“Inside I still feel like the 23 year old that wanted to be your fuck toy” she said, her eyes a little wild and a little lost.
We have a long often tumultuous history, Aurora and I. We’ve spent as much time being enemies as we have being friends and only in the last few years have we been able to stand to be in each others presence.
Six or seven years ago, we had a very strong attraction and Aurora first presented the idea to her boyfriend at the time that she wanted their relationship to be open and more specifically, that she had an interest in me. Admittedly at the time I wasn’t sure how I felt about polyamory and the situation imploded spectacularly when (I learned much later on) her boyfriend gave his permission to her and then told me something entirely different. I felt betrayed and misled by Aurora, particularly because her boyfriend was a friend. He gave me the impression that she’d been dishonest and I was furious with her about it. She got the impression that I’d just played a game to see if I could get her to do it and she hated me too.
New Orleans is a small place and when you have the same circle of friends, it can feel even smaller. There was a palpable tension in the air after that and we couldn’t stand to be around each other. We were all in a band together and I stopped going to performances when I knew she’d be there. When we were forced to be in the same room, the animosity was undeniable and one or the other of us would find a reason to leave as soon as possible.
A few years ago while I was visiting New Orleans, we ran into each other and agreed to meet and talk. It was then that we discovered that we might both have been mislead by the same person and that we’d wasted years loathing each other. Even then, we were both a little reluctant to believe it and we harbored some distrust that would take us until recently to let go of. There was a sense of danger in talking to her that meant we kept a respectable distance while we decided if we really could trust one another again. I didn’t always mention to her that I was coming to town on some of my previous trips to New Orleans and I only told her last-minute that I’d be there this trip, feeling that maybe it was time to really put the past behind us.
She messaged me on Facebook days before my trip and we added each other as friends there, eventually trading phone numbers so we could text instead. She offered me a lift from the airport, but I declined, not sure I was be ready to see her and wanting to get acclimated to being back in New Orleans for at least a few days before I did. It wasn’t until the day before I supposed to leave that we finally made plans to see one another and even then I wasn’t sure entirely what to expect.
We agreed to meet for lunch at a Mediterranean place on Frenchman street and I took something of a farewell walk through the French Quarter on my way to see her. It was hot outside, even with the overcast skies, and I could smell the rain looming somewhere in the distance. I hadn’t seen her in almost two years when I spotted her through the window, standing close to the door. Her hair was shorter than when I’d seen her last and it has vibrant pink streaks in it now. Being face to face to her the familiar feeling of danger crept up on me but it was accompanied by fascination, which I hadn’t let myself feel for her in years.
She was wearing a shirt that hung long enough to nearly eclipse her tiny shorts and cowboy boots that seemed a colourful contrast to her pink hair. Aurora is a curious mixture of brash and vulnerable; she rarely holds back when speaking to me, even if she makes herself blush with the things that come out of her mouth. She often looks at me with equal parts want and contempt and I enjoy it. The look on her face when she saw me seemed determined, though I was unsure what of just then.
We took a seat at a far table and quickly found the playful tone of conversation that we’d shared in the past. There was a hint of trepidation behind it all, but also a feeling like things had changed, become unstuck and could move forward. We were deciding to trust each other as we sat there, even if it hadn’t yet proven wise to do so. Looking across the table at one another, the tension between us felt like it’d switched from push to pull. We flirted a bit and then she rolled her eyes at me as if she didn’t yet believe that I meant it.
“This is going to be like all those other times when you get me turned on and then don’t do anything, isn’t it?” she said, and I laughed, because we do have a long history of tension without payoff. All the buildup we had years ago was destroyed by a misunderstanding and though that was a long time ago, I didn’t feel her question was unfair.
“Want a lift to the airport?” she offered and I accepted. We agreed to meet at the friend’s apartment that I was staying at, because I needed to pack up and say goodbye to them before leaving. The we parted, we hugged goodbye and I had a feeling that she had something planned for the ride there.
She picked me up in her SUV and announced that we had a bit of time to kill, asking me where to go. I knew she already had a plan so I put the decision on her and we headed to her apartment. There really wasn’t much extra time before my flight, but I agreed to it, wanting to see how things would play out.
We pulled up in front of her apartment and sat inside the car for a moment when she told me we didn’t have time for games today and invited me inside. She was forward and also uncertain and I hadn’t decided myself just then how far I was willing to let things go.
She seemed nervous and a bit out of sorts as she led me inside, apologizing for the mess. She kicked off her boots and walked across the floor in mismatched socks, her shirt nearly hiding her tiny shorts and giving the impression that she’d already started to undress. She stopped in the middle of the room and faced me; I put my arms around her and all those times we almost kissed but didn’t were behind us.