Red Flags

Red Flags  -- photo by John B. at

You never know what you’ll do when you when you’re consumed by the fever of lust. Maybe you forget who are, maybe you confuse red flags with the burning flame of desire. Who knows? Here’s just one example I’ve heard. Check it out:

The boy and the girl stand in the back of the auditorium, next to each other. They are supposed to be looking straight ahead at the choir director, like the good boys and girls are doing. But apparently, the boy and the girl don’t want to be counted amongst those obedient ones, because they’re not looking at the choir director, little rebellious devils that they are. They’re flirting with each other, and only a blind person would miss it. Check out the moves they’re making. They think they’re being stealth, but it’s such a bad stab at it. Can you see the bad acting? They’re so obvious.

Look. See what I mean. The boy’s looking at the girl. The girl’s looking at her feet. She’s pretending not to notice, yeah right. Because if you watch, you can see her steal a glance at the boy. Check it out. She moves her head when she does. It’s so obvious. She’s not stealing anything, glance or otherwise. Even the boy knows it. Check out the gleam in his eye. The girl’s looking at her feet again, though I don’t know why she’s bothering with the shyness ruse. Even the boy has her game down. And she knows it. Check out that scrunched up smile she’s sporting. Uh-huh.

The boy keeps looking at her. Well, that’s to be expected, I would think. Because after all he is a boy, and boys look at girls, if they’re straight and this boy certainly is with the reputation he’s had over the years. She’s pretending she’s shy, looking away, but she’s smiling, and if there was ever a time for a no to seem like maybe, this would be one of those times. He keeps looking at her, until she finally turns to look at him. I bet he knew she would eventually. Now they’re checking each other out. They’re alike, but different. They both have green eyes. They both wear sweaters. His is velour. It dipped just below his Adam’s apple, which is prominent whenever he swallowed hard. Hers is a red turtleneck which is supposed to hide her attributes, at least in a literal sense. The sweater fits her tightly, so in theory, it hides nothing.

The boy realizes this, it seems, because his eyes go wide as his eyes drop from her face to her chest. The girl seems hot, yes? A little too hot, considering the goody-goody stuffiness atmosphere of the choir. The boy pulls away from the gaze, which makes him feel strange. You can tell from the frown he wears for a second. He’s not the kind of boy who breaks a stare with a girl, and now he has with her. She smiles, knowing that he looked away first, and she laughs about it. A hot chick laughing at a cute boy, that’s what she is. This whole thing is apparently very funny to her, because she’s suppressing a volcano of laughter. You see, she had never been sure if the boy wanted her, but now she knows he does from his stare. What do you do when you find out that the boy you want wants you? Sometimes, you laugh like the girl, especially when he makes it obvious what he wants from you, and you want the same from him. Fantasies that come true can be nerve-wracking, especially at this tender age of adolescence.

The boy moves closer to the girl, close enough now that he catches her scent. Strawberries. That’s better than the smell of the auditorium, which smells like mold and dust. He stands so that he almost touches her, but doesn’t. She turns to face him, which makes her arm brush against his, almost like a whisper. It’s the first time they ever touched each other, and they both draw back. Considering what these two want to do each other and what they have done with others, this alarm seems quaint. But this is how it is with them, now that the touch has alerted that the other is more than a fantasy. Like something between them has been unearthed, and can’t ever really be buried again.

The boy leans over to the girl, just close enough that his lips are near her ear. They touch her hair. The boy and girl both tremble, just a bit, at the touch. Their actions mirror each other, two mirrors with green eyes. The boy hesitates, feeling the light tickle of her hair on his lips. What is he waiting for? It is as though he is unsure if he was supposed to say something, or devour her right there in the back of the auditorium. This pause lasts only a second, though. He stops trembling, and says to her, “Do you want to get out of here?”

She responds by looking at him, quickly and directly. Her eyes are green lasers pointed at him. His mouth twitches because he doesn’t have his answer yet. But nervousness can paint the world with an impatient brush, for he doesn’t have to wait all that long for her reply. See? The girl is walking towards the exit door. At first, the boy doesn’t follow. For a boy who thinks himself slick, he sure is tanking the game badly here. See him? He’s standing in the back of the auditorium, his brow furrowed. Nervousness can also make a person clueless, it would seem.

