BHM The Untouchables (SSBHM, Romance, Karma)

Discussion in 'Recent Additions' started by Unbasher, Dec 24, 2018.

  1. Jan 11, 2019 #41

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 8 (2/3). Griffin: Curiosity


    Whatever haunted Blanche in the mirror, apparently it chased her through the woods as well, or maybe it was just her default walking speed. At any rate there was no way I could keep up. Whether it was the noise of my panting or something else, suddenly Blanche snapped out of her trance, waited for me to catch up and then matched her stride to mine. I hated how I slowed her down, even if she never gave off a judgmental vibe. In fact, judging by her currently contented face and deep breathing, she seemed to enjoy our slow pace through the crunching snow. She was even walking in relative closeness to me. Once our gloved hands even bumped into one another, which startled her but didn’t make her jump. For some reason, she was doing better with proximity when she was bundled up or at least wearing gloves.

    As opposed to the last few days, we weren’t dealing with icy wind and/or rain today but a mild zero degrees. No sun but no wind either, and coupled with the exercise, we were both getting warm. I had long ago opened my jacket and pocketed my gloves and scarf while Blanche carried hers in her right hand in a small bundle. Without her noticing, I stretched out my left hand towards a low-hanging branch to scoop up a handful of snow that almost melted on the spot on my heated skin. Quickly I then stepped behind Blanche and stuffed the whole handful into her open collar.

    “Aaargh, what the crap?!”

    She whirled around, shaking and wiggling to get the snow out. It was funny as hell. Watching her gather up two handfuls of snow, too, most of all because my ball hit her shoulder before she could shape her first. My last snowball fight had been years and probably more than a hundred pounds ago, so dodging and crouching were a lot harder now, but it helped that Blanche did throw like a girl. By the time we were both sinking down on a fallen log, panting and covered in snow, she was laughing harder than I had ever seen her. She looked so beautiful with the small crystals melting on her nose and hair and she practically begged to be hugged. Surely she realized by now that whatever had happened to make her withdraw would never happen with me.

    Blanche was on her feet an instant after I’d turned to her and raised my arms, looking every bit the frightened deer in headlights.

    “I’m sorry, I… I just can’t.”

    She actually retreated when I hefted myself up and took a step towards her. “Hey, it’s OK,” I tried to calm her with my palms raised, watching her eyes dart towards and away from mine. “Blanche, what’s wrong? Do… do you have a skin condition?” Her face shuttered and I pressed on before she might bolt, “because if you do, you should know that air will work wonders. Whatever it may look like, it can’t be worse than this.”

    As always, my reference to my weight caused her to blush violently despite my reassuring grin. I knew I should stay put but just couldn’t stop myself. I took another step towards her.

    “I can’t… I… I’m sorry!” she cried and ran off.



    Yes, I still felt for her but in that moment I could have throttled her, too. What did she think I was going to do to her? Besides, what condition could be so bad that she feared I, a guy around 500 pounds, would judge her? She needed me, just as much as I needed her, only she refused to accept help. If this scene was an indicator for what was to follow in the next few months, I already knew I wouldn’t last. It had been hard enough to come this far but without any physical support I wouldn’t get much further. Blanche’s single shoulder nudge had shown me how much I needed someone to acknowledge and treat me as a person, a physical being. I may sound like Eeyore but I really needed a hug. Silke hadn’t hugged me in weeks and the way people eyed me like they would a freak at a circus show didn’t exactly give me confidence another woman would take her place in the near future either. In a way, I was as untouchable as Blanche and it was undoing me.

    Whether she had run back to the house or not, I just couldn’t go back yet, so I trudged on. Mine was a snail’s pace, of course, and I had to take rests, but at least I didn’t get sore this time. If I accepted and adjusted to my body’s limitations, I could do this. At least one little shining ray on a day that had turned to shit within a few minutes.

    In the end it wasn’t my muscles that demanded a return to the house, it was my stomach. I was hungry, hungry for fries, in fact. Great. Blanche may have told me to never justify myself for my appetite but she had no clue what she was talking about. At my size, I couldn’t afford that attitude.



    When I let myself inside the house sometime later, Blanche’s boots and coat were in their places but she was nowhere to be seen. Only when I’d pulled off my own boots with difficulty and hung up my jacket did she emerge from the bedroom, her eyes not quite on mine.

    “Hey.”

    “Hey.” I hadn’t meant to answer in a bark but the sight of her suddenly pissed me off. All she had to do was open up a little but no, she had to be a drama queen about it.

    “Are you hungry yet?”

    “What do you think?”

    She glanced up at my tone with a frown but didn’t rise to the bait. “Rice, cauliflower and veggie patties?”

    “Fine.” Dammit, couldn’t she snap at me for my tone like a normal person?

    Not one word was exchanged during our meal preparation and of course no touch either. Blanche always carefully maneuvered around me and by now I should be used to it but when she actually flinched when I reached over in her direction to open a cupboard, I snapped.

    “Geez, Blanche, I get that you don’t want to be touched but could you stop treating me like a leper? I got enough of that from Silke!”

    Instantly her teeth sank into her lower lip. “I’m sorry. I’ll try, OK?”

    Just when I could have used some of her spirit, she cowered, great. Why couldn’t she bark back at me and let us clear the air?

    “Weight loss is slow going and that sucks,” I now heard her gentle voice on my right, “but I think you’re doing great.”

    “Well, I don’t feel great!” I whirled around to her infuriatingly calm face. “Every day is a freaking battle and I’ve still got nothing to show for it!”

    “I disagree. True, you don’t look any different but you were keeping up pretty well earlier.”

    I threw down the knife I’d been using. “You call wheezing while moving at a snail’s pace ‘pretty well’?”

    “Yes.”

    Her cheeks turned pink but she held my gaze, even when I continued to stare at her. She really meant it.

    “Thanks for saying that.” Still, her faith in me didn’t help much. Resisting the urge of taking the bus to the closest burger place was getting harder every day. “To be honest, I don’t know how much longer I can keep it up. I appreciate everything you’re doing but at the end of the day I’m in this all alone.”

    In that moment I couldn’t care less how pathetic I sounded. She had no idea what I was going through. Yeah, she had her own shit to deal with but it was nothing a few therapy sessions couldn’t fix. After a while I sensed that Blanche was still looking at me and at last I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to look up. To call that look in her eyes ‘intense’ would be the understatement of the year.

    “Griffin? Will you promise to do as I say?”

    “What? When?”

    “In a moment.”

    How can a person stare for so long without saying a word? “OK,” I eventually heard myself agree.

    “Good. Keep your hands by your sides then.”

    What the—wow. Blanche was standing as close to me as she never had. Now her arms gently settled around my neck and next I felt my soft body mold around her thin one while she pulled herself closer, carefully angled her head and placed it on my left shoulder. She was hugging me! Oh God, how long it had been since Silke had hugged me like that! My arms twitched with the need to hug her back but I had made a promise.

    “If you want, you can put your hands on my back, but only there.”
     
  2. Jan 11, 2019 #42

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 8 (3/3). Griffin: Curiosity


    I didn’t have to be told twice and a second later I felt the hard panes of her back underneath my fingers. Whatever Blanche’s issues were, she was facing her fears tonight, and her courage couldn’t have come at a better time. I hated that I needed her so much but I did. Just by holding me it was as if she was sharing the impossible inner strength she possessed so I could keep going. I wanted more of that.

