That dream again. I am at work sitting on the floor with the babies, playing. My phone rings. I often don’t take your calls; you know that. But this time, I am in a good mood. I just want to tell you to call later. I take the call while I walk outside of our little space. But it is not your voice that’s asking for me. It is your brother. I am confused at first, trying to understand how and why he is calling when you always said that I am your best-kept secret. “He passed away,” your brother says, and I nod as if he was seeing me. “We will issue a statement today, but I thought you should know. He talked about you. He loved you.” I nod again, say thank you, and drop my phone. It just slides out of my hand. I drop to my knees too. There is no sound. No strength, just tears and an unbearable pain that breaks my heart. My colleagues are concerned; they don’t know my emotional side, not like this. And I can’t speak. I just whisper your name. I wake up with a racing heart. There is no missed call. There is no statement on Facebook or any other social media. I take a deep breath and realise that I miss you. A lot. I am not ready to lose you.
I cannot sleep, again.
We try avoiding topics like this, but it is because of my shoulder pain. I can not seem to find a comfortable position to sleep or rest, and in the evening, I am beginning to be a bit anxious about it. I keep watching reruns of ER, just to stay up and awake. Pathetic, right? But you know how I am.
Late at night, I often think about you. And I feel the need in my fingers to text you, 98% of the time, I resist. I know the rule – it’s you who gets in touch, not me. Because if I do, you tend to ignore me. I am passive-aggressive; I apologise. I am lonely but never alone. And I feel disconnected while I am connected to the world.
Do you remember May? We were so close back then. Both locked up in different countries but very close. “Marriage Material” that one is still a ghost in my mind. It felt as if you saw me for the first time because you described me quite well. That was before you vanished again until November. “Who cares?” Another one of those ghosts.
I took an official Myers-Briggs test. I am an INFP. Apparently they are quite rare. The description of me is spot on though. Creepy. But read for yourself:
Do you recognise me too?
I was thinking about Christmas and what I would get you if we exchanged gifts. I still have the same idea I had years ago, when our first Christmas happened. None of us got in touch, I think, but I can not be sure. I can not tell you about your present though, I don’t want to spoil it.
I am worried about you. About your asthma and if you keep taking your medication as advised. It is not my place to worry, but I am doing it anyway.
Most people come and go. And when they go, they rarely come back. You always come back. There is a bond, invisible, but there. It is what makes me write these letters. It is what makes you wonder if you feel too much.
When we are together, I love you. When you visit in my dreams, I love you.
I miss you tonight…
Lily scratched her chin with the gun in her hand. She had to come up with a way to get in touch with Giuseppe. And she had to get a nice little ransom for Nico. But how? Lily wasn’t a seasoned kidnapper. She didn’t have a criminal mind, no criminal energy. Sure, she had stolen Giu’s money, but it was for a good reason. She was not naïve enough to believe that he would recognize it as an act of charity. Nico drove over a bump in the road, and Lily winced. Her side hurt. Until that moment, she had tried to ignore that a bullet had hit her. Henry shot her. Lily felt the blood leaving the tiny wound. It was soaking her shirt. She moaned in pain, pulling her leg up on the seat. She was worried that she was in over her head and that she was losing control of the situation. She hated the way she felt: helpless and weak. In the movies, people got shot and either die or run a marathon with bleeding limbs. Lily snorted; both options weren’t ones for her. Nico looked at her as if he had something to say, but he stayed silent.
“We need to stop for supplies,” Lily announced through gritted teeth. She needed a break, and she felt like moving. Restless energy was flowing through her body. Lily scanned the area and saw signs pointing at a large department store.
“You okay?” Nico asked. His kidnapper grew paler by the minute. It would have been easy to stop and get rid of her. But he was concerned about Lily. And intrigued as well. He wanted to hear her story. She seemed kind enough, even while she was pointing a gun at him. There was something about her that made him want to help her, and it wasn’t the oath he had sworn when he became a doctor.
“Pull over there,” Lily pointed at a sign and ordered Nico to pull up to the parking lot of a department store. She put the gun in her bag, feeling it’s weight pulling at the handles of the cloth. “We need some food and other things.”
