Exclusive Excerpt from Survivors
by Jessie Pinkham
It’s day three of clouds and we’ve progressed to a reasonably heavy rain, which is good for the crops and also for spending the afternoon inside with Nate. Sure, Lily is home too, but she’s upstairs in her room leaving us the living room and we’re taking advantage of that by making out on the couch.
I have to say, I miss movies less now that making out is an option. We didn’t start with making out. We started playing dominoes but there’s only so long dominoes can be entertaining. Kissing Nate I could do for a long time, though the longer we kiss the more restricting my shorts are.
If circumstances were different I’d be dragging Nate up to bed about now. Actually, who do I think I’m kidding, I’d have him not only upstairs but naked, an image which definitely doesn’t help in the restricting shorts department.
My guy is a fantastic kisser with nimble lips, and I’ve finally gotten my hands in his hair, so this day is a complete success as far as I’m concerned. I’m reluctant to separate myself from him, but for one thing we could both probably use a break to catch our breath and for another my shorts are getting really uncomfortable. It’s best to cool things down if they aren’t going any further.
“I’m developing a new appreciation for rain,” he says.
“We are turning you into a farmer.”
“Oh right, it’s good for that too.”
I steal another quick kiss, to no complaint, and go grab some tea. We don’t have ice so I could never call it iced tea in the first place and now it’s lukewarm, but still a nice break from our usual plain water. I’ve never cared for hot tea but real iced tea, not the premixed crap, is refreshing on a hot summer day and I accumulated a reasonable tea stash in my scavenging.
“I’d like to draw you,” Nate tells me. He must’ve gone upstairs because his sketchbook and pencils are on the side table.
“Are we talking starving artist on doomed ship with star-crossed lover kind of drawing?”
He chuckles. “No. Not now, anyway. Your face, I mean, if you don’t mind.”
“I don’t mind. Is there anything special I need to do?”
“Try to hold still, mostly.”
“That much I can manage.”
In actuality holding still is more of a challenge than I thought. Because I’m supposed to minimize movement I should’ve expected that I’d get an itch and then have to sneeze, and I’m not sure I get my three-quarters pose exactly the same after I let Sadie out for a bathroom break. Plus I laugh once at Lucky’s attempt to catch his tail.
Posing for Nate is a different kind of intimacy. We aren’t talking, just sitting while he draws and I try not to move. The intimacy is in the careful way he looks at me, the scrutiny I’m allowing. This is an entirely new experience for me and a good twenty minutes have gone by before I’m comfortable.
He’s not the only one looking closely. For lack of anything else to do I watch Nate as he draws, noting the way he frowns slightly in concentration then smiles when he gets something right. He begins with broad strokes and then settles into adding detail.
“Done,” he says after close to an hour.
“Do I get to see it?”
In response Nate hands me his sketchbook, from which I’m looking up at myself in greyscale. He’s a good artist, though it’s possible I’m biased.
“This is good,” I tell him.
“I’m glad you think so.”
Now, I’m not an artistic guy by any means. My high school art teacher despaired of me half the time, though I’m pretty good at woodworking. The point is, drawing better than I do is ridiculously easy, but Nate’s portrait is a completely different level. He’s really talented and probably has put in a fair amount of practice.
“You’re really talented.”
“I’m no Michelangelo, but I’m not bad. Everyone needs a hobby, right?”
“I’m inclined to agree with any statement I can use to justify even unproductive fishing trips.” Especially since unproductive trips are the most common kind around here.
“Of course you are.”
The rest of the afternoon speeds by with a lot of movie impressions and a few more kisses. Before I know it the time has come for evening chores.
Nate goes to the well while Lily and I take care of the livestock. On the way to the barn she asks, “What’s the deal with Nate’s celibacy?”
“It’s really not my place to get into that.”
“Right, I just mean, I can’t see you being happy with that.”
“If you’re asking if we’re going to be celibate forever, Ms. Nosypants, the answer is no.”
“I’m not nosy. I’m looking out for your wellbeing.”
She’s right that a celibate relationship wouldn’t cut it for me. Still, “By delving into my sex life. I think that qualifies as nosy.”
“Nope. Try concerned sister.”
“Fine. I hereby relieve you of the need to be concerned about my sex life, which is heading in the right direction, thank you very much.”
“Only heading, huh?”
“At least now I know you weren’t spying on us making out earlier.”
“Please. I have boundaries.”
She does, but it’s so easy to rile her up on the subject.
“Besides, last time I checked you were the one prone to spying on siblings who are making out.”
“That was years ago.”
“Sure, but you still have a history of it where I don’t.”
For lack of a more clever response I simply roll my eyes. I really need to work on better comebacks.