    I’d become used to hugging a short, big woman for years and now I was holding a thin one almost my own height. It was unfamiliar, to say the least, but an unfamiliar I longed to turn into familiar. Softly I breathed her in. Her hair gave off that slightly ripe smell that indicated a wash was due in a day or two but not in a yucky way. This was her scent, and the faint smell of her laundry detergent. I could feel her breathing deeply as well. Was she trying to smell me, too? Suddenly I felt her hands run gently across my upper back.

    “I think you stand a good shot at a normal, healthy life. Please don’t give up.”

    I literally couldn’t speak for a moment. “Thanks.”

    She might have wanted to pull away long before now but I needed to hold on just a little while longer. These past weeks had taken a toll on me. At last I willed myself to pull away before things turned weird and she never offered to hug me again. Yeah, I wanted an ‘again’. For once Blanche’s face was unreadable but her eyes still couldn’t be called anything but ‘intense’. She definitely didn’t look weirded or grossed out.

    “Thank you. You have no idea how much I needed that.”

    Her dark head shook and her eyes turned from intense to sad. “I have every idea. Excuse me.” And for the second time in 24 hours she bolted to the bathroom.

    ‘A normal life’. The word ‘normal’ seemed to hold more significance for her than for other people. It was as if she was saying: ‘YOU stand a good shot even though I don’t, and I want you to have it.’ She was beating herself up about something, thinking that everyone deserved happiness but her. I had to know what had happened. It was time the gloves came off, figuratively as well as literally.



    ~~~



    At first it looked as if we were back to square one, but a discovery three days later while Blanche was out on a walk changed it all: I found her YouTube channel. I still don’t know how I got the idea but I suddenly knew that she recorded her videos in English instead of German. My English sucked but there were dictionaries, and I hadn’t gotten as good as I was in my job by being a quitter. After more search terms than I could count I finally hit the jackpot: a user named TheUntouchable. The description of the channel read:



    If you’re looking for tips on how to find Mr. Right, keep searching. I try to offer advice to those who have realized that not every Jill has their Jack.



    Yep, I had her. When I started the first video she had uploaded two years ago – “Karma, you win” – I was greeted by a faceless female figure in a black jacket. The woman’s voice sounded deeper and her tone was totally different but I knew this was Blanche. Quickly I moved from the couch to the kitchen table so the screen would be facing the inside of the room instead of the windows in case she came back from her walk within the next few minutes.

    I watched all her videos, some of them several times since I often couldn’t understand everything despite the closed captions. I watched everything she had ever uploaded, such as “How to do basic repairs and maintenance, parts 1-6”, “How to avoid doctor’s visits” or “How to keep up your manners when living alone”. With every video one more piece of the puzzle that was Blanche fell into place, and by the time she came back from her walk, I couldn’t look her in the eye anymore. The video binging this afternoon had been so much to take in that I needed some time to process it all.



    An hour and a half later I returned from my own walk with resolve: I would get some answers tonight. During our dinner preparations I eased into the topic by mentioning I was making progress with my typing practice before I questioned Blanche about her impressive computer skills. I needed her to feel comfortable and relaxed so she wouldn’t realize until too late that she was cornered.

    “You know,” I told her causally after we had slid our vegetarian casserole into the oven, “I get why some people choose to go off the grid but you… you’ve gone ON the grid.”

    Instantly Blanche’s face shuttered and she began to turn away. I should have known she wouldn’t be lulled into a sense of security so easily. Well, brute force it was then. I reached out to touch her shoulder, causing her to whirl around with wide-open eyes before my fingers could make contact.

    “Come on, out with it. You’re a digital native but an analog stranger. Why? You like people. You have good manners, you help where you’re needed and you work as a tutor. Why is social media OK but real social contacts are not?”

    Her ungloved hands balled into fists. “Stop pestering me about it.”

    “Nope,” I shook my head and stepped closer, which made her back up instantly. “We’re housemates and will be for many weeks to come. We’ve done a pretty good job so far staying out of each other’s way but it’s time that stops. I want to get to know you.”

    Now was her chance to counter with ‘But I don’t want to get to know you’ but she didn’t, nor did her face. “Don’t you want to get to know me?” I challenged her, both with words and my body.

    “I…” she swallowed as I drew closer, slowly backing up until her back hit the wall.

    “I would never hurt you, I hope you know that.”

    “Griffin,” she rasped, “please don’t come any closer.”

    “And why not, hmm?”

    She swallowed again, her eyes darting left and right, looking for an escape. It was now or never. I’m a fat guy but I can move pretty quickly in one spot. Before she realized what was happening, I had captured both her wrists in my hands.

    “Nooooooo!”

    I felt her pull back but neither I nor the wall behind her were budging. She was panting heavily, doubled over as far as she could with my body in the way. Then I felt her go still. Slowly, vertebrae by vertebrae, she straightened. Her hands stopped fighting and her fingertips brushed gently against her fleshy handcuffs. Now they prodded, gently at first but getting more insistent. The sensation was so eerie I loosened my grip on her, only to feel her hands gripping mine now. She turned my left hand palm up and pried open my fingers slowly, twitching away from time to time but always returning. Now she prodded the inside of my palm with her index finger while her wide-open eyes kept darting between my hand and my face as if waiting for a reaction.

    At last she looked at me fully, her breath ragged. The new sensation of her standing in belly-touching distance and her skin on mine suddenly freaked me out and I moved to pull back but she held on.

    “I… I don’t understand.”

    “No, I don’t understand,” I choked out after a massive gulp. “What are you doing?”

    “Touching you. I’m actually touching you,” she breathed.

    “Duh, I can see that. Why?”

    “Because I can’t believe I can.”

    “Blanche, you’re not making any sense. Of course you can, you’ve just gone to great lengths to make sure it doesn’t happen.” I hated the sulkiness in my voice but I couldn’t help it.

    “I… I had a reason for that.” Her eyes began to shine and my hands slid out of her grasp.

    “Blanche, what is it? What’s the reason?”

    No answer. Reflexively I reached for her hands again, making her gasp and pull away before she tentatively stretched them out after all. Again she looked at our joined hands as she would at some alien.

    “Please tell me,” I murmured to her, “I can tell it’s tearing you apart. Even if I can’t help, maybe sharing will make you feel better.”

    Several deep breaths on her part. “A- alright.”
     
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  3. Jan 11, 2019 #43

    RVGleason

    RVGleason

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    Wonderful writing. This story is getting better and better.
     
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  4. Jan 11, 2019 #44

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Thank you, I appreciate this so much. Many people only read without leaving feedback when feedback so something that keeps an author going. I'm really glad to share.
     
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  5. Jan 12, 2019 #45

    Animas

    Animas

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    This is already becoming one of the best stories I've read and I look forward to every new update!
     
  6. Jan 12, 2019 #46

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Animas, thank you so much for your glowing praise! Like I said, it's what keeps authors going. I always update regularly and I'm glad to know you're following.
     
  7. Jan 12, 2019 #47

    Starling

    Starling

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    I’m glad I’m snowed in and got a chance to read this! I love your characters, they’re so real. Great work!
     
  8. Jan 13, 2019 #48

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Thank you! Somehow that story and its characters flowed out of me. Please keep reading and commenting, I update regularly.
     
