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If You Build It

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When Caitlyn first moved into her apartment, she had a lot of trouble motivating herself to go out and be active. She’s used to having a pool in her parent’s backyard and enough space in her own room to have a basic workout setup, but it’s not like that anymore. She likes living on her own, really she does. The independence and autonomy she gained when she moved out wins in every way over the convenience of her childhood home, but there are things that are hard to adjust to.

So after coming to that conclusion and buying herself a gym membership, she vows to do better about it. And she does, honestly. She just feels like she’s missing the aspect of the ritual where she can just get up and do something active spontaneously, without having it blocked out in a schedule.

So she starts just getting up and walking. Usually, it’s just around the block, just enjoying moving in a casual yet active way. She turns on her headphones and enjoys the sightseeing, looking at different houses and other people on their lawns. It helps keep her brain stimulated during her walk.

One day, a couple of weeks into her new routine, she notices that what had previously been an empty lot has been zoned off with caution tape and spray paint. There are construction workers milling about in the lot and trucks full of concrete cylinders parked and being unloaded on the site. It’s obviously a construction zone, and Caitlyn doesn’t take a whole lot of notice of it the first time she passes by except to wonder idly what is being built there. It’s bigger than simply a house, but the area is rather residential, so probably not a store. Apartments or duplexes, maybe? Anyhow, she passes by and doesn’t think much of it again. Why would she?

Except for that the next time she walks by she notices a flash of color in the work site that’s different from the garish orange of the caution tape and the even worse reflective yellow of safety vests on the workers. One of the said workers is seated on a pile of two-by-fours and appears to be taking a break, free of her hard hat and chugging from a plastic water bottle. Her hair is dyed bright magenta, which is what drew Caitlyn’s eyes in the first place, but it stays for the defined muscles in her arms and the bobbing motion of her throat. There’s a light sheen of sweat coating the woman’s skin, and Caitlyn doesn’t mean to stare but she definitely does, despite her best intentions. All too soon, the construction worker finishes her water and opens her eyes, and Caitlyn rips her eyes away and continues her walk, suddenly mortified at the idea of being caught looking.

After that, Caitlyn does pay a little extra attention to the construction site, takes note of the slow progress of putting together the building, and gazes at taut muscles and the occasional bit of wild pink hair poking out from under a hard hat. There’s nothing wrong with looking, she tells herself. Appreciating. A girl can only have so much self-control, after all.

Sometime in the next month, a big storm rolls through the city, and it rains on and off for a few days, barring Caitlyn from her walking routine. No matter how much indoor exercise she does during that time, it can’t quite scratch her itch to be outside and move her feet. So, she ventures out earlier than is really advisable, when the sky is still grey and boiling and starts the route of her walk. She has to make a few risky jumps over the rivers that have formed in drainage ditches, but feels much better for being outside again. Caitlyn isn’t surprised to see the construction workers out, tending to their half-constructed building, because it’s a Wednesday afternoon, and she doesn’t imagine that the workers get to go home unless the weather is actually unsafe for them to be out in.

She cranes her neck and looks around for her eye candy, but doesn’t instantly find her and gives up on it, not wanting to be intrusive or creepy. There are only so many lines she’s willing to toe up against about this.

But then she comes across a problem. A pile of loose dirt and sand had been sitting by the border of the road and construction lot, and the rain and wind from the storm had melted it into a wide moat of mud that spans the street. Well shit, Caitlyn thinks. There’s no way she could ever jump that, and isn’t willing to get her nice Nikes covered in mud. This only really leaves her the option of returning the way she came, but that’s going to lengthen the time it takes her to get home significantly, so she dawdles, trying to find a better option.

“Hey, do you need help getting across there?”

The voice comes from the construction site, and Caitlyn turns to answer it. Only to find sculpted arms and messy pink hair poking out of a hard hat. Great.

“Oh- um, yes, actually, assistance across here would be a great help, it’s my route home,” God, she’s even hotter up close and Caitlyn’s been oogling this woman for weeks. She’s got freckles dusting her cheeks like sprinkles on a sugar cookie and blue-grey eyes that match the stormy sky. Caitlyn may have gotten herself into a worse situation than the mud moat without even knowing it.

“Okay, cool. We’ve got a scooter thing we’ve been using to get around, let me go get it. Back in a second!” The stranger turns on her heel and trots out of Caitlyn’s line of sight, who is still attempting to compose herself. She almost wants to laugh at the chances of the worker she’s been casually thirsting over for weeks being the one to notice her predicament. It’s okay though, she tells herself, she’s an adult, she can behave like a functioning human being long enough to get across a couple feet of water, it’s fine. This girl probably has, like, a boyfriend who she’s been with for eight years and wants babies with and–

And she’s walking back over to where Caitlyn is standing and she is no more composed than she was a moment ago. The stranger is drifting along on a motorized scooter and kicks her booted foot out to abruptly slow it when she reaches her destination.

“I’m Vi,” the stranger who is no longer a stranger says, sticking her right hand out, “By the way, y’know.”

Caitlyn grasps Vi’s offered hand and shakes it, not surprised by the rough, calloused texture but taking note of it nonetheless. “It’s nice to meet you, Vi, my name’s Caitlyn.”

“Nice to meet you too, Caitlyn,” Vai says, drawing her hand away and adjusting herself so that she is taking up the front half of the scooter, with her hands positioned on the handles. “If you ‘wanna hop on here and grab my waist? I know we just met and it’s kind of close quarters and everything but–”

“No, no, it’s fine.” Caitlyn interjects, waving her hand dismissively, “You were so kind to offer to help me, it’s not a problem.” That and Caitlyn’s hands are itching to see how far down that impressive musculature goes, but Vi probably doesn’t need to know that right now. Or ever. 

