Some eat their pain away while others starve themselves for the same reason. I've heard of some people who cut their wrists to feel alive while others drink all night. But I, on the other hand, was lying in bed for two days, alone, detached from the outside world, for the same reason with the people I mentioned. It was almost noon when I decided to leave my bed, with puffy red eyes and a stuffy nose I made my way towards my living room. Seriously, I was a mess. But the state of my apartment was sadder; my sink was full of dirty dishes, I haven't taken my trash out for almost two days, there were used tissues scattered around my apartment. I decided that instead of sulking for the rest of the day, I'll just have to clean the apartment I call home. In this way, I'll be doing something productive and at the same time, I'll be able to keep myself pre-occupied to feel a thing.
While in the middle of my chore, I can't help but look at the direction of the door every now and then, hoping that in some miracle, I will hear a knock on it and revealing her on the other side. But of course, it was just my hopeful, or rather delirious, thinking. It took me two hours to finish all my task and I was feeling satisfied as I look around my squeaky clean apartment. But that proud feeling that I have was quickly overpowered by loneliness. I miserably accepted that my life will always be full of this kind of moment wherein sadness will just suddenly eat its way to my very core.
To distract myself I decided that I'll be developing the negatives that I got from Mr. Poppy but internally cursed myself for forgetting that I lack the photo chemicals that I needed. So, I took a quick shower and dressed myself in casual jeans and shirt. I left my turned off mobile on my night stand not bothering to check it or even turning it on. Putting my coat over my body, I'm on my way towards my favorite shop. I've been a patron of this antique shop ever since I bought my very first camera, Mr. Poppy, from them. Although it is several blocks away from my apartment, I always love to walk going there. The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Morrison, were the ones who taught me how to tinker with cameras and manually develop and print photos. Aside from the vintage cameras and photo chemicals, the store also sells a wide array of antique things from furniture, Chinese porcelains to clothing. On my way towards the store, I keep thinking to myself that what if I bumped into Carol. What shall I do? What shall I say? I've been paranoid during my walk that seeing a flash of golden blonde hair from my peripheral vision made me hold my breath and stop on my tracks. Of course, it wasn't her, it was just a random blonde woman. She's already on a plane to France or somewhere romantic with fucking Sarah. I sadly smiled at my stupidity as I continued marching my way towards the shop.
As I reach my destination, I saw a black luxury car parked by the curb in front of the store. Standing beside it was a bald man in a black suit with a rather heavy built, hungrily feasting on a hotdog. Before I reached the door of the store, he looked up to me and our eyes met, so I gave him an awkward smile and he gave a nod as a reply.
I've always loved the musky and strong smell of this old and vintage shop, so I was quite surprised when a faint but familiar scent welcomed me inside the store. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
I am seeing visions of her everywhere and now I can even smell her perfume. I really need to get hold of myself.
I marched towards the counter, seeing that it was deserted, I rang the bell. I closed my eyes once again and savour every inhale that I made and let the scent play with my senses. Surprisingly it relaxes me. Yes, I'm weird like that. I was actually enjoying the moment when the door from behind the counter suddenly opened, interrupting my "meditation", revealing Mr. Morrison and …
"Carol!" I exclaimed, clearly flabbergasted to see her there.
"Terry! It's good to see you! You're low on supply aren't you?" the old man merrily asked me.
"I am actually. Can I get the usual please?" I said while my eyes remained glued to the magnetic grey orb that belongs to the root of all my sufferings.
"You two know each other?" Mr. Morrison addressed the question to Carol.
"Yes, we do. She's the friend that I was talking about earlier - the one who gave me the Camera" she said without even breaking her gaze from me.
"By the way, you can pick it up in 3 days" The old man said to Carol and didn't push for more details.
Our transaction was over in under 6 minutes - Mr Morrison gave me my much needed supply then I paid him. During that time, Carol and I were just frozen in our place, staring at each other, no one dares to break first. But it was ridiculous to stay there when my business was already done and I can feel that Mr. Morrison was feeling weird about, so I decided that I'll be the adult between the two of us and break my gaze. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Fuck that fucking perfume!
"So, what brings you here?" I asked her.
"Getting your camera –err- Mr. Poppy fixed. I found it on Rindy's bedside table" she said with her piercing eyes penetrating my soul.
"How is she by the way?"
"She's staying with Harge right now. She was totally bummed out when she learned that she will not be coming to France with me and -" she trailed off and averted my gaze. I noticed that her ears were so red, I have never seen her this embarrassed before.
I was about to say something when suddenly the hotdog eating bald man from outside came in and went directly to Carol.