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  9. Jan 13, 2019 #49

    wrenchboy

    wrenchboy

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    I am not an overweight man so I cannot relate to the story so I do not read this type of thing. But I love this. Please keep it up.
     
  10. Jan 13, 2019 #50

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    You don't read this type of story but you love it anyway?
     
  11. Jan 13, 2019 #51

    wrenchboy

    wrenchboy

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    Yeah, something about the "untouchables " title intrigued me.
     
  12. Jan 13, 2019 #52

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Cool, I'm glad to have caught your interest then
     
  13. Jan 14, 2019 #53

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 9 (1/2). Blanche: Immune


    My hands were shaking so hard that I poured more water over them instead of into the electric kettle. At some point Griffin gently nudged me aside and took care of the tea I had to make do with since I didn’t keep any alcohol in the house. I really could have used some liquor right now in order to process what was happening: I could touch Griffin. I hadn’t been able to when he first arrived but now I could.

    A warm hand on my shoulder almost caused me to reflexively jab my elbow into its owner’s expansive midriff but he gently slid his hand down my arm and into my own hand, leading me over to the couch where he sat me down in the crook at a 90°-angle from him, never breaking manual contact. This was all too much to take in. Why was the only effect of my touch a thoroughly bewildered round face instead of yelling and blisters? When said face stayed turned to mine and aforementioned hands continued their caress, I finally drew up my legs and scooted closer to Griffin. Whatever was happening here and however long it would last, I would avail myself of it. I needed all the strength I could get from him to tell the secret that was no longer mine to keep.



    “I'm from Frankfurt, originally. It all started when… when I visited a pet shop there with my friend Denise three years ago to help her pick out a budgie.”

    I still recalled the salesman in his early twenties with his gloriously rotund body, double-chinned face and timid smile that caused Denise to pull a grimace at once as he waddled towards us, only I of course omitted his physical description to Griffin. The salesman then coaxed one of the adorable birds out of its cage and let it hop from his chubby fingers onto Denise’s thin, manicured ones from where she nudged it into my hands eventually. That’s when it happened. Again I swallowed as a wave of nausea crashed down on me. I would never be able to erase the sound, sight and smell from my memory for as long as I lived.

    “Suddenly the little bird started to smoke and screech. I hope to God you’ll never have to hear an animal in such pain.” Griffin’s warm hands administering a gentle squeeze barely made an impact through the horrific memory. “The… the sales guy started yelling at me what I had done, and after a moment I yelled right back at him, telling him to check his security footage if he actually believed I would hurt an innocent bird.”

    I had certainly been cruel enough at the time to hurt innocent human beings, at least verbally, but I had also been a master at turning the tables and reassigning blame. To this day I remember verbatim what I had shouted at him while I backed him against the counter.

    “Seriously, what kind of birds are these? Terrorist birds? What if I'd burned myself? You're lucky this isn't the States or I would sue your pants off!”

    Denise and I left the shop after, both still shaken to the core.

    “Seriously,” she pulled me onto a bench in the inner-city pedestrian area in sufficient distance to the pet shop, “what happened with that poor bird?”

    “Spontaneous avian combustion? I don’t know! I’m just as freaked as you are!”

    Immediately Denise’s arm went around me, at least as much as was possible for a 5’2” person's short limbs.

    “Maybe it was some kind of disease. You poor thing, you’re totally right, you could have burned yourself.” Then she snickered. “How lucky you can’t literally sue the guy’s pants off. Nobody would want to see that.”

    “Ugh, I agree. Nobody.” Although my dramatic shuddser entertained and distracted my friend sufficiently, I never succeeded in regulating my facial blood circulation where large men were concerned. “Stupid fat-ass, thinking I’d harm a poor bird,” I added for effect, infusing my words with all the fear and shock from the experience lest Denise detect the truth. Of course I didn’t tell Griffin that last part either.

    After that it came on gradually. I was still able to touch my friend, for instance, and over the course of the next few days I actually managed to put the budgie incident behind me. Well, and then came the weekend when my mom asked me to watch her rabbit Hugo while she went on a two-week vacation. The little guy was positively ancient and could hardly move anymore. My mom would often hold him while he slept in her lap, and so on that Friday evening I did, too. I was treating myself to a night in, binge-watching TV shows on the couch. I still remember how fuzzy Hugo was. Well, until I dozed off into my signature deep sleep.

    “Like I said,” I told Griffin, who was listening intently, “the little guy could hardly move anymore, and since rabbits can’t scream, I remained oblivious to the torture he was going through until I woke up to the smell of smoke. I… I will never forget that charred lump in my hands. Immediately I threw it off me, called the friend that lived closest and asked if I could spend the night.”

    Conjuring up a pretext for my request as well as feigning a slight cold when I arrived so nobody would touch me came easy to the professional manipulator I was. My friend Luciana automatically retreated when she picked up on the word ‘cold’.

    “Don’t worry, we’re not keen on Emmy catching yet another bug. Besides, she has a ballet performance on Sunday she can’t miss. We’ll put you up in her room and keep her in our bed tonight and make sure she won’t come near you.”

    Needless to say, however, the five-year-old kid was less than keen on someone other than her occupying her room, and in the morning managed to wiggle out of bed so carefully that her parents never noticed a thing. I didn’t wake either until I heard the sound of screaming. By the time I realized where I was, my friends had arrived by my bedside where the poor little dear was holding a pair of blistered hands in front of her, screaming her head off. Since they couldn’t get a word out of her nor an explanation out of me, I simply urged them to get her to the hospital while I would show myself out. Later that day, they tried to reach me on my phone but I just couldn’t talk to her. Eventually Luciana sent me a text, demanding I call her since Emmy had told them she had burned herself on my skin.

    “Well, I had definitely ruined her ballet performance,” I concluded the incident that had kicked off my flight into isolation. Griffin’s hold on my hands tightened but I just couldn’t face him. Most likely he was already devising a plan how he could best extricate himself from this situation and escape the lunatic’s lair.

    “When I came back to my apartment, I buried Hugo and started packing since I knew Luciana would seek me out if I continued to ignore her calls and texts. Not only did I have no explanation to offer to her, if she noticed I wouldn’t touch her, she would know her daughter had told the truth. I had to leave, so I contacted a realtor about selling my condo and fining me an isolated but full-equipped little house anywhere in Germany.”

    “Uhm,” Griffin cleared his throat, “I get that you were spooked but wasn’t that a little drastic? I mean, all those things could have been freak accidents.”

    Not even a tiny bit of regret bothered to make an appearance, so many times had I been over the events since then. “At first I talked myself into that, too, but deep down I suppose I knew it was me. I had to get away.”

    “And where did you go?”

    “A cheap motel about twenty miles away. From there I emailed my mom, telling her Hugo had died in its sleep and that I had given him a proper burial. I also told her I had to leave town and that I would be in touch later to explain everything. After that I wrote notice letters to my company, my phone carrier and anything else that tied me to Frankfurt. While I was holed up in that motel, I also tested my theory, at first on a half-dead fly crawling on my window sill. At best, nothing would happen, and at worst I would put it out of its misery. Well, it burnt to a crisp within a second. When I went out for food, I tested it on people, too. Just a finger graze here and there but when everyone yelped in pain without fail, I finally believed it.”

