I’m sleepless in my old room.
Over a year ago, this room was still very much the way I had left it. The sofa bed was where I am sitting now, there was no skateboard or guitar or coffee table in the middle of the room, and certainly no mound of wool with a half-knit scarf on it.
I remember walking hurriedly through the dimly lit corridors, stumbling into my high school bedroom, sheer curtains letting in the pragmatic glow of the street lights, pulling out the sofa into a bed and falling on to it, no linens, no nothing.
The beige furniture kept the loss of teenage innocence from throwing the room, the crime and criminals into the pits of vulgarity. It felt more like a coming of age, like the getting of what you wanted.
Mr.Aisle had insisted I save my cab money and after a few no’s, I accepted his gentlemanly offer to drop me home. His colleague picked us up from the airport and dropped us to his car, which was gathering indigenous Arabian dust somewhere behind a warehouse. He had presented me neither as a co-worker, nor as a friend, but I sensed that I had come off as someone who he could legitimately be dropping home without arousing office coffee break gossip.
When we had made it to my address, he asked me once more:
“Would you come out and have dinner with me?”
“I don’t know…you have to go all the way home to change, and I have to shower and rest…”
“How about I call you in one hour and see how you feel?”
I could deal with that, “Alright, fine”.
A rain of hot water and fruity shampoo later, I was beginning to feel tired. As exciting as it would be to go out with this stranger, I would really love to just sink into the old and familiar couch and watch bad TV.
The phone was ringing, just as he had said, one hour later.
“Listen, I’m really not in the mood of going out tonight. It’s late and I am tired.”
“Oh come on, it’s only 9pm!”
“I know, I know, but until you get here, until we order, till it arrives to the table, by the time we finish, it will be midnight.”
“I promise, you will be back home before midnight.”
“But my hair is wet!”
“I need half an hour. I’ll call you when I’m down!”
Fine. I was going to let his insisting break the wall. What was I going to lose other than an extra hour of sleep? I was not even going to put any effort into this, black loose silk dress, mom’s pumps and no make-up, no hairspray, nada; just plain black tall Jane.
He picked me up and I suggested we go to a gastro bar where there’d be a live band. We sat at the bar, ladies were being served free champagne. It was a good start to our evening.
“I want to ask you something. You are happily married, yes?”
“So why do you need this? Why do you ask women out to dinners?”
“Because I can. It is very much an ego thing.”
“But why not rise above it?”
“I don’t want to. I don’t do this very often, and there are some opportunities that I would really hate to miss.”
He smelled good, and his body was there, solid and tall, his shirt crisp and clean and his focus centered on me. He leaned in close to my ear.
“Can I kiss you?”
“What?! Here?! Are you out of your mind?”
Two flutes of champagne later and my exclamatory question marks curled up on my lap to purr and slyly watch his lips meeting the secret nakedness of skin behind my ear…and down from the heavenly kingdom we fell.
In the car, in front of the gate, we were making small talk and building up to the ultimate goodbye. In my head I was toying with a daisy, pulling petal after petal after petal – should I or shouldn’t I?
But before I knew it, I had leaned in and kissed him. Pah. Simmer. Mmm. Damn, that felt good. His hand was holding mine, so strong and warm against the chilly blow of the AC.
“Normally, this would be out of question…but, do you want to come inside?”
While my mind was sitting there swamped with stacks of morals, ethics, judicial laws, matrimonial promises, and etiquette, calculating the risks and sins, our bodies were already inside, pressed against the stucco wall, him towering above me, then suddenly down on his knees, my mind unbelieving, unbelieving – oh – let’s go inside, there are security cameras, no, nobody is home.
We walked hurriedly through the dimly lit corridors, stumbled into the bedroom, sheer curtains casting the pragmatic glow of the street lights on the innocent beige furniture, we pulled out the bed, fell on to it, no linens, no nothing, just the perfume of heaven and the gentle drumming of a kingdom coming.
I woke up first. It was about 07h00. He was lying on his stomach, face turned away. The door was slightly ajar. I put on an oversized T-shirt and went looking around the house. The noise of water and dishes was coming from the kitchen. She had just started cleaning! I hurried back upstairs, shook him awake!
“You need to leave. Now!”
He wanted to snuggle and fall back asleep.
“I’m serious. Like right now.”
He was still trying to lower his heel into the shoe, buttoning his shirt, tucking it in, as I led him through the house, my index finger against my pursed lips…
“She’s still in the kitchen. Go! Go!”
“Can I see you again?”
“Just call me later. Sorry, but you need to leave.”
And even though, more than a year has passed, and the furniture has been added/removed and moved around, I still blush at the memory of that night.
Neither he can seem to forget. Every month or so I receive a short e-mail from him:
Miss D. (or whatever your real name is) :-P
How are you?
I know your life might be toooo busy bas maybe eza btitna3ame 3layna with a reply, it wouldn’t hurt…
You are ok? How is everything? Maybe you’re married or engaged?
Hope you will reply…
You take care.
M.A…you remember me! The tall engineer you met on the plane one day and and and…
Or another “just checking on you” version.
I don’t know if u r receiving my mails, I just hope am not bothering…want nothing but just want to check on u…hoping all is ok, things are as good as u want them to be…
Surely it must be just an ego thing for me to reply every so and so e-mails to keep this small dosage of flattery coming my way. Because it’s effortless. Because it fills a small void. Because I can.