Now that I've decided not to stay
I can feel me start to fade away
I didn't ask him how he knew. I was sure he knew that someone was coming to see me, but I couldn't explain how could I be so certain about it. I didn't ask him because I feared that he would think I’d lost my mind. No, he didn't know. It was just a coincidence.
I met him next at that coffee shop down the street. I was walking back home when I saw his reflection in the windows. I stopped and looked more attentively. How could that be?
Then I saw that it wasn't his reflection. He was inside, having a coffee and a cig. I stood there, on the sidewalk and looked at him. He stared back at me, his face immobile for the first few seconds. Then that start of a smile rose on his face. We kept looking at each other, him smiling at me, for about a minute. Then he put out the cig, had his last sip of coffee, rose from his table and left the place.
I wanted to ask him. I wanted to confront him. I needed to know. But by the time the door of my house closed behind us, all these thoughts became meaningless and faded away as we were kissing, pulling each other closer, as if our bodies wanted to melt into each other.
“Why do you go to that place? I have this awesome place, my own, for coffee. An Italian guy runs it. It's great,” I suggested to him one day.
He didn't answer at first.
“Are you embarrassed to be seen with me?” I joked.
He smiled briefly and shook his head.
“Are you afraid then?”
“I like this place on our street. I’m used to it.”
One day I talked about him. My friends wanted to meet him.
“I know you will hate me for this, but no,” he declined when I asked him.
He kissed me.
“Are you hiding?”
“Do you have someone else?” I couldn't contain it anymore.
He shook his head, the movement almost imperceptible.
He tried to embrace me, but I pushed him away.
“I don't like people,” he said. “I don't like being around people.”
I just threw him a stern look.
That smile and calmness on his face had been replaced by sadness. Sadness that made his dark eyes even darker.
He took my hand into his. The cold touch of his skin on mine didn't surprise me anymore; I had gotten used to it. His fingers were slowly caressing my fingers.
“I'm losing you,” he whispered; he lifted my hand to the level of his face and cupped my palm over the cold skin of his cheek.
He smiled again. There was no trace of desperation. He said it as if he would have announced to me that it was raining.
“I don't care, you know,” I forced my rusty voice to pronounce the words. “Even if you have someone else. Even if you don't want to meet my friends. I don't care about all that. But you're not losing me.”
I took my hand off his face. Suddenly I felt so nervous. I fumbled after the ciggies pack. I picked out one cig and, as I was lighting it, I noticed the slight tremble of my fingers.
I dragged the first smoke.
“You're not losing me, god damn it!”
“My friend gave me the keys for his beach house...”
A beach house – the restless whooshing of the waves, only that. A place like those small slices of beauty frozen forever in a glass ball. One wouldn't notice the earth revolving, only the seagulls flying like arrows through time, followed by their sharp cries.
“You know I can't.”
“It will be only us...”
“Why do you want that?”
“Why don't you?”
Golden light poured through the windows, from outside – thick warm honey filtered by the blinds, partially pulled down. He had his shirt on already, covering him, protective...
“I can't go.”
“Well, can you ever go anywhere, then?”
He shook his head.
“Is it about me?”
“No,” he whispered dryly.
He looked into my eyes, as if begging me to try to understand. But I couldn't understand. I refused to understand.
I put out my cig and climbed onto the bed, straddling his hips. I leaned above him, cupped my palms over his face, lifting his head, and I kissed his lips. His hands caressed my back slowly, with their familiar cold touch that I had learned already to love.
“It doesn't matter,” I was whispering to him as I was kissing his eyelids. “I really don't care,” I kept whispering as I was kissing his forehead. “As long as you're here for me,” and I was covering his face with my kisses.
He embraced me and rolled with me on the bed. On this extremely hot evening, having his cool body in my arms felt like a blessing. I had asked him long ago about it – another side effect of his accident, he’d said. He needed warming; he needed my body to warm him up.
I loved the way he was, but he wouldn't understand. I loved watching him above me, I loved feeling his cheek against mine as he was thrusting into me. I loved to cling onto his frame, as I closed my eyes, letting my fingers explore the wideness of his well worked out back. I loved the way he would whisper my name, place a kiss on my cheek, then whisper to me how much he loved me, and then rest his forehead over mine, exhausted from his climax. But that would not last more than a few moments, because it was my turn. His hands would travel along my body, his touches being followed by his kisses, the nibbles and the licks.
We would rest then in silence, only our sharpened breathing slicing the boiling darkness in the room. Sometimes we would caress each other lazily, but just that. This time we did not, though. With this heat wave, I still put my body so close to his, skin onto skin, and I closed my eyes picturing in my mind how he would look in the light. I didn't care much about that scar. How awful could it be?
But why couldn't he fulfill my request? I had never asked for anything, absolutely nothing. I didn't care about him avoiding seeing or being seen by the people in my life, I didn't care whether he had someone else – well, maybe if I had known for certain, it would have hurt a bit – I didn't even want him to tell me he loves me or stuff like that. I could have put up with all the oddities, if I understood what it was all about... If only!
I didn't even open my eyes. I only listened. I could listen better when my eyes were closed, as if the darkness would have blinded me and muffled my hearing abilities. He seemed asleep.
I didn't hold my breath. I didn't even think of it, as if I would have been afraid of him reading my thoughts.
My hand slid over the bed sheets, over the pillow, to the edge of the bed. I raised my head a bit, and kissed his lips. The cool, soft texture of his lips. And his mouth opened slowly, receiving my kiss.
I sneaked my other hand under his neck, and, with my palm between his shoulder blades, I pulled him more to me.
My fingers grabbed the cord, felt their way to the button, and bang! The light was on.
“What are you doing?”
“What did you do??”
He pushed me away from him violently. But he couldn't complete the movement. It was as if the touch of his hand on my flesh lost its consistency. I looked at him, bewildered; he stood up. His body, from the neck to his knees was covered by these scars of a severe burning. But that wasn't what shocked me and made me feel as if my blood was turning into ice in my veins.
It was how he seemed now only an image, a semi-transparent image there in front of me, standing near my bed. What the...?
The image in front of me was fading slowly. I wanted to motion toward him, to make that futile attempt to reach out my arms to catch him, to make him remain there. But I couldn't. I couldn't move. I was like paralyzed. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't even comprehend.
The image became only like a vision, like a dream, like an impression. He only shook his head and I caught one last sad look in his dark eyes.
He was gone.
To be continued...