Assignment: Use a famous first line and make up a story from there. (The line was, “A screaming came across the sky.”)

A screaming comes across the sky, startles her, but only for a moment. Just a bird, an osprey, maybe. A bald eagle, more rare, but possible. In any case, Candice thinks, a simple explanation. Certainly the nails-on-chalkboard sound has little to do with the fact that she’s bent over behind a tree, a man who is not her husband, so unlike her husband, thrusting into her from behind.

She wishes she hadn’t noticed the sound. Wishes the sex had been enough to transport her beyond such distractions. Truth was, her husband was great in bed. Out of bed was the problem. And now she found herself in this position, wondering what she was thinking, wishing he’d just come so she could go home.

She didn’t mean for anything to happen. A classic combination of too many drinks combined with loneliness equaled a flirtation that somehow manifested into this current situation. Candice was reminded of all the nights she’d sat, dutifully watching movies with her film-ophile husband, struggling to stay awake though the foreign films, political documentaries, moving and meaningful dramas too obscure to ever play the big screens in their small town.

Amores Perros. Translated: Love’s a Bitch. She’d stayed stoic through the movie, the dog-fighting disturbing her. “No animals were harmed during the making of this movie,” the credits proclaimed. She wished she’d been so lucky.

“You’re so fucking stupid.”

“What the fuck is wrong with you?”

“Are you an idiot?”

She was used to the abuse. That’s what bothered her most. Like a dog who knows nothing but to attack, she found herself on the defense, which turned into the offense, all the time.

“Who do you think you are?”

“Why do you think you get to control me?”

“You are not my boss.”

The last embarrassed her, too reminiscent of a kindergartner’s “”You’re not the boss of me!” But she could think of nothing else, standing tall in the hallway, the front door offering escape. What was it about her, she wondered, that made her think he could treat her that way?

She wondered the same thing now, What was it about her that made men view her as prey? Susceptible to flattery, to flirtation? She hadn’t meant to follow him out to his car. Hadn’t meant to let him kiss her. Certainly hadn’t meant to bend over his lap as he undid his jeans, one hand on his zipper, the other on the wheel, passing herons, egrets, diving ospreys, in the rush to find a place to let nature’s impulses take over.

The bird cries again and she is brought back to herself, the self that would never be bent over in this patch of woods, the smell of low tide permeating the air, the stagnant and the hidden, both revealed as the sea sucks away at the bay. The osprey soars away, unsuccessful. She reaches between her legs, grasps him momentarily, hopes to trigger a quicker finish.

He moans. She strokes, moves, her body responding even as her mind moves forward into how she’ll get safely home. He thrusts, comes, collapses against her..

A moment passes. She shoves him away, thinking about what must be done. Chickens brought in, compost taken out, deck swept.

He takes a breath. Another. Starts to make excuses. “You’re so beautiful. I should be going.” She adjusts her skirt. Breathes. “Yes. Please.” She kicks her panties off her ankles and shudders. What was she thinking?

Of love. Escape. Other things she’d never have.