The scooch and screech of chairs against the scuffed, aging hardwood floors echo throughout the shelves. Students coming and going, reading spines and flipping through pages, the library is lively this Saturday morning. Much to my surprise, I find my stand alone desk isn’t occupied in the Stacks and I’m truly honored. My private island. All alone, it faces a bare brick wall where I’ve etched his name over time with a safety pin from my jacket. I find myself spending more time staring at the brick than any words on a page. Study literature? How when he’s every line of a poem I need? How when he’s a better read than any book I own? I observe, analyze, every freckle, fold, flaw on my demigod. The way the lines crease around his eyes when he laughs, how he uses his whole body as he roars. The way the muscles and veins flex and protrude when he’s building or sculpting, grabbing a hold of me. How smooth his peanut butter skin, the small contrast against mine as we lay side by side. The sounds he makes in his sleep, the way his chest rises and falls as he cuddles up against me while I read. Not any chemistry or philosophy book holds my attention. I hear the campus clock bellow a new hour, jerking me away from my trance. I relax in the stiff seat and open to page 59 in my lit book and try to study authors of the 1940’s. I can study him later.
You’ll never be him.
It was their fifth date and she still didn’t feel all that comfortable with him. It was hard doing the things she used to do with her ex in a relationship this fresh. So far they kept it simple with coffee dates and a lunch in the park. Today he wanted to do lunch then visit a museum. She lingered behind him, watching him strut as he reached behind him to pull out his cellphone. She wondered what he was doing as she looked at his Vans roll over the pavement.
“Want to look at the menu?” He looks over his shoulder at her, catching her checking him out. He grins, “What are you doing back there?”
“Nothing…” she chuckles, “yeah let me get a look at that menu.”
They were trecking through a small Montrose neighborhood, ducking and dodging low hanging tree branches and bushes that lined the sidewalks. She quickens her pace to walk beside him. She likes that he looks at menus before he ate like her. I mean she does like him, but he’ll never be him. No one will. The dudes before him she couldn’t connect with. No matter where they went or what they did, she couldn’t get past a few weeks with them. This dude is a little different. The brisk air whips around her face. It makes her shiver. Without a moments notice, he pulls her closer to him. She couldn’t resist to smile. Something else she liked about him. She scrolls up and down the menu, gawking at how pricey the plates were.
“Are you sure about this place?”
He laughs lightly. “I knew you were going to ask. It’s fine; get whatever your stomach desires. No price too large today.”
She glares up at him, suspicious as to why he would spend this much money on a lunch. Maybe he is just trying to show off, which is unnecessary. She’s never been that type of girl. And it’s only their fifth date.
“What are you doing dude?” She asks slowly, ready to interrogate.
He shakes his head. “Nothing. I’m just treating you to lunch, no biggie. Don’t make this into a thing.”
You don’t know me.
She continues to glare at him. He cracks up as soon as he catches her glare. It comes from deep in his stomach. She liked the way he laughed. As he tries to catch his breath, they stop in front of a quaint building that technically looked like someone’s home. No name or address on the building. She continues to glare, lips pursed to hold back her own laughter, and he grabs her by the shoulders.
“Look, if you want, we can go somewhere else. Although we’re right here. I mean we’ve walked a few blocks…and it’s a nice day out. I told you not to make anything out of it. But there you are, glaring at me like I’m about to take advantage of you. You’re so silly.”
His laughter has finally subsided. She liked that he could see through her silliness. She also liked his caramel skin. In the sunlight, it glows, making him look majestic. Along with that smile, he dazzled. He runs his thumb along her jawline, knowing it would make her blush. No he wasn’t him but he made her feel good. She thought that she would never get that feeling again from someone. She liked that about him.
“Okay,” she sighs, “let’s go inside and see if it’s worth the money yeah?”
He smiles. “Good.”
He starts up the walkway and she follows behind him, watching him saunter up to the door. He glances back at her again, enjoying the fact that she watches him walk. And she does it so entitivley. What is she thinking about while she does that, he wonders.
The lunch was magnificent, which she wasn’t expecting by the looks of the place. Where in the hell was the kitchen that produced these amazing plates in this tiny home? They were full to the brim and were questioning should they even bother walking back to the car, let alone walking the museum. He ordered more drinks and offered her desert.
“Dude really? You honestly think that I could eat another bite of anything? I’m about to struggle with this glass of wine.”
“Hey I just wanted to throw it out there. They had a slice of cake that caught my eye…thought maybe you’d want to share. So how are you feeling about the museum?”
She takes a sip from her glass. “I don’t know. Can we not sit her for a moment and just chill? Oh and if you’re really about the cake order it. We can take our time…”
Shortly, a chunk of carrot cake appeared before them. With a sly smirk, he announces, “I already ordered it.”
They laugh as they reach for the desert forks that the waitress placed in front of them. He wasn’t like him, no. He could lie back and converse. And they had lovely conversations. They could talk about anything and he held such useless knowledge that she didn’t know about that she stayed intrigued. Between nibbles, bites and sips, they learned more about each other. Simple things like favorite colors, if they had one artist or musician they could be friends with who, personal goals, and argued about who the better boy band was. She always found herself beyond pleased with their conversations. She watched the way his mouth moved with certain words, how he would smile when she asked him a question he wasn’t expecting, how he gazed upon her when she spoke of something she cared about. God you’re not him…could you be better than him? But it was too soon for her to think about that. This was only date five…no telling what could happen within the next few weeks. They might not even make it to date six or seven. Just stop and enjoy the now.
She took the fork to the plate to get the leftover icing and bits of cake. He smacked her hand as it went towards her mouth but she never lost her grip.
“Hey! Who said you could have the last bit of the cake?!”
She giggled as she licked the cream cheese icing away from her lips. “Oh you wanted that?”
“That’s my favorite part.” He smacked her hand again.
“Ow! Hey!” She smacked his hand in return. “You ate most of the cake anyways.”
“But you were too full remember?”
“Hence why I ate the scraps.”
“Along with little bites here and there.”
“You did say share.”
He went to smack her hand again but she moved it in time for him to miss. Soon they were in a full slap hand battle. They giggled and yelped as they smacked each others hands. It went on for about a minute before he was out of breath from laughter. Soon the waiteress came around the corner with the bill, as if she was done with their cute banter. She reached for her wallet but he stopped her. She then remembered he said that lunch was on him. Maybe she will buy him some drinks later. After he settled the check, he grabbed her hand to help her stand and escorted her out of the tiny restaurant with a gleeful smile. He was thoroughly enjoying her company and wasn’t afraid to show it. He wore his smile like a badge of honor.
Once they approached The Menil, their atmosphere changed to more calm, relaxed. They walked towards the entrance side by side, his fingers gently tangling themselves into hers. Her fingertips tingled in excitement. The day that began mostly groggy turned into sunshine and beauty, the crisp wind still flowing through her hair. They decided to do a roundabout around the building. It made her think of him, all the times they just circled the building in the summer, talking and admiring each other. She rubs her right arm in comfort, thinking about what he could be doing right now in this moment. She missed him like crazy but he kept pushing her to do other things with other people. All he wanted for her was to live her life without him. She really tried but in most cases, she bailed, not ready. She hated for it being that way and no matter how hard she tried to fight, the ex kept her attention. She rubbed her arm in rememberance. And before she could fall in anymore, he swoops her up in a strong embrace. Sometimes she wondered if he could read her that well or if she was showing too much face.
For some reason, The Menil was like a library, influencing you to whisper or to be silent. So they don’t speak as they voyage through the galleries, sheepishly smiling at each other and grazing each other as they past. She stood and watched him gaze upon a piece she was familiar with and wondered what he was thinking. She took in his stature and height, admiring his build. He stood at 6’4, not too skinny but not too muscular, long and thickish. He turned to the piece on the adjacent wall; her eyes follow. She wondered if she could really fall for someone without always comparing them to her past. It was an inner battle that she was constantly fighting. Never intentional…just hard to know something else. Eventually, he pulled himself from his thoughts from the art on the walls, feeling her eyes studying him. He wiggles his fingers down by his left side, anticipating hers. Soon, they’re about his and they navigate to the next room. She meekly blushes as he looks down upon her with admiration. He could voyage a museum with her for days on end.
Was it possible to already like someone like this so soon? The things she was doing to his body, to his heart was so new to him that it felt damn near imaginary. As if he was dreaming or high. He was swelling up with infatuation and lust, any tiny touch could make him burst. That’s why he hasn’t kissed her yet. He knew once he did, he would explode into a blue cloud of magic. She made him feel dizzy on what love could feel like. It was all too brand new. He never knew a girl could make him feel this good.
They jammed Sugarcult’s first album on the way back to her car. Not wanting to embarrass herself after such a nice outing, she just hummed along, proving that she knew this album like the back of her hand. He kept looking over to her, impressed that she even remembered this album let alone the band. He swells up even more. There’s a slight awkward moment once he’s pulled up behind her car. She unfastened her seatbelt and turns towards him, getting ready to hug him good bye. Arms ready, he wants to turn and kiss her on the cheek. She goes in, thanking him for the day. The timing is off and he ends up kissing her ear. She jumps to the unexpected attempt and ends up head butting him. They both his in pain.
“Jeeeeesus. Sorry about that..” She runs the side of her head. “Did you mean to kiss my ear?”
Flushed, he mumbles, “No I was trying to kiss your cheek. Sorry…shitty timing…”
The pain subsides and she’s cracking up. He was still too embarrassed to find the humor in what happened. She notices and grabs him by the chin.
“Hey it’s ok. Look,” she turns his head slightly to the right and places a gentle kiss upon his cheek. “See how easy that is.” She smiles, stifling a snicker. He can’t hide behind his red cheeks any longer. He looks down at his lap, trying to escape the light behind her eyes but she doesn’t allow it. She lifts his head, making him stay eye to eye with her. Suddenly, tension was building in the car, making the air dense. A smile played about her lips as she inched closer to his mouth. “And this will be just as easy…” And with not with the slightest bit of hesitation, she kisses him. And he doesn’t explode into a blue cloud.
She wasn’t ready to endure the next few months without him. She was about to enter a new phase of loneliness. She wasn’t prepared for this; she knew the day would eventually happen but not this soon. She spent most of the day holding back tears, hating herself for getting so upset over it but they don’t get it. This person made her feel so good, made her so happy and she was about to lose it. She was about to lose a bit of her happiness.
“You just don’t know how much I’m going to miss you.” She mumbles loud enough for him to hear.
She hears him smile as he says, “awww…stop it.”
He reaches around her shoulders to embrace her. His fragrance fills her nostrils and she inhales deeply. As he pressed his cold lips to her forehead, she sighs with a smile. She loved it the most when he kissed her forehead. Things were about to change, hopefully for the better. But she knew that maybe if things changed for the bad that he will, somehow, still be around. At least that’s what she had to tell herself to prevent from breaking down.
“It would only be a fling – she wasn’t about to break up the happy home…”
It would only be a fling – she wasn’t about to break up the happy home. She knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she noticed his ring, hand wrapped around a beer bottle. She was bored; her friends left her sitting at the bar all alone. They told her to come out then bailed due to work early in the morning. Besides, she needed some entertainment. And he was entertaining her back. His grey lumberjack beard made her fantasize about pulling it in a dark alleyway as they made out. He seemed way out of her league. Dressed like a GQ model, he couldn’t be someone’s dad and/or husband. He had a level of sophistication about him…like a CEO or owner of a kickstart that soared within a couple of weeks. Maybe it was just the three piece, slim cut tailored suit he wore. She admired him as he took a swig from the Shiner bottle, little drops of beer still about his lips. She licked her own in anticipation. She knew going to a lounge in town would get her more sophisticated men, some that could be in shit marriages or just recently divorced. Or her favorite: the husbands who have permission to go outside of their marriage. She figured with her new found age, she needed a new group of men to be interested in.
“How old are you anyway?” A quizzitive brow asked her.
“How old do you think I am?” She usually hates such a dumb and corny line but again, she was bored. He smirked either in humor or annoyance.
“Don’t you hate when people respond with that question?”
She scoffs out of slight embarrassment, “Of course. I was just being funny,” she swirls the ice around in her empty glass, “I’m thirty. A fresh thirty years…like my birthday was last week. Celebrating a little later than I wanted.”
“How come?” Beer bottle back at his lips.
“Didn’t want to turn thirty. I was living in a state of denial.” She shrugs, remembering her day of tears and loneliness. Her friends and family were begging her to escape her apartment, that turning thirty wasn’t the beginning of the end but in her mind, it was the worst.
“Well how old do you think I am? You may be surprised.”
She was starting to love that silly grin about his mouth the more they talked. Is it wrong I want you to be thirty and single like me? She thought to herself. She giggled.
“How old do I go before you feel insulted?”
“Your cut off is fifty…but only because I often get mistaken for fifty. Apparently grey hair ages you.”
“Ah I see. Well if I have to guess…under fifty…I’ll say you’re…thirty-six…?” She studies him over once more, considering his skin, the lines around his eyes, his hands that laid on the bar.
“Just a smidgen.”
