I’ll never forget that night. She was quietly seated at the marble-topped table with the old wooden legs, her coffee steaming in her hands. The dimly lit diner made her skin look incandescent. Her hunched shoulders gave off an air of defeat, though her face remained impassive. The vast table was otherwise unoccupied save for a lonely chair that sat opposite her. I thought how much I should like to sit down beside her.
She had not noticed me enter and continued to stare longingly into her cup. “Late night, isn’t it?” I was hoping my tone would not alarm her, though she seemed unaffected by it. “Well I suppose, but I’m waiting for, oh, it’s you…” she smiled, and her stoic facade melted away faster than ice on a summer’s afternoon. The glow of her skin was warm and inviting, and her smile was equally radiant.
In a comically lackluster attempt to sound debonair, I raised my eyebrow and casually asked, “Hey Liv, what do you say we get outta here?” “Well I’d say I was already gone,” she whispered into my ear in a way I found to be effortlessly enticing. In that instant she had me rambling after her out the door. She led me all the way down Main Street then pulled me by my scarf into the side street just before our building. Her eyes we blazing, and scorching warmth radiated from her hands into mine. She kissed me sweetly at first, but with more aggression each time after. Suddenly, she stopped to catch her breath and allowed me mine, and then I returned the favor.
I woke at dawn and laid in bed watching the curtains, dappled with sunlight, dancing in the brusk morning breeze. She began to hum and slid to the edge of the bed. Her deep auburn hair was lurid on her skin, lightly mottled with tiny freckles that trailed down from her slender shoulders. She shivered, noting the chill and crossed her arms as she straightened up. Though inexplicably pretty at night, she was a vision in the sun’s light.
“Morning,” she said, her voice still raspy from sleep. She stared at me over her shoulder as she sat on the edge of the bed. I smiled back and whispered the same. Her smile was one that me feel a foolish adolescent, helplessly, hopelessly swooning for her. She grabbed my wrinkled oxford from the floor, draping it over her shoulders and began buttoning it as she tiptoed into the kitchen. Soon thereafter I followed her as I always had, as if I were a traveler and she was the map.
Out past the hall, the morning light saturated the kitchen with a warm glow. The faucet gleamed in it as she filled a now rusting steel kettle with water. “How long did you wait around last night?” I said over the noise of the water flowing from the faucet. “Not too long,” she answered, placing the brass kettle gently on the red-hot burner. I knew she must’ve been waiting for quite a while, like she always did. She was simply trying to allay my guilt, like she always did.