Strangers

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Two would-be lovers discover a deep, fundamental difference in what they need from a lover.

Submitted: January 12, 2017

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Submitted: January 12, 2017

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The car in front of him came to a revoltingly slow pace. It had just made a left-hand turn, as did he directly behind it, and had immediately went into a right-hand turn. He was eager to clear the intersection – after all, making a left is dangerous. The slow pace of the leading car impeded him from achieving safety. His grip tightened as his jaw slightly clenched. It was always so. On a roller-coaster, one is always aware of the fact that others are on the ride, heading in the same direction. It’s simple: we move together. Driving, however, is much more autonomous. Each car moves on its own, following its driver’s will. Therein lay the problem: each driver takes himself to be lone automaton. Unaware, and perhaps apathetic, of the other, he steers. Recklessly or not, there was reckless abandon.

In the end he was safe, made his way to P3, and parked. With time to kill he picked up a few things at the super market. In his condo he prepared. A bottle of wine and a few things to chew on decorated the counter top. It wasn’t much, but much wasn’t needed.

“I’m here”
“brt :)”, he replied.

He found her on the street corner, her smile warm and welcoming as they exchanged salutations and a hug. She was nice. Together, they were nice. They made the normal small talk. They say money talks. The cold does, too. Reprieve from the biting cold was found in the lobby. She released a deep, relaxing sigh. They took the elevator up to the 12th floor, laughing along the way. Laughing was important. Fun was important. What was said wasn’t.

A small gift waited her in the unit, along with the wine. He had obviously planned a little. Was there an expectation here? They hardly knew each other. Of course he understood how weighty small gestures are at so infantile a time in their knowing each other. He didn’t care. He didn’t want style or faux pas getting in the way of giving. He didn’t want them getting in the way of taking, either.

“Thank you,” she said sincerely, placing the gift in her purse.
“You’re welcome Jessica,” he replied, trying to be present to the fleeting moment.

She excused herself to the washroom. Typical. He poured some wine and took a whiff. Soft notes of oak and blackberries filled his senses alongside the sexual tension. Downtown Toronto’s expanse was on full display at the balcony. It shinned a glistening cold the way February days sometimes do. Upon her return she took wine and they sat together. At first she sat on her own. Soon enough she was sitting on him. They had kissed before, and did so again. The room was quite and intimate. Two bodies explored each other. It wasn’t terrible exciting. There wouldn’t be clothing ripped off today. That was more than okay though. There was a cool and calm passion at play. It felt good. It felt right.

Naturally the intensity increased. Exchanges became longer and hands explored further. A rhythm between their bodies developed. Her bra came undone. Then it happened.

“Wait. Let’s just slow down a bit, there will be time for that later,” she explained.
“Of course,” he replied, eyes locked in what he intended as a strong, understanding gaze.

A sliver of a smile grew along the corners of his mouth – a knowing smile. There was no other reply for him to give. It was a natural phenomenon, this last minute resistance. He was no woman, but he understood. Sadly, for too many good reasons, she had to resist. At the very least she had to show him, and perhaps more importantly herself, that she resists. People are strange. He wasn’t bothered. Relaxing his embrace he took a sip.

“I just need time. I need to know someone first before I can be comfortable, you know?” she reasoned.
“Comfort is important,” he replied.

It didn’t matter what she said, nor what reasons she gave. At least, he thought so. He was wrong.

The physical intensity waned as they talked. She talked about her work and he his goals. She was a person. He could tell she had some things together, and others less so. She was smart, witty, and attractive, and she was over at his place. Time was abundant, and eventually the physicality returned. Bodies pressed upon each other, lips locked, and hands glided along bare skin. Then it happened, again.

“There will be time for that later, but not today,” she said with a nervous chuckle intended to release tension.

