Emerging onto the front steps of the high school, Nikols shifts his briefcase from his left hand to his right, as he briefly scans the main yard for any lingering students. Eager as he is to get home, he cannot completely turn off the educator in him. As his eyes fall on two of the schools’ regular truants, he opens his mouth to motivate them to go home, when he takes notice to what their eyes are focused on; a fresh young blond, not quite 18. Her hair hangs limply down her back, while her too-short crop-top clings to her ample breasts and her too-tight low-riders hug her slim hips. Passing by them, she exaggerates her gait, attempting to flaunt her still developing curves, visually regarding them with disdain, as she physically beckons them nearer. Registering the female’s figure with an adolescent-like interest, Nikols has to smile, as a set of similar curves sashays across his mind.
Nikols and his roommate Kelly stood outside the dining hall after their last class, when Susan walked past them for the third time. Her Daisy Dukes made him hunger for much more than dining hall cuisine, and he could feel her every step in the pit of his stomach. As he dragged his fingers through his slightly damp hair and gathered his courage, Kelly nudged him strongly in the ribs.
“I wouldn’t trust her.” He said simply.
“What’re you talking about? She’s beautiful.” Nikols told him. “What do you know? Your taste in women is terrible.”
“Why, because I like my women to have hips? Hips you can trust.” Kelly said, dismissively.
“You’re full of shit, Kelly. You like your women fat.” He retorted, as Susan tossed her hair back over her shoulder.
“No, I’m serious. Look at her; she’s parading back and forth in front of you. Working so hard to show off. If she had hips, she wouldn’t have to work so hard. She’s trying to sucker you in. That let’s you know it’s gonna be hell, once you get it. But a woman with actual hips doesn’t have to flaunt ’em. They move naturally, like a pendulum. Always right on time.”
With a wave of his hand, Nikols dismissed Kelly’s warning, as was customary and shifted his attention back to Susan, only taking a brief moment to whisper over his shoulder at him.
“Who cares about hips? That face is enough. I’ll never get bored with that.”
“Faces don’t build a…”
He had moved too far away to hear Kelly’s words. Nikols was already introducing himself before his roommate could finish his thought. From behind, he could hear him yell out, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” He ignored him as he did most of the time, but as the memory begins to fade, the grandfather clock downstairs chimes announcing the ten o’clock hour, and Nikols begins to wonder what was the last thing that Kelly had said.
Standing in the darkened bedroom, Nikols sighs heavily as he hears the distant sound of a car door closing. Walking to the window, he very carefully separates the sheer curtain and discerns the form of his wife, as she attempts to make a quick, yet quiet approach to the home.
“She’s hoping that I am asleep.” He says aloud to no one.
Glancing at the digital clock, Nikols grinds his teeth, when it turns 10:45 pm. He waits for several minutes, listening to his wife ascend the stairs. Estimating that she will be opening the bedroom door soon, he crosses the room and flips on the light switch, just as it opens. Startled, his wife releases a quick cry, as Nikols looks at her with narrowed eyes and a furrowed brow.
“Oh god, you scared me. Why are you standing in the dark?” She asks him.
“You’re late.” He says simply. He is happy to see her, but trying desperately to hold on to his anger.
“I know I am, honey. I’m sorry. I had to finish up at work.” She says while crossing the room to the bed.
“We both have things to finish at work. But you promised me that you’d be home by 9:00 pm. We made plans, Susan.” He reminds her.
“I know we did. And we can still carry them out. Just give me a few minutes.” She requests.
With a submissive nod, Nikols watches as Susan takes off her pumps and begins shrugging out of her suit jacket. Relaxing her feet by making small fists on the plush carpet, she unzips the side of her skirt and must pause in order to yawn. Instantly, the shreds of Nikols’ patience gives over to fury. Sternly, with the slightest hint of venom in his voice, Nikols says, “No, Susan. You can’t do this again.”
“Do what?” She says, with a sigh. “I’m fine. It’s just a yawn.” She continues dismissively.
“That’s what I thought the last two times. You can’t do this to me again, Susan. It’s not fair. You promised me you’d be ready this time.”
Yawning again, she says, “I am ready. Just give me a minute. Stop overreacting.”
Clenching his jaw, Nikols balls his fist and quickly slams it against the bedroom wall, startling her once again.
“What the hell has gotten in to you!?” Susan yells at him.
“I’m tired of you breaking your promise to me. You said we’d try. I’m doing everything on my end. You were supposed to be home at 9:00. You said that was the optimal time for possible conception. How can you do this to us? You fucking promised!” Nikols shouts back at her.
“It’s not too late, damn it! Just let me fucking shower first!”
“No! Because as soon as you come out, you’ll be too tired to make love. And we’ll be forced to wait for the next optimal time. Which could be weeks!”
Rubbing his hands over his head, Nikols grips his hair tightly, before taking a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself.
“Susan, you promised me that we would try. You said you wanted a child, too. But you haven’t been acting like it. I don’t understand.”
In a few brief seconds, he crosses the room and lightly places his hands on her petite shoulders, looking down into her brown eyes. His anger nearly drifts away, as he takes in her beauty and he can feel the dismay ebb from him.
“I know that your career is important. Mine is too. But we said that we would do what it took to make this happen. I thought we were together on this.” He says softly to her.
“I know that’s what I said. But …We don’t even enjoy lovemaking anymore. It’s scheduled and a chore. We have to do it. And that makes me … It makes it …” Susan quiets without finishing. He can nearly finish the sentence for her. He knows that she will not say more in order to avoid hurting him any further, and his heart begins to ache for the both them.
“I do enjoy making love to you. I’ve never stopped. So you must be saying that you don’t enjoy it anymore.” Nikols says with his voice just barely above a whisper. Vocalizing this possibility causes him to nearly choke on the lump forming in his throat, but his hope is rekindled at his wife’s negative reaction to these words. She shakes her head and wraps her arms around him, holding him close to her.
“I didn’t say that.” She admits. “What I mean is …sex between us was spontaneous. We used to make love anywhere. It could be dirty and fulfilling. Maybe we would have an orgasm. Maybe we wouldn’t, but it was always fine. Ya know? But now, there’s too much pressure. We don’t even talk dirty anymore. If you don’t finish then you feel like less than a man, and if I don’t, you think I don’t want you. And then we spend the next week trying to mend fences. I don’t want it like this anymore.”
Sniffing her hair, Nikols wraps his arms around her and holds her closely. He is torn. She promised that she would not react this way. The doctor said that trying to conceive may be stressful and taxing. But she said she could do it, she agreed to try. Now she wants to go back to what wasn’t working before. Squeezing her firmly, he grinds his teeth and squeezes his eyes shut, thankful that she cannot see his struggle, his pain.
With a calm, nearly joyful tone, Nikols says, “Alright, let’s take away the pressure. Let’s not worry about needles or schedules, and just be together when it feels right. The way it used to be.” He finishes passively.
“Really?” She asks.
“Yes. Really. Let’s …just sleep now. And start fresh tomorrow.” Nikols relents.
“Ok.” Susan says happily, as she gives him a final squeeze. “This will be better for the both of us.”
“You’re right, honey. It will.”
-If you have enjoyed my commentary or my short stories, then please check out my youtube channel, The Wicked Orchard; where you can listen to me read my short stories. For this particular piece, check out the link, coming right…..now.