ARDOR Literary Magazine

ARDOR Literary Magazine - Issue Two, May 2013

Issue One, Published January 2013

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FEATURED PROSE TOUCH A Short-Story By MICHAEL LANDWEBER It ascends just as she finishes with his neck, her fingers pressing against the base of his skull, rolling downward toward his shoulders, easing his head back onto the table. The first time, Kathy was surprised – it crept up on her so silently that she did not notice it until she moved down the table to work on his legs. But now, it is a familiar part of their routine. Kathy lets her hands wander to his temples and forehead, her well-trained fingertips kneading in gentle circular motions. The lights dimmed, lavender candles burning – a pause in the lilting music allows the cricket chirps and bird songs embedded in the CD track to momentarily solo. This is her office, the Satori room at the Serenity Day Spa. The man on her table is a regular client. He has never acknowledged his erection to her, not in the seven months that he's been coming in for massages. And, of course, she pretends not to see it, even as she stares at the bulge beneath the sheet. His eyes stay closed from the moment she enters the room. His breathing never changes. She often wonders if he is asleep. At the end of each session, Kathy reminds him to drink plenty of water. He says nothing in response, by that time face down on the table, having rolled himself over on her cue halfway through the session, the only indication she gets that he is conscious. Kathy never sees him stand up and put his robe back on. She never takes his payment; she leaves that to whoever is manning the register. He leaves a generous tip on his credit card and schedules his next appointment at the desk. Kathy doesn't watch him leave. Her thoughts return to the moment – always stay in the moment so your client does not have to, Evan would say – and she leaves his face with a caress. His arms lay limp by his side, waiting for her touch. She picks up his left arm, finding the pressure points and rolling out the tension. Kathy takes hold of his wrist and turns it clockwise, then counter. She touches his fingers, his palm, with her own, bending his hand back until she meets resistance, pausing only momentarily to consider the wedding ring. There is not enough light in this room to catch a reflection, a glint, but she imagines it sparkles. Kathy expects the erection to recede each time she touches his ring, the reminder of his vows. But his eyes remain closed, his breathing even, his erection firm. Maybe, she thinks, he forgets his wife for a few moments during the massage. Maybe, Kathy hopes, it is because of me. Maybe, she thinks in those moments, just maybe, this is what it feels like. How it begins. Kathy is intimately aware of the topography of the muscles of others, the landscape of her livelihood. She fears – she believes – that her own muscles are so buried under layers of fat, on her arms, on her legs, on her back, as to be completely unexcavatable. (cont.)

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