We will be lying on our white leather sofa, watching TV. You’ll be nestled underneath my arm because you’re always cold.
We’ll fight over which show to watch and settle on one that neither of us particularly cares for.
I won’t mind that half my body is off the couch, and you won’t mind that I have not yet showered that day and my armpit is giving off a smell that’s 50% Old Spice and 50% stale sweat.
I’ll keep turning off the TV and trying to kiss you, but you’ll stop me every time.
“I’m watching this,” you’ll lie.
I’ll sigh and turn the TV back on.
It’ll be when I give up that you’ll decide you want what I want.
It’ll start with you putting your hand underneath my shirt, stroking the hair on my belly.
Then it’ll be a faux-innocent, “I’m not really watching this.”
You won’t be able to resist me, and I’ll know why, because I’ll feel it too.
It won’t be the quintessential temptation, the blood-boiling, tumultuous, destructive lust. It’ll be a warm desire, a fireplace in the winter desire. I’ll know what you want, and you’ll know I want you.
I’ll turn off the TV, and we’ll shut our eyes, no visuals necessary. Our clothes will dissolve, and our hands will know where to go.
It’ll be noon, and it’ll be the second time that day.
One day we’ll be on the bus, on our way to a museum. I’ll look around at all of the oddly shaped people that seem only to appear on public transportation, and I’ll say, “I think the reason I’m so insecure is because I assume everyone else is as cruel and judgmental as I am. Maybe if I’m less harsh on others, I’ll be less harsh on myself.”
Without missing a beat, you’ll say, “I think it’s the other way around.”
I’ll turn to face you, but you’ll keep looking straight ahead.
You’ll come home from work and slam your purse on the floor near the door.
“What happened this time?” I’ll ask.
“That stupid bitch took credit for my proposal.”
“I’m sorry, baby,” I’ll say, picking up your purse and hanging it on the hooks I installed on the back of the door that you refuse to acknowledge exist.
“Is it terrible that I want him to fall down a flight of stairs?”
Then you’ll say, “If you’re not rooting against your enemies then they’re not your enemies. They’re just people.”
I’ll smile and kiss you.
You’ll start to smile too.
I’ll arrive at your apartment with wine. You’ll answer the door in your robe, no make-up.
The look on your face will be one of horror.
“You’re… early,” you’ll say.
“No, I’m not,” I’ll say. “Our reservation is in like 20 minutes.”
You’ll stare at me in terror.
“I’m so sorry! I thought—”
I’ll start laughing, and you’ll realize what I’m doing. Your eyes will widen, and you’ll bite your lip, a look I’ll come to know and fear and love. You’ll slap my chest. Hard.
“That wasn’t even hard,” you’ll say.
I’ll rub my chest. You’ll hide a smile.
“I thought we could have some wine before we go,” I’ll say.
“Fine,” you’ll say, “but let me finish getting ready first.”
We’ll sit there in your tiny living room, dressed to the nines, and drink until we’re both luxuriously buzzed.
I’ll check the time and say, “We should get going.”
You’ll give me a look like you don’t know if you should say what’s on your mind.
“What?” I’ll ask.
“Do you want to skip dinner and order a pizza?”
“Yes,” I’ll say immediately.
We’ll eat pizza and drink more wine until we get stupid and sloppy.
You’ll climb on top of me, and I’ll lick tomato sauce off the corner of your mouth. You’ll put your hand down my slacks, and I’ll stop you, ask you if you want to dance.
You’ll look at me like I’m crazy, but you’ll say, “Ok…”
We’ll get up, and I’ll play a series of songs on my phone, most of which have a title containing the word “kiss.” We’ll slow dance to them for hours, you cradled in my arms, your breath on my chest. At one point you’ll look up at me and see that I’ve been looking down at you the entire time. And you’ll know.
It’ll be a cloudy day, low-50s (California freezing). The beach will be gray and empty.
We’ll arrive in a van filled with your friends. I’ll have just spent an hour making awkward, posturing conversation with them, trying to illuminate just why you’re with me. You’ll have your hand on my knee, an amused smirk on your face.
Your friends will pile out of the car, their movements seemingly choreographed. They’ll grab chairs, towels, a charcoal grill, bags of chips, and a large canopy. Their faces won’t display any indication that they think it’s too cold to be at the beach, and I’ll replicate their carefree demeanor as if it’s a test.
Some of your friends will lie out on the beach in the stolen sunshine while the others will try to set up the canopy.
You and I will join the latter group and contribute little to nothing. I’ll suggest sticking a pipe in another pipe and your friends will humor me, but we’ll all know that’s not where it goes.
Eventually, we’ll get the canopy standing and congratulate each other.
“You going in the water?” your annoyingly attractive white friend Jake will ask you.
“No,” you’ll say.
“Why?” he’ll ask, a smile on his face.
“The water’s freezing, and I’m not a masochist.”
Jake will laugh, and the look on his face will make a single word pop up in my mind: smitten. He will turn to me.
“How about you?”
I won’t want to. My penis will shrivel up until it’s nonexistent, I’ll think. Seaweed will get tangled in my pubic hair. I’ll scream when the water hits me. But I’ll know deep down that Jake’s challenge has to be met.
Eons of primal, male bullshit will trick my brain into making me answer with infinite stupidity, “Sure.”
Jake will slap my shoulder and make his way to the frigid waves breaking on the sand, and I’ll follow. I’ll look back at you to gauge your reaction. It will not be what I expect.
You won’t roll your eyes like the unhappy wives in sitcoms. Instead, you’ll give me a subtle nod, a “do it for your honor” sort of thing.
I’ll feel a rush of confidence and sprint past Jake. I’ll run into the water until it’s up to my knees, scream like a maniac, and dive into the water.
When I surface, I’ll think, I used to have genitals…
Your friends will all be watching me, most of them laughing or smiling. Even Jake will give me a mouth shrug. I’ll smile and look at you. You’ll raise your beer to me. My smile will widen because I’ll know.
I turn away from the window I’ve been looking out of for the past… indeterminate period of time. I’m in a diner and my French toast is now cold. The sweet, ancient waitress shuffles over to me.
“Can I get you anything else, dear?”
“No, thank you, ma’am.”
“Alrighty, sweetie. Just let me know.”
And she shuffles off to the next table.
I douse my eggs with hot sauce, then pepper, then ketchup. What will you think of this strange habit? I shovel the eggs into my mouth. Will you think I eat too fast? When I finish the eggs, I get the rest of my breakfast boxed and give the old waitress a 20% tip. Do you think that’s enough?
I exit the diner and step onto the busy sidewalk. I walk down a couple blocks and wait at the bus stop.
Who are you? I wonder. And when are you coming?
I don’t know your name or your birthday or what books you hated in high school or your favorite place to get hot chocolate… but I want to say this: I know you’re out there, and baby, I’m comin’.
Aaron H. Aceves is a Mexican-American writer born and raised in East L.A. He graduated in 2015 from Harvard College, where he received the Le Baron Russell Briggs Award after being nominated by Jamaica Kincaid. His work has appeared in Germ Magazine and is forthcoming in New Pop Lit. He currently lives in New York, where he is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia University. Image: Playa, Joaquin Sorolla, 1906