He lies still and rests his palm against her soft skin, puffing his chest out the way a warrior might when posing with a foot on his freshly slain monster. His ribs protrude as he does so, creating the impression of a prison cell within his own body. He balls his other hand into a tight fist and raises it high above himself, reeling his arm back down towards his heart with the speed of a puppets’ freed from its string for the first time. He stops an inch from his torso, scrunches up all his features and, mouthing a silent Tarzan yell, begins slapping his fist lightly against his prison-bar-ribs. The sixth mouthing of his call, however, accidentally takes flight in the form of a short, abrupt “AH” and he clasps his hands violently over his face, rolling away from his Jane as he titters and sputters helplessly through his fingers. After a short half-minute of convulsing at just how hilarious he finds himself right now he is able to sigh contently and straighten himself out, staring affectionately at her in a way he would never dare to whilst she was awake.
It is only while she sleeps that he allows the previous nights’ mask of elaborate nonchalance to slip and takes the opportunity to crumble curiously one of the many cigarette butts she has arranged over his bedside table for him. He sniffs gingerly at it and frowns deeply; rubbing his fingers across the little ocean now creased into his forehead. He steals one last glance at her before sobering his face and nestling one of her fresh cigarettes between his tight lips. He stares across his dorm room into the blank eyes of a Spiderman poster and, getting into character, proclaims quietly “Me Tarzan”. He flicks at her lighter and discovers with a sense of euphoria that he has perfected his “I-smoke-all-the-time-using-a-lighter-doesn’t-even-hurt-my-thumb” face. He shuts his eyes and inhales deeply, feeling the warm smoke caress his throat as he fights through it to mutter “You Jan–“. His eyes, now pricked with tears, spring open and he begins to cough lowly and gruffly into his hands. He stares over at her as he does so, panicked he may wake her and silently cursing himself for not practicing a later “now-watch-me-smoke-this-cigarette” part to his routine. He stubs the full cigarette out frantically, clearly now agitated at it for embarrassing him, and opts instead to breathe in from his inhaler. Perched on the edge of his bed he welcomes the puffs as his wiry frame arches backwards with relief, reminiscent of the way a drug users’ body might stretch and wilt under the weight of a fresh hit. He gathers up the little cigarette stubs, deciding the display not of Jackson Pollock standards, and sets them gently into his rubbish bin. The proceeding three minutes of pondering, light thigh slapping and teeth sucking lead him to the conclusion that he had probably best appear untroubled by the cigarettes and he begins picking them out of the rubbish, rearranging them with a studied and ornate carelessness.
He sits quietly now, clothed in vest top and tracksuit bottoms, on the edge of his bed and continues to steal admiring glances at her. These glances are followed by a quick snap of the head forward again, almost as if he fears that looking at her for too long will lead to him fully digesting her presence and she’ll disappear as quickly as she came barraging in.
He thinks now of stumbling into moments belonging only to little creatures such as Blue Jays and how horrified they would seem at his presence, how they would instantly take flight, choosing to abandon their bread crumb dinner rather than simply allow him to spectate. He would falter then between amusement and offense at being denied access to these fleeting moments, but now feels nothing but smugness at being a part of just this one. He lightly touches the ends of her hair and rubs them delicately between his fingers, admiring the blue shine they take on in the small rays of morning light sneaking through his curtains.
His mind drifts back to the previous nights charm offensive and he cringes involuntarily, contorting his frame slightly and pressing his free palm against the bars of his chest.
“I like your hair. It’s… it’s… dead black… and nice… so it is.” She had informed him then that her hair was, in fact, “midnight” and that it “showed better in the day light”. He had nodded excitedly, exclaiming “Ahh yes, I see it now! It’s very midnight! It almost feels as if it is midnight! Because of your hair, y’see? ‘Cause it’s so… midnight.” She had gazed at him with a look that could only be interpreted as amusement coupled with affection and asked him if he liked the shade “midnight”. He responded by choking slightly on his beer and stating “Yes, it’s one of my favourite colours! Midnight… can’t get enough of it.”
