We were in Spanish II together in high school. April was a senior and I a junior, but that didn't matter. I don't remember exactly how it started, but she was interested and so was I. What I most remember is wanting and frustration. That's not too unusual in high school, of course, but what I couldn't figure out is what she wanted. One day hot, one day cold, once a promising afternoon under a tree on the hillside behind my house, no one around, the perfect moment, her in my arms, an extra button on her blouse undone and inviting exploration, and then—nothing. I was kissing her but she wasn't really kissing me. Her lips were closed and her mouth was tight, rigid. It was like kissing a block of wood.
It ended eventually, or so I thought. After April there were other girls. Sometimes yes, sometimes no, sure, but more often than not girls who were just as interested as I was. I learned, slowly, that making her happy would make me happy. I learned that generosity is often returned. But when I saw April, and we did see each other now and then, it always turned out the same way. She wouldn't let me go but she didn't seem to want to go anywhere with me, either.
In college, finally, April walked away. "There's someone else," she said. "I'm going to marry him."
For years I went to sleep murmuring her name. April.
I recognized her handwriting immediately when I saw the envelope. "I went to my 20th anniversary reunion, and I was thinking about you. Remember Mrs. K. from Spanish? She's retired now, but she was there. Then I saw your wife's note in last month's alumni magazine and I knew where you were and I decided to write."
Dear god, what is it about high school girlfriends, anyway? There was something authentic, something real there, I knew it. The squirrels in my stomach told me so. It was like walking up to the girl's door on the night of the prom and knowing you're going to have to talk to her father before you can get your hands on her, all over again. In the case of April, there was still something special between us. I knew it, or at least that's what I told myself.
A second chance. I wasn't getting any younger, so maybe it was my last chance. What was she like now? The photo she sent of herself and her toddler daughter didn't tell me much. April's response to my picture of the three of us, my wife, our own toddler daughter and myself was, "A charming family, I'm sure." A charming family? I'm sure? What the hell was that supposed to mean? I remembered, for only a moment, how angry and frustrated I'd been by April, but always attracted to her in spite of that. Now lust and old bittersweet memories blinded me.
When we met the following summer, our "old friends" hug, tentative at first, my hand stroking her back lightly, morphed after only the tiniest hesitation into something else, our lips glued together, forever, it seemed like, our arms tight around each other and our bodies pressed together. I was in love again. Or lust. Or something. I was also limp, but I ignored that.
Despite my confusion, and fogged with yearning while ignoring the irony of declaring right then that our respective marriages were strong, we made plans for a beach picnic. A few days later, April snorted when her daughter asked us on the way out of the house where were we going and what were we going to do. "Walk and talk and have a picnic," I answered. Fuck our brains out on the beach.
"Let me look at you," she said as she took me, barely stirring, between her fingers and turned me one way and the other. Checking for sores, right, April? She let me flop back. "Beautiful." I stood up and walked nude to the water's edge, the sun burning my tender under-exposed parts. We were at least a mile from the crowd and hadn't seen a soul in the half-hour or so we'd been there, but I wanted to be sure. I scanned the bluff behind us. No one.
.... There is more of this story ...