THE COLD INSIDE
By AL BRUNO III
Friday November 11, 1994
Monique sat on the edge of her bed, peering into her bureau mirror. Her chestnut hair was pulled back from her face, she wore only a pair of shorts and a bra. Her clock radio showed the time was 6:53 as it blared the newest song by Madonna. Monique sang tunelessly along with it. A small pile of plush toys and dolls were arranged in one corner of the room, most of them were collector’s items- special editions and expensive rarities. One particular teddy bear near the bottom was made of mink. Her rings and necklaces were all arranged on the bureau beside her; she was such a slob when it came to her jewelry. She was always losing an earring here, a chain there. It didn’t matter much to her, she knew her Daddy would always buy more. There was no sign of the armoire Tristam had given Monique and as he hovered near the ceiling of her room he wondered if she still had it or if she’d thrown it away when she’d thrown him away.
Would Evan ever give a gift like that? Tristam thought. He drifted upwards, the ceiling fan sliced through him again and again. Hah. Evan probably bought her some piece of lingerie he’s dying to see her in. And when he’s done with her he’ll probably ask for it back. The creep has probably been circulating the same set of crotchless panties for years...
She reached behind her, arms akimbo and unfastened her bra, then she let her arms fall forward, taking the scrap of lace and elastic with it. She examined herself in the mirror, lifting an arm and running a hand first over one breast, then another. There was a look of absent-minded concentration in her eyes.
I can’t believe I’m getting off on a breast exam.
But he was getting off on it. More than he had on any of his visits to the Booby Hatch. Maybe it was the fact that this girl was more real to him then the stripper called Ariel. Maybe it was because he knew this body and its curves.
Maybe its because she doesn’t know I’m watching her. She thinks she can shut me out of her life but it’s not that easy-
A familiar tug caught him off guard, painful in its abruptness. It dragged him through the walls of the Leromenos house and across the dark landscape. Lights blurred as he moved faster and faster, falling through houses, lampposts and cars. It was all he could do to keep from colliding with people. He didn’t need that kind of pain, not after the day he’d had today.
As he zeroed in on his body he began to hear his mother’s voice. “Honey? Honey wake-”
Tristam sat up with a weary groan. Returning to his body always made him feel ponderous, “I’m up. I’m up.”
“Why are you asleep? It’s only seven,” his mother switched on the lights before continuing inside. She sat on the edge of Tristam’s bed, her back to him.
“I’m grounded Mom, my options are limited.” He shifted the covers to conceal his aching hard-on. He didn’t want her thinking he was spending his evenings that way. It might merit him another lecture like the one he’d gotten he was thirteen and she’d caught him pounding away in the bathroom to a Victoria’s Secret catalogue.
The ‘Its OK To Explore Yourself But For God’s Sake Give It A Rest’ Lecture... I think I’d rather do jail time than suffer through that again.
“I just got off the phone with your friend Greg.”
“What?” There was an edge of worry in his voice. The shooting four years ago had left Greg Fletcher without a spleen and with only half a liver, it made it hard for him to shake off an illness, “Is he OK?”
“He’s fine. He’s fine. He just wanted to tell me that you were at the assembly, that he was sitting behind you. He said you couldn’t have snuck out because you fell asleep.”
“He called you to say that?”
“It didn’t even occur to me-” her shoulders slumped, “It didn’t even occur to me that you might be telling the truth.”
Part of him wanted the jump up and down on the bed shouting, I goddamn told you so! Another part of him didn’t want to see his mother like this. The conflict left him unable to do anything other than sit there and stare groggily at her.
“I just don’t know what I’m doing any more. I don’t know what to do with myself I don’t know what to do with my kids... You must hate me.”
“I can understand why you didn’t believe me... All the trouble lately. I might have not believed me.”
“I didn’t even listen! What kind of a mother am I?”
“You’re cool,” he made his way over to her and gave her a hug, “you’re a lot cooler than some of my other friends’ parents.”
“Oh and just wait until I get my hands on your sister.” She turned to look at him, her features becoming a snarl, “She’s gonna get twice your grounding.”
“Mom, let’s just call this one even. We were all a little unreasonable. I’m sure Pam saw somebody. A lot of the guys like to watch the girls work out.”
“OK OK. You know the people that judge you Tristam, they don’t know how good a kid you are.”
“You going to your friend’s house tomorrow?”
“You don’t mind?”
“Why would I mind? You need some spending cash?”
“A little, for pizza.”
“I love you Tristam.”
“I love you Mom.”