The out-of-town

See, I just watch. I’m not a participant. Not me. She had brown hair, white skin and mommy jeans, the kind of jeans that are a little thinner in material than a regular pair of jeans. She carried the usual abdominal weight. According to that scale in the doctor’s office, she’s too heavy. It’s all in the packaging and marketing. How that extra weight’s carried, and she carried it right, just rocking those mom jeans.

Light brown eyes, shoulder-length brown hair. Not a natural color, but looks natural enough, slightly windswept, she waves a fair hand across her face and pushes some of the hair out of the way, slightly sticky and stiff from hairspray. Windy as it’s been? Not a chance to control that. Looks almost like it was a pose. Almost. Wings and waves of brown hair cascade in a stiff format, off to the side.

It’s a single wedding band, a second band to replace that first one, this one is studded with small diamonds. She’s been married a while. It shows, mommy weight, years of herding kids in suburbs and the high school cheer squad shirt. She has an overpriced frozen drink in her hand. She sees him and they chat, briefly. The spark is obvious as she pretends to sit down, casually.

His daughter is — this much is clear — the same age as hers. Identical t-shirts. He, too, has a wedding ring. It’s much less about attraction, and much more about availability, convenience, and illicit. Forbidden fruit makes a much sweeter-tasting jelly.

I’m just an observer, not partaking.

He’s got on, there must be some equivalent of mommy jeans, and he’s been studying a laptop’s screen. She springs up and leans over his shoulder, and that’s the spark, again. Can’t hide it. There’s a giggle, a coquettish laugh, and a furtive, dainty curtsy. She slides back into the seat opposite him, leaning forward. That stray wing of hair, she pushes it back out of the way, the air fairly crackles with static electricity. As an observer, I think I hear the sounds the Northern Lights make, ethereal and yet palpable.

Although she’s — it’s pretty clear — she is heavy, she carries it well, moving with a fleet dancer’s sense of movement. She is seducing him, and this isn’t the first tango. The name of the high school on the matching t-shirts, it’s a small, or smaller, town, too far removed to be a suburb, but not totally out in the middle of nowhere. They met when the girls were in junior high, and this continues, when they are out of town. Small towns are notorious breeding grounds for baseless innuendo and character assassination, the facts being the first casualty. The pair has been studious and stealthy, above reproach, with church and all the various seasonal school activities.

However, twice a year, big city, bright lights?

The girls are at practice, or trials, or loose in the mall. No chaperones. Who watches the watchers? I’m the only observer, but the friction, much more than static electricity is still there. Been there all along. The lingering glances, the unrequited passion, the careful fit of her t-shirt, and then, that crackle as the electricity arcs across the dime-size table-top.

He pushes the lid down on the laptop. Glances at jeweled dive watch. He’s short, but taller than her. He’s almost rotund, too, but the careful selection of clothing, casual yet studied, he looks good. She licks her lips, expensive lip gloss glistening. The guy is gray at the temples, and there’s an incipient bald spot, but, so far, the rest of his hair is still black. The gray is “distinguished.” He uses an expensive stylist, just another clue, not the typical small town barber. It’s also not a comb-over, just careful styling.

He wants to look casual. Dark, almost black, Italian loafers, tan socks. Dad jeans, if there really is such a thing. The conversation is about timetables and expectations.

Me? I just watch as they appear to have a casual cup of coffee then leave. She’s reaching for his hand, but that casual yet almost predatory glance backwards to see if anyone sees.

I do. Yet I don’t count. I’m not involved.

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