|Posted by CornelleKeveen on August 20, 2016 at 3:00 AM|
He Wasn’t Me
He hadn’t prepared for the moment or even the chance of seeing her again. So much time had passed. The waters that ran beneath that particular bridge had long run its course leaving the earth under parched. And yet, there she was right before him, her face untouched by time, flawlessly defining beauty. The same sparkle dancing in the depths of eyes the color of evergreen. She’d caught his eye from a distance as she walked through the bus station’s promenade. But she was just another pretty face warranting a glance longer than lingering. As she neared and the recognition surfaced, he froze in place. Her stride hurried her past him but not before their eyes met. He didn’t even breathe for fear of disrupting the moment, therefore he didn’t turn to follow her gaze. Instead he held onto the image of her like he should have held on to the real of her almost twenty years earlier.
He should have treasured more all of those stolen nights with her locked gently in his arms. His eyes drifted closed as he remembered her signature embrace. The sneaky way she’d come up from behind as he ordered drinks at the bar and wrap her arms around him. She’d press her body so close it took effort to turn and face her. And when he did, she was all up and into him, her tiny 5’ 1” frame latched on and looking up at him with a smile as bright as the moon against the backdrop of velvety darkness. The act was bold and brazen, so unlike her and yet it defined her perfectly. It was one she repeated at every chance. Whenever he seemed distracted by another thing, she’d come up behind him to return his focus to her, to remind him why he was there in the first place. And when he turned she was there, challenging him with those eyes and those lips, daring him to resist the urge to kiss her. She won every single time. Her kisses were kryptonite to his superman.
It was the thought of those kisses that brought him back to the present. He quickly turned to look behind him and she was standing a short distance away, staring at him as well. She’d found the path to recollection just as he. YellaBone. The nickname given to her by one of his friends suddenly came to his mind. Walt was philosophical with his shit.“Women of color come in such a variety of shades, from black, to chocolate, you have your mochas and your caramels. You even have what we call RedBones. But that girl right there. She’s a YellaBone all day, every day. Light-skinned, bright-skinned but not quite white-skinned. Know what I mean?”
Brother Time had been exceptionally good to her through the years it seemed. He'd put that weight on her in all the right places. And he'd been strategic in the placement of it. Her proportions were on point. No longer was she the sleek and athletically toned twenty-four year old dancer. The girl he once met was long gone. In her place, was a voluptuous, stacked, grown ass woman with curves that made a man want to hold on to something. Damn. He said to himself repeatedly. Damn and Damn again!
There was a crowd in the station but at once they were alone. Just them, the distance between them, and a silence so loud he could hear the hairs on his arms brushing up against one another.
“Oh My God.” He read her lips to say.
He took two steps towards her with long ground eating strides, holding her stare with his eyes. But her eyes were torn reluctantly away from his by a tugging of her fingers below.
“Mama let’s go ride.” The toddler standing at her side implored. He was hers. There wasn’t a doubt that could be formed. She’d gifted him with her smile minus the perfect teeth as of yet. But his eyes shone like little emeralds. The kind of eyes that would make other mothers sigh with both envy and awe.
And then they were gone and the crowd returned to obscure his visional path to her.
There was a hint of frantic in his eyes as they scoured the windows of the departing bus hoping for at least a parting glance. Nothing. She must have taken a seat on the opposite side. He surmised, as the taillights disappeared from view. The instantaneous emptiness caught him by surprise. It was as though she had been snatched away before his fingertips could catch hold. Maybe he’d imagined her. Perhaps she was never there in the first place.
He left the terminal that night but he didn’t leave alone. Thoughts of her would live with him for days. He couldn’t seem to get her out of his head or his heart. Trapped in a constant state of distraction is how he would describe it. Her smile, so wide and infused with pure joy; Her touch, hesitant and quietly unassuming in one moment and cocky and presumptuous in the next; And her kiss. Damn her and that mouth. Kissing her required no effort at all. There was no awkward learning of one another’s movements, technique, or style. Not even an accidental nose bump. All the things that oft plagued anyone’s first kiss were rendered ineffectual with her. His mouth and hers seemed pre-destined to meet and join. He’d never kissed anyone like her before and never would again. It wasn’t that he couldn’t kiss another or not even that he couldn't enjoy it. But it would never be as effortless as with her. There had always been the learning curve to hurdle. But not where she was concerned.
I need to see her again. Even though I know I shouldn’t. But there are things she needs to know about me, about us, about how things ended.
His thoughts were chaotic and inaccurate. Inside he knew things never really ended. She had to leave. There was no ending. There was just the absence of her in his life. Arkansas. To hell with Arkansas.
He found himself laughing at the mocking anger he held for such an innocent state. In all seriousness, he was angry at himself for allowing her to leave the way she did. He’d carried it for almost two decades without even realizing it. It wasn’t until the bus station that the burden of it pressed on him vigorously.
What the hell would you say to her anyhow? He pondered. And the answer came forthright as though he were prepared.
I’d apologize for ruining the magic of our intimate moments, stolen or otherwise. It wasn’t her fault that I was attached. She never pressed or pushed. Whatever time I gave, she was content with. She was perfect and understanding throughout. And she was more patient than seemed possible.
He remembered one night in particular. He was outside of the club shooting it with the guys from work. He had no idea she was sitting in her cousin’s car in the parking lot watching. Time passed and he looked over his shoulder to see her leaning up against the hood of the car, quietly glancing in his direction.
It was just that simple.
He remembered making a quick end to whatever conversation he was having to make his way towards her. She met him half-way, crowding him until he just had to embrace her. She didn’t even have to speak. Her smile was more than enough.
How the hell did I mess that up? On one of the last nights together, the most important night we’d ever spend together. I fucked it up and she probably doesn’t even realize it. I was in such an unfamiliar place. Betrayal and the sense of it was kicking my ass mentally and emotionally. I had never been there before. Never ever thought I’d go down that road. But there was something about her that erased all the rules. With just a glance, she busted up all kinds of barriers. Yeah, she was just that chick. Damn! I should have been more patient. I should have taken the time to just spend with her like we always did without any pressure or pre-conceptions. I should have kissed her more, laughed with her more, just let myself love her more.
Well shit. Where did that come from?
Anyway that’s what I need to tell her. I need to apologize big time. I let her leave without admitting that I cared way more than I should. She needed to know that. She needs to know that it wasn’t just another jump off. And I feel I acted as though it was. But I was having issues with my own infidelity. My head wasn’t right and it should have been. She deserved more. She was worthy of all of me, at least for one night. She'd earned at least as much. She needs to know that the He she spent the night with, wasn’t the real Me who had come to care so deeply for her. She needs to know He wasn’t Me.