I'm about to graduate (June 1st) with an English Literature major but last quarter I took my first creative writing course and this quarter I'm spending 8 weeks in Prague on a school abroad which is focusing on creative writing and studio art. Anyway, here is a shorty story I wrote/revised and submitted to a writing competition... enjoy (or not.) Walt Remembers \tIt was a pleasure to exhaust the body. \tWalt enjoyed the vertical motions of lifting a weighted steel bar. He lowered the bar to his chest. The empty gym room was pleasantly silent. His hands were dry and smooth and chalked. He ground his teeth and lifted the bar upward, a quick fluid motion. He pursed his lips and inhaled, lowering the bar to his chest. He closed his eyes and in a brief tangent of thought he imagined Sydney watching him. He pictured her. She was biting her lower lip, examining him. Her stare wandered from his calves to his gym shorts. He would raise the bar into its resting position and sit up with strong posture and salty beads of sweat tingling his face. She would step over to him, sit on his lap. His would squeeze her firm body around the waist. Sydney would press a hand against his chest, digging at the flesh with acrylic nails. His would slide a calloused hand up her thigh beneath a white skirt. \tHe shook his head, came back to reality. Back to the silent gym. He raised the bar then lowered it again, and again till he felt drained. He returned the bar to the safety. His lay on his back with his arms dangled over the sides of the weight bench. He breathed heavily with eyes closed and felt his muscles tighten. \tWalt remembered his father telling him, When I'd get excited with a woman I'd excuse myself before getting stupid, and lift weights. Apparently lifting weights would release all the pent up hormones, or something. Walt didn't feel like anything had been released after the gym. His body felt exhausted and sore but still in need of removing something, a tension of some kind. \tHe thought of another time when he came home to his parent's house, sort of drunk. His father had been watching the Spanish channelâ€“â€“some Mexican game show. The TV camera focused on a beautiful Latina with bulging cleavage. â€œWhat are you watching, Dad?â€ he had asked. â€œI like breasts too, son,â€ his father grinned and chuckled at the television. That was when Walt knew he had to move out. \tWalt opened his eyes. He sat up and looked at himself in the gym mirrors. The company logo on his shirt reminded him of when he met Sydney during financial services training. He'd known who she was since high school but they'd never met. Her house was six blocks from Walt's apartment. Her house was tall and slender. Sydney walked with what Walt thought was probably a practiced walk. Her hips rocked up and down, her round bottom moved hypnotically. He secretly wished she'd catch him staring. He wished she'd let him sit behind her and put his hands in her hair. \tWalt left the gym, exhausted legs dragging underneath him. His pickup truck wasn't fancy. It was an automatic. The windows were manual roll-downs and there wasn't an electronic locking system. The truck lurched forward stupidly from its parking spot. He turned on the radio and listened to the news. There was a story about a high school shooting in the country the day before. Some crazed student brought an automatic to school and shot a bunch of other students and teachers. The boy had been upset about being teased, so it said in his suicide note. Walt had had four friends in high school, none of which he wanted to think about at the moment. \t At his apartment, Walt fumbled with the keys. Inside, he kicked his sneakers off onto the once-white polyester carpet, now muddied and faded. He swiveled his feet back and forth into fur-lined slippers. He had the urge to dance and move fluidly, barefoot on a hardwood floor. This was odd. He hated dancing. His cat did more dancing than he had ever done. That same cat lay asleep next to a heating vent now. It wasn't that Walt hated dancing. He just was bad at moving in fluid rhythmic motions besides vertical ones. You can't dance by moving just up and down. \tHe sat down at his black-cushioned desk chair. He grabbed a photo off the bulletin board above the desk, a photo of his friends Alvey and Isaac. They were standing twenty yards down a cement boardwalk. They looked miniature in the photo. The sky was blue and green tree leaves entered around on the edges. It wasn't anything spectacular but he kept it for the woman he'd caught in the photo, too. She had thick blond hair and rainbow striped knee-socks. She was on roller skates. Her skirt was pleated and she wore a bikini top. She held a Walkman in her left hand. No, that was her right hand. He always got it backwards. His left, their