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18+ Language

Relative Distance

by MoonlightForest

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. 

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19 Reviews

Points: 31
Reviews: 19

Thu Apr 02, 2020 11:44 pm
koinoyokan wrote a review...

This was really refreshing to read I often find that works including couples can fall off the deep end when it comes to romance and leaves the rest of the story behind. It was clear that the focus was Wyatt's mother throughout the story as see the most description about her character and how her actions are affecting Wyatt now. As for the writing, it is very descriptive and poetic. You give me the impression of writing a lot of poetry which I mean in the best way. The only drawback to this is when your transition over to fiction heavy descriptions and metaphors makes it hard for the reader to follow. In poetry having difficulty to decipher meanings in sentences is good because both the sentence and the poem are relatively short so you want the reader to go back and reread lines. Making them chew down on the meaning behind everything but when your reading a short story or novel it can real tedious to constantly go back a reread something to understand what is being said. That being said I do enjoy the tone it makes you think about what is being written and all the actions the characters take. Good job.

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517 Reviews

Points: 18111
Reviews: 517

Mon Feb 24, 2020 4:21 am
Lavvie wrote a review...


You're my 500th review! :D

You never cease to knock the wind out of me. For starters, this is lovely in a kind of haunting way, à la Sarah McColl (recommended reading: Joy Enough) or even Vincent Scarpa - though that might be a bit of a stretch. Initially, I notice a few things going on here: two people (I deign to say couple) with obvious chemistry (is it physical? emotional? both?); existential dread; and a change of plans, perhaps to Wyatt's disappointment? Surprise? Overall, it's generally well-balanced, despite its brevity.

I can sense that your writing style is consistent. There is something satisfyingly literary and poetic that I greatly appreciate. It's fluid and absolutely conducive to delivery flash pieces such as this one. However, sometimes I feel that this is slightly your undoing. Perhaps you get a little carried away with it and leave your readership a little left behind. In other words, because this is a short piece, you want to balance the content. Don't give us too much and don't leave important questions unanswered. Sure, unanswered questions are good sometimes - but in moderation. I'm feeling a little confused. Wyatt sees Marlene as apprehensive when he's the one who didn't answer question about whether or not he loved her. This You don't need Wyatt to answer that question but somewhere in the narrative, you need to address it. Indirectly might be best. At least answer it with another question. Unreliable narrators are intriguing and I think you have the foundations in place to support it here.

On that note, I might encourage you to ask yourself who is narrating here. I can tell you're aiming for an omniscient approach, but I think this piece would improve greatly from a limited omniscient narration. In other words, I would choose between Wyatt or Marlene. I think Wyatt is a natural choice since the piece starts more with a focus on him. But that is just my two cents!

The strength of this piece is in the beginning, in my opinion. I feel like the narration weakens near the end and you may want to ask yourself why this is. It may be because you're trying to juggle three characters in the span of one to three paragraphs in this already flash short. Not to say the latter half is weak, but in comparison to the beginning, it is weaker.

A few edits and suggestions:

he stench of death in the room


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.

I think this sentence could be more impactful written this way: "Old age approached on a sliding board that increased the sharpness of its angle each passing year." The original "She wistfully alluded..." interrupts the flow and also just spells everything out a bit too much for the reader.

understand the pit of nothingness that hung in waiting

I think you should opt for "hung in wait" or "hung waiting". It's up to you, but I believe those two options are better than the original.

Ultimately, in spite of my feedback above, you are a very strong writer and once again, you have exceptionally delivered emotionally. I love that; strong, emotive pieces will always be my jam. I think with some minor tweaks, you will have a solid short. (It's already solid, but let's make it super solid!)

As always, it's been an absolute pleasure to read your work.

All the best,

You won't know the outcome of something unless you try it.
— manilla