Young Lovers

He first saw her during coffee hour, in the Catholic church on Second and Thirteenth. She was filled with spirit, mass having been just finished. She wore her golden cross outside of her beige vest. She approached him and walked passed him, saying nothing. This was the moment he saw her. This was the moment he fell in love.

In repose, he dreamt of her smooth skin and the way her hair was loose. He lost sleep; he day-dreamed; Mauricio Alvarez thought not of business, school, or otherwise, only of Demartez.

He as of yet had not learned her name. This was a confounded realization. He attended mass the that Sunday, followed by coffee hour in order to learn her name.

She was present, as he had hoped. Her hair, loosely tousled and to the right side, was brown as he remembered. She wore purple today, an airy shawl, reminiscent of lavender in spring. She entered and looked both ways. Mauricio caught a glimpse of her profile. A healthy, round face, with sunken temples and a prominent chin. This was when he grew scared. He grew scared not of rejection, but of his own manliness. He was seventeen and tall, with patchy scruff under his chin. He thought she might be attracted to men, not boys.

She thought of him a man. He had introduced himself as Mauricio and took her hand in his and kissed it. She smiled and turned red.

At twenty-four years old, she had still not found a proper man. Mauricio knew this. She had told him one evening. They were at the beach. The breeze blew gently and the waters surged powerfully. Sand stuck to their feet and in between their toes. They sat and watched the moon rise high into the sky and told one another of secrets they never before shared.

She was scared of the sea. Demartez told Mauricio she was scared of what she could not see.

“So,” he said. “You’re scared of the dark?”

“No,” she said. “Just the things I cannot see.”

“What’s the difference,” he said.

“Scared of the dark is one thing,” she said. “The dark can’t hurt you. What hides in darkness can.” She sat on their buttocks, in the cool sand, leaning back on their arms. Her legs were extended.

Mauricio said, “Come into the water with me.”

“It would be cold, no?” she said.

“Not too cold,” he said.

“Okay, but stay close to me.”

Mauricio agreed. He felt ambivalent and triumphant. He removed his shirt and khakis, and she removed her dress. They entered the water and let it crash on their bodies. It was cold and Demartez hissed between her teeth. Mauricio took her by her arms and guided her deeper into the water.

“It’s been ages since I’ve been in the ocean,” said Demartez.

“I’m glad we’re together,” said Mauricio.

They kissed then, under the starlight. In the darkness of the water they kissed. Demartez was not afraid. She felt secure. Never had a man touched her like that.

Mauricio guided her back onto shore. They lay in the sand and kissed. Then, Mauricio’s hand went low and touched the puffy part of Demartez’s underwear.

“Yes,” she said.

It was cold out of the water. Mauricio was having trouble. His temper was rising. He had not the gravity a man would have under the circumstances; and he cursed under his breath.

“I’m not able,” he said.

“Why not?”

“I’m not able,” he said.

He was frustrated and put on his clothes. They sat beneath the starry sky and spoke lightly.

“I was being impatient and ugly,” she said. “I’m sorry.”

“That’s okay,” he said, and he doubted another opportunity would arise. He was angry and considered himself a boy.

“Maybe another time?”

“You’re instigating this,” Mauricio said.

She said nothing more and looked ahead toward the horizon. She had never had a man. She wanted one desperately. After Mauricio had arrived she wanted one desperately. She wanted a man with strong arms. She wanted a man desperately.

Mauricio was thirsty. He had not brought anything to drink. He did not care how Demartez felt. He did not care if she was thirsty.

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