She Asked If She Still Made Me Nervous

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I met a girl who scares me. She’s scared me since I first sat next to her on a cloudy April afternoon, too nervous to say anything. But she doesn’t know that she scares me. And I’ve met plenty of girls before. I asked her what she was doing, told her I wanted to drive to the ocean.

She said, “I want to run away too.”

I told her I had a few dollars to my name, barely any traceable debt. Then I imagined the two of us, windows rolled down, the soundtrack to a new life. Her vulnerable, without knowing she is being anything other than herself. Me, watching her, my body quivering at every glance my way. I imagined the burnt cigarettes in our mouths, the stories we would tell, hands waving in the wind, feet on the dashboard, bare legs in the sun. I imagined the stops we would make, the people we would be, and I fell in love with her. But I’ve met plenty of girls before and I’ve only kissed her once.


I began adding chapters to our story before she even knew there were pages to it. It’s the sort of thing girls do, scribbling names and hearts on pages of books to be lost and never found. I am a woman though. Instead I bleed my heart onto this paper so that I might remember how it all started. I know there’s more to come and I want to tell the story of us. I want to remember each moment before it happened.

She did it to me again, standing in the humid summer night. Her lips still soft and fresh on mine, as she fixed the piercing on her lip where I had delicately nibbled. We slowly inhaled each other with every puff of the shared cigarette, her pouring honesty into the night, laying her story bare on the sidewalk at my feet. I couldn’t look at her as she revealed me unto myself, my jaw with that all-too-familiar twitch I cannot control when the night gets late and I am trying to outrun it. She was telling my story.

It was different. Others heralded it as a sign of our reckless youth, but she had found the shadows lurking in the back that no longer retreated. I wanted to cry. She wanted to take me home.

“Are you going to be trouble for me?”
“No, I know my limits, I just forget them sometimes.”

Sometimes I think I am invincible and sometimes I convince myself that this is something. But I’ve met plenty of girls before and I’ve only kissed her twice.


We had run around this city pretending to be children, young lovers at play. Hands holding, lips touching, old tales swapped in new tongues, her hands arresting me with their frankness as they slid up my thigh and under the table. Laughter escaping our open mouths as she asked if she still made me nervous. Yes. Champagne had fallen off our breaths into the warm night air on that mid-evening walk back to her apartment. My hands on the handlebars of her bicycle as she walked beside me had made her laugh — made her stop to take pictures of the girl in the shorts and heels pushing her bike down the hot pavement. I had played along, posing for the camera. She had slid up to me somewhere around 4 am as the sun toyed with the night sky. I felt myself stretch over her, a fool for all her tenderness. A heart beating for the moment when my fingers caressed her shoulders and slid easily down her back. Yet it is still not enough.

I want her to want me. Like I want her. I want her to want my skin on her bones, my lips on her as she works her body into mine. I want her to wake up with nothing but the thought of me, all encompassing, draping over her like a shawl on a wet winter morning. I want her to be taken over by the thought of seeing me again, of eyes held, of breaths taken. I want her to want me like I want her; to spend her day willing her phone to ring, counting down the hours, minutes, and seconds till we can be together. I want her to think of me as she sits at her desk. To think of me sitting at my desk, thinking of me thinking of her. I want her to savor each moment, undisturbed. I can’t resist this feeling she gives me. It makes me want to hide under the covers and simultaneously find her at the mountaintop, proclaiming love.

This isn’t something that happens every day. I want to nibble scones with her in the dead of the night while we lay side by side whispering love and wants and needs to each other. I want to drink high tea at noon while I think of being nowhere else other than here because all that energy would be spent thinking of her. And what better way to spend it.


It was somewhere around mid June, another warm summer night, that I found my heart laying in an unceremonious pile. There were footprints on it from the places she had unwittingly bruised it. She didn’t see it lying there as she hugged me goodbye and I collected myself. I’d sat next to her in that bar, hands clasped in my lap, sweat licking my skin from the day’s work, with nothing to say. I had decided to stop making conversation in the hopes that she would seek me out. Her silence communicated more than the brief moments in which she asked me benign questions, the sort of thing polite Midwesterners do — the weather, yes it was beautiful; the block party, yes I had enjoyed it; our friends, yes, they were coming; the bartender — yes, he’s still here after all these years.

