Dana’s paroxysm of scandalous laughter caused Peter to stop staring at his raggedy sneakers and sneak a glance at her face.
“Hold on,” she chortled “Hold on,” bent over at the waist trying to catch her breath.
The bright mid-afternoon sun produced a halo around the curls of her voluminous afro, which had fallen forward and danced with each spasm. She finally met his gaze, tears streaming down her sun kissed face. Peter’s own face burned with embarrassment. Even in her ridicule of him, he thought, she could not have looked any more gorgeous.
“Did I hear you right? You want, what?!” she asked incredulously.
“To, um, take you, um, out?” he repeated and flinched in anticipation of the second wave of derision.
She wiped her eyes with delicate and slender fingers as her composure returned, fingers which had playfully poked Peter for the duration of them being paired for their group project. The very one that had granted him the chance to become close to her during the last six weeks of the semester. Allowed them to chat and share easily about their lives and where they’d come from, over espressos and chai tea.
Her, a middle class family on a small island in the Caribbean, where she’d grudgingly become skilled enough playing piano to get a scholarship. He, a small, depressed mining town in Minnesota, where he’d had no extra-curricular activities. The blossoming, something, inspired enough bravery that decided to test his deceased father’s advice, “All you need to do Petey, is ask. You can only get two answers, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.”
What the old man neglected to mention, is that a ‘No’ is never as just no. It could also be accompanied by public humiliation.
As she looked at him, Peter saw the residual snicker give way to pity, before settling on calculated indifference.
“Petey, darling,” she sighed, “I don’t know what you thought this was,” she explained, talking with her hands, “but it’s not that. Besides,” Dana added and gestured at him in his faded hand-me-downs, “What would my friends think?” then picked up her things and left him standing in the half empty café.
Peter didn’t chase her, but instead with his head low, exited and trudged to the bus stop. The number two express was on time and still had seats. He occasionally stared at his reflection and tried to banish the ache he felt and curb his penchant for nostalgia, even as a memory flashed in his mind.
He disembarked and entered the small yard of the house that held his rented room. He’d barely latched the gate and walked a few steps, before a black blur of muscle tackled him to the ground.
“Okay Shadow, Okay,” Peter chuckled in greeting as his adopted pet pitbull licked and slobbered his face, “Yes boy, I’m happy to see you too.”
As he raised himself to his feet and dusted his clothes, he smiled as he remembered another favorite saying of his old man, “All we need is love.”
- : Romance
- : None