Andi, part 3

23 Jan

“Okay, you can look now.”

Andi’s back, scrofulous with acne scars, faced me. She waded out deeper into the silted water. Small waves, the wake of passing motorboats, splashed at her uncovered thighs. One arm covered her breasts. Absurdly, I focused on her only tattoo, something Sanskrit written across the rise of her buttocks, on the left side below the waistline. The muddy river rhythmically obscured and revealed it. Later that night, when she was naked again, I asked her about it, which is how I know it was Sanskrit. I think she also told me what it meant. That part I forgot.

With the arm that was not cradling her chest, she waved cheerfully at whatever cat-calling watercraft happened to notice her. Smiling, she turned and waved to me, backing shoulder-deep into the river and letting both her arms float. The river licked her breasts, covering but not hiding her dark nipples just beneath the water line. “What do you think?”

It was a good question. I thought critically about her body. Really, she didn’t look any worse than I did, and clearly she felt far more comfortable with herself. I supposed that was a good thing.

I felt some mild terror at the though of getting back into a car driven by this person, a sensation that overwhelmed any sense I had of eroticism. The letters-to-Penthouse narrative of this situation demanded that I also disrobe and, y’know, get in the fucking water, but instead I leaned against a tree and watched her, pretending that none of this was unusual. As far as she knew, I spent every weekend afternoon watching half-sloshed girls skinny dip. I thought about how we’d spent nearly an hour driving around drinking off-brand beer from the type of can that’s sold only in gas stations.

I thought about her. Like job interviews, usually first dates are about a carefully managed image. Her carefully managed image involved drunken public nudity. I wondered what her other boyfriends had been like.

“It’s great,” I yelled back to her. It seemed like a safe enough answer.

“I’m coming out. Close your eyes again.”

Exasperated, I sighed and closed my eyes, listening to her climb up the bank to where I stood. She moved herself close to me so I could feel the water dripping from her body. Suddenly, I became sharply, unavoidably conscious that absolutely no one knew exactly where I was. This is when it happens, I thought. This is when she stabs me and pushes me into the river. Wet, bare girl pressed against my body.

She took her clothes from me.

“Dry me,” she said.


She tugged at the hoodie I wore. “Dry me,” she repeated.

Keeping my eyes faithfully closed, I took off my hoodie and, between her accusations of peeking and my protestations of innocence, mopped at her body, muffling my hands in what I helplessly assumed to be the protocol for the situation. Was I supposed to grope her? It seemed possible. There was no way to tell, and no way to predict her reactions. Everything feels bigger than it is when your eyes are closed. I toweled the thick cloth of my hoodie over soft, vast regions that could have been arms, back or breasts, and probably at some point were all of these things. She stepped back.

“Stop trying so hard,” she said.

“What?” Me? Startled, I opened my eyes.

She remained barefooted, but she had shrugged herself back into the dress she’d been wearing earlier. Stepping carefully around the roots and rocks on the ground, she came close to me again and kissed me. The kiss was long and soft, and despite the day thus far, it didn’t feel insane.

“You might get lucky anyway.” She turned and started up the path that led back to where we’d parked. “Best first kiss ever,” she said. “Good job, everyone.”


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