the same gold: part three

"Let's get faded and find some music."

That had been the official invitation. And maybe it was something about the word "faded" that edged her into "yes" territory. No one had ever invited her to get faded. Not in so many words (and words were everything). Faded sounded like just rewards for getting successfully past a difficult time. Faded like the pastels of sunset, deliciously cool after a long hot day. Faded like forgetting.

Yes, faded sounded just about perfect - so she said yes. After that, there were only two decisions to make: what pill to take (they'd agreed to party together, but launch solo) and what to wear. Both were easy enough: nothing crazy and nothing fancy.

Jeans. A crewneck top with thumbholes. Chunky white sneakers and a puffer. See how casually I am taking this? she hoped her clothes said. See how hard I am not trying? Dressing up or dressing sexy was absolutely out of the question. She'd feel ridiculous.

She'd suggested The Roosevelt, a renovated depression-era hotel on the far end of the Boulevard. It offered options: sprawling lobby with tufted leather sectionals; poolside lounge with DJ and tropical-themed bar; swanky speakeasy with cushy booths lining a single, perfectly restored bowling lane. Whatever vibe they found themselves falling into, The Roosevelt could accommodate.

Not that it mattered; they would leave after two minutes anyway.

She gets there first. Arranges herself, puffer-less with legs crossed, on one of the oversized lobby sectionals. Breathing deeply as the high kicks in. Breathing quickly when she spots him across the room.

"Hey." Big, boyish smile. Plops down unceremoniously next to her. Gives her a one-armed, sideways hug. It's an awkward angle but his touch feels different than anytime before. They'd shared dozens of quick hugs over the years. The difference is that this one doesn't need a chaperone or a curfew. This hug is an unopened envelope that can contain whatever they want.

He's already high too; already restless. "Let's get out of here," he says, offering his hand. "Let's go make some mayhem." She takes his hand self-consciously before dropping it a minute later. As much as she loves his conspiratorial, mischievous tone, her hands are not her strong suit. She isn't ready to let go of her insecurities quite yet. It won't be long now, and the pill will do away with them altogether - but not yet.

On the street outside they assess their surroundings. The Boulevard this far west isn't particularly crowded. If they head east and dive into the thick of things, they risk the throng of bumbling, gawking tourists harshing their buzz. So they go back into the hotel. Clamber upstairs to the speakeasy, joking unsuccessfully with the stone-faced bouncer, who unamusedly lets them into a bar thumping with shitty (to them) hip hop. They frown at one another dramatically, covering their ears as if in pain.

"Ugh. God. This music."

"Yeah, no. There is not enough liquor in the world to make this tolerable."

Back on the street now, the chilly night air welcome on their hot cheeks. They're going higher now. Soon they'll be absolute chatterboxes. Best to hole up somewhere warm and comfortable.

"I know," he says, taking her hand again. "Powerhouse." She's never heard of it but he nods confidently. "Super old school. Right at Highland. Let's check it out." They walk a couple of short blocks before a traffic light stops them. Standing close together, all the potential of a starry night's worth of adventure laid out before them, he suddenly kisses her forehead. And it's everything, that kiss - everything she needs to know. It lasts exactly the right amount of time. It contains exactly the right amount of pressure. It hits her at exactly the right spot, because she's now realizing he is exactly the right height.

And, most importantly, that is his first kiss. Not some fumbling, grasping, too-early and too-deep attempt at having her. This forehead kiss is barely a suggestion. It is sweetness and warmth and six years of harmless flirtation wrapped in the thinnest, most delicate lace of maybe. It says: I am so glad to be here right now. I appreciate this. I'm not going to rush this. 

It says everything that the next fifteen hours would say, in fact. And then the next two dates after that.

---

Haha, omg, I am doing that thing that I have done before which is take a single night and make eleventy billion posts out of it. I'm sorry, I know that's so extra. It isn't about being dramatic so much as I'm trying to get some writing in before crashing. I'm on a seven day week since the younguns' are traveling right now, so the game for the time being is get in a wee bit of posting when I can. Hope it's not too obnoxious, and I promise there is some wonderful payoff. Having the time of my life and am very, very happy right now.  - e