It’s funny that you would say your name was “Jim”, because I had heard people called you Jacqueline and your middle name was Ingrid. And there you were, Jacqueline Ingrid Mahoney, standing before me, fingering my vintage brooch, calling yourself “Jim”. I wonder even now why you didn’t pick something like “Jack”; perhaps it was too obvious, did not hold enough mysterious allure.
And I had noticed beyond that lanky swagger and shy hair flip that some of your features could even be described as “delicate”. It betrayed you most in the slenderness of your long fingers, the rare sweep of your eyelash, and the soft sheen of your fair hair. It was supported by the lean muscled arms and your boyish stride. There was a certain grace and confidence to you that sent a chilled thick river through my veins to my fingertips, the same ones playing with the hem of my skirt and the others holding my sweating drink.
“Hi Jim,” I said too breathlessly as Erin raised an eyebrow from across the room. “Are you enjoying the party?”
I should have known you were drunk by the way you leaned in and simply nodded an answer to my question, your eyes scanning my neck and the bottom of my ear. By the time I was brave enough to look up, your heavily lidded stare was taking in the room seeing how well your friends were faring with mine. It was then that I noticed the faint layout of freckles, splashed on the bridge of your nose and under your eyes.
I could tell that I wasn’t the only one engaged in a slightly uncomfortable conversation that was sending the room into a low humming buzz. As evidenced by your slow, sly smile, you saw to it that everyone was suitably occupied. Even Erin, who kept inquisitively looking over at us, was getting pulled in by a chattier member of your crew.
“I was just thinking of catching some fresh air. Care to join me outside?”
I considered your question, while eyeing the fat veins of your forearm leading up to your elbow. I had the overwhelming urge to trace my finger along its path, wanting to feel the warmth beneath the rolled up sleeve of your white yoked shirt and the hairless part of the inner crook. Instead, you followed me through the party, toward the stairs, catching side glances from some of the party guests. I couldn’t tell if people knew this was our first true meeting or perhaps they didn’t care.
We went down the crackling steps, through our living room, and onto the front wooden porch, followed by a screen door that slammed decisively. The porch swing protested our weight only briefly before we threw up our feet to silently sway.
My hand searched for the crook of your arm, for the warmth that I had anticipated. When it reached its destination, we both inwardly jolted, or so I think.
“By the way, my name is Vivienne.”