I’ve always been the kind of girl who was looking for an adventure, never liking to stay still very much. I can remember the dark blue of the sky, the twinkle of the stars the night we rolled into that little North Carolina town. It was humid, but breezy, and the sky warned of rain on the horizon.
We were in a little bar, dark and cloudy, when I saw him across the room. His eyes were shining, dark brown, but almost as bright as those stars outside. We flitted around each other for a little while, cold beer bottles sweating in our hands, our tongues moist with the cheap drink that made the air around us feel more electrified than it would have otherwise.
There was a little band playing on stage, the twang of guitars and the melodic notes of a piano dancing around our heads, our bodies swaying in time with the music. It felt like heaven and it sounded like home.
When he finally walked up to me, his smile was almost blinding to my slightly drunk eyes. He told me his name and held his hand out, smiling again when I slipped my own hand into his and said hello.
“What’s a girl like you doing in a place like this?” I put a hand over my mouth and laughed at the cliche line, a well placed question he knew would get a chuckle out of me.
It wasn’t the first time we’d met, him and I. We’d found ourselves in the same places at the same time dozens of times over those last six months. He was like me, a boy looking for an adventure, a boy looking for something to make his heart race and his palms sweat.
When the band transitioned into a ballad, he leaned in close, his breath washing over my face as he asked me to dance. I laughed again, shaking my head. I didn’t dance with boys in dark bars, I didn’t get that close.
“Come on,” he grinned, snaking an arm around my waist, his palm landing on the small of my back.
“No one else is dancing,” I smiled up at him, his eyes were steady on mine, sparkling with amusement.
“So, we’ll be the only ones.”
I let out a breath and then shrugged. When I put my my arms around his neck, he laughed and shook his head no.
“We’re doing this the proper way.”
He reached up and took my hand, clasping our palms, pulling me closer. We swayed with the song, his eyes never leaving mine for a second.
When the band launched back into an upbeat song, we stayed that way, our hands together, our bodies touching. His palm on my back, holding me against him.
“Do you want to get out of here?”
He held my hand as we walked down a quaint little North Carolina street, the street lights still gas lamps. There were beautiful bushes full of beautiful flowers lining the sidewalks, old mansions converted into business spaces on either side of the street.
“Do you believe in fate?” He turned to look at me, the gas lamps mixed with the starry light making him glow. He looked like a dream, and maybe a nightmare wrapped into one.
“No,” I smiled, shaking my head. I believed in a lot of things, but fate wasn’t one of them. You make your own destiny, you make your own life.
“I do, I’m looking at her.”
The town square was like something out of a Charles Dickens novel, beautiful and old-timey. We walked to the old, marble water fountain in the center and we sat on the edge, looking down into the water, hundreds of pennies glinting up from the bottom.
“Here,” he said, reaching into his pocket and pulling our a few coins, a quarter, a dime and a penny. “Make a wish.”
I grinned, plucking the dime out of open palm and holding it between my fingertips. There were fireflies flitting round us, making his glow even brighter. There were fireflies in his eyes, in my heart. We were bright, we were shining.
“Are you going to make one, too?”
“I don’t have to.”
“And why not?”
“I’m here with you,” he shrugged. “What more could I want?”
When we walked into the Georgian style home that was converted into a bar, I was amazed at the beauty of it. It felt like walking into a party at an old friends house. Everything was elaborate and beautiful. I felt out of place and underdressed, but when he slipped his arm around my waist, smiled at me, and lead me towards the bar, I decided I didn’t really care much about those kind of things.
He ordered us a couple of drinks and then we sat a table in the corner, tucked away. When he leaned towards me and placed his hand on my knee, it felt like we were the only ones in the room.
“How long are you in town for?”
“Just tonight, I’m heading off tomorrow.”
I shrugged, taking a sip of the cocktail in my hand.
“Wherever the wind takes me.”
He studied my face, smiling.
“We’re the same, you know.”
“I think so.”
“Why is that?”
He reached over and took a strand of my hair between his fingers, twirling it.
“You’re looking for something.”
“Maybe,” I shrugged, lifting my drink to my mouth.
“Maybe I found it,” I smiled at him over the lip of my cocktail glass. He smiled back and I felt an army of tiny butterflies be released inside of me.
When he led me into his tiny, but fancy hotel room, I could still feel those butterflies dancing around, and I almost hated myself for it. I wasn’t this kind of girl. The kind to be victimized by a hoard of butterflies, the kind who ends up in a beautiful boys bed at the end of the night. The kind to give my heart away.
Maybe with him that’s exactly who I was. Maybe with him, I was who I was meant to be.
Maybe after this night, I’d never know, I’d never be that version of me again.