Sorry about the long wait between posts! I thought I had set up the rest of “Rain’s Truth” to publish but apparently I hadn’t 😦 Anyways, here’s the final draft of one of two stories recently done for my Short Fiction class. Look for the other one sometime in the next week. Hope you like!
For Love of Power
“Doesn’t he seem lonely to you?” Sharon says to her long-term boyfriend, Brian. The two sit at the school’s food court eating lunch.
“Yeah… Geez, don’t sound so surprised. He just… I don’t know. I heard him say to someone that the reason they didn’t know much about him was because he didn’t want them to. I mean think about it, how much do we really know about him?”
“Well… he’s an English Major right?”
“Yeah, but why?”
Brain shrugs. “’Cause he’s creative?”
“That’s not a reason to be an English major. Why not Art? Dance? Theater? No, I think he became an English Major because it was easy.”
“Or because he was good at it?”
“That sounded like a question, was that supposed to be a question?”
Sharon stares at him. “Whatever. Maybe it’s easy for him because he’s good at it?”
It was Brian’s turn to stare back. “Didn’t I just say that?”
“Or, maybe he’s just lazy?” Sharon ignores Brian’s staring, focusing on her food.
“He is a genius…”
“Geniuses are crazy, Brian, not lazy.”
“Are you saying he isn’t crazy?”
“I’m saying that he’s not quite there. He’s the high-functioning autism of crazy.”
“So he’s social enough to not be a genius, that’s what you’re saying?”
“…No. Maybe. Yes?”
“Make up your mind, Sharon, is he crazy and a genius or not crazy and just lazy?”
“…Who said he can’t be both?”
“So he’s crazy, lazy and a genius?”
“…Sounds like an English major to me.”
“Pshh. To be fair, I don’t really think he’s a genius. He’s good at what he does, but he’s not really… awe-inspiring.”
“What?! Are you kidding? I definitely think he’s awe-inspiring.”
Brian laughs, “You would. He definitely takes care of himself, always dresses well…”
Sharon gasps. “You don’t think…?”
“I didn’t say that… But I think it’s a possibility.”
“Why? No, now you have to explain it.”
“Well, what I just said. Plus he rarely talks about relationships and when he does he uses a gender neutral pronoun.”
“All-right, and he isn’t always groomed… but you are right about everything else. Ugh, how could I be so blind!” Sharon’s head folds into her hands, her hair dangles very close to the food in front of her.
“You weren’t, he’s very subtle.”
“Wait, so then how did you notice?”
Brian thinks, shrugs. “No idea. Just something I noticed. You know, it was probably because he talks to guys more than he talks to girls.”
“Yeah, but he’s more honest with the girls.”
“Yeah! That’s the point! I guess that’s the weirdness about it. Sometimes, if you pay enough attention, you can hear him talking to you the way you talk to women… Well, the way I talk to women. I guess that’s what makes you think about that in the first place.”
“Wait wait wait, you think he wants to sleep with you?”
“Well… maybe. I told him I had a girlfriend.”
Sharon was quiet for a while. “Huh… I could have sworn he was hitting on me though.”
“Maybe we should invite him to dinner, really get to know him? And then we can find out exactly who he was hitting on.”
“I like this plan. Done.”
Nathan agrees to the diner date. In truth he was rather attracted to both of them, which was rare for him since he wasn’t usually attracted to women. For the next month or so the three agree to date, and spend as much time together as possible. Despite Sharon’s ignorance however, Nathan is aware that this isn’t about sex for Brian, it’s about power. Nathan, always a good judge of character ignores his instinct in favor of the beauty between Brian and Sharon. After a month or so, Brian invites Nathan camping with him while Sharon goes back home for Spring Break.
Nathan stands at the river’s edge, nude, as goosebumps riddle his flesh. They were most obvious around the backs of his arms and across the top of his chest; anywhere a blonde hair that would normally be invisible was made to stand on end. He rubs his arms together as Brian comes to stand next to him, also naked. Nathan fights to keep his eyes above the non-existent belt, focusing instead on Brian’s defined pectoral muscles. He looks up and notices that Brian is looking at him, so Nathan decides to keep staring, ignoring the power struggle for now.
He watches the goosebumps rush along the tops of Brian’s pectoral muscles and around the backs of his arms as well, coming down onto abdominal muscles that slowly lose their definition and a thin line of light, manicured hairs that start at the end of his sternum and lead the eyes down, past the “innie” belly button. Despite its presence in his periphery however, Nathan looks away from Brian’s crotch, taking time to examine the rest of his body.
Nathan watches the trapezius muscles on both sides, made prominent through daily exercises, move as Brian rotates his shoulders. He lifts his arm across his chest in order to stretch it out, and Nathan watches the flexing and relaxation of various muscles made visible by the movement. The light blond hairs along Brian’s arm, nearly invisible against his pale skin, are completely absent on Brian’s chest.
Nathan is thankful for the cold exterior temperature. He can feel the heat of his own body radiating now, activated by his scrutiny of Brian, by what feels like a transgression against the relationship. He knows it shouldn’t though, and he doesn’t bother to stop. It would only become awkward if Nathan sexualized the encounter or made it more about power than discovery. He continues, very careful to avoid both in his… examination.
