His mouth tasted of bourbon and cigarettes, his hands were warm around her waist. His voice, when he spoke into her ear, was low and rumbly. These were the tools—his taste, his touch, his smell—he used to ensnare her. Sheet lightning lit the clouds upriver, a high-wattage summer light show that pulsed in sync with her blood.
The river was high, but not over the tracks stitched along the banks and bordered with scrub brush. Tomorrow, the trains would wend their way north—orange engines labouring in opposition to clouds drifting south in concert with the rhythms of the Missouri. She would sit in the mornings as the sun rose and in the evenings as it set, with her feet on the narrow railing that hemmed the porch. Watching. The clouds were ever-changing.
He nuzzled, his breath as hot and moist as the summer air, a trail of entreaty across her neck and shoulders. The invitation was insistent. But she knew that path and her mind wandered. To the river. To the barges, three abreast and six deep, going who knows where, slowly, driven by improbably small pilot boats, engines throbbing.
Her yard was edged with common lilacs, a border lush with heavy clusters of lavender and white. The river breeze carried a whiff of their fragrance, pungent and sweet. She let it settle like a scarf around her and shrugged away his kisses. In the morning, she would leave him.
Susan Caba is a former newspaper journalist, now turning her writing skills to fiction and non-fiction narratives. She lives in Lexington, VA, but house-sits frequently around the country. Hopper's painting reminded her of a month taking care of a house with a porch overlooking the Mississippi River, where she watched the clouds and the water drift along to unknown destinations.
The Ekphrastic Review
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