General Fiction posted July 31, 2017

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escaping the cage

The Cage

by apelle

It was a very hot summer day. Even when night arrived, everything still smoldered. On the sidewalks, people drowned in sweat.

Not for her--sprawled across the bed waiting for him. She waited more than an hour in a studied pose--dipped in spicy perfume and perspiring from the heat--playing music said to have magnetic, erotic powers.

The corpses of six cigarettes in the ashtray and no knock at the door. No knock. Not even an accident of wind or a child playing in the hall.

She wanted to change her mind and leave but something in her remained hopeful.

He called the next day and apologized--he had many excuses.

What was the point?

On the phone, his words were a mumble. Not because the connection was bad but because she didn't care.

"I was...I arrived...they had..."

"Stop," she shout before hanging up.

Breaking up can be liberating. People tend to hold a relationship like treasure.

Why bother?

It's more pleasant to be alone.

Why worry about what was said yesterday?

If yesterday you said love, then today you have to continue saying love. But to have loved yesterday and today no longer feel love--to falsely smile or make false sweet talk--communicating instead as if there were no kind words left in the world...that is not love.

Breaking up is human nature. People, women in particular, spend their time creating love, but too many of them share it with someone who does not show up. He doesn't show up because he knows he'll be forgiven.

But she did not want to be a fountain of forgiveness. She looked at the golden sky.

In frustration, she picked up a newspaper and saw that a famous tiger had returned to the city zoo.

I'll go see the tiger.

The zoo was packed with too many mothers herding misbehaving children.
Children are not allowed to stick fingers in their nose in public.

But, here in this foreign land, none of the mothers knew or cared.

She looked for a sign to see if she was allowed to smoke. No sign. She took this as permission and lit a cigarette in front of the tiger. Young, but he had the dead eyes of a zoo tiger. She knew the eyes of a wild animal--they looked nothing like this tiger's eyes.

He looked directly at her and had the good sense to be ashamed of his captivity. She looked back, but not as an admiring a fan like the surrounding idiots.

You couldn't even fight the move from one cage to another.

The tiger, close to the bars, slid his nose through. Mothers and children drew back in fear.
The tiger looked up at her in submission.

Well, not really. Of course not.

From behind bars the story changes. She blew smoke in the tiger's face--he did not flinch. He looked at her as if the smoke was punishment he had to bear for not fighting.

The next day it rained--she was happy. With the tiger in her, with rain all around.

She thought about going back to the zoo, but she didn't have enough money so she didn't.
Instead, she went to him and knocked at the door.

He was in his underwear. Taut body, handsome.

"Listen carefully," she said. "Want to have sex? For three minutes?"

"Three minutes?

"Yes, that's what I want. Okay?


She entered the bedroom, got naked, and waited for him to get naked too. He grabbed her hair and whispered something unintelligible--nothing that interested her.
It took over two minutes.

Silently, while he watched in drowsy despair, she got dressed and left. Outside, the rain cooled her sweat and cleansed her thoughts.

She never got everything she wanted--sometimes, she didn't get anything she wanted. She didn't want to be the tiger. But, maybe she was...

Stop writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
Write a story of any type. But at someone point your character must shout: Stop!
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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