Unfinished Business
A Short Story by Doug Dean
Written using the suggestion "Séance"
Originally featured on 04-22-2009
As part of our series "Where the Wild Words Are (Words Gone Wild!)"

Jack entered the dimly lit room with a tray of steaming hot chocolate. He smiled — it wasn’t a real smile, and she knew that. Diane told herself to remember that. It wasn’t a real smile, this wasn’t a real date, they weren’t getting back together. It was ‘catching up’ as he put it on the phone. There was no hidden whiskey in those hot chocolates. There wouldn’t be any sweaty dry humping and calling each other by Smurf names on the couch later[1].

Really all he did just then, she told herself again, was raise his cheekbones and acknowledge the awkwardness created by momentarily breathing life into something that should remain a memory. He channeled the feeling in the room. That was it. Realize this, Diane told herself.

Diane beheld the approaching beverages. The whipped cream spanned from rim to rim. He hadn’t skimped. He usually is so mindful, so frugal, he wouldn’t have forgotten himself at the helm of the whipped cream.

“Here we are,” he said plopping down next to her, the tray now on his lap.

Chocolate shavings! Diane blinked quickly not believing her eyes. Chocolate shavings, and in abundance. He must have purchased both chocolate syrup and a bar of chocolate—two kinds of chocolate, she gasped. The time he must have spent at the store—he didn’t spend it because of her, she told herself. Perhaps he’s just gotten more extravagant with his prepared drinks. Maybe his grandmother had been by to visit and brought the chocolate. There wasn’t any reason to assume that trouble was gone to for her. Don’t do it, she told herself. Don’t let yourself feel special.

Jack lifted the mug off of the tray. Some of the whipped cream rubbed onto his hand as he lifted and handed her the blue mug containing a little mountain of sugary, frothy, flaky, foamy, hot—Diane realized she was sexually aroused as she grasped the porcelain handle.

“So…” Jack said lifting his own mug, “what’s new?”

She sipped.

It tasted just as good as it looked. Syrupy chocolate wrapped her tongue like a silk scarf. Sugary, salty, whipped cream filled the back of her throat so quickly she almost gagged. Sweet chocolate flakes swam across her tongue. As she lowered the mug, she became aware that some of the whipped cream had gotten on her face, now hanging from her nose and chin. She wasn’t embarrassed. Diane smiled from behind her whipped cream mustache.

She lowered the mug. “Mmmm. Can I please have a napkin to wipe off my face? This is very good.”

“Sure…of course,” replied Jack. He placed his mug on the coffee table and headed to the kitchen. Once he was out of sight, Diane reached out her tongue and licked some remaining cream off of her upper lip.

He came back in with a moist black dinner napkin.

“Here you are. Glad you like it.” Jack handed her the napkin. She put down her mug and dabbed her face with it.

“I picked up chocolate when I got your text. Lindemann’s, you like Lindemann’s right? Thought we’d indulge a little since it’s been so long,” he continued as he sat.

Diane was ready to fuck. No! She wasn’t! She had a responsibility to herself, her dignity, her family, her church, to God—she needed to remember. Twenty two years of chastity on the line—get a grip, she begged herself.

“Yeah, I like Lindemann’s,” she said. “It’s one of my favorite things.”

“Well good, I remembered right,” Jack said, taking another sip. His face seemed expressionless except for a mild contentment. He raised his eyebrows before lowering the mug, and then surveyed the living room casually.

“So have you been snowboard—what have you been up to lately?” said Diane.

“Actually,” he bit his lip and opened his face. “I’ve been hanging out a bit down at the temple.”

“Oh…” sighed Diane into her mug.

“Yeah.”

“What for? I mean I know why I hang out down at the temple, but why have you been?”

He let out a sigh. “I guess…Well, after spending day after day down at the mountain with those guys,” he let out another sigh, “and those girls…” he rolled his eyes and shook his head. “I don’t know, I guess that I felt myself searching for…well, needing a bit more meaning or…depth.”

