It was one of those late August sun-showers and we left work under separate umbrellas. She held hers just low enough so I couldn’t see her face or communicate with her from below mine. We took a booth at a nearby diner, sliding the soaking umbrellas under the table. I knew that I would never be able to go in there again. One coffee, black, I ordered. Nothing for her. The waiter removed the unused menus. I asked how her weekend was, but we weren’t there to catch up.
There was a music festival on the third day of summer and I had watched her all day. It was during a heat wave and there was no shade so she pulled down the top of her romper and danced in a black bikini top. I had never seen so much of her. Her fingernails were pink, except for her ring fingers, which were painted red. I watched little beads of sweat collect at the center of her chest and I wanted so much to drink them or to be them. I don’t remember who kissed who first, but our bodies stayed glued together from that point until morning.
And so we entered into a secret relationship. It was a secret because we worked together, which didn’t matter to me, but she was older and more serious about her job. At first we were cautious, not flirting at work and saving intimacy for our apartments. Even meeting her roommate was a big deal. I tried to play it cool, but I was falling hard. I had wanted her for months and I finally, practically, had her. She didn’t feel the same way I did, but she did surprise me from time to time. One day at a bar without saying anything, she approached where I was sitting and put her small hips in between my legs and started kissing me. I touched her and could feel the warmth radiating through her impossibly thin black dress. Another day, we took a break from work and she kissed me in the rain, despite the threat of nearby coworkers. I doubt she remembers these kisses, but I remember every single one.
After work we’d meet at her apartment and kiss on her couch, her athletic little body straddling mine, and then strip each other and have sex. It would take time to peel off the layers since it was 95 degrees outside, the hottest summer on record. Our sunburned skin stuck together and we had to peel that apart too. The sex seemed forbidden and had this raw honesty that even she could not ignore. “Look at me,” she once said while I was in her, but her eyes were so piercing that I had trouble doing so. We never used protection, which added to the intensity. I liked looking down and watching myself entering her, disappearing into her. After we’d finish, she’d run to the kitchen to get a glass of water and I’d watch her naked body. Then we’d lie there and I’d finger the split ends of her long hair.
“We shouldn’t be alone together,” she said on that rainy day between my asking for the check and paying the $2.25. We gathered our dripping umbrellas and silently walked back to the office. That’s when summer ended.
I always react the same way to getting dumped. “If that’s what you want, I’ll respect it,” I said. We hugged. “I look forward to being friends,” she responded. Ten minutes later it started to sink in, like she had planted a seed in my stomach that grew and grew, pushing at my insides and making its way up my throat. Cruelly, the rain stopped and the sun emerged. It was an unpleasant, blinding sun. I thought of the sunglasses I left at home, back when I was still sleeping with this girl and it was still summer.