A confusing state of affairs.

Avatar Author: mark.i.wang Goals as a commenter: 1. Comment/Ficlet ratio = 5:1 2. Provide consistent feedback 3. Provide feedback to lightly commented ficlets 4. Comment on unfinished drafts. Goals as a writer: 1. Fully convey an emotion ... Read Bio

The light turns on as she opens his car door and steps out.
He watches her get into her car and drive off. Her taste and smell linger in his thoughts on the drive home.
At 6:54: She’d walk in, kiss her husband, ask him about his day.
7:27: They’d arrive at the restaurant, just in time for the 7:30 reservation.
10:10… Shuffling into the late night movie.
12:30 – At home, and into bed.

If someone asked him about the relationship, then he had canned reply #1: “casual sex, no strings attached.”
If someone asked him what made her different from the others – canned reply #2: “nothing.”

No one ever asks if he enjoys it; so there is no canned response #3… He might fake a smile; but, it’d twitch unnaturally at the corners. The edges of his lips wouldn’t quite understand that they’re not supposed to be frowning. And he wouldn’t answer – his voice would be equally confused.

I want it. I can’t stand not having it. I can’t let it go.

The confusion between love and sex never goes unpunished.

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Comments (11 so far!)

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  1. Avatar The Ghost in the Machine LoA

    Friends with benefits never works. I like how he lays out the canned responses and his feelings are all towards little details

  2. Avatar mark.i.wang

    Thanks Ghost – wasn’t sure if the details worked… on a skim, it seems unrelated, and possibly a wasteful use of characters. i was trying to give a concrete example of love (concern with details), and sex (taste, smell). your comment makes me feel a lot better about it.

  3. Avatar ElshaHawk (LoA)

    I was confused over the first two lines, how could she get out and step in at the same time, but then i realized she got OUT of one car and INTO another. I think you should change the car door to his car door for clarification. :) The canned responses, the reflection, the last line are all brilliant!

  4. Avatar mark.i.wang

    thanks for the catch – i always forget that my readers don’t have the same mental picture. fixed!

  5. Avatar temporary.balcony

    i think you’ve done an excellent job calling out his true feelings via the questions, but something feels wrong about the third question. it doesnt feel right to me that someone would ask whether he enjoys it…wouldn’t that be an obvious yes (on a physical level)-therefore an easy question to both answer and smile about answering. personally, i think the better question would be something like ‘do you care about her’, ‘do you want to be with her’ …something that hints at ‘do you love her’ since that’s what he’s wrestling with here.

  6. Avatar Ben Adams

    Yeah this is a great chapter but I do agree with temporary about the third question. It seems a little confusing. I love how conflicted he is about his own feelings despite his automatic responses.

  7. Avatar mark.i.wang

    temporary and ben – a direct question such as “do you care about her? do you want to be with her?” would be answered no differently than canned responses #1, #2, : i.e., it would be a lie.

  8. Avatar mark.i.wang

    i guess i should say, the third question is supposed to feel wrong… that’s why no one ever asks it.

  9. Avatar Tad Winslow

    The circumstance rings true.

    “Her taste and smell linger in his thoughts on the drive home.” My favorite line because it’s an unusual and thoughtful and sly way to turn the physical smell and taste of her into a lingering thought— an intangible feeling of attachment.

  10. Avatar 32 ^2

    No one ever asks if he enjoys it.

    Actually Mark, that’s my favorite line.

  11. Avatar Abby (LoA)

    Can lips frown? It’s great to see this kind of situation from a male point of view where the woman is married as opposed to the other way round. I think it makes it a whole lot more interesting.

    I like how he continues thinking about her constantly, what she’s doing all evening. It shows how devoted he is.

Whoa there, partner, hold up!

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