Thursday, February 11, 2010

Waiting for Love

It’s way past midnight, I should go home, but I’m not tired – my crazy lovesickness keeps me up. This, and my lithium holiday. But Jesus, I feel great, less zonked out. Wired. I keep staring at my watch, distracted Phoebe’s not back from studio, imagining all sorts of horrible things: punks lurking behind bushes, kilns exploding, or, worse, her in a bar, holding hands with some other guy. Sleeping in his bed.

I try to squelch the catastrophizing. At least I’m in her house, watching this stupid psycho-slasher movie with her roomies. In the dark, their faces glow an eerie bluish-white from the flickering screen. Scrunched on the couch beside me, Sarah sits so close we might as well meld. Her hand rests in her lap inches away, a magnet willing me to hold it in mine. Across the room, Bethany’s glasses seem to laser holes through me. I feel guilty preferring Phoebe, but not guilty enough to stop my attention from flitting to the front door.

Bored with the gore, my head drifts to sex. Unwinding Phoebe from her layers of skirts and sweaters, sucking on perfect pink lips, mouthing soft, ivory breasts. Undoing her glorious hair, whipped honey strands draping over me, trailing down my chest, my face, my thighs. Licking her until she screams. I slouch deeper into the sofa, grateful for the dark.

Sarah shrieks.

“Jesus, Sarah. Not in my ear. Please.”

“Sorry, hon,” she says. But her hand wedges between our legs. I kind of wish she wouldn’t but don’t stop her. Accompanied by sense-surround, my erection grows with my fantasies.

Sudden light from the hallway seeps under my closed lids. The front door sighs shut; a shadow passes. Missed her. Damn. I scrabble up from the cushions, tugging out my shirt to cover my tented crotch. Sarah’s feet tangle in mine.

“Where you going?” She pulls on the back of my sweater.

“Water,” I whisper. “And the can.”

She releases me. Pulse thudding, I rush from the warm, dark room. The kitchen’s bright fluorescence makes me blink. “Hey,” I call softly, but no one answers. I poke around back to the glassed-in porch. Empty. Leaning against the counter, I down the obligatory glass. I open a door; jars of peanut butter, cans of Campbell’s, and a year’s worth of Grape-nuts line the shelves. Turning from the pantry, I pull on another doorknob, find the bathroom. I lock the door, flip on the faucet. Water burbles. I lean against the closed door. Unzipped, I concentrate on Phoebe moving under me, fingernails digging into my back, her--

“Bennnnnnn. Oh honnnnnn.”

Oh Jesus. Sarah. Still hard, now aching, I zip up. The water ices my trembling hands.

The kitchen’s still deserted. A purple backpack hangs from one of the chairs. Hers. The rough canvas smells musty, like turned earth in early spring. A single golden hair, at least eighteen inches long, spirals there, a shimmering nautilus. I pluck the strand, wind it carefully around my fingers.

In the hallway, at the foot of the stairs, I pause. The water-stained ceiling rebukes me, but soft footsteps above reassure me of her presence. I waver, hoping she’ll need something, anything – a drink, a snack, a book from her bag – and float down the steps. To me. Longing thwacks against my ribs like a crazed bird fluttering at a window pane. One foot lands on the first step, then the next, I have no idea what I’ll say when I reach her garret--

“Hon.” Sarah’s voice snakes around the corner. “The movie’s almost over.”

I stop breathing. Upstairs goes silent. Sudden, deep heaviness descends, echoing down the stairwell. I drag myself back to the living room to a possibly surer thing, fingers deep in my pocket, twisting and turning the solitary strand.

***

Excerpted from BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT, a novel about crazy love and choosing too much feeling over sanity. A finished novel looking for a home. To read more about Ben after his life goes to schei├če, read AFTER THE LEAP.

***

My essay The Week Before My Father Died, an entry in the EDITOR UNLEASHED "Why I Write" contest*, sums up best why I write. *Essays are open to popular voting through February. You must be a registered member of the EDITOR UNLEASHED forums. I appreciate your honest vote. Please take some time to read all the other, often passionate pieces about the writing life.

Peace, Linda

28 comments:

  1. Ooooh building lots of tension in this piece, in many meanings of the word! So good. Dying to know what comes next (this is different than what I saw when I read the manuscript). This scene is really vivid and alive.

