The room was high-ceilinged and wide, rows like a cornfield, chest-high, stocked with wines, beers, ciders, spirits. Imagine, if you will, the heart of Grand Central Station, in a smaller scale, with a liquor store inside.
And there I was, at the end of a row, seated on the floor, legs out to one side, knees curled like a prawn, resting my head on my arms on a short, round, mango-wood stool, watching. Envy and misery in equal parts behind my eyes as I saw them all lined up around the outer wall of the great room. And then they began to sing, as I knew they would, leaving me there, uninvited and unincluded.
When he sat on the stool behind me, I felt more than heard him. I was acutely aware of him. Young, blond, fair, perhaps nineteen to my twenty-two. He put his hands on my slumped shoulders, pulled me back against his shins. He leaned down close, and didn’t speak the question I knew he was asking.
“I’m a singer, too, you know,” I said.
He drew his smooth cheek against mine, tilting my head back so I could see his face.
“I have a December thing going on here,” he said, just before he kissed me.
His lips were soft, the kiss insubstantial, a whisper shared.