The Incident At Wolf Creek



Our faces are glowing in unsubtle ways and we are hurtling towards home, through the interstate wilderness of the American west coast, when she questions my ability to write about fucking. This road trip will end in five hours and in our words and lower backs, we want it to be over sooner. In our heads, we could drive in this or any other direction for some days if only there were a better place to be. I’m driving now, because I like it, because I know she’ll tell me I look good when I drive her car and she’ll squeeze my right leg until I whimper. She is reclined and eating dried wasabi-covered peas, her bare feet sprawled and sliding across the dashboard in welcome distraction.“Would you ever write about what just happened?” she asks me.

“I’m not sure. But if I did, I’d probably call it The Incident At Wolf Creek,” I say.

“That’s good, but would you actually write erotica? Have you ever done that?” I don’t like where this is going.

“Of course I could do that,” and my face is twitching because I know that I cannot, in fact, do that. I cannot write about those bits and who put what where and in what general order, not with the kind of illustrative finesse that keeps the late night internet so well populated by bleary-eyed loneliness. I look at her, my face contorted into the shanty of lies I am building for her, and I see doubt. I am falling notches per second. I am less impressive. I am unimaginative. I am “Cold Fish” on the squeezy love box thing at the County Fair. I am repressed. I am sweating profusely. I am gripping the steering wheel too hard when I finally say that it’s simply a matter of finding my own angle, finding some different way of writing about it. I am momentarily saved and mistakenly proud.

“I don’t believe you.”

“No really, I could totally do it. The problem is that reactions will be unanimously mixed, weighted heavily towards disgust,” and I’m feeling pretty good about this one.

“You don’t like to write anything intimate about yourself. You’ll never write this erotica,” and she has nailed me on a technicality, because this is her gift. I have only the defensive subject-changing.

“Could we not foul the memory of it with your smear campaign? I want to talk about something else. I have some things to say about pleated long pants.”

She is laughing now, forgetting that she has been eating dried wasabi-covered peas when she reaches over to wipe a stray eyelash from my eye. I am instantly blinded and teary, swerving and shouting that I do not understand why she would “put the powdered horseradish in my see-hole.” I am legitimately injured and I know that I will benefit from this when she lowers her voice and leans in to touch my arm and stroke my hair. My eye is dry and she is talking sweetly into my cheek when I see Wolf Creek again, when I see her still car tucked in that stand of trees that concealed the frantic grasping and gravity of seduction, the clothes flung everywhere. I see that we are unable to absorb enough of each other, through our mouths and new bare skin. I see the spread of that quiet fever when she crawls inside my ear to whisper the encouragements that intoxicate me with the breath that carries them. I see hands pressed hard against cloudy windows to brace against the thrust of the moment that leaves us collapsed, as if beneath the weight of the entire forest around us. I see us catch our breath and fumble for blue jeans and the door handle that lets us tumble together to the cool ground, so completely overwhelmed by this summer’s lush Roman spring.

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