Indigo: Chapter 2
Business had taken me far from home, but I was not averse to mixing it with pleasure. One should always take the time. I met her at supper; our eyes tangled over the third course, and our feet over the fourth and fifth. By dessert, my mouth was watering.
I had passed this way many times; why had I not noticed before? —The twinkling eyes, cauldrons of coyness and shyness, the fire seen through them, the lips that drew me. My mind was on her throughout the activities of the evening. We watched a children’s play together, I and some friends, and she sat in a corner that held more interest to me than the play. At the end I applauded with the audience for the effort I had all but missed, and when I again looked, the alluring corner was vacant.
The hour was late though; I placed no blame. Any appeal the corner had had for her had most likely dulled with the dreariness of the slipping hours, and she was gone. I bid my friends good night and retired to the guest room.
I lay for a while, pondering, drifting.
The baths were back across the way—on the ground floor, inside the main house—and I suddenly felt unspeakably dirty. I gathered a towel and went determinedly towards them, but I must admit: this time I was nightcrawling.
But then, so was she, you see.
The blood in my veins began to tingle and race when I heard a bustle in the kitchen. I knew beyond doubt that it was her. I had to find out. If it was not her, well then, I was just a hungry lad anxious for a midnight morsel.
I paused with my hand on the door. I had come a long way that day, and though carriage was cleaner than horse by far, or foot, still the grime of the miles had accumulated. She would wait. It would be worth her while to wait.
I bathed without leisure in the hot drizzle. When I undressed, my mind was on the soap. When I rinsed, my thoughts fluttered to the towel and when I dried, my mind was in my sandals.
Finally I emerged, lathered more in steam than in the drops of water that remained on my skin. I sat on a stool and began to fiddle with my sandal straps. When I looked up, she was sitting in front of me.
She could not sleep, you see.
I knew how that felt. Racing blood forges insomniacs. It was sad that we as humans had to use excuses. But, looking into each other’s eyes, we knew that they were excuses, and necessary. We spoke for a while, each glued to the sonorous silhouette of the other. We spoke of simple and lacy things at first but quickly our minds and tongues intertwined from across the room with common vision.
She fascinated me, you see.
And talking was my nemesis of touching.
She wanted to show me the roof, so I followed her as absent-mindedly as my tingling veins permitted. The roof was reached by a thin rope ladder, which she scaled quickly. I had some difficulty at first, my legs were jellyfish in its tangles, but she told me where to step.
She came up here a lot, you see.
A fruit-laden branch from the top of a guava tree provided a kiss of shade to the roof in the desert daytime, and, though it was rooted night, was still her favourite spot. We sat underneath it, close to the edge of the roof. The tiny pebbles which often collected on rooftops burned into our backs and our feet dangled over the brink, challenging thirty feet of bone breaking space. Some unexplored chasm of darkness hung below, but, honestly, who bothers with those things when you are branding every pore of the other into your memory?
Labels: Short Story