3WW CCLX "The Shells We Build"

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are cherish, guarantee and nausea.

The Shells We Build

There was no tenderness in his caress, not anymore.
She felt like he was petting the dog when he mauled over her, a rough hand across her skin, an equal rhythm, long tedious strokes. And at each end, a pat.
So different, she thought, than when they first met. He couldn’t keep his hands off her, especially her hair. Naturally wavy, she wore it past her shoulders. It was thick, vibrant – took forever to dry. Best of all, her color was natural, no dyes or artificial colorings. And it was a rich shade of espresso.
She cherished those times, wondered where they went, if they were over.
She got up, he in mid-stroke across her arm, and walked slowly out the door.
She felt no eyes on her. He was, she thought, encased in stone. She sighed.

Being in the same room with her was murder. He felt like he was underwater, holding his breath. Pressure in his sinuses from the squint and a wet slickness all over.
Of course he never said anything. He tried to touch her, she had always responded, but now it seemed like she was wearing a coat, head-to-toe.
He put two hands on his belly and shook his head. She had always loved that about him, the muscles taut under his skin. He felt her looking, all sexual and exciting, and he’d want to touch her more. Bury his face in the luxury of her hair.
Time, age and success were catching up to him, he knew. Too many business lunches, not enough movement. Used to be, an elevated heart rate was his nightly reward; not it was a double Scotch and a seat on the leather sofa.
He caressed the pudgy and was embarrassed and ashamed. No wonder she never looked at him anymore. He sighed.

There was guarantee that things would ever get better. They both thought it. It was a good run, but the cold between them was biting. It was beginning to hurt.
They’d seen friends go through the process. The nights spent crying over the phone, drunk texts from strip bars, lunches that were uncomfortable as hell.
They watched, both of them, as their friends when to hell and came back. Maybe a little stronger, a little wiser.
They watched one another a bit more closely. Looking for sign. They saw unhappiness, tension.

He was rinsing out the highball when she came into the kitchen. He was whistling. He stopped. A wave of nausea washed over him. She’d been crying. She leaned her ass on the island, put both arms behind her as a brace.
She had let herself cry in the bathroom for 15 minutes, no more, no less. He was washing his glass early and it made her feel sick. She wasn’t ready. The kitchen was a stupid place to have this out. She stood. Walking deliberately, she heard him whistling and her knees buckled.

“I want a divorce,” they both said, in unison.
“You do?”
Again in perfect unison.
“Bastard.”
“Bitch.”
She slapped him across the cheek, twice. The sting brought tears.
He slapped her back, once. Hard.
Her tears came, then sobs.
Then a caress, soft across the redness that had risen on her cheek. She melted into his chest. He buried his face into her hair.
And then, just then, a stirring in their hearts as their bodies heated up, fingertips roaming free, passion.

3WW CCLIX, "Unsettled"

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are dull, race and yawn. Something short. And, hopefully, sweet.

Unsettled
The yawn was stifled between his index and middle fingers. It’s cold, much too brisk for the track pants and old flannel shirt he’s fumbled into. What’s worse, he’s completely forgotten to slip into shoes.
The grass has gone dry, golden. Neighbors would say burnt, dead. He doesn’t much care. There’s a drought and he just sort of gave into nature, rather than figure out the town’s mandatory watering schedule.
One less thing to worry about, anyway.
Since already in this new place, he felt unsettled. And couldn’t quite figure out why. Just a jumpy caress along his spine, which brought shivers.
He so enjoyed this time of day, but it was so very fleeting. That’s why he’d raced out without shoes and stood shivering in the dead grass of the backyard.
To look up.
It was possible to witness day overtake the night, if you travel far enough west. Covered enough ground and ended up in a place where night was truly black, save for the twinkling of a billion stars.
His gaze was fixed directly overhead, locked on the Milky Way, a brilliant patchwork of light on a field of inky blackness. He let his eyes track east, through a dull gray patch of sky, then squinted at the brilliant orange-red of the coming sunrise. He rubbed his face, felt the stubble of another day’s growth of beard.
His eyes went back to the muted strip of sky that formed the barrier between night and day.
He stared into the void. His eyes went all out-of-focus.  His body went slack, arms left dangling at his sides.
He sighed.

3WW CCLVIII "Prosthetics"

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are backward, ease and omission.
Hopefully, by the end of the day, I will have a high-speed Interweb connection. Until then, I give you a drabble. Just a slip of fiction, in 100 words.

Prosthetics
She counts backward from 100, as he instructs. There’s some rustling, but she resists the urge to open her scrunched-tight eyes.
Hands move across her nakedness, raising gooseflesh. Her nipples are erect. Her heart races, nostrils flair with ragged breath.
She’s altogether tense, giddy.
He reaches for her legs. Something eases up her thigh, which elicits a gasp.
“Stand.”
She does as she’s told.
“Open.”
She marvels at the leg, stomps a heel, testing its heft.
It looks exactly like the one she lost.
But that’s an omission on her part.
It looks exactly like the one he took. 

3WW CCLVII, "Alone In The Dark"

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are erode, heart and observe. Still no Interwebs in the wilds of Wyoming, so I have to muddle through.

Alone In The Dark

He’s fairly certain there’s something wrong with his heart.

It’s pumping away in his chest, right ventricle, left ventricle. Coursing blood through all those miles of veins, arteries.  The beat’s even strong, steady, for his age.

But there’s definitely something wrong.

She mews in her sleep and he listens in the darkness and there’s a flush of anger. He peels back the layers of bedding where she cocoons herself and observes. She’s naked under all those layers. All soft curves in what he can see reflected in the gentle light of a bathroom nightlight.

A scream builds in his chest. He stifles it by biting his knuckles until he nearly draws blood. His forehead is hot. He takes deep, deliberate breaths through flared nostrils.

He can’t shake the heat, the rage.

He removes a jumble of sheet and blankets off his chest and the moment’s fury is eased by the cool night air.

Still, there’s a knot of anger in his stomach, like a cramp, or pulled muscle. This isn’t physical, and he knows it. And he’s suspected it for quite some time.

His heart is beginning to erode.

Not so much the function, but its warmth.

 There’s no pill for his condition. And while the rage is still there, pressing outward on his temples, his eye sockets for chrissakes, the knot in his stomach subsides, replaced by a cool slickness he knows is fear.

He wants to run, arms flailing, legs pumping until acid fills the fibers and he’s forced to stop. But he’s go nowhere to go, nowhere to run.

So he counts. Lets his mind go blank. He’s well into the 6,000s when he spies the clock. One minute before the alarm.

Another flash of anger.

She rolls to him, moves a warm hand up his side and through his chest hair, which is beginning to go gray. Her hand comes to rest over his heart.

It’s small and delicate and where it rests, he feels a tremendous weight. A heft that makes his breath catch.

And all at once, there’s a calm.

Slowly, as not to ruin this moment, he reaches out and shuts off the alarm.

Tired eyes close. He smiles.