The girl stops by the exit door and looks back at him. She waits. Something seems to wake up in the boy, because he moves in her direction, and surpasses her, retaking the lead once he gets to the door. Such a gentleman he is, he holds the door open for her and follows her out. They are now outside, together, cold wind blowing in their faces. The music they ignored before is now silent. It is gone. They are alone, the way they had always been in their secret fantasies of each others. The fantasies are not so secret now, now that they are out here, alone and together, infused with the desire of the other one.

Outdoors, it is almost dark. The horizon is painted with the last light of the day. There are brilliant strokes of orange, yellow, and pink. The sun is just beginning to dip underground. It is red, and seems to illuminate the girl. She can’t see this, but the boy can. He stands, watching her. She isn’t looking at him. She’s scanning the landscape she’s found. It’s a big parking lot full of old used cars and new shiny sports cars. It’s the kind of extremes you might find amongst suburban adolescents and young adults requiring a car to escape. What could they possibly be escaping? The boredom they perceive in the grownups they themselves will be in several years, that’s what. It’s hard to tell what colors the assorted vehicles are in the escaping light. The sun has stolen its warmth along with the light as it drifts under the horizon. In its place, wind begins to pick up. The girl still isn’t looking at the boy. She shivers.

“I’m cold.” She says each of the two words like they are sentences in and of themselves. She focuses her green lasers on the boy. She knows the answer to her next question, but she’s tired of him standing there, just staring at her and not doing anything about it. “You do have a car, right?”

The boy opens his mouth for a second, just slightly. His eyes evade hers, and looks to her lips. In the last light, he can see they are painted red. They are shaped in a scrunched circle, a kind of determined pose. He breathes slightly faster. He seems to use her statement about her state of being as an excuse to look her over, head to toe, watching her shiver away. He imagines her shivering, in much different circumstances, with a lot less clothes.

It makes him shiver too. It seems to bring him to a different state of mind, because he brings his head down closer to hers as he returns her glare with his own lasers. “Of course I do.” His voice seems gravelly, suddenly. The girl’s eyes widen as he grabs her arm. It is small and delicate in his hands, and he easily directs her towards the automotive potpourri in front of them.

He marches her to a red sports car, towards the passenger door. She matches his pace, doesn’t protest the fact that he’s pulling her with him. The fact that she hadn’t even reacted when he grabbed her in the first place seems like a good sign to him. In fact, she doesn’t mention anything, good or bad, when he opens the passenger door. She gets in the car, and he closes the door. It shuts with a loud bang. The girl jumps at the noise, and the boy catches her startle from a quick scan. Is he losing her? He starts to walk quickly to the driver’s seat, but notices that she is not making any move to escape. So his movements slow down. The girl appears to have relaxed, which is a good thing. She’s not startled anymore, so the boy interprets that she still wants him.

She looks at him as he enters the car. He ignores her now, as he adjusts the mirrors of his cars to his liking. They are moved and arranged, although it appears they were moved back to their original position. The girl watches all this movement. She sighs. She doesn’t mind showing off, but these last antics do nothing for her. The boy appears to ignore her reaction, but his actions betray his uneasiness. Look. His mouth is twitching, and he swallows so you can see his Adam’s apple. She frowns and looks at the dashboard of the car. What does this mean? Does she even know? The boy doesn’t stop to speculate. He puts the car in reverse while she’s making her observations, or lack thereof.

They leave the parking lot with its mishmash of vehicles. It disappears behind them, along with the building that housed the auditorium that brought them together. The first street they travel on has many lights, some red, some green, but the second one gives the impression of a straight empty highway, at least at first. The boy turns the car onto this road. All the sound that is between the boy and the girl is the reverberating pulses that come from a sports car that is being pushed nearly to its limits. The boy leans over to her, touching her arm again. This time, neither of them flinch. “What kind of music do you like?”

She tells him. With one hand on the wheel, the boy rifles through the selection he has. He has exactly what she wants, what she asks for. Like an expert disc jockey, he selects the perfect song. The girl watches all of this, and exhales in a ragged way, her lips opened in an unformed kiss. The boy looks over to her, and smiles. His attention is divided between the road and the girl, but he had been attuned to her intense response. Something shifts in the both of them, like they are each switching some internal gear simultaneously. The girl reaches over to the boy, kissing him on his cheek. He guns the engine in surprise. It’s hard to tell with the din of engine noise and musical entertainment, but it sounds like the girl might be laughing at his startle. It’s hard to tell, because she ducks her head away so you can’t see her expression. If she has, it seems she gets a rise out of tripping him out of his slickness. But it’s hard to tell with all the other distractions going on.