    Clearly that made one of me. “Hey,” I rolled my eyes at my skeptical audience, “do you really think I would have given up my life for years of solitary confinement if I didn’t know for sure? Believe me, I have thoroughly tested it.”

    At last I heard Griffin draw a deep breath. “I want to believe you but… you’ve got to admit, it sounds pretty far-fetched.” The ensuing sharp gasp instantly raised my eyes to his. “Hang on, were you responsible for the strange blisters I got when we bumped into each other and fell while unloading your trailer?”

    “You believe me now, don’t you?”

    “Yeah.” Silence. “So, what do you think this is? A curse?”

    “Most likely it’s karma.”

    Griffin’s forehead rippled. “You believe in karma?”

    “I didn't use to. During a business trip to Vietnam and Cambodia I learned some about it but at the time I simply put it off as part of the Asian culture. When this… thing set in, though, I thought back and suddenly it made a lot of sense.”
     
  14. Jan 14, 2019 #54

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 9 (2/2). Blanche: Immune


    “How can that make sense?” Griffin blurted at last, his eyebrows contracting.

    Meeting his eye had never come easier. The pretense was over. “I wasn’t a good person, Griffin. In fact, I was a shallow, self-centered opportunist. I used others,” I emphasized when belief still hadn’t descended upon Griffin, “My friends and I would also ridicule people in public we thought beneath us, never bothering if they overheard us.” And still the man in front of me refused to see the real me. “It’s the truth.”

    His curly head shook with emphasis. “That still doesn’t explain why you of all people would have to pay this way. I mean, there are so many shallow people out there.”

    “I have no explanation for that either. I can only hope to find ways to make up for what I did and perhaps one day make it go away. It’s tough to find opportunities for that, though, when you can't be among people.”

    Griffin’s face was practically a live novel, narrating every sensation and emotion my tale had triggered. At last his eyes widened and he scooted away a little, causing his hands to abandon mine and his soft flesh to quiver. “Hang on, is that why you picked me up at the bridge? To get some good karma?”

    “No!” I blurted, desperate to hold his hands again but even more so for him to believe me, “when I saw you lying on the ground, I saw someone who needed help, and who needed it fast. Well, actually,” I realized, more to myself than to him, “I saw myself. After two weeks of isolation in the motel I was ready to disappear from the world. I even bought liquor and sleeping pills. Burning myself to death would have been more appropriate but… I was too much of a coward to do it,” I finished softly, fixing my gaze on the hands in my lap. “Well, as it turned out, I was even too much of a coward to take the pills.”

    Although I could have wished for Griffin to pull me close and tell me how glad he was I hadn’t acted on my death wish, I only felt so in theory. Most days I wasn’t sure about my purpose in life, not even after I had invited him to stay with me.

    “And nobody came looking for you?” Griffin inquired at last, still not edging closer. “Not your family, or your… your boyfriend?” That last part sounded choked and when I looked up, I found he was wearing the face to match.

    “Nobody would have known where to look because I changed my cell number and let a moving company and the realtor handle everything.”

    “And you haven’t been in contact with anyone since then?” he pressed on.

    “I'm an only child and have only have my mom left. I… send her a postcard on her birthday and on Christmas to let her know I’m OK but she doesn’t know where I am.”

    “That’s terrible.”

    “No, I always choose very nice cards.”

    “You know what I mean!”

    I shook my head. “Except for the postcards I'm not in contact with anyone. I would so love to at least hear my mom's voice again on the phone but... there is no way I could explain. Even if she believed me, she would be scared of me. I… couldn't bear that.” Again my gaze dropped to my hands.

    Suddenly the couch dipped and a pair of pudgy hands appeared in my range of vision. I could have cried at the warm, soothing sensation around my clammy fingers. “And what about your… your boyfriend? I mean, were you in a relationship when all hell broke loose for you?”

    “Thankfully not, which made it a lot easier, not that there would have been much to leave behind in regret. I've never been good at relationships. I drove them all away at some point.” Too much work, too much me.

    “You, uhm…” Griffin cleared his throat, “you said that karma wasn’t the reason you took me in, but is it the reason you wanted me to stay?”

    “A part of it,” I told him honestly. He deserved nothing but the truth. “The other part was that… one half-day with you had already showed me how much I needed another person close by and I wasn't ready to give that up yet. Plus,” I offered him a weak smile, “over time I began to like you.”

    His already soft face softened even more at my admission and his hands resumed their gentle caress that I had all but given up on ever feeling again. “So… why can I of all people touch you? Because you got some good karma by helping the best representative for people you think beneath you?”

    “I don't think you’re beneath me!” His last comment had been added in a teasing tone but this was no laughing matter. This time it was I who withdrew her hands from his. “How could I, an Untouchable in the truest sense of the word, think anybody beneath me anymore?” My hands tore through my hair as though with a will of their own. “And I don’t know why you can touch me, I have no idea how this whole thing works! If I did, I would have figured out a solution a long time ago!”

    “I'm sorry.” For a while we sat in silence. “It all makes sense now. Wow.” Griffin, too, ran a hand through his hair before he looked back at me. “I can’t imagine how you’ve pulled it off so far. For instance, how did you support yourself in the beginning, before you became a YouTube star?”

    “I inherited some money from my dad and my tutoring job pays surprisingly well. Plus, my living expenses are not exactly high.”

    Although he nodded, I could tell he was about to burst with curiosity. “I have so many questions, I have no idea which one to ask first,” he blurted indeed a moment later. “For instance, how do you go to the doctor or dentist?”

    “I don’t,” I shrugged with a grimace, “hence the OCD. I have to keep everything tidy and clean so I won’t get an infection or trip over something and break a bone.”

    “Oh.” It was as if he was taking inventory of all the items he had ever discarded haphazardly, or the number of times he had left the table or kitchen counter unwiped. “And how do you go on vacation?”

    Not a subject I liked to dwell on. “I don’t, at least not anymore. My last one was two years ago and I don’t think there will be another one any time soon.”

    “Where did you go?

    “Oman.”

    “Oman? I don’t know anyone who’s been there. Don’t they forbid women to drive?”

    “That’s Saudi-Arabia, and even that has been changed. No, Oman is actually a pretty open-minded country despite their traditional culture.”

    “But didn’t you have to wear a… what’s it called?” Griffin's thick hands groped around in mid-air as if hoping to catch the elusive term, “one of those veils?”

    “Hijab?”

    “No idea. Anyway, didn't you have to—oh.”

    “No,” I put in with a slight shake of my head as realization dawned on him, “it isn’t required for tourists but you can guess how glad I was to wear it. What also worked in my favor is the fact that touching, e.g. shaking hands with the other gender if they aren’t married isn’t customary in Oman. It was pretty warm at times under the hijab but with the right fabric it was fine. In fact, I haven’t felt as free and normal in years.”

    Despite the precious memory I failed to suppress a shiver as I recalled the flight. “Free and normal,” I added half to myself, half to Griffin, “were not how I felt during my journey there and back, though. The security check and the flight were hell. All the time I feared I would hurt someone, worst of all security staff. One wrong move and I could have ended up in jail or worse. Despite the wonderful vacation, I decided it wasn’t worth the agony of traveling.”

    “I can’t imagine what that must have felt like.” Again I felt my hand being enveloped by warm, pliant flesh. “Obviously I haven’t been on an airplane in years. Silke was afraid of flying anyway, so it didn’t matter but...”

