Bodies In Motion — Chapter 2

campus leavesThey did see each other, Owen and Amy. Walking to classes; in the coffee shop; the library; resting at the fountain at the middle of campus. In the sudden moments when Owen would pick Amy out of the crowd, his heart would leap in excitement and he wondered each time if Amy was as excited to see him or if he was just some annoying presence that she could not get free of. But Amy Wheatman always smiled and always came to him and so he began to believe that she was pleased to see him.

Debbie, too, was always a presence just off to the side or just behind Amy, watching. Owen accepted Debbie – the way one accepts a blemish on the face of a loved one — though he never spoke to her because she never spoke to him.  But even with the dour cloud of Debbie always on their horizon, Owen and Amy spun closer and closer to one another and two weeks after they’d met at the party Owen was in Amy’s dorm room.

They sat at opposite ends of Amy’s short couch, facing each other, each with one leg bent in front of them on the cushions, their knees brushing together. The quiet of the dorm hung over them with a weight and Owen felt that they were the only two people within miles of that spot. Owen looked across the length of the couch into Amy’s eyes. They were, Owen thought, the cause of the great quiet that surrounded them: two black holes into which the universe collapsed. Amy Wheatman pulled at him with those eyes, looking out at him from underneath her eyebrows; she nipped her lower lip between her teeth. He felt the gravity of her and he knew that if he let go of the couch he would float into her and that was everything he wanted and yet he did not know how to let go even as he was pulled by the force of her.

Owen had been in a situation like this only once before. Then he was in high school in a dark bedroom with a drunk girl who had kissed him and taken off her pants and spread her legs to let him touch her. But when he had, the hot and lake-wet crater of her that met his fingers terrified him. He had left the drunk girl in the bedroom and gotten away. Now, here with Amy Wheatman, he felt he might be close to another chance at a turning point, but as powerful as was the allure of her, as rigidly as his body strained to reach to her and into her, he found the fear that if he moved to her he would not know how to move in the landscape of that new world, or worse that if he moved to her he would find that there had been no invitation after all and he had simply and horribly misread the signs, was stronger and so he sat paralyzed and they whirled in that magnetic storm for maybe minutes or maybe centuries until Amy Wheatman smiled and said slowly, “I want you to read to me.”

“Read to you?”

“I want you to read to me. I like your voice. You sound like someone on the radio. I’ve wondered what it would be like to hear you reading to me.”

“What would I read?” Owen asked.

Amy pulled a textbook from a stack on the bookshelf beside the couch and handed it to Owen. Owen looked at the cover and saw the title Male Sexuality: An Explanation Through Exploration.

“You want me to read this?” Owen said.

“I do,” said Amy. “Will you?”

“This?”

“Why not that? It’s what I want. To hear.”

Owen opened the book to the introduction. And because he wanted to be where Amy was and wanted her to want him there, he began to read.

“’At first glance the sexual male seems easy to understand, but beneath the surface lie complexities that disrupt lives and relationships. Why can men be so distant in bed? Why do thoughts of sex play such a powerful role in a man’s identity? Why do men equate sex and conquest and what are the consequences in the lives of women? Can a man dominate and still love a woman? Respected psychologist Steven Traner’ – OK, that’s enough of that.” Owen closed the book and tossed it onto the rug where it skidded to the center of the room.

“I have now read to you,” Owen said. He looked again into Amy Wheatman’s face to see if she was satisfied. She nodded and then she rose from her end of the couch and slid to the middle and sat against Owen’s thigh. Owen could smell her – the warm, soft flowers of her skin.

“Do you know what my last boyfriend said to me?”

“What?” Owen asked.

“He said that sex was the only thing he liked about me.”

“Oh,” said Owen. He did not like thinking of her with another because it confused him about what his opportunity might be. “And where is he now?”

“He’s gone. But he’s around.”

Owen nodded. His mind was racing. He strained inside his body to reach for her, or to bend his face to hers. But despite her closeness, he was not certain she wanted him to do that. If he put his arms around her now, what would the outcome be? Is this the moment when he should act? He could not move.

“Do you want to know what I liked about him?”

“If you want to tell me.”

“I liked a lot of things. For a while.” Amy placed her hand on Owen’s open thigh as she spoke. “And I liked sex. Did you want to know that?”

“I don’t know what I wanted to know.”

“You can tell me what you’ve liked too, you know. With girls.”

“OK,” Owen said. But he knew there wasn’t much to tell.

Amy Wheatman looked at him through a long silence. Finally she spoke again. “He comes around because he wants me back,” she said. “Scott. My boyfriend. Ex.”

