Dusk wrapped us in its ephemeral eternity; moments that lingered before their passing. In their wake, memories would flutter into the distance of remembrance. The ambiguity of time would distort the details, but we still remember the small little things like the date, the shorts she wore, and how water was cold at first and then warm.
It was April 22nd and we decided to go bathe in the river behind my house. Though the path was treacherous, we made it down the muddy slope in one piece. Covered in mud, twigs and wet with sweat, we sank like stones into the water. We mingled with the rocking currents, dissipated into the breeze.
Sometimes, shed come up and sit on a lime-covered stone. Leaning forward with elbows propped on her knees, she offered me smiles while her tee cupped her breast in place. Kiss me, shed say and Id oblige. Her breath tasted like the river and her lips had the same texture as rippling waves. They brushed and pushed, pulled like the ebb of cobwebs swaying in the breeze. They trapped me in a struggle of dominance and playful romanticism; wed flirt with silent kisses, like poets seducing a muse with sound devices and whimsical enjambments.
Sometimes, shed look tired but laid her hand on my head and pulled on my hair just to see me twitch. She said I looked cute whenever I did and Id refute with scoff. Id refute with a harsh chuckle, pronounced by my intoxicated breath that she drank like wine; took it in, like a kiss of life bringing the light back to her eyes. Then, another kiss.
We savoured every raze of teeth on lips, nails versus skin and sarcasm against irony. She laughed with a giggle; she laughed with her hand on her lips, silencing the full extent of her joy and I smiled looking down at her short shorts, chuckled rolling my eyes to catch a glimpse of her chest. We held hands like meek children, and cupped our arms around each others waist to hold nothing and restrain every parting movement until dusk settled.
We washed away the mud and each others backs and thighs, on the shoulders and neck and before leaving. I brushed away the fragmented dry leaves on her chest and she blew away the twigs on my hair.
Days finally over, I said and years later I still regret my choice of words. I had anticipated dusk the way an incarcerated man expects death. Not exactly something to look forward to, but the bittersweet moments of suspense before we separated seemed worse than the actual separation. The weight of anticipation was a burden and it soon became tiring; the way she distracted me constantly from looking at my watch also tired.
It was fun, no?
Yeah, it was.
The last kiss, I can recall, was a quick peck; it was a bitter kiss that lacked the subtlety and melancholy of the dusk that kissed the skies, mocking our lips. We could see the moon and its early arrival like a gods lop-sided smile pitying our tragic love.
I helped her stand, with my hands on her hips and fingers spread, palms adjusting to her curves as she rose. I pulled her up, forcing her into a frantic hop. She wrapped arms around my neck, trying to regain her balance and clung to me as a wet cat would. Ill never forget her desperate face, lips forced into a frown. We stood there for a moment in silent embrace, she sighed and then we moved on.
Dusk played its grasp over broad heaven, clouds sank like fingers into the thick blanket of fading light that was the sky and pulled... leaving only a mantle the colour of midnight with the dotted pattern of white spots that passed as stars. The moon was still there, but we werent.
By night we wouldve gone separate ways. I would look down at my hand on the steering wheel as I drove her home and Id see a speck of mud between my knuckles. You missed a spot, I said still looking at the road but she had already retreated into her thoughts, her mind elsewhere. In a place or time where nothing happened between us, where she was clean and dry and I was off somewhere. She would be simply cooking with her mother, and Id be teaching at the community college but none of that happened, and what we denied was reality. The river still flowed through our veins and each ripple could be felt teasing our skin, the nauseating rhythm of flowing water still swayed our breaths.
I remember staring out the drivers window. She would try to open the door but it was stuck. After noticing her attempts to push the door open I took off the safety lock. The door opened and she almost poured out of the car like water, breaking through in a violent rush, an exceeding river out of its cause, a flow broken by desperation and overwhelmed by the moment. I held onto bitter tears. We would not say goodbye a second time.
I remember the way her mother greeted her at the door, with wide arms and mouth open wide in exclamation. Her father would rise from beneath the shadows of the doorway, behind his wife, and wrap both arms around the two women.
They embrace and I smile, foot squeezing the pedal.
Looking at passenger seat Id see the print of her wet silhouette and Id remember her short shorts. They were white and too tight, with a subtle undertone of caramel the colour of her skin and the texture of goosebumps. When she spread her legs they rode up higher on her thighs, and when she stood and walked they swayed up and down her hips with abrasive rhythm. I'd remember when I gave her the shorts, before going down to the river.
Dont you think the shorts are a bit too tight?
Not really. You look fine. Youre her size. Or, well... she used to be the size youre now.
You mean your daughter? By the way, what happened to her, Professor?
She ran away, like you did.