'The Man Behind You' by Christopher Pultz
In the moment while you are away, relieving yourself of the wine you needed in order to get through another night sitting across from your wife, the man behind you meets eyes with me. Your physical absence emboldens the passing glances he’s spent throughout the evening. I look away.
Finished with our meals, I arrange our plates, yours and mine, just as I do at home. But the clink of his fish fork on the ceramic bowl, the one holding the mussel shells he’s scavenged throughout the evening, shells he’s dragged his teeth over so as not to miss a bite, not a crumb of Roquefort, the clink catches my ear. And looking up, his glance commands me. To be savored like one of those shells. Or, even better, to be twirled like his last sip of robust Madiron.
I suck on his desire, and he feasts on my novelty, both our innocences long past.
He touches my face while he kisses my neck; he runs his hands through my hair. He explores what he’s about to enter. Slowly.
Afterwards, he holds my hands and runs his fingers along their grooves. The tracing of my lines, the patterning of my flesh, once again I am to be known. And the known…the known is a box of frozen fish sticks, a packaged slice of yellow American, a sip of Zinfandel—from a box.
All of this happens in the time it takes for you to negotiate a zipper, in the time you needed away from me, time to breathe your breath of chlorinated air, reading an advert or a dirty message on the wall.
Walking back, you sit down, relieved in one manner or another, eclipsing the man behind you. But by that time I need you less. And noticing this, you want me more. And so here we are again, like our boys at a junior high dance, ready to begin an evening that is about to end.
And as the man behind you returns to his book and signals for the check, looking across the room for a newer encounter, a thought wafts from some place in between: even more than me, you need the man behind you.
FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words). So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.