What I Wanted
We snuck fizzy boozy punch from his parents’ party bowl and then walked out into the autumn air, hand in hand. A cool breeze tossed leaves around my boots. Too old to trick or treat, but doing it anyway. He, a convincing skeleton and me a naughty cowgirl. Two other couples trailed behind us.
We rang and rang, grabbed fistfuls of candy, laughed and sang the wrong words to songs, topping each other. Rude and loud about it. The boys scuffling, the girls slapping. All of us happy. It was all a goof. Wanting to be young again at the ripe old age of fifteen.
Nobody answered the door at a three-story house, but the lights were on inside, so we hid in the bushes and spied through a crack in the window shutter, six of us huddled into too small a space behind the hedging. We shoved and giggled and finally found a spot to stack up. So we saw a fat middle-aged man leading an elegantly dressed blowup doll in a pattern on the plush carpet. A waltz maybe? We gasped, hands over our mouths, stifling hilarious snorts, but then grew quiet and serious one by one as we watched the intricate turns, the twists, the dip. He, so intense and she, well, don’t they always seem surprised? The creepiness stole over all of us and we stood there staring, quieted, horrified.
Wanting out of the Twilight Zone dreary, I grabbed his hand and we took flight. We ran hard and far. Away from the sad man and his doll. Away from our friends. We stopped, hunched over, hands on knees, panting and spilling laugh tears from the outer corners of our eyes. Glad to be alone.
It was a clearing where the leaves had not fallen. The grass was hanging on to green. The night was warmer just there and the moon so large, it seemed lofted low, staged just for us. So bright it blotted the stars. He laid down with one arm outstretched, asking. And he looked at me with those clear yellow eyes, searching my face. As if boneless, I collapsed onto him. I was warm, you understand? Whether from the dizzy silly escape or because he was just what I wanted in that moment, I was flushed, heat radiating from my chest to my eyes and back down. All the way down.
And we lay there, me with my head on his bony chest, his face in my long hair until he asked me from painted skeleton lips, whispered yet sweetly formal, whether he could and I said yes. Because we were alone. All around us on every side street there were kids and dogs and parents and flashlights, cars and doorbells and laughing, but somehow we had escaped and were isolated, impenetrable, unpredictably alone. We couldn’t hear them or see them. Just our hot breaths, closer to each other than we had ever been, than I’d ever been with any boy. Just that, the unlikely green grass underneath me and the moon so large at my back.
He was everything I wanted just then and maybe I was too. I don’t know because he didn’t say anything. My skin was dark and his so very white in the moonlight. He shook, but I did not. And it was too cautious, painfully slow, in fits and starts, silly and tender.
And when it was done the spell broke all at once. I could hear cars and kids again, the moon sped away from us and chilly air filled the gap. We pulled clothes on, shivering, and twisted them back into their original shape or close enough. We walked, hand in hand, through a night darker than it had been before. Back to his home. And his parents, too drunk to notice how different we were. It was magic. It was over. It was what I wanted.