    “But you miss it.”

    “Yeah.” After a moment Griffin shook his head as if to rid himself of the painful thought. “Too bad you’re not a Muslim,” he looked back at me with a wry grin. “A hijab would be ideal for you in the summer here. It must be a veritable slalom race at a supermarket for you with all those people in short clothes.”

    “Actually,” I felt a grin of my own creep into my face, “I sometimes do dress like a Muslim in the summer when I have to go into town. On other days I go as a goth, with long lace gloves. Dark makeup keeps people at a distance almost as much as a hijab.”

    I then answered more of Griffin's questions until the last word had faded and only the soothing caress of his hands remained.

    “Griffin?” I spoke at last, “may I touch more of you, please?”

    “Wh- what do you mean?”

    “You have no idea what it is like not to be able to touch anyone, not even an animal. Please, I would really like to touch as much of your skin as you’re comfortable with.”

    Although 'comfortable' was the last adjective attributable to the man beside me right now, after a telltale gulp he finally nodded. “Alright.”
     
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  15. Jan 14, 2019 #55

    Felsentroll

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    I love your newest chapter and the story as a whole. Her background is very interesting and creative. Your Story just keeps getting better and i cant wait to read what happens next.
     
  16. Jan 19, 2019 at 12:41 PM #56

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 10 (1/2). Griffin: Exploring


    The urgency in Blanche’s voice made me hold out my hands to her at once. Swiftly she moved the ottoman in front of me, her knees connecting with my hanging gut, and carefully prodded the center of my palms again before placing her hands inside mine. Slowly she began to run them over mine and up my forearms, closing her eyes and breathing in deeply.

    “You feel incredible.”

    Yeah right. Only someone deprived of human skin contact would say that. I do have great skin but there’s oceans of it. Out of all people immune to her condition, it was me? She was forced to touch the most repulsive body she had ever laid eyes on? Her face told a different story, though, and it was what took away any remaining doubts I still had about her revelation. The whole thing still sounded ludicrous but the more she'd told me, the more puzzle pieces had fallen into place. No wonder she was almost desperate to upload new YouTube Videos in order to reach out to people, why she always caressed that sheep skin or why she had danced around in her underwear. God, I couldn’t even imagine what life must be like for her.

    Blanche now ran her palms over mine and the back of my hands again, laced our fingers, squeezed and exhaled sharply. Then she glided up the insides of my forearms, breathing as if in heat. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head as she practically gorged herself. On me. If a fat gut is good for one thing, it’s hiding how turned on its owner is, and boy, was I close to explosion.

    “May I… try if I can touch you with something other than my hands?”

    I could only nod, watching her bring my hands up to her face before she carefully brushed her nose and then her cheeks against my palms until I was completely cupping her face. Again her head angled and her nose grazed my palms before I felt her lips brush against them next. Now I felt and saw her press a kiss down on my skin. Again. And again! Picking up speed, she kissed her way out of my cupped hands and up my forearms until tears gathered in the corners of her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. Instantly I cupped her face in my hands again and brushed away the drops with my thumbs.

    “Blanche, what’s wrong?”

    “Nothing,” she chuckled, “for once, nothing is wrong with me!”

    And then she threw her head back and laughed as freely as I had never seen her. I could only watch the woman in wonder, who suddenly scrambled onto my lap and threw her arms around me.

    “Thank you,” she breathed into my ear, wet tears against my cheek. Automatically, my arms pulled her close. For her it may have been years and for me only months without being touched with appreciation but in that moment I could have cried just like her. Of course she only behaved like that because I was the only one immune to her curse, but holding her against me felt so infinitely good.

    At last Blanche pulled back but kept her hands in mine, her thumbs gently tracing my skin. “I could monopolize your skin for hours on end. I won’t, though, don’t worry.”

    Damn. I knew I shouldn't feel so disappointed when she withdrew her hands at last but the fact was that not only did she need my touch, I needed hers, too. It didn't help that she looked as reluctant to pull back as I felt.

    “May… may I keep touching you in regular intervals, though?” she pleaded, “I don’t know how long this is going to last.”

    “Not-“ I had to clear my throat to get out the rest of the sentence, “not a problem. Uh, you don’t have to stop right now either.”

    That last part had slipped out but I couldn't muster an ounce of regret. Reflexively, I offered my hands to her palms-up and waited until Blanche placed hers inside again and resumed her stroking. Instantly her face brightened.

    “I like it when you smile.”

    “Ditto.” Her eyes dropped to my mouth. “You have funny teeth.”

    “The better to amuse you with, my dear,” I grinned at her, in that moment absurdly grateful I’d been born without my smaller incisors.

    After a while Blanche began to subtly rotate her shoulders. Of course, this posture couldn't possibly be comfortable. “Hey,” I suggested, “how about we get more comfy? You could down next to me and we can go from there.”

    As soon as she had done so, she grabbed my hands again, almost as desperate as a junkie. “Sorry,” she grimaced at me, “you’ve got to tell me when you want me to back off and give you your space.”

    “Don’t worry, I’m not there yet.” Dammit, I shouldn't let her relieved smile give me hope but I pushed the thought away. “Would you like it if I—“ put my arm around you, I was about to say, only to realize it wouldn’t work. Even if my gut didn’t take up so much space that I had to sit with my thighs spread wide apart, my ass and hips bulged over so much that she couldn't sit close enough for me to put my arm around her without leaning to the left at an awkward angle and possibly crushing her. Instantly I felt my cheeks tingle. “Never mind. Uhm, what would you like?”

    It took her longer to answer than I would have thought. Oh God, what if this was too much closeness for her after all? What if her revulsion outdid her skin-contact deficit?

    “Were you going to suggest touching me?”

    No, but that sounded like the best thing I’d heard in months.

    “Because I would like that very much. Uhm, if it’s OK for you,” she added, the color in her cheeks heightening.

    “Of course it’s OK.” If only she knew. “What did you have in mind?”

    “Would you touch my arms and neck? I could sit on the ottoman with my back to you.”

    Hell yeah! Only if I scooted close enough to touch her, my gut would be between us. “Uhm, you’ll feel more of me than you might feel comfortable with, though. I… can’t help it.”

    She smiled a red-cheeked smile at me, shaking her head. “I’ll tell you if that’s the case but I’m pretty sure it won’t be. I want this too much.”

    “Alright. Uhm, do you have a stool you can sit on instead of the ottoman?” I couldn’t spread my legs that much.

    She only nodded and got up. She really wanted to go through with this then? She actually wanted my hands on her? Suddenly it felt as if she’d fed ten logs into an oven at once. My shirt needed to go. I scooted forward, silently cursing at how everything swayed and jiggled, worked my way out of my shirt with some difficulty and checked that everything was covered before I heard Blanche come back with a small wooden stool and a pair of rosy cheeks. Before I knew it, she had pulled her sweater over her head and was twisting her thick hair up in a bun, leaving me to gawk at her thin but defined upper arms shown off by her dark red tank top. And now the owner of that beautiful body sat down only a few inches away from me.

    Again I scooted forward, silently pleading that she wouldn’t find me revolting after all, and began running my palms over her neck. With every minute that I heard Blanche sigh and felt her rub against my hand like a cat I felt more confident that my touch was welcome, and so I dared to lean into her so I could apply more pressure.

    “Did they teach you that at trade school, too?”

