Cool air. Cool ground. Cool hands. She reached over to grab his as the dying grass pricked back at her arm, almost as if to tell her not to. She took the hint and retreated back to her spot on the dying turf.
“Are you cold?” he asked.
“Take it,” he said as he removed his jacket and tossed it over to her. Their history was a long one, but ‘friends’ wasn’t a word they’d use to describe their relationship. For years they’d passive aggressively said hello in the hallways, graciously sat next to each other at dinners, and meaninglessly shared beds with one another as drunken parties came to an end. But tonight was the first time they’d been alone—truly alone.
Their arms spread out on the grass like stars in the sky above them. What were they doing? Nothing. Nothing at all. Their friends had gone off…somewhere to do god knows what and left them there alone. To talk? To find love? To just be? They weren’t sure. They were there, at least, so they might as well make the best of it.
‘I like the way sparkling earrings lay against your skin so brown.’
He turned to her and saw her staring into the abyss. Was she thinking about what was out there? Who was out there? ‘I wonder where they ran off to,’ he sighed as he sat up and wrapped his arms around his knees. ‘Forget about them. Just lay back down.’
‘I want to sleep with you in the desert tonight. A billion stars all around.’
Light screams came from the forest behind them. ‘Jesus Christ…’ He got up and turned around. ‘Can you believe this shit?’
‘Well let’s go somewhere else, then. It’s not a big deal.’ She stretched out her hand into nothing. He looked over at her and did the same, pulling her up off the ground. They walked around the side of the house, further into the darkness, and began feeling their way around. They knew there was a hammock around here somewhere. Ah, there it is. He found it by tripping over the lowest part of the hanging rope. Luckily, he fell right into it and it caught him like a baseball glove. She laughed.
‘And I found out a long time ago what a woman can do to your soul.’
Slowly, and much more gracefully, she sat down next to him in the net as he continued cursing at the inanimate object. ‘It’s alright,’ she assured him, ‘Just lay down.’
‘What the hell is happening?’ he thought. But he did as he was told, almost without realizing. He turned and swung his legs around onto the bed, falling into her as he’d fallen into the hammock moments earlier.
She was wearing his jacket. She smelled like him. She enjoyed it. So did he.
‘And I’ve got a peaceful easy feeling. And I know you won’t let me down.’
They both laid there for a while. The cold was getting to him, and he began to shiver. ‘Are you cold now? Take your jacket back,’ she said as she began sliding it off her body. Draping it over him, he felt her skin against his.
‘It’s fine.’ He pushed her away.
‘No really. Take it back.’ They were swinging, now, back and forth and back and forth with each return.
‘Here.’ He took the jacket and draped it over both of their bodies. ‘Better?’
‘Better.’ She put her arm around him.
‘I get this feelin’ I may know you as a lover and a friend.’
They went back to lying in silence, motionless, just enjoying the touch of another human. It was nice. It was something that they never imagined they would appreciate as much as they did, but that was part of it. The surprise, the unexpectedness of the interaction. Finally, she broke the silence. ‘Turn around,’
‘This voice keeps whisperin’ in my other ear. Tells me I may never see you again.’
Again, he did as he was told. Anyone who’s tried to turn around in a hammock knows the difficulty, especially with another human being in the mix. Eventually he succeeded. They were looking each other in the eyes now, feeling each other’s warm breath on their faces. She kept her arm in place around his waist, and suddenly a feeling overcame him.
‘What are you doing?’ she smiled.
He ran his hand up her thigh, over her hips, down the valley of her waist, and ended at her chest.
”Cause I’ve got a peaceful easy feelin’, and I know you won’t let me down.’
‘What’s that?’ she asked.
They both laughed, but then he realized she was actually asking a question. Turning over, he looked into the darkness behind him to see a light bobbing in the forest. ‘Son of a bitch…’ he placed his head into her chest as both of her hands tightened their grip.
She tilted her head down and whispered into his ear, ‘It’s okay.’
That was that. She let go. She freed him…and pushed him off the side of the hammock.
He slammed onto the mass of leaves below him. ‘What the fuck?!’ Thank god I didn’t land on it, he thought.
”Cause I’m already standing on the ground.’
‘What’r y’all doing?!’
‘Yeah! What’s going on over here?!’ their friends shouted as they emerged from the darkness.
‘Fucking nothing, I guess,’ he said. He looked up at her from the ground. She returned his gaze and a smirk of satisfaction wiped over her face. He stood up and looked down at her.
She knew what she had done, and so did he. She was proud of it, and so was he.
He fished a half-smashed pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and lit one up, walking away toward the street. His friend followed.
That was it. Their song was over. That was the last time that they touched: the only moment they shared. From that night on they continued curt glances and snarky remarks, but they cut deeper. They hurt just a little bit more because they were closer now. They knew each other in a way that they had not known before that night.