I'm woken violently. My eyes crack open and I shoot up, my arms flinging out to stabilize myself on the shaking bed. I smack my head onto something extremely hard and fall back, "For fuck's sake!"
"Wake up! Wakey wakey!" her voice is piercing and I begin to realize that she's the reason my world is shaking, dipping, springing back. I open my eyes, my hand pressed against my forehead. She's jumping on the bed, knees flying everywhere, feet straddling my waist. I'm not in the mood for this fucking shit and I don't allow myself to appreciate how blissfully happy she looks.
"Get the fuck down! I was sleepin', what the hell's your problem?" I shout at her, smacking at her legs, trying to push her off the side of the bed.
"It's noon. I'm bored. Don't be such a grouch," she says, not sounding at all phased with my mood. She bounces a few more times, just to spite me, before she leaps off the bed, landing on the floor with a laugh and a thud.
I blindly grab for something and find a pillow, getting a good grip and throwing it in her direction. I don't look to see if it hit its mark but I hear her laughing. Fucking pain the arse. Hotels are meant for sleeping in. That's the whole bloody point. Bright light bursts into the room and I tug the sheet over my head to block it out. "Close the curtains!"
I refuse to give in to this. I stay in bed, staring at the sheet over my eyes. It was fucking cold last night but she refused to allow us the use of the comforter. Something about filth and sperm. I saw a show and I swear to God, you don't want to know what's on this. Sperm and…juice of sorts. Disgusting. She flung it off the minute she walked into the room.
The bed shifts from her body and I feel her lay down beside me, the sheet pulling tightly at my side. Her leg slides over mine and her arm wraps around my stomach. She lays still and my breath thickens under the thin sheet.
"Are you very angry with me?" She doesn't move the sheet and whispers the question against the side of my head. She doesn't sound remorseful. She does what she wants and everyone else is simply kept around for entertainment value. I don't know how long I'll be able to last.
"I'm hungry," I mutter.
"Perfect! You slept through the complimentary breakfast but I brought goodies. Just a bitty moment."
Her weight is gone in an instant and I pull the sheet down to see where she's gone to. She's digging through a bag on the small table set up beside the window. This room is very small but aren't they all? I watch her pull out a bagel, small container of what I assume to be cream cheese but hope isn't, an apple, some sort of Danish and a box of juice. She arranges it all on a plate and I can't help but smile, my earlier annoyance completely dashed.
She's perfectly gorgeous and I can't believe she's survived in this world. Not with the way she goes on about. Her long brown hair, thin and impossibly straight no matter how she tries, is tied to the side. Her neck is short and her shoulders are broad. I made her angry once when I told her she had the shoulders of a football player. She wouldn't speak to me for the rest of the day. Not a word. I rather like her shoulders. She'd never be able to keep that chest of hers up if she had weak shoulders.
Instead of bringing me the food, she sits down in the chair and slowly picks the apple up, staring at me. She bites into it with a pop and waits. Her shoulders bow forward slightly and I look down at the way her stomach rolls over, hiding the scar I know to be there. She sits in her bra in complete defiance.
"It's better in bed," I say.
"Isn't everything?" she asks with a sigh. I sit and lift the sheet up. She slides in beside me, the plate balancing on her hand. Her body is soft and warm and I press up closer against her. We pick at the food together and I'm pleased to see that it's honey instead of cream cheese. She shares her apple and I accept even though I never liked the idea of eating an apple while drinking apple juice. It's a bit off.
"How long are we stayin' for?" I ask once the food is gone.
"Don't know," she shrugs only slightly while staring out the window at the view of concrete. The cheapest room gets to look out at an apartment building. I don't know why we're here. She just decided last night that she didn't want to sleep in our bed. We left without packing a bag and she chose this place. Her fingers play with the bit of leather tied around my wrist and I kiss the side of her head.
"I'm takin' a shower," I say, pulling away from her and the bed. I don't have the energy she exhibited and I feel ten years older than what is on my birth certificate. Although, I never have seen the thing so who knows.
Ten minutes in the shower and she begins pounding on the door. I hadn't realized I locked it. She can't stand locked doors. She's like her cat. The second a door shuts in his face, he loses his mind. He ruined my carpet, the little prick. "Open uuuuup," she sings and I imagine her forehead pressed up against the hollow door.
The bathroom is so small that I don't need to get out of the shower to unlock it and she swings it open. She sits on the toilet and watches me wash the soap from my hair. "It's getting long," she says, reaching out to poke my hip.
"Thinkin' of keepin' it," I say, standing under the hot spray and enjoying the feeling of the hot water running down my thighs.
"I'd be okay with that," she says with a nod
She pinches the skin of my side and laughs. I smack her hand away and shut the water off.