“No kidding,” she said mouth agape. “I didn’t know that you wanted…er, needed…looked for that sort of thing anymore. Didn’t you tell me that there was ‘more spirituality in carving through fresh powder at dawn’?”

He nodded until it was his turn to speak and then shook his head in the same rhythm “I did,” he giggled. “I did. But that sounds almost like a different person to me now. I mean, where I’m at now, it’s way more about Christ than snow. I mean, for one thing, snow melts. Christ is eternal. Christ is with you in the desert when you’ve been cast out. I’m not gonna find any snow walking through the desert with me. Let alone Brody, Bodster and those guys, y’know? And Christ is with you when you’re-well, basically always, whereas snowboarding is seasonal. And jeez, those guys are gonna end up in prison with all the pot they smoke. Nope, not for me. How is that hot chocolate doing? Is it still hot enough for you?”

Diane was so ready to fuck. No! She was just feeling very natural urges, she reminded herself. Urges that had been discussed with her by her parents and her friends and her church and by everyone! These were just natural temptations that could easily be resisted through the power of — Christ was she ever ready to fuck!

“It’s fine,” said Diane before swallowing. “Just right.”

“So what about you? You look great, you’ve obviously been keeping up with dancing and ballet and stuff. I’m sure you’ve been down at the temple. What else you been up to?” he asked, then sipped. When his face emerged from the mug there was a smudge of whipped cream on it.

What the heck had she been up to besides that? I mean, what? She couldn’t think of a single thing. He’d summed it all up. She’d just kept up with dancing and ballet and temple and…what? Suddenly, the mug was burning her hand. She put it down. She was cold. She rubbed her arms for a second. He had made all this progress, and what had she — had she just been standing still since they split?

“Oh is it cold in here? Are you cold? I’ll go kick up the heat a notch. I guess my body-

His body. She looked at his body as he rose. God, dammit.

“—still used to wilderness temperatures, y’know? I’ve got that extra layer of body fat like a bear.” Jack chuckled and grinned at her as he knelt beside the heater, slowly turning the knob. Raising the temperature.

When he plopped back down, he nodded and asked. “So I interrupted, you were going to tell me what’s new with you.”

She took a deep breath. She looked at the mug, now drained halfway. She looked over at him. Then she saw it. There was still a dab of delicious whipped cream on the edge of his nose. It would be gone in a second. She rose to her knees on the couch. His eyes opened, unsure—but unafraid.

“Hey, Jack you’ve just got a little bit of-“ she moved closer “-you’ve just a bit of-“

God forgive me, she pleaded. Then she moved in and licked the side of his nose. He grinned and pulled her head to his.

“whipped cream on your nose.” She gasped, then leaned in closer.

He whispered, “you want me to get Brainy on you girl?!?” then kissed her again. “You want me to get Hefty on you boy?!?” and she kissed him, pushing him onto his back. He muttered, taking off her top, “Don’t you come at me with no Gargamel stuff girl!” She muttered, unbuttoning his shirt, “I’m comin’ at you straight Smurfette boy.” “You know I’m a Wild Smurf girl!”

They were moving so fast. Shirts came off faster than before, he unclasped her bra, she hesitated but didn’t stop him, instead licking his chest. Within minutes they were in physical territories uncharted throughout their three month relationship. Her jeans, for example, unremoved throughout the relationship were around her knees. She had made a decision and there wasn’t any turning back for her, she realized. This was it.

It hurt. And it was going to hurt more.

Holding their lukewarm cups, cuddling together under a blanket, she was afraid to tell him it was her first time. So instead she asked him something light, something that wouldn’t ruin the mood. She pulled him close and kissed him and asked, “What are you doing tomorrow?”

“You,” he said intensely.

This was it! She had made the right decision. They would explore together. They would transcend together. She would finally be able to find out about all things about herself she’d always—

“Nah, just playing,” he admitted with a chuckle. “Actually, to be honest, I’m snowboarding tomorrow.”


[1] Jack and Diane were Mormon.

Read More By Doug Dean

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