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The Perfect Shade of Brown
I had been thinking about it a lot. I was trying to remember every damned detail about that table, that night, until I realized I already had enough hurt.
It was the last thing I expected when we were at that table. I guess you missed my cheek . . . more than once.
We started inside and had worked our way outside, slowly, casually. As we rounded the corner, I saw our destination, and the table, worn-down, empty, awaiting our arrival to end the loneliness, was cold. As soon as I sat down, I felt as if my entire body would, at some point, become that same chilled temperature. Maybe it was a warning, but if it was, I’d managed to overlook it. I was too fascinated by the texture, color, design of the bench we were sitting on, so I stared.
It was off-white, cold, and slightly rough. Little, flat pebbles were embedded in a material that reminded me of cement, but I could see their colors clearly. They were part of a wide color spectrum that started and ended somewhere between deep reds and caramel- tinted whites. I rubbed my hand on the table. It was just shy of being smooth, almost tickling my palms as I pulled them into my warm, black sleeves which had become a quick, easy source of protection from anything and everything.
I heard a familiar voice. It pulled my attention from the platform that had become our resting place. The voice, though audible and clear, isn’t much more than a blur now; I don’t remember what you had to say. It became similar to a song I’d heard time and time again in my head, but I’d never written down the words. They couldn’t do the music justice, so . . . I put my attention back on the table.
I tried to keep myself from wondering, letting my thoughts wander too far from the table. It was like I knew as soon as I let myself relax. I’d be thrown into some foreign place, exploring new horizons that I wasn’t yet ready for. I was afraid of being forced into the dark and given pieces to put together with no way to see if I had put each piece into the right place. I had to keep my mind from reading between the lines of what you did and said and what you wouldn’t.
Later, I found myself bored, sick of facing the massive tree of an umbrella that offered more shadows than the darkness ever had. I made the mistake of turning my back to the heavy rock that was the table, pivoting on the matching bench that had been molded to it. My mind slipped; I looked at the grass. I was intrigued by how green and perfect it was.
“. . . plain grass . . .” Something about plain grass, I remember you saying, sitting on the bench right next to me.
Inside, the TVs flashed images of the football game. The windows reflected no images of anything around me, just showed the cowardly objects, people, booths, hiding behind the clear walls that did nothing but expose them. It looked warm inside, and I started to feel cold.
I still heard the occasional car drive by us, but it didn’t matter anymore. The only reason we were capable of even just catching a glimpse at the cars which were only a few feet away as we heard them was because of the bright lights that were placed around the few tables outside, including ours.
Including ours . . . the one that was closest to our parked cars that seemed too near.
I couldn’t fight my mind any longer; it was impossible to keep it from going off on its own. It hadn’t betrayed me once yet, so I let it go. All I remember, absorbing into myself, pushing into the deepest memory cell I found, was the endless thoughts that I struggled to contain.
The perfect shade of brown eyes . . . the table couldn’t have ever been lucky enough to receive a gift of daggers as flawless as yours. I was lost, I won’t lie, trying to find my way back to the stone after being so completely consumed by the entire nothingness that your dark-twig brown eyes had. At times, my back had touched the table which we had, just minutes before, rested our exposed hands on. There was a reason I couldn’t look you in the face, why I looked down at my feet, permitting my hands unknowingly to rub the table some more.
I wondered what time it was getting to be; it was then that I’d look up at the sky, cloudy, plastered with an explosion of stars so sporadically and perfectly placed throughout the canvas of the universe that it seemed that true art could never be achieved.
I breathed, accepting the soft tapping of your shoes and of your friend’s as you both pranced around, wrestling each other like a couple of goons. My shoulder began to feel cold as you left it cold when your friend took your attention. You both giggled at random things. I didn’t mind; I liked it, but I’d never tell you that. A small breeze blew, and I shivered a little.
I wasn’t overwhelmingly cold, but your arm had found its way around me anyways, and I let it stay there. It was warmer than I was . . . and welcoming. I argued with myself as I leaned back against the table again whether I should give in and let it mean something or stay, sitting up straight, and keep you at a distance. I held my ground . . . for a while.
But later, I gave in. I let myself be accepted by something exciting, and I made myself comfortable, finding a homey place between your arms and the table that I was sure I loved. I wasn’t cold after that; I couldn’t be. I stayed in the comfort of the places that I knew I might never see again; we both said nothing, just stayed there, and the poor friend that you brought with you must have felt uncomfortable. He seemed fine until then. Maybe that’s why . . . why you sent him to run your wallet to the car, and told him, specifically, with seriousness that I came to understand instantly, “Walk.”
As I stayed put there, at that table, on that bench, with my arms wrapped around yours, I kept thinking to myself.
The words of my untamed emotions repeated through my head, pulsing, beating in time with my heart; it was a tempo I couldn’t deny. Don’t go. Stay, please.
There was that same familiar voice comforting me, almost the same way that your arms were. Then, your hand had found its way, swiftly, sweetly to my chin, and it gently pulled my head away from the safety of your shoulder. It threw my mind violently into a foreign place, forcing me to regain my balance in a mindset that I wasn’t ready to be nearing.
You missed my cheek and found my lips with yours. The best part was the rush of butterflies that whooshed into my heart like flood waters, screaming at the same rate as my heart. Then the flood was over, and I was back against your shoulder, leaning, still, against the table. Before I knew what had happened, the butterflies rushed in again, pulling me away from land, from the table . . . from sanction, comfort.
We walked away from the table, leaving behind everything that had just happened. I wanted to stay, to bring the butterflies back, but I knew it wouldn’t happen.
“You’re a really good friend,” is what managed to pry itself from your mouth and into my ear.
I was trying to remember every damned detail about it until I realized that small sentence was all I needed to hurt.
I hate that table . . .