Fly Away Home
procedure—a little violated, slightly sore, stretched in places she wasn’t used to stretching, but nothing that a few Advil wouldn’t help.
    So the sex wasn’t great, she thought as they kissed, bumping noses and teeth as sweat dribbled from his forehead onto her breasts. (“Sorry!” he’d cried, wiping her off with a pillowcase.) True, Gary had jammed his fingers up inside her like he was trying to extract the last olive from the jar, and his kisses were the dry pecks of a maiden aunt. But the night had served its purpose. When it was over, and she lay in the crook of his arm, Gary looked down at her, light-brown eyes warm, with just the tiniest spit bubble in the corner of his mouth. “That was incredible,” he said. Diana couldn’t detect anything but sincerity in his voice or in his eyes. So maybe that was great sex for him. Maybe this was great sex for everybody, and there was something wrong with her. Either way she should stop thinking so much—another trait Hal had faulted her for.
    Gary slid his hand over her belly, and tugged at her pubic hair in a not entirely pleasant fashion. “What can I do for you?” he asked.
    Can you turn into someone else? Diana couldn’t stop herself from thinking. Can you turn into Hal? She pushed the thought away and then, using her own fingers to guide Gary’s, she showed him what to do, eventually succeeding in producing a ticklish spasm that she supposed was, at least technically, an orgasm.
    So much for my one-night stand , she thought, pulling on her dress as Gary snored.
    Walking the street at three in the morning, panties in her pocket, looking for a cab, she thought she would never see him again. Never seeing the guy again seemed to be how most of her friends’ hookups ended, with neither party brokenhearted, or even much worse for the wear. He’d wanted her, and that was what mattered.
    When Gary called her the next day, when he found her address and sent pink tulips to her apartment the day after that, she’d been surprised and charmed. He was pursuing her. In all of her previous relationships, the more loving one had always been her. Maybe she’d give Gary a try and see what it felt like to be on the other side, the one who was desired, who was pursued. True, Gary, with his rattling chest and runny nose, didn’t make her heart flutter, but Diana figured she’d see plenty of fluttering hearts in her professional life. If she found his kisses less than enthralling—if, in fact, the first time she’d felt his tongue brush against her own she’d felt briefly revolted—well, there was more to life than kissing. Besides, she’d slept with him. Diana had slept with a grand total of only three other guys—Hal, her love, and Craig, in summer camp, and Paolo, the exchange student she’d dated for six months her sophomore year at Columbia who’d had a disconcerting tendency to fall asleep immediately after and, in a few humiliating instances, during the act. To Diana, sex meant something; it meant she couldn’t put him aside or discard him like a book she’d started and decided she didn’t want to finish.
    She dated Gary through the fall and winter, then brought him home that spring, for Passover, to meet the family. She remembered how, over her mother’s dining room table, she’d looked into his eyes and thought, He will never leave me . This thought was a comfort to her. It was also a helpful counterpoint to the thought she’d had just seconds before it, which was, He’s maybe a little bit dumb .
    Of course that wasn’t true. Stupid people didn’t go to Penn, then Rutgers, where Gary had earned a master’s degree in business. If he occasionally looked doltish at certain angles—his mouth slightly open, his eyes wide and glassy, as if he’d just been given a really hard word at the spelling bee—well, that was simply an accident of bone structure and genetics. He was dependable, and he loved her, and he would never leave her … and she wasn’t

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