After Dinner.

You’re very full, regretfully full, and you cannot shake the notion that somehow you’re projecting your fullness to her; it’s slowing you down, hunching your back, it’s giving you an uncomfortable, awkward look. So you quickly throw your shoulders back, take a deep breath, smile, and reach into the soapy sink to grab another dish. She cannot stop talking about how delicious dinner was, which you’d have to agree with. It didn’t take you that long to prepare at alljust a quick recipe your Dad gave you. But every time you make it, people seem to fall in loveclaim they’ve never tasted anything like it before. All it is in a bit of peanut butter, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes on noodleslaughably simple. But she liked it—a lot—so you’re not complaining.

She takes the next dish from your dripping hand and begins to dry it. She breaks the momentary silence with a question about where the pan goes. You tell her it’s below the oven and panic for just a moment when your voice slightly cracks. She didn’t hear, or at least ignoring it, so you pick up the next dish and pretend like nothing happened. You can hear your roommates farther back in your apartment zipping up their backpacks, putting their jackets on, getting ready to leave. This means that you’re going to be alone with her. This excites you in the most uncomfortable way possible. Rationally, you know this is a good thing, exactly how the night was supposed to go. But your subconscious anxieties refuse to let you forget that they're there. Oh, no, you think—can she tell I’m nervous? A moment later, though, you have a quick change of heart and embrace the nervousness: it’s normal, healthy, and evolutionarily a good thing.

You rinse off the last dish, which was a particularly messy pot, as your three roommates—loud, laughing, possibly tipsy—walk out the door. The last one shoots you a quick, knowing glance. He follows it with a slight smirk and exits the room. She didn’t see it—thank God—as she’s opening every cabinet in your kitchen trying to find where this last pot goes. It’s right above her, she just hasn’t checked it yet. Without thinking, you walk up behind her and reach over her head to open the cabinet. You apply a slight amount of pressure to her back with your torso completely by accident—you surprise yourself. She doesn’t pull away though; she hesitates, waiting for you to make the next move. Is this how it’s going to happen? After all the planning, meticulous planning, is this how it’s going to happen? In your dirty kitchen? She turns around, and with the sweetest puppy dog look, stares right into your eyes. It’s a more deliberate stare than anyone would normally give. You know what it means, but you lock up. This isn’t how it was supposed to happen! You tell her you can put the pot away and thank her again for drying. She pauses as if to convey her disappointment and while shaking her head says you’re welcome. She’s heading to the table to sit down, but something powerful and foreign comes over you like a spell. As if you’re a passive observer of your own body, you watch your right hand reach out, gently grab her wrist, and pull her back towards you. The last thing you see before you close your eyes is the beginnings of a smile on her small mouth. But that is erased as you press your lips against hers. You are amazed that after all this anticipation, your mind is relatively clear for the 5 or 6 seconds in which you’re kissing her. She pulls away and rests her chin on your shoulder. Softly, into your ear, she whispers, “I like you.”