Dana has this way of making me want to tear open the top of my skull and rip out my brain. She can get me to do almost anything. Even something I would normally consider a violation of my person. She told me to stop drinking grape soda, for instance. She said it discolors my teeth. But that's not what she wants right now.
She slides off a wristband and tosses it onto the table where I'm sitting. It lands beside my coffee, next to her tennis racket and towel.
"So, it's all set then?" she says.
"Tanglewood," she says. "What've we been talking about the last ten minutes? Tanglewood. The music festival? Hello?" She parks a hand on her hip. "Three years I wanted to go. Three years you've been saying, next year." Outside the window, the wisteria snakes off the trellis and onto the dogwood, slowly choking it to death.
"It's so hot there," I say. "The Vineyard is nicer in July. Let's go to the Vineyard." She tosses the other wristband onto the table. She kicks off her sneakers.
"You hate Martha's Vineyard. Last year you said if I ever mentioned the Vineyard again you would have me decapitated." She makes a little chopping motion with her hand. "No, this year it's Tanglewood."
"It's so buggy. All those mosquito guts sliming up the keyboards. I might swallow a gnat."
"You could swallow your stubbornness," she says, picking up her towel, "and think about somebody else for a change." She slings the towel over her shoulder and does an about-face. Her ponytail bounces as she marches away.
"Can I bring grape soda?" I say. She stops, faces me.
"Of course," she says, taking a step. "You can bring grape soda, orange soda, lemon-lime soda. Bring whatever you want." She skates back to the table. "You want purple teeth? Fine with me." The wisteria blooms hang heavily on their woody stalks, like pregnant grapes.
"I'm not sure I would feel comfortable, though, legitimizing an event that allowed so promiscuous a use of recreational beverages." I pick her racket up off the table, strum it like a banjo. "I mean, think about it. All those flavors in all those white cups mingling in the crowd like gigolos working a charity ball." She flings her headband at me. It bounces off my chest. "It's the end of civilization as we know it. I mean, what's next? Topless string quartets? Co-ed naked concerti?"
"You're impossible," she says. But I can see a smile working its way into the corners of her mouth. I reach up and take her hand and tug her against me. She is warm from the tennis, and a little sweaty. She curls up onto my lap and leans into me. I put my arms around her. We kiss. It's just a breakfast kiss, soft and uncomplicated.
Dana's head nestles under my collarbone.
"You are impossible, you know." Her words vibrate across my chest, down my spine.
"Of course I am." I play with her ponytail, drawing it out, letting the strands fall back onto her neck. "How was your game?" She moves her head around, comes to rest, sighs.
"Okay. Babs is getting better but she still gave the sets away. Didn't win a single game. Love match all the way." We kiss again.
"Let's take a drive today," she says when she gets her lips back. "Let's pick up some sandwiches and a friendly Bordeaux and drive over to Hull. We can sit on the beach and watch the sea gulls float over the waves."
"Sure," I say. "If we hurry we can..." She puts a finger on my lips, stilling me. I protest. "If we're going to go we better..." She puts two fingers on my lips. "What about Tanglewood?" I mumble. In the window, the sparrows are fumbling through the wisteria, searching for food. Their hunger is palpable.
"Shut up," she whispers. She silences me with a dinner kiss.
We get to Hull later, just in time to watch the moon rise. It's a little chilly and we huddle on our blanket like shipwrecked sailors. Dana's hair is soft on my cheek and her shoulders rise and fall ever so slowly as she dozes. It's crazy being here on a Saturday night. We don't fit in with the old men searching the shore for lost treasure, or the teenagers laughing and screaming around their little fires. But Dana can get me to do almost anything. Tomorrow she might want to go shopping in Kittery or pop down to the Cape.
And of course, there is Tanglewood. There is always Tanglewood. I'll go. But I'm not forgetting the grape soda. I'm going to bring a whole case.
BIO: Robert Meade is a Boston native now transplanted in Mohegan Lake, in Westchester County, NY, with his wife and three children. He teaches at Loyola School in Manhattan. He won the Wordweaving Award for Excellence for his book, Daily Bread: Seven Days to a Healthier Soul. A published author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, his recent work has appeared in Angels on Earth magazine and online at Guideposts and Apollo's Lyre.