Stephanie and Steven sat on the bench watching the kids roller skate in the park. Steven crossed and uncrossed his arms anxiously while Stephanie leaned back and gazed into the distance. Over the horizon the silvery clouds wrapped themselves around the stars. She chewed on her hair and hummed to herself.
“I just don’t know if I’m ready for it,” Steven said abruptly. He looked sideways at her and blushed.
“That’s fine,” Stephanie replied softly. She started humming again.
“It’s just kinda a big step. What happens if it doesn’t work out?”
“We can wait until whenever you are ready.”
“Okay, I’m ready.”
Stephanie sat up on the bench and leaned over to Steven. He reached down and unbuttoned his shirt. Then he pulled up the t-shirt underneath it, revealing his hairy chest. Stephanie bounced up onto her feet, crouching on the bench a few glorious inches from him. Goosebumps criss crossed over each other as the cold wind rushed through his clothes. His fingers shook as he pulled his shirts away.
“Go ahead,” Steven whispered.
Stephanie reached her arms forward like a super hero, flexed her squatting hips, and dove into the skin of Steven’s chest. She leaned in and pushed the skin back behind her, swimming deeper into his chest cavity past pink hairy globs of human being. The globs wiggled between her fingers, legs, and toes. She kicked and swam forward until she was on a hard surface, a rocky flat plateau. She got to her feet and dusted herself off.
She walked along a yellow gravel path, curling across the plain chest cliff. Fuzzy green monsters the size of pugs rushed along her feet and danced on the deserted plains. Passing by tufts of sad shrubbery, Stephanie finally reached the end of the path. The trail led to a tall, thick tree, sitting alone on the plains. The tree curled against itself, spiraling, knotted with thick dark brown bark, creeping upwards like wooden smoke from a witch’s cauldron. Its branches stabbed the grey sky with thick punctures.
In lieu of leaves adorning the branches, there were dozens of goldfish, wiggling and glubbing as they dangled in the air. They shook back and forth, gills flapping in the wind. Their eyes bugged out. Stephanie reached up to the tree, grasping onto an outward jutting knot, and heaving her body upwards.
She climbed the tree easily, balancing secure footholds on the gnarled bark. Once up on a branch, she sat down and held onto the fish laden twigs with a tight grip. Leaning back against the thick trunk behind her, she looked out into the distance, over the cracked dry earth, into the endless nothing that protruded before her. She watched nothing fly in the distance, seeping into itself and leaking down into the valleys below.
“Hey,” said a voice.
Stephanie looked beside her and saw one of the fish looking up at her.
“Hi,” she answered.
“How’s it going?” glubbed the fish.
“Good, I guess,” Stephanie answered.
“Well; it’s going well,” the fish said.
Its creepy fish lips pursed in a smug smile. Stephanie looked back into the distance, squeezing her butt and legs to keep her balance. She hooked her arm around a branch.
Steven sat alone on the bench, watching children fall down on the pavement. The kids writhed in self conscious anxiety. They picked themselves up after each fall, looked over their shoulders to check that everyone was still too focused on being self conscious themselves to judge each other, and then they went back to skating.
Steven whistled to himself under the stars and patted his chest with a smile.