Of Smoke, Stockings and Sweaters

By Miss Moo.

The smoke from his cigarette drifted through the cool, dark air in breezy swirls.

I sat on the opposite side of the bed. My naked back faced his lounging form, but I had watched this scene unfold numerous times before. I could smell the smoke; taste it even. I could hear his relaxed breathing as he exhaled the ghostly fumes, and I could feel his every movement vibrate across his cheap navy bed sheets and up my curved spine. I didn't have to look at him to see him anymore.

I could see, without looking, the way his thick, dark hair stuck up at the sides and his beautiful bare muscles rested; languid with exhaustion. After all, I had made him look that way.

"It's getting late." He murmured. His voice was husky and vague.

I turned my head to gaze at him over my shoulder. A lock of my soft blonde hair rested against my neck and I fancied it would look delicate. I urged my lips into a small and let my gaze settle on him with an air of confidence. Yet my confidence was faltering and I tried not to let it show. He was regarding me with some kind of dark curiosity. I quickly realized that it wasn't I who had captured his curiosity, but that it was some kind of internal fascination. My heart bounced erratically in my chest at the sudden and frightening discovery.

I tried to ignore his cool gaze and responded breezily; "It was late to begin with."

He rolled his eyes away from me, and I was thankful to feel them relinquish their haunting grip on me, "You know what I mean, Lillian." He said with the slightest hint of irritation, and it felt like he had wrapped thick curls of copper wire around my ribs and pulled and squeezed until I collapsed from the inside out.

He was examining the glowing ember that floated between his fingers, and I hoped he hadn't noticed the way my bare spine quivered with fear.

"I'm afraid I don't." I said, and I stood up. I grabbed the large blue sweater that hung from the door to his closet. I pulled it over my defenseless body and welcomed the thick armor its soft fabric presented me. A second past and I noticed that the sweater smelt like his cologne and felt like his embrace. Suddenly I wasn't merely confronted by his being; I was surrounded by it.

Still I wore his sweater, without any stockings, and hoped to hell that my back was straight.

His finger twitched with agitation and I was embarrassed at having noticed, "I have an early class tomorrow."

I pushed forward my chin in preparation for the confrontation.

"So? It's nearly morning anyway." I sounded too nasty to pass off as innocent.

He sighed and patronized me with a look, "What do you want, Lillian?"

My pride was somewhere on the floor alongside my discarded underwear.

"Go out with me tomorrow night." I demanded of him.

He didn't hesitate in his answer, "I can't, I have a late prac for my psych class."

That was true; "The day after?"

"I'm going out with Ben and the guys."

"What about Saturday?"

"I promised my mum I'd come and visit the family for the weekend." He didn't even falter in his gaze.

I felt tears burning at the back of my throat.

I pressed my hands together, like a nun, over the bridge of my nose and attempted to smooth my breathing, but his smoke drifted down into my lungs and I wanted to choke. He was always busy; except for when it came to the sex, of course.

I quickly pulled my arms away from my face and crossed them defensively underneath my breasts.

"Then I don't think we should see each other any more." I told him and immediately wished I hadn't.

He nodded with an absence of mind and I would have preferred he slapped me.

A sob escaped my lips without consent and I smothered it seconds too late with my closed fist.

"Do you care?" I asked him, "Do you even care?"

He sighed, "Lillian."

My name wasn't said with anything but impatience and I squeezed my eyes shut in an attempt to remember the way his fingers had fisted handfuls of my hair and he had burrowed his lips deep into my shoulder with ecstasy only minutes prior.

"No," I muttered, my legs weak, "please don't answer that." He did me the decency of obliging.

So without looking at him I gathered my belongings as quickly as I could. I slipped on my panties and stockings and carried my high heels.

I slipped out of his apartment sans shoes, wearing only his soft, blue sweater and stockings.

The early morning darkness hid the shame I carried damply across my cheeks.

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(So perhaps (just this time) I'll tell you what I was writing about. I get the impression that my contentions are not clear to anyone but myself. This story can be taken two ways (in my mind anyway, please tell me what was in yours); either the man was using Lillian for sex while she was passionately (or foolishly, what's the difference?) in love with him, or, quite possibly, Lillian was that blond clingy girl who's role is (generally) to be the plot device that keeps that perfect couple (eg. the man and his potential 'soulmate') from each other's arms. Perhaps the former is more easily portrayed. After all, we're not supposed to possess sympathy for the clingy blonds.)

(It doesn't read as smoothly as I would have liked, but I'm in a late night writing mood. Again.)