Reading Sex
For him sex and romance were literary categories.

As they undressed in her bedroom, the idea of "taking the heaven from inside of her and turning it into a burnt wheat field" popped into his head. It was a desperate thought, really. He loosened his tie. Something in him was strangling. She waited on the bed in her underwear,rubbing her feet together playfully.

During puberty and his early '20s, he'd read so many books before his nine o'clock bedtime that, he assured himself, without doubt, even though he'd never had one in the flesh, he'd had plenty of girls by proxy.

He had been cocky from the first day of their relationship. He had actually asked her out. An old man had tripped on some broken concrete in front of his house. She had come to the rescue and had asked to use his phone to call the old man's son. He thought, "kindness floated on her like mist over London." She seemed accessible to him.

On their third date she had asked him, "Are you a playful little boy?"

He had never been winked at like that before. He could tell she conducted these matters on eye-to-eye ground. Obviously, he was not on that level. But the fact that she assumed he was made him sit straight and smile.

Up to this point he had likened their relationship to a whitewater river. Tonight, on the way to her house, he felt like he was going over the falls.

Now, nearly naked, he watched her wiggle and mess up the bed sheets. Those luxurious wrinkles bothered him. He caught the view of the two of them in the mirror above her dresser. In a scene like this, he wondered, how could any man worry? The fact that he worried distressed him even more.

"What's the matter?" A stray chocolate brown curl flopped over her eye.

He felt like a harried plate spinner. His hesitation to start "The Carnival of Love" allowing a few plates to fall.

"What about this? Maybe this will speed up the race." She proficiently kicked off her panties and undid her bra. The sight of her wearing nothing gave him what he called the "Raskolnikov Shakes."

Her pubic hair didn't seem as confined and tamed as it was in paintings he had seen. Her breasts were flatter than all those statues had brought him to expect.

"You're shaking."

"Ah, I'm not..." He felt more exposed than he would have if he'd actually removed his boxers. Now that all was laid bare, he flashed on their future together. The practicality of the relationship certainly wouldn't change. But he questioned if she would still smile the same light-bending hello? Would they still have the same coy conversations?

Like a flash of lightning in a storm, a Raymond Chandler quote occurred to him. "Beyond fear, beyond change." It was a description of a dead guy.

 © 2001 Ryan Nelson

This is Ryan Nelson's first story to see publication.  The southern Minnesota writer has written for several minor publications on the Internet. He is now debating whether to inform his family of the news due to the title.

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