And then I kissed her...

Part 11:

Brigitte knelt in front of me after she’d finished cleaning up. She’d done some more mopping, some more wiping down of tables, and then had come over to me. “How’s it going over here?” she’d asked, and knelt down to get on eye level with Doc, which put her on eye level with my breasts, which should have made me uncomfortable, maybe, but I wanted Brigitte to look at them, mostly, although I didn’t want her to look too closely at them and figure out that they looked like they were from different people than other parts of my body. By then, I knew a little about what I was, thanks to Bob, although I hadn’t really come to terms with it yet. I didn’t know, for example, that I was dead. Bob hadn’t told me that and it wouldn’t be until Samson’s comment that it would really sink in that the only way to create someone like me is to make someone like me, a bunch of someone’s like me, as it turns out, dead.

So I was dead but I didn’t know it and I didn’t feel dead as I sat there at the table and Brigitte looked at Doc and said “He’s so cute, can I touch him?” I felt alive, all tingly and warm and kind of sweaty, actually, a little hot and bothered because as I looked at her going “Ooo, I haven’t hardly ever seen one of these,” I saw her mouth making an o and I wanted to kiss her, and then she licked her lips a little, just to wet them down, and they were warm and soft and really red and wet, and I really wanted to … feel her tongue.

I found out later that Brigitte never wears makeup. She never wears lipstick, and yet her lips are the reddest, fullest lips I’ve ever seen. So okay, my experience is like four weeks in real life now and a lot of time in Hell and people don’t look their best in Hell, but still, they’re really red and full and bright and kissable and I wanted, really wanted, to just lean over and kiss them. But I didn’t. I sat at the table and Brigitte knelt alongside it and touched Doc here and there, making him light up and play music and burble in that Octopus language, and she giggled when he flared blue. “These things are so cool,” she said, and then looked up at me and her eyes got all wide. I was fiddling with the spoon she’d left with the pie.

“So, I’m Brigitte,” she said. She stayed kneeling.

“I’m Rachel,” I said, and wondered if I should smile.

“Hi, Rachel,” she said. “Not from around here, are you?”

I shook my head. Brigitte stayed kneeling but sat back on her legs a little. “Where are you from?” she asked.

New York, I guess,” I said.

“How’d you get here?”

“Walked. Doc showed me the way.” I wanted to cut to the point and say I saw your underwear and your back today and I’d like to see them again. Brigitte, when I said that I walked, ducked her head down and looked below the table and I remembered to put my legs together.

I hadn’t stolen any underwear from the house.

She looked back up and said “You must have good legs, to walk that far.” She didn’t seem surprised that I’d walked across most of the country. But, then, I don’t know why she would. Almost nobody drove cars. I’d seen two maybe the whole time I’d been walking, all those days, and they were police or government cars. There were a lot of slow-flying-things, dirigibles and balloons and the like, and bicycles and horses and stuff and about once a day I could hear what Doc said were rockets. I never saw them. I just heard them, a long sustained whooshing and then some booms that Doc said were sonic booms.

“I guess,” I said.

“You guess a lot,” Brigitte said, and I looked up from my plate, worried that I’d said something wrong – I hadn’t talked to any living people since New York and the only person I’d spoken to at all was Bob, and he doesn’t count because he was easy to talk to and also because he was a revenant and because I didn’t want to kiss him so badly. But Brigitte was smiling. “Do you guess I could sit down?”

The cook had left while she was cleaning up. He hadn’t even come out front and I don’t know if he’s known I was here. I figured we were alone in the restaurant and I wanted very much for her to sit down. “Sure,” I said, and I slid to my right on the bench. I was grateful that I’d figured out how to hint about that because she sat down next to me, so I could look at her out of the corner of my eye and our shoulders touched. When they did, she looked at me again, a little more curious than the last time, but I didn’t catch that right then, either. I just liked our shoulders touching.

