Friday, July 16, 2004

PART 12 - Don't Ask, Don't Tell

I couldn't think of a more fitting song for today's post. I actually saw the Go Go's when they toured with the Police and performed at the Omni in Atlanta (yeah, it was a strange combination.) Anyway, I think you will get the connection:

Can you hear them
They talk about us
Telling lies
Well that's no surprise

Pay no mind to what they say
It doesn't matter anyway
Our lips are sealed

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

When I saw Donna the next morning at school, she leaned on the locker next to mine and whined "Why does school have to start this early? I can't LEARN anything this early. By the way, you didn't miss a thing last night. It was BORING after you left - I should have left with you."

I struggled hard to keep the grin off my face, "Oh really? Well, I got a chance to talk to you-know-who, and he drove me home. No biggie."

"Get the hell out of here!" Suddenly, Donna was wide awake. "You sneaky bitch! How OLD is that guy, anyway?" How old indeed. It was a good question.

I sweated out the week, not hearing from him until Thursday. I was no expert, but I felt like I was owed a call by Wednesday at the latest. I tempered my impatience, remembering how I had jumped to conclusions earlier. I figured if he had waited 4 months to talk to me, I could wait a few days to talk to him. And I did. I answered the phone that Thursday evening (who am I kidding? I answered EVERY call from Monday on - this was before Caller ID, so I jumped every time the phone rang) to hear his voice on the other end.

"Hey there - guess who?" I giggled and said "I think I know who this is." We chatted for a few minutes; he told me he had worked late Tuesday and Wednesday, and by the way, he was off Sunday, and did I want to make some plans? Yes, I absolutely did. With that, he promised to pick me up at noon on Sunday.

I was still holding the phone after he hung up; the dialtone hummed in my ear while I contemplated this latest development. I wasn't ready to let anyone in my family in on this yet. My dad was "on the road" again, but he came home on weekends, and steering clear of him was Job One. I had alot of freedom, but neither my sister nor I had ever brought a date home. Ever. I wasn't sure what my dad's reaction would be, but I was certain that it would be unpleasant. I just wasn't able to predict where on the Richter scale his reaction would register when he saw a guy in a VAN come and pick me up. Unacceptable.

I spent the better part of Thursday and Friday concocting a scheme that would get me out of the house with the least bloodshed. My fears were unfounded; my parents decided to go downtown Sunday morning for brunch. LP was playing at one of the big hotels, and my dad was a sucker for a buffet brunch. Problem solved.

Just before noon on Sunday, I was at the back door, waiting expectantly for him to arrive. Sure enough, at noon sharp, he pulled in. I thought my heart would stop in my chest. I took a deep breath, grabbed a sweater, left a note by the back door that I would be back home later that evening, and I was out the door. He met me halfway between the van and my back door. "I didn't even get to ring the doorbell. Are you ashamed of me already?" he joked. I played that off and said that I was the last one out the door, and I just wanted to make sure the door was locked tight before I left. With that, we were on our way.

It was a LONG first date. We drove north, to the foothills of the North Georgia mountains. The leaves were just beginning to turn beautiful golds and reds, and the air was crisp and clear. We drove along the Blue Ridge Highway, talking, getting to know each other. It was a comfortable way to get better acquainted; he had to keep his eyes on the curvy road, and that let me look at him without meeting his gaze. He and I had quite a bit in common: both of us had come up the hard way, both of us were hard workers, both of us were from large, complicated families. The drive was relaxing, the conversation was easy and comfortable.

We stopped roadside at one of the more scenic points; others were snapping photographs. We stood at the crosstie fence, admiring the view, when he slipped his hands around my waist. He pulled me close to him and we just stood there, silently, taking it all in: the scene, the fresh air, the newness of . . . this. "Come on, I know a good place for lunch," he said as he helped me back into the van. On the way to lunch, he asked The Question. No, not THAT question, the other The Question.

"So, I never really asked, and it doesn't matter, but how old are you?" he casually asked me as we wound our way up the mountainside. I had guessed that he was 19. Unfortunately, he had guessed the exact same thing about me. Even though he continued driving, it was clear that he was in shock when I divulged that I was 15. Not only 15, but NEWLY 15. He glanced over at me, and tried to wipe the look of shock off of his face with one hand. He was thinking, considering. "15? You're 15 . . . " he mumbled. "Didn't you tell me you were a sophomore?" Well, yeah, I had. A sophomore in high school. I assumed he knew, and he assumed I meant at the local college. It was my turn.