"Sorry to interrupt but we only have 45 minutes to spare or you'll miss your flight Miss Carol" the bald man said.
"Thank you Harold. Just wait for me in the car." Carol said.
We watched Harold as he marched outside the store.
"Who's that guy?" I asked.
"My driver. Well technically, I borrowed him from the firm to drop me off in the airport today" she nonchalantly said.
We silently made our way outside the store - a plastic bag with several bottles of photo chemicals occupying my one hand. When we were on the streets Harold opened the back door of the car for Carol, so I decided that it was time to say goodbye.
"Well. It was nice seeing you Carol" I smiled even though my heart was breaking inside "I better start walking home. It's getting pretty chilly. Bye!"
But before I can take my first step she stopped me by holding my free hand.
"Let me give you a ride" she said.
"Oh don't bother, really. It's just several blocks away. And besides, you have a flight to catch"
"Please, let me give you a ride. It's the least that I can do" she said. I was about to protest when she suddenly snatched my photo chemicals away from my hand then climbed to the back seat of the car.
What an immature brat!
That thought made me smile but I tried to hide it by rolling my eyes on her as I get on the car.
Inside, I gave Harold the address of my building. In no time, the car was already moving.
"This is kidnapping you know?" I said making Carol laugh out loud. She then passed the stolen chemicals to me.
"Thank you for giving me a ride" I said.
"Don't mention it" she said with a wink, annoyed that after all the hurt that she have done to me just her simple tease made me blushed profusely.
"So…" she continued coolly "What did you do these past two days?"
"Oh you know, the usual – developed some films and printed some photos" I answered trying to act as casual as I can.
"Really? You sure look like you lack sleep. Partied all night?"
I shook my head as an answer. I was irritated that she can fully see through me.
"Well I guess the girlfriendwas keeping you up all night…" she said while raising one of her eyebrows with a mischievous smile written on her face.
I took a deep breath to keep my rage settled at bay before speaking.
"No" I answered trying to act as casual as I can.
"Come on, you can tell me" she said, I can feel all my emotions raging waiting for a release, she continued "I might as well give you a tip or two in pleasuring your-"
"-For two nights, I lay awake on my bed, wishing you were right there next to me. Two excruciating fucking nights!" I shouted cutting her off. I saw her gasped in surprise but she didn't try to cut me off so I continued.
"All my senses hoping against hope! Wishing I could see your face, hear your voice, smell your scent, feel your touch… taste your mouth. Ever since I met you I felt that a big void in my heart has been filled! So stop giving me some tips about pleasure because I know that I'll never have a shot at it after this!" I suddenly confessed
"But the idea that we can only be complete with another person is pure evil! It is absurd! No one needs someone to complete them, you just need yourself to complete you!" I continued sternly,
"But I NEED you!" she shouted cutting me off.
"Then why didn't you go after me?! Why did you let me leave that morning?!" I exclaimed with my chest heaving up and down,
"I was stupid! I tried calling you! All day that day, yesterday, last night and until a while ago! And all I got is your fucking voicemail!"
"Oh" I said guiltily when I remembered that I haven't checked or even turned my mobile on for almost two days.
"At first I just thought that you just needed space after thatmorning. But when I keep getting your voicemail I began to worry!" she exclaimed, it was now her turn to lose her shit "But then, I figured it out that you were clearly sending me the message that you don't want me in your life! Well fucking message received! I've read it alright?!" she exasperatedly declared while throwing her hands up in the air in sheer annoyance.
Both of us sank back in our seat, calming our nerves, she was looking outside the window.
"I sometimes wish that I have a rewind button to fix all the fuck ups that I've done in my life" she whispered still looking out at the window.
"Wishing for a second chance so that I can fix what was broken. I'd do it in a heartbeat you know. If I have a chance to relive it once again I would control myself and try not to crack and fall apart" she gave out small sad smile. I've never saw her this transparent before, it made my heart ache. I stretched out my hand to touch her but I stopped midway before it lands on her skin and withdrew my hand without her noticing it. I don't know if she would like that, I don't know if I would like that. She let out a long sigh and finally looked at me
"It's too late for that, isn't it?" I asked.
She didn't reply.
"I thought so" I whispered as she slowly nodded and faced the window again. I looked outside and saw that we were just blocks away from my apartment then I got a sniff of her perfume drowning me with emotions. Suddenly, I can't breathe and the urge to go outside was irresistible.
"You know what" I suddenly said, I saw her abruptly turn her head to look at me "I got to get away from you. I'll get out now."
"No wait Therese!" she said.
"Harold, can you stop the car? I would like to get out now-" I said addressing the driver.
Carol took hold of my arms.
