Things might have worked out between us if I didn’t like you. Or better yet, if I were indifferent. In either of those happier conditions, my heartwould not be aflutter. I would not be primping in my car, nervously waiting for the rain to stop.

If I were indifferent, I would be cool and confident. This blood-red lipstick would require no touch-ups. You and I would meet for our date in the restaurant lobby. I would let you take my coat from my shoulders, let you lay your hand on the small of my back, and let you guide me to a quiet booth. We would look over the menu and give our order to the waiter. Then there would be an awkward time during which we would take turns looking at each other, then away.

At last, you would break the silence. “Well, some rain…”

If I were indifferent, I’d flirt. I’d touch your hand, perhaps blow a kiss across the table. It would float through the air like a diplomat with a peace plan. In no time, you would want to know everything about me. I would pull you into the labyrinth of my charms and leave you to wander until you finally found the place where only tigers lurk.

I can tell you no lady lives there. I’ve rigged the age-old riddle to my advantage. Before you surmised your fate, you would be devoured.

But now I like you.

Some quaint and little-used part of myself feels it only fair to warn you. When the hot flush of attraction spreads through your belly and up your neck, take a drink of ice water and walk away.   […]

 

The story appeared in Sandhill Review, Volume XIV, 2013. It was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. ◾ Request full textSee all stories