The two figures are curled on the bench as neatly interlocking as a jigsaw piece; like the perfect flat face of a newly repaired wall. In front of them is field and ocean, ships passing in the daylight and the soft hiss of chopped corn stalks. On the coast road, cars pass silently, threatening to crash into each other but always remaining transparent at the point of impact. It’s the game they play.
He can smell her shampoo as he kisses her parting; she washed her hair just for this meeting despite trying to appear casual by dressing down. She adores his faint odour of sweat through his cheap deoderant and several layers to disguise any shivering. She knows he is nervous, and even as she rests her head on his chest his heart threatens to give her a thumping black eye. Move your ear to the centre of his chest. The breaths are erratic. He’s too young for a heart attack. So you grip the fabric of the hoodie in a tight fist and you feel the heart change up a gear. Her elbow may or may not be brushing against the first signs of arousal in his groin. Even through the layers, the faintest glimpse of skin on skin is enough to set him off.
He is trying to calm his breathing down, trying to appear nonchalant as he speaks but his sentences are broken up by pauses and halting full stops. He can’t get the words out as his lungs are full of air. He’s certain that his heart is thumping into her ear, but she doesn’t mind. She nestles her head in deeper to the chest cavity, nevermind the metal zip of his hoodie pressing into her cheek. He fidgets to try and hide the beginnings of an erection from her hand which traces dim circles in the area of his bellybutton. He could pass it off as the fold of his jeans for now, but not for long.
There is a strange irony at work here. She is succeeding in remaining cool, but if the roles were reversed he would feel her heart leaping from between her breasts. She doesn’t need to speak, she just curls up passively and enjoys his reaction. He knows this moment is special so he tries to distract himself. Take himself out of the moment. A train rumbles past on the nearby railway line. A cyclist glances towards them and ploughs across the field. He remembers a football game, a video game. But then his nostrls catch her scent again and he has to take a deep breath, raising her head. He holds it. She looks up and smiles and he releases, shakily. He’s now trembling, that mischevious shiver he encountered the night he lost his virginity.
Her fingertips drizzle over the hems of his jeans. She feels his hips twitch but avoids his lap anyway. Now is not the time. It’s nice to feel desired but this is peaceful – caught between a railway line, a shipping lane and a main road. But it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters except this metal bench.
He doesn’t want to fuck her now. This is part of the reason for his awkwardness. He wants to dance her across the fields. He wants to carry her across the stumpy corn, sprinting with her piggyback. He wants to drive her through a darkened city in an open-top sports car, to release the adrenaline. All this feeling is trapped inside him, as he sits still with this calm, purring creature in his lap. She absorbs it into memory. He is looking for the release valve.
Together they watch the sunset, as he takes a lock of her hair and twirls it around his finger. His damp sweating skin curls it into a perfect cow lick and he allows it to fall back onto the rest of her head, a single thin crescent moon against the poker straight brunette curtain.
Behind them, driving past, I observe their silouettes for a split second. A collection of limbs and parts black against the sun, as much a part of the metal bench as they are each other.
I smile, I drive on. I’ve been there before and I’m sure I will be there again. I just hope that I still feel that virgin nervousness. The trembling. The dry mouth. I never want to take these cliches for granted as a checklist. They must always be terrifying, and special.