Sometimes we experience a moment that, to anyone outside of it, seems natural, simple, and void of any profound meaning. But to those in it, something about that place, that time, that one gentle word… it remains with you, and makes you see the world differently.
It’s late at night, depending who you are and what you consider late to be. That time of night when most of the world around you is settled in, content, free of stress until the sun comes back up. It’s dark, but the moonlight is mirrored on the gently rippling pond, and the gentle, artificial glow of the houses surrounding it give off just enough light to feel secure. Just enough light to feel like you’re alone.
But I’m not alone in this moment. My heart’s desire, my life, my sturdy wall and my comfort, is sitting next to me.
“You’re right,” he says calmly, “it’s nice out here.”
I nod, without responding. We aren’t really sitting together in any intimate fashion; but it’s the lack of touch that, somehow, makes me feel closer to him. Only our knees touch.
He smiles a bit, and holds up the large glass bottle he had taken out of his car. “Alright, give this a try.”
I laugh slightly, and gently take the bottle by the neck. I hold it up to the moonlight to read the label.
“My favourite drink,” he replies, his large dark eyes monitoring my expression.
“Sounds… safe,” I comment carefully.
He laughs. “You might think different in a moment. Give it a try.”
I hold my nose to the opening and inhale. It doesn’t smell like much, but my senses are overpowered by the fresh grass we’re sitting on, the smell of the pond and the dew of evening. bravely, I tilt the bottle toward my mouth.
“Careful,” he offers, watching me.
I take a small sip, and quickly let it slide down my throat. I smack my lips once, twice… then I start to cough as I feel the burn in the back of my throat. I shove the bottle back toward him, coughing and sputtering. “Wow–That’s not comfort at all.”
He grins. “Took that like a champ, though.” He then easily takes a long swig himself.
After the initial shock, I find that the taste of the rum itself had not been terrible. It had a raunchy sweetness to it, beneath the bitter burning. Grinning, I reach over for the bottle, gesturing that I would like it back.
He stares at me, delightfully surprised. “Wow, really?” he murmurs, handing the bottle back to me where I take another sip; more than the first time. I cough again, but this time I’m prepared for the flame that rushes down into my stomach.
This becomes a pattern, me taking a sip every couple of minutes. The warmness envelopes me, and I can hear him as he explains what the alcohol is doing to my system. I don’t care, I’m not really listening to the words themselves. I’m staring at him, watching his sentences spill easily from his parted mouth, which shines gently in the light of the moon with the wetness of the drink. His eyes, bigger and deeper than any eyes I’ve ever known, gaze out at the pond. Whether or not he is absorbing its beauty the same way I am, I cannot tell.
His olive skin seems to glow from the inside out in the evening light, but I’m not sure if that’s him, or my vision after the decent quality of alcohol I’ve consumed. His short, jet-black hair catches the light within it’s softness, and if I had the will to move, I would like to touch it to see if diamonds fall out.
He turns and looks down at me, noticing that I am now lying in the grass. He’s used to my adoration for the outdoors by now, and just laughs quietly; that unassuming, understanding laugh that I can just see myself hearing for the rest of my life.
He shakes the bottle above me, allowing the small amount left in the stained glass to slosh about. “More?” he asks, in a way that makes me laugh.
“Mr. Fernandez, are you trying to get me drunk?” I ask, taking the bottle regardless.
He shakes his head. “I’m trying to make this moment last,” he says simply, and honestly. “Besides, I’m impressed that you’ve had that much. You feeling anything?”
I squint my eyes and wiggle around, somehow thinking that any affects would appear in this manner. “Not really. Just the warmth.”
He smiles. “Well, just be careful when you stand up.” he advises sagely.
“How about you?” I ask in return, realizing that he’s had more than half of the bottle.
He shakes his head, in some feeling between disappointment and relief. He looks at me again. “You know, it took way less than that to make you ridiculous in October.”
I remember it well. “True, but I hadn’t eaten all day. And I was chugging those coolers down.”
He nods, accepting this as he takes the bottle back from me. He suddenly regards it with a sense of disgust. “You want anymore?” he asks.
I shake my head. I’m enjoying the gentle buzz that doesn’t overwhelm my senses.
“It’s all warm,” he murmurs. “Makes my stomach feel funny.” he explains, as he stands up carefully, with deliberate concentration. The movement makes me giggle.
“What am I going to do with this? Grandpa can’t find it.”
In our tingly states, we find that dumping the remainder of rum into the lake is a logical way of covering our tracks. We laugh, knowing the fish will enjoy it. Then, with little logic involved at all, he takes a few steps back from the water’s edge. He readies his arm, and throws the bottle an impressive distance out into the pond, where it splashes, cutting the silence of the night with a dramatic explosion of water.
“That’ll do it,” I laugh.
He sits back down next to me with a smile on his face, as if what he just did was brilliant in some way.
I’m sitting upright again, and something about this moment and all that was before it hits me with a profound depth. Maybe it’s the connection to the world around us, the earth that maybe we forget; that slow-paced twilight calm, where nearby willow trees whisper and dance in silence as they witness our little secretive moment. Trees that you know won’t reveal what they’ve seen to others.
Maybe it’s the fact that we’ve been here so many times, before this pond and at this house… but only now are the memories of everything we’ve said and done catching up with us. Our fire is running down our throats in a heated rush. Our tears are the whispers of the willow. Every look we’ve shared is reflected back to us on the water’s surface. All of it is here, reminding us how we got to this moment.
My mouth tingles in a strange way, as if for a moment I forgot that things like lips and flesh and material bodies existed. I shift my weight, and lean to the man on my left. He receives me as if he’d had the same idea. We kiss, and our little piece of the world sighs collectively.