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She was standing with one hand on her hip and her head tilted slightly, with her sweater tied around her waist. She was waiting for me, but she was hungry.

We ate.

We took the light rail to the ampitheater. Either my excitement or hers was contagious, and we chattered the entire way there. Once we arrived, it was fun to look at the people who didn't look like us and think about if our lives would be different if we had different haircuts and showed our midriffs. The show started and we stopped caring about anyone else.

It was a very good show.

As the band was drawing towards its inevitable poppy climax to which we all knew the words, and when her small, adorable body pressed against mine for the eleventeenth time for security and warmth, a particularly emotional chord change perhaps keyed into my subconscious in a way that bypassed years of careful conditioning and self-discipline I've evolved as defense against hurting and being hurt. Maybe it was only her repeated and futile proximity. I suddenly reached out, put my arms around her waist, and held her close to me for ten of the most precious seconds of my entire week. I inhaled through her hair. Her body melted into mine exactly as I had imagined it might. I closed my eyes and funnelled every mote of consciousness I could muster into my sense of touch.

Then she brushed my left hand gently with hers, and rationality returned. Regardless of the antecedent that filled the pronoun she, if she was an ex-girlfriend of a friend who he truly cares for, and if we were both fleeing the midwest in the coming months for semi-permanent residence on opposite sides of the continent, there was no way that she and I could be anything other than friends. Knowing her, that meant there was no way she and I could become any more familiar than we currently were. It didn't matter how she looked at me or how she made me feel. I knew the rules when I first started spending time with her.


I put my hands in my pockets and kept them there until we went home. We pretended nothing happened, because nothing did.