We used to walk along this shore, telling secrets and lies even we liars believed.
During those cold December walks, we’d watch Winter grow its skin across the pond, pressing down the rippling mirrors that would catch your eye and pass its attention to the ones next to it. And they, in turn, to their neighbors, echoing it all back again.
And when the snow began to fall, light as a lover’s touch, it would cover the sheet of ice with lace, teasing us to guess if we could trust the ice to support us yet if we dared step upon it together.
“C’mon,” you’d always tease me as I tapped on the ice with my foot, “Where’s your sense of adventure? Haven’t you ever taken a chance in your life?”
And I told you I was taking a chance right then. To which you’d reply, “No you’re not. And believe me, you won’t fall.”
I think you meant fall through the ice. I thought of it as falling another way you’d never worry about, but I did. And wanted to.
I wanted to know what those others knew, the hidden knowledge that I’d only imagined. I wanted to feel the pleasure with you that others felt, but was afraid to take that step. Walk after walk, winter after winter.
“C’mon, take my hand,” you say and I finally feel the warmth of your hand in mine. You pull me toward you and grasp my arm as if we are a couple strolling along the edge of the ice-covered pond. But I know we’re really just two people sharing the same path, the same conversation, the same lies.
“All right,” you say, “I’m going to walk you out a bit and you go the rest of the way.”
“No, I don’t think so. I’d prefer if we just walk along like this,” I say and put my hand over yours as you squeeze my arm. The wind blows the snow across the ice as if it’s some ghostly skater carving edges like your fingernails are carving little moons into my hand.
You pull me closer and lean in to give me a kiss on the cheek, your lips warm, your cheek cold, eyelashes netted with snowflakes, the sound snatched by the wind as it whooshes by my ears.
“Would you do it for me? For a real kiss?” you say, gazing into my eyes with an eagerness you’ve never offered me before. And I’m not sure what beckons me more, the ice, those snow-laced eyes, tempting lips, or my heart.
“I’ll go with you. I promise. I just want to see you take a chance for once. Just so you can learn that sometimes the lessons we learn from them can last a lifetime.”
I want to do this so much. Not just because of the prize I could potentially receive upon completion of this dare, but also because I need to know what stops me. Always stops me.
“Okay, but I need some more incentive,” I say, suddenly demonstrating more nerve than I had in years.
“C’mere, you,” you say and mush your mouth to mine with a little lick of my lip on the way back to a smile I’m afraid will melt the ice before I get my chance to walk my way to the paradise I think you’re offering.
“Okay, let’s go. I’m getting kinda excited about this,” you say, grasping my arm again.
“Whoa, not so fast,” I say.
You tap the ice and say, “Nothing to worry about. And if you’re still nervous, just close your eyes and I’ll walk you out.”
“Uh, all right. Maybe if I could have just a little more of that warm courage you’re dispensing, I wouldn’t be so…you know,” I say with fear and lust battling in my gut like glandular gladiators.
“Close your eyes, silly,” you say and plant a big wet kiss on my cheek, squeezing me so close I almost can’t catch my breath.
And then you drop your arms away, leaving me with the echo of that kiss ringing in my head.
“Just a couple more steps, love, then you can come back. I’m waiting right here for you.”
I turn and see you standing closer to the bank now. Your face impassive, like a marble Madonna, not giving any thought, desire, care. Just…waiting.
But I still can hear your kiss and the sound such a long kiss makes, soft, warm and wet, a constricted inhalation, yet sucking in the best of life, giving back such gratification. What a sweet memory today will be.
That is until I also remember it’s the sound thin ice makes as it rips open, sharp and cold, making one gasp, sucking him under, submerged, waking him to the knowledge almost no one else knows. What’s going on beneath that cold white facade? Now I know. Now I know it all.
“You’re welcome,” I thought I heard.
No, love, it was my pleasure.