She leaned passively on the strong, red brick wall of his home, having just pressed the doorbell, altogether too reluctantly. She really did not have a clue what the hell she thought she was doing, but something in the pit of her stomach had directed her here. Kind of like a satnav, she thought, inside her head was controlling her and telling her which roads and paths to take and she had done this, feeling quite blind to her surroundings until she had reached the place that he would call home. It was, in general, quite a nice place. It was small and cosy and there was a nice…garden. She breathed in heavily, like she was attempting to suck in every oxygen atom within a mile's radius and rapped on the door quite gently. She did not know quite where she was, or what time it was, or what day it was…Tuesday? Wednesday? Sunday? A light flickered on and blurred her sight for a few seconds before the door slowly creaked open and revealed his form, the one man she definetly wanted to see right now.
Someone was knocking on his door. He glanced towards the clock situated on his mantelpiece and with great shock and surprise, read the time to be almost twenty to one in the morning. Who on Earth would be knocking on the door at this time of night? Well, morning? But a little nagging voice told him to answer it, just to see who it was. He reasoned and toyed with this idea for a few seconds; it was understandable. He could just talk to them briefly and then ask them to come back at another, more rational hour. Heaving himself up from the sofa he had been indented in for almost four hours (whilst watching The Transporter and it's various sequels), he strolled to his front door, undid the chain, not bothering to look through the peephole as to see who it was and opened the door steadily. And there she stood, the one woman in the world that he could and could not have, both at exactly the same time.
For a few moments, no words were spoken, just a look of supreme loneliness and solidarity being exchanged between the two. There was a small grin carved upon her face, like she could not get rid of it. The eclipsing moon shone brightly down on her skin and her honeysuckle hair gleamed irresistibly.
'Karen?' he asked disbelieving, rubbing his eyes, making sure that his brain wasn't just making up the fact that this delightful, charming woman was standing directly in front of him, on his porch, outside his house.
'Hi Rob,' she said, almost dreamily, swaying to the left and right happily. She paused for a second and then asked, 'Is your real name actually Rob, or is it short for something else? Robert, Robin, Robson?'
He looked at her closely and saw that the irises of her sky blue eyes were very large, but almost hypnotizing, like if he stared into them for too long he would get weak kneed and just sink and melt in front of her. Caretaker, liquidised.
'Karen, are you…drunk?' he enquired, asking yet another question that confused him. She stared up at him and lowered and bowed her head ashamedly, 'Slightly.'
Well, whatever crazy things had happened that day, this was most sincerely the strangest. He had never seen Karen drunk or even drink that much alcohol to get anywhere near it. But then again, he had never seen Karen do a lot of things: smoke, dance (he would persuade her to do that sometimes), sing (again, karaoke was in order), he had never even seen her have a laughing fit. And he had never ever ever expected her to ever get drunk.
'Karen, why did you come here?' he asked, not unkindly, but quite bemusedly. She shook her head, leant an arm against the doorframe and replied, slurring ever so slightly, 'I don't know. This is where my feet brought me.'
He almost laughed at her comment. She was so different and strange like this (well, everyone was when hammered slightly), but Karen even more so. And Rob saw this as the perfect opportunity to do some interrogation. Alcohol, for Karen, was like a truth serum. Ask her anything.
'Well, would you like to come inside and sit down for a bit?' he asked kindly, taking her hand like she was a misbehaving schoolgirl, and leading her inside. He slammed the front door shut and quietly murmured in her ear, in a slight kind of scary – Dracula voice, 'There's no escaping now Karen.'
