They each ordered a scone. The scent of cinnamon made her swoon when it was placed before her. She had ordered something with white chocolate. The trinity of spreads was as divine as the scones themselves. When she was finished, she picked up the little bowl of lemon curd and smiled wickedly, saying, “And now I’m going to have really bad table manners,” and proceeded to lick the remainder of the curd. The tip of her pink tongue darted out furtively and withdrew.
Mistake #3. Don’t look at her mouth, don’t look at her mouth. Suddenly, she felt like a teenage boy watching an adult film for the first time. How could she have such little control over her faculties? She clenched her jaw and drank her tea, but one look at the woman across from her sent her mind reeling into an inappropriate fantasy land. Had she done that a-purpose? No, she was too pure and sweet to do something so brash. That may have been why she reacted so strongly–because, even in innocence, she could set her pulse to maddening.
They briefly argued over the bill, but she grabbed it before the other could. She teased her about her slow reflexes. It was endearing to see her pout, and she brought up her slow reaction time frequently. After thanking the staff profusely, they got up and headed back to the car.
Now! Do it now!
She wanted to kiss her so badly, but she wasn’t sure if it would be welcomed. She’d spent the entire meal restraining herself from getting on her knees and loudly professing her fondness of her to the entire restaurant. There in the car, in such a confined space, the scent of her was everywhere. She watched her readjust her glasses and lick her lips.
Now! Do it now!
But then she started the car. She chalked it up to Fate and let the opportunity go. She relaxed as the car lurched into motion. She began recognizing the streets. They were in the main part of the city. This was where she had made so many good memories years ago. But her companion had destroyed her, and she wanted to make new memories. She was already making them.
When they secured a parking spot, she was tempted to take her hand and thank her for being so wonderful. But she played out the scene in her head and it ended awkwardly, so she just got out of the car.
The air was still cool; the morning clouds had not yet fully dissipated. The day was going to be beautiful (for many reasons). She squealed in delight when she spotted a touch tank on the dock. Like a giddy school girl, she skipped over and oooh’ed and ahhh’ed and giggled while she pet a star fish. It was all she could do not to hug her and twirl her around in circles.
She, too, delighted in the hands-on fun. The representatives were very friendly, and everyone’s congeniality was infectious. At one point, she watched her bend down to speak to a sea slug. “Oh, you’re so cute!” She could’ve said the same thing about the observer. Her eyes were lit up and her face was so bright and for a moment, she forgot what it was like to carry wisps of ghosts on her back.
She led the way down a ramp and onto the dock. There it was, the water. It was murky and bottomless and she felt a lump of panic in her throat. But as suddenly as the fear rose, it fell when she looked over and saw the breeze tickling her hair. She felt safe. She never felt safe. Who was this girl? She looked human–a little too angelic, mayhap–and she had an otherworldly ambience about her. Everything felt magical, and for a second, she wondered if she’d just been dreaming. That would be so like her.
She crouched down and looked at the water. It was calm, placid, still, boring even, and nothing like the crashing and slapping waves that had cast her off the raft those years ago and trapped her beneath. She wanted very badly for her to take her hand, just to quiet the memories, but she didn’t, and she had no way of knowing that that’s what she needed. So she stuffed her hands in her pockets.
They headed away from the docks and began cutting through the city. She noticed how often people turned to look at her companion. Mayhap it was because she had a determined walk, or an incredible body, or a fearless disposition. Some people glanced at the two of them as a unit, and she wondered what they saw that she couldn’t.
They made their way down a path that led to a tucked away area. A car drove by as they waited to cross the street, and her arm reflexively shot out to bar across her chest. At the last minute, she retracted it so that she wouldn’t end up touching her stomach. She realized it was an intimate part of the body and was glad that she hadn’t accidentally crossed that boundary.
They continued walking until she looked up and pointed. “A heron!” They looked at the sky and watched the bird gracefully glide through the air. Suddenly, as though out of some horror movie, all of the herons erupted in a cacophony of squawking. The noise was startling and they looked towards the trees and joked that the birds were having a council meeting.
“Oh, oh!” she said excitedly, and proceeded to create a story in which they were the main characters. She even managed to weave in the little aspiring pirate from the tea house. They laughed aloud while walking down the street. A few passers-by looked at them with furrowed brows, as though they were offended by the sight of two people enjoying one another’s company.
Typically, she hated being noticed, but something strange was happening. She wanted to shout at the top of her lungs that the girl beside her was amazing. She wanted to be seen. She never wanted that. She felt drunk, or high, even though she’d never experienced either. Heady, weightless, full of possibilities, endless, a blur.
She was hyper aware of the goddess beside her. She wondered what she’d do if, right there, she took her hands and looked her in the eyes and said, “I’m falling.” But the heron summit continued noisily and she took it as another sign from Fate that she was getting to all these bridges too quickly. But nothing about this felt ordinary or predictable or logical. She wondered what was running through her mind.
They reached a look-out point. Quadrants of wooden tables were littered with insignia. These people “4 EVER.” These people “BFF.” These people “SINCE 2006.” She was tempted to scratch their initials into the soft wood. What would it be like if, years later, they returned to that same place and saw their names? Or what if they would fall apart? Then the engraving would be a mockery of their happiness; a tombstone.
They stayed there talking while looking out at the water. These waves were more kinetic, and yet she felt perfectly calm. They discussed nothing. They discussed everything. She was very aware that they were standing close and sometimes, she had to pace with her hands in her pockets to keep from doing something impulsive.
Somehow, they got into a discussion about self-defense. She showed her how to get in a guarding stance and taught her how to punch. She wanted to touch her hand, shape it properly, but she didn’t. For a flicker of a flutter of a heartbeat, they were millimeters away. She had showed her how to redirect a punch. They stood very close, slightly touching. Did she imagine it, or did her eyes flicker to her lips? No, she must have been mistaken. This girl didn’t feel desire the way that others did. She couldn’t want her. That wasn’t the way things went.
She backed away and they each resumed their posts. The afternoon wore on. The sun burned a little hotter. They began walking around the city, a bit closer to one another than before. She could feel the distance lessening and wondered if she’d gravitated towards her subconsciously or not.
Time moved oddly. Whenever she looked at her, the world blurred into slow motion, and yet the sun moved higher overhead and she knew it was growing later in the day. They eventually left the downtown area and set off to her elementary school. As they approached the car, her resilience finally snapped and she took a purely objectifying glance at her body.
Mistake #4. Illicit images flooded her mind before she could even brace herself. She wondered what her body would feel like beneath her, if it would quiver with nervousness, or if a primal instinct would take the reins of her inhibition and cut them to pieces, unleashing her in horrifying, desperate passion. What would it be like to slide her hands into the back pockets of those dark, fitted jeans and press her hard against her? Or hold her close and fast as she tried to fuse their bodies into one pulsating beat of a bass drum? Because she had a feeling that touching her would be like music.