Unexpected Christmas by K. Alex Walker
They sat at the counter and ate in silence. Ty skipped a barstool to keep a respectful distance between them even though he wanted to know how warm she was. He wanted her skin in his palms, her flesh in his grasp. He found it unusual to be taken with a woman so quickly to where he desired to touch even the surface of her skin.
There was just something about the way she’d spoken in the car. He’d never met anyone with such conviction, and he’d been well on his way deep into the foray of politics. Although it made no sense to compare the two, it made him wonder how satisfied he’d truly been with quiet dinners filled with empty conversation with Dania. A woman like Massy stirred passion. She stirred what had been dead for the past three years.
“You didn’t hear a word I said, did you?” she asked, those eyes trained on him with a hint of accusation.
He went for another bite of his sandwich only to realize it was gone. His coffee cup had also been emptied. He had nothing keeping him there next to her, but he wasn’t ready to go back upstairs.
“I’m sorry. I was…thinking.”
“About what?” She brought her mug up to her lips.
“What you were saying to Jon in the car. About how being black is as diverse as black culture.”
Her brow popped up. “I said all that?”
“In some ways.”
He’d always considered himself a “man of the people.” His father had built his business from the ground up, and had told him from a young age that being an Osborne didn’t guarantee him a seat at the boardroom table on the top floor. He’d had to work twice as hard as his constituents, starting way back in middle school, by accruing at least two-hundred volunteer hours per school year. And it couldn’t be just doing any kind of work. He’d had to be in the trenches, seeing how the people around the city, the state, lived day to day.
He’d assumed that since he’d been elbow deep in dirt, manure, and other forms of community service with people from various backgrounds, it had made him “in the know.” That he wasn’t like the candidates who claimed to care about all Americans, except that they had to at least look like him, and be born with a penis. He’d wanted to encapsulate what the country truly looked like.
However, by continuing to put everyone in a box as if their issues could somehow be allocated by race, he’d just been more of the same.
“I do like your approach to that,” she said. “You’re not getting defensive. You’re trying to understand.”
“It’s the first step toward knowledge,” he came back. “So, what makes you tick, Massy?”
She blinked at him, lids fluttering in rapid succession. “I don’t get the question.”
“I’ve never met anyone like you.” Most of the people he worked with reminded him of hard, outer shells with no filling. “I hang on to your every word. I could spend hours listening to you.”
“But we just met. You don’t know that.”
“I do know that.” Somehow, he’d ended up sitting on that bar stool he’d skipped earlier. “I just don’t know how I know it.”
She drained her mug, grabbed his, and walked over to the dishwasher. Bigfoot himself could have been digging up Jimmy Hoffa’s remains right outside the window over the kitchen sink, and he would still be captivated by only her.
“Why do I want to be around you so much?” he asked, voicing his thoughts. “I’ve been thinking about you since we dropped you off.”
“And I haven’t been able to stop.”