They weren’t on the same page. That was normal. Isn’t it rare for two completely different people to be on the same page? Philosophical investigation was far from his mind at that moment, however. What naturally should be wasn’t. It was his fault. It was always his fault. He sat with that for a second, let the totality of the jagged rock-bottom truth linger. Then, digesting that truth along with his prior hopes and expectations for the evening, he breathed it all out. It was over and for a moment he tried as best he could to make love with that reality. He gave her a hug and let her down off his lap. Her bra went back on a second time.

A strange mix of sorrow and compassion filled her features. He couldn’t be sure if it was for herself or for him. Just thinking of the latter made his stomach churn. Irrespective of what he was, he knew he should be proud, fit, light-heated, and full of vitality. He shouldn’t be a man to pity or feel remorse for. She kept talking as she put her shirt back on, trying to diffuse passion with reason –  a woeful combination. She didn’t realize it was over, not yet. Freedom would not be found through physical passion that night, so freedom through intellectual expression would have to do. She was still a smart, witty, and attractive woman after all. However, now she was only that. It wasn’t going down, but at least he could learn. If not about her, then at least about himself.

“Tell me about what you need. What is wrong?” he asked in a sincere, yet inquiring tone. He expected to hear what she believe was true of her, but likely not the full story. She didn’t disappoint.

“I need to feel comfortable with someone before I can be more physical. I need to know them more. It’s me. It’s not you; it’s really my problem.”

“Please no, not that” he thought. Any hint of a smile evaporated from his face. Stoically he replied “I have this strong belief, and I believe it to be true: any given girl, with the right guy, in the right context, and on the right night, will fuck. Although there are other variables at play, I’m going to assume I’m not the right guy”

“Really?  I don’t think that all girls…”

“I actually know what I said to be true. I have experienced enough and have seen enough to know it’s true. It’s not something to be angry about or to hide from, and it doesn’t make anyone evil. Its a wonderful, beautiful truth. In any case, you saying ‘Sex is for later, not now’ has really messed up (more like fucked up he thought) the dynamic between us. If I comply then I’m just that, a compliant guy jumping through hoops within the context that sex might follow. I don’t want to be that kind of guy, and my hope is that you don’t want that kind of guy, either.”

She should have been angry with him. Wasn’t he being rude and arrogant? Yet, in this place, with just the two of them there, and his strong conviction, she was at a loss. A poignant silence filled the room.

“I see why you might sense that. I never intended that. I just need to wait a little”

“I guess I have a few things to say. How long is a little? I wonder, truly, how long do you think you have to wait before you know someone enough? I’m sure you’re trying to protect yourself from being used and discarded. From being fucked and discarded. That’s a real concern and I’m not downplaying it. It happens to a lot of girls. I don’t know you, but you’re an attractive woman. I bet it has probably happened to you more than once. I just really wonder if meeting a guy a few more times will really protect you from that. I also don’t want to be a guinea pig for you to test out a new way of doing things.”

Defiantly she exclaimed “You’re wrong! You’re not a guinea pig. That isn’t it at all. I’m not testing anything. People are different and need different things. I know what I need and you should respect that!”

“Okay, fair. I hear you. I know what I need, too. You’re asking me to wait.” He knew he was playing with fire. His was a reckless scorched earth policy. It was already over, so he asked calmly, cuttingly “Are you truly worth waiting for Jessica?”

She intended to be strong, to rebel against his bullshit. Instead, tears began forming. Her eyebrows creased as her mouth began to slightly tremble. Without warning she stormed to the washroom. He sat there, alone, sobs escaping the washroom intermittently. He imagined her trying to hold back a steady stream of warm tears, her eyes hot with emotion. No one was happy in unit 1009.

Eventually she opened the door. She was composed again. She looked him in the eye searching and asked, “Do you always speak so bluntly?”

With a sad and sombre complexion he simply answered, “Sometimes. I’m sorry Jessica.”

He held her in his embrace and kissed her on the top of her head. Like old friends, they spent the rest of the evening together, not the night, and never met again.


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