"Hey Mal, do you remember when we used to play horses when we were eleven?"
Mallory opened her eyes wide. "What? No."
I giggled and cantered a few steps a few steps ahead of her, arching my neck and whinnying.
"Well, okay, maybe." Mallory grinned at me. "We were total dorks back then, weren't we?"
"Hey, speak for yourself. I'm still a total dork." I pawed at the sidewalk with one foot. "I do this with my kids during warm-up and they love it."
I teach a once a week dance class for underprivileged children through my program at Dance NY, which is about the closest thing to baby-sitting that I can squeeze into my schedule. Now, don't get me wrong, I love dance and I'm thrilled to be able to devote my life to it, in such a serious and exciting program but do I miss kids. And the old Baby-sitters Club. And being able to see Mal whenever I want instead of when her parents let her come into the city for the weekend.
"I bet they do." Mallory looked around, like she was afraid that someone was staring at us, but there weren't a lot of people in Central Park on such a gray, dreary day and anyway, New Yorkers have seen stranger things and aren't fazed by very much.
"C'mon," I said, tossing my head. Mal hesitated for a moment, but then she laughed and galloped over to join me.
We chased each other around and under the bridges and past the empty soccer fields, doing our best horse impressions until we were both panting and giggling like loons. Mallory's cheeks were flushed bright and curls of her hair had escaped to frame her face, and all at once I was just struck for the thousandth time by how gorgeous she is.
So I leaned over kissed her.
She kissed me back, deeply, winding her arms around me and squeezing me tight before she pulled away.
"You know," she began, "sometimes I have a hard time believing that this is all for real, especially when you're in New York and I'm still in Stoneybrook. It seems more like a story that I made up."
"Yeah, I know what you mean," I said immediately. "I have a hard time believing that I have a girlfriend as perfect as you."
Mallory rolled her eyes. "No, I'm the one who has the perfect girlfriend!"
"I guess we're just perfect for each other, then," I murmured, and Mal kissed me again. This time it was a long, slow kiss, and neither of us cared whether or not anyone was watching us. We didn't care, either, when big, sloppy raindrop started to fall.
Finally, when we were getting to be soaked through, Mallory said, "I guess we'd better head inside, huh?"
"Yeah," I said, reluctantly. "Mama would say we're going to catch our deaths."
Mal giggled. "She would have told us to knock off the public displays of affection hours ago."
"True." My parents aren't homophobic or anything--they accept me just the way I am--but they're definitely old-fashioned.
"You want to go get some hot chocolate or something?"
"Sure," I said, winding my hand into Mallory's. "I know this place where they make hot chocolate to die for."
"Sounds perfect," Mal said, giggling.
"Except it's so fattening I'm probably not even allowed to drink it. Maybe I'll just get some for you and then kiss you after every sip," I joked.
"Hey! Are you saying I'm fat?"
"Didn't I just get through saying you were perfect?"
"I guess you're just going to have to keep telling me for the rest of our lives."