The Night We Never Did It

You had those pants on, and that shirt, and you were in those pants and shirt, and I didn't care that you were not quite beautiful, because when you told your stories and laughed, I laughed too, and you were beautiful and I could feel it was going to happen for us, like a summer rain coming, the perfume of it in the air beforehand….and what a surprise. Though I'd noticed you before, I'd never been taken in like that, and it felt like nothing could pull us from each other that night, because we were in it together, weren't we? Didn't I reach for your hand as we walked in the hallway? Didn't you squeeze mine back? At that moment, I couldn’t have imagined that was all the further it would go, that we wouldn’t be wrapped round each other soon enough. I told myself we never got the chance, never found ourselves alone. But people don't just find themselves alone, do they? People have got to get themselves alone, and neither of us was willing to do that, though that would've done it, the clouds would've burst for us, and, wow, weren't you something. I mean, I’d always known you were something, but that night you were something else. And maybe you've always been something else, but that night you were something else and mine. All mine. So when I drove home alone, still not believing your curves, your skin, weren’t at my fingertips at that very moment, I figured, there’s no stopping it now, it’ll happen soon. I bit my lip and sighed. Dreamed about you. Happy to wait. But when I saw you again, and you took off your sunglasses and smiled at me awkwardly, I could see you weren't quite beautiful, which surprised me, because like I said, though I'd seen you before, I felt I'd really seen you the first time that night. But maybe I never did.  Maybe that’s what this is all about. Because as we stood talking politely in the sunshine, I could feel it was gone. When I watched you walk away from me, I knew it wouldn’t happen, that it was done. But it’s not done—because whenever I see you now, with your pants, and your shirts, and your skirts, and your tall boots, and your face that is not quite beautiful, and always looking away from me, I still wish we'd gotten ourselves alone, the deliciousness of those moments a certainty in my mind. And sometimes I wonder what you think about when you see me. Do you think I'm not quite handsome? Do you remember the feeling of your hand in mine? Do you wish we'd gotten ourselves alone? Sometimes I just wonder what you wonder about, which I suppose is the universal wonder, and what do we know about anything anyway? Well, I know you were beautiful that night we never did it, and I wonder why, I wonder why.

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About the Author

Steve Nelson earned his PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and have had work published in The Rambler, Storyglossia, eye-rhyme, The Absinthe Literary Review, and elsewhere. Four of his stories were included in the anthology "Our Plan to Save the World." His book "Teaching The Way: Using the Principles of 'The Art of War' to Teach Composition" will be published in 2021 by Ten16 Press.