As if she’d forgotten where she was, she said “Oh... um... Brooklyn! Crown Heights, Brooklyn...” She was hesitant about the street.
I saved her. “I’ll tell you where to turn once we cross the Brooklyn Bridge.”
Ayana grew quiet and looked deep in thought. I didn’t know if it was the phone call she’d just ignored or the fact that she was in the cab with me going to her place. I didn’t intend to inquire about her residence, but I was concerned.
“You okay?” I asked.
“Um yeah... I’m fine.”
“So you from Brooklyn? You never came off as... you know...”
“Yeah... tonight was full of surprises.” She looked me up and down in a thoughtful manner. Then silence. I wanted to say something to her. I grew curious of her thoughts. I saw her looking down at her hands as she played with her African Bracelet. I looked out the window at the rapidly passing highway lights of the FDR. The Radio in the cab played a soothing melody, but it was too low to figure out the song. Suddenly, she spoke.
“So... was that song you wrote for L Joevon about your girlfriend or ex-flame?” she said, still staring at the sparkling night through the window. I watched the city lights softly dance off her face.
“No...!” I replied, watching her turn towards me slowly. Then I told the truth. “It... it was about my meetings on Sundays.” She narrowed her eyes and opened her mouth slightly, without letting a word fall out. I asked, “Remember that day we first talked? You were showing me the poetry section?”
“Yeah... and the Sister Souljah attempt?” She already knew what I was hitting for. Her smile confirmed it.
I chuckled. “Yeah... I was plotting on you. But I began writing it after you crossed my path after the day you kicked me out of the bookstore. You just said “hello” with a smile that wore red candy and kept walking.” I felt warmer as the conversation grew.
With a suppressed smile, she leaned in with her finger to my face. “So you stalking me, Lance?” Then she rested her forearm on my shoulder. I gave her my “Don’t get beside yourself” look then said, “Nah, I just write what I see in life. And that’s what I saw at the moment.” We gazed a second. She let her arm drop gently off my shoulder, and her hand brushed against mine on the leather seat on the cab, leaving a delicate finger on the side of my pinky. I slid her hand in mine. She felt soft and warm from the light perspiration in her palms.
We enjoyed the silence.
Ayana laid her head on my shoulder. I was deep in my thoughts until I realized we’d just crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. I nudged her to tell her that we were in Brooklyn, and she sat up and looked at me with odd suspicion. “Um...” She hesitated. “Take Eastern Parkway to Utica Avenue,” she said to the cabbie, laying her head back on my shoulder. We rode in silence, enjoying the comfort of one another.
“Right here. You can let me out right here.” She began to dig in her purse, but I stopped her from paying. I gave the cabbie a twenty-dollar bill and told him to wait.
As we get out, her phone began to vibrate. She didn’t answer. A thought of suspicion came into my mind, but I felt it wasn’t my place to ask.
“Well I’ma get going... It’s getting late.” She allowed her eyes to linger down to her oxfords.
“Yeah... It’s time you go.” I was close enough to kiss her. I eased in, but decided not to and wrapped my arms around her waist for a close hug. Just as we began to break apart, fire ran through my body as her ear slowly brushed against my neck. We were face to face. Fuck it. I kissed her. Those lips were softer than a smile. My mouth took in her top lip just enough to taste it. We let go and stared. We both didn’t want to leave, but consideration ruled. She broke from my grasp. She turned, and as always, she left me in my thoughts. This time, though, she turned back to me, smiled, and waved good-bye.