She sat staring at the phone resting on a coffee table, heavily scored with all kinds of marks and dings. Around her, the bluish grey wall paper peeled off the walls as if it too wanted to be rid of the moldy, tired place. She got up and got a soft drink out of the humming mini-fridge. The room was small with just a few cheap cabinets nailed into the walls, an old dresser in one corner, and a twin bed in another. She got two cups out of the cabinet and checked them for dust. Satisfied, she placed one on the table and filled the other. She continued to stare at the phone as she took a sip from her glass.
Within a few minutes, the phone buzzed. She shoved it in her pocket without really looking at it. She undid the heavy bolt and nimbly ran downstairs to unlock the outer apartment door. Light laughter and a deeper chuckle echoed up through the floor boards of the little room as two sets of footsteps ascended and came into the room.
As she closed the door and did the bolt again, his arms encircled her from behind and he whispered in her ear, “You look beautiful today.”
She swatted him away and teased, “You probably said that to the cashier at the convenience store too. Did she give you an employee discount on the chips?” However, she was secretly pleased that he had noticed she was wearing make-up and was wearing her only designer shirt, which a coworker had given to her.
“No!” he insisted. “Well, I might have said something like that, but I didn’t do this with the cashier.” He turned her around and rested his forehead against hers, smiling. She laughed a little and blushed as he kissed her; though this time she didn’t push him away. After a sweet minute, she slipped out of his grip and filled the second glass. They sat down on the bed and drank their coke and ate the spicy chips. They chatted about how horrible their jobs were and which movies they were looking forward to getting to theaters.
“Do you get lonely here much?”
“Sometimes, when I don’t have a lot of hours at work.” Liar. She was lonely all the time.
“What do you do when you come back from work?”
“Mostly watch movies on my phone,” she demonstrated the scratched phone which was several years out of date. “I try to exercise some or take walks. There are some nice people in the park if you have time to chat with them.”
“I love watching movies with friends. Someday, we should have a movie night on my laptop. That would be better than on your phone, huh?”
“Yeah, that’d be great.”
They fell quite for a little while. He moved the empty glasses and chip bag to the floor. She twirled her long hair in her fingers, painfully aware of split ends and a course texture from using cheap soap. She felt his hand on the back of her neck. She looked up and met his eyes, so handsome.
“You don’t mind do you?”
“N..No,” she stuttered.
After a series of kisses and tight embraces, he pulled back and reached into his pocket.
“Here,” he said assertively, “I picked this up with the chips, just in case.”
She took the package from his hand, blushing, yet thankful that he had been so thoughtful to get her protection. He wasn’t being pushy at all. Going into the tiny bathroom, she read all of the instructions, feeling very naïve and ignorant. She wondered what he would think if he knew that she had never even kissed anyone until this week. Well, not by her choice. Several minutes passed in the bathroom, mostly spent gripping the sink while looking in the mirror that just barely showed her face and collar bones. She was alternating between trying to conjure up a sexy expression and being on the verge of vomiting. She wondered if it would it hurt as bad as last time. Surely not. She had been so little then. At eighteen, she was a woman and it would be more natural this time. This time, he wouldn’t smell of cigarettes and spearmint gum or pinch her with the links of his watch. Finally, she opened the door.
“Sorry I took so long.”
“Don’t apologize. I want you to be comfortable.” He came up to her and held both her hands, almost as if they were saying their vows. He lifted her up like a princess and laid her on the bed. As his hands went under her shirt, sliding it off, she suddenly gasped. She had felt the imprint of the Other One’s palm against her cheek from a hard slap and now he held down her ankles with his other invisible hand. Hands all over her!
“Are you okay, Baby?”
She let the moment of panic pass as she breathed deeply and concentrated on his big brown eyes, full of concern. Then with a supreme effort, she ignored the invisible hands. “Yes. I’m fine.” She kissed him as his weight pressed down on her and his breath, still spicy from the chips, permeated her hair. It would be okay. The hands would go away now.
Photo is mine.