Instruction (Flash Fiction)

Bob looked in the mirror and sighed. Acne spotted his narrow face. His hair, even after forty minutes of attempted control, was a chaotic mess. He patted at the cowlicks only to see them spring up again. He examined his shirt and how it clung to his thin torso. He changed to a different shirt and looked again. He changed his shirt three more times only to find that his teenage chest was always lacking any discernible muscle.

He asked his mom to simply drop him off at the corner rather than in front of the house. She objected at first, saying that it was no inconvenience to her, but he insisted. When she saw the sincerity in Bob’s eyes, she smiled and quietly complied. Her little man was growing up.

Bob walked quickly down the sidewalk with his eyes down and his hands shoved deep into his pockets. It was an early Saturday afternoon, and Bob was in great jeopardy and being spotted by a friend. Kids roamed the suburban streets, mostly younger than him, but he saw some near his age. He avoided eye contact. When he found the walkway to his destination, he was moving so quickly he was nearly jogging. He rang the doorbell and hid himself from the street while he waited.

And then she opened the door.

“Hello, Bob,” she said. “It’s good to see you again.” She wore a yellow sundress that floated freely around her knees and left her shoulders bare. A healthy bosom nestled an eye-catching necklace and Bob struggled to avert his eyes.

“Hello, Catherine,” he said. “I mean Ms—”

“Catherine is fine,” she said with a subtle smile. “Please come in.” He did, and she closed the door behind him.

Catherine led him through a modest living room, across the white tiles of her kitchen, and into her den. The walls were filled with books and a pristine piano dominated the center of the room. She sat him down on the bench, a hardwood that was painted black to match the instrument, and sat beside him.

“Nervous?” she asked.

“Uhh,” Bob said. Catherine’s sweet scent swirled around him. “I guess so.”

“This is your first lesson, yes?” she asked. Bob nodded. She smiled. “Place your hands.”

Bob raised his hands and hovered them over the keyboard, not knowing what to do. She took his hands in hers, her skin soft as silk, and settled them appropriately. She tapped his foot with her bare toes and told him where to place his own. Bob saw that her dress drifted up beyond her knees when she was seated. Her legs were tanned and smooth. He began to sweat, and the pads of his fingers stuck to the cool, white keys.

The training was horrendous. Bob was hopelessly lost from beginning to end. He kicked Catherine twice and apologized profusely, leaving himself so embarrassed he wished he could climb inside the piano bench and hide forever. But Catherine was gracious in her patience and soothing with her smiles. Every touch from her fingers made Bob’s skin dance with electric life. Every smile sent his heart into a dancing spin. The outside world ceased to exist, and the world stood still.

In the final moments, Bob fumbled with a section of keys on his end of the piano. Catherine leaned over to place his hand a final time. Her hair tickled at his nose and filled his nostrils with the light smell of coconut. Her arm brushed against his wrist and Bob’s teenage body took control. A hardness began to form, much to his terror. Bob focused intensely on the final lesson of the day, hoping to drive the blood in his body to any other place, but there was no use. His young, male body was fully at the ready.

“Well done,” Catherine said as she stood. “I look forward to our next lesson.”

Bob only sat and stared with a look of absolute shame on his face and his hands placed firmly in his lap.

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