Two in One,
One in Two
I looked at her, sleeping so peacefully. She was beautiful; her long, black hair, her blue eyes, closed in peaceful slumber, her slightly crooked nose and her eyes, pointing downwards at the corner of her eyes. In many ways she still resembled the Lucy Anderson that had fallen on top of me on the way to school all those years ago. At least, it felt like a long time ago. I wonder what my dad would've said if he'd heard me say that.
I sat up in the double bed and looked around me in the darkened bedroom of our apartment. We were living together in a middle-sized apartment for students, just big enough for two people. The rent wasn't exactly low; on the contrary we barely managed it.
I had two part-time jobs beside the law degree I was taking, and Lucy had three (she worked on the weekends as well). She was studying child welfare. I knew all too well why. I got out of bed and put on my thick wool socks.
The floor was made of a rather cheap, cold tree sort, and it seemed to make the entire apartment feel colder. I walked over to the threshold and into the living room, closing the bedroom door quietly behind me. I went over to the kitchen, which was part of the living room.
Opening the fridge, I got out the orange juice and poured myself a glass. I thought about everything that my girlfriend Lucy had gone through. I always got such dark thoughts in the night. I remembered when she'd told me about how her father used to drink up the family's money, how he treated Lucy badly. I remembered how Lucy, with a voice as if she didn't understand the events herself, had told me about how her mother at a certain point had stopped neglecting her, and finally opening up to her at a time when the both needed each other.
I'd always had a feeling that something bad was going on at Lucy's home or somewhere, but she hadn't told me until years after it had all passed. I had really felt that her dad hadn't deserved to be killed in a drunken state, run over by a trailer. I recalled the wish occasionally felt to do the job myself.
My thoughts were interrupted by the pain of gripping the glass too tightly. I loved Lucy, and I admired her for having turned the memories of her childhood into something constructive by the choice of child welfare studies. I wanted her to succeed, fiercely.
I turned my head when I heard the creek of the bedroom door. Lucy stood there in a "Hello Kitty" nightgown. She didn't say anything; she just walked over to me, barefooted. She put her arms around my waist and hugged me from behind. One of her hands was molested with scars.
I turned around and held her in my arms. Her blue eyes were big with worry.
"What's the matter, Takashi-kun?"
I took a deep breath and felt my grip around her tighten involuntarily. Brushing a strand of black hair from her face, I kissed her. She welcomed the kiss as she kissed me back, moaning slightly. We broke apart and she looked into my eyes again.
"I admire you, Lucy. You've risen from something that I can only imagine."
A small smile played at the corners of her mouth, a smile which contained as many emotions as her eyes. She leaned towards me, and I held her to my chest; the person I treasured most in this world. Her body felt warm.
"Come back to bed, baby. You have an early start tomorrow."
When morning came, I woke up before the alarm clock. I got up and after taking a shower, I started making coffee and brewing tea. I smiled when I remembered the expression on Lucy's face when she tried drinking coffee for the first time. She loved the smell, but she hated drinking the black substance.
I looked at my wristwatch: two hours until my first lesson. I didn't get much sleep nowadays.
Just when the tea was getting ready, Lucy came out of the bedroom. She smiled as she saw me up so early and went into the bathroom.
Despite the fact that we were living on something similar to fast-food and we rarely had time for weekend activities like the movies or something, I felt content with my life. My two jobs after lessons at the university kept me busy, so I didn't have time to think dark thoughts concerning Lucy's past.
Both Lucy and I were busy, but we were happy. We felt that we didn't really need anything else, and even if we'd had money to spare for the movies, I imagine we would've been too tired to really enjoy ourselves, but I wasn't sure.
I'd always had a somewhat bad conscience over the fact that Lucy was working more than I was. I felt that it should've been the other way around sometimes. For some reason, it had been hard for me to get a third job.
About one hour later, we were bicycling to school. To my surprise, Lucy had chosen a very boy-like kind of bike; at least to me it was boy-like. I started pushing myself as I noticed how she was catching up to me.
"How're you doing back there?!"
I yelled over my shoulder.
"Just you wait, I'll get you!"
I heard her voice yelling in return, and I barked with laughter.
My mom used to tell me that my voice was growing very dark, "like a bass drum" as she said. She told me it reminded her of dad's voice. That made me happy, and proud too.
One day, I'd seen a picture of a person who looked so very much like me that at first glance, I had wondered where I'd been when it was taken, because I could not remember. When I asked my mom she'd laughed and told me it was a picture of my dad when he was my age.
