I was about half-way home from work, thinking about how nice it was that spring was finally coming: I could drive with the window open, it was staying light longer, and maybe I'd have some time to clear the debris from some of our flower beds. Just as I was thinking maybe I could even coax my husband into helping, the sleek black sedan in the lane in front of me did a little swerve. For a scary second it looked like he was going straight into on-coming traffic. Blowout was my first thought, if it could be called a thought. My second thought: something in the road, something he had to avoid, something I had to avoid: a hubcap, a deer, a child. My foot touched the brake, not pressing, not jamming down, but on the verge. An adrenaline rush surged through me. And then it was over. The sedan tucked itself safely back into the left lane of the suburban highway. Everything was okay. They way it was before. No obstacle. No danger. No problem. Whew! The panic subsided. I had that slightly hollow feeling in my tummy. An emptiness. A pang. The feeling was not so unlike what follows disappointment in love.
Though I had eased off the accelerator, I was right on the black car's tail. Traffic was light for a five o'clock afternoon, but this car in front of me wasn't keeping up with the flow. I strained to look through its rear window. A woman with dark curly hair nestled against the driver's shoulder. My eyes adjusted. She was doing something. Moving slightly, regularly. It took me only another moment to decide. She was fondling him.
I drove behind them contemplating the woman's touch. Were her fingers outside his clothes? The steady motion continued. I thought back to that jerk in the road. Had that been the moment her hand had slipped inside?
At the next intersection, the sedan eased into the left-turn lane. I stayed in my lane. Now I was right next to them as we waited for the light to change. Normally I'm a shy person. My husband claims there's a bold spot deep inside, but I don't believe him. In any event, I'm not one to stare. But I couldn't stop myself from looking over. I would have guessed these to be high school honeys, but they were clearly a little older than that. The woman might have been my age-young twenties, and the guy about the same. He was a tidy, stone-gray man with short hair, rimless glasses, and a blank expression. The bold black ringlets of the girl's hair danced slowly on the shoulder of her leather jacket as she moved her arm. I couldn't see her hands. I couldn't see his lap. If I'd had a mini-van, I thought, I could see what was happening down there.
The urge to see surprised me. I had both a desire and an understanding of what the woman was feeling. I could sense the heat and weight of the man's poise, the pulse of his control, and I was wondering whether its color was stone-gray, too, when the man turned slightly. He was looking right at me. His expression didn't change. We looked at each other. He must have said something to the woman, for she turned her head, regarded me for a moment, and then, an instant before turning back to her boyfriend, but without the slightest hint of insult, she pressed her lips together. She blew me a soft, serious, deliciously sensuous kiss.
I was trying to make sense of the kiss, if a kiss can be made sense of, when I heard a crescendo of car horns. Urgently bare noise. The left-turn traffic arrow was had come on, but the black sedan next to me had taken no heed of it. "Oh oh," I thought. "Maybe he's stalled." I felt a tender thrill as I waited for my green. Suddenly the sedan screeched forward, jabbing itself into my lane, and sped off straight down my road. Now I noticed something new: a passenger in the back seat. It was a young woman. It was me.
"Nice ride, huh?" the woman said from up front. She snuggled against the gray man, her hand still working, delving, but at last she turned her head so she could see me. Something about her expression made me feel what her fingers were feeling. When I breathed I could smell her coat-the wicked smell of supple leather.