June 06, 2007

Under The Table

Under the table, she is holding my hand.

" ... free?" Suddenly I become aware that a question is being addressed to me. I look over at Jon, who is looking expectantly at me.

"I'm sorry, what did you say?"

"Which planet were you on? Geez! I asked if you would be free this weekend. Mandy and I are planning to drive into J.B. for seafood. You coming?"

"I, er -" I hesitate, confronted with a rock and a hard place - or, by my oldest and best friend, and ...

Under the table, she is squeezing my hand.

"And don't give your dumb 'but I don't wanna be a lamppost' excuse. I'm sick of hearing that - we," Jon emphasizes, "are sick of hearing that. Come up with a better excuse, lah. How much longer will you continue flogging that dead horse of an excuse?"

"But -"

"But what?" Jon interrupts, and bulldozes ahead. "You love seafood. We love seafood. That's all there is to it. It's not as if we're inviting you to join us for a ménage à trois, okay?"

I don't want to, but I blush anyway, and cough when my iced tea goes down the wrong way.

Under the table, she is stroking my palm with her thumb.

"Wait!" Mandy holds up a finger. "Hold that thought while I visit the little girls' room," she says, sliding out of the booth. She gives me a look over her shoulder. "You need to use the little girls' room as well?"

I follow her, hearing Jon's amused and condescending snort behind me. He calls after us, "Don't know why you girls always have to go to the toilet in pairs! What are you afraid of - getting stuck in the toilet bowl? What do you do in there, anyway?"

The rest room is small: a sink and mirror takes up half the space while the other half is occupied by a toilet stall. Mandy pulls me in with her and locks the door behind us.

What we do in there is fuck.

"You're coming with us this Saturday," Mandy says after she collapses on me, her breath still ragged with panting. I feel her heart beating in her chest on my breast, the subtle skips beneath her skin on the pulse point on her neck with my lips.

"I don't think that's a good idea." My words are muffled in the crook of her neck, but she hears them clearly.

"Why not? Come on, it'll be fun, and I won't have to miss you."

"We can't ... I must stop ..." I start to say, but my words sound hollow, even to my ears. I suppose repeating them so very often has worn off its original veneer of veracity and sincerity.

Mandy merely smiles. Even a mere dimpled smile of hers quickens my blood. "Yeah? Well, go on, then; go confess to Jon: go tell him his girlfriend and his best friend have been fucking each other - I dare you."

She doesn't mean it.

Or maybe she does; she means it as much as I do my words.

"This is not living dangerously," I say, more to myself than her. Lately, I have been preoccupied with the notion of living dangerously.

Mandy laughs. I think about how I always love making her laugh - just not this way.

She says, "This is living recklessly. Living dangerously is when we're in J.B. and the three of us are sharing a room, and I crawl into your bed after Jon has fallen asleep and fuck you till morning."

She pushes herself off me and unlocks the door. We takes turn washing our hands at the sink, adjusting our clothes. She reapplies her make-up while I check myself for traces of her lipstick.

We share a look in the mirror.

"I can't do it, and you can't do it," she says softly and, suddenly, seriously. "That's why we are where we are."

Then she flashes her sunny grin. "But I think I like this living recklessly."

She takes my hand. "Still, it's not enough. I want to live dangerously, and I want you to live dangerously with me."

This is not living dangerously, I think; but then she kisses me and I stop thinking.

She lets go of my hand before we step out of the ladies' room.

Seconds later, we are back at the table with my best friend and her boyfriend, discussing the eating places and malls we are going to hit in J.B. this weekend.

Under the table, she is holding my hand.

(for Collective Rantings)

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