Connecting - Your Story 58 Finalist

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TiffanyLuckey
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Connecting - Your Story 58 Finalist

Postby TiffanyLuckey » Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:23 pm

Connecting

I know the suitcase on my comforter belongs to her.

I saw her at the Dallas airport while waiting for my connecting flight. My chair faced the windows looking out on the runways. She sat facing me. When I looked up from my phone I only intended to watch the plane taxi into the terminal, but that lighting that always looks cold no matter the weather filtered around her like fog on a sunny morning in the redwood forests. The line of her hair falling behind her shoulders drew my eyes away from the Boeing 747. Wires snaked from her ears to her lap before looping back up to her phone, but my eyes arrested at the point where they met, just below the V of her shirt. Then I looked up.

As though waiting for this, she looked up too. Our eyes met, alighting on each other like bees on flowers. Heat bloomed up my neck and my eyes fluttered to the window, clumsy as a butterfly just out of the cocoon. In my periphery I saw her wait a beat before looking down at her phone.

Only after the flight announcement, as I shouldered my carry-on, did I chance another peek in her direction. Her hair, the color of butterweed flowers, lay so flat against her skull that it looked like a wet seal’s head. I wanted to run my fingers through that silkiness, but I worried it might catch my clumsy butterfly glance like a spider’s web. I turned away.

As soon as I unzip the suitcase, I know. The breeze, as I flip it open, smells like powdered foundation and cocoa butter. I look at the wrinkled but folded clothes and wonder: What does she think of the squashed shorts and tees in my suitcase, the bras and panties wadded in the netting sewed to the inside? Does it excite her or disgust her?

My stomach swims around like a trout in a fish tank. I felt this fish in Professor Taylor’s class last year, whenever I looked at his hair curling around his neck or his tight jeans when he leaned over his desk. The trout showed up a lot in high school, when I watched the baseball jocks and one six-foot drama geek. But never for a cheerleader.

The trout appeared on the flight, too, when I walked down the aisle to the bathroom. She sat near the back of the plane and ambushed me. She still had her phone and looked up as though expecting me. Up close I could see the lashes fringing her eyes like tule reeds. Freckles sprinkled her cheeks like pebbles that had rolled down the slope of her nose. When she smiled, the trout leaped into my ribcage, slapping my heart.

I touch a bra rimmed with powder and folded next to a stack of pants, and I remember leaving the bathroom determined not to look at her again. But my eyes landed on her cap sleeve almost immediately. As I passed I followed the V of her shirt to her cleavage. Now I wonder whether she just powders the cleavage that shows or all the way down to her nipples.

I know the smell on her suitcase belongs to her. I finger the wrinkles of a blouse and the hem of a skirt. But I don’t unfold anything. It’s enough just to breathe in another woman.

I pick up the plastic cover attached to the zipper. The slip of paper inside has lines for name, phone number, and address. She left everything blank but the number. Finding my phone, I dial, checking after each number to be sure. My thumb hovers over the call icon and the hairs on my back prickle with sweat. I wonder what her voice will sound like, what she’ll say, if she’ll ask for my name. The area code tells me all I need to know about how far away she lives. All I have to do is call.

The static in my thumb activates the call icon without touching the screen. I can hear it ringing. My mouth is dry as sand on a hot day. All I have to do is ask for an address. I don’t move. The call connects.

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