by | May 15, 2012 | General | 8 comments

By: Craig Sorensen

Collisions happen. 
Sometimes they are fatal, sometimes they are life changing.  Sometimes they are just a tiny space in time.

Perhaps a space that will be as easily forgotten as it

In my prior job, the corporate offices were in a building
constructed on a former pier that jutted out into the Hudson River.  Standing at one end, looking to the other,
could look like a three mile walk.

Naturally a fast walker myself, this could lead to a
less-than-appropriate pace.

One day, I was late for a meeting on the Manhattan end, a
woman stepped around the corner from the endless cube farm down the middle of
the building at just the wrong time.

No one was hurt in the collision, but I did feel awful about
running into her, and she was rightfully pissed at me, but the rapidity that
her expression softened stuck in my head.

It was no more than three seconds in my half-century of life,
an inconsequential moment, certainly not a pivot point in my life.  It might well have been forgotten if my
fiction writing mind hadn’t taken firm hold of the idea and begun to turn it

I wrote the formative ideas for the below not too long after
the collision, then set it aside.  I came
back to it, changed it, shifted it and grew it. 
Could it really work into a story someone might like to read?  I don’t know; this was what came
out.  I guess this was a flash fiction
exercise in “iceberg writing.”  Not
really a story itself, I built it on the idea of these two people, and set out
to illustrate them in tiny fragments of a single moment where they crossed,
showing only their gut reactions to an event, and hinted at a future.

Collision, ©2012 Craig J.

It seems this building has no end.  Narrow aisles like ladder steps, the
crossbars occupied by the oblivious staff members of our most recent

A Nevada desert road stretches to infinity.

No terrain.  No
rain.  My meeting is at the far end,
somewhere up there.  Ledger sheets will
lead to decisions that will affect the lives of every face that lies behind the
nameplates along the hall.  Nameplates I’ve
never bothered to read.  I turn my
wrist.  My steps lengthen and pound a
fast rhythm.

My arms rise in reflex, one hand braces on a wool clad hip,
the other arm steadies a narrow waist. 
Full breasts cushion my ribs like airbags deploy on collision.

“Bastard!”  I don’t
know the flower in her perfume; her breath is cayenne.

My voice goes up two octaves like a knee to the nuts.  “Goddamn!”

Juicy tears dangle from both sides of her chin.  Did I do that?  I grope for an apology.  Her pinpoint pupils are a tiny dot in a field
of cobalt – the cold winter sun through an old bottle.  Her porcelain skin gleams against the black
business suit, jacket half way on, her arms are suspended mid frame,
helpless.  Helpless.  I should ease away from her respectfully.

Astaire and Rogers wait for the music to start, but the
ensuing silence is more like the Novocain on an abscessed tooth.  We remain, frozen.  Her hand gathers my pink dress shirt into a
tight fist.  Her hip presses slightly
forward into the hasty embrace.

I release her.  “I’m
really am sor—”

“You should watch where you’re going.”  Her words are a whisper.  She gently pats my heart.  Her pupils widen, suddenly black as a
mourner’s dress.  Her nicked, thick
wedding band reflects the endless row of fluorescent tubes above.

“God, I am really sorry, Ms, um . . .”  I lift my brow.

She sniffs hard, pulls back, finishes putting on her coat
and wipes both cheeks.  “Huddleston.  I—me too. 
I didn’t mean it—I shouldn’t have called you—a—I mean, that.”  She smiles then continues in the opposite

I savor the last hints of her scent and my sudden, rare, ripe
guilt.  I look back and watch her walk
away.  She doesn’t look back.  Her pace looks angry, faster than my pace
when I ran into her.

I turn my popcorn hard on, something I regret almost as much
as asking her name, to twelve O’clock.  “Well
I am.  A bastard, that is, Ms
Huddleston.”  I say too quiet for anyone
to hear.  “Usually I am.”  I am late for my meeting, but walk slowly, and consider.

