He was different, exciting, with crisp ice blue eyes framed by blonde hair. His right hand, fingers splayed, would constantly brush the hair over the top of his head. The hair invariably, stubbornly, would drop back to surround his eyes. He was a full head taller than me, with broad shoulders and lean. He was gorgeous.
To this day I don't know what he saw in me. He watched me constantly, intently. I could feel his eyes burning right through me as if he wanted to dig into the deepest hidden parts of me. His voice was deep, yet soft, smooth like chocolate. He spoke with me often wanting to practice his English, so he said, as opposed to teaching me German. I was in his homeland for a month, visiting my grandparents. I was supposed to be absorbing German culture to bring back to school to share with my classmates. (That was the bargain I had struck with my teachers to get the permission needed to get a month off from school.)
Peter was the housekeeper's son, two years older than I. I tried in vain to get him to take me to his school. He wouldn't. He said that he didn't want to share his American girl. He wasn't thrilled about the friends I had formed in the village. It was as if I had come to Germany solely to be with him.
There was a dance one Friday night before I was to return to the States. The place was packed. Word had spread like wildfire that the American girl was coming and they all wanted a peek. They wanted to see what she was wearing, how she wore her hair, how she spoke. She was new, different. I didn't want to be different, though I already knew that I was.
I had come to Germany to get away, to change, to reinvent myself. I was looking for a way to express myself that was my own yet would blend in with the others before returning home. They wanted a typical American girl. I was not typical American. I fascinated them. They pressed in close at the event, asking this and that. What music do American girls listen to? Where do American girls go with boys? Do all American girls wear their hair like that? Tell me some American phrases! Show me an American dance!
I was surrounded by people wanting to dance like me, speak like me, be like me. Like ME... I wasn't hanging in the shadows like at home. I was full in the spotlight. It was uncomfortable, unnerving. These people were with me not because I was Chris, but because I was American.
Peter did not want me going. He didn't take me. He DID show up after two hours on his motorcycle. He stood in the doorway a moment, searching the room, peering through the crowd and the smoke. I noticed him the minute he walked in, how could I not? Every other girl noticed him too. He drew that kind of attention. His eyes rested on me across the sea of moving bodies, dancing with another. He strolled purposefully, parting the crowd until he stood before me, never breaking eye contact, his eyes fervent.
Come on. We go.
I let him take me by the elbow and push me out of the room ahead of him. I threw my leg over the seat sliding forward against him wrapping my arms around his waist.
I said I did not want to share you, he bit out, before snapping his visor shut. He kick started the bike, taking off, leaving the others standing in the doorway wondering what had just happened.
It was exhilarating and dangerous. Wild, on the edge and I loved every minute of it. I held him tightly, feeling the tenseness in his muscles. We rode into the night through the village, past the farmlands, with the moon guiding our way, loudly proclaiming our presence. It was forever and an instant before he guided us into the city, making for the train station. He parked, taking off his helmet. I quickly followed suit, still unsure of what his plans were. His eyes had a hard edge to them. He detached a previously unnoticed rucksack from the back of his bike, took me firmly by the hand, and led me through the station.
What are we doing here?
Shh, you will see.
He spoke to the clerk in German. I only understood that he asked for two tickets to some town I didn't recognize in Italy. ITALY?!
WOAH! Italy? What was he thinking? I couldn't go to Italy, I was due to leave for home in four days! I must have misunderstood. He hadn't even asked me, just assumed I would ride off with him into the night, disappearing without a trace. As he pulled me toward the train, my feet resisted. They dragged him back, slowing his pace.
What are you doing? I can't go to Italy!
I do not want you to go home.
Omi will worry, take me back.
No! Come with me. We will start a new life. No one will find us. It will be only us.
He was intense. Watching me. Waiting for the answer he wanted, barely breathing. He combed his hair back with his fingers slowly, eyes locked on mine. My heart beat hard and fast. I was afraid. A small part of me cried out to do this crazy insane thing. But, I was only sixteen! I still had school. My grandparents would worry endlessly. Still the call to adventure pulled me. I was somebody with this person, I liked how it felt. There was the train that would keep me here, there was the boy with the powerful gaze willing me to take his hand and take a chance, and there I was trembling in fear at what I might do. My head fought with my heart.
I was still a child in a woman's body. The reality of the situation forced it's way into my mind. I was in a country where I barely knew the language thinking about going to another where I didn't know it at all. I had only a few marks in my pocket. It was over an hour away from my grandparents' home in the dead of night with someone I had only known a few weeks. What if he changed his mind about me? What would I do then? I was not ready for this leap as I was laced with little girl fears.
He knew, of course, before I said anything. He could read my shift in body language as I could read the defeat in his eyes. He stuffed the tickets in his back pocket and slowly walked away from the train, not touching me this time. I followed him back to the motorcycle. He took me back to my home away from home. Four days later, I was seated in the plane watching my grandparents wave goodbye out the window. A few windows down was Peter, silently watching the plane move away, with his hand reaching out, but stopped by the pane. Tears trailed down his cheek, matching my own. It was forever and an instant before the plane took off leaving the piece of my heart that wanted to stay behind.