When I was 18, I figured out exactly how to tell whether or not you were in love.
Lorena was a senior, and whenever she would come in to my Junior year English class, the sun grew a little brighter, the sky a little bluer. The beginning of the semester, she always sat directly in front of me, and I was always fascinated, almost hypnotized as she played with her long, dark hair. Once a few strands of hair were resting on my hand, and I just sat there and let it rest. A few months later, the teacher rearranged the desks in a circle and she took to sitting on the other side of the room.
It was after that she first found out I was so attracted to her. A friend of hers was sitting next to her, and he whispered to her, “He likes you.” Lorena then turned and smiled at me.
I just broke my tenuous eye contact with her, pretending I didn’t know she was there. It was my habit with women then, I let them start to flirt with me, then I walk away. I didn’t know whether or not he was her boyfriend, and a stubborn sense of honor kept me from pushing myself to find out.
I died a little at around 9:00 pm on January 10, 1996, when I realized I was in love with her. I never told her. In fact, we exchanged fewer than seven words when she once asked my name so she could take attendance.
She graduated that spring, and over the summer I became quite good at lying to myself. Every time I jerked off, I would moan, “I love you, Lorena” to myself. The song “Forever” by Mariah Carey became sort of a heartbroken anthem for me that year. Before long, I convinced myself that Lorena knew all along how I felt about her, and some day, I knew, we would find each other and spend the rest of our lives together. And the part of me that knew I had lost her was quite content to die of depression before I turned thirty.
The best, and worst, dream of my life I had around August second that summer.
I was on my high school campus for some reason I couldn’t figure out, and Lorena’s boyfriend had to leave town and wanted me to look after her. He let me use his car, which made even less sense because I couldn’t drive, so far a week she and I spent time together. I took her shopping and to a movie, and when the week was over, her boyfriend told me I had been doing a great job with her, and that he had to leave again right away. Now, after he left, was my chance! I wanted to tell her how much I loved her, and it would feel so wonderful as we kissed.
It took me several moments to realize it was all a dream. I spent the rest of that day in a daze. That fall I started my senior year, and every time I thought I was finally over her, I would see her on campus visiting, and I was always stunned by the need to run to her, begging her to look in my direction and finish the conversation we never started.
That winter, I went to a semiformal dance with some co-workers. It was the first time I danced in over three years, and though I am not a very good dancer, it snapped me out of my funk. I began to change, talking to more people and finally forgave myself for letting Lorena slip by.
I graduated that year, and Lorena was there. Once again I prayed she would look in my direction. That afternoon I let her go.
A few times over the years I would think I saw Lorena, on the street or on campus. Every time I begged fate to make her look in my direction, so that I could have a second chance with her.
The last time I saw her was in a gentleman’s club, for a friend’s bachelor party. She was by far the most beautiful woman in the club, and drew stares from all the men. Her hair was a little shorter than I remembered, and her full lips were painted a little too bright for the rest of her face. How she had sunk to prostituting herself was beyond me, but I saw my chance to have her.
While the groom-to-be and the others got themselves roaring drunk, I finally caught her attention.
“How much?” I asked her. My face felt very warm, thank heavens the room was too dark for her to notice.
“Out here? One hundred.”
“And someplace more private?”
“One-fifty.” I paid without flinching. She led me to a secluded room and undressed before me. She even removed her shoes, which I took as a boon, as I’ve always had a slight foot fetish Her toenails were painted black, and there was a toe ring on her left foot. I sat in a plush leather chair as she danced for me.
The two halves of me that had held a truce for years now came into sudden conflict. Lorena was seducing me, she was just doing her job. She danced closer, slowly, gracefully. I knew I’d never remember what song was playing while she performed for me.
Involuntarily, I reached to touch her. Teasingly, or to keep from causing a scene, she deflected my hands, Finally she held my wrists on the armrests of the chair. Now she was holding me to excite me, she was holding me down because she didn’t trust me not to try and grab her. Her palms were very warm, and the heat spread up my arms to burn in my groin.
Her knees were touching mine now. We were looking deep into each other’s eyes now, and there is nothing more erotic than two lovers holding eye contact.
Her dark brown eyes were glowing in the dim light.
Slowly, she rested more and more of her weight on my lap. She smelled of cheap perfume and a breath mint that was wearing off. She leaned back suddenly, resting all of her weight on my thighs, and I realized I had moved to try and kiss her. She teased me more like that, her face inches from mine.
Finally, her pelvis pushed against mine, and I knew she could feel my erection through my jeans. She ground against me, lifting herself up slightly so her full breasts dangled inched from my face. More than once her hard nipple brushed across my cheek.
It was all too much for me. I felt the pressure building, and she seemed to sense it as I began to grind against her. Our rhythm matched, her grip on my wrists grew tighter. Her pubic hair scratched against my jeans. The heat in me overflowed, and I came in my pants, feeling my warm, sticky semen al over my abdomen.
“I love you , Lorena.” It was several long heartbeats before I realized I had said that out loud.
She kissed me on the cheek. Fire lanced from my face to my toes, up to my scalp and back down again.
“I know,” she said softly.
Suddenly the look of sensual pleasure on her face was gone. The heat in my veins cooled rapidly as she said, “A lot of men tell me that.”
I can only thank God it was so dark in there, so Lorena couldn’t see the shock on my face.
I thanked her and gave her a forty-dollar tip. She took a door to back stage and I went back to the bar. I ordered something cold, held against my face and chugged it all at once, then ordered another. I got myself nicely drunk and left my friends and walked myself home.
I didn’t go to the wedding, I spent the whole day looking at Lorena’s picture in the yearbook. Finally, I tore her pictures out and burned them. I never returned to the club, and I have never seen Lorena again.
Parts of this story are true, other parts are either made up or exaggerated. Lorena, of course, is not her real name. I’m very depressed right now, so sympathy is welcome: