Linger

Posted: January 24, 2012 in Fiction

It wasn’t like she knew me. Not at all, we’d just met the week before.  But the connection was real, the chemistry, as they say, was apparent. And not only to me.  It was like the time she said I was amazing and meant it, if only in her momentary lapse of reason.  We had gone to the club that night and all along the way I kept glancing toward her in disbelief.  She was in my truck!  A crisp, efficacious entity that was full of youth, beauty and vigor contrasted the usual dull visage of glaring music and an empty seat. I’ll remember that night the rest of my life. It was like I had won the lottery.  And despite all the guys that came to say ‘Hi’ and hugged her, held on to her for that extra second of nourishment, she stayed with me.  We sat on those couches, the ones you sink into, and talked as best we could over the music.

Do you like this song?  No, I said, It’s not really my genre.

I told her how glad I was that we came out for drinks. That I hadn’t planned on asking her. How I was afraid she’d say “No, I have to wash my hair” or some such thing. But that I remembered what she told me the day before, about how she prized confidence in men above all else. I told her how I turned my truck around in full bravado, like I was running off a cliff, when I knocked on her door earlier to ask her after I had driven by her house several times but chickened out.

Why would you think I’d say no, you’re amazing!

It’s strange but I immediately thought about that scene in John’s gospel where Peter tells Jesus: where unto shall we go, for you have the words of life.  I remember the proximity above all else. How she had to lean up close to my ear so I could hear her speak.  How after the first drink or two, her lips would touch my ear as she spoke, her breath would crawl up my nose, her hair would tickle my neck. And how I lost myself.

Do you dance? No, I said, not really. I can’t dance.  But her words spoke to me again: confidence.

But I will with you!

The maze of the dance floor always eludes me, never the music. And especially within the grasp of a country Two-Step.  But she led the way and I followed.  It is only now, years later, that the metaphor haunts me. But we danced, and not once did I step on her toes. Afterward, she mocked my words. I can’t dance, she’d say, in her best whiny-kid-voice.  And the night went on in laughter, drinks and dances.

The lights came on abruptly and ended my movie; last call.  It was time to go, drove her home via all the main roads despite my inebriation.  I was brave that night. When we got to her place, the typical rituals ensued.  Walked her to her door, exchanged pleasantries and emphasized the great time we had and how we should do this again.  Then came the moment of the puddle in the path – the goodnight kiss.

Again and again, her word spoke to me: confidence.  It reverberated within me like cannon fire. Each time the feeling reached a fever pitch within me and I mustered a semblance of courage to go all in, I would cower and think of something to say: you look great tonight … you dance really well … you wanna grab some coffee tomorrow?  Anything to avoid the possible consequence of ill conceived confidence turned to stupidity.  Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, faith gave way to fear, confidence gave way to conformity and I found myself again. I turned and walked away.

Heraclitus was right, you know.  You cannot step into the same river twice, new water is always flowing through.  In the flow of time, an opportunity lost is lost forever.  She’s gone now.  As for the kiss, a thick soup of regret is left to me. But hers words linger: confidence and amazing live with me until this day.  They nourish me as a kiss never could, even a first kiss from such a one as she.

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