He Thinks About Emotions

She's puttering in the kitchen. He can hear her. A few clatters, a few bumps of cupboards shutting. She was whipping something a little while ago. He types a few more sentences. They just don't seem real somehow. Not enough emotion. He tries to focus out again, to remember what the reader is going to see, to predict what they are going to feel. Do they even know this character yet. He checks. Yes, if they paid attention. Probably not. He skims back a few scenes. They'll need a better pointer. Maybe if he were to say something a little odd? Or maybe just describe him, make it easy for them.

The hand on his shoulder is soft. The head is heavy as it presses against his back.

"Thump, thump, thump." He reaches up and holds her hand.

"What'cha making?"

She straightens and pulls away. You'll have to come and see.

"Can I have five minutes?"

"Yes. Five real minutes though."

"Seven then."

"Okay, Seven, but not a second more, or I'll kill the breaker." He's always had an uninterruptable power supply on his work computer.

He smiles. "Yes ma'm!"

She smiles back and disappears out the door. He returns to the computer and completes the sketches and notes. He tells the computer to save the work and heads out into the living room. Her briefcase and papers are scattered across the coffee table. Apparently she's procrastinating, not just puttering. He skims through a few of the papers. Some nice ones in there, not really his taste, but he has weird tastes.

She is standing at the stove as he sneaks into the kitchen. He cradles her neck in his hand

"So what grand scheme have you hatched He whispers. "How do you plan to trap our valiant hero?"

"Oh, he will not be able to resist, for I have worked a spell with sugar and chocolate to confound his mind with appetites. He will be mine by nightfall."

He smiles. Must be cookies.

"How'd it go?" He pulls a few of the mini-carrots out of the bag he left out earlier. They've started to get dry. He munches quietly as she peers in the oven.

'Okay. A few of the marketing clowns wanted to try their hand at remaking the project to "better suit the audience". Not much else. How many pages?'

"'Bout ten, mostly notes though. Up for reading tonight?"

"Not really, was thinking of taking a walk. Then maybe just doing a few letters. You need me?"

"Naw, like I said, mostly notes. Want some company?"

"Sure, wanna take buck?" Buck is the dog next door. A headstrong lab puppy.

"You just want to make me run." Buck is still a little headstrong.

"Won't get to the letters otherwise."

"You wanna phone?" Buck is her friend's dog, well, mostly her friend, they don't come over here much, and it's normally her that gets invited over there. That's not true, he's probably invited most times, but he tends to work odd hours. She pulls the cookies out and fends him off as he reaches for one.

"Eat your carrot, you'll burn yourself." He smiles at her. She sticks her tongue out at him.

The buzzer rings. He lopes across the living room to the door. Apparently it's Jim and Fred. He buzzes them up and lopes back to the kitchen to turn the kettle on. He pulls out a plate and piles a few of her cookies on it. She has already disappeared into the living room and gathered her papers back into the briefcase. He carries the cookies out to the coffee table and sets the them down just as the door rings.

They've brought along a friend of theirs who looks a little the worse for wear. Eventually they all settle down on to cushions or chairs, the girl (who looks rather young to be hanging around with university students) sits in one of the formal chairs.

He rubs her neck as they talk. The young girl is apparently one of Jeff's students (he teaches one of the youth classes). She often sits this way, nestled between his legs so he can massage her shoulders while they talk. The girl's had a rougher couple of nights than most people have in a year. His hands still on her neck as the story unfolds.

The boys leave a few hours later, promising to return the next morning. The girl will sleep in the spare bedroom tonight. Safe haven for at least a few hours. The boys are in the middle of exam week. She gets up and guides the girl to the spare bedroom. He hears sobbing a few minutes later.

Quietly he gathers up the plates and cups, at least the girl ate a few of those. He'll have to make sure there's some food available for when she wakes up in the middle of the night and realises she hasn't eaten anything for a few days. He builds a sandwich for her. The sobbing is fainter now, broken, irregular gasps instead of a steady stream. He wraps the sandwich in wax paper and sticks a note on it saying "this, anything in the fridge, take whatever you want".

He sits on the sofa. The sobbing has stopped. He stares out the window for quite some time before she emerges from the spare bedroom. His lady sits next to him on the couch and he draws her close. "She's asleep. I promised her you'd take her to the police station tomorrow morning. She needs someone to be there the whole time, and both of them have exams tomorrow. She's frightened."

He strokes her hair softly as she drops her head to his chest.

They both stare out the window.

He thinks about emotions again.

Please link, don't copy.
This work is Copyright (c) Mike Fletcher 1998