    I wish you could just post the whole book so we could enjoy cover to cover!

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  2. I desperately want to know what happens next.

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  3. Smokin' hot this excerpt - teaser! Always leave 'em wanting more!

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  4. I want to see Phoebe. Alas. Not to be. Wonderful work Linda!

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  5. Yep, this story titillates in it's words and imagery!

    It's a page turner...

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  6. Even as an excerpt, it stands on its own. Taut and tight scene. Well done!

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  7. Ahh, the shared house phenomenon...thou shalt hopelessly fancy thy lover's roomie! Brilliant tension building, a great little extract here!

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  8. Is it rude to thump one's fists on the table at the end of your stories demanding more, more, more?

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  9. Hey, you guys are too kind. Yeah, they get it on, but only after a whole bunch of trouble in between.

    Chrys, this is a scene I added after your two reads. Someday, when you're really bored, you can read the whole damn thing again -- BTB is very different.

    Thanks for reading and commenting. Beddy-bye for me, tired after hours of shoveling... Peace, Linda

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  10. Wow - great tension here between the narrator, the film being watched, the anticipation of Phoebe and what comes after - felt like I was in the room, watching. Glad I found this.

    DJ

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  11. Superb Linda - this is tense! An authentically male voice and breathy, slippery prose. Phoebe intrigues without even meeting her! Fantastic as usual.
    Simon.

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  12. Anyone else need a cold shower?
    Phoebe's absense/presence was immense.
    Nice work!

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  13. My 10-year-old son came bounding in the room as I was reading this and I jumped clean out of my skin! I had to wait until he left and start over.
    This is a smoking hot excerpt Linda - very well done!

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  14. there should always be "plenty of trouble" before the on-getting, in my opinion. make them work for it.

    i also read your piece at editor unleashed--i think it's short but very powerful.

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  15. Full of tension, Linda. Great excerpt.

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  16. Thanks for reading all!

    Dij, welcome to my bloggo - glad you liked!

    Simon, glad I got the male voice down - always a worry with these sort of scenes.

    Moonie, thank you.

    Deanna, my 10-year-old also snuck up on me this am while I was perusing comments. Ah-hem. At least he hasn't seen my hard-core stuff.

    Mazz, cold shower indeed. This is just a prelude (though my stuff's 'tasteful' if you know what I mean).

    Peace, Linda

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  17. Well, I think we all want Phoebe after that. Great sexual tension, outstanding pacing.

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  18. So great to read this passage again--knowing what comes next. I miss Ben and Phoebe. Will have to check out "After the Leap" (I haven't looked at it yet--is it a newer piece or is it part of Brighter than Bright?) Strong writing, as always--great physical description and awesome control of pacing and building of tension.

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  19. Excellent job with the male voice! I love the part where he takes the strand of hair. Such intimacy in that act, it really gives us a good idea of just how strong his motivations are. What genre is this?

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  20. love the story, linda! MJ

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  21. A bit too scary for me, and by that I mean hot... or something. Well written.

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  22. A very vivid journey through one man's bit of life. Heh, I don't know if this was smart to read first thing in the morning. But I'm not complaining ;)

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  23. This is brilliant, sexy, hot, Linda. It's all about the waiting in life. The more work it takes to get something (or someone) the more we want it, and the more rewarding it is.

    Awesome. I'm on the list of can't wait to read the whole thing.

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  24. Thanks all for reading and commenting. And so glad I got that male voice down.

    Melissa, AFTER THE LEAP is a condensed version of several scenes when Ben goes to the hospital.

    CJ, glad this 'warmed up' your morning, heh-heh.

    Jodi, but you CAN read the whole thing -- this book's DONE!!!!! Just looking for a home... Peace, Linda

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  25. Good story. Definitely a good teaser for the entire work.

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  26. Great excerpt! Achingly hot and equally melancholy. He's a bit of a stalker I think, carrying her hair around in his pocket.

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  27. Wow! So much going on here. Ben's got his problems, that's for sure - his biggest seems to be a bad case of "the grass is greener...".

    That can't end well.

    I love the tension you create in this - the interior monologue races along and take us with it. It's a good ride.

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  28. It's amazing how alive Phoebe is here without ever seeing her. Ben has a few things to work through. :)
    Wonderfully written, Linda. Very tense and tight.

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