbuck’s with a latte, the cellphone, and a pen and small notebook–tiny, really–and copied the message down. No sense wasting battery power. He left it off, but in full view of any of the half-his-age patrons and less-than-that workers.

Let’s see: PLS CL was most likely his first guess of “please call” but it could also be plus clear, plus claim, please claim? Please claim immediate nude sex? He got a little bit hard.

I ND looked like “I need” and what else could it stand for? “I knowed?” Good Lord, college kids weren’t always the brightest these days but he felt she was smarter than that. Could be someone’s initials: Imogene, Irene, Ivan…he realized he knew no one with a name that began with an I.

He refilled his coffee, flicked on the phone, and settled on: “Please call, I need sex.” He smiled. No, he leered. He pushed in her number and listened to it ring once, twice.

“Finally!” she said.

“I’ll be there as quick as I can. Got to make just one stop, maybe two.” He’d thought about a bottle of wine.

“Did you get them?”

“Get what?”

She made a loud sound that he took as the offspring of a sigh and a groan of exasperation.

“The statistics. The traffic stats you were going to get me. I need them for an exam!”

“Oh,” he said and promised he’d get what she needed as soon as he could.

(Thanks to Cathryn Esten for original image of cellphone)




He watched the short video again and again. Forty-one seconds. That’s all he had left of his wife.

She moved across the screen from left to right. Walking, then a brief lighthearted skip. Then she leaned against the fence and smiled as he zoomed in with the camera. He wanted her mouth, the tip of a pink tongue, the white white teeth; she flirted best however, with her eyes. That’s where the camera focused and faded to black.

He hit Replay. He watched it twice more and then shut it off. Six months of dating, three years of marriage, and all she’d left him was this one clip that slipped past her delete button. It was the video of their very first date.

She’d taken the friends that she wanted. Left him with his best friend Joe and some people he could care less about. She even took over his sister and blocked him from her list. She’d turned him in as a spammer when he first tried to reach her. After he found himself cut from her circles on each social site that they’d shared. His login wouldn’t work anymore. Wouldn’t open the front door to the home that they’d built on the site. He clicked around the bushes they’d planted, searching for the key that he’d hidden when her message started coming in all caps. Nothing. Eventually he tried entering with an alias. After just a few tries he was banned.

So he watched the one thing he had left of her. Then he came up with a new name, a new image, a whole new avatar and logged in to meet and get married again.



(reasons for moving)

I have been there and there and there. The hot sands of the Mohave, the ice glaciers off Alaska’s coast, New England in the middle of green turning orange and red.

There are photos. We stand in front of a small stone church and his arm is around me. We look so very young, so very happy. I smile at the memory yet I do not look the same at the corners of my mouth. What is the difference? Would that I could go back to that moment in time. If I stand in that place, displacing the same space exactly to all the perimeters, my being fitting exactly the constraints of that space, would my mouth curl at the corners? Would my eyes shine so bright? Would I still feel him there?

I walk through the morning and change everything instant by instant with a helpful breeze tipping the leaves on branches I cannot reach if I tried. So this is now. So this is now. This is now even as it slips past into then and the air closes behind me.

The backyard changes from moment to moment. In a flipbook of images it grows higher and fatter and moves in a restless pattern along with the sky. Yesterday we stood there, and there, and there.

Right now, I am here all alone.



(reasons for moving)

I once knew a woman who traveled a lot. In spirals she covered the continents, hovered on oceans, her toes barely tickled by waves. She carried a pillbox of her fingernail clippings with her wherever she went.

It was gold with a tiny clasp and a cloisonne´ cover with the image of a deep purple iris on top. She’d bought it at a small shop near the Place de la Bastille. She had someone take a picture of her on the sidewalk standing with the shopkeeper. In her right hand she is carrying the small shopping bag. Her left hand has just dropped a nail in a planter of bright blooming petunias. She is smiling.

“Why?” I asked her. “Why do you save and carry the nail clippings? Why do you leave them in places you’ve been?”

“It’s not always a fingernail, you know. In a pinch, I pull out a hair.” She laughed but looked at me for a moment. “You’ll realize why yourself,” she said, “or maybe I’ll tell you someday.”

She was much, much older than I and in time, time nibbled her bones. I helped her clean out her apartment when she made the move into a home for the aged. I saw the small cloisonne case on her emptied-out dresser. I picked it up and handed it to her. “Make sure you don’t forget to take this with you,” I said.

