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Today's Story by Caitlin Myer

Why did you make love with me, really?

Serialization Sunday: Hoodoo – Chapter 34

Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel.  Our first serialized novel, the taut thriller City of Human Remainscan be found in full here

Our current novel, Hoodoo, tells a story of visionaries, heretics and lunatics in Utah, centered on the life of Alice Lott, a twelve-year-old girl  who believes that God wants her to have an affair with her junior high school counselor. 

Find earlier chapters in Hoodoo here.

Chapter 34

I came back to Salt Lake all charged up to get back to the Academy. It wasn’t too late. I wouldn’t miss any more classes, I’d get it right this time.

I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed it before, but it showed, all those technique classes I’d skipped, it showed, I was stumbling on the stupidest things, mixing up the tendu sequence, front-side-back-side, stupid, basic warmup, but I kept thinking it was front-side-back, back-side-front, left hanging out there with my second tendu to the back and then scrambling to catch up, this wasn’t me, this wasn’t who I was, even at barre, even these stupid exercises, always the same, but even so they fired inside me, even at this stuff I was better than anyone else in the room, normally.

But I was all over the place in class, the teacher’s stick cracking the floor, making me flinch right in the bottom of my stomach, that crack rang hard under my feet, rolling toward me from across the studio, a clap of thunder, it shook me right to the heart.

On Saturday I walked over to where Bobby parked his car to leave a note, but I didn’t have to, he was sitting in his car, reading, he looked up and saw me through the window, jumped out of the car. I crumpled the note in my hand.

“Alice,” he said. He looked so relieved, like he’d been holding his breath the whole time I was gone.

I had my speech all ready. About how it was great we were back together and all, but I had to draw the line, I couldn’t keep skipping classes, I had my future to think about. Then Bobby put his arms around me and I felt his breath catch in his chest, and I thought I didn’t have to hit him with all of that right away, it’s not like I was breaking up with him or anything. I could work up to it gradually.

We sat on the curb next to his car, looking out at the construction site, the sun baking in through my t-shirt, and we talked about little stuff, what we’d done the last two weeks, he pointed out right where he was working, where he was digging so they could sink posts into the ground.

I crossed my arms on my knees and rested my chin there, feeling slow and dreamish in the heat. Pieces of thoughts wound around in my head, none of them coming to a point, just lazing around: the smell of my skin, the sun on my legs, the smell of Bobby so close to me, warm and familiar, like a favorite uncle, the same smell back at Laban, on the floor of his office, dust in the carpet and Bobby and my shoe that was lying next to my head, and sex. The smell of his saliva on my lips, drying right under my nose.

“Why did you make love with me, really? Back in Lemuel, I mean.”

I hadn’t planned on asking him. It just came out of my mouth as easily as the sunwarmth soaking into my hair.

He laughed. “Are you kidding?”

I stared at him.

“Wow, Alice. You don’t have any idea the effect you have on me. Not just me. Have you seen the way the guys at the site look at you?”

I felt heat in my face.

“Duh,” I said. “Of course people look at me. I’m a freak.”

“No,” said Bobby, ducking his head to catch my eyes, “You’re beautiful.”

I shut my eyes and put my forehead on my arms. I could feel my heart rev up, slowly beating harder until I could feel it in my chest, face, eyes.

“I’ve been meaning to ask you something,” Bobby said, after a while.

I looked at him, leaning my head on my fist.

“Marry me.”