Charles D. Phillips

W_1375>: Your turn. Tell me one thing about you that might weird me out. >

M_2579>: What, you think I would tell you if I tortured small animals? Okay, I have a cat as black as the devil’s heart. He sometimes (okay, most of the time) chooses to sleep on me. Before he settles in on my right shoulder, he occasionally grooms my ear or my cheek with his quick, sandpaper tongue. He then lays his head against my neck and purrs in my ear before he falls off to sleep, dreaming of fat voles and slow mice. When his purring ceases, his slow, rhythmic breathing lulls me to sleep.

I remember what it was like when a woman did a similar thing. She would softly hum little nonsense melodies as she drifted off to sleep. In her sleep, she would stretch herself against my naked skin, and we would touch in unexpected places. Her knee would rest against my thigh, one of her nipples would bud against my arm, or her chin would touch the top of my shoulder, while her sweaty, rumpled hair pressed against my temple.

On some mornings, we would slowly awaken with the wine still sloshing in our brains and the smells of sex still faintly swirling around us. Each of us would know the other was awake, but we wouldn’t speak or even open our eyes. We would simply lie there, barely touching, and our breathing would synchronize; maybe our hearts would too.

Usually I would never say these things. But, email creates enough emotional distance so that if you reject me, it won’t be so bad. I can imagine all sorts of unpleasant things about you that make it a good idea that we never meet. You think Rush Limbaugh is an intellectual giant. You have bad teeth and smile much too broadly. You wear sensible shoes and don’t shave your legs. You braid your hair and never wash it. Worst of all, you are more needy than I am and even more transparent about that need. The list goes on into infinity.

Besides, what woman would want to meet a man who tells her about sleeping with his cat? But, the cat story symbolizes the combination of affection and trust that I have felt before in my relationships and now miss. The cat relishes curling up next to me and is fully relaxed as he adds my warmth to his own. God, here I am back to the cat again. This is really about me and women. Of course, if we should ever meet and after some excruciatingly long period of dating, during which we decide that we are soul mates, we eventually did go to bed together, I would appreciate it if you would wear a fur coat the first few times, until I get adjusted. >

M_2579>: You still there? >

M_2579>: I hope you know that last part was a joke. >


Charles D. Phillips is a public health professional who lives and teaches in College Station, Texas. His short fiction has appeared in Flashshot, flashquake, HeavyGlow, Long Story Short, and Vestal Review. He also has additional pieces of short fiction forthcoming in Flashshot and Long Story Short. His non-fiction essays have appeared in The Touchstone Magazine and been produced by Touchstone Radio. E-mail: chasphil3[at]

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