LAST EDITED ON 01-20-04 AT 07:59 PM (EST)
It was a warm spring Saturday in Greenwich Village, crowds of people were out and about running errands, having lunch, dickering with street vendors, the usual. Daffodils were in full bloom but the maple trees in Washington Square Park were devoid of leaves, they did however bear promising buds. Jordan set the ebony and ivory chess pieces on the board and then looked at his watch, it was ten past twelve. “Late again” he thought, and looked around at the other tables.
Two elderly men were battling fast and furious, grabbing pawns and rooks and slapping the time clock viciously, oblivious to their surroundings or how much racket they were making. Jordan chuckled, as they muttered at each other, trying their best to throw the other one off his game, neither one winning that task. His eyes wandered beyond the men to the black iron fence that surrounded that section of the park. A squirrel sat peacefully on top of a post and minding his own business watched the passersby.
Jordan heard a familiar whistle and turned and smiled at Michelle, riding swiftly toward him, wind gently blowing her long ash colored hair. It took his breath away every time he saw her, his heart pounded as though it would burst through his ribcage. She swung her long leg off the seat and over the back tire of her ten-speed bicycle and leaned it against the fence. Michelle pulled her canvas backpack off her shoulders and placed it on the ground near the table. “You are late” Jordan teased. “Yeah, well I brought you lunch” she said. “OK, then I forgive you” but how could he not? One look in her big brown eyes and he turned to mush.
He stood and gave her a warm friendly hug. He was 6’2” and her head fit nicely onto his chest, his lanky arms around her thin waist. She was wearing a tightly fitting milky white tank top and no bra. Jordan wanted to give her a passionate kiss, but he knew he couldn’t. He withdrew and asked, “What did you bring me to eat?” It was a safe subject; maybe she couldn't tell that his skin had grown noticeably hotter since embracing her. They sat down across from each other. She tugged the worn zipper of the backpack, exposing its contents.
“Let’s see. I have roast beef sandwiches on pumpernickel with horseradish mayo and Swiss.” She placed one in front of him and continued. “I also brought onion sun chips, the kind you like.” Jordan was lost in thought, watching her thin red lips and bright ivory teeth when she moved her mouth. He couldn’t really tell what she was saying, so he nodded politely. “Granny smith apples, and last but not least, voila!” She extracted a couple of bottles of Evian and put them on the table.
Jordan had met Michelle when they were freshman at NYU, now they were nearing the end of their junior year. It was love at first sight, for him anyway. She was beautiful, witty, intelligent, and very sexy. She was a free spirit, a rebel, but in a very unassuming way. He loved the deep conversations and even the arguments they would get into. He had found a verbal sparring partner. They started playing chess once a week. No matter what else changed in their busy lives, Saturday afternoons were always reserved for each other.
“Ready to play?” She asked.
“Bring it on.” He unwrapped a sandwich and took a large bite.
“Pawn to king four.” She pulled one of the small bags apart, reached in and grabbed a sun chip and crunched it in her mouth.
Jordan smiled knowingly. Michelle always started the game the same exact way. Three years of pawn to king four. “Pawn to queens bishop four”, he countered.
“Do you like my new necklace?” She ran her fingers over her neckline proudly displaying the treasure.
It was a gaudy set of brightly colored faux plastic beads. “Um, sure, where did you get those?” He said with emphasis on the word those.
“Frank and I went to Coney Island last night, he won them for me. Aren’t they just so marvelous?” She scratched an itch on her nose and moved another pawn forward.
Jordan hated talking about Frank, but it was inevitable, she always brought his name up in the first fifteen minutes, so why should today be any different? He ran his fingers through his dark curly hair and exhaled slowly. “Sure, they are great, I love them.” What he wanted to scream was, “Stop talking about Frank damn it, can’t you see that I love you?” He nudged another piece on the board.
“Did you finish your writing assignment yet?” She nibbled a small piece of roast beef and made her next move.
“No, not yet. I’m blocked and haven’t been able to get much of it done. I keep starting and stopping.” He allowed his finger to lightly stroke the tip of the ebony pawn before sliding it forward.
“You don’t have much time left, if you wait ‘til the last minute you’ll have to pull an all nighter, and you know how cranky you get from lack of sleep.” She scolded and rinsed her palette with a long swig of the pure water.
“I’ll get it done, I just need some inspiration is all.” He looked at the freckles on her ear wishing his tongue were caressing her lobe, whispering softly the words he had inside. She could provide the very inspiration he needed. Boldly he advanced his queen.
“Well how about coming to Amy’s party tonight? I can call Kimberly if you want me to hook you up.” She offered and then moved her knight so that it would threaten his queen.
“Who else is going to be there?” He moved the queen over one space, “check”.
Michelle quickly blocked with her bishop. “Scott, Brian, Henry, Frank, Dee, Maura, Helene, Shawn, Peter, and Roberta. Maybe a few others.”
He knew them all; it was a pretty fun group. It wasn’t fun however to see Michelle with Frank, but maybe they would get into a fight and he could be there to comfort her and pick up the pieces. This thought made him smile, “OK, I’ll go, sounds like a good time.”
“Do you want me to tell Kimberly about you, or do you want me to just invite her and I’ll point her out, you can take it from there if you want?”
He laughed, “What exactly would you tell her about me?”
“I would start by saying that you are a funny, intelligent, half crazy, good looking, independent man.”
“Oh yeah, and then what?” Wow, he thought, at least she thinks I’m good looking.
“And then I would tell her that you hate to lose, so watch out!” She crumpled the plastic sandwich wrapper and put it in her bag.
“Very funny. Sure, go ahead and tell her about me then, and don’t forget to tell her that I can last all night too.” He said playfully.
“Really? Maybe I should ditch Frank and take you with me?”
From your mouth to God’s ears, he thought. Oh how he wished that would happen. “Probably not, you couldn’t handle me”, he said confidently.
“Yeah, you’re probably right. By the way, check.” Her brown eyes signified that she knew he had no out.
He studied the board, trapped, not much hope for him now. She was right, he did hate to lose, even a simple game of chess.
“Excuse me, what time do you have?” One of the gentlemen at the next table leaned toward the pair.
Jordan and Michelle looked at their watches. “It’s 1:30” “It’s 1:35”, they said simultaneously. “Thank you” the man replied and left them alone again.
“Your watch is fast.” Jordan stated.
“No it is not.” Michelle said stubbornly.
“It most certainly is.” He was adamant; she was wrong and was about to lose the conversation. He could finally score a sparring point, and she had no way to counter.
“My watch ticks one second at a time just like yours does. Sixty of those seconds when added together make one minute, just like yours does. My watch just happens to be set five of those minutes ahead of your watch, but mine isn’t fast.” She looked at him with that oh so smug smile of victory. He wondered if she knew how charming she was.
Jordan lay his king down on its side on the board, “I concede”, he said. And that is what he loved about Michelle; she was the perfect match for him.
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