TRANSCRIPT: Rachel A. Schrock Bio: Rachel is a Chicago-based writer, actress, comedian, and musician. You can check her out on Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, all @Razmatini. This is “Move”
Content Note, please be aware that this story is of a frank, sexual nature and may not be suitable for all audiences.
“Monica let me get Chinese food for the both of us,” I announced as I entered the room– more like a closet, really– that would be my office for the next several hours. “She said you’d like beef and broccoli…?”
“I mean, if it’s free, then yeah,” Jackson replied.
I set the bag in front of him and made myself at home. “Your tax dollars at work, ladies and gentlemen! Your contributions provide EPA interns with the MSG and factory-farmed meat they need to fuel their tireless crusade against single-use plastics.”
“Hey, at least the chopsticks are biodegradable.” Jackson punctuated his point with a wave of a plastic straw.
“Christ, dude! One: we’re at the most environmentally-conscious office in America– where did you get that? And two: we’re gonna sit here all night on sea turtle duty, and you’re still gonna be part of the problem?”
Jackson shrugged and sipped on the can of Monster in which he’d deposited the straw. “What’s the fun of sea turtle duty if there are no sea turtles at risk?”
I shook my head. Honestly, though, I got where he was coming from. After this program was put in place, I drank out of single-use cups for a week, just to spite the VSSCO girl lobby. Plus, it’s not like we could really do anything to protect the environment around here, seeing as the corporations doing the biggest harm have the policymakers by the balls.
As if he could read my mind, Jacskon added, “It’s not much, but it’s something.”
“Yeah…” I glanced at the monitor, which recorded the vitals of every sea turtle to ever visit American waters. “You know, when I got into government, my family joked to watch out for lizard people. I never thought I’d be watching out for lizards.”
The sharpness in Jackson’s tone surprised me. I stared into my container of food. “Well, either way– I never bought into the lizard people thing, but if they were controlling the government, I don’t think they’d bother with the EPA.”
I gave him a wry smile as I started in on my lo mein. To my relief, he smiled back, and I couldn’t help but notice the shiver it sent through my core.
I’d noticed Jackson at orientation. He was tall and lanky– to the point of being almost gangly, even though he should have grown out of it, at his age– but held himself well. His eyes, dark as night, seemed to hold on you for longer than they should. He cracked jokes. He asked you a question, and really listened to your answer. But the thing I liked most was that smile.
The problem was, I’d never been one to make a move, and even if I were, this seemed like risky territory, being coworkers and all. Besides, I’m not that much of a looker to begin with.
“What made you want to do this?” Jackson asked, pulling me from my thoughts. “The EPA thing?”
“I wanted to make a difference, I wanted a cleaner world, all that stuff everyone else says.” I shrugged. “I’m a cliché, I know.”
“If a cliché helps people, it can’t be all that bad, can it?”
“I guess not,” I replied. “What about you?”
“My family expected me to go into government, but… this isn’t exactly what they had in mind.”
“Yeah, they’re more on the legislative side of things. I’m… not.” For a split-second, I thought I could see something flash in his eyes. I brushed it off as a trick of the light.
“Ah, a black sheep. Another cliché.”
He laughed, and wow, did it feel good to be the cause of that laugh.
Just then, the alarm flashed on our screen.
“Sea Turtle Number 14827 is breathing heavily, heart rate up–” Jackson read.
“I’ll pull up the feed.” I located the turtle, right off the Florida coast, and–
“Jesus, you’d think they’d be able to weed these out,” Jackson said, amusement coloring his irritation.
On our screen, Sea Turtle Number 14827 was boning what looked like a discarded Croc. I clicked away from the feed.
“Good for him,” I muttered. “At least someone’s getting off…”
“I’m sorry, I’m gonna need some more details on that, please.”
I went beet red, slapping my hands over my face. “It’s nothing! I don’t know why I said that!”
“It sure sounds like nothing.” Those dark, unblinking eyes, full of mirth, studied me.
“Ha ha.” I crossed my arms. “I don’t get much privacy, that’s all. My roommate and I keep the same hours, and the walls are hella thin.”
“And I’m supposed to believe you don’t have anyone to… take care of that for you?”
It was my turn to study him. What could he possibly want from this line of questioning? “No, as a matter of fact, I don’t.”
“That’s crazy. I mean– I would– um, not to, you know, say anything untoward, but–”
It was the first time I’d ever seen his confidence slip. And somehow, it was because of me. “Are you saying you’d, um, want to–?”
“I mean, yeah…” He stood up from his office chair, looking away, as if he was trying to create as much distance as he could between the two of us in this tiny room. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to assume. Forget I said anything. I’m not– you know, I won’t be the friendzone guy, if you don’t want–”
Perhaps seeing Jackson’s confidence waver was what bolstered me, or maybe I was just a coward who needed to know the outcome before I took the risk. Either way, I made a move.
His lips were colder than I’d expected, and still tasted like beef and broccoli. But once he realized that we both wanted this, he was all in– one hand in my hair, the other on the small of my back, taking the lead and giving it away just as easily. It was perfect.
When I broke away, I looked into Jackson’s eyes. He blinked. Then he blinked again.
With a different set of eyelids.
“What the fuck?!” I yelped, lurching away.
“Shit. Fuck. Sorry, I– shit.” Jackson rubbed his face. “It’s okay. Just… Remember when you mentioned the lizard people? We’re real. But I never wanted to be part of that conspiracy. I just wanted to be normal. But I’m not normal. So… I understand if you want to stop, if you’re too freaked out, but it’s– I’m not, like, scaley, or anything. It’s just that and the tongue. I–”
“Oh. Uh.” Jackson unfurled his tongue from his mouth. It was thin and forked like, well, a lizard’s.
And maybe it was because I hadn’t gotten off in entirely too long, or maybe, deep down, I was still attracted to him– or maybe I was just a sick fuck. But the first thing I thought was: Imagine getting eaten out by that tongue.
“It’s okay, we can just, uh, go back to the turtles, if you want…”
I shook my head, took a deep breath, and held his hand. “I think I’ll manage. But I have to ask… Downstairs?”
Jackson grinned, still a little shy, but his classic confidence starting to surface once again. “Trust me, Beth. Down there, I’m no lizard, all man.”
It was the worst line I’d ever heard.
I kissed him again.
Kate Akerboom is a multi-creative individual living in Chicago. She loves telling stories, especially about the past, and considers it an honor to tell new ones that people come up with. By day, she talks about animals at Shedd aquarium. By night she creates as much as she can. Kate is a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay holding degrees in Theatre Performance and History.
John Keefe a Chicago resident originally from John HughesLand (northern suburbs). He has a BA in English from Columbia College Chicago, 15 years of improv experience, and about twelve novel starts on his hardrive. He performs at the Bristol Renaissance Faire in the summers and spends the rest of his creative life writing and performing for Locked Into Vacancy Entertainment, The-Editing-Room.com, and various other content sites, platforms, and literary magazines. By day, he’s the world’s most exciting tax clerk.