"Don't touch me!" I yelled "I'm walking from here! Harold stop the car!"
The car slowed down.
"Don't you dare Harold! Don't you fucking dare!" Carol glared at the driver through the rear view mirror as she was still holding my arms. The car gathered speed.
"Therese, calm down! Alright?" she said as she was rubbing my hand with circular motion to relax me "Look, I'm just so damn happy that you are here with me right now. Can't we just enjoy this moment?"
I needed a moment to gather my shit up then I smiled at her. She smiled back.
"By the way about Gen" I said moments later
"Oh…" she said as she remove her hand from mine and sank back to her seat dejectedly.
"She is not really my girlfriend"
"She's my boss actually" I looked at her and saw that she was glaring at me, her breaths were shallow that I can clearly see the rising and falling of her chest.
"I don't know why she said that she was my girlfriend" I continued
We looked at each other's eyes, no one dares to be the first one who'll break, when suddenly she flashed the brightest smile that day.
"I'm glad" she uttered under her breath. But before I can push for more details Harold cut me off.
"We're here!" he declared.
We both looked outside and saw my old building in front of us.
"Well, I guess this is good bye" I said as I flashed her a sad smile.
"Let me walk you to your door"
"Oh you don't have to. You'll be late for your flight!" I protested
"No no. I still got time -" she said, but Harold interjected.
"I'm afraid your friend here is correct Ms. Carol. We really need to get going-"
Carol glowered at Harold that the grown man trailed off mid-sentence. If only looks could kill.
"Come on now" Carol said as she opened her side of the door.
When we reached the door of my building I looked at her and saw that she was staring at me intently. Feeling the heat creep up from my face I told her "Good bye. Have a safe trip Carol"
I saw her opened her mouth, as if she was about to say something but thought against it and I don't want that. I want her to freely say the things that are going on inside her mind while she's with me - even if we're down to our last minutes together.
"Whaaat?" I asked her pushing and wanting to know her thoughts.
"Well - You haven't showed me your work yet" she said very slowly as if she was thorough in selecting each word and careful in saying it out loud.
"Oh Carol, you'll miss your flight!" I exclaimed even though that I do want her to spend a little more time with me before our inevitable separation.
"No, no. I won't." she said shaking her head profusely "We got a little more time."
"Please?" Carol pleaded, I sighed because I know that I cannot resist those begging eyes.
"Okay. But you can only stay for 10 minutes or else Harold over there will break my door, alright?"
Carol laughed, it made my heart swell and ache a little. I opened the door to the building and she followed me inside. In the lobby of the building we were confronted by a big old winding stairway.
"I love these kind of old stairways" Carol smiled and asked "What floor are you in?"
"Third" I replied.
We started up the stairs, our arms so close into each other. We were not saying anything and acting that everything was normal. As we continue our ascent, I caught her stealing glances, I shyly smiled at her then she teasingly bumped my hip with hers. Eventually we reached my front door then I pulled out my keys and held the door open for her.
"Would you like something to drink? I think I may have some beer and rye-" I asked Carol as we both crossed the threshold.
"Oh no no. I've completely swear off alcohol in my life... for now" she said laughing and added "A cup of tea would be nice"
"Alright. Make yourself at home" I said before making my way towards the kitchen to boil water for the tea then I put away my chemicals under the kitchen sink. I saw Carol roam around my small apartment looking at the photos that were hanging on my wall.
"These are seriously good photos Therese" she said.
"Thanks, I guess" thankful that I'm in the kitchen that she can't see my fully flustered face. Hearing her say that she thinks my work is good means everything to me. It gives me more meaning to strive and work hard more.
"You should really start working on your portfolio Darling" she added.
"I know, I know" I chuckled.
I have already put the kettle on the stove so I decided to retreat back to the living room while I am waiting for it to boil. She didn't noticed that I was back so I made use of the time to look at her and take all of her in. I watched Carol as she continues to roam around the room; letting her hand trail the spines of my books placed on the shelf in one end of the room and picking up picture of a younger me on display.
"Do you print your own photos?" Carol asked.
"Yes, I do" I said, startling her that I have already made my way to the room undetected. I smiled apologetically.
"I've converted my spare bathroom as my dark room" I continued.
"Can you show me how?" she said once again flashing an irresistible smile.
I thought about it for a moment for I was having second thoughts in granting her request. Not because she's going to miss her plane but because of the fact that I don't know if I can control myself in such close proximity with Carol again. But finally I decided and said
"We will just have to make it quick. Just a general overview okay?"
She exclaimed in delight.
"Well, lead the way Ms. Belivet" she then held out her hand for me to take. And of course, I took it and led her towards my dark room.