Nico parked and got around to open Lily’s door. She blinked, ready for an attack, but it didn’t come. Nico held out his hand, and Lily blinked again. He noticed the blood on her shirt but didn’t say anything. There was no time to argue, but a plan was coming together in his mind.
“Do we need to split up? I am sure Henry called the cops. Or a neighbor did. After all, there was a shot.” Nico took Lily’s bag. She didn’t say anything, her side with one hand. Lily didn’t dare to look down her body. She didn’t want to see how badly she was injured. “Or we stay together, and you tell me what to get so that we can get this done faster?” That option was more to Lily’s liking, and she nodded.
“Yeah, that,” she croaked. “And we will find us a motel or something until I figure out a plan.” Lily wanted to sound in charge, but her injury made it hard to think about anything else than the hole in her body.
“You could also wait in the car? I promise to be back,” Nico offered, knowing that it was best if Lily was kept off her feet. Lily shook her head, dismissing the idea. “I am okay; let’s go.” She took a deep breath, breathing through the pain.
At the store, Nico and Lily stocked up on convenience food and snacks. Nico sneaked medical supplies into the cart, and he insisted they buy clothes for them both. Lily agreed, too weak to fight, and she didn’t bicker when Nico stood in the beauty aisle and chose deodorant and shampoo. Their shopping trip only took them twenty minutes, powering from isle to isle, always checking if no one was looking at them funnily or recognizing them. People were watching them, of course. They were an odd couple, and even a blind person could have seen that Lily was not well. Nico did his best to keep pretending that he hadn’t noticed his kidnapper’s injury.
At the checkout, he put an arm around Lily. She tried to shake him off, but he didn’t let go. For a moment, she leaned into him, grateful for the support, but then she remembered that she was supposed to be in control and straightened herself with a moan. Nico’s arm was still around her waist.
“Are you okay, Miss?” the cashier asked. Lily merely nodded. “Cramps,” she replied with a tortured smile. “Nothing a hot bath and lots of chocolate can’t cure.” The cashier smiled emphatically while Nico paid for their groceries with his credit card. Lily didn’t say a thing, and she did not react to the things Nico had added to their shopping. It worried him. If she went into shock, he didn’t have a choice other than calling an ambulance. He took the bags and guided Lily back to the car. There was no more time to lose.
“You’ve been shot,” Nico finally said when they reached the car, and he unlocked the doors.
“I am okay,” Lily replied through clenched teeth, getting into the car.
“Let me take a look!” Nico didn’t wait for her affirmation; he knelt next to her and had his hands on her jacket to assess the injury. Lily was overwhelmed and scared and shoved Nico’s hands away. Furious, she reminded him that he was not in control.
“Let’s get this straight, you will never touch me again. Are we clear?” she threatened.
“I don’t need to be here. I could have run a while ago and left you.” Nico answered dryly, rounding the car, and got into the driver’s seat.
“Why didn’t you?” Lily groaned and hid her face behind her hands. “I am the world’s worst kidnapper.”
“I don’t know. Maybe I have my own reasons.” Nico finally admitted. He pulled out of the parking lot, and both stayed silent for a long time. Lily had not given any directions, but the silence and the sound of the car were comforting. Before long, pain and exhaustion got the best of Lily, and she fell passed out. Nico gasped and reached to feel for her pulse on her neck. It was steady, but she needed medical attention. “Fuck,” he whispered, driving faster.
Nico drank a sip of his coffee, but it tasted bitter. He took a bite out of his toast, but that too felt like ashes in his mouth. How was he supposed to tell Lily that he was not in touch with his father anymore and that he was penniless? She would kill him on the spot, of that he had no doubt. Like every young man with his family background, Nico had rebelled against the norms of life in high society, and he fought with every fiber of his body to be independent. He had refused to be the poster boy for the rich kids and chose to lead a mundane life, far away from the fakeness that came with the wealthy’s lifestyle. Nico had worked hard to get where he was without using his father’s name or reputation. But Lily had found him nevertheless. His hands were trembling, and he hid them in the pockets of his pants.
