"Uh...would you... like to get some coffee?" I managed to get out. Her dark eyebrows lifted a little, and her full, magnetic lips curved slightly at the corners.
"Yes, I was planning on it." she replied, coyly. "Oh," she continued, as if suddenly realizing, "did you mean with you?" She was playing with me, trying to further my embarrassment. Not happening, I thought. I didn't answer, but just kept my gaze locked on her dark eyes, and smiled.
She unlocked the rear door of her car, setting her books on the seat. Shutting the door, she turned to me, and, with a shy smile, suggested we walk.
Strolling along the sidewalk, side by side, we talked a little awkwardly at first, but gradually we warmed to each other, laughing and joking. I forced myself out of my comfort zone, talking freely about my plans, my dreams... Why? I can't say, precisely. Maybe I trusted her. Perhaps I felt a connection- a sort of kinship, because she was a loner, too.
We arrived at the coffee shop, far too soon. I wanted to be back outside, walking, without so many people to distract us. She ordered a peppermint cappuccino, reaching into her purse for her wallet. "Don't worry about it." I told her, hastily. She looked at me again, a sweet blush suffusing her cheeks.
"Oh," she replied simply, replacing her wallet. For some reason, I felt warm blood rising to my own face. A simple misunderstanding about not going "Dutch" on coffee actually embarrassed me? What was this girl doing to me?
I ordered, paid, and we left, warm, steaming cups of coffee in our hands. We meandered around town, talking about our pasts, where we had grown up, our childhoods, school... We ended up in the park, by chance. It was beautiful: the leaves were muted shades of yellow, red and orange, the autumn sun sparkled on the river, and the springy, soft grass beneath our feet was still green. The only thing that surpassed all of that was the woman-child beside me. The sun sparkling in her eyes was a captivating sight; so captivating, in fact, that I did not realize I was captivated until she nudged me, lightly. Waking from the trance, I saw her smirking at me, before she turned away. I noticed she was much closer to me- our shoulders brushed frequently, or, rather, her shoulder brushed my upper arm, due to our difference in height. My breathing quickened, drinking in the intoxicating aroma of her hair. She was drawing closer to me... but then logic cut through the fog of my excitement- it was probably me moving closer to her. I shifted away, trying not to crowd her. But she shifted as well, drawing near to me once more.
We stopped on the bridge, sitting on the sidewalk. Suddenly she looked over at me, hesitated, and then quietly said my name. It sounded so sweet on her lips. My mouth dry, I met her liquid eyes, prompting, "Yes?"
She opened her mouth to continue, but stopped herself, blushing a little, and then finished, lamely, "I just like saying your name." I didn't pursue it, but sat beside her in silence. I desperately wanted to know what she had been going to say. I had a feeling it had something to do with the way she felt about me. So many things she had said seemed like veiled prompts for me to tell her how I felt, little hidden invitations. But if I was careful about anything, it was my heart. So, I was silent.
We sat there, side by side, casting surreptitious glances at each other, neither of us wanting to end our time together, but knowing it was inevitable as the sun sank further and further below the tree line. I stood, telling her that we should head back before it got too dark. She did not want to retrieve her car from the school lot, so we walked the last mile to her house. Nearly there, she paused, gazing at a dark copse of evergreens.
“What is it?” I asked, my eyes searching for what held hers.
“Nothing,” She whispered, “Those are just my trees.” She did not explain further.
We walked on, coming into her yard. I stopped, looking at her, not speaking. She stared back, silent, except for her rapid, shallow breathing. I wanted to take her in my arms, and press my lips to hers. I tensed, about to act on my desire, but for some reason I stopped. I gave her a weak smile, instead, and awkwardly bid her adieu. “Well… Good night.”
“Good night,” she smiled back, warmly. “I had fun today.”
“Yeah,” I broke into a grin. “So did I. Maybe we can-.”
“Definitely,” she interrupted. “We can definitely do this again.” With that, she walked up to her front door, turning to wave before she disappeared inside.
I walked back to retrieve my car, torn by all the feelings raging through my soul. Part of me was thrilled by all that had happened; the other, disappointed by all that hadn’t, all of those unspoken thoughts. All of those words of love, unsung.