My stomach flutters. She is there.
You’d think after three years of knowing her she wouldn’t still have the power to do that every time I see her, but I remain helpless to it, even more so than before. I’ve never really thought about it, but I’d imagine I smile stupidly every time, too. How anyone could not is beyond me.
She’s wearing her blue long sleeve t-shirt and some running shorts, and her hair is tied back in a ponytail. She’s even more beautiful than the last time I saw her only a few days ago—a trend I have noticed as of late. She is holding a GameCube controller, and as I look around I notice three more people doing likewise. A glance at the TV and I understand. Mario Kart. The great enhancer of social gatherings.
She’s playing terribly, as always, but it’s cute to watch her reactions as she bumps into walls or drives off cliffs. Unlike some people she doesn’t get mad or frustrated, she just laughs, sometimes so uncontrollably that she has to stop playing for a few seconds to regain control of herself. Mike, the hilarious self-proclaimed backseat driver/coach when he’s not playing, gets frustrated for her.
I meld into the festivities and play a couple rounds myself, doing not-too-poorly, but we soon decide to start the movie. As it’s being set up, furniture is being moved around to accommodate maximum capacity, and snacks are being got, everyone is sitting around talking. I participate sporadically, but much of the time I am silent, simply listening to her as she speaks. Of course, I take every excuse I can to talk to her, and she tells me about her recent training session to be a site director at a small organization that works with children in impoverished areas. My stomach flutters again. Our hopes, our aspirations, and our passions are so similar. What we know of our futures are heading in almost identical directions.
Before long the movie is playing, and everyone finds a spot to squeeze into. I don’t end up next to her—I’m the sort of person who, not wanting anyone to be stuck in an uncomfortable seat, usually waits for everyone else to choose and then takes what’s left—but I’m among close friends, so there really is no bad spot.
The movie is good, but as per usual, I find it difficult to focus on anything but her when she’s around. After an hour and a half it’s over, and everyone gets chatty again as the title screen plays on an infinite loop. The soundtrack is really quite enjoyable. Eventually Mario Kart comes out again, but she gets up to go—she has to be up early tomorrow.
She says her goodbyes, puts on her shoes, and leaves. As everyone becomes reabsorbed in the crazy video game fun-time, I sit bewildered at how no one else can notice how much less vibrant and bright the room has become. It occurs to me that there has only been one other person who has ever kindled these feelings in me. My world dims further with the knowledge that this time will turn out no better than the last.