Near the Lake

- Abbi Bloom

Kelly had a relaxing day off work planned and she couldn’t wait for Ben to leave.  She lay in bed under covers and played on her laptop as Ben put on an oversized dress shirt and complained about his job. About to leave her studio, hand on the doorknob, he turned around and sighed.  “I don’t want to go...”

Ben dropped his bag and slid on his belly like a walrus across Kelly’s bed.  He took her laptop out of her hands and set it aside, “Come here, come here.”  He tried to hug her but she kept her arms stiff and under the blanket.  “You just look so comfortable.” He kissed her cheeks and neck, “Why don’t I call in sick and we can lay around in bed watching movies all day.”

“That’s what you always say.”  Ben would go into work even if he was sick.  Kelly called off often.

“I know, I know…  I just wish our work schedules were more similar, so we had more time to spend together.”

“You always say that, too.”

“Shut up…” He squeezed her tight over the blanket. “I love you.  What are you going to do while I’m gone?”  He was genuinely interested and wore a big, tight lipped smile that made his fat cheeks bulge.

“I don’t know.”

“You’re just going to stay in bed being lazy and play on your computer all day, aren’t you, baby?” He kissed her twice “I want you right here when I get back. Stay where you are and we’ll watch a movie tonight.”

“Okay, okay.  Just stop crushing me.” Kelly wiggled out of his grasp.

“I love you,” he kissed her and was almost back at the door when he turned around. “What should we have for dinner?”

“I don’t care.”

“Let’s make something good.  Look up some tasty recipes.  I’ll cook.”

“Sure.”

“Do you want to make love?”

“Now?”

“You want to now?” He took several steps forward, taking the bag off his shoulder, and paused.

“No. Don’t you have to go to work?”

“Yeah, I’d be too late anyway.  I meant later. That’s what I was asking.”

“Go to work, Ben.”

After more kisses and I love yous, he was gone. He had his own apartment with roommates but rarely spent a night away from Kelly’s. She shut her laptop, went to the closet, took off her sweatpants, tee shirt and looked at her naked body in the mirror. She put on a pink bikini and inspected her reflection as if she’d never seen it before, like she often did. Kelly was heavier set but not fat.  She held up pieces of her flesh and then let them fall, turned sideways to the mirror, pushed her stomach in with one hand, straightened her shoulders and  arched her back.  The fact that Ben loved kissing every inch of her meant nothing.

She’d thought up this day the night before.  She put a shirt and a skirt over her bathing suit, packed a bag with a blanket, an apple, a book and headphones and left for the lake.  Not to the beach but to the park next to the lake where waves crashed against a concrete wall.  She liked the sound they made and that she could lie out in the grass and get the experience of the beach without all the fit bodies and judging eyes.

She found a secluded spot near small trees but in plenty of sun and laid out her blanket.  She looked around.  Off in the park a skinny woman did yoga, a couple had a picnic and a few other lone girls lay on their own blankets.  No one was close enough for Kelly to tell if they were ugly or not.

She stripped down to her bikini and stretched, arms up in the air, turning her hips side to side. The lake breeze was refreshing on her skin and she felt as good as naked, liberated.  She was without much shape, her skin was pink and her chin slightly doubled, her eyes a bit too far apart.  But she was happy with her appearance, she’d been told by enough people she should be. She stretched more and sat down.  She put her phone deep in her bag so as not to be disturbed by Ben’s expected texts.

Sitting cross legged, she felt thin about eating an apple and read her book until it lost her attention.  She put her headphones in, her sunglasses on and lay on her back.  After awhile her chest, wide and flat, started feeling hot and she rolled onto her stomach.  Listening to an album by man with a sweet voice and gentle guitar, she grew tired and, comfortable enough with her surroundings, let herself close her eyes and forget about everything.

She wasn’t sure how much time had passed when, during the quiet between songs, she heard the crinkling of grass.  Nearby footsteps.  Lifting her head and opening her eyes to an intense light, she saw a blurry, wavering figure twenty feet away by some bushes.  She closed her eyes and laid her head back down on crossed arms as the next song began, her favorite.  The sun felt good on her back and she imagined the singer’s warm hands rubbing her broad shoulders.