"You don't look British," she says, handing me a dry towel from the shelf above her head.
"Didn' know there was a look."
"I always thought there was. When I was a kid I thought you all looked like John Cleese."
"You knew who John Cleese was when you were a kid?" I ask, scrubbing my head with the towel.
"My dad watched a lot of Fawlty Towers."
"Which one?" I ask.
"Tha's not so bad I suppose," I say, dropping the towel on the floor and leaving the bathroom. I can hear her following me. "Better than Rowan Atkinson."
"Yeah, but you don't look like John Cleese."
"Tha's cause not all Brits look alike. I know…shocker," I say, allowing my annoyance to show.
"Your nose is too big," she says while passing behind me. I frown, leaning towards the mirror set up above the dresser. Yeah, well. I want to curse at her but she's right. It's big.
"Let's go," she says, walking up behind me.
"Grand. I need clothes."
"No, not home. Let's go to England."
I stare at her face in the mirror, "Why?"
"I've always wanted to."
"Why? It's too fuckin' cold there. Always wet. It's depressing."
"Cause it is England and I wanna go," she says simply.
"You have some grand fuckin' image of the place. Where you get it, I have no idea," I say, shaking my head. She doesn't know a damn thing about the place but she just loves the idea of it. If I didn't have the accent, she wouldn't be with me.
"It's better than San Diego," she says, breaking eye contact and leaving my back to sit on the foot of the bed.
I turn around and lean on the dresser, "It's warm here. You can actually go out in shorts. What about England do you think will be so much better?"
"It's someplace else." She doesn't look at me. Instead, she picks her shirt up off the floor and tugs it on, pushing her head through the neck. I'm a bit sad to see her stomach covered up. I like that scar. Proves that she's just like the rest of us. She's penetrable. She told me the name but I couldn't get more than five words out of her about the nature of the thing. I was angry with her and looked it up. Turns out, there's actually not much to be said about it. I became worried and it was her turn to be angry. She felt betrayed and decided that when the time came for the transplant, she'd get rid of me. She insisted that she wasn't going to even tell me. One of the biggest rows we've ever had.
Nevertheless, It's become a concern for the future that neither one of us voices. I don't think it's even on her mind. She'd forget all about it if it wasn't for that scar. And Biliary Atresia actually sounds rather nice. Words have a pleasant ring to them. Like a spicy flower. Something to crush up in soup.
"You don' allow yourself to enjoy it here. Goin' to England, it's not gonna change anything for you."
"I'm going out. I don't want to talk to you anymore," she announces after a beat. She heads for the door and even though she hasn't got pants on, it wouldn't stop her.
I grab her waist, pulling her back, "Sweetheart, wait. We'll go to England, yeah?"
"I change my mind. I don't want to go with you. You'd only spoil things."
"I know where to find the best books," I whisper against the shell of her ear.
"I'll think about it."
She falls limp against my chest, her body anchoring me down, her cheek smashed into my shoulder. She breathes lightly while I pant like an animal. She barely makes a noise during sex. Whatever sounds she does make are completely silenced when she cums. It was unsettling at first, a little unwelcome, but I got used to it. I grew to enjoy the way she tenses as her mouth falls open, not one word slipping out.
She lifts her head and kisses my mouth, smiling grandly. She's already recovered and I feel ready to curl on my side for an hour. She plays with the small tattoo on my hand, tracing the lines that stand testament to a drunken night and her impression on me. When I showed her, she grew solemn.
She rolls off of my body in a dramatic fashion, hopping from the bed and disappearing into the bathroom. When she comes back out, she quickly dresses, "Wanna go get a drink?"
Instead of finding a pub, we found a liquor store. She chooses based on whether or not she likes the names and I buy whatever she wants, plus a beer for me. I'm not drinking anything she chose and frankly, neither is she. She grabs a Diet Coke before we leave.
She arranges the bottles on the table by height and leaves them to open her soda, "Do you think I'm gonna be famous one day?"
She sits down on the floor beneath the window and looks up at me, "I don't know. Something. I think I'd like to be famous. I want to be one of those authors who never do readings, who would rather be left alone but is always bothered at the horse track."
I open my beer and sit down beside her, "You detest horse racing."
"Well, but it would fit. I would be there and detest it all."
"Sure, I think you could do it."
"Yeah? Thanks." She kisses my cheek and leans her head on my shoulder. We sit in silence and I wait for whatever she's thinking of to come spilling from her lips. The sounds of downtown fill the hotel room and I'm almost lulled to sleep before she speaks. "Remember when we met?"
I nod and she adds, "I'd never slept with someone that fast before."
I look down at her and she nods. "I didn' know that."
"Yeah, I never told you."
