Beneath the Blue Blanket
A Short Story by Doug Dean
Written using the suggestion "Sunset"
Originally featured on 05-01-2007
As part of our series "Endings"

Willy woke up and thought he was alone again. Then he heard the breathing. He felt it on his ribs. Warm moist breath.

He grabbed the edge of the blue blanket and lifted it. The breath became a whiny moan when her nostrils inhaled the cold air of the room.

Willy let go of the blanket and it landed on his chest. He felt another exhalation, this time warming his stomach. Her feet began to move, rubbing down his calf and along his foot. The edges of his mouth pointed upward for a second, but then flattened.

She would expect him to know. She would expect him to remember things about her, about last night. She would feel like a notch on his bedpost or belt or worse.

Willy knew he could be charming. Willy had been told once that he made whomever he was talking to feel like the most important person in the room. Willy could also make whomever he woke up with feel like the least important person in the world. But on this morning, he was determined to avoid the latter. He would focus, directing his every effort towards making the source of this breath feel like second to least important—or better. Middle of the rankings would be just fine with Willy. He began to scan his small bedroom for clues.

He spotted his jeans in a ball by the doorway, and a trail of socks bridging the gap between the door and the bed. Willy turned and looked out the window. It was early, maybe around six. The sun hadn’t risen above the tree line and it was still possible to look at the directly skyward with eyes wide open. The light in the room had changed in the past minutes. He lifted the blanket again. She had dirty blonde hair.

Blanket back on his chest, he took a deep breath and then so did she, then exhaling. He felt her head begin to move, felt her mouth on his ribcage. And then he felt her bite the skin on his stomach. There was no more time for theories. The mouth moved up and down, kissing and nibbling. He put his hands beneath the blanket and they found the sides of her cheek. His finger was in her mouth and then it wasn’t. He pulled the blanket up as he slid down into the darkness beneath and found her. Their cheeks rubbed smoothly against one another and noses bumped as they kissed. His hands found their way to her waist squeezing and then to her legs.

As they kissed, her hands found his back and then his neck, pulling him in closer. As his hands explored in the darkness, it all felt familiar. Willy was rediscovering, remembering. He could feel his own breath bouncing off of her neck as he kissed. He tried to breathe it back in, sucking hard. He lost track of his breathing. Inhalations and exhalations merged together. The darkness beneath the soft fabric of the blanket became its own fabric, uniting arms, legs, mouths, fears and hopes — Willy and his stranger.

They began to move in unison with common purpose. His thoughts were silent and his mind raced. They explored freely, changing positions but not leaving the sanctity beneath the blue blanket. Willy would never attempt to estimate how long it lasted.

They stayed wrapped together after most movement had stopped. Resting his cheek against her chest, Willy listened to her heart beating. At first, he listened with his eyes closed. Willy wouldn’t attempt to tell anyone how long he listened with his eyes closed before opening them. When he did, he saw that the darkness beneath the blanket had lessened only slightly. He could make out the top of her breast and some of her forearm, which was draped across his chin. Her hand caressed slightly the short hairs on his neck.

He traced with his finger the top of her thigh. He could make it to just below her knee and then traced back along a different path. She continued to move her fingers in circular motions on his neck, sometimes wrapping some of his hair around her index finger.

His eyes open, her breast and arm began to lighten. Light was penetrating the blanket and soon it would be light enough to see her face. His pulse began to speed up. He could feel his stomach tighten. And with his chin cradled against her arm, he swallowed hard.

He stayed cradled in the comfort of her embrace for a moment longer and then began to tilt his head towards hers. He moved his body so that they were face to face, inches of darkness separating their noses. The vein in his neck bounced the skin above it as he stared, waiting for the light to be enough.

She became illuminated.

Her features were smooth and definite. Her eyes were big and deep, yet made up only a small portion of her beauty.

Now in light, they lay there—faces straightened, eyes blinking. Changes in facial expression were mirrored. If Willy was asked how long they stared at one another, he would attempt to estimate it. “A good while” is what he would say.

Willy felt tension drain from him. Comfortable, they both began to rise from beneath the blue blanket towards the pillows. The friction of this exodus sounded like distant waves crashing and was the only noise in the room. Willy’s eyes didn’t leave hers.