The boy touches his cheek where her lips just were. She looks to him again, smiling. He licks his lips, then chews the bottom one. The girl watches his tongue, follows its every move. She crosses her legs, facing him, arching her back so her breasts face him more prominently. He floors the gas. The music is hard to hear now. They don’t use words, but they don’t travel in silence. Life becomes a dizzy blur outside of them at the speed they move. The girl sees the digits on the speedometer steadily going up. She eyes the boy, his green eyes focused beams on the road. Funny, even with this external cue of focus, it doesn’t seem he’s thinking of the defensive driving tips he learned a few years earlier. He looks like he is grasping for air. The girl giggles, and gently taps his knee before ducking away. In some kind of gesture, the meaning unclear, the boy turns the music higher. It is so loud it overpowers the engine noise. The girl reaches for the knob to turn it down, but the boy grabs her hand away. “You don’t like the music? I’ll change it.”

The girl looks at her hand. It is trapped by its wrist in his hand. “It’s fine,” she says. The boy lets her hand go. She looks at him, confusion written on her face. He’s not looking at her right now. He’s looking at the stereo. He turns the music back to its original volume of blare. The music is louder than both of their voices. It’s hard to hear anything else.

The girl leans back, looking up. The car has a sunroof, but the kind that you can see stars through at night. What is the night sky saying today? She watches. There are clouds, and then there are bright stars. They seem to alternate back and forth, like they are dancing a strange tango. Stars, clouds. Stars, clouds. Such evenness. Stars, clouds. Boy, girl. Male, female. It’s all written in the stars. Like melody and harmony together. Like fate. The girl is looking up, and she touches her lips, caressing them in a slow gesture.

The boy watches her again. He glances at her more than he glances at the road. He watches the outline of the girl as she bends back to look at the sky. He watches her outstretched neck, her sweater-covered breasts protruding in her posture as she gazes upward, and thinks of the moment before where she faced him in the same outstretched gestures. He sees her touch her lips from his periphery. He takes her left hand, and kisses each of her five fingers, one by one. They taste like the strawberries he smelled on her before. There is a rose ring on her finger, the finger that was intended for wedding bands. He takes the ring off her finger, placing the ring on the dashboard in front of him. She frowns, her green eyes wide open. He licks the now bare finger. She smiles, but her eyes are still wide open.

She touches his arm, the one that holds her hand. It’s covered in his sweater, but she caresses the fabric anyway. What does she mean by this? It’s hard to tell if she digs the feel of velour, or if she’s implying she’d like to rub the skin underneath. Regardless, she’s caressing him, and he’s kissing her hand. She’s smiling, her mouth open. The boy gives one glance at the road before returning to her, looking at her mouth. She leans over to him, to his face, and gently licks his top lip with the tip of her tongue. He tastes strawberries again. There’s a bend in the road ahead, and she lurches back to her seat by the car’s sudden jolt. The boy nearly missed seeing the bend, but his quick moves saved both of them. They both laugh. “Sorry,” he says.

“You need to be careful.” The girl sings this rather than speaks it.

“Oh, hell no.” They both laugh, staring at each other while they do so.

The road curves again, and the red car nearly slides off the road again. The girl kisses the boy when it recovers. His immediate vision is blocked, as well as hers. They don’t see the rose ring fall to the floor. She covers his mouth with hers, and he wraps his arm around her neck. She tastes like strawberries, and he swallows hard with her tongue embracing his, while his hand drifts down her body to grasp the slope of her breast. My, my. Neither sees his Adam’s apple throb. They are in a world of their own, and nothing else exists. They don’t see the sign saying, “Road Work Ahead”, or the orange cones that dictate that their safety lies to the right of them, away from the direct path they are taking now.

All of the sudden, the steering wheel jerks and slips out of his hands. The car rumbles as it runs over the cones. As their tongues separate in the sudden jolt, they feel themselves going airborne. In that microsecond, they both wonder if this is their first and maybe last kiss before it all goes blank.