Author's notes: Dear readers! I hope you will stick around long enough to find out what happens next. This is a romance, with a touch of humor, and it was a lot of fun for me to write this. Enjoy, please, review and comment, even if a line.
"I smell like chicken," the woman said in her soft voice. Her voice was girlish, yet of a woman. She had this laughter that was kind and a bit shy. She liked the smell of freshness on her body and the shower was her best friend after a hot and sticky day at work.
He watched her for days, sitting at the corner table; he always came at night, when there were less chances of being noticed. She was taller than others. He usually liked petite women with light skin, but she stood out from all the unattractively blend and similar in their height, body type, and dark complexion girls he encountered everywhere he looked. If he saw her on the street, he would not have noticed her, but watching her day by day, she felt more and more familiar and like a friend to him. She seemed dorky and reserved. Only when she laughed, her face opened up and her eyes twinkled. But she did not laugh often, only when she would read something on her Ipod, she secretly was checking all the time, turning away from coworkers and customers alike.
The mandatory employee outfits were so ugly, as if on purpose; he was surprised anybody even came into the small restaurant to buy food. They made people look worse than the nature intended, if that was even possible: blood red hats and shirts, with yellow letters, and some completely idiotic black pants with red stripes, highlighting the pockets, like the whole place froze in time in the 60s, but with bad Technicolor.
He found out her name, "Giselle", very pretty and fitting – feminine and sensual, assured, yet fragile, and mysterious, just like the girl herself, who obviously did not belong in this godforsaken joint.
He did not approach her. He was not looking for anything in particular, he was here to escape from his reality. He left home because he was looking for an illusive something, but ultimately, after a week in a hot paradise, he started to gain back his usual sense of practicality. What was he thinking coming here? That this would the one place on earth to find what he was looking for? So deciding not to bother with unattainable and just use the time to relax, he just wanted to people watch and play the games on his phone.
He was not into partying or chasing girls, anyway. He was lucky: he knew it well enough and was not conceited, just realistic – he was handsome, very much so. He had many fans, mostly young girls, screaming for him and there were plenty of women of any age, race, and shape who would be happy to go out with him. So he would take his pick when he is ready. Dating was not in his plans for the nearest future – he wanted to perfect his craft and to become professionally established. He did not want to just date because it was expected of him at his age. It was his personal little rebellion that nobody knew about it.
He chuckled, lowering his head, covered with a baseball cap, and a well-defined dimple popped up on his cheek, as if winking at an accidental spectator. He was given titles of the "the sexiest man" by various polls in magazines and internet websites, which were swarming with his pictures. His face was easily recognized at least on one of the continents. The popularity did not bother him - he liked the perks, but he was not abusing it either.
It happened all of a sudden. One day he woke up and looked out the window where a group of fans camped over night with banners and gifts ready for him. He closed the curtain, yawning, and felt a sudden wave of sadness spread in his heart. He sat in front of the computer and scrolled through milliards of fan messages, having a hard time finding one familiar name. His website displayed a picture of him smiling and waving, he was a friendly and well loved celebrity.
Still in a t-shirt and pajama bottoms he dragged his feet to the bathroom, brushing his teeth, while watching his face intently. If not for this face, he would probably be a regular guy with a regular life. His eyes now absorbed the sadness in his heart, and he turned away from the large mirror. He turned on the shower and undressed, stepping into the shower stall, filled with steam. He washed his hair and his face, he scrubbed his skin and soaped, he tried to make himself feel like everything was OK, like today was as usual as yesterday, and two days ago, and a week ago, but it was not.
He propped himself against the wall with an outstretched arm, leaning forward, and allowed the water to wash over his head, dripping down from his hair that was covering his eyes and face. He stood there for a while, and was surprised how the warmth of the water and its gentle caresses made something grow and open up inside his soul, and the tears crept up, exploding inside of him and the depth of the hidden emotions shook his very core, screaming out and making him hit the wall and crouch, sitting under the running shower and covering his head, ashamed of his own tears which came out of nowhere, like a flood.
He was crying so hard for himself and his life that just happened to him without him noticing. Why was he like that? Why was he weeping naked in the shower, while he had everything anybody ever wished for themselves. This powerful despair apparently was always inside, but never had a reason to be known till this morning. He had to run away, escape to an island where he would be as anonymous as the next person, where he could be himself again, where he can reevaluate his life that just took over him, while he went along with everything, like a good filial boy he was.
"My son, are you all right?" he heard his mother knocking on the door of the bathroom.
"Yes, Mom, just taking a shower. Don't worry," he forced himself to sound OK. He could pull out any emotion on cue, he could produce any feeling so believable, that he himself at times was amazed at his abilities. But his life lacked the depth or the passion of the emotions he portrayed. His life was so empty and so… blah. He wanted to feel what his characters felt, he wanted to live on the edge, to live day to day, feeling all of the things normal people feel – love, anger, despair, passion, hatred. He often felt happy and was content with basic pleasures of life – spending time with the family, hanging out with his friends. He was an easygoing guy and laughed at simple jokes. He occasionally had a crush on an actress he worked with, just because he did not really get to spend time with girls otherwise. Those crushes made him excited and rejuvenated and he would smile all the time while the infatuation lasted. But then the strength of the feelings would fade and he'd get busy with projects and other responsibilities, and would be single again. Never properly having dated, never in love.
It was not really true. He was in love once, before he became famous, when he was just a regular student, in college. This girl, she was pretty, pretty in his eyes, and she smiled at him and she understood him. They used to seat on the grass and study together and eat kimbap and drink sweet drinks. They would kiss under a tree and hide in the shadows of the building to make out. They would press together under an umbrella, when it rained and hug on the bus ride home. They had their time and then they drifted apart. He was sad, even heartbroken. He did not know what he did wrong, but she no longer smiled just for him. So he missed the feeling of love all the time. He just forgot about it for a while. But being in the shower, where a mixture of the water and the mist and the vapor that enveloped him made this longing wake up, he wanted his heart to cry and laugh again, just like at that time.
He arranged for a travel agent to bring him brochures and closing his eyes, picked one from a thick pile – Puerto Rico. He packed lightly and booked a first flight to this country across the ocean, whatever it was, it seemed to be pleasant enough for swimming, hiking and overall hanging out casually, far enough from Asia and all the fans who recognized him.