“Tell me about yourself. We should get acquainted,” Lily offered. Nico shrugged. He wasn’t a man of words and didn’t know what to say. The woman and the gun made him nervous and aware of his stutter. “Come on, Stutter, humor me.”
“I’m a doctor. A surgeon. Specializing in traumatology.” Nico said the first thing that came to his mind. Lily nodded; she had suspected as much from the books on his shelves.
“Impressive,” Lily acknowledged. It was the first time she saw a ghost of a smile on Nico’s face. But as soon as it appeared, it vanished again. There was something more to the man in front of her than he let on, but she didn’t know what to make of it just yet. He was intriguing her, and it was unnerving. Emotions or contemplation had no place in her current situation. It distracted her attention and reactions too much. Lily shook her head to rid her mind of the intruding thoughts. She took another bite of her toast, aware of the eyes glued on her.
The front door rattled and was opened with a bursting laugh. It was slammed shut, and into the living room came a man who had his hands all over a girl. They were barely able to contain themselves. Nico gasped in shock. Reacting in a flash, Lily draw the gun pointed it at the lovers. Her heart was racing; she didn’t have time for witnesses and unexpected interruptions of this kind.
“Roommate,” Nico yelled and held his hands up in a surrendering manner, taking a step back. Nico’s roommate, Henry, looked up from the woman he was devouring with a grin.
“Whoa… Easy with that thing, baby.” Henry winked, not in the least concerned about a guy being pointed at him. Lily groaned and rolled her eyes.
“Shut up and sit on the couch. Hands to yourselves,” Lily ordered and waited for Henry and his conquest to sit upright. She took a steady step in the direction of the new arrivals. She was tense and knew that she would shoot if things were to escalate. “Stutter, get our shoes and coats; no tricks. We are leaving.” Nico was paralyzed; he didn’t move. “Now, dammit! Move!” Lily growled. Nico was tempted to throw a kitchen knife at her or lounge himself at her, but he didn’t dare. She was dangerous, overwhelmed, armed, and unpredictable. Not a good combination. He decided that it was best to obey, for now, rushing to his bedroom. He heard Lily talk to Henry.
Henry snickered. “Stutter,” he said under his breath, shaking his head with a grin. “Why didn’t I think of that?!”
“Name?” Lily barked.
“Henry, nice to meet you, babe. And she is…,” he shrugged. He had already forgotten the girl’s name. Henry’s behavior aggravated Lily to no end. He sat on the couch, as relaxed as if she was offering a cup of coffee.
“Listen carefully, Henry. I am going to take Nicoy with me. Got it? You can call the police, but then I will have to come back to kill you, you understand that, right?” Lily was satisfied with herself and her plan. Self-sufficient, she leaned her hip against the kitchen counter.
“Ma’am, with all due respect, what do you want from him? If he had his father’s money, he wouldn’t live here,” Henry waved his hands around for emphasis. He was intimidated but not afraid. Henry was a brave man, and he was sure he could overpower this woman, get hold of the gun, and turn the situation around. He could be a hero for the girl who was ugly, crying next to him. Lily shook her head, from “babe” to “ma’am” in a matter of seconds. It was the power of the weapon in her hand.
Nico returned, shaking his head in Henry’s direction as if he had been reading his thoughts and knew that he was ready to act stupidly. Nico handed Lily her belongings while slipping his feet in his sneakers. Both men watched Lily tie the laces of her boots. The gun lay on the stool next to her. Henry moved fast, getting hold of the gun, pointing it at Lily.
“You better leave now,” Henry threatened her, standing his ground.
Lily straightened herself. “Not without him!” She grabbed Nico’s wrist with a bruising grip. Nico knew that he could fight his way away from her, but he didn’t. He didn’t even try to resist her.
“Let him go, and I will not hurt you,” Henry felt brave. Lily snorted. She knew if she had wanted it, she would have gotten her gun back by now, and she would have shot the two witnesses. But she wasn’t out for blood. She just needed money to get away from her current life, and killing innocent people would complicate everything.
“Nico, do something! Don’t stand there like a wimp,” Henry shouted. He didn’t understand why Nico didn’t move. He was a tall man, fit. There was no reason why he didn’t overwhelm or fight the woman. Nico didn’t know either, but his guts told him to do as Lily said, to trust her not to hurt him.
