It Began Before This

He couldn’t stop looking at her. He watched the way her eyes smiled, the way she held her hands and waved them when she talked; how the right side of her smile curved more upward than the left. He liked how her neckline looked, soft, sloping into her collarbone, forming gentle hollows. His eyes followed her slender hands to their fingertips and he wondered what the slightest touch would feel like. He took note of her well-fitted clothes, her legs. Her legs spoke a language all their own. They crossed at the knee, then at the ankle. They straightened, bent. She sometimes flexed her feet. All this happened independently of her hands, her upper body, her speaking. His heart pounded, but he was barely breathing.

She noticed him among the crowd – his eyes. They followed her without being too conspicuous. He wasn’t too tall, his stance more vulnerable than most men’s. She continued looking at the others listening to her, finishing her story about a canoe that tipped over. In her periphery she glanced at his hair – dark, not too short; his shoulders were strong; his arms hung casually to his sides, but he clenched his jaw. His face gave the faintest hint of a shadow, and she wondered how his scruff might feel when he kisses her. He wore a blazer and white dress shirt, no tie. She finally caught his eye, and they acknowledged each other with subtle nods.

She had seen him before. She had seen him seeing her seeing him before. For months now. They had mutual friends, but they had never spoken to each other.

It was someone else’s turn to tell a story.

She walked over and tapped him on the shoulder.

They both knew she was too old for him. They didn’t care.

She asked him what he thought about last night’s game. He thought the opponent’s offense was weak and that their team got lucky. As he continued to speak they took the opportunity to notice each other’s features from a closer range: how playful her hair actually looked, how deep his dimples were when he laughed. He asked her how next week’s game might look, and she said since it’s a home game the team should fare better. He raised his glass, and she clinked hers against it. Smirking, they cheered simultaneously.

Go, Cougars.

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