She took it and fingered it lovingly. “This has traveled as much as I and beyond,” she said.

I waited, hoping she’d tell me its secret. She smiled and the light came on in her eyes.

“A photograph, even a film is a moment of time, and proves nothing more, nothing less than that moment,” she said. Then she pointed to the furniture that stood solid yet desolate in the stripped-down bedroom.

“This set was a wedding gift for my parents,” she said. So for nearly a century it has been what it is. It doesn’t change, the room hasn’t in so many years except for the coming and going of me and some dust, and the shades of morning through midnight.”

“The dresser there,” and she pointed, “has been a dresser there for forty years. Before that, it was a dresser elsewhere and this space in this place was empty or filled with something or somebody else.”

I nodded. I knew what she meant yet it seemed so trivial a thing and I could not yet grasp the connection to the little gold box.

“Before that,” she went on, “this dresser, before it was a dresser at all, was a tree.”

“The same thing but changing, in time and in space,” I said.

“Yes,” she said, “but it will exist for a time long after I’m gone.”

“But it won’t remain here,” I argued.

She opened the small case and took something out, pulled open a dresser drawer and dropped it in. She slid the drawer closed. “No, it won’t,” she said as she took my arm and we turned to leave. “But I’ll remain with it a while.”

(Image: Thanks to Catherine Estan for original image)




“I’d better leave,” he said and he kissed her goodbye.

“Don’t forget your briefcase, you brought it in last night, remember?” she said.

“Thanks, yeah.” He paused, came back and kissed her again. “I love you.”

“Me too.” She knew he didn’t like it when she said it that way, but she just wasn’t ready to say it the other. Deborah didn’t make quick decisions.

She fluffed the pillow and laid back, kicked the sheets off and considered the night. There was really no use of speculating; she got up and placed last night’s dinner, show, and sex on the right hand side of the scale. The bowl labeled “John” dropped a quarter inch. On the left, “Doug” hung low with the weight.

She didn’t understand it. Doug rarely took her anywhere. John was known to the maître d’s  of the finest restaurants in the city. John brought flowers, sent cards, surprised her with diamond trinkets all the time. For her birthday, Doug picked up a rose and a $20 gas card at the Dairy Mart down the block.

And it wasn’t just things. Things Deborah could buy for herself. She had a great job and plenty of money. John was truly a gentleman, was considerate of her and was helpful even to strangers. He took care of her through that horrible bout of the flu last winter while Doug said, “I’d better stay away until you’re feeling better. Wouldn’t want to be bringing more germs in for you to get any sicker.” Yet after almost two years, the scale was heavily weighted in Doug’s favor.

One evening, alone, she studied the scales. Took everything out and resorted. The roses, the nights out, the meals, the sweet thoughts, the phone calls, everything. Hmmm, something was wrong. Now Doug hung up high and John nearly bottomed out on the table.

“Oh,” she said, realizing she’d not put quite everything back in. She separated them back into two piles, found they were about even in number, and added the sex to the scales. She watched the scales tip and swing. “Oh,” she said. “Oh.”

(Image: via Google)




He smells like the earth after a rainstorm. His breath the clean sweep of an aftermath breeze. She is a buttercup, unfolding and holding the warmth of the sun in her thighs.

He hears the rustle of fresh new green leaves when she whispers. She loves the curl of his fingers cupping her breasts. He wants to hold her till time turns to dust. She fears she holds on too long. Too tightly, so loosens her grip like untying a ribbon wound into a bow.

He breathes in each red-gold stand of her hair. Deeper, the scent of each cell of her skin. He wants to inhale her spirit, make his heart beat in rhythm with hers. He kisses her mouth holding back his urge to devour her. She unwraps paper, crumbles  and throws it away.

He knows the curves and connections yet takes his time getting from here to there. She rises and falls, rises again like the waves as he touches the soft places that hum back a slow violin.

Her hands pull him close, closer. Together they climb till they hardly can breathe. He gasps. The first one to come back down to earth, she enfolds him, holds him against her. His head is nestled against her, his thick hair tickles her chin. She kisses the top of his head. He kisses her neck and sighs.

They lie there a while, not speaking. The music is the tick of a clock. She rises first and switches on the light in the bathroom, closes the door. He sits on the bed, then dresses. When they leave he locks the room door. He follows her down to the highway, beeps his horn and waves in the dark.


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