Having Carol inside my dark room made me realize how tiny it really is. As our vision adjust to the dark contrast and light of the room, my other senses heighten.
"Show me how you make your magic" she said as she casually placed her arm on my shoulder. Our bodies was pressed with each other that I can feel the rise and fall of her chest as she breathes. In such a close space Carol's sexy perfume was dominating my senses – seriously I can't even smell the chemicals! I tried to concentrate at the task at hand and gave her a quick presentation of printing a black and white negative. I was in the middle of explaining how to use the enlarger when I noticed that her attention was not with me.
"Carol, are you even listening?" I looked at her and saw that she was looking at the photos that I printed last time – these were mostly pictures of her and Rindy at the skating rink. She was so tall that the photos that were hanging on a string across the room for drying were just directly on her eye level – please note that I needed to tip toe and reach out for that damn string every time I want to hang one.
"I'm sorry, I should have asked" I said feeling embarrassed "I was thinking of sending those to you via Abby though. You can have it if you want"
She didn't reply but instead she reached out her hand to get a certain picture but stopped midway and looked at me as if she's asking for my permission. I smiled and nodded.
"That is my favorite too" it was a photo of her and Rindy laughing while holding hands in the skating rink.
"It is perfect" she whispered and looked at me "Thank you Therese" lowering her arm from my shoulders to my waist.
"Don't mention it" I said, secretly thanking that she can't see the blush on my face.
She tighten her grip on my waist and pulled me closer that our bodies were literally pressed to each other. I can feel my heart race – or was it hers? It doesn't matter because she was slowly diminishing and closing the distance between our faces. Even with the dark expanse of our surrounding, I can still clearly see her grey eyes burn with so much desire. When our nose was about to touch, suddenly, we heard the cry of the kettle signalling that the water has reached its boiling point. We both gave out a breath that we didn't notice that we were holding. As she pressed her forehead into mine, I closed my eyes, resisting the urge to latch on those sinful lips.
"I should probably get that" I whispered.
She nodded and slowly released me from her grip.
Once outside the dark room, I went straight to the kitchen to turn that kettle off while she marched towards the living room.
"Can I play some music?" she asked.
"Of course, my ipod is on the coffee table. It is already connected to the speakers." I replied "Would you like some honey in your tea?"
"Sure" she replied. Seconds later a song was already playing, filling the whole apartment with music.
You were the promise at dawn, I was the morning after.
You were Jesus Christ my lord, I was the money launder.
I stepped outside the kitchen holding two cups of tea for the both of us. I found her casually lounging on the sofa with her eyes closed enjoying the song. I stared at her perfect face. Without me noticing it, my eyes wandered downward to her neck and then to her chest. I can feel my pulse was starting to race once again. Only a fool like Harge will let this woman go from their grasps.
You were the sensitive woman, I was the very reverend Freud.
You were the manual of orgasm, I was the dirty little boy.
Only this woman can make me feel flustered just by doing nothing at all. I took a deep breath to relax my body. She must have sensed my presence for she opened her eyes and immediately smiled when she noticed me standing near her. I sat beside her and handed her the cup of tea. Without breaking our gaze, we both took a sip of out tea.
"Careful there. We don't want you drenched in hot tea again, don't we?" she teasingly said.
I rolled my eyes at her while trying to hide my smile and she laughed.
"I can't believe Cohen's dead" she suddenly said as she took another sip of her tea.
"It sucks" I said.
"Have you seen him perform live?"
"No, I haven't got the chance."
"Too bad" she said frowning "He was wonderful!"
You were the father of modern medicine, I was Mr. Clean.
You were the whore and beast of Babylon, I was Rin Tin tin.
A beat then she suddenly put her cup down on the table and stood up. She motioned me to do the same, so I put my cup down too and stood in front of her.
"What are we doing?" I asked giggly.
She just shushed and pulled me closer. Carol kept our hands clasped together and never losing contact for a moment while leading me to the spacious part of the room. She held both of my hands the place it on top of her shoulders. She then pulled me closer with her hands resting on the curve of my hip. Then we fell into a natural and steady sway with the beat of the song. She then softly sang along with the song, almost whispering. I am becoming so sickeningly happy, and all I ever want to do is dance to this music with her forever.
You lusted after so many, I lay here with one.
You defied your solitude, I came through alone.
You said you could never love me, I undid your gown.
Is this what you wanted to live in a house that is haunted by the ghost of you and me.
"Carol, you are gonna miss that plane" I whispered. Without waiting for her answer I held her tighter, laid my head on her chest and closed my eyes.
"I know" she softly whispered before tightening her embrace and kissing the top of my head.