It was the blue sparkle that caught my own eyes when I saw him across the crowded room. I stood there, surrounded by friends, but became quickly aware of his grin, his gaze undoing me right in the middle of the crowded dance floor. He walked over, followed by a group of local boys who I later learned worked with him in that temporary sort of job he had picked up… His friends occupied mine while the music blared around us.
He was French. And so, in that mundane middle-America, top-20 lake resort nightclub, I was transported once more from my roots, removed to all the exotic wanderings I craved in my own mundane middle-America existence..
“Veux-tu…?” he asked me, and I did, did sip on the drink he handed me, did push my hair back behind my ear once before he did it himself, did feel that shiver run right down my spine when his hand touched my ear, did want him to trace his fingers down my neck, against my breasts, to touch me once more… did–by the end of the evening–begin to feel my electric legs, did imagine myself threading fingers through his golden ringlets, pushing his head right down into my lap. I did want, wanted it all. But I did not, not at that moment, contenting myself to gaze into the blue clear sea I saw in those eyes, to listen to his stories about Cannes.
He was a photographer, and through the next week he snapped photo after photo in my bedroom, in the late afternoon light before my mother came home from work. I was no kid, living still at home with my widowed mother… A college dropout, I was, a translator, a woman who wanted more–whatever that meant.
In the parking lot at closing time, in the clear bewitching moonlight, he handed me an address–“demain, avant midi”… I held it, tucked it gently into my pocket, then hesitated only a moment the next morning before leaving my friends behind, heading into the water on skis, laughing, then climbing into the back of his friend’s van to lie back and let him fumble with the fastenings to my shorts–the complicated ones that tied rather than zipped. I lay back and let him kiss his way down my belly, making his way quickly to the softness of my inner thighs, to the first time that I ever fucked anyone within twenty-four hours of meeting him. And fuck we did, loudly, athletically, with an abandon reserved for couples who know one another either perfectly well or not well at all.
And from that, I decided that he was just the sort of boy a girl should take home. As for him, he was free for the summer–another dreamer, off to see the world–yes, yes I wanted so much. He left his job and grabbed his bag. We sped through the winding roads back to the city in my old Chevy, flirting dangerously through the speed traps. I reasoned that taking him home was a hospitable thing to do. Yes. A reasonable thing: after all, a puppy would be far more trouble, and far less fun.
My mother was not amused. A generous coworker stashed my new friend in her parents’ house until they came home from vacation.. just a few days. And by then, my mom relented, laughing as she carefully made a bed for him in the basement–fully expecting that when she went out for the evening, we would behave, as she put it–respect the unspoken house rules implied by the gesture. We were going out. And yes, he would take a shower and dry off with the fresh fluffy towel–the blue one, folded neatly and draped over the bathtub.
No. He would instead pull me into the shower and hold my wrists against the wall, sucking my nipples as the warm water ran down on us. Even before the door shut behind my mother, my friend would push me against the kitchen cabinets, ripping my panties as his fingers traced the wetness of my labia, as he rolled a condom down his smooth cock and pounded me from behind.
My mom still shows the photos she took of him at our table, the photos of our unauthorized office margarita party, the photos of the guests at the dinner he prepared when I was ready to push him onto a Greyhound headed to his next adventure. I heard from him a few times, then again when I lived in France a few years later. But life moved on, as it does, and from the summer, it was the pictures, the laughter… memories we kept, cherished even years later.
Memories may not die. People do. It was a terrible accident by all accounts, and the outpouring from the community was evidently tremendous, devastating.
Ah.. so he was loved. By the time I had met him, he had been gone for months, and seemed perhaps a bit homesick as he flipped through the lush pictures he had in an album from home. Faces, I saw, beautiful smiling faces of friends I never knew. Faces of friends on beaches, with the palm trees, and that same Mediterranean blue that still sparkles when I think of it. These must have been the ones who grieved then. But not I–I, who have a photo, and a story, and yet a vague sadness, like a once happy song, in a minor key, playing far, far away.