    “Nope, but our garage offers free back rubs to our favorite customers with every car inspection.”

    “Do you now?” Blanche smirked at me over her shoulder. “Let me guess, all of your favorite customers are female and under forty.”

    “Now that is company policy and therefore confidential,” I grinned back before I realized what we were doing: Blanche and I were flirting. Clearly she was in more need of human connection than I’d thought. There was no other explanation why she would smile at me this way.

    “Uhm,” I hastily cleared my throat and ran my hands along her arms again, “have you ever met other people with such… powers?”

    “No, and I have no idea how I would find them either. ‘Superheroes Anonymous’, wouldn’t that be something?” she added with a wry chuckle, making me laugh as well. “If it were at least a useful power,” she continued more softly, “but I can’t even light a fire out of nothing, only burn living creatures. All I can do is hurt others.”

    “Perhaps not anymore,” I told her, eager to keep her in good spirits. “We need to test if you can touch other people now, too, perhaps at the store. Very carefully,” I hurried to add when she flinched and her terrified face met mine over her shoulder. “Listen, I get that you’re scared. You don’t want to hurt anyone else and find out that your karma is still bad, but at the same time you want to know, don’t you?”

    “O- of course I do.”

    “Then let’s go to the store tomorrow. Get into a crowded spot and take off a glove. If you only touch someone really quickly, it should only sting and not burn, right?”

    “Right,” Blanche's drawn-out answer came after a moment. “OK,” she shook herself out of her fear at last, “let’s do it tomorrow after breakfast. We need some fresh fruit anyway.”

    “I'm proud of you!”

    And she willingly let herself be pulled close to me. What a great fit. And she'd said ‘we’. I couldn’t wait for her to find out of her curse, karma or whatever it was had lifted. What if it had, though? As much as I wished for her to break free, what would it mean for us? I wasn’t and wouldn’t be anywhere close to my goal weight anytime soon, and as little as I liked to admit it to myself, I needed Blanche and her healthy, isolated lifestyle. Back in the city, close to candy stores and burger joints, I could relapse anytime. It was selfish but I needed her to myself just for a while longer.
     
  17. Jan 19, 2019 at 12:42 PM #57

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 10 (2/2). Griffin: Exploring


    All throughout dinner, which for the first time we ate not sitting across from each other but at a 90°-angle, I made sure I never broke physical contact for long, playing barefoot footsie with Blanche or brushing along her bare arms. Now that her secret was out, conversation flowed and we caught up on weeks' worth of conversation and laughter. Finally I got a full view of that side of her I had only glimpsed so far: witty, full of stories and quick to burst out laughing. After dinner we retreated to the couch where we laid down and I pulled her as close to me as I could. None of this was wise but all of it was right.

    When neither of us were able to hold back the yawns anymore, Blanche finally stretched and scooted away, although never breaking contact since my belly immediately followed after her. Being super fat sometimes has unexpected perks.

    “I don’t want to leave. What if I wake up and can’t touch you again?”

    I couldn't make out Blanche's face in the shadows caused by the single thick candle she had lit earlier but I had no doubt her face matched her words. Still, it would be hard enough to explain to Silke that I had spent weeks in a woman's house without anything happening between us, but even tougher should she ever find out we spent a night together. Not that I planned on telling her but if she asked, she would read the truth in my face at once. I had never been able to lie to her. And yet… Blanche needed me right now. It was a no-brainer.

    “Would you like to sleep on the couch with me tonight?”

    Instantly she sat up, shaking her head so violently that her hair swayed like a dark curtain. “Absolutely not. What if my condition returns and I’ll burn you? You’ll be scarred forever.”

    Chuckling, I struggled into a sitting position as well. “For one thing, I already am – haven’t you seen the stretch marks? For another, I don’t think it will come back. But more importantly: I’ll take the risk.”

    “But I won’t.”

    “Too bad, this is my decision.”

    My face might be a liability at a poker table but I had yet to find someone who could outstare me. Plus, it helped that Blanche was not only up against me but herself as well. “OK,” she finally relented, failing to suppress a smile.

    When Blanche returned with freshly brushed teeth, dressed only in a tank top and shorts that showed off her perfect legs, I suddenly realized that having her beside me during the night would mean taking off my pants and reveal my sagging gut. It was nothing she hadn’t seen before but that experience didn’t exactly beg for a repetition.

    “All yours,” she nodded in the direction of the bathroom, brushing her hand along my arm.

    I only nodded. In the bathroom, I took my nerves out on my teeth until I spat blood into the sink but still hadn't come up with a solution or excuse. When I joined Blanche, she was lying on her stomach underneath my huge duvet, a goofy smile on her face that morphed into the nervous kind when her eyes connected with mine, then the rest of me before she averted her red face. She'd never looked at me the way she just had. What was that? Well, whatever it was, she wouldn't feel it for much longer.

    “Uh, Blanche,” I began, coming to a standstill about two feet away from the couch, “I'm not very... I mean... you might feel—“

    “Never assume anything,” she waved away the rest of my sentence with a stern face, “right now you couldn’t be more perfect.”

    'Right now', true. To someone with her condition I would indeed be temporarily perfect but if it turned out tomorrow that she could touch people again, she'd change her mind in a heartbeat. This was perhaps the only night I'd ever spend with her, so I'd better make sure I keep her attitude towards me intact until tomorrow and use my body to make her feel as good as I could.

    “Uh, OK. Still, could you…” I broke off, my face in flames.

    “Of course.” Quickly she turned on her side, her back to me, to give me a bit of privacy while I slid off my sweats. Immediately my belly flowed out and hung free. So freaking embarrassing. Struggling to push those thoughts away, I slipped under the duvet and rearranged my body for Blanche. “Ready.”

    Wordlessly she scooted closer until the mass between us refused to be compacted any further, and I placed my arms around her as much as was possible.

    “Is that OK?” a small voice asked after a while.

    “Yes.” As long as it didn't gross her out that she could feel my hanging gut against the back of her thighs.

    Now her head turned. “Are you sure? Because I don't want you to feel like you have to do this just because I'm skin-contact deprived. You must tell me if I'm making you uncomfortable.”

    She was but I'd be dammed if I told her. “You’re fine.” And I pulled her even closer for emphasis, hoping my fat arms wouldn't keep her from breathing properly. God only knew how much one of them weighed. At least I was clean and smelled fresh but there wasn't anything I could do about my size.

    Unlike earlier we didn't speak this time. Lying like this with her was torture, sweet and painful at the same time. She smelled so uniquely of herself and her legs went on for much longer than I was used to. I'd been in love with Silke's body but, while she would only date big guys, I'd always enjoyed women of all sizes. Well, not recently, not in a long time, and feeling Blanche against me now and breathing her in was turning out to be more than I could handle. I needed to turn on my right side.

    Oh damn. If I did, I'd be sure to gross her out with my fat sloshing around and the couch creaking. It was no use, though, I couldn't keep lying like this. I began to shift and after the usual amount of groaning on both my and the couch's part, I finally lay on my right and everything was in place again. Only a moment later I felt motion behind me before a slender arm snaked around my side, gliding over all the rolls. A second after I felt pressure against my giant butt.

    I hated how defensive I felt about my body now. I'd never minded being a big guy and always had a retort ready but ever since even an FFA like Silke had turned from me in disgust, I'd finally opened my eyes to what I had become. The contented sigh behind me and the brush of her fingers on my arm did nothing to change the truth.
     