 

When he woke the room was fully lit. He didn’t remember falling asleep. He looked at her sleeping face. He thought again of something to say. He wanted to scan the room again, but he feared the movement would wake her. He closed his eyes.

 

Her thumb stroked his cheek and when he opened his eyes, she kissed it. He thought that it might be noon based on the light. He kissed her cheek and then inched closer with his body. She was so very warm. Her hair covered her entire pillow. Willy looked closer. He noticed small things. She had a small scar on her lip. She had a crusty under her left eye.

Willy searched for something to say, then gave up.

She inched closer and he felt her on his neck. Then nibbling on his ear. He felt pins and needles in his feet as he pulled her mouth to his. Her hands moved on him with much more confidence now. Pulling him in closer and pushing off when appropriate. He was more forceful too. Pinching instead of fondling, smacking instead of grabbing, looking into her wide eyes in short, concentrated bursts. When she moaned, he advanced and when he felt her teeth against his skin he smiled widely.

If Willy were to write in a journal many years in the future about this exchange, he would explain that it was “seemingly short due to its intensity, but impressively long due to its honesty.” And in this entry, he would be leaning heavily on the accepted stereotype of geriatric wisdom. While intense and raw, Willy still did not know who she was. He felt the pangs of dishonesty down in his hiccied gut.

When most of their movement had stopped, he laid back looking at the ceiling. For a while the only sound in the room was that of two people catching their breath, the sounds of distant waves crashing.

She gently rubbed his stomach when it growled, and then rose from the bed. He rolled onto his side to watch her walk to the door. She stopped and turned back to him, leaning against the doorway and smiled. “Coffee,” she said. She winked and disappeared around the corner. Willy fell flat on his back.

 

Pouring the creamer into his black mug, Willy watched the brown cloud form and noticed for the first time that day that his head ached. By the time his spoon scraped around the inside of the mug, his head was pounding. He stretched his face, raising his eyebrows up and lowering his chin. Raising his hand to the back of his head, he felt a bump. He winced as he pressed on it.

A clue, perhaps.

His stranger stood five feet away at the stove wearing his white button down shirt. An occasional sizzle came from the pan as she nudged and raked with the spatula. She didn’t look at Willy, now cradling his aching head in his hands.

Willy watched as she poured the scrambles onto the two plates, already garnished with buttered toast. He felt a little better. She carried her mug and the two plates like a waitress, balancing both plates on one arm. She put down her coffee and then served Willy and herself. They looked at each other. Speechless, Willy grinned and offered his coffee mug in a silent toast.

Above the rims of their mugs, their eyes locked. Willy heard a medley of statements in his head that might suit the moment.

Thanks for breakfast, you sleep well?,

Thanks for breakfast and sex,

Coffee huh?, Thanks for the sexfest and breakfast.

He raised one eyebrow and pressed his lips together.

After putting down his mug, Willy looked over the plate in front of him. In addition to the egg scramble and toast, there was also a sliced banana with its own spot on the plate. The partitioning of the foods was elegant and the first bite dissolved in Willy’s mouth. He didn’t chew the first bite. He looked up from the plate and grinned again, but she wasn’t watching anymore.

He spoke. “Let’s spend the day together.”

She looked up at him, eyes wide and mouth full of food. There was a pause. She nodded.

 

Standing out on the deck, Willy and his stranger watched the sun sink to meet the treeline. His arm rested on her shoulder. With a day of walking through downtown, the petting zoo, a movie, and a late lunch under their belts, Willy hadn’t asked any questions about the previous night or for her name. They had spoken about many things.

She hadn’t asked him any questions. She mentioned some of Willy’s friends. Willy wondered if she had met them the night before. With a quarter of the sun hidden, he pulled her in closer and she wrapped her arms around his waist.

“I don’t know your name.” Silence. Her arms still tight around his waist. She wrapped them more tightly.

“Yes, you do. It’ll come back to you," she said to him. And then to herself, "They said it’ll take some time. We’ve got time.”

 

Willy woke up and thought he was alone again. Then he heard the breathing. He felt it on his ribs. Warm, moist breath.

Read More By Doug Dean

COPYRIGHT 2006-2011
Portland Fiction Project

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Archives Archives
Advertise