Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language.
He took her in his hands, all feeling absent. She readjusted them at the hips as she gazed at him, underneath lashes like cornucopias against the blue-green walls of her eyes. "Do you love me?" She asked Wyatt, firmly. Her hands faltered at the small of his back which tightened reflexively as a halo of warmth spread out from her fingertips.
He couldn't see her, not fully. He felt that he was looking at her, her aquiline nose and splintering eyes, through the mottled glass of a coke bottle. She, meanwhile, was groping his body for purchase, a single square inch of skin that would relent. His feet twitched convulsively within the confines of his sneakers, and his cheeks were smoothed over with a neat pink hue.
Boy, he could go for a cigarette now. He wasn't sure if his hands actually drew to the back of his jeans or he had just imagined it. They lingered at the base of his left pocket before probing for that all-familiar lighter, a cool plastic rectangle that could just as well have been a cushion.
The silence wrapped the two of them together with the snugness of cellophane. She tilted her head back, receiving the pause, then let each finger go individually as they settled back into the space of her hoodie. It took her a full minute to realize the magnitude of their closeness, and the sudden alarm of it, the coolness of his eyes, sent her stumbling back.
She steadied herself, and in the depth of his silence, found herself asking: "Why did we go on this camping trip, anyway?" Wyatt noticed the changes in her immediately: the pained expression in her eyes, paired with the way she held her shoulders, like two sunken masts grounded by a sudden gust of wind.
Her apprehension didn't bother him, no. The only image that clung to him at this moment was one of his mother's, decked out in her finest jewelry, which shook against the apple shape of her body as she laughed herself into a fit. He pictured her with the hands of aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers, wrenched to her forearm in their pallid excitement.
Liver spots that danced over sagging flesh violated the taste of her birthday cake. In an instant but many years ago, she had turned 68-years-old. Whoop-dee-fucking-doo. He recalled with vivid tenacity he stench of death in the room, her bleary eyes as she lowered a fist-sized clump of frosting into her mouth. "Just the good parts," She had spoken of the cake. "Save the rest for someone who wants it."
It was a dreadful time, those sixty days before she died. He closed his eyes to disappear Marlene and saw his mother again, this time with tubes snaking up and down her throat, her chest, the hanging flesh of her biceps. She told him not to worry, she was more or less ready. She wistfully alluded to the approach of old age as standing on a sliding board that increased the sharpness of its angle each passing year. Her clarity finally allowed her to understand the pit of nothingness that hung in waiting.
Desperate mortal fear rang out in every corner of her affected mind. The crackling inside her head represented telomeres splitting apart. The very fabric of her being was unraveling, and soon she would cease to exist.
And here Marlene was, questioning her relationship with Wyatt. She reveled in her youth without even being cognizant of the fact. Wyatt blinked back at Marlene and saw more of his mother than her prize worthiness. He only faintly registered the springy newness of Marlene's skin and those lips which often pursed into the shape of a tiny prickling starfish when an idea struck her.
As Marlene regarded Wyatt with wide, pleading eyes, he realized that her obsession with him had taken on a fervent quality. He too realized, in a more overpowering sense, that their closeness in age intertwined them. They could share things. Perhaps a baby.
"We're out here camping because that's what families do." He said after a long hesitation. "Don't you want to be a family?"
Marlene, who was now sitting down, hoisted herself up and brushed the dirt off her pants. The tent they’d rented was in a heap near the fire pit, reminding her of a fossilized animal in its death throes. Her eyes traveled down Wyatt's body, from the lighter gripped in his left hand to the cigarette clenched between his teeth, back down to his free hand worming inside of the other jean pocket. She kept her distance this time as they stared at the same piece of sky.