Felicity

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I woke up feeling disoriented, not because I didn’t know where I was or who was besides me, but because I hadn’t meant to fall asleep in the first place. Even as I’d closed my eyes I told Yasmina I’d be gone in a minute, that I was just resting my eyes. She’d said she didn’t mind and obviously meant it because now she was pressed up against my body, an arm around my waist and her legs intertwined with mine. That must have been what woke me up in the first place since my blood ran too cold to sleep with another person without getting overheated, something I’d always found almost poetically fitting. It was still dark outside, although the sky was just a shade too light, signalling that dawn was almost here. For a few minutes I just watched the sky start to gradually grow lighter. I thought about closing my eyes, pretending to go back to sleep, let myself actually find out how Yasmina would react to waking up next to the hot girl she’d picked up in the club after her friends went home.

But she’d probably only moved toward me in her sleep. Maybe she meant it, when she said she didn’t care if I stayed. I was like that too, though, I wouldn’t push anyone out the door if I was worried they were too tired to get home okay even if I technically shouldn’t care enough to worry. That didn’t necessarily mean she wanted to deal with me in the morning, when the sun was up and the reality of the situation settled in. Nothing was ever as sexy as you thought it was when you woke up hungover on a Sunday morning. So I disentangled myself as gently as I could from Yasmina and collected my clothes on the way to the bathroom.

The bathroom was spacious and had a dial by the vanity mirror so that someone could dim the lights. The whole flat was like that, though, spacious and modern. It was in a centric part of Madrid were the buildings were old but renovated on the inside, the flats had high ceilings but were too small for a too expensive apartment. The only reason this flat even seemed spacious was because of the lack of furniture in it. Yasmina didn’t even have a personal items although she mentioned she’d recently moved, or she must have at some point since I knew it even if I didn’t remember her telling me. There was shampoo and body wash in the shower and products on the counter of the porcelain sink. That and the unmade bed we had fallen into last night were the only clues that somebody actually lived here.

Still Yasmina didn’t have a hairbrush, just a comb, which made sense since she had short hair. I was forced to comb through my the knots in my hair with my fingers after getting dressed and washing off the remnants of my make up, avoiding the reflection in the mirror under the unforgiving fluorescent lights. It wasn’t my body I was avoiding looking at, it was just in the short glances I got I couldn’t get over how young I looked. Sometimes I feel like the cynicism has aged me inside, turned me into an aged and bitter bachelorette warning doe eyed teenager girls of the perils of trying to find love, the word for a feeling that doesn’t truly exist. My aunt was like that, told me every chance she could that falling for the illusion wouldn’t give me happiness, just bruised knees. I didn’t exactly agree with her, I just thought that love wasn’t meant for everyone. But when I looked at the mirror I saw a little girl playing dress up, hoping that one day she’d turn into Cinderella. I wondered if everyone else could see it.

I wondered if Yasmina had seen it.

As I rinsed out my mouth with mouthwash, I finally looked straight in my reflected eyes to see if I was at least presentable enough to go home. My hair fell limp, my eyes were bloodshot and my skin was waxy. I looked ill and knew it would only go away if I crawled back into bed. But that wasn’t how the story went, not how I would write it if the pen were in my hands. Still, I felt the need to at least say goodbye. I told myself it was polite and I hung at the entrance to her room saying her name and then repeated it increasingly louder until her eyes fluttered open. Her hand reached for the sheet as if to cover herself until her eyes focused on me, remembering, and she let go.

“Felicity,” she says slowly, the same way she had said it last night when I first gave her my name. Like happiness? she’d asked afterwards and I’d laughed and nodded. She didn’t ask it now and I was glad, I was too exhausted to find her every quirk of hers as adorable as I had last night. Her accent was almost too much for me at the moment.

“I’m heading out now.”

I noticed that Yasmina’s eyes were a golden brown and just as bloodshot as mine when she blinked at me with a blank expression. But then she smiled, because she quite liked smiling as I’d quickly realised last night. She’d smiled at me, at the bouncer as we left the club, at the cashier at the pizza shop when he rang up the take out she insisted we get to soak up the alcohol, at our taxi driver and over and over and over again once we got back to her flat. “You can stay for breakfast, if you like.”

My chest felt tight. “I’ve gotta go.”

“You don’t,” she said, her smile softening into something that looked disappointed. “But you can. Whatever you want.”

Even as I’m walking home, with my heels in my hand, I can’t think of a good response. I wish I had, so I could have said something before just leaving. But what could I have said? That it wasn’t what I wanted but that that was the next step? Everything had been good last night, in a way it just usually wasn’t with someone whose name you hadn’t even known twelve hours ago, and I didn’t mind it since I wasn’t looking for good, just something to make me feel human. However, last night had been a page out of a trashy novel, cliche upon cliche; touches that burned, kisses that felt like breathing, mind-numbing pleasure, orgasms that made fireworks burst in my head. If there was someone worth breaking the rules for it was her, but I ruined everything constantly. I took people willing to give me the world and tried to force galaxies out of them. And it wasn’t that what I wanted was unfair, per say, at least I’m pretty sure it wasn’t, it was just something they couldn’t give me. Maybe Yasmina could give me what they couldn’t, but if she couldn’t at least I’d never have to know about it. It’s a fucked up way to keep hope alive, but it was the only way I knew.

