New Work in Progress

A snippet from my newest WIP, Pyrokinesis, specifically a flashback scene. Hope you enjoy.

His body was pressing against her, his chest facing hers, one arm wrapped around her waist, loose enough it allowed her to move, close enough it signified that she was, at least for the moment, currently with him. 

He’d whispered something she didn’t quite understand, three months here and her French was still terrible, but she got the premise enough that she’d followed him from the bar to the dancefloor. A trickle of sweat was running down her back, his cheap cologne gluing itself to the inside of her nostrils. 

His hips moved with hers, the lights of the nightclub pulsing, switching between purples and blues and greens and reds. His head dipped, lips brushing against her throat, and she wrapped an arm around his neck, allowing him to come closer, welcoming the gesture. 

But she hadn’t been welcoming it. Not really. Kathryn’s body was functioning on autopilot. This is what you did, at clubs. 

“Tu es savoureux,”

She couldn’t really hear the words. But she could tell it was meaningless; nonsense.

“Merci,” It felt appropriate. He probably couldn’t hear her either. But he smiled at her, in that blurry way drunken people smile at other drunken people. 

He craned his neck down to kiss her, and she let him, still responding in a mechanical sort of way. 

Who he was didn’t matter. His name, what he looked like, how he felt, none of it.

It was an apathy that had settled in about two days after her arrival in Paris. She had been so excited to get here, had dreamed for years about spending time in France. Then she finally got here and…nothing. The emotions weren’t there. Daily function for the sake of function; nothing was exciting. It was like she was constantly driving through fog with headlamps that weren’t working right. Trying to see more than a foot in front of her face and being constantly exhausted with the effort. 

She had taken to wandering around the city streets, walking hours at a time without stopping. At times, she would become enamored with a building, or a view, or finally sit at a café and see something, a hat she liked or someone’s stance, and start drawing. She would have ordered a coffee that sat untouched until it was cold and ruined, or find a bench to sit on and not move until the sun had descended beyond the horizon. And then she would look up, confused at where the time had gone, and descend back into the monotone sensation of existence. 

Kathryn almost longed for the manic periods. She wished she could feel that intense focus on this boy, instead of wondering if he’d make her spill all of her drink before he broke away. 

“Tu me plais,”

No, he didn’t. He didn’t like her. He wanted to fuck her. There was a difference. 

“Tu es saoul,”

“Non, je suis juste ivre de toi,”

She laughed, she couldn’t help it. It was a terrible line. How could you be drunk on a person? Let alone one you’d met mere minutes ago. 

Kathryn turned away from him, guiding his hands to her hips as they danced, the bass from the speakers reverberating through her body, thumping like a heartbeat as his arm wound its way around her waist, feeling him against her in more ways than one. He kept trying to whisper in her ear, bending down to kiss her neck, and she wanted to scream at him to shut up. To be quiet. To let her have a moment of mindless indulgence. 

But he was, seemingly, incapable of such an act. And then, what was there to do? 

“Viens avec moi,” He said, for what must have been the second or third time. His hand traced down her arms, trying to intertwine his fingers with hers. She didn’t look at him, but she nodded against his chest. 

He pulled her back through the crowd, trying to lead her…where? The bathrooms? The bar? His place? She had a moment, just a moment, a flash in her mind envisioning it. Of his lifting her so the edge of her ass sat on a bathroom sink, or pressing her against a building on the way back to wherever he lived, the taste of a tongue that had been soaked in beer all night, whatever skill he had dampened by exhaustion and booze and impatience. She imagined him rolling over and telling her to go in a language she didn’t truly speak. Or worse, trying to make more plans so they could stare awkwardly at each other, using google translate and awkward laughs to accompany a stilted, forced conversation, in which they realized they had nothing more in common mutual enjoyment of intoxication. 

She saw the light of the front door, new people coming in, the scent of cigarettes faint from where she stood. Kathryn stopped, and when he tried to move, let his hand slip from her fingers. She walked out the door, into the night beyond. 

She could hear him calling for her, but he stayed at the club entrance, not wanting to chase her. She looked crazy, she knew it, her tangled, makeup surely melting under her eyes. Absolutely not the girl anyone would, or should, be chasing down, and she preferred it that way.

She looked to the side, to the crowd of smokers outside the club, and walked towards a girl standing by herself. 

“Puis-je en avoir un, s’il vous plaît?” 

The girl looked up, startled. 

“Kathryn?” 

“Anna? Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t-” 

“No, it’s okay, yeah sure, have one,” Anna, another exchange student from a school in Washington, offered Kathryn the pack of cigarettes she was holding, and, when Kathryn had one between her lips, flicked on the lighter. Kathryn cupped her hand around the flame, making sure it was lit, and then stood back up. 

“You weren’t at the lecture today,” Anna frowned at her.

“I…” Kathryn tried to remember. What had she done today? 

“It was boring, you didn’t miss much. But I can send you the notes, if you want,” Anna looked at her, more concerned than curious. 

“Reviens, bébé,” She could hear the voice behind her and had no desire to turn around. 

“I would really appreciate that, thanks,” Kathryn said, “I think I just lost track of time today, I was working on this sketch, this story idea I had, I didn’t mean to miss it.” 

“No sweat, I’ve done that. You just get so into it, into a project, it’s hard to pull yourself away.” 

Kathryn nodded, and took a drag of the cigarette. 

“Bébé!” The boy called again, his tone gaining a sharp edge of frustration bordering on anger. She could see him starting to make his way to her through the crowd of smokers. 

“You know him?” Anna raised an eyebrow. 

Kathryn let out a snort. “Thanks, for this, and for the notes, I’ll see you in class.” 

“You want me to walk home with you?” Anna asked, “I don’t mind,” 

“No, no, you stay! I’ll be fine, I’ll catch up with you soon,” Kathryn was already walking up the street, away from the noise and the crowd and the boy. 

“Let me know when you’re home!” Anna called to her, and Kathryn shot her a quick wave of acknowledgement.

Three blocks down, and she was met with an empty street. She looked up, towards the sky. She didn’t expect to see stars, the lights of the city were far too overpowering, but staring at the blank expanse of sky was still comforting. Her eyes took in the shades of black, the pattern of the street lamps against the night. 

She took a deep breath, in and out, and closed her eyes, letting the quiet consume her. 

Maybe, she thought, starting to walk again, she’d start designing a new tattoo. Something to commemorate the months here. 

She looked down at her skin, perpetually covered in ink stains, and thought of birds, of flying through the sky. And with her mind freshly preoccupied, she took off again, heading back towards her apartment.

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