She giggled when he said this, his soft breath on her neck, tickling her slightly. She kicked off her shoes (heels – how did she stagger all the way here in heels? Wow, the strange things women do, Rob thought) and carried on being guided by Rob to the living room. He plonked himself down on his sofa and patted the seat next to him which she gracefully sank into, maintaining some small level of decorum,
'Can I get you a drink? Actually, on second thoughts, maybe an aspirin would be better?' he offered, standing from his position. She nodded gratefully at him, her brain beginning to feel rather sleepy and dozy and so, so tired. He returned a few minutes later, a glass of water and an apsirin in hand. She took it politely and swigged back the tablet, downing it with half a pint of water. Better than half a pint of beer like earlier…
Not quite sure what to do, Rob put an arm around Karen's waist and let her lean down and lie across his lap. He hummed quietly along to Clare de Lune, and when she recognized the tune, she joined in. The tune eminating from both of their throats was beautiful and synchronized and sweet and melodic. When the song was over, he asked her, 'Karen, why exactly are you drunk?' She sat back up, but fell slightly into his shoulder. Headrush. Leaning her head on his shoulder, in the crook of his neck, she considered his question for a couple of seconds.
She was in a pub, dark and dreary, with no recollection of quite how she had gotten here. All she knew was that she needed some sort of really strong drink to, in a last ditch attempt, drown her sorrows. She bought herself a pint of Carlsberg and sat down at a table near the bar. Men a plently were staring at her, but she just ignored them and drank, sip by sip, and within eight minutes, her glass was empty. She had never understodd before why people drank when they were depressed or having problems. She didn't get why it helped, but now that she was in the drivers' seat (metaphorically, if it was literally she would probably be in a police station right now) she completely reasoned with the idea. The drink surged unhealthily through her system and it felt like she was gradually becoming lighter and lighter, like weights were being lifted off her shoulders. She lost track of time after a while, her mood increasing to a level of happiness and mirth where even the memories of all the events that had come to pass today were just supressed to the back of her head.
'I just felt stressed and everything was and is still such a mess,' she explained tearfully, her voice cracking and creaking. He hugged her soothingly, but replied wisely and helpfully with, 'Karen, these problems will still be there tomorrow. You can't drink them away, hoping they'll just stay at bay.'
'I know, I know,' she replied hasteningly, mumbling, feeling quite dopey if she was honest, 'But it was just all too much to handle…'
And with that remark, she could not help it, and she wasn't sure if it was the drink or her emotions doing this to her, or maybe it was because she felt safe with him, comfortable, relaxed, she burst into tears. It had been years since she had cried like this, years since anything had managed to crawl this deeply into and under her skin and get to her like this. Sobs racked through her and she let them out in bucketloads as they streamed and rolled and cascaded down her face and into herhands. You know that feeling, when you start crying and you really don't want to, and you're trying so depserately hard to stop, but you just can't? That's what she had right now.
'Oh Karen, come here,' he whispered and he stood up, pulled her up as well and let her cry into his chest. He hadn't anticipated this at all, no one would have. Normally, Karen appeared to be made of steel: indestructible, strong, and sometimes sharp (humour-wise, it isn't like she has pointy ears or anything). She had wrapped herself in layers upon layers of emotional protection, like bubble wrap around china, preventing herself from ever becoming like this, a wreck. But now the layers were being pulled away as easily as wrapping paper from a Christmas present, and she felt like everything she had was collapsing and shattering around her. It was like everything she loved was made of water and no matter how hard she tried to keep hold of them, it all kept slipping through her fingers until she was left with nothing at all.
'Are you okay Kaz?' he asked protectively, hugging her impossibly close to him. And then he felt a vibration against his chest, like she was coughing or sneezing or, inevitably, laughing again. She beamed up at him, wiping tears from her face and when she was finally red eyed no longer, she asked, sarcastically, 'Kaz? Really? Is that a nickname or something?
He nodded untruthfully. He had accidentally let it slip out, and he was glad she hadn't reprimanded him for it (bear in mind though, she was still pretty hammered). She laughed again, 'So have I answered all your questions yet, Robbie?'
'But that's longer than my actual name!' he complained childishly, 'And plus it just reminds me of that geezer, what's his name? Robbie Williams.'
Karen smiled once more, but properly this time, not a drunken smile, not a mirthful smile, no, an actual genuine smile. She carefully leaned up on his tiptoes, and brought her face closer to his. She continued the delicious smile and leant forward towards him. He leaned in at the same time and closed his eyes, waiting for her cool lips to brush against his. Instead, there was a small giggle and she whispered in his ear, 'I love that song. You Know Me. Where do you keep your CD's Rob?'
