That Place Between Sleep And Awake

 

 

 

They’d gone shopping. After groceries it was the video store then the promise of burgers and fries.

 

Nikki backed the stroller out, her son followed behind with his nose in the bag of snacks they’d just bought while his new brother slept peacefully. She turned and looked at the busy rural route that lately was more like a highway. Cars were flying by although flanked by restaurants and shopping centers with driveways directly to the street as opposed to ramps for merging. Had everyone forgotten they had to slow to pull in and should yield for other cars pulling out, never mind paying heed to the light they’d have to stop at? It used to be more of a country road but since 9/11 many’d moved from the city to places just like this one, population had increased, summer homes that dotted lakes were turned into permanent residences and on the whole culture was changing.

 

“Good old days… then… now? That’s debatable.”

 

As they stood she saw a semi coming up on the light too fast and right in front of it was a compact car no higher than the front tire if that. “ A sitting duck. My…” The light changed to yellow, the smaller car began to slow, the truck maintained speed, but now they both had to come to a stop. Under any other circumstance if a car is rear-ended it’s the other guy’s fault but in the case of an 18-wheeler vs a compact all bets are off. Nikki didn’t realize her son’d been watching until, as the truck was rapidly reaching the slowing vehicle, he cried out as if there were a way to stop it on demand. His eyes fixated he didn’t move. She looked at him then at the truck. Its breaks squealed, a gust of air released, and it suddenly slowed as if it were no larger than the other cars on the street. Both vehicles came to a stop without colliding, not even a scratch. “Huh, not even a love tap.”

 

She looked down at Percy, crouched and bear-hugged him. “Good job kiddo. Hungry?”

 

 

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In Other Words

 

 

The gym picture window faced her office making two sides of the L. “Why would a gym even have a window? Good picture. I’d like to buy the architect a drink.” She watched him every day; no, not the architect but that man, thought about him in his shorts, sweat-drenched shirt, sweat-drenched self, drenched… dreamt about him. She couldn’t deny her rising feelings any longer. Tonight she’d figure out how to make it happen so he wouldn’t either.

 

Obsessed with plotting, her mind a whirlwind of scenarios, she didn’t see the garden hose stretched across the unfinished deck, stumbled and fell, hitting her head on a rock meant for her future patio. She came-to in the arms of her new neighbor, the man she hadn’t wasted her time to meet yet. There were bigger fish, bigger sweatier fish.

 

Her body jerked with the realization she was looking into the eyes of her obsession. He had been living next door all this time, well, just beyond the hedges, and now he was holding her! Adolescent glee shot through every crevice of her body. She instantaneously plotted how long it’d take to get back on her feet. Tingle-thrills pulsated through every facet of her being. It jerked again.

 

“There, there… I’m Hank. We work together.” The instinctive alarms that should’ve gone off dissolved as he smiled.

 

Gently he wrapped her arm around his neck to lift her. Her knees buckled from the sheer pleasure of his touch, his smell, the thought of being glued against the side of his body, his everything. “I’ll be the one to hold you down, kiss you so hard…” began playing through her mind but stopped as she felt something cold press against her. As she lifted her head she bumped an eyebrow into binoculars. There was a slight prick.

 

“Wait! Wha…”

 

“Easy now. You’re going into shock…”

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