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A Perfect Night
It was almost dusk. The sky glowed with brilliant pinks and oranges, bathing everything in golden light. Xavier and I were walking down the street, hands in our pockets. Xavier's coffee-colored hair caught the last rays of sun as it sank below the horizon. His tall silhouette stood stark against the sunset.
"Look at that sunset," I whispered in awe. “Gorgeous, isn't it?" He inched closer to me, and put his arm around my waist. I paused a moment, drawing in the beauty of the evening. "Sure is." he answered, almost as softly. I slid my hand into the back pocket of his jeans and smiled. "Perfect end to the evening, huh?" He turned his head to look at me, and his face broke into a grin. "Who says it has to be over?" he said with that odd gleam in his eye he always gets when he's up to something. “Well, what did you have in mind?" Now I was the one grinning. He nodded toward the fence. "See those boards over there?"
I followed his gaze and saw two skateboards lying on the side of the road. In some weird, uncanny way I just couldn't put my finger on, it looked like someone had left them there just for us. Maybe it was the way they were sitting there, side by side, expectantly, and how we just happened to come across them now. Or maybe I was just letting my imagination get the better of me. Either way, I was excited.
I looked back at Xavier. "You mean those skateboards over there," I asked, flashing him a look of mock innocence. “What about them?" But I was pretty sure I already knew. "Let’s go for a ride" he said, grinning again. "Sounds good to me" I agreed, grabbing one of the boards.
I like skateboarding, but I've never been very good at it. Once when I was eleven and went to visit my dad I persuaded him to try and teach me how. Turns out after ten years he wasn't too great at it either. We spent the afternoon falling on our a**es and, in turn, laughing them off. By the time we'd left, we had earned the titles of King Klutz and Queen Grace, rulers of the blacktop. We certainly were closer to it than anyone else at the skate park, save for a couple of five-year-olds who were trying to mimic their older siblings. Anyway, we got a good number of scrapes and bruises, and our titles of king and queen kind of stuck for the next few years.
The skate park was only down the street, so we decided to go there. The feeling that all of this had been planned somehow returned, but I pushed the thought out of my mind. I winced at the memory of the skateboarding incident with my father five years earlier, but quickly brushed it aside. After all, I reasoned, I’m older now, and should be at least a little more coordinated than when I was eleven.
Wrong. I fell and wiped out almost as much as I did then. Xavier tried to teach me, but without success. At least the pointers he gave me slightly lowered the magnetic pull that seemed to be present between my backside and the pavement. But we had fun. After a while I suggested that we find a steep hill to go down instead. “I’ll be alright if I just have to stand still." I explained, getting up and dusting off the seat of my pants for about the millionth time. “Okay," he agreed, laughing "I know the perfect spot."
He led me toward the outskirts of town. It was a fairly short walk; Ware was just a little town. Not really the boonies, but one of those one area-code towns where everybody knows everybody. I liked it. It was almost dark by then. The sun had long since disappeared, and I could see a single star glittering overhead. Closing my eyes, I silently recited that nursery rhyme everyone learns in preschool. Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight. I didn't need to search for something to wish for that night, though. I knew what I wanted. I knew what I would wish for. I wish this night would never end, I thought to myself.
We came to a stop on a lonely road at the top of a hill, hidden by a grove of trees. The lights from downtown shone through the openings on the branches. "This is pretty." I said, looking around. Xavier flashed me a smile. “I thought you'd like it" He set the skateboards down next to each other. He hopped on to the board nearest him and I followed suit. "Ready?" he asked, looking over at me. "Ready as I'll ever be." I replied."Alright, let’s go!"
We set off down the hill. The wind whipped through my hair as we picked up speed. I stole a glance at Xavier. His face was furrowed in concentration. Damn, that man is gorgeous. I said half-aloud, to no one in particular. Adrenaline surged through my body as we went even faster. I reached out my hand, and it found his. His expression softened. My heart raced, from the adrenaline or from taking Xavier's hand, I couldn't tell. Not that it mattered. Not that I was more than partially aware of it. I wasn't aware of anything, really. Nothing but him and me. Not the chill of the night air, or the wind whistling in my ears...or the potholes in the road...
Suddenly, my skateboard hit a rut, snapping me back to reality and sending me careening to the pavement. Xavier, who was still clutching my hand, tumbled to the ground with me. The two of us rolled clumsily down the hill. When we finally stopped, we were in the grass by the side of the road, flat on our backs, laughing hysterically. Once the ground quit trying to slide out from underneath me, I looked around again. From our spot near the foot of the hill, I could see both skateboards, one upside-down about five feet away, and the other parked in the grass in front of a boulder it had apparently hit. Taking in my surroundings, I noticed how isolated we were. There was only one house on this street and it was a good thirty feet away. There weren't even any lights on. The grove of trees that surrounded this hill hid us from view of any passer-by. Again it struck me how carefully thought-out the evening seemed to be. I couldn't suppress a smirk that played its way across my face.