Nathan starts over from the bottom up, examining legs that had dirty blonde hair running along the outsides, but not the back. Brian bends over to stretch his hamstrings, and Nathan witnesses the scapulae stretch and relax as well, watching several muscles on the back that would have been invisible on Nathan. Brian straightened and gives Nathan one deep, long, look eye-to-eye, before running into the river.
Nathan runs in after him, swimming and splashing around. The two swim upstream a bit, fighting against the current, so that they can float back down. Brian lies down on the water, floating as Nathan swims up to him.
“I can’t float. I’ve never been able to.”
“Seriously?” Brian treads water a little bit, and the two move towards the shallows. He spends some time trying to teach Nathan how to float, but more and more it seems like a physical impossibility, Nathan’s lithe frame doesn’t allow for enough buoyancy. It seems like Nathan is about to get it and Brian starts slowly moving away, but then Nathan starts sinking. Brian lunges closer and Nathan sits up. Suddenly the two are well inside each other’s personal space. Nathan echoes Brian’s look from the shore while Brian surprises both of them by leaning in first, gently pressing his lips to Nathan’s. The two stand in the shallows for a while, Brian’s arms awkwardly hanging by his sides. Nathan reaches up and gently places his fingertips to Brian’s elbows. Brian responds as Nathan thinks he will, by reaching out and pulling him in.
Once the moment is gone however, the two never talk about it. It also never happens again. Sharon seemingly remains ignorant it ever happened, and Nathan doesn’t feel it is his place to tell her, being the newcomer to their relationship.
Nathan stands in the hallway of Brian and Sharon’s apartment, having just come out of the bathroom. Three months in and he practically lives here, but has never spent the night. Brian and Sharon are in the back room talking about something. The door opens, and Sharon comes out.
“Hey Nathan, I know this is a little weird, but can you give me and Brian the night alone? I know we asked you to spend the night but…”
“Yeah, no worries Sharon. I know this is—”
Brian comes storming into the room looking furious and Nathan shuts up, he can guess what happened. Whatever Brian says is incoherent, but sounds something like “Why is that bitch still here I thought I told you… argragarg.” Not too sure on that last part.
“Look, he means a lot to me, and you said—” Sharon is attempting to remain calm in the face of Brian’s irrationality.
“I know what I said! You’re being unreasonable!”
“I’m not being unreasonable, I’m responding to what we agreed to.” Her voice is tight, trying to be restrained.
“No, you are taking what I said and using it to justify whatever you want. You’re manipulating me!” Despite the fact that Brian sounds like he’s whining, his physically imposing presence lends his complaints a certain credence. Brian’s exiting from the room has placed both of them, and their argument, in Nathan’s path to the front door. He shift his weight, looking around, arms crossed over his chest, shoulders hunched. Nathan’s face looks kind of squished, as though staring into a large fire, but without the eyebrow raise.
“I’m not manipulating anything; THIS is what you wanted, now you have it, and suddenly you’re freaking out about it. I am not your mother. I am NOT going to sit here and walk you through your issues and your insecurities and hold your hand through this. So you need to grow the fuck up, and if this isn’t what you want, you need to be civil about it!” She’s lost it.
Nathan tries to jump into the fray, his voice pitched low and calming. “Look, guys, I shouldn’t have rushed you—”
Brian either doesn’t hear or doesn’t care. “How dare you! I was civil about it! I told you I wasn’t sure this was going to be the best arrangement and you went ahead and did it anyways!”
“You did not! We had two talks about this, TWO! And the second one ended with, ‘I do like him, and I think I want to try this.’” Nathan’s face resumes his previous appearance. His shoulders roll inwards.
“Exactly! I THINK I want to try this! That does not mean I’m ready to dive in head first!”
“FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!! You ASKED him to be in this relationship! Man the fuck up!” Sharon’s hand rises back out of Brian’s field of vision as though to slap him. Nathan’s face goes slack, eyes wide as soon as Sharon cusses.
“You know what?! You need to go! I am sick and tired of yelling at you about what I want. You don’t want to be here for my ‘insecurities’,” Brian actually does air quotes around insecurities, although it’s more like a representation of him wanting to reach out and gouge her eyes than any sort of punctuation mark people generally imagine. “Then fine, get the fuck out and don’t come back. Because that’s part of the job, and you should have thought of that before you signed on.” I can’t tell if he saw the hand, but he’s moved into “so mad I’m crazy” territory.
“You can’t kick me out, I’M THE NAME ON THE LEASE!” He looks furious, starts turning red, turns to the door, and starts walking away. Neither of us moves.
The door slams.
Sharon turns to Nathan, her fists are clenched by her sides, and she is shaking. Nathan breaks the silence first.
“I’m just going to go.”
Sharon nods without speaking, takes a deep breath and heads back into the bedroom. Nathan stops by the white-board next to the front door, uncaps the dry-erase marker and writes on the board: “Call me if you need me. –” He pauses. Nathan considers writing Brian’s name on the white-board instead of his own. He looks back towards the bedroom they usually share, looks up, his vision so fuzzy he’s not sure he can write anything. Nathan lifts up his shirt, rubs his eyes, and finishes his message: “Brian” then leaves, closing the door behind him. He grips the railing for dear life on the way down, since he can’t see the stairs. By the time he gets to the bottom of the stairs, his shirt is no longer useful for wiping away the tears.