by Heather Dorn
Close your eyes. You don’t have to try to think of her, she just appears, across the table in Composition Theory on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Try to get into her group. Sit at the outskirts quietly while a curtain of brown hair lets in the sun and then covers her face. Try not to make her mad, she gets mad and gorgeous easily.
Stalk her on MySpace. She loves Texas. You don’t. You can work through this. She loves Jesus. You really don’t. You can work through this. She likes “Men.” You are not men.
When she finds out you are the “H is for Hiding from Nuns” from the Internet blog, feel your face heat to boil as she talks of you to others in the group. “She’s so funny!” slamming her hand on the table. Smile and look down, because touching eyes is painful. Smile and look down because funny only comes from finger tips. Take the paper she gives you at the end of the class, folded up scrap, creased and smeared with ink, a phone number, a date, “a party,” she drops it in your hand.
Feel sick and full of lightning bugs. Feel ill and lit up from within. Close your eyes, close your eyes or the light will seep out in the hallway after class.
Learn to drink with your husband at a free hotel happy hour years before. Drink red wine and red wine until your toes feel like the tips of the fire that spirals up the chimney, escaping to live somewhere wild.
Get to the party and take a large glass of red. Sit next to her on the back porch swing. See patio chairs of people around you, playing “I’ve Never” and other high school games you’ve never played. Too serious. No interest in unsanctioned risk or stupidity.
But today you play. You’ve never been to Canada. You’ve never had that drink, “Sex on the Beach.” You’ve never bargained for a better grade. You’ve never asked for an extension. You’ve never written the paper the day it was due. You’ve never asked anyone for the answers. You’ve only cheated for elementary school love. They make you drink anyway. You’ve never been arrested. You’ve never been suspended. You’ve never been on academic probation. You’ve never had a cavity and people are getting annoyed now. You’ve never dated an English major, you’ve never dated a professor, you’ve never kissed a woman.
Watch her drink her beer, like she kissed her whole high school. Hold your untouched wine as she pushes heavy hair from her face, pulls you in like a secret, and kisses you.
Feel the Gertrude Stein fly fly your finger tips fly fly from your finger tips fly from wherever inside you that you don’t know you have. Feel her tongue tell your body what to do. Feel her hair through your fingers and try not to pull. Feel your seating arrangement change. Feel around for your bearings when she starts to pull away. Send an atheist’s prayer that she does it again.
Drink when she tells you to.
Become the girl everyone dares her to kiss. Become the girl to dare to kiss. Come up with elaborate scenarios as to why you should make out. Sometimes she will say okay. Clip your hair clip to her swing and forget about it until forever. Kiss her when people are watching because she’s less likely to kiss you when you’re alone. You can work through this.
Kiss her at parties, spinning dizzy like a tornado. Kiss her on the swing, pulling back and flying high in the tornado. Kiss her in the kitchen, against the cabinets, in the hallway, against the wall, on the couch, lying on a corner as she strips for you when everyone else has gone home. Only touch where she puts your hands.
She sits on your lap, she takes off her shirt. She turns the music up. Only touch where she puts your hands. She doesn’t like girls, want to go that far, it’s just for fun and play, she says.
Listen to her say she doesn’t want to do it so much. Watch her pull away, fall for a tall guy with traditional tastes. Watch them love Texas together. Watch him be nice and respectable. Hate him.
Try to make out with her until the guy she’s dating says he doesn’t like it. Try to kiss her anyway. Try not to cry. Try to make her mad. Have too much to drink. Lick her shoulder. Try to remember to pick up your clip but forget. Have another drink and slosh it around, like a hurricane. Cry. Try to make her eyes flash at you – mad or anything.
Try to close your eyes. She will disappear. She will be a friend or network connection in the near future. She will have half traditional kids who love Jesus and Texas. The swing will rust and the clip will be stolen by a squirrel. She will barely remember making out with you, laughing like the secret was real, how that part ended. She will be a good professional contact. She will be a good reflective reminder. She will be filed under, “Firestarter.”
Heather Dorn is the Director of the Binghamton Poetry Project, a literary non-profit that runs free poetry workshops, contests, readings, and anthology publication for local voices. She is graduating with her PhD in English, Creative Writing Poetry from Binghamton University in Spring 2016. Her work can be found in Festival Writer, Helen, Metonym, and The Paterson Literary Review.