Alex Torres

Waiting for You

Her cherry blossom body spray permeates the locker room as the crisp, sweet smell lands on her body. The scent travels over to my locker and I take a deep breath. It drives me nuts, it lures me. I glance over. Her jersey hugs her body, it accentuates every curve. She takes her shirt off and it gets stuck. This is my chance to be close to her.

“Dammit! Jersey is stuck. Jess, can you help me out?” Sammie further tangles herself trying to wiggle out.

She has absolutely no idea what she does to me.

I gently place both hands on her waist and pull her closer to me. My hands glide under her jersey and I slip it over her head. The urge to pull her even closer, to run my fingers through her hair, is overwhelming. My heartbeat speeds up, skips a beat, and I lose my breath.

“Sammie, you keep doing this and you’ll rip your jersey again. And you know how coach hates that,” I say as her eyes open. She looks away and smiles.

“Yeah, yeah Jess. Funny. I won’t rip this one.”

Sammie slips her sweatshirt over her blue spaghetti-strap tank.

How I love those tanks.

She lets her hair down and places it in a loose bun. Thankfully our lockers were next to each other and I am her audience of one.

Please ask me for a ride. Please ask me for a ride.

“Jess, let’s get out of here. Give me a ride home?”

Score.

“Yeah. No doubt. I just have to get one last thing out of my locker. Wait for me by my car. I’m parked out front,” I say as I touch her shoulder and give it a small squeeze.

She smiles and walks out of the locker room. I sit down on the bench to collect my thoughts. I stare down at my sneakers and retie my laces.

She is the girl who lives in my heart.

I take a sip of my lime Powerade, gather my things, and march out.

The stale, humid air hits me with a vengeance. It is unseasonably warm for April. The perfect weather to drive with the windows down. I love the way the breeze flows through Sammie’s hair.

And there she is, eyes shut, leaning against my car with her headphones. Her foot taps along with whatever song is playing.

“Finally, Jess. Took you long enough.” She fiddles with her shirt as she smirks. Goosebumps form on my arms with her small, playful shove.

Please touch me again.

She slips her headphones around her neck and shuts off her CD player. I pop open the trunk so we can put our gear in. Our bags align, perfectly intricate, fitting like puzzle pieces. I run over to the passenger side and open the door.

“Wow, do I get to pick the music too?” she winks at me.

“Nah, I actually have a CD mix I want you to listen to. You mind?”

I pull down my visor and skim through my collection. I worked on this mix for a week and couldn’t wait to have her listen. I feed the CD into the player, adjust the volume, and hit play. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” starts playing.

“Oh my God! I love this song,” she says as she raises the volume. She rolls down her window and closes her eyes. She inhales a deep breath and lets it out, bobbing her head. A slight smirk forms on her face. Her hold over me was in her smile. It’s captivating. One smirk, one smile, the formation of speech, even the way she chews gum makes me weak in the knees.

I swerve the car, realizing I’ve been driving without looking.

Get it together, Jess.

Sammie transferred to my high school last year. And since the first day she walked into softball try-outs, I have been intrigued by her, captured under her spell. Dramatic, I know. But at some point in our friendship, we bonded on a level that started to creep beyond platonic. We had never spoken about it, but I need her to know that for me, it’s more than just friends.

“Jess, whatever happened with that girl, Christina?” Sammie asks while adjusting the volume to the music.

“Christina…Christina…Oh! The girl from Richmond High. Nah, that wasn’t going anywhere. She was nice and all, but she lacked something.” In my peripheral, I can see Sammie’s expression shift.

We pull up to a red light and I readjust my rear-view mirror. I glance over at Sammie. She happens to be looking straight at me and our eyes meet. Her hand reaches over and she brushes her fingers on my eyebrows, one at a time. She held my cheek for a fleeting moment, drops her hand, and smiles.

Please touch me again. Like, please.

“She lacked something? Really? I thought you guys were getting somewhere. You know, vibing or whatever,” Sammie says with a bit of disgust.

“She’s awesome Sam, but she’s missing-”

“-something, yeah I heard you before. So, it’s a no-go.”

She’s not you.

“No-go. Back to the drawing board.”

