|Phoebe & Chris
by Portia J. ©
They had always been in love with each other, ever since Phoebe was in seventh grade and he was in tenth. Of course, they would never say anything about it at that time; it was unacceptable for a tenth grader to date a girl in junior high school. But they both knew, and felt an odd kinship as they sometimes conversed in the hallways, because they were very much alike-shy and rather quiet, but well-liked and never friendless, foreigners. She was American, and he half-Polish, so they stood out in the little Costa Rican high school.
Chris was captain of the soccer team, and Phoebe was editor-in-chief of the junior high-high school newspaper. They were both much sought after, because other than a quiet charm and pensive ways they were very attractive.
She was always petite; around five feet three, and had lovely Welsh features; sleepy long-lashed hazel eyes, a heart shaped face, and a pale complexion with touches of rose in the cheeks. Her long, dark brownish-red hair hung to her elbows, and she carried herself with the beautiful posture of a ballet dancer.
Chris was much more European looking than she; he had all the grace of six feet one, and he was skinny, with broad shoulders and a slim waist. He was slightly stooped over, and gave you the impression his large-looking hands carried most of the weight in his body. He had a narrow, what would have been a stern face; with squinty green eyes; provocative eyebrows and a tight-lipped mouth. His hair was a light, honey-glazed brown; wavy and cut in a British-rock star style, long bangs and shaggy lengths. Phoebe loved the way it fell so mop-like in his face and fantasized about smoothing it back herself.
All through her high school years and all through his first college ones Phoebe and Chris dated other people half-heartedly and kept their virginity; a hard thing because guys actually leaped her and Chris couldn't walk into a drug store without being hit on. They both felt like a tension between them had been left unresolved when he graduated, and constantly thought about each other.
* * * * *
Two years hence after Phoebe had graduated from high school. She waiting in the national airport, one hour and forty-five minutes before her flight to Barbados. She was a little-known but successful sculptor, in her second year of college, studying art. After her first piece was sold, she decided to buy the a flat there by the ocean, where she could relax when Costa Rica got too full of cars, cell phones, and noise. It so happened that Chris was also there, in the conjoining gate. He was flying to Mexico to persuade his younger brother Jon to come back. He had graduated as a marine biologist, and was now living single, in the capital.
Little change had passed in both of them; Phoebe's taste of clothing and hair was a bit different, since she liked the more-practical-for-an-artist style. She was wearing a simple cut of dark jeans and a long, half-unbuttoned cardigan in red, her favorite color. She was still utterly stunning, Chris thought was he gazed at her from across. He wore glasses now, and his face had lost the teenage-boy smoothness. His chin now had that too-much-work-to-finish-shaving look. He was still shy, but mustered up his courage to go saunter over to her gate, where he casually plunked himself down in the seat facing her.
She was reading an issue of Cosmopolitan and occasionally sneering at it. He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and looked straight at her. She looked up briefly, and as she saw him staring at her a torrent of junior-high memories came back to her...the first time they saw each other...when he had banged her head on his locker door by accident and brought her a piece of ice...when she had interviewed him for the newspaper. He smiled that devilish, wide grin he had. "Hi, Phoebe."
* * * * *
"Chris Adamski, right?" she said and smiled back at him, not losing her cool for a minute. "I remember you."
Then he heard himself say: "Look at you though - successful something or another, all grown up."
Phoebe pretended to blush and giggled a Geisha laugh, a quirk of hers since he knew her. "Same to you. Would you like to go get some coffee? Where are you going, incidentally?"
They caught up a bit at a shop with extremely mediocre cappuccinos. He ate a jelly doughnut, which she remembered he liked, and told him so. He was flattered, but countered with the way she shredded paper straw-covers.
What he doesn't know is that I only do it when I'm nervous, thought Phoebe, but continued smiling at him. "So where is Jon? The last I saw of him was Graduation ceremony with the Valdez twins squabbling over him." Jon was her age and they had gone to school together. Chris sighed. "He's running a fertilizer business in Mexico, and he had 'words' with my old man so he refuses to come back here." She laughed her head off. "Fertilizer? That kid wanted to be a tennis pro."
Chris dismissed him with his hand. "Anyway, I would much rather go to Barbados than D.F.... it's too polluted for me."
Phoebe buttered her second ladyfinger. "So why don't you? I could always use a second hand around the place. It's plaster and bones." She kept her eyes lowered.
He laughed, and said: "I would have to leave this delightful conversation to buy a ticket."
"I could probably bear it, if you left me memento of yours." She smiled up at him. Her teeth had always been very white.
In the next second, Chris felt as if his courage had doubled and then left him.
"Okay," he said.
Gently, Chris leaned over and kissed her, for the first time. Her lips were as soft as the seemed. She closed her eyes briefly and he left her, feeling a bit dazed himself.
"You knew I was always head over feet for you, right?" Chris asked her as she took a piece of his chocolate bar. The plane was starting to coast on the runway.
Phoebe answered, "I had my doubts when the head cheerleader started to get the hots for you."
"Who was the head cheerleader?"
They kissed again, and talked about their crushes on each other. Chris told her about the time she had run into him right before she had P.E., and wearing the tiny uniform the girls wore. He remembered that all the other seventh-graders had legs like sticks or pasty pillowcases, but she had curvaceous, toned calves and gorgeous knees. "I did fall in love with your face first," he said. "When we were having 'a moment of silence' in the auditorium for that teacher who's baby had died, you looked like those sad angels in Christmas cards."
"I did?" Phoebe laughed. "I really fell in love with you when you wore that big fleece sweater over your bare skin and it showed the muscles in your back. Or when you knocked down that guy in a soccer match by mistake and helped him up with your hand."
They felt so comfortable talking, it was really unlike anything Phoebe had experienced since he left high school.
When they reached Bridgetown, it was absolutely sweltering. They climbed into a cab and gave the driver the address.
They unloaded their bags at her empty, cool flat. Phoebe changed into a sundress and Chris exchanged his grimy shirt for a fresh one. They went downtown for something to eat. No meat, because they were both vegetarians. They settled for some salads and then ice cream.
They walked around, refreshed and invigorated. Phoebe's flat was located in a better part of the capital, where there were no real rich people but more artists and nice local families. The sun beat on them, but they were draining the Costa Rican humidity from their bones and didn't care.
When dusk began to fall, they went back to the dim apartment and sat on the porch, where there was a straw mat, quietly talking. In the flat below them, they could hear the strains of a guitar, which began to play a strange, romantic melody that sounded familiar but not quite there. Chris slipped his arm around her waist and she leaned against his shoulder. By and by he rubbed her strong back, occasionally reaching her shoulder blades. They were silent, listening to the crickets chirp and a mother lazily scolding her boy in a monotone. By the time it was pitch black outside, he slipped one of her dress straps down below her shoulder.
She stirred, and looked at him, but his facial expressions were indecipherable.
Boldly, she turned to him and slipped her other dress strap down, looking straight at him. Her sundress was starch white, with buttons all down the front. Chris carefully undid each one without fumbling fingers, and the cooling night air tingled Phoebe's skin and made her pulse race. The breeze ruffled her hair and she reached for his neck. His breathing came faster and as he kissed her, she ripped his clothing off and they suddenly felt for the first time the entirety of their flesh-the warm pressure of the person they adored. He lifted her up and felt how small she was, swung her around to the occasionally broken guitar tune and gently laid her on their discarded clothes.
As they made love they reached the Caribbean's starry sky and came back to their little rickety wooden porch.
They had always been in love with each other.
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