I am her forbidden thrill.
A work flirtation, nothing less, perhaps nothing more. She is young (so very much so), still with shaking fawn-like legs, fresh out of college, incandescent with her enthusiasm and eagerness–
So young. So untainted, still believing very much in the world – or people, I suppose –
Still believing so much in me.
She looks at me like I am some sort of hero. She hangs upon my words; exults my deeds (even when they are mean and spiteful); protects me against my detractors. It is a sort of love. I know, for she tells me so, at every opportunity. I am her mentor, her teacher, her friend and her confidante.
She also hates me – she tells me that, too – the harmless, infantile flirtation of someone who is still unsure of the shape and movement of her body, of her ability to intoxicate and charm, of the power of an unbidden, unvarnished self. (But her hate is a joke, for it masks her indecision about her sexuality and how it bends towards, and for, me).
I will do nothing. No, I am 10 years past her and I have learned that this is a passing thing for her. She has a boyfriend that is perfunctory: she will either keep him or leave him. She has so much ahead of her: she will either take hold of it or let it pass her by. I am her mentor! I am her teacher!
I will not be her experiment. I will not be a footnote in her romantic pass, an indiscretion that she holds in regret.
No, rather, I shall be that special, shining gem of curiosity for her. I shall let her test her wiles and flirtations; I shall let her play in the sand where it is safe. I can, but I will not, respond.
I will remain her forbidden thrill.
And she? Mine.