Today's excerpt comes from an unfinished piece I'm calling, "Ichabod and Penelope." I haven't any idea at this point what to do with this scene or the storyline. Feel free to fling suggestions my way.
I crouched low in the grass, the blades becoming a forest of dew-laden trees, and smashed my camera to my face. I then adjusted the zoom ring, drawing them closer, and those in the background melted into a silky, green blur. Bokeh. I smiled as the sun caught the various rounded drops pearled in the grass and spun them into sparkling octagons. It was perfect, exactly what I needed.
I readied my finger on the shutter release. One press and I’d have it. Snap. Snap. I took an extra for good measure and leaned my head back to see the LCD panel and review the shots. What I saw instead was a pair of sneakers upside my head.
Black canvas. White shoestrings. And capping them a pair of blue jeans leading up two legs to a white t-shirt emblazoned with a band logo and the face of a guy peering down at me.
“You know what you need in those shots,” he said.
I pulled myself up from the grass into a sitting position. “From that perspective, they’d be tiny and you’d be Gulliver.”
“This is Lilliput then,” he said. He crouched down, and fashioning his index and middle finger into an upside-down v, walked it through the uncut lawn, swinging his thumb like an arm.
I laughed. Who was this guy?
Deciding to play along, I raised my camera and focused on his hand. He turned it and kinked his thumb at the knuckle as if resting it at the waist. I took the shot.
He splayed his hand flat, and I glanced up. I was temporarily rendered mute by the color of his eyes. I’d never seen eyes quite like that. He had long, black lashes, more girlish than boyish, and deep-set pupils the color of violets.
He tossed his head, flinging a shock of ebony hair out of his view, and the motion woke me up.
“You go here?” I asked. Here being the college.
He smiled and a twinkle lit in his eyes. “Nope.”
The corners of my mouth curved up. “So you’re just walking around stalking females?”
“Well,” he said, “it seemed like a good way to meet someone, and you were my first sighting.”
“I can’t imagine you saw anything of me but my backside,” I replied.
His smile became a smirk. “It was a nice backside.”
A compliment, which in a weird way made me happy.
“I do have other sides.”
“Mmm.” His response was an affirmative grunt.
I guess in sitting up, he’d noticed the other sides; that was all I could make of that.
I pushed myself to my feet, leaving him in the grass below me and moved to a concrete bench at the edge of the lawn. The warmth of the sun leeched from the sturdy material through the seat of my pants.
He appeared in front of me minutes later and extended his hand. “Ichabod.”
Ichabod? That couldn’t possibly be his real name; he was fooling again. So I took his hand and fashioned a nom de plume of my own.
“Penelope,” I said.
He curled his fingers around my hand and turning it flat, brought it to his lips. A gentlemanly gesture. His mouth was warm, his breather warmer.
“You kiss hands?” I asked.
He gave a slight shrug. “I’d rather kiss lips, but that seemed too forward.”
“Tell me,” I said, cradling my camera in my lap, “you make it a habit to kiss unknown girls?”
He sat himself on the other end of the bench and turned diagonal, draping his leg across it. “Only those with great lips.” At this statement, he raised his hand and brushed his fingertips across my mouth.
Stunned, I sat there, silent. Two compliments in one morning was almost too much for my poor beleaguered brain. First my backside, now my lips? And from a boy extremely pleasing to the eyes.
He rested his fingers there for a moment, then drew them down to my chin. I cleared my throat. But if that was any hint to him at the discomfort I felt, he took it otherwise and moved closer.
Now, I could smell his cologne, a spicy scent reminiscent of something my uncle wore.
“Penelope?” he asked.
My tongue started working of its own accord. I could hear myself speaking, but it was as if I was on the outside looking in. “Yes, Ichabod?”
“If I kissed you, would that be okay?”
Kiss me? He was asking?
Okay, I was thinking, this whole thing is weird. I’d simply gone out early to take a few pictures for my photography assignment and now there I was mesmerized by a boy with violet eyes and a strange sense of humor who intended to kiss me. And for whatever reason, I wanted to let him.
It wasn’t that I hadn’t been kissed. I had, once. I can’t recall there being anything remarkable about it though. It was more slobbery and wet. Instead, it was that I wanted to be kissed by this boy, whoever he was, and to live on the edge for one moment.
Sedate, that described my life and my general pattern of thought. I planned things out, did what I was told, got good grades, and so made everyone else around me happy that I was fitting into their mold. The fact I knew this about myself was a definite sign – of something. It was also a catalyst causing me to consider moving forward.
I mean, what if he was a great kisser? My old high school friend, Cheryl, had dated a great kisser. She’d said they couldn’t carry on a conversation, but, man, could they make out. Having never made out that seemed significant in the process of growing up. I mean, here I was a college student, albeit first year community college, and the most interest I’d drawn from any boy my age was a date with a computer geek who was nice, but––
Ichabod leaned in closer, cupping my chin.
This was insane, definitely insane.
“Ichabod?” I began. I’d refuse. Take the “good girl” road, do what made sense and was safe. However, my throat stove up and nothing emerged. Therefore, he didn’t back away.
He picked up on my thoughts though. “You were going to tell me to stop?” he said quietly.
I nodded for lack of anything else I was able to do.
He laughed softly, a pleasant sound. “But you don’t want me to stop.”
I shook my head. Lord, no. I wanted him to kiss me now. Craved it even. This would make the best story to tell my roommate, Heather.
“You have to say it’s okay,” he said.
So I got that. Maybe on some level, he was being careful. Maybe he didn’t go around kissing strange girls he met in the grass and didn’t want me to rear up and call the cops on him. But saying yes was difficult at that moment because my mind and body were taking a dive off some ginormous cliff.
I worked up the words, forcing them through tingling lips. “Okay. You can kiss me.” It sounded more like a croak, but there, it was done. I’d taken some fateful step, turned a page in my life. Living on the edge.
His mouth met mine, and all I can say is, I dissolved, the gentle tugging motion, the slight nip of my tender flesh, and the heat rising between us creating an atmosphere beckoning him in. Worse than that. I begged, begged with parted lips for something amazing and mind-blowing, something memorable, and the swipe of his tongue responded. Sent skyward, I floated there and time suspended itself.
I came down off my cloud to find him sitting opposite staring at me, his head tilted to the side. The sun seemed brighter, the air light and cool, and this the best day ever.
“That was … amazing,” I said.
And he laughed. “Wasn’t it?”
Suzanne D. Williams
Suzanne Williams Photography
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.