I open my eyes not bothering to adjust to the daylight, I just squint. I know nothing in this room is familiar. Fancy wallpaper, art replicas, billowy curtains that open to a gorgeous view of the sea, a Bang and Olufsen tv on the wall, a plush velvet chair sits in the corner, a Bible sits untouched in the side table drawer, oversized pillows (always too soft) and duvets adorn the bed. I have this duvet wrapped up and over my undressed legs. I prop myself up on my elbows, eyes open. The sunlight makes the halo of gold curls next to me look angelic. I smile and gather garments to cover myself. I run the tub (to mask bathroom sounds?) and overfill it with coconut-smelling bubbles. I brush my teeth with my favourite cinnamon toothpaste (packed neatly in my 1950s Hollywood monsters makeup case). I wipe the foam off my face and step into the scalding tub.
can I come in?
I am in the tub.
uh huh. I heard it. now I’ve got to pee.
I get up and unlock the door. I scamper back into the tub and pull the shower curtain tight. I try not to giggle.
is there room for me in there?
no, not really.
can I come in anyway?
The breakfasts are always free but I never leave my room early enough. We locate our hired car (lesson learned from being in a city where taxis are hard to find and very expensive) and head out to find food.
I like touristy places (The Hard Rock Cafe, for example). We instead find a small vegetarian bistro. I have no appetite, I pick at my salad. He sits across from me, slim black trousers, a white t-shirt with a collared shirt over it. His wool coat is hanging on the back of the chair. He is devouring a large baguette, oblivious to my salad picking. I smile. Without looking at me he senses my happiness and smiles in return (with a mouthful of food).
Later we get lost in the countryside. We stop several times to get directions. Each set gets us more lost. I try google maps but the reception is poor. The sun disappears behind the clouds and rain pours (more hailish)! out of these clouds. We pull over and watch. We listen to the radio in a foreign language (he says he understand some of it). Adele comes on singing about someone like you. I feel sad. He knows why. He takes my hand and squeezes it.
you can’t fix him, you know?
I silently agree.
The weather slows and somehow we make it back to our room with no added fuss. We bought some groceries while we were lost. I sit on the chair and bite into an apple. He takes a phone call. I pick up my mobile. I glare at the text messages that tell me I am a Jezebel.
You are a bigger whore than I will ever be. Delete.
I wish you never came into my life. Delete.
I hope people sense what a horror show you are so you cannot hurt anyone else. Delete.
I cannot seem to think of anything but negative things about you. Delete.
I throw my phone on the bed and sigh. No one is all bad, I think. I spend a moment trying to recall something good about him.
My mind draws a blank.
I hear the door lock. I am still stuck pondering my poor decisions when I feel small kisses on the base of my neck. Distracting, I am trying to brood here!
You’re gorgeous when you are miserable, you know.
I am not miserable.
Okay, but you’re still gorgeous.
Guiltlessly, I let him win. These thoughts have not gotten me anywhere in months. I must not let the darkness take me over again.
Open your eyes.
I do, then every thought of darkness is pushed out into the abyss. I cannot unlock my eyes from his, biting my lower lip. I am floating off somewhere ethereal. I have never been here before. No sentences are able to form coherently in my head. I cannot imagine I have lived this long denying his touch.
He kisses my brow, my cheekbone, the corner of my mouth. He settles down to my left, and curls his lithe body into mine.
When my breathing returns to normal I look for the proper words to describe what I was feeling. All I can do is smile.
I turn my head and he is smiling with his eyes closed. Dark eyelashes that curl in a way that I envy. Milk and honey skin, slightly flushed. I want to touch his face but I do not want to wake him.
I hear that familiar sound on my phone. I know who is sending that message. I wait to feel curious about the content of the message.
It never comes.