Slowly Allie unbuttons her blue denim shirt, her eyes like a magnet holding me. She pulls back the sides of the denim and for the first time I see the small rise of her breasts, the nipples deep pink and large. She smiles her wide, familiar grin and lets the shirt drop back off her shoulders. I want to reach across the space between us, to cup my palms around her smoothness. I want to lean forward and move my tongue lightly along her skin, to take her nipple into my mouth and suck it deeply. But I wait because timing between us has always been crucial.
Allison reaches for her shorts and pulls them down the length of her legs. Stepping out she tosses them to the side and then reaches for the elastic band of her red underpants and smoothes them slowly down. Her pubic hair is dark brown. She smiles and steps under the shower, the water glistening her skin satin. I join her, still not quite ready to bridge the final distance between us.
Then she leans, oh so slightly, back against my chest, and lightly I wrap my arms around her, placing my open palms onto her thin tanned stomach. She lays her head back against me and we both breathe out deep sighs, like we’d been holding our breath forever.
Allison turns, her deep green eyes seeking my own, and there is the sensation, sharp and sweet in my stomach, of falling, falling into her eyes. They say, falling in love. They probably mean how it feels when the eyes are locked like this, the spirit cast free of closure.
Then our lips touch, like the feeling of mango, and my soul burning with fire in every direction. For months now I’ve wanted to touch these lips that are touching me. These teeth against my skin. This tongue that circles and enters and tastes hungrily along my cheek.
But, really that is not how it happened.
We are swimming in the ocean, Allison and I and some friends. I am very happy with these people who have invited me into the long history of their friendship. Pleasure rides in my stomach and chest like the warm water that swells about us with the incoming tide.
The friends swim off in search of the sandbar now covered with water. Allison and I continue floating, revealing intimacies with stories of our lives. Our hands touch briefly under the water, our legs momentarily brush in the sensuous smoothness of the water, like fish darting past our skin.
Allison tells me she doesn’t believe in putting names on relationships. She says maybe they last forever, maybe only for a moment. She explains how her lover is moving out soon because she needs space for her own inner self.
I want to kiss her. But I’m not really sure how she feels. Later, when she steps out of the water dripping wet, my breath leaps from my chest. Would we pleasure at each other’s pleasure? I don’t know. We haven’t spoken of such things.
She feels the same way I do. But maybe for her the stories are not even real intimacies. Maybe she tells the same stories to everyone. Maybe she makes them up, only for what I want to hear. Maybe she floated beside me only because she was too tired to swim off with our friends. I don’t know these things unless I ask her. And yet I do know.
Over dinner we all talk easily and laugh readily, eating for hours as the tables around us empty and fill up again. It’s nearly midnight when the waitress finally says they’re ready to close up. I look across the table and see Allison looking at me, her eyes steady and sure.
When we say goodnight, she places her lips on my cheek very, very close to my lips, and kisses me. Then, with arms still wrapped about each other, we look into each other’s eyes and let silence be our guide. I want to kiss her lips. But I wait because timing is everything.
Maybe we never will. I know we will. Or maybe we won’t.
Or maybe we will.