Both wary from broken hearts, and protective of our space, and time, we were feral cats licking wounds with no desire to acquire more. After months of talking via texts and some flirting with the idea of a fling, then retreating into hiding, then peaking out from our respective hollows, we finally sat with each other. For an hour we sat close, watching musicians make magic. Then another night with music and our familiar, comfortable walls. On the 2nd night there was a feeble attempt at a kiss followed later by a teasing conversation … was it a kiss and what if it was. Then back to days of long text conversations about writing and the weight of words and friendships and how to speak to children and protecting of the weak. Then we met again.
As we parted from an evening of talking with friends and eating tacos, he swatted me on the ass and smiled, saying that it was good to spend time together. Then, he leaned down and, as sudden yet complete as every experience we had shared, our first kiss came and went. I think he held my waist, I know my hand found the nape of his neck and we kissed twice. Then we scurried away to our cars.
But there was nothing to be denied. It was a proper kiss and we immediately created space.
Fully distracted by the unexpected kiss, I drove to get groceries. As I walked into the store, I noticed, he was arriving as well. Hoping to avoid him, because I still felt his stubble against my face and I didn’t want to feel it as badly as I wanted to feel it more, I rushed into the store. He caught up with me and asked if I was just going to ignore him. I told him that he seemed to be an ass man so I just figured he’d like walking behind me. Or I tried to say those words, but the surprise of him there, and the feel of my skin ever so slightly and happily abraded by his stubble, made it so I couldn’t quite find my voice and he could not hear me. I had to repeat myself, twice. Finally, he heard and quipped back, “It’s not a bad view, even if you’re shy about it,” but he was wrong.
I grabbed orange juice and stuttered back that I was not shy. He winked and said he was going to get his groceries.
“Ok. Fine. See you around.”
“See you around.”
And I tried to focus. The store was bright and I needed my glasses, but all the input made my eyes hurt and I had to make choices so I could feed myself and my never-full child, but I kept feeling him against me. I tried to focus. I told myself, “I need eggs and tuna and …” My mind wandered, his lips had found mine and “I need olives …” and he swatted my ass. No one had been that bold in longer than I could recall and strawberries went in my basket because it was summer and, in summer, every trip to the store meant strawberries.
I stood in a too long line at midnight. I texted him.
“This place is a madhouse”
“I shouldn’t have left.”
“You shouldn’t have and I wasn’t shy. You flustered me.
The kiss and seeing you in the store.
It was good. I don’t get flustered.
I like that you made me feel something I was not prepared for.”
Later I ate the strawberries while I wondered what his lips would taste like on a summer morning.