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John M. Solensten
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Carrie. What? What! She is sad-eyed, wide-eyed as she moves toward him. Oh, the lovely high cheekbones, the wide and full soft mouth and the golden hair swept high on her forehead and the lovely tanned arms tapering from the blue gown into long fingers. Her whole body seems to flow inside the dark blue dress as she walks toward him, stunning him until he feels a little weak in the knees. Her face holds him. Something a little strange under the smooth sculpture of it--a something that says, Restless and Unhappy. He feels a quiver of sad joy inside himself as he whispers, "Oh, dear God!"
"Number seventeen,â€ he says. My God! Heâ€™s trembling again and she sees it. She gathers up some sacks and her car keys as they are getting out. He hurries ahead of her and unlocks the door. She steps past him into the surge of heat from inside the room.
"Oh, my!â€ she exclaims, standing there, letting the place focus for her. The room smells of deodorants and something else. The wallpaper, a muted red snowflake pattern, looms over the dark Mediterranean bed and other furniture. He has already put the light on in the white bathroom.
"Oh, my--bordello eclectic!â€ she exclaims.
"Oh, Carrie!â€ he cries, moving toward her.
She drops the sacks and heads toward the bathroom. He peels his clothes off and listens to water running in there...
She emerges from the bathroom in a dark green robe, sees him, smiles.
He pulls the robe away, letting it fall softly, pulls her toward him.
"Oh, dear God!â€ she cries as they fall bedward.
Oh, Summer! Summer! Summer!
Oh, throb of the wild, pulsing tropic!
Oh, such prodigious rowing we do make..
And then--the amazing damp breath of the madness cooling, cooling--he kisses her, kisses her...
While she weeps, then pulls him up, clings to him, pulls his face up to hers.
"Whatâ€™s the matter?â€ he whispers, kissing at the tears.
"Oh, nothingâ€™s the matter--nothing at all, canâ€™t you tell? Everything held back for a long time just rushed out, thatâ€™s all!â€
He comforts her, wonders at this strange ceremony of grief.
"Even on the honeymoon he wasnâ€™t quite with me. Not really.â€
"Oh, I canâ€™t imagine...â€
"Iâ€™m sorry I...â€
"Itâ€™s all right,â€ he whispers, kissing the rich tanned golden curve and dwell of her body--kissing to know her.
"Youâ€™re so lovely, so fine in everything,â€ he whispers.
"Oh, but not so perfect. And I have missed things in my life.â€
"No children?â€ he asks, rising up on one elbow to keep his face close to hers.
"With someone who could never be ready at the right time? But you havenâ€™t either--you who was going to be a teacher or something.â€
"No,â€ he says.
"You know that if we get caught theyâ€™ll think badly of us--all the good people.â€
"I like my body when itâ€™s with your body,â€ he replies, "itâ€™s more and better.â€
"Youâ€™re changing the subject,â€ she says, laughing hoarsely. Then she is sitting up and asking what food he has brought along. He reaches for the long tanned curve of her back, strokes it, lifts up to kiss it. She leans back on a pillow, pulls the sheet up over her breasts.
He wishes she wouldnâ€™t.
He gets up to find the food he has put on the luggage table: sandwiches, pop, the iced wine in an insulated little box. He pours wine into a plastic glass.
She frowns, sits up a little. "Oh, wine in more plastic. Iâ€™m afraid Iâ€™ll have to get us some good wine glasses. Donâ€™t they have any in that town?â€
"I guess I just wasnâ€™t thinking about tableware,â€ he says as he sits next to her in bed, fighting the lean little pillow at his back.
"Luncheon on the grass,â€ she says, her face rounding with a smile.
Chewing and laughing.
"Do you remember our last summer--I mean together?â€
"Oh, Seb, are you back there again? So many summers have come and gone since then.â€
"That one May afternoon--just after classes let out--we walked all the way across town and talked about life. We both talked about faraway places and how we might go to them someday! It was a grand day and then a grand night with the pavement dance in town and everything.â€
"A musical--you seem to be speaking lines from a musical again.â€
"I suppose. Iâ€™ve been told that before, I guess.â€
She gets up to go to the bathroom, a hand flickering behind her to cover her. At the door she turns to throw him a kiss.
When she comes back she stops, pours herself some wine and grabs some papers and things out of a shopping bag.
"Whatâ€™s this?â€ he asks.
John Solensten has published three novels and two short story collections. He has also published more than 20 individual short stories and memoirs and more than 80 poems. His plays have been produced by theaters in Minneapolis, Duluth, St. Paul and Oklahoma City. His novel Blue Wing was inspired by his frequent visits to the famous Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA, the scene of Buddy Holly's final gig.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 230
Paper Weight (lb): 9.8
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