(Search Engine Fiction prompt his week was verglass- here's my stab at it)
She looked out the window and gasped at the beauty. The world had turned silver overnight. The bare branches of trees hung heavy with ice as if encased in crystal. Light twittered off in all directions. The newly fallen snow, crusted over with ice, reflected the iron grey sky back. She might have stayed at the window all day, but he pushed his head around hers to have a look.
“Verglas,” he said and she wished so badly he hadn’t. She wanted him not to be who he was. In her head, he was someone very unlike himself. Someone who didn’t use words like verglas. Someone with more meat and less bones. Someone secretive, and maybe a bit dangerous.
Falling back on the bed, she waited for the inevitable.
“It’s the word for the ice that forms on the branches and the walkways after an ice storm.” Mr. Walking Dictionary. She restrained herself from throttling him. Why couldn’t he just fucking say sidewalk- why walkways? Why?
"That’s interesting," she said, though she didn’t mean it. What she wanted to say was can you get dressed and get out of my apartment, but she knew she wouldn’t. Any man is better than no man, her mother’s words rang in her head. She was an expert on any man. She’d been testing any man for years. Testing and testing, but no results were forthcoming, at least not positive results. She was teetering on the brink. She was about to tip the other direction. She was about to go with no man. (She thinks she can hear her mother’s heavy sigh hundreds of kilometres away)
“So I guess we’re stuck in for awhile,” he said sitting up, revealing his hairless, muscle-less chest. She thought of long ago Antonio. Though he too was an any man, his broad, hairy chest kept him a notch above the others. A shiver went down her spine looking at the bony, bald expanse before her. She suppressed a ‘YUCK’ which sat bitterly in her throat.
Picking up his t-shirt from the floor, she threw it at him. “You better put this on. It’s cold.” Though it wasn’t really.
“I’ve only got bread and coffee. Good enough?” Not waiting for his answer, she headed to the kitchen, anything to be away from him. “How quickly do you think they’ll get the salt trucks out?” She needed him gone. A quickie in the darkness of night was one thing. A conversation in the unflinching morning light was another.
“I would anticipate they’d start with the major byways first, leaving secondary roads, such as the type you are located on until afternoon.”
She scowled into the fridge. Until afternoon? In this tiny studio apartment? She put the coffee and bread on a tray and carried it with heavy feet to her bed.
He slurped the coffee and chewed the bread with his mouth open. The list against him had fallen over to page two.
"So I understand you write?” he asked his mouth still full of food. My God-was he raised by wolves? she wondered.
“Yeah … I write.”
“I’m so impressed by people who can write. I’m sure you’re excellent at it.”
She gave him a look from the corner of her eye. What was he up to now? Was this some kind of trick? “I’m okay….I’ve had a few things published.”
“Published? Wow! I’m truly impressed.” He did look impressed. One thing he wasn’t was an actor. He was who he was. Transparent as glass.
“I had a short story published in The New Yorker.” She said it softly into her coffee. She didn’t tell people that. There was a holy circle of silence around the entire event; her acceptance, the magazine with her story in. These were private, sacred things. Why was she telling him?
He set the coffee on the table and jumped to his feet. He wore only the T-shirt, his too long, too thin legs going on for ages underneath, but she didn’t notice. “Could I read it?” he said in a low voice, pregnant with want.
A man interested in what she cared about? Interested in her writing?
She dug her copy of The New Yorker out from the box of her most important stuff. She wasn’t sure what was happening. Any man was changing.
Time slipped by and the salt trucks had passed and the sun had burned most of the verglas off the trees where it dripped, dripped onto the ground. She was unaware, but any man had slipped, without notice, into the notch for the man; a surprise for all in attendance, a surprise waiting out in their future yet to be discovered.