I knew what could happen. I knew the chances. But I guess in the end I just didn't care at first. Or maybe I forgot. Selective memory. The heat of the moment.
It started at my local book store. As was my wont I was browsing amongst the bookshelves. as I passed by the health section I noticed a short, thin woman with red hair. She was standing in front of the biography section facing the health section. In her hands , lay a copy of "The Warren Guide to the NCLEX-RN." My study moved up from her book to her lips, and then to her eyes which were a methane blue. Hmm. Fire and ice.
"How far along are you?" I asked her.
"To becoming a nurse."
"Oh." She looked to her book and understood. "I'm in my second year at community college."
"Okay. Do you have a specialty in mind?"
"Psychiatric nursing. I've always wanted to help people and my best friend when I was a child had schizophrenia. I tried to help her as much as I could but I didn't know enough and I didn't have enough experience with it. There were times when she would go off her medication and she'd get hurt. The last time she went off her medication she was afraid that someone was invading her mind and trying to take control of her. So she got her father's gun and shot herself in the head." She looked down at her feet. "After that I promised myself that the next time someone who was mentally ill needed my help I'd be ready."
"It's okay. I'm alright."
"Did you ever think about becoming a doctor?"
"Well, I could. But doctors almost never get as much time with their patients as nurses. And nurses get to have a closer relationship with patients. But mostly I feel as though I could do more for patients as a nurse than as a doctor. Plus I'd never be able to afford school.
"Would you like to get a coffee at the coffee stand?"
By happy coincidence we both purchased tall coffees, black. I was nervous and though about making a "I like my coffee like..." joke but then I thought again. She seemed to notice my anxiety but was too polite to mention it.
"Do you always do this?" she asked.
"Approach women in bookstores, inquire about their purchases, and then buy them coffee as a prelude to asking them out on a date?"
"Oh, no. See, I get bored easily. And for some reason to me it seems that the people in bookstores are always the most interesting. I have talked to people at gyms, at newsstands, and at grocery stores. But it seems it's not the same."
"So you're not going to ask me out on a date?"
"Well, I'm not sure..."
"Well then I'm going to take the initiative and ask you out. Would you like to go to dinner tomorrow night?"
It was then that my eyes went to her lips. Time seemed to stop for a moment. Her lips looked perfectly kissable. There was the rub. Those full, luscious, pink lips. They were just the right amount of moist. Not chapped at all but she wasn't foaming at the mouth either. I imagined how it would make me feel if she were to rub her tongue against her lips, licking them. It was almost too much. The kiss of death. Did she know what she was asking me to risk? Did she? I took the plunge.
"I'd love to."
"How about Mario's on 75th street at 7:00?"
I left the coffee shop before her in a hurry. I couldn't seem to catch my breath. What had I just said "yes" to? To a date, or to something else? Had I any free will in the matter? Was someone or something else making the decision for me? Was it fate? When I got back to my apartment I couldn't sit down. I had to pace. Then gradually a lethargy overcame me. I had to lay down. Within minutes I was asleep.
I woke up feel amazingly refreshed and renewed. My mind was perfectly clear and I felt great. I rushed out of bed eager to get to Mario's for my date. when I got to Mario's it was 6:45. She arrived five minutes later wearing a blue dress that went well with her eyes. She was wearing a small amount of makeup including some very reddish lipstick. Her lips looked more kissable than ever. We went into the restaurant and were seated in fifteen minutes. She ordered the fettuccine Alfredo and I ordered lasagna.
"You look very pretty," I told her.
"You should wear your hair down all the time."
"You think so? Well, I just prefer it to not get in the way, but I don't like having it short."
"So what are you studying in college right now?"
"Well I'm taking a chemistry course, a pharmacology course, and an advanced nursing course."
"I probably like the pharmacology class the most. Medications, drug interactions, ingredients..."
"Well from the sound of it you're going to make a good nurse."
"I certainly hope so."
For a while we got into a discussion about me and then I gently turned the subject of conversation back to her. Eventually we finished our dinners. I insisted on paying the check for the dinner. Outside we stand next to my car talking to each other. Then she stops talking. She takes a step towards me and then another. I know what she is about to do and I'm not inclined to stop her.
She takes her lips and place them on mine. The moisture from our lips begins to mingle. Quickly a chemical process takes place in my body. Adrenaline drops into my body, sending my heart rate skyrocketing, my respiratory rate explodes violently upwards, and my entire body begins to tremble. I am unable to control myself and I drop to the ground. She can only watch in horror. even if she could act nothing could be done for me. As quickly as it started it stops. I am dead.
I see her hours later, in bed, sobbing into her pillow. Almost a nurse, she couldn't save me. Just like she couldn't save her friend. Her anguish, her sorrow, her helplessness, it drills into me, into my brain.
No! I push her away and she stumbles and there is shock on her face. I get into my car as quickly as I can and drive out of the parking lot like a bat out of hell. I think of what I might have done to her and I cursed myself. Kissing isn't the problem. I am.