As originally published in Avescope Magazine: Awakening

The back of her knees were damp, as were her underarms and chest. She pulled back separating their lips. Something was different. Before Lucinda could get too tangled in her thoughts, Dave had tangled his fingers into her hair. He brought her face back to his. Lips collided, tongues intertwined. Tip to root they were connected. 

Afterward Lucinda rolled onto her back. Her body glistened with sweat. Her whole body damp. Dave’s sweat had mixed with her’s. As Dave crashed onto the bed she felt droplets splash on her arm. Lucinda enjoyed Dave. From the now physical aspects of their friendship, to time spent debating ideas over dinner. They had discussed health care reform over Cuban, how the economy worked – or didn’t – over Thai, and what they wanted out of life over American cuisine more expensive than Lucinda’s cable bill. 

She had told him she wanted friendship. And made it clear that was more than she wanted from anyone in a long time. He didn’t mind. If he was going to be honest that was more than he had planned on wanting. Glad for the opportunity to have presented itself, he was embracing it. Dave enjoyed learning Lucinda. The things she liked, the things she hated, the way her face moved… he stopped wearing pants with zippers as the dynamics of their friendship changed. 

A spring friendship had turned to a summer fling which blossomed to something homey, like pumpkin pie. Soft but sturdy, made from hand picked pumpkins and homegrown cinnamon.  

Lucinda left the pie on the counter top and shut off the oven. Dave’s car pulled in the driveway moments later. Lucinda took a breath. The cinnamon filling her nose and calming her nerves.

Winter was growing in her heart, even as she and Dave had picked the pumpkins. She wanted friendship. He wanted sex. The two had somehow come together, again and again, and were now in a sort of relationship. What Lucinda wanted had never changed. She wanted a friend. Someone to debate innocence or guilt with, to examine the legal process across socioeconomic status, who could explain to her what was so wrong about opting for a Libertarian over traditional parties. It wasn’t about status or gifts with her.

Dave rang the doorbell as he opened the door. Kicking off his shoes, Lucinda listened as her old floorboards creaked underneath his muscle.

The sex was great. It was always great. In the kitchen next to the cooling pie or anywhere, any time they had sex it made the back of her knees clammy. Dave reached down and pulled up his pants. Fastening them, he looked between Lucinda, sitting naked and upright on the counter, and the pie.

“We should have gotten the whipped cream out,” Dave said.

Lucinda raised an eyebrow.

“For the pie,” Dave said walking over to the fridge. His eyes trailed up her legs as they crossed themselves closed.

Lucinda laughed. She hadn’t wanted to laugh. She wanted to explain that this progression or whatever had gone too far. What she wanted then, in the early dew of spring, like she wanted now was a friend.

Dave returned to the counter with whipped cream, ice cream, and some type of syrup Lucinda wasn’t sure she owned. She watched as he prepared himself a slice.

“You’re extra quiet lately, Luce,” Dave said. “Everything alright?”

“Yeah,” Lucinda said hopping off the counter. “Just gonna run upstairs and throw something on.” Dave watched as she made her way down the hall passing in front of the windows. She was happy naked, and couldn’t be bothered to cover up no matter how many times her neighbor left her notes about those with heavily windowed houses.

As she began up the stairs she called out, “enjoy your pie.”

Dave felt his face blush.

Throwing his pie in the freezer, Dave rushed into the living room. He had everything planned, and nothing ready. Lucinda had grown too quiet the past few weeks. He didn’t like it. Without her chatter it was as though the sun itself had dimmed.

Dave had thought about it for longer than he could admit to himself. This wasn’t a friendship. It wasn’t just the best sex in the world. It was the stuff those books his sister read were made out of – girl meets guy, comedy and error ensue, guy loves girl and makes it right. But Dave didn’t want error to ensue. He wanted to tell Lucinda that what he wanted in life changed. What he wanted was her. Not every story had to end like the books she read where someone inevitably was murdered.

Lucinda felt pity as she returned down the stairs. Dave was now sitting in her living room, the television on but quiet. There was a bag at his feet, she hadn’t seen before. He looked nervous. Perhaps he’s knows it’s over.

With a slight cough, Lucinda entered the room. Dave looked up at her.

“I wanted to talk to you about something,” Lucinda began.

“So do I. Can I go first,” Dave asked, his hands wringing the handle of the paper bag.

“I guess so,” Lucinda said as she sat down on the arm of the couch.

“Okay,” Dave said. Leaning forward he reached into the bag.

“Actually,” Lucinda said, “let me.”

Dave felt the pie tumblesault. The whipped cream curdling as it collided in waves with his stomach acids. Leaving behind the bag and a pile of regurgitated pumpkin pie in the driveway, Dave got in his car and left.

Lucinda froze for a moment. Blinking her eyes, Dave was gone but the bag was still under the table. Grabbing it she rushed out the door. She stubbed her toe as Dave peeled off down the street. Fuck. Walking back inside she thought about her toe. Her clumsiness had always been something Dave had teased her about. He would find it hysterical that in this moment she would trip.

The line cut to voicemail. Lucinda hung up. Dave had never not answered her called. Her thoughts began to turn. The leaves floating up to the trees, changing back from orange to green. The room spun as Lucinda sat on her couch. The same spot where they had shared their first kiss. His fingers had caught in her hair, bringing them closer together, keeping her there as his tongue wove its way around hers. There had been something different. Lucinda had remembered that. There had always been something different.

Days teetered on the verge of a week. Lucinda’s co-worker had quit with a movie like madness. Her college friend had run off and eloped. Women’s rights were in jeopardy throughout the country, stories of horror breaking out faster than the measles outbreak. Lucinda sat on her couch, the remake of an old movie paused on the screen where Dave had left it. Her heart ached in ways she hadn’t known were possible. Her vibrator had run out of batteries.

Fingerprints made of cookie dough smudged her phone. Lucinda opened and closed her phone until the battery had died. Her socks covered in sassy sayings sprung holes in them. The paper he had wrapped them in was sitting in the bag.

Her phone rang, waking her up from a dream. Her body ached and pulsed. She longed to see Dave outside of her sleep. Filled with hope and then annoyance, Lucinda answered the phone. “There are no pumpkins in Florida, not like the ones from home,” her grandmother bitched. She was calling to hear about Lucinda’s pie. “That pie is the way to any man’s heart, you know.” Lucinda scowled. “You remember my first husband, Buddy?” Her grandmother cooed.

Lucinda put her phone on speaker and left the couch. “Not that you would. He was before your grandfather.” Lucinda made a sound of acknowledgement and headed up stairs. “Oh honey,” her grandmother sang, “he was the absolute love of my life.” Lucinda pulled up her ripped jeans. “I hated him at first, thought he wasn’t anything more than a passerby in the movie of my life.” Crossing the hall, Lucinda ransacked the dryer. Shaking free a shirt, she threw it on. The imprinted words of Kate Chopin wrapped around her.

“When I finally decided to get my head out of my you know what,” her grandmother continued, “I made him my pumpkin pie.” Lucinda bolted down the stairs and rummaged through the fridge, of course she had eaten all of the fucking pie. She yanked open to the door to the freezer. In front of the Tetris of leftovers from her grandmother was a half-eaten piece of pie. “Grammie, listen, that’s beautiful, but I have to go. Okay?”

“Alright dear, don’t have to give me the bum’s rush. Love you!” The line went dead before Lucinda could respond. Without thought Lucinda grabbed the pie and her keys, and headed outside. Sitting behind the wheel she felt the back of her knees already clammy sliding against the seat.

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