It really doesn’t matter. She’s ok with the end game no matter his age. She was going to ride him til the wheels fall off then leave him with a drunken memory. She was imagining him undressing slowly, showing her that he still had it. That his careless wife at home wasn’t going to appreciate him like this. That she doesn’t like to watch him get undress. That she doesn’t like that once he’s down to his boxer briefs he grabs her tightly by the wrists before shoving his tongue inbetween her lips.
“Bingo.” He points to the bartender and orders another Shiner. “Does that bother you?”
“Thirty-nine? No, no…why the grey beard?”
“I’ve been greying since I was twenty-three. It’s a natural thing. I’m salt and pepper up here,” he points to his perfectly sculpted hair that’s been gelled back, “and here,” points to her future pull toy, “but won’t lie I dye the beard. I tried it once just to see what it would look like and fell in love with it. It gives me a…sort of look.”
So he knows what he’s doing. It’s not necessarily a ploy or gimmick…he just knows it can get him what he wants on occasion. He knows women will stare and wonder and the intrigue will pull them in. It made her wonder how many times has he done this. How many times has he returned late to his home. His wife is an idiot.
“Would you like another gin and tonic?” He points over to the bartender again. Why not, she thinks, I can’t wait to tug on that beard while you pound me.
“Yeah that’s fine. Thank you. Well now that we know how old each other are, where are we doing this? Hotel? My place?”
He choked on the abbrasivness of her question. “Get to the point don’t we?” He takes the napkin is bottle was resting on to cover his coughs.
“Just want to be sure we’re on the same page here. You caught my interest when you sauntered in, tailored and tall, knowing every woman in the room was breaking their necks to see you. And once my friends all dispersed, I saw you point me out by shyly looking over your shoulder towards me. You knew you were about to break every lady’s heart once I sat next to you here. You had just as much as a plan as I did tonight. Fate? I don’t know…maybe I just got lucky. So answer the question: my place or not?”
Around 3:36 a.m., she was awoken to him trying to slip out of her bed. With her being a light sleeper, it was impossible for her one night stands to leave without waking her. If she liked them, she would offer a late night/early morning breakfast at a diner she likes to go to. If not, she would watch them get dress and leave, locking the door once they were out on the street or in their car. But this guy, she liked. And the sex was just like she imagined while they spoke at the bar. It was just what she needed to usher in thirty. He put every piece of the suit back on. Not one wrinkle or piece of out of place as he looked himself over in the mirror. He reaches in his coat pocket for a small container of beard balm. He strokes it over the grey hairs, looks over at her in the mirror and with that goofy grin of his, tugs on it. She laughs.
“Would you like a late dinner? Or early breakfast? Whichever.”
Slipping on his coat he says, “I wish I could but I’m avoiding a ‘Where are you?’ phone call. Thanks for offering. You didn’t have to.”
“It’s part of my system. I liked you. The ones I like I take them out for breakfast.”
They laugh as he walks to her side of the bed. “Thanks for the fun. If you find any loose grey hairs about you know why.” He kisses her slowly. “Maybe I’ll see you around?”
She shrugs. “You never know. I may be in another crowded bar of women begging for your attention.”
“And I may pick you again. You never know.”
“Are you scared?”
“You know…of everything.”
He glances over to her, puzzled. She grins and shrugs as the wind throws her hair about. They were on one of their whims trips. “Hey do you know what we should do right now?” They have a lot of those…what we should eat right now…what we should listen to right now…where we should go right now. As long as someone said “ok.” They were traveling down the freeway, decided to hop to another city. She loved being his passenger; something about sitting beside him always soothed her. She felt as if it was somewhere she belonged. A band played quietly, the sound of the fury wind almost made it seem nonexistent. Texas highways always made trips seem longer with its fields, trees, and endless skies and clouds. Sparatic houses lined country roads. It was steady. Calm. She looks him over. He lightly drums the steering wheel with his finger tips. He glances over to her again.
“What are you thinking about over there?”
She shrugs, “A lot. How I get scared sometimes.”
“Of what hun? Tell me.”
She didn’t know where to begin. Life in general. Her future. His future. Their future together. Are they going to make it to this city safely…the list goes on. Her mind moved so quickly. But really, she was scared of their future. Which was silly of her to tie the two of them together…I mean they weren’t a “they” but in a way they were.
“Scared of losing you is one thing.”
“What?! What do you mean?”
She shakes her head, feeling stupid for saying anything about this but she can tell him anything. It’s just that easy. And it was true. With the way time moves, anything could happen.