Craig J. Sorensen

One evening at the close of the 1970’s, I sat on a milk crate at my job du jour and looked over Tenth Avenue in the small Idaho town where I grew up. It may not seem earth shattering now, but to a man not yet twenty years of age, the revelation of that moment was defining: There must be more to life than pumping gas. A strange answer materialized in the cold, dry, Treasure Valley air. I joined the US Army where I learned to work with computers before the introduction of the IBM PC. Armed with a blitzkrieg education in the programming language COBOL, I embarked on a journey to define myself as a programmer/analyst. Perhaps if I had been a better student in school, things might have been different. I loved writing, though I flunked my first semester of ninth grade English. Typing too. And I typed seventy words a minute. But I digress. The bottom line was that I hated school, was unmotivated and disinterested, and had problems staying focused. Had I been born twenty years later, they might have loaded me up with Ritalin. So learning a trade in the Army was my salvation from a life of disjointed jobs, searching for something I’d be satisfied with. Study for a purpose, it seemed, I could manage. Throughout the thirty plus years after leaving Idaho for military service, I honed my skills and learned to enjoy the job I stumbled into. I think that this, “path less chosen,” has something to do with my perspective and my style as an author when I delved deeper into my passion for words. I’ve lived life, not as a student, but in a constant state of trial and error. This is true in most everything I’ve done. The first story I had published was so aggressively edited, that the number of words removed was in a double digit percentile, and rightly so. I resolved that would never happen again. It hasn’t. Determination and self-teaching are a big part of me. Have I ever reached a hurdle I didn’t overcome? Of course. In my early days getting published, I submitted four stories to a particular editor before she accepted my fifth; I’ve had great results with her since. More recently, with another editor, I submitted four that I felt great about, and realized that it just wasn’t going anywhere. Another fact: I’m a lousy poker player, but I do know when to fold. Story telling has been with me my entire life. A desire to share stories is engrained in me, but as a youngster, what did I have to share? I was a boring kid, so I used to make things up. I used to hate that I’d lie. Bear in mind, these lies were limited to boasting of things I had done that I really hadn’t, or telling that the very plain house we lived in when I was young was very ornate. “Little white lies,” some might call them. I couldn’t seem to resist this desire to make people believe the stories I’d tell. When something didn’t wash, well… I suppose it is all part of how I learn things. Writing is truly my first passion as a vocation. If I could make a living at it, I’d love to, but I know what that means. I look at those authors who do this with admiration, and I’m grateful that I have been blessed to find not one, but two vocations that I love. Job one allows me to write when I’m inspired. The luxury of this is not lost on me. When I was young, I was fascinated by sex. I wrote sexual scenarios, drew sexually inspired pictures. My head was full of erotic fantasies long before my voice cracked. But writing the first stories I did after I left high school, I tried to subdue the desire to write sexual themes. Sometimes, I’d let go, but I’d eventually “come to my senses.” I wanted to be respectable, after all. It was after I had gotten some serious consideration by a literary journal, but got the response “you write very well, but your stories lack vibrancy,” that it began to settle in. My wife, partner, and most avid supporter forwarded me a call to a new “edgy” literary journal that included erotica, and suggested that I send a particularly nasty, vibrant story I had recently written when the respectability filter was disengaged. I thought, “why the hell not.” Within 24 hours I had an acceptance. Another lesson learned by example: be true to yourself. In the end, I just want to tell stories about amazing people. I want to go out on a limb. I wrote a poem once:
Only the man who goes To the edge of the branch And does not stop when it cracks Will learn the true nature Of branches
I want to turn you on, then repulse you. I want to surprise you, sometimes make you grimace, share the realities of my life and the lives of those I’ve known, but bend them through the prism of fiction. Tell about people more interesting than me, and speak universal truths, tell little white lies. I want to make you guess which is which. The three stories I am honored to share with you are examples of my testing branches. “One Sunset Stand” from M. Christian’s Sex in San Francisco collection, was written merging humor, sexuality, and romance, allows me to explore from a woman’s POV. “Severence” which appeared at the website Clean Sheets, is drawn from a difficult time in my life, where as a manager I watched members of my team and coworkers slowly, systematically get laid off. It was a hard time, a frustrating time, and I found a way to express that frustration in the words, and the characters of the story. “Two Fronts” is one of my biggest gambles as a writer, and a story I’m very proud of. In it, I not only explore my feminine side, but my lesbian side. The story, set before I was born, explores a woman dealing with her awaking to her attraction to other women is set against the backdrop of ranching in Idaho. I was particularly proud when Sacchi Green and Rakelle Valencia chose it for the collection Lesbian Cowboys. The version I present here is my “Director’s cut,” with the original ending. In the collection, it was made more purely romantic by dropping the last section. This ending is more of what I would call a “Craig ending,” though I’m proud of both versions. Truly, I haven’t planned much in life, just followed the river where it leads. I write the stories that come to mind, and for as long as people will read my work I will write. And if they stop reading? I will write.


  1. Remittance Girl

    Oh, I'm SUCH a sucker for a bastard.


  2. Lisabet Sarai

    I don't see any bastard in this story… But it's cryptic and gorgeous, Craig.

    "Her pinpoint pupils are a tiny dot in a field of cobalt – the cold winter sun through an old bottle."


  3. Donna

    It's always fascinating to learn about the often ordinary seeds of a gorgeous story. The ability to affect that transformation is what writing is all about, isn't it? And though I'm on the record as having doubts about the true heat of an encounter between two total strangers, that staple of erotic fiction, this story has converted me to a more open mind on the subject. I'd call that success :-).

  4. Craig Sorensen

    Hi Lisabet,

    Maybe it's true what they say: Bastard is in the eyes of the beholder.


  5. Craig Sorensen

    Hi Donna. I am a believer that sparks can fly between strangers, but for fire to ensue, all the circumstances must be right.

    I'm glad that this flasher illustrates that idea well.

    Thank you!

  6. Emerald

    Beautiful, Craig. Thanks for sharing.

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