We talked about everything. Sammie and me. And every time we approached the subject of relationships, I was the project, the one that we invested time into finding the perfect girl for.

Sammie dated a bit. I think her last relationship was with the captain of the girls’ varsity soccer team, but that ended pretty quickly. Some people assumed she and I were dating. We were always together, in and out of school. But we never acknowledged the rumors.

I’m waiting for you Sammie.

“Did you say something?” Sammie lowers the volume all the way and leans in closer.

“Me? No. Was I thinking out loud? Nope. I said nothing. Nothing at all.”

“Jess chill. It was just a question.” Chuckling, Sammie reaches over to raise the volume as I reached for the knob. For a moment, our fingers touch. “My Own Worst Enemy” came on. We both belt out the lyrics from memory, singing to the steering wheel and dashboard together.

“Someone had a case of nostalgia when making this mix, I see,” says Sammie. She clears her throat. “Jess, I wanted to-”

“Sam, you remember that night a few months back when you couldn’t take another moment of yelling at home? And you called me, and I came to you, took you home with me. You know, the first night you stayed over?” My hands are starting to sweat, and I stretch my neck.

She let her hair down and starts to fidget with the beads and car freshener hanging down on the rear-view mirror.

“Yes, I do. If it wasn’t for you…why?”

“I felt something that night. When I was holding you, something started to happen. I mean, Sammie what I’m trying to say is, I-”

Sammie’s Nextel chirps. Her mother, demanding to know where she is, commands her to come home now. Her body became rigid and she grabs my knee.

“I’m almost home, Ma,” Sammie chirps back. “Jess, love, I’m sorry. Can we finish this conversation later? My mom has been on my case since last week when she caught me skipping out on math class.”

I park in front of her building and turn the engine off. A wave of nausea subsides as we gather our belongings and walk to the back entrance of the building.

“No sweat. Tomorrow before the game we’ll talk. Listen, if you need to crash with me tonight let me know and I’ll Superman it to you, cool?”

We place our foreheads together, as we usually do when we have to leave each other. Sammie is a couple inches shorter than me, so she always has to tiptoe up a bit to reach. She places both hands on my shoulders and kisses my cheek.

Kiss me again.

                                                           ***

It’s the warmup before the big game. Jitters all around. We are playing Townsend Harris for the semi-finals place in our league. Coach came into the locker room, gave her usual pep talk, and summons us to start heading to the field. I hang back, waiting for an opportunity to talk to Sammie.

She is right outside of the locker room cage with her bat, warming up and taking practice swings.

“You should angle your right shoulder a bit more. Lift your left elbow up a bit more too.” I walk over to her and smile. She took softball as seriously as I did. That’s one of the things I love about her.

“Show me?” Sammie gets into a relaxed batter’s stance position and glances my way.

I align my body with hers- my torso to her back. I place my hands over hers, one at a time and gently shift her body into a perfect batter’s stance. Her body shivers the closer and tighter we get.

“Like this,” Sammie whispers.

“Almost.”

I let go of my left hand and place it on her stomach, pulling her in even closer to me. She leans her head back. Her smell is intoxicating, and I can no longer resist, no longer keep my eyes open. My face and lips graze her neck, taking her in.

Her arms fall, the bat hitting the floor. I kiss the nape of her neck and migrate higher, to her cheek. We face each other, my arms pulling her in as close as we can be and I kiss her. With my hands on her back, her body relaxes. Grabbing her neck, the tension, the passion, the warm love releases. We kiss without breathing, without thinking.

Her fingers looped at the belt line in my pants as she pulls me in closer and we collided on the wall. I taste her sweet lip gloss; I feel her urgency. Two sets of lips, speaking a language only lovers understand.

This is really happening.

She pulls away to take a breath, and leans her forehead on mine.

“Took you long enough,” Sammie whispers playfully.

I grab her face in my hands and look into her eyes. The eyes of the girl who holds my heart.

“It was worth the wait.”

I brush her lips with my tongue and kiss her gently.

She grabs my hand and leads me out of the locker room. And here we are, hand-in-hand, ready to play the game we love, together.

____

Alex Torres was born and raised in Queens, New York. She is currently a senior in The City University of New York studying creative writing. She writes on themes of love and sexuality, relationships, and mystery/horror.

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