Alice & Chris
Alice tipped her head back and dropped another blackberry from her stained fingers. She caught the fruit on the base of her tongue, curled it back towards her throat, and swallowed. She licked between her lips, and took a deep breath through her nose. Her chest rose, then held, as she kept the air inside, her body still against the shivering surrounds, as wind continued to disturb the forest. Eventually she breathed out, straightened her knees, and stretched her legs out in the grass. She let herself fall back and reflected the stretch with her arms. She closed her eyes to think, and became immediately distracted by the dancing shapes the sun made as it passed through her eyelids.
‘Ooooeeeeeee… that is gonna sting!’
Alice’s eyes shot open. The sun, much lower in the sky than she remembered, was now eclipsed by the silhouetted figure astride her legs. Her faculties reconnected just in time to see the flattened palm arcing at pace toward her bare and reddened thigh. Instinctively she raised her right leg in a snap, feeling the squash as two bags of skin crushed against each other under the impact of her shin. The body rolled off her projected limb with a groan, thudded into the floor beside her, and balled up in pain.
‘What the fuck did you do that for?’ the thwarted assailant gasped. Alice paused, listening to the stricken carcass groan and wheeze through each breath, like a snoring goose.
‘What time is it?’ she eventually asked.
‘Nearly seven,’ the vanquished replied. ‘Have you just laid here toasting all afternoon?’
‘I read my book,’ Alice lied.
There was a quiet while Chris regathered himself and eased out of his foetal coil. Once straightened, he rolled onto his side and bent the knee of his top leg, letting it rest across Alice’s thighs while he supported his upper body on an elbow. He let his face hover an inch over that of the lobster in the summer dress.
‘So, we going to this thing, or not?’
Alice screwed up her face, a gesture she knew annoyed Chris because ‘it’s not a proper answer’. He stuck his chin out and raised his eyebrows, exactly as she knew he would.
‘I know you don’t like crossing the river, but it’s only for a few hours…’ he paused, before a smile filled his eyes. ‘There’ll be pizza...’
Alice didn’t answer, just continued to look up at him, blankly, as if she hadn’t been listening at all. She knew if she smiled he’d take that as a yes, and probably kiss her to celebrate. Any other reaction, and she’d have to watch the disappointment flash across his face.
Alice narrowed her eyes as she looked into Chris’, and allowed the corners of her mouth to lift the faintest amount. She saw the spark in Chris and knew it was only a matter of moments before his mouth lowered to hers. In a flash she lifted slightly, pushed her tongue from her mouth, and ran a huge wet lick along his nose and forehead.
Now it was Chris’ time to screw up his face
‘You fucking horror,’ he laughed, with all the affection in the world.