I waited for her to reveal herself, waited for those moments when she had looked into my eyes and then around them because she had found my brown eyes divulged too much. I waited for her hand to find mine, for her body to move closer to mine as surreptitiously as it had before. But her chilliness had swept into the space between us. I had been pouring myself into nothingness, revealing myself to blankness. The slate had to be swiped clean. A blank canvas, that’s what I need. I got on my bicycle and never looked back, though I wondered if she watched me ride off.


And so fall finds me — my favorite season. It finds me nursing a bumped and bruised heart, dangling my own string of hearts broken. Fall springs me forward now, with its promise of enchantment. It’s a chance for rebirth, for my foolish heart to forget summer’s heat and embrace myself within. I am no longer falling… at least not backwards, not in love. Yet. I am always a fool for knitted stockings finding each other under covers. I am fool for motorcycle jackets, and military boots, and gloved hands enclosing each other on emptied streets. So I may just fall in love again.

Kari is a creative writer born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya who spent her formative years in Minnesota—where she often dreamed of warmer weather. She is an avid traveler, perpetual list-maker and sometimes performer. Her words have appeared all over the internet, on the radio and on stage. For more, check out her website, The Warm Fruit, or follow her on Twitter.

Kari has written 13 articles for us.

48 Comments

  1. you have no idea how wonderfully surprised i was when i find out after reading this wonderful piece that you’re from nairobi.(kenyan here)…. “Fall springs me forward now”, a sentence that jumped out at me. its sounds very lyrical in my head

  2. Kari…. your words are such sweet poetic sorrow of how love can be for so many of us. And then, as you end with the hope of another day, hopeful! Beautiful poetry in prose form. I feel that connection of your heart and mine… friends.

  3. “I want to drink high tea at noon while I think of being nowhere else other than here because all that energy would be spent thinking of her. And what better way to spend it.”

    Oh, man. The feels.

  4. Wow. This is everything. So, so beautiful. Already I’ve read this three times and I can tell I’ll keep coming back to it! It’s amazing how your words bring all these feelings to life. I’ve been thinking about a girl who bruised my heart a few months back and I can’t even tell you how much this resonated with me. Thank you thank you thank you.

  5. This is so amazingly beautiful, thank you for sharing.

    “Instead I bleed my heart onto this paper so that I might remember how it all started. I know there’s more to come and I want to tell the story of us. I want to remember each moment before it happened.”

  6. “I waited for her to reveal herself, waited for those moments when she had looked into my eyes and then around them because she had found my brown eyes divulged too much. I waited for her hand to find mine, for her body to move closer to mine as surreptitiously as it had before. But her chilliness had swept into the space between us. I had been pouring myself into nothingness, revealing myself to blankness.”

    My gosh, this hit me. Lovely, expressive writing.

  7. This is such a fantastic piece and gives me so many feelings.

    “I want her to want me. Like I want her. I want her to want my skin on her bones, my lips on her as she works her body into mine. I want her to wake up with nothing but the thought of me, all encompassing, draping over her like a shawl on a wet winter morning”

    Yes.

  8. I’m gonna assume that the AS comment section is the most generous place on the internet. Thank you all so much, you have no idea how much this pushes me to keep at this. Beyond that, I am simply humbled and floored that these little words arranged on paper could resonate with so many of you.
    To the AS editorial you are some major word ninjas, thank you for polishing this off better than I could!

  9. This is FANTASTIC. Seriously, SO, SO good.

    “I want to nibble scones with her in the dead of the night while we lay side by side whispering love and wants and needs to each other.” did you take that thought from inside my head???!!!

  10. I love this. I’m currently studying filmmaking in university and am wondering how you’d feel about maybe making this into a short film? I have so many ideas for it, it’s so beautifully written.

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