Lily pretended to be unaffected and unimpressed; she turned to leave, pulling Nico behind her.
“Keys, Stutter. Do you have a car?”
Nico nodded, reaching for a bowl on the shelves. “In the parking garage.”
“Stop!” Henry yelled. Lily turned to look at him and flipped him the bird. A deafening noise went off. Henry looked in shock at the barrel of the gun in his hand and threw the weapon away as if it had burnt his hands. Nico looked surprised. Lily had reacted fast enough to push him behind her. Lily grinned. Henry’s conquest screamed. Too many emotions filled the small living space.
Lily went to retrieve the gun and put it in her jacket. “Let’s go,” she said, ushering to the door, and they ran for the stairs. For a moment, Lily wondered if Nico had ulterior motives to come with her without resisting or arguing. He could have easily outrun her. But he didn’t. In fact, he held doors for her and led the way to his car, careful that she could follow his long strides.
Lily held her side and winced when she got into the vehicle. The situation had gotten out of control too fast.
“Crap,” she muttered, taking a deep breath.
“Where to?” Nico inquired. His mind was clear. He was agitated and in a hurry to get out of the building, but apart from that, he felt fine.
“Just drive,” Lily ordered through clenched teeth. She had to gather her wits for what was to come, ignoring the pain that was slowly spreading throughout her body. Nico revved the engine and trusted him to get them to safety. Not once did Nico nor Lily contemplate the idea of driving to the nearest police station.
Nico sat against the far wall, hugging his knees and keeping an eye on the woman in his bed. It wasn’t her beauty that held him captive; it was the gun in her hand that kept him submissive and unmoving. He was tired, but how could he sleep with someone invading his life like that? Did she know who he was? Was he her target? Nico counted the hours until it was time to get up, pretend to get ready for work, and escape. But then a thought occurred to him. Just because he had to get up and resume his life, it didn’t mean she would leave. Maybe she wanted to kidnap him? But then she wouldn’t sleep on his bed; they would be long gone. He wanted to groan but was afraid to wake the stranger on his bed. The entire situation was unpredictable. Uncertain. He didn’t like that. He loved his routines and his structured life. He needed them to continue his inconspicuous life. A stranger entering his life in the middle of the night was not his idea of routine. It was a sure way to chaos and mayhem. Nico rolled his eyes and got up. It was time to man up and face the situation. His glasses lay on his nightstand, and he fumbled for them in the near dark.
The rustling close to her head woke Lily up. Disoriented in a strange place, she sat up and pointed the gun at the stranger staring at her. She saw his pale face and how his Adam’s apple moved when gulped. The tension was visible in the protruding tendons on his neck, but there was also defiance in his stance.
“What were you doing?” She asked, making sure that her voice held enough venom to keep the man from trying anything stupid. Then again, he could have easily overpowered her in her sleep. She coursed again, throwing her legs off the bed. One foot touched the hardwood floor, the other foot felt skin and bones against her sole; she had set her foot on his. It took all her strength not to cringe and maintain her stoic and powerful façade.
“Glasses. I need them,” Nico stuttered, pulling away from Lily.
“Lights!” She ordered, and he just nodded in the near-dark, doing as he was told.
“Time?” Lily demanded.
“5:30. Please lady, I don’t want any trouble. Just, please leave so that I can go to work. Please?” The man was brave yet agitated. Lily smiled to herself, an easy victim.
“Sorry, no work for you today, Stutter,” Lily laughed. No way she could let him go now. Not when he had seen her up close. Who knew what he decided to do with the sparse information he had. And worse: what if he recognized her?
Nico sighed; he hated his stutter, which was most prominent when he was nervous or tired. With the armed woman pointing her gun at him early in the morning, he was both. “My name is Nico. May I get dressed, please?”
“Very polite. Get dressed, and we will plan our next steps over breakfast. I hope you have coffee.” Lily stood. She wasn’t concerned about the man trying anything on her, not at the moment. She had good people skills and trusted her, feeling that she was safe for now. The thought reoccurred to her that if he had wanted to overwhelm her, he would have done so by now. She scolded herself for the rookie mistakes she was amassing, but she had not prepared for this situation, and improvisation while tired was not her forte.
