Saturday, June 18, 2011

Old Friends

   She touched her hand to his cheek, all the while frightened that every time she reached for him he would be further away, and the journey back would grow longer and longer.

Emily’s black heels were short, but clacked nonetheless on the sidewalk as she checked her cell phone for the time. Turning to replace it into her coat pocket, she tripped over a dash in the cement and dropped her shopping bag before regaining her balance. She sighed and bent down to collect the pastel colored stationary, ball point pens, printer ink, and college ruled binder paper before she shoved it all back into the shopping bag. Standing up, she brushed off the dirt that marred her bag’s dignity as well as her own. She tugged her chic black coat down over her belt line and hooked her right arm through the bag’s handle as she walked around the street corner.  
                It was late December, and the streets were cold in San Francisco as the wind harassed people’s hairdos from the sea. Emily jogged forward a couple steps to catch the door of the café before it swung shut. Her mask of concentration and pensiveness severed in two as she caught the eyes of the tall, blonde man sitting at the back. His hands were in his pockets and his short hair made him look cheerful as he sat up and unleashed a beaming smile that shot across the room to grab Emily’s hand, as if to say “What are you doing standing by the door when you could be over here with me?”.  She was helpless to resist. His hands came out of his pockets and he lifted out of his seat as she reached the table. Without so much as a “hello” or a moment in which Emily could put down her bag, he took her right hand and pulled her to him. She let out a surprised giggle as they embraced, and one of her heeled feet bent upward toward the ceiling as she attempted to make up for the difference in their height.
                The embrace unfurled them both before they were ready, but he held onto her hand as they took seats across from each other at the stylishly circular glass table. Emily let go of his hand only for a moment to put down her bag, and they immediately grasped both of each others hands. She could not stop grinning, nor could he, and she attempted to bite down her smile in order to start a conversation. All the while, her tremors of excitement caused her golden earrings to bob and sway among the locks of her dark blonde hair.
                Sensing her dilemma, he mercifully spoke the first words. “It’s so good to see you, Emily. It’s been really hard to read your letters and hear you over the phone without being able to hold you.”She let out a small hum and nodded shyly.
                “I’ve started to hate Seattle,” she said, “Just because I thought it’s what took you away.” She admitted, looking down through the table between them. He laughed as he, too, admitted that it was a stupid decision to have moved to (the golden state/the windy city. Wtv it is for seattle) ______. “And I got new stationary!” her face lit up as she described her recent purchase. “It’s always fun to buy new things, especially something that I’d write on practically every day. I suppose you might’ve gotten bored of my old plain blue stationary.”
                “I actually loved it more and more with every letter. But oh, that’s nice too,” he looked at the new orange and white patterned paper she took from her bag. “Emily? You might not need to use that paper anymore, though.”
                Her face fell. In fact, if an ordinary frown is “falling”, then her face was more like a tumble down Niagra in a rusty wheelbarrow. “Do you mean…” She bit her lip on the left side and fiddled with her hands. “You don’t want me to write anymore?” His eyes widened almost frighteningly.
                “No no no! Emily, I’m just saying that they aren’t going to be necessary anymore.”
                It was her eyes that threatened to split her skull this time. “No way. No WAY!
                “Yes way. I already picked out an apartment. It’s over by _____. I just have to get my stuff from Seattle. In fact, that was my second reason for coming here over the break. I wanted to check out the place for myself and make sure it’s as good as the guy said.”
                “What was the first reason?”
Emily got back before he did. She unloaded her stuff onto the desk in the front of their condo. With a sigh, she walked into the bedroom, took off her shoes, emptied her pockets of their cell phone, coins, and notes, and fell face up onto the foot of her bed, a shoe in each hand. She lay looking up at the ceiling and let the shoes drop from her hands onto the floor. Charles jumped up onto the bed with her and purred in her ear as he danced in excited circles around her. She greeted him with a “hey mister” and a back rub before she dressed down into house clothes.
Her hair up in a messy yet functional swirl, her black cami letting her bra be visible from the sides, and her bare feet poking out from under her black sport pants, Emily cooked his favorite soup. She was ladling the udon into two bowls, adding brown sugar to her own and red pepper flakes to his.
The key turning in the door gave her time to put down the pan onto the stove before he came in. She went over to the entryway, kissed him on the cheek, and asked how his day went.
“Dear God, it was brutal. I know you don’t want to be bored with the details of it, but let’s just say that Harry has another thing coming if he thinks I’ll cover for him vacationing in Florida while I give him credit on this project. Sweet Jesus, that man is obnoxious.”  He saw the food on the table. “Oh you didn’t have to… is that udon?” He folded his jacket onto the back of one of the chairs before sitting down to the bowl in front of him. He picked up the spoon and was about to take a bite.