He frowned at her, but found himself unable to continue it. The expression and glorified look on her face was enough to make anyone give in completely.
'Don't tell anyone, but I don't actually have one,' he breathed flirtily back. Increasing the volume of his voice, he continued, 'Surely you can…serenade me?' he asked cheerfully, holding her hands and swyaing slightly along to imaginary music. She shook her head quickly, refusing to do anything of the sort. He gently and calmly persuaded her, stepping side to side in a small attempt at a dance, until she rolled her eyes and started to sing.
'Since you went away, my heart breaks everyday,' she sang quietly, the corners of her lips rising into an irreversible grin, 'You don't know, 'cos you're not here.' As she warbled the tune, kind of out of tune and rather sweetly, he put his hands on her waist like a professional dancer would, and started directing her around his living room.
'And forward and to the side,' he muttered inaudibly to himself as she resonated out the words of the verse of the song. She had always adored this song, and it always reminded her of Rob. Her caretaker. Soon enough, they were wlatzing around his living rom quite merrily, sometimes crashing into his sofa and chests of drawers. When the song ended, he grimaced sadly in disappointment that she did not continue, and leaned down and met her lips.
She yawned widely when he drew away from her, and she stiffled it behind her hand. Taking a glance at the clock, she saw the time and almost cried out in shock. One o'clock, and she had school tomorrow and all. She went to say goodbye and run home, but before she could move, he lightly pressed his lips against hers again and, almost teasingly, said, 'Going somewhere Karen? Or should I call you Karaoke Karen now?'
She laughed, and bit her lip attractively and shook her head, to which he murmured in agreement, 'You need some sleep. Tell you want, you take the bed, and I'll sleep down here.' She looked at him a little crestfallen, but was not left like that for long before he gently took her hand and led her up the stairs to his bedroom.
X – X – X
Karen stood by the window of Rob's bedroom and gazed out at the night sky. She saw millions upon billions upon trillions of stars winking and blinking down on her in delight and approval. He was stood behind her, one hand on her hip, the other on her shoulder. The pose was not supposed to be romantic or encouraging, just friendly and reassuring.
'Hey, look, a falling star. Make a wish,' he whispered excitedly. She turned around, having sobered up a bit and replied, 'I already have everything I could wish for. Also, I'm pretty sure that's a plane.' He looked at her sadly, like she had just told him his puppy had died, 'Thanks Karen. Crush the dream and take it away,' he explained sarcastically, kissing her on the temple. She smiled in contentment and walked over to the bed. She had tried to protest, but he had simply point-blank refused to let her sleep on the sofa. She clambered under the convers, still fully clothed in jeans and a jumper, and clutched onto them like they were worth a thousand pounds and made of gold. He down next to her, on top of the covers and wrapped his arms warmly around her body.
He kissed her on the lips and held her in his arms as she slid off into a dream-filled sleep. As she dozed slightly, he began to hum You Know Me, acting like a sleeping pill, singing her a lullaby like she was a small child. When he was perfectly sure she was asleep, he very quietly began to sing another song that popped into his head when he thought of her. She had forgiven him, insanely quickly, quicker than he had ever believed possible, and this song just said to her everything he wished he had the courage to say,
'Grant my last request, just let me hold you. Don't shrug your shoulders; lay down beside me…'
X – X – X
'Rob,' a voice pierced through the silence. He awoke with a start and turned to her, the beautiful woman still lying, asleep, in his arms. Hang on, asleep?
'Rob,' she muttered again, 'Rob.'
'I'm here Karen,' he breathed into her ear, but she kept mumbling his name repeatedly as she slept. After a few minutes, his previous disconcertion slipped away and the gentle sound of his name escaping from her lips calmed him.
'I love you,' she whispered suddenly, squirming slightly in his grip so that she turned to face him, only millimetres away from him. She was still in his arms, but he moved from his more upright position and led down next to her and stroked and brushed his fingers against her cheek. A huge surge of love and passion raced through him, and, through sleepy eyes, Rob, the caretaker, murmured to Karen, the headmistress, 'I love you too. Always will.'