Lily searched through the man’s drawers to find a fresh t-shirt to wear as if she was in her own home. Nico felt his ears swallowed with heat as this strange woman rummaged through his personal belongings. He was sure she was judging his underwear and clothes. She didn’t say anything and kept a straight face all the time. And the weapon was glued to her hand too.
Waiting for his uninvited guest to follow him, Nico stood in the door. He turned his body to give her a moment of privacy to switch shirts. Lily retook hold of the gun she had put on the dresser while changing and trotted behind the man, who kept checking if she was still behind him. She kept a close eye on him and was almost disappointed when they reached the kitchen, and he had not attempted to run away. He got busy with breakfast, and Lily took a look around the living area. There was a large shelf filled with books. She had read some of them too. His music collection was small, but here too, she saw similarities between the albums he owned and the music she had on the app on her phone. She had dropped her phone when she ran from Giuseppe’s minions; it was the only way Giu was unable to track her down.
Lily kept looking around, exploring the pictures of the young man. In some photographs, he was with friends. Some were of other people, memories of parties, but one particular photo made her stop in her motions. Lily looked from the picture in front of her to the man handling a skillet in the kitchen. It couldn’t be. She examined the photo a little closer. Her host stood between an older couple, his parents, presumably. But they were not your usual John and Jane Doe. Far from it. Lily had hit the jackpot. With a devious smile and a plan forming in her mind, she joined Stutter, who was preparing her breakfast. He had offered his name before, but she had not cared nor listened.
“I am Lily. Sorry for the inconvenience.” She said sweetly, waving around in the general direction of the apartment and the kitchen. Lily put her gun next to an empty plate Nico had set out for her on the breakfast bar. She grabbed the steaming mug in front of her. “Milk?” she asked, and Nico pushed a small jug in her direction.
“Nico,” he offered again.
“You meant to say Richard Nicolas Weller Jr, didn’t you?” Lily smiled knowingly. “You are the only son of one of the wealthiest men in this city. Quite a dump you are living in.” She took a sip of her coffee and waited for a reaction. Nico forgot to breathe; he was busted. His father had warned him that this would happen if he lived a normal life without security details taking care of him. But Nico had been stubborn. And after a decade of living an untroubled private life, he had felt safe and untouchable. “You are my ticket out of my predicament,” Lily added, one hand on her gun again, her finger tapping the barrel seemingly absentmindedly.
Nico admitted defeat. Who would have guessed that he would invite trouble in through his bedroom window in the middle of the night? That it was a woman with legs for days and a smile to kill for was part of the irony that accompanied most of his existence.
“What do you want?” Nico stuttered.
“Money, Stutter. Easy as cake. And your daddy will give me what I need, or his sole heir will not survive this chance encounter,” Lily informed Nico and took a slice of buttered toast from a plate in front of her with a self-sufficient grin.
A bullet whistled past her ear as she ran for shelter. Lily dug her head in, exhaling a deep breath. This one had been too close for comfort. She turned, took aim, and pulled the trigger of the gun in her hand. Her shot missed, and she ran faster. She heard bullets missing their target, missing her. In the distance, she heard heavy footsteps following her, but she stood her ground. More and more space was appearing between her and the men who hunted her. Her lungs were burning, and her legs were heavy, but she had to keep going. There was no other option.
Lily had to ditch the two gorillas soon, or they would catch her. She ran left; she ran right. She turned right into a small alley and knew she had to act quickly. she contemplated hiding behind a dumpster to catch her breath, but she was not stupid enough for that. Hiding was a rookie’s mistake, and she was a professional. Scanning the area, she found her salvation. Assessing her possibilities, she jumped on one of the nearest trash containers, climbed up the ladder of a fire escape, and she had a half-second to spare to hide. Her boots made too much noise, and the men who were pursuing her had entered the alley now too. She prayed that they were as disoriented as she was.