"Why'd you do that? Sleep with me?" I remember that night and how endearingly charming she was. She didn't hesitate at all when I invited her home with me. I never would have guessed that she'd never slept with a stranger before then.
She shrugs and takes my beer, sipping it and grimacing, "Still don't like it."
"What're you planning on doing with all that then?" I ask, pointing at her alcohol collection on the table.
"You're not gonna try any of it?"
I shake my head. "You didn't tell me why you slept with me."
"I liked you. You seemed right," she says.
"Isn't that precious."
Balboa Park is just as crowded as it always is and I watch her weave in and out of the crowds. She comes back to me while laughing at the expense of a tourist, her face catching the sun. We hit almost every museum, stopping with the Timken. We saved it for last because it's free. We lay in the grass in front of the green house and I shut my eyes against the sun. She fidgets beside me until she finally comes to a rest. My entire body warms to a pleasant degree and I can smell her beside me.
"So, maybe I'd miss the sun a little bit," she says softly. I smile in victory.
"Being here always makes me sorta want kids," she adds.
I open my eyes and look over at her. She's propped up on her elbows, watching a couple kids running circles around the Koi pond. I didn't see any Koi in there though. They've gone missing today. It's just a long pond now. Nothing much to look at except some lily pads. She tried to convince me that once a month, the Koi are taken out to be massaged. She stuck with it.
"Kids. Lot of work."
"Yeah, I know that. Everyone knows that. You don't think I could do it?" she accuses.
"No, didn' say that. You'd make a great mum. I don' think I could do it."
"Good thing we won't be procreating then."
"Would your kid have your mole?" I ask, looking over at her.
She reaches up and touches the mole above her lip, sitting in the smile line to the right. "I don't know. My mom and her sister have one. It's weird. My Aunt had hers removed. It was acting funny."
"Hope yours doesn' act funny."
"Is that your way of saying that you like it?"
"Can' imagine your face without it," I say. She bites her tongue between her teeth a bit and smiles widely. I love it and reach up to grab her behind the neck. I pull her face down to mine and kiss her.
We stay there for hours and when our stomachs start growling at around six o'clock, we start walking back. We grab food on the way and eat it in our room. Neither one of us can stand the thought of sitting in a restaurant.
We eat at the small table and talk about family and politics. Her hands fly all over the place to help express her opinions and we argue over how much Obama's race influenced his win. She flips me off at some point and I think it the greatest thing she's done all day. We watch Conan O'Brian on the small television and she stands on the bed to imitate the string dance.
In an instant, she crashes. One minute she's trying to force me to tell her a secret and the next she's fallen asleep against my shoulder. It's close to two in the morning and we're on the floor. I nudge her awake and help her stand. She clumsily strips her clothes off, leaving herself with nothing. She insists that I do the same, she always does. She pulls me into the bed, pressing herself into my chest and pulling my arm around her. I'm wet cement and she molds me around her. I let her position me in any way she wants and the relevance isn't lost on me.
"We can go home tomorrow," she says when she settles.
"Tha's good," I say quietly, my face pressed against her hair. "I'm glad we came though," I add. "Whatever the reason was."
"You don't want to know?"
"Doesn' matter, does it?"
"No, not really." She breathes in deeply and asks, "What's your favorite color?"
I smile faintly at the familiar ritual, "Red."
"Favorite animal?" she asks, her voice muffled and soft.
"Yeah? Why's that?"
"Love the plumage."
She laughs a little. "What's your first memory?"
I hesitate and think. I'm not really sure what the very first is but I tell her one. I tell her about sitting beneath the kitchen table to watch my mum cook. I would pretend I was spying, that I was an adventurer, and that I had caught sight of a creature so exotic and unique that I could barely speak. "What about you?"
She rubs her foot against the hair on my calf, "Tying Tati up for Christmas. Sort of a Yugoslavian form of Christmas anyhow. Kids wake up real early and tie up the dad while he's sleeping. You demand presents from him."
"Sounds like it was fun."
"It was. He'd pretend to sleep while my brothers and I tied him up. Mom would help. She'd bring the presents out whenever he gave in and we'd open them all on the bed." She uses the excuse of being tired. Rationalizes to herself that it's okay to talk about things she normally brushes off. I can ask her anything during these moments, in the middle of the night while she's pressed up against me, and she'll always answer.
"I think I'd like that if I ever have a kid," I say, loving the image.
"Yeah, I don't really know if it's actually a Serbian thing or if it was just him. Never actually asked anyone on his side. Don't even know if half my memories are real. Sometimes I think I glorified them just so I could have more."
"They're real," I whisper against the back of her neck.
"Don't fall in love with me, okay?" she whispers, shoving one of her legs back between mine.
"I won't," I promise, just as I always do.