“I feel compelled to tell you something,” she blurted out before she could stop herself.
What was she going to say? Oh, the man at the craft store that one time may have been drunk, but he knew what he was talking about when he said you had a “fine ass”?? “I’m…debating whether or not to tell you. You might think it’s creepy.”
She went on to assure her that she wasn’t easily creeped out. Someone asked her how she’d respond if he were to request a vial of blood from her. Another asked what she’d do if he came to her door wearing a collar and leash. In light of this information, her appreciation of her body barely registered as taboo. Still, she stalled and waited until they were getting in the car before saying, “He was right.”
It took her a fraction of a second to follow the train of thought. Once she caught up, her mouth broke out into a grin and she laughed. Now that some of the unspoken had been aired out, they continued their drive to a deserted elementary school. The roads were so windy and they seemed to be driving farther and farther into obscurity.
She realized that she was at this woman’s mercy. She was out in the middle of nowhere. No one would hear her scream. No one would ever find her body. She could’ve been sitting next to a raving lunatic with a machete in the trunk.
But oddly, she didn’t care. Even if that were to be her fate, she would’ve consigned herself to it happily. It would’ve been worth it just to meet this girl, even once.
They arrived at the school alive after all. She watched her get out and walk towards one of the two large swing sets. Her inner ear had never really been accommodating so she just sat on a swing and dug her shoes into the gravel. Beside her, the angel swung forward and back. There were many instances when she felt as though she were a child again. She brought that out in people, that sense of bravery, of implicit trust in the world, that as long as you did not harm it, it would not harm you.
She offered to push her, but she declined due to a full stomach. They sauntered over to an open basketball court. A handful of stray tennis balls were lodged in the wire mesh above them. They reminded her of bullfrogs, forever swollen and croaking, watching over a pressed concrete swamp.
She wanted to take her hands then and teach her the waltz. The acoustics were amazing and though the space was big, the air siphoned into a vacuum on either side of her ears. At least that’s what it felt like each time they made eye contact.
Beloved, her heart wanted to say, I’m getting lost in you, but I don’t want to be found. Do you want the same?
But she continued down the path and followed her to a shaded play structure. She sat on the edge of a slide and was pleased when she took the seat on the adjacent slide. Occasionally, their knees brushed and even that contact sent charges of electricity up and down her spine. She distracted herself by fiddling with twigs and spelling her name in the dirt. She felt her lean forward slightly. The scent of her filled her nostrils and she felt drunk again. Or still. Yes. Still.
Earlier, she told her about a supposed fool-proof method of flirting. It involved mimicking the other person’s body language, gazing, attentiveness, and one singular point of physical contact. She recounted a particularly embarrassing attempt in which she stupidly chose to touch the center of a man’s chest. She’d seen women on television do it successfully enough, so she tried it, much to her failure.
“Really? Someone’s chest? How do you do that casually?”
She extended her arm and gently touched the girl’s necklace. “Like that.” There was a brief silence and a shared look before she lost her nerve and resumed her twig maiming.
Come ON! her mind screamed. What were they both waiting for? They couldn’t have asked for a more poignant setting. Large trees cast pretty slivers of light and shadow on the grass. They were alone save for the sound of the breeze caressing green leaves and children biking in the distance. That, and the pounding of her heart, which she was certain could be heard on the other side of the country. All it would take was one move…
“So is this the part in the romantic comedy when the audience is like, ‘Just kiss already!’?”
Was that a hint? Did she want her to make the first move? Or was she just musing aloud? What if she tried and was flat out rejected? What if it set one of them on fire, but was an ice bath for the other? She didn’t think she could handle feeling more undesirable. She didn’t think that was possible.
“Well,” she began hesitantly, “If you were watching this, what would you want to happen?”
“I don’t know.”