Posted by: sulya | 10 January 2010

500 Words of Fiction: Shades & Strangers

Midmorning, sun cold in a fierce winter blue and he’d never driven North on this road when the sun was coming up.  The car’s shadow was crisp and twisting up onto medians, warping long on the pavement into the turns ahead.  Disorienting, a sun-powered vertigo built by dark shapes that claimed and nauseated.  Threatened him with ditches.

It was so hard to tell what actually happened last night because so much of the whole thing had happened in his imagination.  Even as he’d smoothed her hair back from her face, even as he’d trailed his fingers over her lips, down her neck, traced the contour of her collar bone as it disappeared into the grace of her shoulder.  He wasn’t sure it had actually been her lips or her neck.  Or her grace.

He didn’t know her.  Didn’t feel anything for her other than blunt chemistry made combustive by circumstantial solitude broken only by the timing of happy hour in a small town bar.  But, he’d been more tender with her than he’d even known he could be.

He’d cherished the shapes, tastes, textures and every second of her because he was cherishing someone else.  Someone he could not have, someone he’d never had and she was the real shadow, the warped disorientation that would throw him from his road again and again and he’d laid his whole being all over and inside another woman and snuck away to slink north at twilight with shoes and belt in-hand because she was the wrong woman.

Nights like that always return in snippets, fragments, he thought as a glacial mountain loomed snow caps onto the road ahead, but this was more broken because there were two faces in the fragments.  Above him, below him, beside him.  And later, two sets of quiet slow sleeping breaths broken by pairs of soft moans, gentle, easily broken snores.  Shade and stranger twinned by desperation.  It shouldn’t be possible to pretend real affection, he thought. Flaw in the design if we can caress real love over the top of ignorance and apathy.

His phone rang.  The stretch ahead was straight enough that he risked picking the phone up, glancing eyes down from windshield to screen.

Of course, he whispered through a vaguely hysterical smile to the belt on the seat beside him, to his untied shoes.

Hey, he answered, what’s up?

Just making sure you’re going to be there tonight.  You miss it and I won’t even hire out the hit or get his highness to do it for me.  I’ll take you out myself, she laughed.  You with me?

His hands over breasts that aren’t hers, his face buried in the soft, smooth curves of a belly, a waist, a hip that isn’t hers.  Dark hair transposed over light hair over dark hair over light hair rolling over and another car shadow tricked him. A lurch. A recovery.

You still there?

Yeah.  Mountains.  Shitty reception.  I’ll be there.  No hits necessary.

Okay, good.  Drive safe, okay?

Yeah, he said, I will.


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