“You know…you not being around. In my present…you making an exit…in any way possible.” She turns to look out the window. “Like it’s hard to imagine you not around…and when I think about that time, it scares me. Makes me sad…”
It was a series of broken thoughts. She left out a lot of what she wanted to say because in a way, she felt weird expressing this to him. It was never anything she really wanted to say aloud. Just shit she thought about when she was living in her head. He rests his hand on her thigh. It was his small gesture to show his feelings. Each time it meant something a little different. It made her tingle.
“I know it sounds silly –”
“No I get it.” He grins. “I feel the same way too. I’m lucky to have you in my life.”
When he says shit like that she fights back a big smile. To hear him say things like that made her feel particularly special. But it was only like that with him, no one else. He made her feel like the exception.
“It’s just…well –” she chuckles, “I don’t know how to really explain it.”
He laughs along with her. “No need.”
He squeezes her, gently, expressing understanding and longing. She bit her bottom lip, holding back her cheese. For a moment, they just looked at each other, smiling and giggling. Just the two of them on this Texas highway made everything seem so perfect. And right. And that’s all they needed.
“Are you sure we have time for this?” He speaks up to her. He knelt before her, her fingers locked into his tresses, with her dress pushed to the right. The slit was designed for frolic. The party was in full swing downstairs; Why not try to get off while people were occupied?
“You are asking a stupid question at a very inappropriate time.” She tugs at his roots in frustration. She had been thinking about this days leading up to this party. Plotted? Possibly. Did he need to know? No. She could feel the warmth of his breath about her thighs. She quivered anxiously. “Are you seriously trying to get out of this?” You better not say no you shithead.
He pushed his nose into her crouch. With a deep breath he exhales, “God no…”
With a coy smirk, she pushes his head further into her. She can feel his lips part slightly, the tip of his tongue danced lightly on her moist skin. Her knees grew weak to the teasing, ready for him to dive right in. The wait was killing her. She gripped his hair tighter as he initiated the warm up: spreading her legs a little wider for more room to work with, using his forefinger and thumb to expose her lips, nibbling on them gently then long licks up each side, leaning back to enjoy watching her get wetter. She fought to focus on keeping her strength in her legs that shook as if they were in the blistering cold. When he kissed her right inner thigh, the knee buckled but he caught her. He shifted her from off the wall to the edge of a bed in one of the many rooms that filled the stranger’s home. She gathers the dress and flips over to her left side as he forces her legs open once more. He smiles at her wet pussy, glorifying his work. He takes a thumb and runs it along her clit.
She laughs, “Hey there.”
He resumes. Devouring every bit of her, she groans out, and fastens her hands to the about to be ruined comforter. She can’t take her eyes off him; watching him enjoy her pleases her. The way he used his whole mouth…
There’s a knock at the door. “Is someone in there? We can’t find the groom and…” There’s whispering on the other side. She cocks her head back in anger but he doesn’t stop. A man on a mission. But she is now out of the moment. The whispering has turned into shouting that’s echoing down the hallway.
“They’re looking for you…we should stop…” She gasps as he does this thing with his tongue that he knows drives her crazy.
“Fuck no,” is muffled.
She wasn’t about to argue. She stood urgently, checking her dress for any stains that would give them away. He sat, Indian style, sulking on the hardwood floor. She squats down to be in his eyeline. It was hard to resist those soft brown eyes.
“You have to get back. They’re on the hunt,” she pushes his hair off his forehead. “This is what you chose. Now go clean your face…you smell like pussy.”
“I had this dream once, I don’t remember when exactly but um…it was the kind of dream someone never wants to have. Anyway, I had this dream once that I was just going day to day, checking my phone every once in a while, just living…wondering why I hadn’t heard from you. I would always get that tiny twinge of fear in the base of my heart that something has happened to you when I don’t hear from you. But yeah so I don’t know I think a week goes by, you know there’s no real time in a dream…a week goes by and I decide to be like fuck it I’ll go by his house and see if he’s there. And your car is outside and I ring the doorbell. Your brother comes to the door all red and puffy eyed, surprised to see me. So I ask him if you’re home. He was so confused, asked if I was fucking with him and I was like what no where’s your brother I haven’t heard from him in a week. Then he looked crushed. Looked down at his feet and mumbled, he’s gone he died. Then I woke up. I woke up and cried and cried…couldn’t go back to sleep for like an hour because…that’s a real fear of mine. I’m afraid that if something detrimental happened to you that I wouldn’t know…that scares the living shit out of me…”