Where I Wanna Be by Joe Barton

It’s late, and my phone rings. She’s crying. She tells me she’s sorry. I’m dazed and confused by this. She can’t be with me and she’s sorry. The line goes cold.

     It was another day in the gym, nothing too special about that day, but her. She had been coming on and off for a couple of weeks now. I could tell from her posture and kicks that she was trained in Karate. The snappiness of her kicks gave that away. She used her feet to land strikes, which were effective but only cause minor damage. This was Muay Thai however. Thai kicks are made to cut through the opponent, not slap. The Thais used the hardest part of the shin to land devastating kicks to an opponent’s body. Also Karate didn’t allow knee and elbow strikes.

     While class went on, I couldn’t not to help notice her. Her skin was pale but glowed from the sweat she produced. She tried to keep her long black hair in a bun while she worked, but that was a losing battle. Her eyes were dark and held a mixture of pain, innocence, and determination. She had the most perfect lips I’ve ever seen. They were slim but plump, and right above her upper lip was a small mole. Her body was that of a small fighter, with the hips of a kicker and the torso of a swimmer. I was a bit distracted that night, to say the least.

     Over a few weeks, I got to know her. She was a nurse, a black belt in Karate, a photographer who loved the Walking Dead and had two Pitbulls at home. We sparred and grappled a couple of times. She was good at snapping her kicks, very good indeed. One day, I finally gathered the courage to ask her out to the movies. She told me that she wondered when I was gonna ask. Right after a Friday night sparring session, still a bit sweaty, we went to the movies. It took me 30 minutes to muster up the courage to hold her hand. I felt like Doug Funny when he took Patti Mayonnaise to the movies—nervous and anxious.

     At the end of the night, I walked her to her car. We hugged, said our goodnights, and both got into our respective cars. But neither of us took off. She looked at me from her window and started to smile. In that very moment, I thought to myself, “Fuck it, go for it.” I got out of my car with an outer smoothness that was befitting of James Dean. But on the inside, my heart was going like an Olympic sprinter on crack. She immerged from her car still smiling; she knew what was up. I took her into my arms, and our lips met for what seemed like a lifetime. Our tongues danced together as our lips pressed tight against each other’s. My every kiss to her was like a letter sealed with a smaller kiss. She pulled me harder and harder into her, as if she wanted to be one with me. For those few moments of bliss and peace, we were one. There was no other place I wanted to be but with her.

     We finally found the will to let go of each other so we could both go home. She lived an hour away and had to be at work in the morning, but we both didn’t want to leave. We said our goodbyes, and she drove off smiling at me. I got in my car and turned the ignition, and by mere chance the song “Little Wing” by Jimi Hendrix was on the radio. Little Wing was my nickname for her. 

     For three weeks, we exchanged texts and worked out together. Those three weeks were some of the best of my life. We had vastly different schedules, and the only time I got to see her was at the gym. Those few days I got to hold her was all the motivation I needed to get through the more shitty aspects of life. Every time we kissed was like a vacation to a dissent land. Everything disappeared when our lips touched, nothing mattered. The best night of those three weeks was the night I came over to her house. We went to sleep on her couch while watching the Dark Knight. My head rested in her lap, and I’ve never felt more safe and warm. 

     But it was all too good to be true. There are no happy endings for guys like me.

     She called me late one night, the night she didn’t show up for the gym. She had a relationship with a coach from another gym, and it ended badly. She didn’t want to go through that again. She called me crying and apologizing. She told me she just couldn’t do it and she just needed more time. Time went on and our gym closed and everyone went to other places. I took my pain and loss and refocused them into college. She refocused on teaching Karate. She cut her hair and slimmed down a little, but her eyes remained the same. I still saw the pain, innocence, and determination in her eyes. I see those same eyes when I look in the mirror every day. I can’t help but to somewhat torture myself when I see her pictures on my Facebook timeline. I miss her dearly.  Of all the places I’ve been and yet to go, there is only one place I never wanted to leave. Pressed between the mole above her plump lips and on the tip of her tongue is where I want to be. Fly on Little Wing.