Caitlyn tepidly steps onto the back of the scooter and grips Vi’s waist as instructed (the muscles do continue under the shirt, she finds. She must work out outside of the construction work, nobody is that buff by accident) and the scooter makes and little zzzuuurrrpp sound as it starts up and begins to carry them down the street and through the makeshift mud river that clogs the street.

There’s stickers on the back of Vi’s hat that Caitlyn is now close enough to see, including gems such as a galaxy cat skull and a donkey with devil horns. And right there, in the middle of them all, is a glittery, reflective vinyl sticker depicting the progressive pride flag in a heart. Oh, well, shit. Now she has to ask about it, has to say something. Can’t just be content to let this little interaction go given that little snippet of information. Maybe there’s a chance, you miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take, right?

Of course, there’s always the chance that the answer is no, and it being awkward, but they don’t really know each other. Strictly speaking, Caitlyn isn’t losing anything asking. She can handle this, asking a cute girl out. She’s done it before, it doesn’t matter that this one is built like a brick shit house, has sparkling grey eyes and a pretty smile that Caitlyn may never recover from. She can get those simple words out.

The water ripples up around the scooter’s tires as they dig their way through the water, making a valiant attempt to reach the platform of the scooter and seep into Caitlyn’s shoes, but ultimately failing.

“Is this the first time you have been out walking since the big storms? We, uh, noticed that you didn’t come by,” Vi asks as they continue their ford.

“Oh, yes, I haven’t wanted to get wet or be out in the wind, but hated being cooped up for that time. I’m surprised you all noticed me at all, let alone when I was gone.”

“Heh, uh, yeah. Not to be weird or anything but you’re hot and we get kind of bored, hard not to notice when you come by pretty much every day.”

Caitlyn learns then that Vi has a pretty powerful blush then, one that stretches onto her neck when she’s embarrassed, where Caitlyn can see it.

That’s real cute, she thinks, smiling and enjoying the fact that Vi can’t see it from their position, and apparently she thinks I’m hot.

They reach the other end of the water and Vi pulls the scooter to a stop on the road and kills the scooter, and gestures for Caitlyn to step off of the vehicle before popping the kickstand and stepping off for herself.

“Well, here you are,” She says, awkwardly reaching her hand out like she’s going to shake Caitlyn’s hand again before realizing that she already did that and instead stretching the hand behind herself to scratch at her neck. Her biceps flex as a side effect of that action and Caitlyn can’t take it anymore.

“Thank you for the help, Vi. I was wondering, it’s totally okay for you to say no, I won’t be upset or anything, but would you like to go out with me sometime? We could go to lunch or–,”

“Yes!” Vi says, interjecting, excitement clear in the speed of her words. “I’d love to, uh, do anything with you actually. I was trying to get up the guts to ask you out and then you said something so that I didn’t have to which is awesome. Could we exchange numbers and figure something out? I need to get back to work as soon as possible, but I want to keep talking, okay?”

Caitlyn grins at Vi’s flustered excitement, charmed. They do exchange numbers, Caitlyn having to flex her hand to accommodate the bulky military-grade case protecting Vi’s phone. While they do this a man who was working on the other side comes to yell at Vi to get back to work.

“I’ll text you soon, we can figure something out, alright?” She says, swiveling her body to step back on the scooter and start it back up. “It was nice meeting you, Caitlyn, see you around,” She waves as the scooter carries her back across the mud moat, and Caitlyn lifts a hand to wave back to her.

She plays silly, hopeful love songs the entire walk back home, unable to focus on anything else. She gets a text as she’s stripping out of her workout clothes once she gets home, and grins like an idiot.

> Unknown Number
Yo its Vi. Right number?

> Me
Hello. Yes, right number, this is Caitlyn.

> Vi (construction eye candy)
Cool. Ive got work every day but sunday but we could do lunch then if ur down?

> Me
I’m free on Sunday! Do you have any preferences on type of cuisine?

> Vi (construction eye candy)
Nah not really im kind of a garbage disposal :) im cool with whatever

> Me
I know of a cafe with a good variety of grilled sandwich options, will that work for you?

> Vi (construction eye candy)
Sure that works. Just send me the address and i can be there at like 11:30?

> Me
Of course, I’ll send you the address and see you there.

It’s sunny and warm on Sunday, the storms having faded well into the past, and there’s a cool breeze drifting through the streets. Vi is waiting outside of the cafe when Caitlyn gets there, and it’s the first time that she has seen her wearing anything other than a safety vest and a hard hat. She cleans up nice, dressed in a casual black polo and khaki cargo shorts, with her hair somewhat resembling being groomed. Caitlyn eats a sandwich and Vi eats two sandwiches, a serving of french fries, and after becoming embarrassed and having to be confronted about still being hungry, a muffin.

The date stretches on over the threshold of three hours, and they talk about everything that they can think of. Vi laughs when Caitlyn tells her that they’ve both apparently been eyeing each other from across a construction site for over a month, and the words “useless lesbians” are probably uttered.

They make plans to meet up again and to keep texting, and as they’re parting ways Caitlyn presses a chaste kiss to Vi’s cheek.

“Thank you for the date,” She says, emboldened by the way Vi leans into the kiss. “I really enjoyed getting to know you.”

“Yeah, you too,” Vi says, “You’re great, didn’t even tease me that much about how much I eat. Never really thought I would find a silver lining with a job building low-income housing six days a week, but you sure are one.”

“Well,” Caitlyn says, having to keep herself from giggling. “You know what they say. If you build it, they will come.”