right. Their right, his left. He wondered what she had been listening to. \tWalt put his thumb over his friends. He dropped his pants and boxer-briefs down to his ankles. I bet I look stupid, he thought. After a few minutes his toes curled and he pulled his pants up, dropping the photo on the desk. \tHe stood and walked to his refrigerator. It was an old fridge with a car door handle. He looked around inside. Cottage cheese, beer, Oberweis milk, chicken breast, cucumbers. Nothing appealed to him. Yogurt, romaine lettuce, protein shakes, pineapple. Walt once read in a book that pineapple can make your semen taste sweet. He grabbed a bottle of Oberweis milk and chugged some, then placed it back. \tA car horn sounded outside. He went to his window. It was his mother's Volkswagen. He had completely forgotten they were going to the grocery store after the gym. He grabbed a thin fleece and pulled it over his head and went outside to the vehicle. \tâ€œYou smell horribleâ€ his mom said. \tâ€œNice to see you, too, Ma,â€ Walt said. She drove to the end of the road and turned left without looking. \tWalt's mom, Jodie, and his father, Jack, had divorced three years earlier and Walt had been moved out four years earlier. Walt never knew why they separated, exactly. It started out as his father sleeping in the guest room every night. Walt asked his father why and he'd say that his snoring kept Mom awake. Then his mom began going to the gym a lot. She was determined to be thin again. â€œI haven't looked this good since I was your age,â€ she would tell him. She was always getting upset with Jack for not wanting to lose weight either. He was 6'1â€ and 230 lbs. Sure, he had a bit of a belly but he wasn't, like, obese. Walt never saw why it was a big deal that his Dad didn't work out, too. \tAfter a year of sleeping in separate rooms, his mom started traveling a lot. First to New Mexico to visit her mother. Then to Hawaii to visit some uncle Walt had never met, only heard of. Six months after Hawaii she took a trip to Paris and Rome. Walt had asked how she had afforded it, \t â€œIt was dirt cheap. I used frequent flyer miles I'd saved from business trips and now that I'm unemployed they expire. I should use them, don't you think?â€ Walt had wanted to ask her why she didn't invite her own husband. His father had stayed home alone with the dog for three weeks. Two years after that trip, they got a divorce. It wasn't ugly like some divorces. \tAt the grocery store, his mom wanted to buy pie ingredients. He followed her around the aisles. He grabbed a few things and tossed them in the cart. This was supposed to be their quality time together. Walt remembered when Sydney brought two homemade pies, apple and strawberry-rhubarb, to work. She made the best pies, better than Walt's mother. He had a slice of each, they were warm and sweet and tart. He thought what it would be like to make a pie with Sydney. He'd hold her hips and watch over her shoulder as she rolled out the dough. \tAfter the grocery trip he showered and his toes curled on the tile floor. Hot showers took a little bit longer. He went to his bedroom and got into his bed. Walt wanted to enjoy it more, when his toes curled. He thought it would help release pent up hormones. Walt lay in bed, his hands drifted to underneath the sheets. He looked out his bedroom window. It was guarded by three stainless steel metal bars installed vertically on the outside. Burglar protection, he considered. Then suddenly, in the way a good idea enters the mind, a distinct memory filled his consciousness. \tHe was six or seven and in his childhood house near Chesapeake Bay. His parents and his older brother Joseph were there. It was a spring evening. His parents had sent him and his brother to bed early. Walt had slyly wandered out of his bedroom and crouched at the top of the staircase in his Elmo-red onesie. The soles of the feet were white rubber. He slid on his butt down the carpeted steps till he could see his parents on the couch. He gripped the rail posts, watching them. His parents had put a movie in. Walt couldn't remember the title. He couldn't remember the plot or actors either. But, he remembered the people engaging each other (he didn't know it was sexual then). Then, he remembered something more about his parents. He had watched them begin to mimic the movie actors. His father's face buried in his mothers chest. Then they were naked. \tWalt's eyes popped open and he rolled to his side to look out the window. He tried to forget. The memory felt fuzzy in his head. He wasn't sure if he made it up or if it was real. How could he remember something from so long ago so distinctly? It felt real. Walt closed his eyes and thought of Sydney. Then, he thought of kissing someone who wanted to kiss him, too.