I remember the chill of the night air and the way my body trembled - starting with my heart, traveling through my limbs and vibrating my soul. To steady myself, I hugged my legs to my chest. It was not the cold, but the closeness that shook me. Fear does this. Love does this. But he thought it was the cold.
So, he edged closer as we sat on the picnic table, hidden behind the trees in my darkened backyard. The light from the back porch crept into our wooded shelter, but without invading our privacy. Our faces remained shadowed. Our vulnerability hidden. We were safe. The deep-throated melody of the forest’s frogs mixed with the hum of faraway traffic and the pulsing beat of my heart. His breath – close, quick, and deep – added to the night’s song.
I glanced cautiously at him to decipher his expression, but the shadows crept across his face, like the tide creeping slowly up a beach in moonlight. I thought I caught a glimpse of a smile and the hint of a dimple. I knew he was staring at me. I imagined his eyes – light blue and passionate, creased at the corners. I suspected that now, they were filled with an unnamed emotion. One that was new to both of us.
My body continued to be wracked with shivers – my teeth clattering. He held me tighter. I let the skin of my arms melt onto the warmth of his, but it only caused my inner trembling to worsen.
“Are you okay?” he whispered, his lips against my ear. The heat from his breath shot electricity through me. My vision blurred and my head got light. No one made me feel the way he did – as if I was the only person in the world.
“Yeah,” I answered quietly, a tremor in my voice. But I’m afraid of this. I leaned my head against his shoulder and felt the heartbeat in his neck. It was quick, like mine, as if he’d just stepped off a roller coaster and adrenaline was pumping through him. I couldn’t bear the anticipation anymore. I was ready to face my fears. I was ready to fall, ready to fly, ready to let him in. I lifted my head towards his and felt his soft breath on my lips, waiting for my approval. My heart stopped. I tilted my head up to meet him.
Slowly, gently, he kissed me. I tasted mint. It was simple. It was beautiful. It was my first. My body relaxed. My fear was still there, but my heart was filled. It was worth it: the fear, the vulnerability, the uncertainty. I smiled against his lips and breathed in his scent – a mixture of fabric softener, Eternity cologne, and the essence of him. Moonlight peeked through the leaves, casting us in patches of light – our own version of Heaven. Suddenly, my life felt full of possibilities, and tomorrow was as far away as good-bye.