How to Breathe

My experiment with switching points of view while narrating chronologically.

" if you ARE upset, that's ok..."
"I understand, and, I mean, it'll probably..
" awkward for a while, but..."
"Stop talking!"
"I mean, and, it's ok, I'm not upset..."
"Calm down!"
A sharp intake of breath, and she finally made eye contact.  And while later it'll be endlessly funny to him that it was that moment, after all the personal stories they shared over the last few months, that moment that made her vulnerable, right now he's trapped in the surrealness of the moment.  She flinches a little as he pushes her hair out over her face and leans in.
"Is this ok?"
And again, later it will be endlessly funny to him that their first kiss was when she was drunk and crying, but for now she nods and her tears spill over, and he kisses her.
It is a surprisingly fantastic first kiss.  In fact, it's all surprisingly fantastic, and he's surprised how easy it is to slide from being acquainances-becoming-friends to being decidedly more than friends.  Despite the summer's heat, her hands are ice cold as they brush his neck, his face.  He can still feel them as she traces small circles on his back, through his tshirt.
She's not tiny, for a girl, and he is, for a guy, but she feels so small and delicate next to him.  Kissing her is liberating and intoxicating - she tastes of her fruity wine, which he hadn't touched, and of her fruity lip gloss, which he had mocked her for.  He always mocked her for being such a girly-girl, and she always mocked him for being such a girly-man, and he is emotional as he reacts to her soft soft skin and their tears intermingle on their cheeks.  
"Can I take off your shirt?" she rasps, and he falls backwards on her couch.  Her hands are still ice cold, sliding along his bare torso.  He raises his arm, like a diver, and shrugs his shirt off, as if to help her.  She looks terrified and breathless.  He moves his hands to her neck, fidgeting with tie-straps of her halter top.

"You ok?"    He smiles, sort of.  He still feels sort of vulnerable, shirtless and physically intimate.  He's also...strangely worried.  She's more experienced than him, but she also looks shaken.  He fidgets more aggressively with the tie of her halter top.  "Can I...?"

She nods, looking about like she's going to vomit, and gasps a little as he pulls the bow undone.

"Are you ok?  Am I hurting you?  Should we stop?"

She shakes her head, unconvincingly.  "You're crying?"  It's a half-statement and half-question.  He lifts himself up, a little, propping himself up against the arms of the couch.  Still on top of him, she steadies herself against him, and uses her thumb to wipe his tears away.  They make eye contact and she looks away, embarrassed.  She kisses him, swiftly, and then says "I need to go to the bathroom," and extricates herself with such haste that it's not until she's about to shut the bathroom that he sees the sees the canary yellow strings of her halter top and starts to feel the weight of what's happening.


She's not sure why, but everything going exactly as she wanted with Eric makes her want to cry.  That's what she thinks as she sits on the closed toilet seat, knees clamped together and her head against the wall of her terribly narrow bathroom.  She feels limp; weak.  Exhausted.  And yet at the same time.  Thrilled.
Stand up, she urges herself.  You have to stand up.  You have to...
Bambi-esque, she pushes herself up, reties her top, splashes water on her face, and opens the bathroom door.

"You doing ok?"

From the open door of the bathroom, she can see straight through the open door of her room.  Eric is perched, a Cheshire cat smile on his face, at her desk, poking through her iTunes collection.  She gives him what she hopes is a look of mocking incredulity, and stands by his shoulder, and plays with the neckline of the tshirt he just put back on.

"What're you doing?"  She hopes she has a smile smile in her voice.  She's not sure how they can exist at the same time, this playful happiness and complete terror and despair.  Why is there despair?

"You have good music."  Her heart feels like it's dropped out of her chest.
"We're talked about opera before."  He turns to face her.
"Yeah, but you have everything.  And not just Opera!"  His hands move to her hips.
" music?"  Her hands move to his shoulders, and she fiddles with the hair at the nape of his neck.

"Come here," he says, and pulls her into his lap.  He's tiny, she thinks, it's touch-and-go whether she's smaller than him.  She's worried that she'll crush him, or hurt him, but his arm sliding around her, holding her in place, is almost enough to make her forget everything.  The buzz from her glass of wine is starting to subside, but she's still just floating along.

"We should dance."

Bobby Darin floated out of her tinny laptop speakers, as he stood up, her still in his lap, lifting her up and spinning he into his arms.  His arm around her waist, her arm on his shoulder, their hands clasped, fingers interlaced.  If this were a movie, Anna thought as she leaned his head against his chest, this would be the moment where they would twirl around and the camera would slowly pull out.

Because life is not the movies, he whispered into her ear "You're beautiful," and she started to cry.


He's not sure if they're flirting or or play acting or...something else entirely, but he likes being close to her.  He's never been with someone he felt so comfortable with - and he did feel comfortable with Anna, right away, even though he hadn't known her for more than a few months.  He liked the impulsive romanticism of her in his lap and of them dancing around her room.

And yes, he thinks she's beautiful.  He's dated before, and he's been in love before, but he's never known someone who starts to cry when you tell them that they're beautiful.  Even that, though, is oddly intimate.

The End

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