“So what are you doing here?” she asked.

“Eating,” I lied. I thought she meant here in the diner and I should’ve said I wanted to come in and meet you but I said eating and looked at her sidewise. She giggled again and I liked that. I liked that I made her laugh, even if I didn’t know why. She put her hand on my forearm, the one that I’d first noticed was different than the other, and that made me nervous because the dress only had short sleeves and if she looked closely she’d see that the skin on my arms was differently colored, but I also really liked her hand, warm and smooth and dry, on my arm. Her thumb rested lightly on the outside of my arm and her four fingers curled onto the inside and gave me a little squeeze as she said “No, silly, I mean here in this town,” and I shrugged. I didn’t care if she thought I was funny or silly if she’d keep holding my hand.

“I walked here because Doc told me to,” I said, and then wondered how that would sound. She took it in stride.

“Are you staying for a while?”

“I don’t have any place to stay,” I said. “I’m not sure what I’m doing,” and I thought for a moment about just telling her the whole story but then I probably wouldn’t get to kiss her.

“You haven’t decided yet?”

I stared at the table for a long time, and looked at Doc, who was resting on the table, his eight tentacles splayed out and each one lit at the end. The rest of him was dark. He beeped softly and one little light-sensor that I thought of as an eye blinked on and then off. Like he was winking at me. I didn’t know what to say, though. I thought about asking him what I should say, but I didn’t think that was the kind of thing an Octopus could tell me. So I just looked out the window then, for a while, and then down at the table and after a few moments Brigitte said “’Cause you’re welcome to stay for a while,” and I looked over at her as she gave me another squeeze on the arm, tightening her fingers just a tiny little bit to dimple my skin.

But she didn’t untighten; she held my arm lightly but firmly and I looked up and met her eyes. She had really really blue eyes, and they’re big and in the light of the diner the pupils were even bigger and her lips were so red and just a little bit parted so I could almost see her tongue.

“Could I?” I said.

“You could,” she whispered.

We sat like that, motionless, her mouth just a little open, side by side, our legs not touching, our sides not touching, but our arms together and her hand on my wrist, and I stared into her eyes. I was willing her to look at me and just accept me, to help me feel comfortable in my own body, to like me the way I already liked her. I wanted her to giggle again, and to smile, and to squeeze my arm a little more, and mostly I wanted her to lean in and kiss me. Then I wanted to lean in and kiss her.

And then I thought: Why can’t I? A whole sequence of events ran through my mind: I would lean in to kiss her and just before our lips touched, just before I got to feel her moist plump lips on my own, just before I brushed my lips against hers and her lips against mine, just before my lips would press into hers and open hers up and just before I would feel the tip of her tongue on my lips, warm and wet, just before I leaned into her with more urgency and rubbed my lips over hers and over her tongue, just before I lifted my own tongue to playfully touch the end of hers and just before we both accidentally opened our eyes at the start of the kiss and just before we giggled at that and then closed our eyes and wrapped our arms around each other and began to ferociously kiss, I saw all of that not happening because in my mind as I leaned in to kiss her, just before all of that I thought for sure that she would pull back and look at me in horror and ask what I thought I was doing and why I was leaning towards her and she would be horrified that I was trying to touch her at all, I figured she would not want to kiss me, she would yell that she was just trying to be nice, and she’d stand up, her beautiful tight body quivering with anger instead of lust and she would insist that I leave and I’d spend that night cold and alone and in Hell while my body shivered against a tree. I saw all of that happening, in my mind, in a flash, and it kept me from leaning in and kissing her, and instead, we sat there, her hand on my arm, and staring into each other’s eyes, while I tried to think if it was worth it.

“Kiss me,” Brigitte said. I swear she said it but I barely heard it. So I leaned in to kiss her after all, and she screamed and pulled back and I thought oh, God, I was right, she’s going to throw me out, but then the window crashed in and a hand grabbed at my shoulder.

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