ASIDE by L. HAIMAN
L. Haiman is a Bucharest-born-Edinburgh-educated-London-living writer with poetry and short fiction upcoming in the West Trade Review and The William and Mary Review. L. Haiman's fiction has appeared online in Ilanot Review, Pilcrow & Dagger, Minetta Review, decomP, The Missing Slate, and in print in the short story collections Garlic and Sapphires, Two In the Bush, and literary magazines Anything, Anymore, Anywhere. L. Haiman is also an ongoing collaborator of illustrator Via Fang.
by L. Haiman
At this point in the conversation you’ve chosen to go with the zipper – much more likely given the fine undulations of the blue crotch, not to mention far easier to undo. You can’t help wonder whether he’s caught on to your button/zipper dilemma and if he finds it amusing instead of intrusively offensive. Might even consider bringing it up in a near-distant future after your unclad bodies will have begun to familiarize themselves with each other, to which he’d smile and say, I know, thought it was hot, or you might not.
You bite your lip, or think you have, and reach for your quarter full drink grazing his knuckles with the side of your forearm – a happenstance you’d happily freeze frame if given the chance. Ice cubes rattle against the glass – their clink deafened by the plump bass tumbling out of the speakers, but it’s like your palm has grown an ear – their sound travels up your hand all the way to your mouth. You take a sip of the watered down whiskey and give what looks like a funny retort although you fail to assess if his reaction is honest or merely flirtatious because you get sidetracked by this beguiling crease on the corner of his mouth, you think you have summoned. You see yourself giving it a pet name in the form of a noun, of Latin descent most likely. Something that sounds both serious and playful. Like Pulchritude. Pulchry for short. That’s much later after you’ve had the opportunity to appraise said crease via fingertips and lips; for now you’re content to just make a note of it on the he- list you’ve been drafting since before you’ve met in person – cheek idiosyncrasy, check.
Do you want to dance, he asks and you nod shyly, a corrosive shield you’ve been building since your teens, one that holds back this ravenous raven on the lookout for offerings of fleshed out intimacy. Your upper body swings independent from your legs that seem rooted in the dark green carpet of a texture much less fine than moss.
This is me dancing, you ask yourself as you catch glimpse of your face in the booze rack mirror behind the bar only to realize there is no resemblance whatsoever and you are in fact looking at the girl behind you. Her face bursting with excitement, she laughs like she’s got nothing to lose. Or maybe she’s collecting her gains. You miss that. Laughing.
Let’s go to the dance floor, he says, this time taking your shoulder in the cup of his palm the way one gently lifts an egg from a basketful. Your spine tingles at how the fit feels, warm and comforting as if there is no difference in weight between you and an egg. He knows, you tell yourself without knowing what it is that he actually knows – could be anything from your body parts fitting to your bodies’ shared temperature to how you think you want to be touched – any, all, he’s got to be in some sort of know.
You take his hand and steal a sniff of his wrist for a brief enough moment it might as well be imagined then walk over to the dance floor where the two of you are the only couple there – without really being one – and begin to dance. His moves are questionable despite a sense of rhythm that outdoes your own and the more you watch him the more he makes sense. You take note of your arms’ twirling dialogue as they test the limits of the space between you while your mind ventures on dangerous and untrodden pathways. You close your eyes only to see the same image from outside of yourself: you’re dancing with a man you think you like, two bodies in conversation, beaming out their former selves that blushed and bloomed and ripped through the fabric of cells only to bring you here – together this very moment.
You open your eyes. Do you even like the music? Not sure whether you would have chosen this particular song to dance to tonight or any other night, but somehow it seems just right. Momentarily perfect. Heard this music before, you wonder, maybe with your ears, but definitely not with the muscles in your thighs that now arch and unwind as if yearning to cut loose from your bones. Must be the combo between the melody and the contour of his face and perhaps his scent which now comes and goes in short bouts barely enough for you to get a taste of, not nearly long enough to fully grasp.
You try to see yourself dancing alongside him thirty years from now in a run down beach house in a dusty forgotten town on the Adriatic barefoot on the sanded floor whose creaks add a percussive layer to the record player, but you have trouble picturing his feet. The light in the room has one of those seemingly oneiric, undoubtedly celluloid qualities that percolate your memory of a future past as if the two of you have not stopped dancing since this very night. Here we are, you picture yourself saying as you come out of the club hanging on his arm like a scarf that revels in the flattering remarks of a subtle wind. The rain might have stopped altogether or trimmed down its punctuation from exclamation marks to full stops that drop at nifty calculated intervals. A raindrop might roll on the side of your nose and crash into your upper lip, visible enough for him to walk his thumb over it spreading out the moist evenly, your eyes cuddled up in a letting-go stare.
Does the moment make the person?
Back on the dance floor the distance between you has evaporated. His hand rests on your hip in a not-quite-so-sure-yet-begins-to-get-used-to manner and you have trouble deciding if you like it. His ribcage kisses your chest: breaths out of sync. You push yourself upwards and put your left arm around his neck clumsily followed by the right, an adjustment akin to one trying on something new. You close your mind’s eye, tell your thoughts to quiet down and pass the reigns to your body even if only for a brief moment so you can finally feel what he feels like.