“Stay on the phone,” he said. “There’s something in the mail here from you. I thought you might want hear my reaction when I read it.”
“Yes, I would like to hear your reaction,” I replied.
It was very hot, sweltering hot, and the power was off in my apartment. I shucked off my pants and lay on the bed. He made coming-home noises, unidentified clunks and knocks.
“There’s a dragonfly motif,” he said.
“Yes, there is.” I realized I was holding my breath. I took a deep one in, let it out.
He read it.
“I don’t know what to say.”
I held still. Somewhere far away my heart was beating. My face felt hot, my body very still.
“I think I’m… almost there,” he said.
I took another breath. “I don’t want you to say it until you’re ready to say it. Until you’re sure. I was waiting until I knew you felt the same way. But… well, the other night, you said that you were afraid about it being reciprocated, and I wanted to let you know… It just felt like we were playing a big game of chicken. I didn’t want to say it until… I just figured I would tell you.”
“How does your stomach feel right now?”
I paused, took stock. My body felt very still. I could feel my heartbeat in my hands, and my feet. “I can’t really feel my stomach. It’s more in my extremities… oh. There’s my stomach. Yes. It feels kind of flip-floppy.”
Another pause. My face still felt hot.
“I remember telling you that it would happen. I knew that it was going to happen, I knew a long while ago. And… it happened.”
“It sounds like you’re talking about a car crash or something. But really. It’s just the opposite.”
“Yes. It’s something good.”
“You don’t have to–” I stopped myself. “There’s no hurry. I just wanted to let you know.” I looked at the spider plant on its stand next to the window. The air was hot and close, and I could feel the beating of my heart. “You’ll notice that I’m avoiding saying the words myself.”
“I’d rather tell you to your face. But… I do love you.”
And then it was my heart itself filling up.
“And I love you.” I thought I would cry. I wished he were there so I could put my arms around him. But he was on the other side of town.
“So we should figure out which movie we’re going to see,” I said.
I walked through the heat to the T with a silly smile on my face, bouyant. I played a very girly song about four times in a row and walked to its beat. An hour later, when I saw him in person, the initial swelling had subsided. But I was still happy. He was standing at the entry to the movie theater reading Time. I put my arms around his neck and kissed him.
“Tell me to my face,” I said.
“Let go of me,” he said. I took my arms from around his neck.
He looked at me from that high-up place where he goes sometimes. “I love you,” he said.
“I love you,” I replied. I felt shy.
We kissed. And walked in to the cool, cool theater and watched Kung Fu Panda.