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and what's wrong with another sin, really

Title: and what's wrong with another sin, really
Author: Aspen Snow
Summary: She breaks hearts, to put it simply.

This is a story about expectations-- this is how it starts:

She's standing in a pink strapless dress, silver shoes, and she's got her hair curled down her back. She's wearing lip liner and eye liner and lip plumping gloss and all these things she doesn't ever use.

She's not herself, when she meets him.

Her brother is getting married. She stands through the ceremony with a smile on her face and she thinks too young. She could be jealous but everyone knows she doesn't believe in pink roses and high school sweethearts and champagne in heart shaped glasses and men who vow forever.

That she sometimes does believe this is a secret—- she's known for years that it's too late to share it.

He's sitting at the end of a pew when she walks down the aisle and he's watching her-- eyes on her face, the ends of her dress that brush her ankles. Later, when he's being chivalrous and wrapping her up in his jacket, he'll confess that he was charmed by her purple toe nails.

The reception is near the water-- yellow lights' reflecting in slow motion on black water and it's a little too perfect. She catches the bouquet, he catches the garter-- their live parallel for a moment.

The photographer has him kneel, tells her to put her foot on his knee. He pretends to slide the garter up her leg, his fingers hover near her calf.

She looks down, he looks up. He says, "Your eyes are green." She falls a little right then, with a laugh. The photographer snaps the picture.

The flash blinds them both.


Cut scene --

She’s done this before.

She’s 22 and she’s in class sitting at a desk with her left leg crossed over her right. There is a boy sitting next to her-— backwards baseball cap, faded jeans, beautiful hands—- and when he stretches his legs out he accidentally kicks her sandal off her foot.

He laughs, picks up her shoe and puts it back on her foot. His knuckles brush her toes and it’s like a fairy tale.

So—- she laughs with her eyes and thinks be still my heart, this could be something new.

-- end scene.


Their first date he takes her bowling and she's caught up in the whimsy.

In between frames he says, "Tell me something true."

She doesn't answer right away-- she walks up to the lane, bowls a strike, sways her hips side to side in an impromptu victory dance and says, "I'm going to make you love me for a long long time."

She's competitive, you see.


Thing about her is, she won't change anything for happy ever after.

See, guys always like her-- she's never had to like them back. So maybe her heart has been missing for years, but she hasn't been waiting for someone to find it.

She hasn't ever been so cliche, she hopes.


Their second date he takes her to a movie and she impresses him by quoting Chuck Norris.

When the lights dim he reaches over, twines his fingers through hers, and pulls her hand over to sit with his on the arm rest. His grip is a little tight, though, and not even halfway through the movie her fingers start to go numb.

When he grazes her knuckles with his thumb she doesn't feel a thing and when they're walking out of the theater, into the sunshine, she turns to him and says, "Those are some seriously smooth moves you've got there."

He nearly trips-- she laughs.


The next time she is with him she is really happy. The kind of happy where she's extra nice to the cashier at McDonald's. She orders a Big Mac and fries. He gives her a Big Mac and fries and a Fish Fillet, which she didn't even realize was still on the menu. He apologizes with these frantic hand gestures and stammers that it's his first day. She just smiles around a laugh and she thinks that might actually make him more nervous.

They order separately because she can't help but set up boundaries and when he actually orders a Fish Fillet she nearly giggles.

And back in his car after walking through the pouring rain her hair is wet, her mascara is running, she is shaking a little bit and it is still one of those days where smiling is just so easy. She remembers to notice that rain smells good.

She's stealing a french fry out of the bag when she decides that she likes the way he drives with one hand on the steering wheel. There's so much control there. When the palm of his other hand slides across the stick shift she thinks about kissing him, just to see what he tastes like.

But as easy as words are for her she's never really been that bold with her actions. So she digs her chap stick out of her purse, uses her finger to run some over her lips, slowly, like she likes the feel of it.

The rest of the time he's got one hand on the wheel and the other on his knee, pulling at the edge of his shorts.

At this point she's only playing at seduction.



She can't ever bring herself to say his name in front of him.

Instead she says, "Dude--" to get his attention and he forgets to notice what she isn't saying.

It makes him smile, she knows, the way she speaks as if she weren't always a girl.

But really, this is a problem. A red flag, if you must.



This is a story about subtleties. They breed hate don't you know?


When they go out again he takes her to a ball—he’s a Marine, you see.

They’re sitting at a table covered in cream linen and heavy folded napkins and he’s wearing his dress uniform-— navy blue(she calls it that to annoy him) and bold brass buttons.

She’s wearing a burgundy dress—bunched silk and gold high heels-— and he’s got his arm draped across her shoulders, his fingers brushing their way to her collar bone. It makes her skin itch the way he tries to pretend his hand isn’t shaking.

His fingers get tangled in her hair and when he moves to take a sip of his drink the tiniest bit spills over of the edge of his cup and down his chin. She’s staring and it takes awhile before he stares back. The silence is long, maybe uncomfortable, so he speaks.

“You look good tonight,” he says. She thinks she might have felt something if he had said something more precise. For now his skin in the candlelight doesn’t even shine and she wonders how long his blue blue eyes can keep her interested.

So, when his hand falls to her hip and he lets his fingers curl around her side to rest against her stomach she says, “Try, just a little, not to get hooked on me,” and when he laughs she knows she maybe shouldn’t have said anything at all.