“Yeah, my deadline is apparently tomorrow for that article on those stupid traffic circles.” She said as she took the bowl out from under him and switched it with the one across from him. Nonplussed, he dug into the one she gave him and closed his eyes with the pleasure of the first bite. His dark hair hid his face when he bent over the bowl. He hummed when he ate.
Emily sat across from him, watching him eat with a contemplative expression on her face. As usual. She picked at her food, as was her way, and they ate in the usual silence. It was not an uncomfortable silence, for they were beyond that being a possibility.
Once he cleared the plates and wiped down the kitchen, he undressed in the bedroom while Emily went back to her upward facing position that she had occupied before, at the foot of the bed. He pulled on some boxers while she slipped out of her pants. They crawled into bed without words. She looked up at the ceiling. He looked at her. Feeling his gaze, Emily slowly turned her eyes toward him. His hand rested around her waist. Her arm extended around his head as his face sidled down into her collarbone, and her hand smoothed down his hair.
“Goodnight, baby.”
It was three weeks later, under a hazy gray day with clouds threatening to choke innocent bystanders, that Emily rang the doorbell of ___(address)____.
                She could hear feet thumping on the floor, padded by socks, as they ran towards the door in excitement. The red paint on the wooden door was smiling at her as it swung inward and revealed its occupant, smiling as before. His hand shot out to pull her quickly from the street and she almost fell over the entryway, had it not been for the stability lent by his arms.
                She was already giggling. He closed the door with his left hand while he pressed Emily to his chest with his right. Pulling upwards from the small of her back, he closed the gap that had been burning between their bodies and they kissed for one sweet, prolonged moment. They paused, and she put her arms around him, holding his neck.
                “Come on; let me show you the place.” The apartment was small, with a dusty tiled floor leading to a dusty kitchen with wooden floors and counters that connected to a dusty stairway that no doubt climbed into a dusty little bedroom. In fact, there wasn’t much in the apartment that couldn’t be described as dusty and small.
                “I love it.”
                They made their way back to the entryway and Emily saw a pile of orange and white papers on a desk in the hall. She remembered her most recent one:
Dear Neil,
 I can’t wait! I guess this will be my last letter, since it won’t really arrive at your current location, should I send one later. SIGH. Oh hun I can already feel my arms around you, and I can still feel your hug at my sides from that day at the café. I’ll see you soon.
– Emily
                As Emily bit her lip in thought, Neil opened the blinds in the front room to let the light in. Pausing for a moment, he also opened the window itself, in order to give some dust a chance to escape before his war against it began the next day. He took Emily’s hand for the umpteenth time and led her to  the (small and dusty) couch. It was the kind of couch that did not support your frame, but rather let you sink like a fishing hook into its depths, giving way as you put weight on its failing springs. Neil sat down and waited for her to join him, all the while keeping his eyes perfectly trained upon hers. Tucking her feet under her, she made herself compact as she melted into his lap. Emily leaned her head into his chest and cupped his neck with her left hand as her right found its usual place at his hairline, teasing his hair out of place. And he wouldn’t have had it any other way.
                “So what’s been going on recently?” He asked.
                “Oh, not much,” She bit her lip. “I’ve been stressed out a bit because of that dumb article series about traffic that I’m sure I’ve complained to you about. Every other day I have to have another thing-a-ma-bob prepared for it and its just ERGH it’s stressing me out.” She rotated her hands and shrugged her shoulders with expression. “On the bright side, though, we’ve stayed on top of the rent this month. And I mean completely on top of it. Which is nice.” Her hands and head went back to their resting positions.
                There was a silence in which she listened to him breathing and felt the warmth spread from his expanding and contracting chest into her hands. He stared out the window, the smile on his face absent for the first time since her arrival.
                “How is Ethan?” His eyes stayed straight forward and his breathing sped up, even if only by a fraction. She noticed. Her brow furrowed and a puzzled little frown tarnished her mouth.
                “He’s alright I guess. Very involved in work. That’s the usual I guess…” she closed her eyes and sank further into his lap. The silence stretched on while the building made creaking noises in the walls and somewhere deep in a box of Neil’s packed things a clock ticked and tocked beneath a dish towel. His heart beats in her ear were lulling her to sleep and the corner of her mouth became loose as she began to doze. Neil, his left arm around the sleeper, rubbed his upper lip with his right index finger and kept staring out the front window. 
I wrote this a long time ago. It is still unfinished, and I don't think I'll be returning to it. I actually just found it and decided to post it after reading the first two sentences- I haven't re-read it yet. 
I'm just now thinking about what to make this blog into. For now, it is my thought-dump.

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