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LODGING

by Edward Wells II



      A young man sat in a room and ate his dinner watching a screen that was displaying text. He read as he chewed. The text told of small creatures with fur on their bodies, who scampered around in a wide expanse. He laughed when the text described another creature with feathers that swooped through the air toward one of these furry creatures.

He stood up and walked to a recess in the wall, placed his dishes into the recess and slid a panel down. There was a quiet hum from behind the panel, as the man returned to his chair. He pressed a button on the screen and then reclined against the flat, firm panels of the chair. He closed his eyes, smiling as the chair angled into a position more perpendicular to the walls, though, with the back still inclined and the leg panel still declined. The hum from behind the panel and the hum of the chair's motion stopped and there was no notable sound.

A young woman sat leaning forward toward a screen, her brow bunched toward the center. The text on the screen explained the construction of the walls that surrounded the woman. The names of the materials were listed, as well as the various amounts used in the construction of these walls, from the refined black synthetics at the core, to the smooth white panels she had looked at before customizing the room. The visible and the detail of the structure was revealed in the text. In the dark of her room the screen's light shown on her face in an unflattering glare.

She placed her right hand over her mouth, then stretched out her left hand and pressed a button on the side of the screen. The room dimmed to dark as she stepped toward the wall opposite the one where her desk and screen sat. She positioned herself in front of the second panel from the corner to her right and slid the open palm of her hand from the left to the right of the panel. The panel slid to the right revealing a corridor of emollient light. The soft light shed the dark of the woman's room several inches in, illuminating her feet and shins. She held her eyes still and her lids steady as she pushed her brown hair behind her ears and stepped forward further into the soft light and the corridor.

                                                                                                      * * *

The man stood tapping his head against the singular panel of his wall. The panel was intentionally different than all of the others. He had redecorated the room only recently. He tapped his forehead softly against the panel and then straightened his neck, directing his gaze straight ahead. He lifted his hands and placed them on either side of the distinct panel, leaning forward and then pushing away with a sudden motion before his nose would touch, only to step forward slightly and again tap his head against the panel.

                                                                                                      * * *

Again sitting up in his chair and, leaning forward slightly, he pressed a button on his screen. He then leaned back and began to lower his gaze over the lines of text that were presented on the screen. The text described how to close the door of the room after opening it. The man stood and walked to the singular panel and slid his hand from the left to the right of the panel, stepping back suddenly as the panel slid to the right.

The woman lowered the panel in front of the recess where she had placed her empty dishes. She smiled as she listened to the hum and laid down onto her flattened chair. The hum continued for the usual length of time and then stopped. Her door, the panel, her eyes, and her lips were closed, and the room became dimmer and finally dark as her smile relaxed, and her breathing became fluid.

                                                                                                      * * *

The sensitive hand reached out and its soft skin slid fleetly from left to right. The door slid open, and the thin feet carried the light frame out into the corridor. She walked until the corridor turned left, then she turned left and continued walking. Despite turns at different angles, there was only ever one way to go. She could simply turn around and walk and walk without thought until she came to her door, which would still be open, just like the one ahead on her right, walk inside and slide her hand from right to left on the single panel to the right of opening. She walked by the open doorway without slowing.

The shadow would have been hardly noticeable if the lights in the room had been at full brightness, but, as he sometimes did, he was sitting in semi-dark, and the corridor's light could be noticed to spill into the room. The darkness had come, passed over, and left before he turned to look into the corridor. Seeing nothing, he rose and walked to the corridor. Looking left, then right, he saw her back and finally stepped out into the corridor. He sighed as the corridor's light enveloped his body. He took two steps toward. They were much longer than her own; then quickening his stride, he cleared his throat audibly.

She stopped and turned moving toward the source of the sound. He made another sound and raised his right hand. She smiled and raised her left hand. They both lowered their hands, and began to examine each other as their final steps placed them within several feet of each other.



Edward Wells II is a writer, recently returned to schooling. Some of his most recent works have appeared in Blue and Yellow Dog, Counterexample Poetics, and Heavy Bear. His most recent collection was released by Full of Crow and is entitled Mexico 2009. His author page can be found on facebook.




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ISSUE:
W I N T E R
2011-2012


New Fiction

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MINE RESCUE
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LODGING
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SPACE BAR
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