He could see her down the alley, heading home. She was moving so slowly through the shadows that it occurred to him she wanted to be stopped, to be called back. In fact, as he watched, she slowed her pace to the point that she was hardly moving. She seemed to be not walking anymore, just languidly floating like algae in a light current.
Then, in the darkest spot in her path, behind the hulking void of the American Legion hall, she turned and he saw a glint on her cheek. It struck him later as uncanny that he was able to see tears on his girl’s cheek from that far away in that darkness. The simple truth was had he not seen that tear-that simple trick of reflected light-he never would have called her back.
He stepped away from the garage to be seen and raised his right arm and with a flap of the elbow and a flick of the wrist, beckoned her back. Seeing him she froze then, hurried no more, began to retrace her path, her pace quickening with every step. By the time she cleared the Legion’s shadow she was in full stride, long legs covering broken asphalt and her wet cheeks shining. He opened his arms ready to catch her. The slaps of her sneakers got louder before they stopped when she launched. He wrapped his arms around her and buried his face where her neck should have been and squeezed his own chest hard, his hands wrapped around his own arms.
Having braced for an impact that never came, he stumbled backward and spun to his right, dropping a hand to the ground to steady himself. Realizing that his eyes were closed he opened them and found himself alone in the middle of the alley. He looked around quickly. Nothing. His heart thumped. He started in the direction from where she’d come, scrambling, jogging and calling her name. He saw her, didn’t he? She saw him. She had been there. Hadn’t she?
Spinning his head, he noticed a faint light in one of the bedrooms of the apartment above the garage. He raced between the buildings and thumped heavily up the wooden steps two and three at a time. The door was open. He burst into the space that he knew so well calling her name. He crossed the kitchen in two strides, Then down the hallway where the dull yellow light oozed from under the door.
He grabbed the knob and tried to twist but it was frozen. Locked. The door yielded easily with a loud crack to a single thrust of his thick shoulder.and there she sat on the end of the stripped bed, elbows on knees, face in hands weeping. The ferocity that brought him crashing through the locked door vanished in the face of her sorrow. He slid to his knees between hers and gently and finally wrapped his arms around her.
“What?” he asked.
“I know how this ends.” she said bleakly.
Enveloped by him, her sobbing ebbed somewhat.
“No you don’t”, he said. “WE say how it ends. Not you, not me but WE. It’s us, it’s always been us.”
“NO” she sad emphatically but without anger. “You won’t change. You may think you will, but you won’t. What you were is too strong, it will pull you back. And for that person, I am just a sidekick-the kid down the alley.”
“True. Is true, Was true. Will be true.”
She was wrong, he thought. How could she be so wrong? He knew how he felt and everything he’d done had been for them. She didn’t believe him anymore. It wasn’t her fault. Without realizing, they had begun to speak different languages. His was the only one they’d heard for years. He had to learn to speak her’s.
He sat back on his haunches and untied her left shoe. He slipped it off and set it aside. Then rolled off her short ankle sock and placed it in the shoe. He repeated the steps with the other shoe. Straightening on his knees he grasped the bottom of her T-shirt and lifted it up over her head where she took over and pulled it all the way off shaking out her hair in a way that seemed triumphant. She never wore a bra and her small breasts, like orange halves, were at eye level. He again wrapped his arms around her bare back and snuggled his face between them. She shivered for the first of many times that evening.
She watched him, eyes clear and alert, as he unsnapped her jeans. Then lifted so he could peel them down and off. When he kissed the tops of her long thighs and moved his tongue inside of them, she moaned softly. Her panties were white with tiny red roses spattered over them. Little girl panties. She had others she would have worn if she knew this was going to happen. She yielded to his touch when he pushed her back onto the bed. She scootched backward to lay instead of sit.
He put his mouth on her soft mound where it pushed against the cotten and breathed his hot breath onto her there. When he looked up, she was watching him wearing an expression he’d never seen before but having seen in, never wanted to do without it.
“We say how this ends”, he said firmly.
“I might be starting to believe you”, she said, her hand touching his cheek.