I ran her over in the park, knocked her down, a swirl of yellow hair and a girl sprawled on gravel. Fuck, I didn't want to talk to anybody, had come to the park early to avoid people, I didn't even want the jogger's half-nod of greeting, I didn't want any contact, at all, and now this girl -

I helped her up, feeling shitty about feeling callous. I tried to sound sincere when I asked if she was ok.

Yeah, I'm fine, I think -   She brushed off little bits of gravel embedded in her knees, she was all scratched up. She took a step and winced. I did feel bad, then, but then I had a surge of self-righteousness that ruined it. Shit.

It's just bruised. I'm fine.

I offered to walk her to her car, she said no, with a quick firmness. I didn't press it. Of course I wanted more, already, wanted to take her out for coffee, or worse, to say "coffee" but mean "lots of sex" and she would look at me and know what I meant and say "ok."

She walked slowly to her car without my help, the way she wanted it. I watched from the slope. It was just another beautiful woman walking away. Same old.

Something happened. I suddenly could not stand the thought that her car probably had all kinds of things rattling around on the floorboards and I did not know what they were or where she had gotten them. I hadn't even noticed her eyes. Her scratched-up knees, her yellow hair all over the place, her brief voice - how many words had she given me?

It wasn't enough. I sat down on the damp grass. I stood up again. My heart was going before I ran down the slope to her car. I think I scared her but she put her window down and she was even smiling, a little.

I do not remember exactly what I said. But it worked. Through some magic I was granted the appropriate tone and words and whatever it was, it worked as a beginning. She did not think I was dangerous or crazy or trying to get something. And I wasn't. I did not want to take anything. I just wanted to learn. And she smiled, and she let me do it.

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