Stranger in the Room than Out by Roger Leatherwood

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Stranger in the Room than Out by Roger LeatherwoodStrangers walked through corridors of her thoughts.

I had hints, none that she gave me specifically, as summer faded. She would talk to herself, in the other room, before and after we made love. When I’d go to hug her she’d say it was an interruption, then passionately, laughingly – pull me to the bed.

The phone rang six times before being answered. Her wet panties lie on the tile floor in the bathroom. I came back in to get coffee, left over from this morning, and saw her rearranging the newspapers in the recycle basket.

Yet she had no visitors – the key was still up on the gate sill dusted with soot, and the grass stalk I had tied across the hinge still in place when I returned in the evening. Where would she have gone? To whom?

I entered her that night – a kind of preternatural pairing, her thin halter sticky with sweat, her eyes in the sheets face down. Her responses beside and parallel rather than complementary to mine.

She wanted to move to the front room. On the rug, in front of the couch, as the sun burned through the slats. I felt her with a dead hand, and watched – her eyes accusing, even as she opened up to me. And cried.

Shadows, behind her wet hair, darkened her attention – I shook her shoulders and brought her back to today.

Luanne was lost in some troubled dream. She hid her secret love, haunted by her unwritten diaries, haunted by kisses not returned, overtaken by songs hummed because she didn’t know the words, didn’t dare speak them aloud.

Don’t be fearful.

That summer we burned incense and smoked a mild strain of Indica, which always opened us up to each other. The time in Orleans – in the hot tub with Lois and Jeremy – boundaries melting and the possibilities never quite realized – of bodies not possessed, not limited by rings or promise, the sunrise surrendered to love and sensation, whoever’s beds were next door and opened the doors to now.

The muscled skin invaded my desires and waking dreams as well– a velvet memory I couldn’t stop fingering. But far off and impossible, and not in my hand, not here.

Out of my eyesight was she still thinking of him? Seduction at a distance. Who or what had overtaken her?

* * *

Luanne and I went to the party down the hill – it was a leaving even as we arrived. The music played from the other room, out of sight and yet loud and throbbing through the ceiling plaster like clams foaming under the sand. Things that breathed. We the pair, in tan and white.

She stayed by the red cups in the patio. I watched her through the glass and Patricia, in her bikini, kissed me, but Luanne hadn’t seen.

After the third brown beer she told me she no longer loved me, but didn’t confess to something that left no residue, made no trace. A lover who infused and overwhelmed her affections without touching her, without lips or forearm. Fucking her mind with a skinless caress.

His cure of perfect words.


Author Bio: Roger Leatherwood worked on the lower rungs of Hollywood for almost 20 years before turning to print fiction where the stories he could tell where his own. His work has appeared in Thirteen Myna Birds, Nefarious Ballerina, Bohemia Arts Journal, Apocrypha & Abstractions and others.