I ran fingers across spines of books, searching for 900.09 SMI. My research was grinding to a halt; finding sources like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack at night. I sighed audibly. So much so, I actually looked around to see if I’d disturbed anyone.
From the corner of my eye, I caught the silhouette of a young woman on a step ladder in an adjacent aisle. Young, fresh-faced, thrift-store chic, she was an obvious employee of the library.
Tired and a bit rummy, my boundaries began to feel slippery…elusive. I’d have done anything to make my project disappear right then. And she looked promising.
I wandered over and began to peruse the shelf at her hip level, slowly, hopefully appearing absent-minded and overly-focused. I bent just enough and squinted, inching my way closer. Within calculated moments, I was inches from her thigh. Brushing my arm against her leg, I reached for a book.
“Excuse me; I just need to reach past you for a moment,” I smiled up at her, innocently.
Looking down, her teeth white between glossed lips, she assured me, “Oh…I can move; let me get out of your way.”
“No…no. No need. Stay right where you are. I’ll only be a moment.”
To test, I slipped the book back into place, hovering near her thigh, so close I could feel the warmth of her skin, through blue fishnet tights. She didn’t move. But she did look down again as I looked up. Briefly our eyes locked.
There were no words as I placed my palm on her knee. She looked back toward the shelf of books, but she did not retract from my touch.
Tentatively, my palm moved to her inner thigh, sliding upward, to the warmest part of her body. I rubbed my hand across the seam of her tights until I reached the place where her legs met.
She froze, and I reached my other hand between her calves to run my fingertips back and forth across the numbers. 700.06 to 700.27. This steadily encouraged the spreading of her legs just enough to reveal the blue and skin previously hidden by shadow.
She was not wearing underwear. Her skin, pink and glistening through strings of the fishnet, was just beginning to swell.
It was enough. A gift. Just what I needed to turn my mind back to my purpose, shocked awake by my own behavior.
I selected a book I didn’t need, stood away from the stacks, and thanked her. Her face a mix of incredulity and desire, cheeks flushed and breath quickened.
Walking away, I placed the unnecessary book in a nearby empty cubicle, and went back to the reference section.
The quiet was deafening, and I could hear the blood flowing in my ears. My neck warm, and my skin covered in goose bumps, every hair was alert to the possibility of contact. It was an intoxicating feeling that trumped the effects of caffeine, liquor, or medication (prescribed, or otherwise).
In a sea of red reference books, alone on a Thursday, in a quiet university library, suddenly all I could think of was blue.