  18. Jan 19, 2019 at 9:14 PM #58

    bigisland

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  19. Jan 22, 2019 at 9:12 PM #59

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 11 (1/3). Blanche: Experiment


    Although in terms of actual sleep last night's ranged in the flop ten of my life, the sensation under my fingertips marked it as one that would stay committed to memory forever: skin. To be exact, a large, chubby hand on top of mine. What my sleep-deprived brain and hesitant fingers reported to be attached to said hand instantly brought a smile to my lips: Griffin had stayed with me all night and I was still able to touch him.

    “Morning,” a gravelly voice behind me roused me fully, causing me to shift until I faced its owner.

    “Morning. Uhm, you didn't get much sleep either, did you?”

    The tired, round face in front of me stretched into a lazy smile. “Meaning I look like hell, thanks a lot.”

    “Well, considering how I feel, I probably do, too.”

    “You couldn't if you tried,” Griffin chuckled, his hand searching for mine under the duvet. “And in case you were about to suggest never to repeat this, think again.”

    I could only stare at him in wonder. The past night had taken its toll on him and yet none other than his swollen-eyed, bestubbled face would have felt so right beside me. “You're amazing, you know that?”

    “Yeah,” he smirked and reached up to run his thick, warm fingers through my hair and down my neck. While his curls were begging me to return the favor, the past three years had left their mark on me, and despite the knowledge that Griffin was immune to my condition, my hands stopped inches away from his hair. Suddenly his hand reappeared from under the duvet and gently placed my fingers into his soft curls. After a moment I felt my brain reengage and issue the command to release the breath I had been holding. Then my fingers slowly traveled down his stubbly cheek, down past his double chin and even further, over the fabric of his voluminous T-shirt and back onto the silky skin of his upper arms.

    This time it was Griffin's turn to expel a breath as my fingertips glided over the series of rolls. Here he was, with enough body mass for three people so he would last me for a long time whereas a skinny athlete would have been stroked out in half an hour at the most. I had meant it yesterday: he couldn’t be more perfect, and not only because he was the first person I was able to touch in three years. Although I was still coming to terms with my physical ideals, there was no denying that Griffin fulfilled them perfectly. With every movement during the night his bulk had shifted and settled into a new set of rolls and bulges. His body was like a kaleidoscope, different with every turn, and always with a new arrangement to discover.

    Hunger and anticipation about the impending experiment in town, however, soon propelled me out of bed and Griffin followed to help me with breakfast. All throughout the – silent – preparations I couldn't stop casting furtive looks in his direction. What if one night was all I was granted and when I touched him next he would yell and yank his hand away?

    “Hey.”

    Apparently my looks hadn't been that furtive after all, for Griffin waddled over from the fridge to where I was standing by the table and pulled me into his arms. Limp with relief that he was still immune, I snuggled into his softness and breathed him in. Just what I needed. If only I could breathe him in for the next year or so.

    “I'm sure the curse won't come back for me, and if you need to keep touching me to believe it, feel free.” Automatically, my arms tightened around what I could reach of him. “And whatever will happen in town later, I'm not going anywhere as long as you want me here, OK?”

    “OK.” Then I pulled away from him abruptly. “I don't want you to have to ride in the cargo area again.” The non sequitur caused Griffin's eyebrows to crawl up his forehead. “Not only because it's illegal but because I hate it. I want you beside me, so let's take the bus.”

    His face softened as if he was touched I wanted to spare his feelings when in truth my heart had gone out to him every time I had watched him climb into the rear.

    “Thank you.” Again his thick arms contracted around me, the sensation of sinking into his pliable flesh almost causing me to press my lips to the silky skin on his neck.



    An hour later we were walking towards the bus station. It was slow progress but if that's what it took for Griffin to regain his health, I was more than ready to adjust. Plus, there was the fact that each minute delayed the dreaded moment of truth. Every time my mind riffled through possible outcomes, I yanked it back into the present with resolve. If I let myself dwell on the ramifications, I might very well bolt in panic and shut myself in my bedroom like a child. I had to take this one step at a time, much like Griffin.

    Despite my preoccupation, I couldn't help but notice how each passenger's eyes snapped to us the minute we entered the bus and the sensation was as novel as it was discomfiting. Naturally I had received my share of curious looks due to my height, or when I dressed as a goth, but never had I found myself on the receiving end of that particular gamut of human emotions: incredulity, revulsion and ridicule. Even though they were directed at my companion and not at me, I felt the familiar prickles in my face and kept my eyes firmly first on the astounded-looking driver and then on my ticket.

    “Uhm, Blanche?”

    In that moment I had no option but to force my eyes up and to take in Griffin’s red face.

    “You go ahead. I- I don’t fit through the turnstile, so I have to enter through the rear door.”

    Again the ramifications of his obesity hit me like a truck. All morning I had worried about nobody but myself while Griffin dealt with his issues every day silently. With his shoulders sagging and his crimson face averted, he looked the image of embarrassment and isolation. While I had always striven to avoid the former, I was basically on a first-name basis with the latter and I couldn’t bear for anyone to have to make that acquaintance, too. When I had insisted we take the bus, it was to spare him discomfort, not add to it. As if controlled by an outside force, I straightened my spine and fixed my gaze on his face.

    “Not a chance, I’m coming with you. Let's go,” I prodded him when the driver opened his mouth to put in his two cent's worth, grabbed Griffin's hand and led him out of the bus.

    In my job I had cultivated and honed the skill of the evil eye, and although I had used it but rarely since then, in the instant we re-entered it reported back for duty with a proud salute. The moment my glare collided with two whispering septuagenarians, the ladies startled and sought visual refuge in their purses. I mowed down everyone in our line of vision until Griffin carefully lowered himself onto a double seat and I into a single one facing him. His cheeks were still splotched with red but as soon as I took off my gloves, placed my elbows on my knees and slid my hands back into his, a smile slowly caused the splotches to fade like clouds in the sun.

    His chubby fingers responded to the caress my own thinner digits administered, and although I had initially intended to offer comfort, I suddenly felt as if his touch infused me with some strength of its own. He was what mattered, not the crowd of judgmental strangers around us. However the experiment would turn out, I had just proven I could overcome some of my opportunistic attitude. Although our hands disengaged when I leaned back, we kept our knees in close contact.

    Fifteen silent but strangely intimate minutes later, we entered the Aldi parking lot, not holding hands but walking close. I offered to get a shopping cart while Griffin waited at the entrance since he couldn’t comfortably maneuver between the poles of the rack that held the carts in place. Usually they were arranged in one long caterpillar-like line but today the meager number left gave evidence to the crowd in the store that I needed. Due to my condition I usually chose times when very few shoppers were present but today I needed plenty of people around me that I could blame in case the experiment failed.

    Just as I was drawing closer to Griffin with my cart, an unshaven, haggard stretch of a youngster in jeans and a leather jacket moved to enter the store in long, hurried strides.

    “Move it, fat-ass!”

    Poor Griffin. This experiment was turning out to be as much of a trial for him as for me. Gritting my teeth, I jerked my head at the offender. “I’d say we have our most deserving candidate.”

    Griffin’s face, bright red again, looked as if it couldn’t decide what to do. At last he cleared his throat. “I agree. Let’s do this. Either you can touch him now, or if you can’t, he’ll get what he deserves. Win-win,” he added with a grim smile.
     