The men were standing with their guns drawn, turning in circles, looking for her. They were both panting and holding their weapons tightly, but they didn’t shoot. There was nothing to shoot at because she was hiding from view behind a large flower pot, and no one looked up. Lily saw the men stopping almost directly under her hiding place. She willed her breath to even out; all she could hear was the rush of blood in her ears. She prayed that these dumbasses didn’t hear it too. A moment later, they admitted defeat and left with their heads hanging in shame and bickering about whose fault it was that the girl got away. She snickered, feeling triumphant. She had outsmarted the boss’s gunmen once again. She didn’t want to trade places with them. Giuseppe was not a nice guy, and he didn’t tolerate failure. Failure. Her mission hadn’t failed. She just hadn’t succeeded.
Lily knocked on the windowpane behind her twice, and a young man opened. She held her gun to his face and motioned for him to step aside and let her in. Bleary-eyed and confused, he looked at the sweaty woman and obliged. Without a word, she climbed inside the apartment, closed the window behind her, and plopped down on the bed that stood in the middle of the room. She never let go of the gun, taking in the setting and the man in the near darkness of the space. There was not much to see. A bed and the usual furniture that could be found in any other bedroom too. The man was tall and lean. He looked smart with his upturned nose and grim with his mouth and lips being nothing but a thin line. He squinted to see her, and she turned slightly away. The man observed her every move; his arms were crossed over his naked chest as if he was waiting for an explanation. But it never came. She undid the laces of her boots, shrugged out of her jacket, throwing it on the overstuffed chair in the corner of the room. Lily yawned found a comfortable position on the preheated bed, acting as if she owned the place. The adrenalin was leaving her body, and she felt exhausted but pleased with herself.
“I’m sorry, but who are you?” Lily was jostled from her content feeling, tensely grabbing her gun and pointing it at the stranger: “I’ll be gone tomorrow.” The man held his hands up, surrendering to the woman in his bed. He would have been flattered under different circumstances, but the situation scared him, and he gave up. It helped that the woman had a gun and looked as if she had to be saved from trouble waiting on the city’s streets. He ran a hand through his hair, watching her and trying to find a way out of his frozen state.
Meanwhile, a comforting manly scent lulled Lily into sleep. And even though she never released the tight grip on her gun, she felt safe. There it was, her rookie mistake. “Fuck,” she muttered in her sleep.
Note: this is the old and the new combined… 750 words.
A bullet wheezed past her ear; she could feel it graze her hair. She turned, took aim, and pulled the trigger of the gun in her hand. Her shot missed, and she ran faster. She heard the steps of her chasers heavy on the round gravel behind her. She tripped and slipped but caught herself. Her lungs were burning, the muscles of her legs began cramping up, but stopping was not an option. She had to get away. She dared to look over her shoulder and saw that she had almost outrun the bulky men. Taking a left into a dark alley, she contemplated hiding behind a dumpster to catch her breath, but she was not stupid enough for that. Hiding was a rookie’s mistake, and she was a professional. Scanning the area, she found her salvation. She had to act quickly, running up the wooden stairs that led to a window. Her boots made too much noise, and the men who were pursuing her had entered the alley now too. She pushed and pulled at the window, surprised that it gave in effortlessly. Like a cat on the prowl, she broke into the building, keeping an eye on the men who were looking for her. She hid behind the curtain, thankful for the darkness of the room. The men were standing with their guns drawn, turning in circles, looking for her. When they couldn’t find her, they began cursing and blaming one another for the girl’s escape. She snickered, feeling triumphant. She had outsmarted the boss’s gunmen once again. With a sign, she slipped down to the floor, rubbing her forehead with her gun. She felt tired. Now that the adrenaline was leaving her system, exhaustion was caressing her body. She closed her eyes, just for one moment.
“Who are you?” a male voice startled her. She jumped to her feet and pointed her gun in the general direction of the sound. It was too dark in the room, and what had shielded her before from her pursuers turned out to be a trap now. There it was, her rookie mistake. “Fuck,” she muttered.
Notice… I will try and write at least 200 words (aiming low) for this new untitled December project daily. “She” does not have a name yet. But I am thinking Lily – short for Liliana. Years ago, I already began writing a story similar to this one, but I deleted the file when I was stuck. I don’t remember everything – but I want to get back into a writing groove. And if my shoulder allows me to write a couple of sentences each day, I will do it.