"What's that look for?" a voice said from somewhere to my left. I turned my head. Xavier was eyeing me suspiciously. "Oh, nothing. Just thinking about how perfect this evening turned out to be." I replied dreamily. Xavier looked at me in half disbelief and half admiration. "You call getting the record for worst wipeout of the century perfect?" he asked incredulously. "Yes, I do." I answered, grinning. "Yeah, well, I guess I don't mind, either, as long as you're going down with me." he teased. I gave him a playful punch. He had that cute, quirky smile of his on. That what I love him for the most, I thought, that, and the way he always wonders what I'm thinking, and how hearing his voice makes my eyes light up, and how just being with him makes everything seem okay...
We looked up at the stars, Xavier and me. For how long, I don't know. I remember thinking that we had both looked up at those same stars at night, ever since we were little, but we never knew we'd be watching them together on this perfect night.
I heard Xavier stir beside me. He rolled over and propped himself up on one elbow. His expression was unreadable. I peered into his eyes for a moment, and then got up onto my own elbows, still slightly under him. He sort of hovered over me for a while, again, for how long I couldn't say.
Time had simply stopped in my mind. The only evidence that time still existed at all was the steady darkening of the sky, and that stars appeared more and more as the twilight gave in to night.
I focused on his face again. He kept nervously shifting his gaze from my eyes, to my lips, and back again. I knew what he was thinking, because I was thinking it too. I studied his expression. He kept on that incessant darting of his eyes, back and forth, back and forth. With a start I realized I was doing the same, eyes, and lips. He had beautiful eyes, and oh so provocative lips. What was he waiting for? When I remembered that no one could hear my thoughts, I answered my own question. He's asking for permission, I thought suddenly. He's asking for permission to kiss me! My stomach did a half-hearted somersault. Such a gentleman, I thought. Of course you can kiss me! Why not? A few seconds, or an hour, I couldn’t tell, passed in silence. In that brief eternity I relived every moment we'd spent together, every word spoken, every touch. All of it had led up to this. There wasn’t one good reason I shouldn't let this happen, give in to the magic. A line from a Leann Rimes song I heard once popped into my head. You can't hide from my kiss...Can't fight the moonlight. Suddenly all the thoughts spinning around in my head stopped.
It was now or never.
Hesitating for just a second, I kissed him. The moment his lips met mine, everything else melted away. Heat from flooded from my lips and consumed my entire being. All those sappy clichés about love came true for me. I felt dizzy, my legs turned to Jell-O, and I could barely breathe. Nothing in the world mattered more than this.
Slowly we lowered ourselves back onto the ground. My head was fuzzy. I couldn't think. Didn't need to. I reached up to stroke his cheek. One of his hands was tangled in my hair, while the other one slid from my shoulder, down my side, and came to a stop at my waist. His grip was firm, demanding even, but gentle all at once. I trembled. I don't tremble. I trembled from head to toe. I found myself tracing his spine with my fingertips. My hand moved to the small of his back, pressing him closer to me.
I felt him hesitate, and then pull away. My eyes flitted open. "Is something wrong?" I asked him, trying to catch my breath. "No," He looked uncertain, like he was searching for the right words. "It’s just, that, I didn't think it was possible to care so much for one person," He was stammering now. " Adriane, I - I love you." He finished, exasperated. Those beautiful almond eyes were staring at me, pleading with me to understand. My eyes welled with tears as emotion threatened to overwhelm me. I managed to give him a reassuring smile and whisper "I love you too," into his ear. Xavier sighed with relief.
And once again I felt the tenderness of his touch as his lips met mine. Again the heat that seemed to radiate from his body enveloped me, seeping into my skin until it coursed through my veins. Again my pulse quickened. And for the second time in my life, I trembled.
I don't know what would've happened if we'd hadn't gone skateboarding down that deserted hill that night. Or what if we had, but didn't crash? I don't know if it mattered if we'd gone down that hill, or if the events of that night were inevitable. All I know is I'll never forget it. No matter where I go, or what happens between Xavier and me, I'll never forget that night. Every time I make a wish on a star, I'll remember the most beautiful and exhilarating experience of my life: My first kiss with the man I love on that perfect night.
That absolutely perfect night.