She’s always doing that—- saying what she means.


He’s sort of a gentleman and sometimes when he takes her home he actually walks her to the door. He stands on her porch with his hands in his pockets. He swallows so loudly and he rocks back on his heels as if he can’t fully commit to forward motion.

The awkwardness irritates her and suddenly the way he smiles with just half of his mouth as if this is all so endearing makes her so angry. She’s strong and confident and she doesn’t have the time to waste on something so juvenile.

But at her door she says goodbye already half inside-— hand on the doorknob, foot on the entry way tile. He might see something like retreat, if he looked hard enough.

Except he’s got his eyes closed and he’s breathing too deeply. So when he leans in, puts a hand on the small of her back, she pulls back, says “No,” with a curl of her lips like this a game-— but really, she might be lying. She’s best at that.

Here’s the truth though—- she’s so fucking scared. Hard to get is what she knows best. She doesn’t know, really, how to be had.


He picks her up from work one day, takes her to lunch a couple of streets over. It’s a favorite place of hers, fantastic macaroni and cheese. It’s the pasta, she tells him, they’re spirals and it holds the cheese better.

His laugh is enchanted and this is all so easy.

When she gets in his car the blue plaid skirt she wore to work stretches back across her thighs and suddenly she’s got all the bare skin of her legs folded up in his peripheral vision.

Here’s the thing. She has a scar that runs along the side of her calf and she knows with all that skin showing he won’t be able to resist touching it.

They stop at a red light and she’s twisting her hair around her fist because the windows are rolled down and maybe he likes the way her hair curls around her face in the wind and it’s here that he puts a hand on her knee, slides it down the side of her leg, sweeps his thumb over her scar and says, “How did you get this?”

She’s disappointed by the predictability of it all and then the light turns green and they’re going and she knows it’s her fault anyway, for setting him up for the fall.


A snapshot of her life looks like this:

She’s in college and her mom buys her a plane ticket to come home for Thanksgiving. In the car driving away from the airport her dad calls—- she’s on the phone with him when her mom says, “If he wants to see you then he should fly you home.”

On the other end of the line her dad says, “Don’t ever be like your mother,” and hangs up.

Her parents fight so much—- this is an important fact.


They go to a park and she wonders, briefly, if they’ve regressed.

He’s playing catch with his dog and she watches him throw the tennis ball in an absent motion she knows is practiced. He played baseball after all. He was a pitcher with no claims to fame, but his arm is strong enough to give his dog a good chase.

He sits down next to her on the cement picnic table and hands her the ball. When she throws it—- she played softball for years, third base-— she makes sure to throw it further than him.

“I pray sometimes,” he confesses before the ball has a chance to hit the ground.

“Does it help?” she asks but she thinks it couldn’t possibly matter.

“Not yet,” he says and the dog comes up to the table with the ball in his mouth, tail wagging, and he pulls it out, throws it again.

The ball doesn’t arc in the air like it should.

“I’ll never believe in God,” she says, “I haven’t ever been so romantic,” and she thinks conversations like this never happen in so much sunshine.

“Doesn’t leave you with much to believe in, does it?” he says and she knows it isn’t a question-— but a judgment.

“More than you,” she says. The sun feels good on her legs.


They aren’t a couple, you see. They haven’t ever been. They’re just friends. But he wants more, obviously. She knows this. He knows that she knows this. But she pretends to not know this when he shows up on her doorstep late at night with a box of warm Krispy Kreme donuts and a baseball card (inside joke).

But the pretending makes it so much easier for the both of them when she doesn’t let him touch her as much as he wants.

He goes home thinking that tomorrow he will make her see.

She goes to bed thinking that tomorrow she won’t answer any of his calls. She’s getting tired of always keeping herself out of his reach.

It doesn’t occur to her that there might be an alternative.


Here’s a list of things she doesn’t know—-

-her eyes focus on things with snaps of movement—- it’s intimidating, the challenge it implies.

-when she lets him brush her hair out of her face, run his fingers along the edge of her jaw, he’s sure she doesn’t know that she’s far too beautiful for him.

-her skin is soft; she’s easier to touch than she realizes.

-she dreams with her hands folded over heart. Even she can’t help it—- sometimes.


This is how it ends—-

She stops speaking to him.

And then he gets a girlfriend and he stops speaking to her.

Except when he’s lonely—then he calls her, says “Let’s have lunch.” And when she’s taking a bite of her pasta—- he never orders anything—- he reaches over and pushes the loose strands of her hair behind her ear.

He always touches her—- when he’s lonely.


What happens next is she meets a guy.

It’s a blind date and she orders a soda just to be safe and she wins him over with her smile and her love of roller coasters.

When he walks her to her car—- she parked under a street lamp, but he’s a gentleman—- she leans against the driver side door, he brushes the hair out of her face, runs his hands down her arms, settles them on her hips, and kisses her.

She trembles and she’s sure he doesn’t know why.

He’ll walk away with the taste of her vanilla chap stick on his lips and this is how it all starts again.

Catch her in the right mood and she might love you for awhile.

(But really, this was never a story about love)


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jan. 29th, 2008 04:39 am (UTC)
This is amazing. Every section, every subtlety you've caught, I especially love the section with the scar on her leg and predictability of his motions.

Absolutely stunning, this is the kind of thing that sticks with you :)
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


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