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ralph robert moore

When You Surfaced is Copyright © 1998 by Ralph Robert Moore. When You Surfaced was first published in Sign of the Times, Winter '86-'87.

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background on the story

When You Surfaced was the first story I wrote in what later turned out to be the Sex Act cycle of stories, although at the time I saw it as a separate story unconnected to any others.

What intrigued me about Surfaced was the idea of writing a story where the reader's perception of the characters in the story changes significantly as the story progresses. I also liked the notion, as a finesse, of having the final word of the story add a whole new dimension to what had already been read.

I had trouble naming this story. At first I called it "Letter to Toby", then "Dead Branches". The present title is a quote from the text, but has added significance to me because of its similarity to a line ("you never surfaced"), from a Gunther Grass tale about childhood friends who lose touch with each other. Surfacing as metaphor has several meanings within the context of my story, which also helped click the present title into place.

when you surfaced
a short story by ralph robert moore

You're not the first boy I ever kissed, of course, which I never pretended you were, even after you did kiss me (there was Tim too, but that was hurried and Mr. Hinckley opened the gate and put the flashlight on his own face, maybe out of embarrassment, so all we could see from the floor was the light reflecting off his spectacles), but it feels like it's been two months already, though in 'real time' it was only last weekend when you left.

Toby, the cats have been cooing for food all morning, and retracting their heads from my empty coffee cup with a fuddy duddy look on their pusses, but I've just been laying here in bed with a silly smile on my face, trying to get them to jump up on the blankets and stalk my feet, thinking about you and all the warm, special times I've had lately, thanks to you. So I thought I'd write you this letter.

First I have to say that honestly I had no idea how much I would miss you! I keep thinking back on that final evening, sitting on the curb all alone with you on the edge of that huge, empty parking lot, and what you said. I only had to watch your eyes while you stammered it out and ducked your head whenever a police car went cruising by to know you wanted me to believe each and every word of it. And of course I remember what happened after our talk, too. If I close my eyes, like I'm doing right now, I can still feel it. When we were walking back to the porch, and Brenda suddenly pulled up in her station wagon, and I could start to feel my cheeks get really guilty, I can't tell you how much it meant to me that you didn't let go of my hand. I wish I had your cock in my mouth right now so I could show you how much I love you for that!

Is it wrong to miss one part of your body so much? Am I personifying? I hope not, because I keep thinking back to when you led me around to the rear of that big ol' rose bush and cleared away an area on the grass just large enough for our two excited bodies. Though I think you might have missed picking up some of the dead branches: I still have some curly thorn scratches on my rear (at least I think that's what they are-- you were getting pretty passionate towards the end).

When you lay on your back and put all your weight on the soles of your sneakers and the backs of your shoulders to pull your blue jeans down, the first surprise was that thin line of black down running from your navel down to where the rest of your springy hair is, and the second surprise was that you don't wear underwear. Another thing that surprised me-- it took my breath away-- was how you managed to prop your body up over mine for so long-- you have such strong legs, Toby-- maybe you should try out for swimming at college, if they don't make you cut your hair. But they probably would because otherwise when you surfaced your hair would be slicked down right in your eyes so that your cute little bat's ears stuck out, and you wouldn't be able to see to swim back to the shallow end, and maybe you'd drown in the middle of the water, while all the other guys were doing push-ups in the nude at the edge of the pool, thinking you were just clowning around until it was too late and you'd be floating feet up at the bottom of the pool like an upside-down crucifixion. Are all the other guys naked during swim class, Toby? Even that strange Roger who said that thing to me that time you were trying to tell me your joke you just made up? I don't think I could bear to look at him without his clothes on. I think I'd just put my hands up over my face and he'd have to pry my fingers apart to get me to see what he looks like.

Laying here in bed, so comfortable in the safe suburbs, where I just heard the Sunday paper butt against the front door, and everybody at the markets downtown knows me by name, and thinking of us and of you away at college, where you're experiencing so many new challenges, and meeting new people, I'm debating with myself whether I should just call you up to tell you this next little piece of news, instead of simply writing it to you in this letter, which some people might say is maybe the cowardly way of doing it. But I don't really want to leave this bed, because it feels like you're in here with me somehow.

I guess the best thing to do is just come out and write it. I have this upcurving ashtray in bed with me, and each time I put a cigarette in it I forget it, so there are all these upward-curving tubes of ash in there now, like abandoned insect husks. That's how long it's taken to get around to this next sentence. Honest. I've been untrue to you, Toby. Brenda and I made love together-- if you can call what we did all last night making love. I'm sorry I'm so weak, my Toby-- I know I told you she and I would never do that again, but I've been so infatuated with absolutely everything in the world because of my love for you that I've just been in an absolutely itchy state of perpetual horniness.

I don't want you to think that I made the 'first move' either, dearest-- she did. We were both in our swimsuits out back, and she started brushing my hair for me, because I had complained it was hard for me to do it, deliberately sitting down right in front of me on the chaise lounge while she did it so the only thing I had to look at were her gleaming teeth and her breasts, which you know I've always had kind of a weakness for, since they're so full and flawless and there was that time long before all the rest when she grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and pulled my head back until it hurt, then rubbed her fat, warm breasts over and over across my face until my tongue just had to flicker out at the nipples each time they skidded past my lips, and I wanted her so bad then the tears ran down the sides of my face into my ears, muffling my hearing. Well, it was sort of like that this time too. Plus the fact that she's your Mom made it special for me-- you do resemble her a lot, especially your green eyes.

I have to be honest with you, Toby-- my love for you is too great, too all-consuming, etc., for me to be anything less than completely truthful when it comes to my guy. I'm taking a deep breath before I write this next thing down: we did it again this morning. Please don't be hurt, my Toby! She put her hands between my thighs while I was still asleep. I didn't know whose hand it was, of course, since I was still asleep-- I thought it might even, by some wild chance, be yours-- but by the time I fully woke up and saw it wasn't your fingernails lazily scratching me there I was too far gone to push her polish away. And when waking up I stretched and yawned, you can be sure she took full advantage of the fact when I spread my legs apart a little further just to get the blood into them. That bitch! It shows how little you know about people until you find out about them. I kept my eyes closed the whole time though and pretended it was your hand, and that I can swear to. And when after awhile she pushed the sheets down away from my body with her feet and moved her mouth down to you know where, I thought of that one glorious time you and I had together, which was far superior to this morning-- or even the two times last night-- in every way. I mean it, Toby-- she's nowhere near as good or as enthusiastic as you are when it comes to sucking my cock (she said I have a bigger cock than you do, and squirt a lot more out of the top when I come, but that was just to flatter me into wanting to do it again. I don't think we will, though. She's in the kitchen now, feeding the cats. I told her this is just a food list I'm writing, which, come to think of it, it is, 'cause I'd sure love to eat you right now!)

She just put some music on and got back into bed, pulling her pink panties down, flicking them with her right foot to a frilly hang off the top of the dark TV screen, so I'd better go. We're drinking some white wine, which I'm pretending is your delicious, hot sperm. It's chilled though so I think I'll put it on the night table until it reaches room temperature. You're in my thoughts always. Have to go. Love, Dad.