- I wished I had worn better socks as I took off the shoes I should have known I wouldn't be able to wear into your new apartment for your housewarming party. So much for style.
- Introductions: some of your friends who I'd never met before looked at me full of wonder; others were more interested in the spinach-artichoke dip.
- You rescued me from small talk by offering me a drink. Your kitchen had no hand towels yet, but five kinds of gin when I asked for a gin and tonic. I hid my panic at this test (which I think I passed with Hendrick's), but when you handed me the glass, our fingertips brushed and I was flummoxed anew. I only made it worse by asking, "Is Jared away on business?" and you looked at me for a loooooong time before you said, "Jared and I split up" and my face did all kinds of things as I realized the new apartment wasn't a lifestyle upgrade – it was because you had Moved. Out. On. Your. Boyfriend.
- You loaned me a sweater when I got cold. "I'm still getting used to the thermostat," you said, as I stood in the doorway of your bedroom and noticed that most of your clothes were still in boxes. Was the bed newly purchased, or had you brought it with you, maybe from the guest room of the apartment you had just left?
I joked about whether I was the first person to visit your bedroom. You laughed and said, "And already borrowing my clothes!" But then you watched as I pulled the sweater on, your careful eyes the last thing I saw as the soft cashmere blend swept across my face. When my head popped out of the hole, you cleared your throat and the moment was over.
- After most of the other guests had left, we stayed up far too late, you and me and your couple-friends Gabriela and Chris, Gabriela stylishly tucking her feet under her as her slinky skirt pooled over the edge of the sofa. I fixed my own drink and made it weak because I was afraid of making a fool of myself. I sat as far away from you as possible but our every eye contact formed a hypotenuse of longing.
"I have to ask you something," Gabriela said, leaning forward coquettishly.
"No, you really don't," I answered, and everyone laughed. You did too, but listened intently once she asked and I said no, I wasn't seeing anybody.
- Did I want to see the balcony? I did. City lights twinkled back at me, but far enough away that some stars twinkled overhead. It was too chilly for Chris and Gabriela, but not for me, in my borrowed sweater. We talked about small, insignificant things while taking small, significant sidelong glances.
- I used the restroom as much from my desire to snoop as the G&Ts, but the absence of any personal items whatsoever made me realize that you had two bathrooms.
When I came out, Chris and Gabriela were already putting on their shoes.
- I found myself thinking of Ursula purring "We mustn't lurk in doorways, it's rude" at the Little Mermaid, while I lurked in your doorway. Your other last guests whisked away so quickly as I fumbled first with my shoes, then with something clever to say in parting. I started to ask you if you needed your sweater back when you asked if you could kiss me.
No one had ever asked me first before. I'd spent a lifetime with the awkward lean, the nervous hover, the occasional collision as we both went for it at the same time. Not this, me saying "yes, please," somewhere on the spectrum between asking-for-seconds-at-dinner and porn-star-breathlessness. There was nothing to get in the way as we leaned in seamlessly, simultaneously, your tongue a flitting butterfly for only a few sweet seconds before it was over. I crossed over the threshold still in your arms.
is a past winner of the Quarterly West
Novella Prize and the Lilith
Short Fiction Prize, with stories also appearing in CutBank, Entropy, and Hobart
. She received her MFA from Bennington and serves on the board of the Philadelphia Writers' Conference. In addition to her website
, you can find her online at Twitter