Sunlight danced on the trail as the leaves whispered secrets to one another over our heads. My heart beat a rhythm to match the tempo of our feet as I caught up to her on the downslope. This was my chance. I slipped my hand into Charlie’s as we fell into step together. It wasn’t that long ago that this gesture came easily to me, a casual intimacy that we shared without thinking. Now just our hands touching makes my adrenaline rush like I’m about to jump off the side of a building.
Charlie squeezes my hand and runs her thumb along it’s back, but then pulls away, grinning,
“People will see us.”
I want to run and shout that I don’t care, because my heart is about to pound out of my chest, it’s so loud I imagine that it changes the timbre of my voice like a slap on the back.
“What will they see?” I ask.
Charlie changes her pace in such a way as to shove her hip into mine, bumping me further away from her. Even this gap between us feels like it stretches an elastic cord, and I bounce back into step an instant later. She ducks her head and her hair falls into her eyes, but she is looking at me as through a curtain. She pulls her hair back into place behind her ear and reveals…I can’t tell what is there. Desire? Amusement? I know what I want to see. I want the look in her eyes to be the same that I feel in burning in mine. I want her to see me as I see her, but I’m not sure. Even as my breath comes short in my chest my doubting mind asks, Why would she, how could she want me this way?
“Charlie.” I hear my voice, but it’s foreign, it comes from a deeper place inside me than any normal sound. Suddenly my hand is on her waist and I’m guiding her off the side of the path. We’ve just crossed over the bridge and we’re entering the shadow of the giant oak. Normally a destination for picnics, and quick breaks on the trail, it is blessedly deserted for the moment. The temperature drops a few degrees as we cross into the shade, and at the same time sweat beads at the top of my shoulder blades and streams down my back. It doesn’t have to do with the temperature. A rush of action I’m not entirely in control of has brought us up against the ancient tree. She is leaning in the lee of the massive trunk and she’s looking up at me. I lean in, whispering,
Her hair is damp at her ear, from the heat, but she smells like grass and sweat and her, just Her and I want so much to kiss her, but I need to know that she is taking this step on her own, that she wants this. Me. So I stand there, with one hand on her hip, and my right hand has found it’s way tangled into her hair, I don’t remember doing that, it’s like my body is driving and my mind is asleep at the wheel. But I wait, so much of my body is tight, is at attention, that when it finally happens, I feel like I’ve been struck.
Her eyes lock onto mine and the intensity is enough that I almost break, almost pull her towards me, but I don’t have to because suddenly she is there and her lips are on mine. So soft. My first thought is that they are softer than I had expected, and I wonder what she is thinking for a split second, but then a quiet sound escapes, not from her lips but from her chest. A moan. And that is all the permission I need. I open my mouth and deepen the kiss as I pull her closer to me at the waist; my hand sliding further behind her head. Now my tongue finds hers and it’s like we’ve found each other in the middle of a hurricane.
All around us a storm rages and we are it’s eye. This center, this point between us is alive. I am alive in a way that I wasn’t aware of before. The nerves in the tips of my fingers as they brush the denim at her waist are lightning bolts. Her breath is a gale force wind. There are floods breaking levies in my heart, and I want more. I want to take this storm inside me and let it consume me. Just as I feel that I’ll drown here, happily lose my last breath amid this flood, Charlie breaks away, and I claw back to the surface of reason. The sun is bright and hot and Charlie is staring at me, and I know that I am on the other side of a moment I will remember the rest of my life.