(No, this is not based on true events.)
Though we had long since wandered away from our one time notion of having a little fun together, Young Guy still frequented my home along with the rest of my kids' friends. It must have been a little on the awkward side for him: no hope of a relationship with Beautiful--the one he truly longed for--and no longer the thrill of clandestine flirtation with me. But, with no family of his own, he continued, intermittently, to join us in our family life.
He was here that Sunday afternoon.
We had a houseful on that cheerful day. Number One was home for spring break. Both sets of grandparents, several aunts and uncles, plus Beautiful and FT, all here to catch up with Number One. Little Guy and the neighborhood kids were in and out of the house as well. Nothing else to occupy his time, Young Guy used the occasion of Number One's visit (though in the secret chambers of his heart he was sharply jealous of Number One) to hang out with our crowd.
The family had eaten and talked and laughed and played games. Clucking over my brood had made a replete and blessed day for me.
As evening meandered in, the party broke up. Extended family went on their way, Little Guy and retinue retired to the neighbor's trampoline. Mister, as always, had promised to help a friend with some perpetual automotive project, while Beautiful, FT and Number One made plans to gather their mutual friends and go bowling. Young Guy had been invited to the bowling party, but, not chummy with the rest of the invitees, he declined.
One minute the house was buzzing, the next, abruptly silent. It was just the dishes and me. And Young Guy. Suddenly feeling let down, as I noticed he always did when the quiet hours came and he was left alone, Young Guy stayed awhile, employing the excuse of helping me clean up.
We talked comfortably while clearing the table and laughing at the mess my crew had thoughtlessly left behind. I was standing at the sink chattering on about some trifle when I felt his hands at my waist. He turned me around to face him and, having never done it before, leaned down and kissed me.
It was the kiss I had waited years for. The kiss I had irrepressibly hungered for. Eternal moments ticked away while we lived out what we both had imagined thousands of times.
In declaration of his true intent, he pulled my hips into his, the path of his thought unmistakable.
Could I? Was he worth the risk, this boy with the soft yet insistent eyes and that unassuming mouth--the mouth that gave away all the secrets his falsely cocky voice tried in vain to hide? Everything that is my life swirled around in my head. Each component asking its own questions and presenting its own evidence. Wishing desperately just to melt into his hands and his scent, I instead stood weighing the outcomes.
We could so easily have sneaked off to his house. Nobody would ever have known the difference. One quick call to Mister's phone, one casual lie, and nobody would ever have questioned my absence.
Standing there, my heart pounding out a rhythm it hadn't played in over 20 years, I yearned, as he had suggested so long ago, to close my eyes and let go . . .
Verdana and Shaniqua, viewing it it from Mister's perspective and defending his honor, forcibly held Sexy Girl back. Kicking and screaming, Sexy Girl begged to be left alone with Young Guy--just this once. Verdana and Shaniqua were unmovable. Sexy Girl waged a valiant and monumental battle, but Verdana and Shaniqua were resolute. There would be no betrayal of Mister. Not the Mister who would walk to the ends of the earth for his family. He deserved better than that. Sexy Girl raised one last unflinching offensive, using every manipulative, cloying tactic in her arsenal, but Verdana and Shaniqua, the might of virtue on their side, would not give. Destroyed, Sexy Girl acquiesced.
I had a detailed, carefully worded explanation drafted in my head. Pushing him gently away, all I could choke out, Sexy Girl's acid tears blazing trails down my cheeks, was, "I can't."
He searched my face, looking for just a quiver of unsteadiness in my resolve. I could not bear to hold what had become his fiercely bitter stare. Involuntarily, I looked away. He didn't speak a single word. Not a question. Not a plea. Turning his back to me, he walked away, leaving Sexy Girl nothing but to keen her own piteous, silent dirge for all that was and all that could never be.
I had come so close to eating that forbidden cake. The stolen taste of icing alone was nearly enough to shatter my will. But I do not regret having stayed true to my Mister and to a vow taken long ago when I didn't have any real sense of what I was pledging. Nor what I was giving up.