Fall leaves are sliding and dancing with each other along the whitewashed bridge. The frantic urgency of the evening train rushes to its next destination, bellowing into the dusk. The world is only drowsily aware of the impending misery of winter; that beautiful bleakness obliterating the existence of anything but itself, blanketing the world in its crystalline forms.
It was summer when I first saw you in that blindingly brilliant sun and before you changed everything about who I would love. I would like to think that those sweet boys from my youth would be enough to make an impression upon me. There was the one who kissed me behind the kindergarten portable and the other who took me to my junior prom. They were the kind of boys my mom considered suitable suitors. They had no edge, all soft corners and baby fat. I look back at those pictures, trying to escape from their grasps with my eye on something far off from the camera, having nothing to do with the backdrops of rock fireplaces or the manicured lawns of a childhood home. All these memories made even fuzzier by seeing you on that hot and bright summer day.
It was the kind of day when the breeze played with the trees and the interplay of shadow and light made an ethereal presence. You were sitting in the grass, just outside the circle of guffaws and conversation. Children ran around wearing straw hats with blue and red ribbons. The adults were eating cold crispy duck, lemonade, and corn bread. Your short golden hair covered some of your face so when you laughed it had its own flash of light. You were picking apart the grass with delicate fingers, closer to a stout tree than to the friend near you.
My friend brought me into the circle, introducing me to your nearby friends and as I socialized with them, I felt the intensity of your stare. Our curious glances became more bold and direct as the sky darkened, hoping to find ourselves alone. We didn’t get much further than a few furtive, shy smiles. It was enough to make an impression on me for months, sharpening as time went on instead of the opposite. I parceled it out for myself in snippets, focused flashes.
Suddenly, it was fall. My roommate Erin and I were hosting an Antebellum Halloween party. You and your friends made an appearance, surveying the room like lions on a safari. When your gaze landed on me, I felt my heart stop and then quicken. I felt like a rabbit with no place to hide.
You seized the moment to slyly sidle up to me. Before you opened your mouth, you were fingering the rhinestone brooch on my fur shawl.