by Dev Jarrett
What is a whisper? A whisper is intimate, and sexy. It’s a declaration of secrecy between confidantes. Shared, but exclusive: a breath of information passed from one to another like a voiced kiss.
We shared many secrets, you and I. From the first time we met, out on the pier, whispers were our language.
As I pulled the thick cotton string, drawing the round net trap out of the water, you watched me with your dark eyes. You saw the trap, weighted with a chunk of brick, rising empty and dripping to the pier railing. You took a finishing sip of your beer, the brown glass lip of the bottle leaving a faint trace of foam on the corner of your mouth, and you whispered your advice to me.
“Next time, if you tie the chicken neck in, the crabs won’t walk off with your bait.”
I’d been content, enjoying my own company, but your softly given advice, your husky, good-humored whisper, seduced me from my self-imposed solitude. A relationship of mine had ended recently, and I was just starting to get over hating myself. So my heart leapt at your approach, and my body followed willingly.
I saw you. I saw your handsome face, your athletic build, and your angular hands. But I didn’t see all of you. The real you. I wanted the whisper.
Despite myself, I giggled. In retrospect, I’m mostly ashamed of that reaction, that childish, giddy snicker better suited to someone half my age. I suppose that’s the response you were looking for. You seemed a few years younger than me, so perhaps that was what you’d hoped my response would be.
Whatever the case, we both smiled at each other. I told you that losing my bait didn’t matter anyway, since it was late and I was getting ready to stop for the night. Let the crabs have a feast tonight, and maybe I’d catch them tomorrow.
By saying that, I obviously left you an opening the size of Texas. Of course you took it. You invited me for a drink. I accepted, and after tossing the net into the back of my truck, we walked to Cody’s Bar and Grill. So I went crabbing, lost my bait, and still got a good catch. I thought I was doing alright, and the whisper of the breeze as it blew past you spoke of heat, confidence, and good taste in cologne.
At Cody’s I excused myself to the ladies’ room, apologizing for smelling fishy. You just laughed and assured me that you’d find us a good table. When I returned, you were sitting at one of the side tables with a pair of drinks in front of you and a look of intense thought on your face. You saw me, and your furrowed brow broke into a smile with whispers of relief. We sat close and whispered to each other over several rounds, going from small talk to deep talk, and from deep talk to drunk talk. I know I stared at your hands a lot.
I’m not sure what it is about a guy’s hands that I worry about so much. To me, ugly hands are a deal-breaker. I’m a hand woman, I guess, just as much as a guy can be an ass man. Back in college, the last time I actually spoke with other girls considered my peers, we sometimes discussed what we liked or disliked about guys. Everybody had some make-it-or-break-it trait that often made the difference between a guy getting lucky or going home alone.
Most of these traits were fairly prosaic: some girls like broad shoulders, and some like firm butts. On the other hand, every guy Kelli ever took back to her dorm room had perfect teeth, while Colleen’s one night stands all had “hot eyebrows,” whatever that means. My thing was hands. Not bony, skeletal hands, but not thick and stubby-fingered either. I liked them large, a little muscular, and thin. As silly as it sounds, I thought Spider Man from the comic books had perfect hands.
Your hands were beautiful: proportionate, strong, and not too soft. They whispered their tactile secrets as readily as you voice whispered from your lips. Those first few whispers from your hands filled me with hungry anticipation. A few times I surreptitiously reached over and squeezed your hand, and thrilled as it squeezed back.
When you invited me back to your boat, you already knew how I’d answer. Though I’d not physically given myself to you, I was all yours. I was a plum ripe for the picking. I suppose my smiles, conversation and posture provided their own whispers for you to interpret.
As we strolled toward the harbor, you described your boat. False humility being so easy to spot, I knew you were very proud. The tone of your voice made me eager to see it, to set foot on its decking and to feel the vibrating power of the engines thrum up through the soles of my shoes and up my legs. It was an odd feeling, particularly since I hate boats.
I’ve lived my entire life here in Brunswick, except when I went away to college in Savannah. Even then I lived right by the ocean. Maybe there’s some deep psychological reason behind it, living at the boundary of land and sea. Probably not, but I’m sure a head-shrinker could find something significant about it, even if he’s just making it up.
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