Longing took me hostage as I walked aimlessly following yet another fight at home. It wasn’t uncommon- me storming out, away from the screams and destructiveness, looking for something to fulfill the void that was left by the absence of respect and love. I had hoped that things would get better now that I was in college, but the fights grew more frequent with each passing day. The winter wind infiltrated the layers of clothing that were meant to protect me, and the crisp air hardened my nipples as I walked – the stiff material of my jacket teasing them relentlessly replacing the anger with lust and a desire to connect.
I headed past the low-rise houses I spent a lifetime avoiding at the urging of my overbearing mother. She believed their occupants were beneath her family and never missed an opportunity to say so. I passed the playground filled with children enjoying youth and was left longing for my own – a time before I understood hurt and manipulation. I brushed the tears from my eyes with one hand and reached into my pocket for a cigarette and lighter with the other.
“Don’t light that,” a voice fluttered in the distance. I ignored it and turned my back from the wind to cover the flame. I sucked in holding the smoke in my mouth for a while before exhaling with a forceful joy. I imagined tasting the salt of someone’s lips on mine and moaned inside as I thought about the power of a kiss. When things got bad at home, I found comfort in that power and indulged in the sexual desire that came with the emptiness of sadness. This temporary fix was what I hungered for now, but today I felt lost.
For the first time, I was unsure of where to go next. Going home was not an option- not feeling like this. I needed a release badly. I stood outside The Bay, the pool-hall in which I spent many nights and thought about going inside. I always felt powerful hanging out with the guys there, but I wasn’t in the mood today. There had to be something more. I turned around and headed back toward my house and passed the park again.
“Are you OK?”
He was across the street, yet his voice was not a yell, but rather a plea for me to notice. I did. His dark skin glowed and his jeans hanged so invitingly off his waist. His voice made my body scream. I pretended not to hear.
“Are you OK,” he asked again, this time raising his voice and walking from the corner low-rise house to the street. I didn’t ignore him now.
“Do not cross the street,” I said aloud to myself. My legs ignored my command and before I knew it, I was looking into his eyes. He wasn’t very attractive, at least not in the way that would make the heroine of a romance novel quiver, but I was no heroine. There was, however, something sexy about him. His skin was as deep as his eyes which burned a hole in me. His lips were full and I could feel them on me in places that most women were too ashamed to think about.
“I’m fine,” I managed to whisper dryly, and stuck my hands in my pocket.
“You’re not smiling today. Normally, you have a beautiful smile on your face.”
“You’ve seen me before?” My voice failed to hide the shock I felt upon realizing I had never noticed him. At the same time, I was turned on by his voyeurism. It was intoxicating. I thought about asking him if he liked to watch but couldn’t manage to get the words out.
“Yeah, I’ve seen you before. I’ve wanted to talk to you, but I couldn’t. So I just watched you.”
“You spoke to me today.” It was more of an observation than anything else.
“Yeah.” He was uncomfortable and I smiled slyly..
“This could be interesting,” I thought as I took a step closer to him. I could feel the heat from his body on mine and I wanted him to step back- to back away from me, awkward because I was invading his personal space. I could almost taste his breath as he exhaled slowly. He didn’t move. I smiled, tilted my head slightly, and stared at his lips. I imagined the taste of them. The feel of his body against mine. The slight smell of sweat that lingered on the air. Suddenly, I looked away. I took a step back and stared in the distance. For the first time in years, I blushed.
“Stephanie.” My name slipped off of my tongue ugly and vacant, barely hiding my desperate attempt to break the awkward silence.
“Mark. My name is Mark.” His voice pushed the words into me. Powerful. Hot.
image credit: Unsplash@MatheusFerrero