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  20. Jan 22, 2019 at 9:13 PM #60

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 11 (2/3). Blanche: Experiment


    He took over the cart, leaving me to admire both his courage and his broad shape from behind. While I might not dare act on my preferences yet, be it in private or in public, I could enjoy his figure surreptitiously. Mr. Leatherjacket, meanwhile, hadn’t progressed very far. Currently he was pushing his way through a small crowd of people towards the donuts on sale. Perfect. As quickly as I could I made my way past Griffin, who was taking up the majority of the aisle, and joined the donut crowd. Then I deliberately stretched out my ungloved fingers to graze them along the man's arm. This was it, the moment of truth.

    “Ow! What the hell?!”

    Clutching his arm, the youngster whirled around in the midst of suddenly staring faces, his menacing scowl zooming in on me, and stepped closer. His clothes reeked of tobacco and his teeth were at nodding acquaintance with a toothbrush at best. Although still reeling from the shock that my bad karma was still very much effective, my acting skills immediately kicked in.

    “Oh dear, what happened?”

    “That’s what I’m asking you!” a gust of tobacco-contaminated oxygen insulted my nostrils, “you burned me!”

    “With what? Do you see a cigarette around here somewhere?”

    The guy looked confused for a moment but stepped closer still, causing me to move backwards out of harm's way. “If you touch me, I'll scream bloody murder.”

    Why would none of the gawking customers come to my rescue? Just when my aggressor opened his foul mouth again, I felt a looming presence behind me. “Seriously, if you touch her, I’ll sit on you.”

    The man's narrowed eyes darted over to Griffin behind me, widening as if at a loss how he could have missed the most conspicuous person at the store drawing closer. At last he gulped and withdrew, muttered expletives scattering in his wake while our fellow shoppers averted their faces in evident discomfort. A moment later, I felt myself being pulled into a tight embrace from behind. Although I gratefully registered the warmth of Griffin's thick fingers on my skin, the motion only served to drive home the point that he was still the only one immune to my condition.



    When I let us back inside the house 45 minutes later, I only dimly recalled how I had ridden home seated in a row of four seats with Griffin beside me, his arm around my shoulders as far as it would go. After we had stored away the few things we had bought, I turned to him.

    “Griffin? Will you lay down with me and hold me for a while?”

    He only nodded and walked me over to the couch where he lay down on his right, arranged his spreading bulk with red cheeks and pulled me close with my back against his massive belly. For once not even a muscle thought to wiggle closer or touch his skin, and thus lying motionless I finally allowed the events of the past hour to penetrate the protective shields that had sprung up around me at the store.

    “I told myself not to get my hopes up but I did.”

    “I know.”

    Griffin's arm tightened around me, only it did nothing to alleviate the intensifying despair. What now? Should I regret ever finding out that I could touch him, and from now on bury all hope at normalcy? Or should I try someone else? The mere thought rang of people screaming in pain and the clang of a psych-ward door. And even if I did find someone else who was immune, how long would it last? How long would it last with Griffin? And would I ever function in normal society again? Perhaps it was for the better that I stayed put. I was safe here in my tiny, familiar world. Forever.

    Suddenly it was as if a dam had broken. A sob escaped me, another and another, an unpreventable mass breakout of sobs.

    “You- you know the most p- pathetic thing? A part of me felt relieved just now that it didn’t work! Relieved that I c- could stay where I w- was, safely tucked away! I mean, at f- first I panicked that the bad k- karma was still in place, but then I th- thought, what if I’ve f- forgotten how to be among people? I’ve l- lived alone for so long that I have no idea if I could f- fit in anywhere again. And even if I manage to b- build another life for myself somewhere, wh- what if the bad karma comes back? I don’t know if I c- could go through all that again!”

    That last part drowned in a new wail. Sob after sob shook me until I felt every bone in my body and my raw throat and eyes threw in the towel. Only then did the sensation of a warm, soothing motion on my scalp penetrate my teary haze and I slowly gave myself up to the gentle caress.

    “You’re not pathetic,” its author's equally gentle voice drifted over at some point, “it’s totally understandable that you’d be scared. Anyone would be.”

    'Anyone'. In that moment I realized Griffin was not merely using phrases to comfort me but that he dealt with his own fear every day, a fear of relapses, rejection by friends and family and failure to reclaim his job. Except for the one time when I had hugged him, however, he had never complained but silently kept on working towards his goal. A wave of admiration and gratefulness for his presence broke over my head, flooding out everything that had been dragging me down into that dark place I knew so well. I might have saved his life there on the bridge but in a way he was also saving mine.

    “Thank you. For everything.”

    “Nothing to thank me for. By the way,” I caught a hint of a smile in his voice, “you’re one hell of an actress. Not only getting that guy at the store off your scent but actually making him feel bad for snapping at you? Nice job.”

    “Thanks,” I felt myself smiling back even though a moment ago it seemed I would never do so again. “You weren’t so bad either. Where other people would announce an imminent punch, you threaten the guy with sitting on him.”

    “Well, coming from me that is way more threatening than a sorry punch.”

    What do you know, not only did my face remember how to smile, I hadn't forgotten how to laugh either. It felt so good to exchange silly jokes with Griffin about his weight. Despite his being at a low point in life, he always seemed so confident and at peace with himself – not with his weight but with himself as a person. No, I could never regret finding out that he was the only one immune. As little as we both felt we had to give, we could offer each other comfort and acceptance. Automatically my body wiggled closer, feeling his flab mold around me and his arm contract. As though with a will of its own, my nose began to graze the skin on his heavy arm, breathing in his scent, and at some point my lips joined in, pressing a light kiss to the silky inside of his arm.

    “Is this OK?”

    “You-” Griffin cleared his throat, “you don’t have to keep asking. I’ll tell you when it’s not, alright?”

    “Uhm, OK, but I have to ask one thing in general: would you mind if I touched more of you? More besides your hands and arms, I mean?”

    “Are you sure about that?” he murmured after a moment. “The image of me naked must give you nightmares already.”

    “Please don’t talk like that. I really mean it, I would like to touch more of you, but only if it doesn’t make you uncomfortable.” Again silence behind me. “Uhm, never mind.”

    How utterly embarrassing. First I dissolve into tears and then I practically beg him to strip for me again. I'd better put some healthy distance between us right now—

    “Wait.” A strong hand on my shoulder kept me in place. “Yes, you may touch me.”

    “No,” I shook my head, trying to pull out of his grasp, “I'm asking too much and making you uncomf—”

    “Blanche, shut up.” His firm yet gentle command caused me to freeze. “I want this, too. Would... uhm, would my back be OK?”

    “More than OK,” I responded after a moment, feeling another smile bloom on my cheeks that he would not only accept but welcome my touch.

    I waited to let him shift and remove his T-shirt in privacy before I turned, discovering that he had pulled it over his head but was holding it protectively against his ample front. Although I had seen his back before, the sight of all the bulges and creases brought me up short before I felt the by now familiar throb between my thighs again. Every time I realized that his body was indeed attractive to me, it was easier to admit it to myself, and in this moment another sensation set in: the absence of any guilt. How could something that was in our nature be wrong or shameful? If people came in all shapes and sizes, why shouldn't the same be true for attraction?
     
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