When Frederick woke up that morning, he wanted her. He could hear Debussy following him around campus that day, as he refilled his pencil with lead, as he dropped coins in the slot and made copies, as he raised his hand in his Ethics class. He chewed on his sautéed carrot slices at lunch and thought of her hair, rippling like the ridges on the carrot slices. He scrubbed his hands in the bathroom and the soap reminded him of her clean smell. Everything about her was clean and smooth, and he wanted everything about her.
He took her out that night. Leah wanted Thai food and he didn’t complain. After he ate Thai food he always felt full and spotless as if Leah were inside of him, fitting into his skin and pushing all the dirt out through his pores. The booth was lumpy and frayed, and while Leah spoke slowly of her 2D design professor, her lips like slices of peach forming the words perfectly, she squirmed from the waist down. Frederick coveted her tiny movements. He couldn’t see, only felt with the tip of his kneecap, once, her smooth leg under the table. He thirsted for her.
At the end of the night, Frederick pulled the car into the dark driveway of her apartment. He made a dramatically sluggish ordeal of shutting the car off, taking the key out of the ignition, and unbuckling. Leah sat still and intelligent in the passenger seat, her hands in her lap, placid as a Thanksgiving snooze. He took one of them on impulse. She had beautiful hands. Her palms were plump and the lines defined. Her knuckles rose smoothly like grassy knolls. Her fingernails were tiny moons of silk. They tasted of seasoned salt as he quickly kissed them, following her arm up to her shoulder as she looked at him, silent and motionless on the leather seat. He paused in front of her face. Molecules hopped back and forth between their noses. He wanted to be clean, he wanted Leah to scour him inside and out.
She put her hand to his chest and pushed him away. One slow push. His eyes grew wide. His mouth was dry. The click of the door filtered into his ears after her slow voice did, “Not yet, Fred,” and she glided inside decades after she shut the front door, leaving him stranded in her soapy scent, his car filling up with foamy bubbles that overcame him. He was suffocated by her long after she was gone.