Enjoy December xx
Readers are rolling their eyes and thinking, “again? When will it stop?!”
Probably never. Because you are the one who said that I was the only one to fill the holes in your mind, in your heart, and in your body. You are the one who cried when I said that I would always be there for you and when you admitted you felt abject loneliness without me. You are the one who said that I am marriage material, that I deserve better in my life. You are the one who said in no uncertain terms that you would never forget me. (as long as there is cum in my balls…) You stranger, are the one who asked why it was so hard to forget me. You are the one who says you love me, even though you insisted that you could never love anyone. You are who I need for two moments of serenity and happiness in my life. But you are also the one who planted the seed in me that nothing matters, all is a fantasy, and that you don’t and never care-d about me. And you are the one who ignored me for weeks before and after we were supposed to meet. You are the one ghosting me for months and then popping up in my emails, reminding me of a contract I once wrote for us. And me?
I am the one who takes whatever you have to offer. I am the one who understands your situation. I am the one who knows which buttons to push and who allows you to push my buttons. I am the one who longs for your voice on the phone and who also hates our calls. In the end, dear stranger, I am the only one who always stayed by your side. And you know that I know your good, bad, and your ugly sides. I have experienced you at your lowest and when you were down… and I got glimpses of your happiness too. I am there when you are all alone and stressed, and when the tough times are too much for you. I am always there… and I think that it would be better to be less available. It would be better for you, and certainly better for myself too – although we both know that it is easier to cope with it now than it was years ago. Could you imagine?! I am still and always your most perfect girl… 11 years younger, but exactly who you need for your mind and body.
(1169 words. 24minutes writing time)
A couple of shaky breaths is all I can muster before I am pacing the length of the hallway again. I rub my hands over my face, trying to soothe myself with the touch, but it doesn’t help. I shake my head in disbelieve. My hands reach for my face again, but this time, they run across my eyes, over the forehead, and through my hair. I contemplate pulling at the long strands, but that wouldn’t help the issue either. The nervous energy in me is trying to bring me down; my entire body is buzzing. And then you appear from nowhere, really. You put your hand on my arm, but I have to shake it off. I cannot be touched right now, or I will fall apart. But you know me too well. You know exactly what I need.
“Stop!” you order. I want to move, but I know this tone in your voice. Usually, you reserve it for the bedroom, but it seems to work outside too. I shake my head and look at you with pleading eyes. I want you to stop this, to make this go away. You step closer, invading my private space. I feel like running, like running away. It’s not because of you, but I am afraid to be touched. I am searching for an exit, for a way to get out of this situation; at the same time, I want you to help me; I need you to make this go away. You put your hands on my shoulders, fixing my eyes with a glare. I see understanding and something stern – you will not tolerate any of my weird antics. You would never hurt me; I know that, but you have a way to calm me down that always works. Your hands run down my arms until you are holding my wrists. You tighten your grip. It is not painful, it just stops me from moving, and my mind is not racing because it is focused on your hands around my wrists and how that feels. It feels warm. And tight. Pulled together. The skin on your hands is rough and calloused because of your day job—manual labor.
“Breathe!” you order. Part of me wants to defy you and hold my breath; the other part of me is grateful for the guidance. But I don’t comply. I am overthinking until your right hand tightens and releases its grip around my wrist. You raise an eyebrow, and I begin to panic. Please don’t let me go, I want to say, but there are no words. There are too many thoughts in my head.
“Breathe!” you order again. And I do. I take a deep breath, so deep that it almost makes me dizzy. You nod your head once, and it is all the encouragement I need to exhale and inhale again. I know the breathing techniques, but when I am in an agitated state like this, I cannot remember them. I focus on one of the letters imprinted on your t-shirt and repeat my breathing. I am calmer now; my heart isn’t racing or burning in my chest. But I feel fragile and foolish.
When you tug at me, I follow you without taking note of where we are going. I stopped thinking. We enter a room, and I hear the lock click behind us; no one will disturb us here.
