art by Jonathan Westbrook
Still Life Through Water Droplets
by D. Thomas Minton
Brandon wanted to find a woman he could put his arm around and have her shoulder slide into the nook of his armpit. Then he could smell her hair when he pulled her close.
Susan's hair had always smelled of coconut and jasmine. He still had a half-full bottle of her shampoo in the shower, waiting.
"My parents are from the Ukraine," Odette said over the top of her tea cup. "But I was born in Ohio." She didn't speak with a Midwesterner's flat vowels, but neither had Susan.
"I live in Chicago now," she said. "I'm in Boston on business, but I don't want to bore you."
Brandon wished she would stop talking. If he learned too much about her, he might not be able to go through with the personality transfer. He had spent months looking for the right woman.
His hand trembled as he set his cup down. If he failed now, he was afraid he could not go on.
Odette flashed a half-smile. "It's getting late...."
After several heartbeats, Brandon realized she had left the sentence hanging. Had his clumsiness cost him? "Can I walk you to your hotel?"
Her eyes sparkled as she played with the string and little paper square that dangled out of the tea pot. "I was hoping you would offer."
Brandon's heart raced. He glanced at the other patrons in the coffee shop. Did they suspect the crime he was about to commit? It wasn't murder, he reminded himself. No, not murder. More like theft. He could live with theft.
Odette cleared her throat delicately. She stood with her coat buttoned.
Brandon fumbled his arms into his own jacket. Outside, an icy rain soaked them in seconds. Brandon wished he had remembered an umbrella.
Odette had a room on the twentieth floor of a mid-priced hotel. It looked east over the harbor. He shed his coat in the entry way as Odette danced into the bathroom.
She tossed him a towel before closing the door.
Brandon stared at it. He shivered despite the warmth of the room. He had planned every move in detail, but now he couldn't remember them.
Odette came out wrapped in only a towel. Dark hair, tussled and wet, framed her impish grin. She had muscular legs, not the match-sticks women seemed to value. They were like Susan's, but firmer and creamy white.
He backed into the wall as she came at him.