Ever since I'd discovered that picture, I'd felt a new kind of connection with my dad. He'd died, saving me from the debris of a falling block, in Tokyo. I'd been about seven years old.
When we reached the university entrance, we parked our bicycles next to a fence and locked them. Lucy kissed me briefly before she jogged towards the building were her course was taught.
When lunch arrived, I decided to go for a walk, away from the university. The weather was nice, just warm enough to wear T-shirts and just windy enough to feel a nice breeze. I smiled as I thought of how Lucy had always loved the wind.
I went into a small bakery and bought a piece of chocolate cake. I was extremely hungry. I knew what Lucy would've said if she'd seen me, but when I was very hungry, I had a tendency to go for the taste of whatever I ate, rather than nutrition.
The fiendish lump of sugar and chocolate disappeared fast, and I hurried out of there so I wouldn't risk buying more. I got stricken by the familiar guilt I always felt when I knew I'd eaten something I shouldn't have.
"And there went more money out the window".
I sighed, cursing my own weakness for these things. My mom mentioned that it had a lot to do with me working too much, and having absolutely no cooking skills, which made me go for how stuff tasted, and how fast it was to acquire. Maybe she had a point.
I went back to the university for the second lesson.
When lessons and jobs were finished that day, Lucy came home after me (as she always did), with a large package of sausages and a few packages of potato mix.
"I thought I would try to fry sausages again!"
She said cheerfully. She ran over to the stove with an excited expression on her face, and I started to laugh.
"What? I'm excited to try something new! We always eat that stuff from "Fatty's ", and I wanna see how it goes when I try to make something from scratch!"
"From scratch, Lucy? Are you serious?"
I said jokingly, pointing at the bags of potato mix.
"Blah! Details schmetails! I'll show you what I can do with this!"
I kissed her on the cheek and left her to it.
After putting all my books back on the shelves (made from wine cases placed upside-down and stacked on top of each other, handed to me by mom as well as other people) I decided to see if I could get our small box-TV working again. After messing with it for a while, I managed to get pictures on the screen.
Problem was, somehow they all seemed to be speaking in polish.
"I gotta give it to you, Takashi-kun! You've really nailed it with the TV!"
Lucy started laughing.
"Oh, come on, Lucy! At least I turned it on!"
I smiled slightly, although, at the same time I felt I should've been able to fix it properly.
I looked at her, singing a cooking song she was making up, about fried sausages. She looked so happy. I'd always wanted to see that smile, the excited jumping up and down. She looked as if a burden had been lifted from her shoulders, weighting her down through most of her childhood.
She put plates on the table and brought the food in a large casserole. She'd only used about half of the sausages in the bag, while putting the rest of them in the freezer.
She sat down beside me and folded her hands as she said a small prayer. She'd always been sort of like a cabinet-Christian. Now that she was living her own life, she was finally free to come out of that cabinet.
"You, know, Takashi-kun, I feel so free and just….light. As if nothing can weight me down anymore. My mom, you know, she started taking up education again, do you remember? She still works part-time as a janitor, but she said she wanted to try becoming a nurse, at least see what it's like. What about Mrs. Morisato? We haven't heard from her in a while. Maybe we should go see her someday?"
I swallowed, and drank some water before I replied.
"Yeah, that would be cool! Also, maybe we could ask her to join us on a picnic or something, we'll just have to make sure it fits our schedules!"
Lucy smiled at me, a warm, content smile free of worry.
"I'll check my schedule. It's possible that I can get a day off if I promise to make up for it by taking double shifts."
Sometimes, I wondered if I was being a little pessimistic about how little we actually got to be doing concerning weekend activities.
Later that night, we lay in the double bed together, with the lamp on our bedside-table as the only source of light. Lucy was lying against my chest, her left hand playing with the flip of one of my ears.
After about a minute I couldn't hold my breath any longer, and I burst out laughing as the tickling got too much to bear.
"Come on! You know I hate it when you do that!"
"But you're laughing!"
"I'm laughing because it tickles!"
Lucy snuggled herself closer to me, letting her hand drop from my ear down to my chest and closed her eyes.
"I love these nights."
I kissed her forehead and covered her properly with the blanket.
She'd told me she didn't want to get serious until we were married. I respected that, especially since some schoolyard bullies had forced themselves on her in immoral ways when she was thirteen.
She lied down on the bed and rolled over on her left side, her back against me. I put her arm around her and pressed myself to her back. She felt warm. Lucy let out a deep sigh of content, took my hands in hers and kissed them. She pressed my hands to her chest and after a while I heard her breathing become slow and calm.