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Monday, January 23, 2012

[bad] The Professor

He waits outside the restaurant for me. "If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she's late?"
"That's cheating," I say as we exchange kisses. He smells like nutmeg and burning wood. "I can't refuse a man who quotes Salinger."
He laughs, shows his dimples. His glasses make him look every bit the charming and pretentious professor I remember.

The bartender cards me and flirts with him. She's older; closer to the ten years he has on me. She walks away unsatisfied when he ignores her.
"So how you been, kid?" he asks.
"Still alive," I say. "Does that count for something?"
"I'd say it counts for everything."
He holds his glass up to mine and says, "To not dying before we've written something worthy of our pain."

We talk about old students we have in common; speak of the network I worked hard to stay out of. I drink and wonder if it was a mistake.
"Read your book," he says. He would be the one to find all the flaws in the stories, the writing; me.
"Get it over with," I say, "And remember I'm much more comfortable with letter grades, Professor." He laughs and messes up his hair. "Does this teacher's pet routine work in the real world?"
"Doesn't it?"  He's a kid with a secret.

He rests his left hand on my leg and every time I say something that makes him laugh it travels higher under my dress. My fourth beer brings vulnerability. His makes him stare just three seconds longer than he should.

"You still with that dude?" 
"You still with that chick?"
No. We're climbing the unsteady mountain of rebounds and fuck buddies.
"It's better that way, kid," he says and drinks. "We're hard to be with."
"Isn't everyone?"
He clinks his glass of beer against mine. He leans over and whispers a compliment that makes me blush. Mark that on a calendar.

Empty apartment
Bottle of Pinot noir
Songs we know all the words to
Christmas lights like modern candlelight
Talking; getting so close our knees touch and radiate currents to warm our hands.

Me first, ever the romantic. Then him. He lays across the sofa, his hand rubs the back of my neck, lingers like a reel. He pulls me to the space between his arm and his chest. There's too much moonlight in his kisses. I fall asleep with the constant sensation of someone walking over my grave.

The sun comes. He drags his fingertips up and down my arm, planting goosebumps in his path. My Kindle's standing on his chest, propped against the top of my head. "Stop moving," he says as I try to get up. A creeping hangover forces me to listen when he tells me to lay down. "I'll read to you," he says. Though the air's crowded I let him. He finishes the chapter and already knows too much. Good thing he lives so far away.