Another long silence settled over them. This time it was Owen who broke it. “Did he read to you?” he asked.

“No. He never did that,” Amy said with a smile.

“Give me a book, then,” said Owen. “Another one. No textbooks.”

Amy turned and pulled a small book from her stack on the shelf. She handed it to Owen and settled in against him again.

Frankenstein?”

“Read it,” Amy said.

Owen opened the book to the first chapter and had just finished the first sentence when Amy’s door opened and a voice croaked Amy’s name. It was Debbie.

Debbie’s circumference filled the doorway and despite Debbie’s dark intrusiveness, Owen felt suddenly relieved.

“Library,” Debbie said.

Chapter 3…

Bodies In Motion — A Short Story In Chapters — Chapter 1

Trying something a little different this time. I have lots of pieces I’ve worked on tucked away in files and folders. Maybe they’re things that started off strong and lost their way, maybe they’re things that were fun to write but I don’t want to send out for publication. Maybe they just entertain me. At any rate, as you all know, you put effort into writing something, and sometimes, even if you don’t quite know what you want to do with it, you still just really want it to see the light of day. That’s the case with this piece. It is what it is, I’m not wholly satisfied with it, but it burned it’s way out of my brain and I want to release it into the world. It’s a 5,000 word story so I’m going to break it up into chapters to make it easier to read.

Chapter 1

couple-300x233Owen Adams met Amy Wheatman at a party in his freshman dorm room. The one when Owen’s roommate got drunk and pierced his own ear with a cubic zirconium stud he’d taken from the ear of the girl he would sleep with that night. The stud went through the roommate’s earlobe and embedded in his thumb and blood flowed down his face and his wrist. People scattered, but Owen Adams stood up from the couch and cleaned the blood off his roommate with a towel and got a band-aid from his drawer and put it on the roommate’s thumb.

“Thanks, Mommy,” said his roommate as he pushed Owen away and pulled the girl he would sleep with onto his lap. Owen sat back down on the couch and the girl next to him said “You were nice to do that.” She was Amy Wheatman.

She was a slim girl with short blonde hair and dark eyes with candlelight in them and heavy eyebrows that dominated her pale face. She was not beautiful, but thrilling, and Owen, when he looked at her, wanted to keep looking at her.

They talked, sitting there on the couch. They were both from Seattle and though they had gone to different schools, by a crazy coincidence they had Jeff Harman in common and so they talked about him until their common ground was established and they began to veer into other topics and left Jeff Harman far behind. As the night went on, there were even small touches between them. Nothing that could be construed by the outside observer as being intentional, but touches nonetheless: the couch was crowded and so their hips were pressed together and their shoulders and arms brushed as they moved; when Owen would get another beer for Amy her fingers would graze Owen’s as she took the bottle from him; and when he sat down again his body displaced hers ever so slightly. Owen was electrically aware of each sensation of her presence beside him, the warmth of her inside the thin barrier of her clothes.

That party wore on and people began to doze and Owen hoped that Amy Wheatman would choose to doze on his shoulder. He wanted to put an arm around her and smell her hair and feel the rise and fall of her gentle breathing as she lay against his chest. But Owen’s hopes were thwarted by Debbie Arble-something who was Amy Wheatman’s grumbling friend.  Debbie had sat all night alone in the straight-backed desk chair behind the couch drinking cokes. But when the room began to quiet and bodies began to couple in intimate poses, Debbie spoke up.

“We should go, Amy.”

Amy and Owen had been talking quietly about Spain and their mutual desire to go there, but now Amy blinked and looked around as though she had been asleep and was waking up.  She turned to look at Debbie.

“Not yet,” she said. “Isn’t it still early?”

“It’s late,” Debbie said. She stood up from the chair. Debbie was a short, round girl – as round as she was tall – and when she stood her head did not rise much above where it had been when she was sitting. “We don’t want to stay here,” she said. She put on her coat and pulled Amy’s coat off the back of the chair and held it out to her.

Amy Wheatman stood up from the couch and Owen at once felt cold as Amy pulled her warm body away from him. She took her coat and slipped it on and then looked down at Owen where he sat looking up into her sparkling eyes.

“Gotta go, I guess,” She said.

“If you say so,” Owen said.

“Come on, Amy,” Debbie growled. She was holding the door open and had one foot already in the hallway.

“Debbie says so. I’ll see you,” Amy said as she walked around the couch and toward the door.

And then Debbie Arble-whatever put her hand on Amy’s back and steered her out the door in front of her and the door closed and Owen leaned back against the couch and was alone.

…read chapter 2