I was lucky to only wait a few minutes for the bus considering both the hour and the fact that it was a Sunday. There were a couple other young people wearing last night’s clothes on the bus looking either deeply exhausted or like they were about to keel over. By the time I got to my studio the sun was well and truly up so I decided to make coffee instead of going to sleep like I’d been planning to. I curled up on my couch and watched cartoons as if they could refuel my innocence. There was a part of me that felt uplifted when I found myself laughing to Tom and Jerry.

Around noon I looked through my phone. We’d taken a few photos last night at the club and one in her flat when we were sitting on her living room floor eating pizza. Maybe that was why I felt so weird, because I usually don’t spend hours talking to someone before I hook up with them. Yasmina kept insisting, though, that we should wait to sober up a bit. “What’s the point, if we can’t remember it?” I remembered thinking that the very point was not being able to remember it and wondering how many times Yasmina had even had a one night stand with a stranger. Something about the light-hearted way she acted about all of it told me that it wasn’t her first time but there was something not-casual in the way she talked and touched me that made me think she hadn’t done it enough to get comfortable with the idea that even if we liked to think of every person as special, we were all fairly disposable to each other when need be.

She’d asked to text herself the pictures and I had handed over my phone. The texts were still there, but not with an unrecognisable number but rather Yasmina’s name. It wasn’t until then that I even knew that it was spelled with a Y although I supposed it was a bit ignorant to think it’d be spelled the English way. There was a complete absence of furniture in her flat but there’d been a crazy amount of books and while half of them were in English, a few of them were in Spanish and the rest had been in Urdu. She’d told me that her family was from Pakistan and moved to England when she was a teenager. “Can you still read them?” I’d asked picking a book of poetry up and she’d grudgingly admitted that she couldn’t read it as well as she used to and then took the book from my hands and read me what she told me was a love poem. Although she could have been saying gibberish for all I knew, I’d felt my stomach come alight with butterflies.

I tossed my phone to the side and tried to put it out of my mind. There was a voice in the back of my head that told me that that might be easier if I erased the pictures from my phone. Or, at the very least, erased the number but there was something inside me that couldn’t commit to the idea of forgetting all about Yasmina. I distracted myself throughout the afternoon by rewriting fairy tales. Rewriting stories was something I started doing when I was younger because I had deeply believed that every story should have a happy ending. So every time I read a story that didn’t have one I wrote it myself. After my dad left my mom told me that I should stop rewriting endings, that I should get used to living in the real world where happy endings rarely happened. I didn’t tell her that I liked to reinvent reality too by spending way too much time thinking of what my day would have been like if my dad had stayed before falling asleep. Now I decided to give the fairy tales sad endings. While I’m at it I also change the pronouns and reflect on how much more interesting the stories would be had the Brothers Grimm been gay.

Even though I promised myself I wouldn’t call Yasmina, I really only made it until ten before I gave in. She picked up on the second ring and I felt the butterflies come back into my stomach. “You do this a lot then? Leave your number in girl’s phones, regardless of whether they want them or not?” I asked her, getting straight to the point.

“Not a lot, no.”

“So why me?”

“I wanted to send the pictures to my phone.”

“And you needed to enter yourself in my contacts to do that?”

For a few seconds Yasmina didn’t say anything. “You told me I have a princess name,” she finally said. I didn’t say anything because that did sound an awful lot like something I would say whilst drunk. It would also explain why I’d had the urge to watch Aladdin all day. “I thought it was endearing.”

“So you want to fuck me again because I told you I liked your named?” I asked, being crass on purpose, seeing if it’d scare her off. I at least wanted to give her a warning sign that I wasn’t someone she should want, fully expecting for her to come up with an excuse to hang up soon.

“No, I want to see you again because I like your name. My mom always told me to search for happiness.”

“You told me last night she also told you to be straight.”

“Funny that you act like you don’t care but you care enough to remember that,” Yasmina said, a smile in her voice. I couldn’t work up a response fast enough, because she was right even if I didn’t want to admit it. “I tried. To be straight, I mean. But since that didn’t work I’m trying the happiness thing now and I was happy last night.”

I bit my lip, struggling between what I wanted to say and what I should say. Even if Yasmina did seem fairly easy-going, I could tell I wouldn’t get another chance if I turned her down. She’d back off, forget all about me, pick another girl up at a club and maybe even read a love poem in Urdu to them. The hot grab of jealousy in my stomach made the decision for me. “Is that offer for breakfast still open?”

“If you like.”

Hearing the smile in her voice made me want to smile too and since she wasn’t in front of me to see it I went ahead and did it. I’ve never been that good at it anyways, writing sad endings, I’ve always wanted to be happy too much to write with conviction. And trying to create happy endings was probably a better use of my time than trying to imagine one up before I went to sleep at night.

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