The first – clumsy and unremarkable. It’s summer and I’m sixteen. Too young to know any better, yet I thought myself old. Old enough to know, to want to know, the weight of wandering hands.
It’s a hazy memory. Sweat mingling on the dance floor, tucking ourselves into dimly lit corners. I didn’t ask for a fairy tale.
“Hello beautiful,” he texts me the following morning. An omen, perhaps, for the ones who come afterwards. I erase it, never to reply, afraid that my parents might see.
The second – everything I might have wanted the first to be. Fall semester, Boston roof. Around us the air hangs heavy in the sky. My shirt clings to my skin on the walk back to our dorm. The remnants of August heat.
Our minds had become acquainted long before our lips. Friends speculated this would happen for a while now. I was surprised when it finally did – a stranger’s lips. He is still foreign to me.
He calls me the next day. We decide not to complicate things. It’s not relief I feel, but disappointment.
“A mistake,” he calls it.
Was it really?
Just friends after that – I say nothing. Swallow my words instead, a stomach full of knots.
The third – just when I thought I had learned. Nighttime/early morning on a Mass Pike bridge. Swell of cars whooshing beneath our feet. I’m too blinded by the distant headlights, by the vodka pumping through my veins, to realize what’s going on.
Semi-conscious sensations: chain link cool against my shoulder blades, bitter taste of ashtray. The insincere apology that follows.
“Took advantage of you for a moment,” he tells me. He takes me home. I don’t stop him.
More of an excuse rather than an apology now that I think about it.
The fifth was to forget everything that had happened in between. Tiled walls and bare feet. He experiences life like a chess game. Strategy leaves little room for passion but it makes no difference to me. Still slippery from the shower, I know I will never be able to grasp him completely.
As he leans in, I study his face. “Your eyes are green,” I remark, as though seeing him for the first time.
He chuckles, of course.”You’ve only seen me in the dark.”
Then there’s the sixth – a tiny act of vengeance for all those who came before. I’m older than he is, and far more determined to make myself unforgettable.
A new semester and summer’s end. I take him to the church with the reflecting pool and pretty lights. I know nothing about him, don’t care to. We dance without music as though we were on screen.
There’s a full moon tonight. Fountains in the background. The perfect scene.
We kiss and I feel nothing, other than the self-satisfied certainty that at least one of them would always remember me.