About two weeks ago I posted the first part of a writing piece that I am currently working on, about which I am rather excited.
So may I present to you, dear readers, part two:
For a split second I think Tom is going to hit me. I blush from a mix of excitement and fear.
He’s never done it before, but there is a moment when his body pulses and his jaw clenches and I half expect his wrath, and his exasperation, and his exhaustion to just wash over me; to just wash me away.
Instead he picks up my economics text lying next to me on the counter. His fingers scratch its stringy, yellow spine before launching it across the living room.
“What is wrong with you?” I yell before I can stop myself.
I run over to my book. My footstep are swallowed by the other overturned texts that liter the floor.
In silence, Tom strides over to the water closet and punches his fist through the door.
Breathe. Just breathe, I tell myself.
Breathe, breathe I whisper to Tom.
I hope no one has heard us.
Tom is staring at his shaking fist, dazed. He looks up and takes a tentative step towards me.
“Coming to finish them off?” I challenge, waving to the other books lying to my right and left.
He stops. It is his turn to blush.
“I’m sorry. Marja. I am. I just. I just can’t afford to do anything about this.”
I look back down and I can hear him return to the kitchen. He pours water into a mug.
“If it makes you feel any better I’ll go see Gdancic tomorrow about it on my break.” He says, as he walks over to me, almost on tiptoes, like a seesaw.
His knees crack as he folds his legs into a squat. Taking the book from my hands he passes me the mug.
“I can’t believe I threw your book. I’m really, really sorry.”
I sip and pause. He kisses the edge of my right eyebrow.
“It’s okay.” I kiss the corner of his mouth. “But it’s only okay if you do something about your hand.”
Tom lets out a long sigh.
We sit in silence.
“Okay. I will. But I can’t do anything much until I’ve finished this project. If I get a shot, I’ll lose all the information…” He trails off.
“What?” I ask. Tom quickly puts a finger over his lips, telling me to be quiet. His eyes move in the direction of the balcony.
Outside of the patio door a thick rubber caterpillar is inching its way up the pane. A small green light blinks from the top. I’ve never before seen one if my life.
Only on posters and backlit billboards.
“Oh God.” I almost drop the water. Three drops dot the cover of my scrambler and I can’t even bring myself to wipe them away. Tom inches closer to me, his backside scratching the carpet so much that when his fingers touch mine an electric current runs up my right arm, and settles, tingling, behind my eyes.
“Did you do anything?” He whispers.
My breath stalls, thick against my neck.
“No. Nothing.” I bit my lip so hard, I can taste blood against at the tip of my mouth. “Tonight’s repaving was only about two blocks away. It’s probably just easier to take someone from the neighborhood.”
I don’t turn my head in his direction.
“Marja.” I feel the reassuring weight of his hand on the small of my back. We watch as the blinking green light disappears, inching its way up to the next floor.
And then silently, we rise.
Tom teeters over to the hall closet. The shrill squeak of the door on its last hinge seems to echo around the apartment.
Tom freezes. I freeze.
“What?” I whisper.
Tom shakes his head and mouths an apology. “Nothing.” He whispers back. “That just really freaked me out.”
“No.” He shakes his head. “The sound of this stupid closet!”
I can’t help but smile; my heart beats a little slower and I move towards him.
The blast comes so quickly I don’t even have time to reach for my helmet.
And the dark crashes over me, like a ravenous wave. Too eager, it swallows us whole.