(This is a piece of flash fiction that I wrote for my creative-writing class, backdated accordingly.)


'Don't move.'

Steven's hand glided through the air towards her face, and for a moment she was afraid that he wanted to kiss her. But his fingers went past her chin, did not stop at her cheek, and ignored the mischievous strand of hair that had escaped from behind her ear. Instead, they landed somewhere high on the bridge of her nose, near the eyes, and with a gentle rub were gone again. Smiling from the tip of his extended index finger, she saw the crescent of a black eyelash.

'Make a wish,' he said.

Rachel let out her breath slowly, so as not to betray her relief. She thought for a moment, squinted at Steven's wide-eyed and goofy grin, inhaled a silent wish, and blew on his finger to make the eyelash go away. Then they continued walking.

Steven's voice was as excited as always, and Rachel wondered if he could sense any change in her. She reflected back on the lazy Sundays they spent laughing and arguing about books, amazed at how many both of them had read. She remembered how good it had felt when she realized that Steven was also terrified of dancing, awkward with people, and distrustful of alcohol. He was always the perfect gentleman, and even that time when Rachel cried on his shoulder, Steven comforted her like a father, and did not try to take advantage of her. She remembered how bony and angular his body had felt.

Rachel knew that Steven wanted her. She could sense it in the way his voice quivered and stumbled when he called her on the phone. He always tried to be around, this day weaving her a bracelet of flowers, and the next day buying her a CD that she happened to mention in passing. Today he had invited her to this concert, adamantly rebuffing her attempts to pay for her own ticket. His infatuation was spelled in the way that his face lit up when she ruffled his lopsided hairdo. When Rachel did that, she couldn't help thinking of a poodle.

She wished that she could transform her intellectual connection with Steven into at least an ounce of attraction. If only he were more like Ralph. Ralph, with his towering stature, his deep masculine voice, and his 'whatever' attitude to everything. Ralph, whose mere accidental brush of the hand sent shivers between her legs. Ralph, to whom she had given her virginity the previous night, and who called her a bitch but then she climaxed anyway. She hoped that Steven didn't see the heat in her cheeks.

Rachel wondered how it was possible to melt in the arms of a man who would probably do little more than shrug if she left him. She wondered how it was possible to feel so connected to someone, and yet so unaroused. But Rachel knew that Steven would be there for her no matter how many Ralphs she picked up and discarded. Just like a poodle. So she decided she wouldn't feel guilty about it.