"OK, how old are you?" I asked. "Too old to have a 15 year old in my van, driving near state lines," he quipped. The joke didn't hide his worry. He told me he was just a few months shy of 22.

Yeah.

Over lunch, he gazed at me over the top of the menu. "You have the bluest eyes . . ." he said softly. Once again, I deflected his comments with blushes and denial. He took a more serious tone. "There is NO WAY you are 15. You don't LOOK 15. You don't TALK like 15. You aren't SILLY like 15. And pardon my saying so, but you damn sure aren't BUILT like 15" he said, trying to convince himself more than anything else. That was met by more blushing and deflecting. "How did you have a job at the theater?" he wondered aloud. I let him in on my little secret. He whined "See? Even your BOSSES don't think you're 15!"

We ate lunch in friendly silence, neither one of us quite sure how to maneuver around this little conundrum. "There's nothing wrong with you being 15. It's my being 21 that's the problem," he said thoughtfully.

I considered that, and I did what I have always done. I found the loophole. "Well, lucky for you, I'm the only one that knows that. And that can be our little secret for now." Yeah, I was crafty that way. In my world, age was just a number - generally a very inconvenient number. "No one that I know knows you, and I don't know any of your friends. If you can play 19 for my friends, I'll play 19 for yours."

He cracked a little smile, the first one I had seen in the past couple of hours. "Smart AND sneaky. I'm gonna have to keep an eye on you!" Giggling, we made our way back to the van, huddled together, two partners in crime.

That afternoon, we drove back toward home. We stopped at a little, somewhat delapidated apartment complex. Stopped and parked. "Come on in . . . this is where I live," he said. I tried to act casual, as though this was perfectly innocent, just going to see where he lives. It was a tiny apartment, sparsely furnished, and clean. I glanced around the tiny place while he used teh bathroom. There was an eat-in kitchen and a large bedroom; that was it. I excused myself to use his bathroom, and even THAT was spotless. When I came out of the bathroom, he was sitting on the edge of his bed, and patted the area beside him. The panic alarms went off in my head. "Come sit with me, just for a minute or two before we have to go. I'd offer you another seat, but there really isn't one," he grinned.

Cautiously, I perched on the edge of his bed, looking up, around, anywhere but at HIM. True to form, he gently urged my gaze his way, and traced my lips with his index finger. "My sweet girl - my sweet BABY girl," he whisperered, "What am I gonna do with you?" My heart was running a marathon again, it had been through quite a workout the past few days, but I was beginning to find a level of comfort with this new intimacy.

He stood for a moment and took his shirt off. I was taken aback . . . he was beautiful. Strange sentiment to have for a man, but he was. He was tanned from hours in the sun, and well-muscled from a lifetime of labor. He was a fiercely strong looking man, and yet he had the nicest hands. He carried a little extra weight in his middle, which he immediately commented on, but I thought he was perfect. I was speechless, unable to move, or I would have told him so.

He sat beside me once again and placed one of my hands on his chest, over his heart. His skin was smooth, warm, with just enough chest hair to cast a dark transparent shadow across his chest. He was magnificent, and I had never experienced anything like the feeling of his heart beating in the palm of my hand. The easy thing to say would be that I was lustful, but really, it was more of a sense of awe. We moved effortlessly onto the bed, my hands still gliding over his smooth skin. As I lay with him, I buried my face into his neck, inhaling his scent, disappearing again into the warmth of him, enveloping myself in him.

His lips sought out mine, gentle at first, then more insistent. His hand rested gently on my tummy, caressing the exposed skin with his thumb. I returned his kisses with my own, cuddling as close to him as I could. When his hands began to travel slowly up under my sweater, gently caressing my breasts, I began to panic. The pleasure was gone, replaced by blinding fear. Flashes in my mind . . . small dark room, the smell of gas and oil, dim light through a dirty window . . . help me . . . .

What in the hell was going on?

I extricated myself from him, standing up quickly, staggering back a little as I pulled my sweater back down. I stammered an apology, which was met by an apology from him. He was worried, "I'm sorry, did I upset you? Are you alright?"

I nodded that I was fine, while I was shaking the cobwebs and nightmares out of my mind. He dressed quickly, and gingerly approached me for a hug. "Are you mad?" he asked quietly. God no, I wasn't mad . . . I was . . . what was I?

I looked up at him, smiled, and said "I enjoyed today, all of it. I just need a little time."

Satisfied with that, he took me home, and I slipped into the house unnoticed. In my room, as I was undressing, readying for bed, I caught my reflection in the mirror. What did he see in me? What happened to me back there?

I laid down and fell asleep with visions of autumn leaves.

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