Soon the album was over and she listened to the world beyond her headphones.  Starting to doze, the sounds she heard created images, scenes in her subconscious.  Ben was walking circles around her, struggling to get to her but never coming closer than ten feet.  He was trying to tell her something, but only a distant whimpering was heard. Then he started breathing, faster and faster, and inflating like a balloon.

Grass crunched under feet, coming closer than before and it drew Kelly out of her dream.  Someone was close by, it sounded like they were panting.  They had probably just been exercising. Kelly wouldn’t let herself get paranoid, she was comfortable with her body.  She adjusted her bottoms to make sure they weren’t wedged in any cracks.

The breathing grew louder, accompanied by a consistent rustling noise.  Then it sounded like it was right above her. Her body became tense.  She got up onto her elbows and opened her eyes. She was too nervous to look at anything but the ground in front of her, where a shadow lay, standing still and moving at the same time. She looked up over her shoulder.  The sun blinded her and she said “Hello?”

Her eyes adjusted to a shirtless man a few feet away with a bald head and a hairy belly. He wore nothing but sandals and green swimming trunks which were pulled down.  His dick was out.  He was stroking it.  Looking down at her, his chin was exaggeratedly doubled.  His eyes traveled up and down her prone body, appearing vacant.

She turned her head away, blank faced, blinking excessively, and mumbled, “hello?” again.  Something told her to avoid sudden movements.  She looked back at the short and fat uncircumcised flesh, not fully hard.  His mouth was open and his heavy lower lip hung wet and jiggled with his tugs.

“It’s okay, it’s okay,”   Grunting, bent at the knees, he inched closer, flopping around in his hand like a recently caught fish.

She rolled over, got onto her knees and started shoving her belongings into her bag.  Then she started pulling them out again, looking for her phone. The groans became more excited and she realized she was sticking her ass in the air.   She quickly crawled a few away and turned around to face him, on hands and knees like an animal.  He followed, jerking faster, panting so that she could hear the saliva in his mouth.

She snatched her phone and was about to get up when he stepped even closer. Struggling to keep balance on tippy toes, as if for a better angle, like he wanted it over her head even though he was still a few feet away, he said, “Yes… yes, stay,” and she froze.  Their eyes met, his in a squint.  His lips pursed as he released himself in drips which flung from his soft wiggling self this way and that onto the grass and over her blanket as she slowly stood up, not hit by any of it.

Relieved, she almost laughed as he slowed down and his face came out of its contortion.   She dialed 911 as he pinched from base to head the rest of it out and then put himself away.  She hadn’t yet pressed send when he ran to a nearby bike and started to ride away.  She dropped her phone, fell to her knees, clutched her blanket and wept.  When she looked up he was out of sight.  The park and the people in it looked the same.  She wondered where he went.

She cried more on the train home, afraid to call the police or tell anyone.  She went straight to her apartment and curled up in bed.

A few hours later she heard fumbling at the door and Ben came in, carrying grocery bags.  He asked her about his unreturned texts and missed calls and went on to explain the meal he’d planned.  Pasta with shrimp and a white wine sauce, “and some extra vino for us,” he held up a bottle.

“What’s wrong, baby?”

She pulled the covers up over her shoulders and lay down on her side, turning her head away.

“Baby…”

She brought her blanket over her head.

Ben dropped the grocery bags and jumped onto the bed.  “Honey, Kelly, are you okay?”

“No…” she said.

He grabbed hold of her over the blanket, “What’s the matter? You were so happy when I left.  Baby? Baby…?  Why didn’t you respond to my texts?”

“Why does it have to happen to me?  I don’t understand it.  Bad things always happening to me…”

He lay on top of her and hugged her close, “Tell me, Kelly, sweet Kelly. Did something happen? What’s wrong?  You can tell me.  It’s Ben, you can say it to me.”

She turned her face into the pillow.  “No…”

“What?  I love you with my whole heart… What is it?”

“No, Ben! You’re such a pussy.  Get off of me, you’re such a fucking pussy!”

She cried.