9.19.2006

The Rift, Part 2

But next Marianne imagined being propped up above Julia on one arm, moving her hand so that it could work its way inside the zipper fly of her jeans to pull out, not very much to her surprise, an erect cock. In her hand, it looked unthreatening, but felt heavy with need. She felt Julia’s breath on her face, her body shifting slightly beneath her own, legs spreading slowly at first, but then wider so that Marianne could gain better balance with her body against the mattress. In this fantasy, Marianne did not look at Julia’s face in case it defied what her body was signaling, in case there were still missing pieces of her skull. She was having trouble imaging what a cock would feel like pressed against Julia’s pussy, and more trouble conceiving the way Julia’s pussy would look. She turned her face into her pillow, breathed in the faint smell of her shampoo masked by a day gone without washing. There was no trace of Julia in Marianne’s bed.

In one of the magazines left behind by PJ after he would spend the night at the dorm, exiling Marianne to her friend Matthieu’s room and Rachel to wherever, Marianne had found a half-page picture of a small woman with long white legs, heels brought up to touch of the backs of her thighs. Marianne liked how she looked made for this type of pose, for this line of work, the way some people are made for practicing medicine or steering cattle. She liked the way she looked hairless by default, her breasts small and natural, brown hair blown straight, flat around her thin, angular face. She looked nothing like the others in the magazine, women with big circular breasts, even bigger hair. And Marianne thought that, given the opportunity to touch the baby-pink area that she so brazenly exposed, it would feel like a warm, wet ball of cotton.

As the pillow rubbed against Marianne’s forehead, the woman’s pussy became Julia’s. And it became easier to imagine what it would feel like—her cock against Julia, entering her slowly—and it became easier to imagine Julia’s heat running beneath and against her, Julia’s hands on Marianne’s neck and back.

The knocking came unexpected. Marianne opened her eyes.

“What?” she said, loud enough for the knocker to hear her, but not in a way that clued in to what was interrupted.

“We’re going to be late. It’s quarter of.” Jill, Marianne’s teammate, second string midfielder, right side preferably. Also known as Scarp. Jill always sent long balls too long and so long that by the time Marianne reached it, she’d be too tired from sprinting to actually do anything effective with it. Marianne and her other teammates that played up front called Jill “No Touch.”

Marianne sighed, lifted her head off the pillow, and confirmed the time on her alarm clock. She thought, I have been in bed all day.

Shorts are easy to pull on, especially the ones with an inside liner so there’s no need for underwear. Marianne said, “Okay, just a second.”

Marianne didn’t think Jill came for her every day before practice because she liked her. Marianne thought that Jill came because she didn’t want to walk alone. Jill, Marianne was convinced, was a girl who had to be seen with someone for fear of looking like a loner, unloveable, or unlikeable. And since she lived only two floors down, Jill came every practice day for Marianne, or waited for her in the lobby, and together they walked across campus, a 12-city block distance to the field where the team both practiced and played. Jill would talk the whole time, and Marianne would listen. It happened this way always.

“She just wants to be your friend because you’re better than her. You score, she sits, and so who’s in the newspaper? You,” Angelina said one night after Marianne had returned from practice, realizing that she accidentally grabbed Jill’s bag and Jill hers.

“Well, whatever,” Marianne said. “I’m not going down there to swap.” And that night Marianne washed Jill’s sweaty shirt and shorts, her muddy socks. She touched the tampons loose at the bottom of the bag, the bottle of antacid. She folded the clean clothes neatly, placed them inside Jill’s bag, and waited for Thursday to come when Jill brought Marianne’s bag back, still filled with her damp, dirty clothing.

Before Marianne opened the door for Jill, she stood in her shorts, her last clean sports bra, and evaluated her room. Her bed, unmade, a mess. The smell, not the room, but maybe her, her fingers still sticky, smelling heavy of herself. She moved quickly to Angelina’s bureau, took the bottle of perfume there, and sprayed three quick, guilty sprays. She put it down, pushed her head through the neck of her t-shirt, and opened the door.

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