There is a painting on the wall, abstract with squares in different shades of blue and purple. And as I am trying to understand the piece of art in front of me, I feel your lips on my neck. I sigh and turn my head to give you better access. Your hands find my breasts, massaging them through the layers of clothes. I bite my lip to silence the moan that wants to escape my throat. One of your hands wanders further down. And I like where this is going. I can feel not only my own arousal growing but yours too. For a brief moment, I wonder if having sex now is a good idea, and it makes me chuckle – there is only one answer to that question. We make short process of pushing the hindering clothes down and aside. You grip my wrists behind my back and push me against the wall next to the painting I inspected moments ago.
“Palms flat against the wall!” you order. With a grin, I oblige. I am too far gone now. Everything I feel is too intense and not intense enough. With one hand, you hold me in place, and with the other, you enter me. The position and our pants around our ankles make moving a bit weird, but you still reach the most important places in me. I am afraid to be too loud again and bite my arm. It’s the only place I can reach to stifle my moans. You fill me deeply. In and out. Faster and faster. Harder with every thrust. Our thighs slap against each other, creating an obscene soundtrack, and I can’t stop moaning and smiling. You are sucking my neck, breathing heavily, all the while, you keep my hands pinned above my head, and the rhythm of your hips drives me nearly insane. I feel you growing inside of me, and I hear your breath changing. You swallow your moans while I let my out freely now. “Cum with me!” you order. But this time I can’t comply. I cannot orgasm like this. Not in this position. I think about faking it, but then I am surprised with your own orgasm filling me. Your grip around my wrists becomes almost painful, and Your legs are trembling. A strangled noise leaves your lips as you withdraw from me. You urge me to turn around, and the moment I face you, you attack my mouth with a kiss.
The end of the kiss sobers me. We separate enough to pull our pants back up, and once my belt is in place, the overthinking begins again.
“Don’t,” you say, and I am not sure what you are referring to; too many options. Having sex in a stranger’s office is highly inappropriate.
“Better?” you ask, and I nod because I am.
“The divorce is through?” you ask, and I reply with an unsteady “Yes.”
“Hey babe, look at me!” I raise my eyes to his. “You are free to do whatever you want and to love whoever you want. But I will not leave you. Got it?” I don’t know what to say, because being free is scary. Being left or abandoning is scary too.
“Okay,” I reply nonetheless.
“Ready for the walk of shame?” you ask, and I cannot keep the laughter inside.
“I am,” I say, and he unlocks the door.
As I walk down the steps of the court, watching the man walking in front of me, I realise that he is right. For the first time in my life, I am free.
How many times did I tell you goodbye just to realise how much I miss you in my life? It has been a week since I told you that I don’t need you anymore, and I still believe it is true. But today, I miss you. From one moment to the next, I felt this longing to hold you and to listen to you. It was as if a wave of “you” pulled me under when I got ready for bed. I had some of your words in my head “something clicked, profoundly” and another that still makes me overthink: “without you, I feel abject loneliness”. I remember that conversation very well. It was the first time you cried with me, and I promised that I would always be there for you and that I would wait for you, no matter how long it would take for you to love me.
I don’t know. I mean, I deserve love, and I deserve to be cherished and valued. But I am also loyal. And maybe I am more loyal to the memory and fantasy of us than to our reality. We were nothing in reality. At the same time, I only ever wanted to be your everything. I never wanted to save you; I wanted to support you and help you through the muddy waters of life. Not because I have the insight and knowledge, but because I thought we would fit and complete each other. I was deluding myself. We both know that. I allowed you to manipulate me and to make me the person you wanted me to be. And when you were done grooming me, you were not interested anymore. The ghosting and gaslighting was always the most challenging part of us. It is easier nowadays because I recognise my worth and value a lot more now. When we met, I was a naive and shy girl. Now I am a woman who knows what she wants and needs.
Tonight, I need you. The memories of us.
Dear stranger, some days, I am convinced that you ruined me for everyone who is willing to love me. Other days, I know that I would not be who I am without your input and impulse. I am just tired of looking up at the statue of you that which I put high on a pedestal. I am a short woman; I can not reach those expectations; I am doomed to fail.
I want and need you to remember me. I remember you.