His embarrassment subsides as he lingers longer on the amused smile she had granted him and he suddenly feels rather grateful, she had taken his awkwardness as an opportunity to prod at him gently, not ignore him. He twirls a little piece of her blue hair around his finger and, leaning in close to her, kisses her ear before emitting in to it a light Blue Jay chirp. She stirs quietly, scrunching her nose and moving away from him. He slaps his hands over his face and leans back onto his pillow, laughing and snorting into them and willing himself to quieten down. After many poor attempts to stop giggling he decides he has gathered his “cool” sufficiently and makes his way out of the room, hobbling from one foot to the other as he goes and raising his arms out slightly in what he imagines the Blue Jay mating dance might be.
She gives him plenty of time to imply that his strange assault of giggling and Tarzan impressions had not woken her before making her own way into his communal kitchen. He stands, arms jutting slightly and worryingly pale in his vest top, staring hopelessly at two slices of bread.
She stands completely mute, uncomfortable that he hasn’t heard her come in and fearing she may interrupt what appears to be a very poignant moment for him. He reaches a hand out hesitantly towards a pot of jam before pausing and outstretching his baby finger a few centimetres sideways, stroking the top a Nutella jars’ lid instead. He frowns and snaps his hand back to his side, resting it on his hip as he alternates between clicking and hmming at the little jars. She clears her throat quietly and he spins sideways to face her, a smile forming on his lips as he begins pulling at each of his hands self-consciously with the other. She smiles back at him and waits tentatively for him to say something. “Toast”, comes the eventual ice-breaker, “I’ve made toast… jam or Nutella?” He gestures at the innocent looking jars that had caused him so much trouble whilst she both frowns and smiles lightly. “Either, I really don’t mind.” He suddenly perks up and stutters “Or both, you could have both! I think both is nicest.” “Mmm, yes please.” She says whilst taking a seat and nodding enthusiastically, as if she is relieved he has finally suggested such an awful sounding mix. He butters at the toast hurriedly before resting the little plate on her knees. She stares sombrely at it for a few seconds, only to realise with a start that he is in turn staring at her, waiting expectantly for her to take the first bite. She shrugs helplessly and forces a smile, taking a tentative chew.
“Mmm!” Disgusting. She takes another bite and points admiringly at the toast with her other free hand “You say you made this yourself?” After another overly-keen bite she pauses to watch him, perched on the sofa opposite hers, beaming at her as if he has just given to her the single best kept secret the world has to offer. “I just toasted it before you came in. The real trick is in the spreading.” “Oh I can tell” she offers with wide-eyed enthusiasm. He perks up further and she notices an unmistakable flush in his cheeks at having his toast complimented; she can’t keep a straight face any longer and sputters little pieces of crumb as she giggles and slaps a hand across her mouth. “I’m sorry!” she manages to choke through laughter. “I’m sorry but it’s just… horrible.” She fights to stop chuckling and stares at him with wary concern. He returns her stare for a few seconds before offering a bellowing laugh his little frame didn’t appear capable of. She resumes giggling and choking on his toast whilst thrusting the plate roughly towards him. “Take it” she instructs with mock-urgency. “Take it!” He howls more lightly now and grins, taking the plate and shaking his head with mock-disdain. “But it’s lovely!” he insists, moving from his seat. She shakes her head defensively as he returns and sits on the sofa with her, handing her a glass. She gulps it and sits sombrely for a few moments, a deep frown forming. “Nice?” he asks gently. “Mmm…” she replies with indifference “What… is it exactly?” A light clear of the throat can be heard and he replies “Well, I wasn’t sure what you’d like, so I just mixed a few of the different flavours in the fridge.” She sits stiller now, fighting back a smile as he roars and doubles over slightly in his seat. He feels light but forceful slaps against the cage of his chest, and she feels the little prisoner inside rattling a tin cup against the bars with growing ecstasy.
A short piece of fiction written in the third-person omniscient about a young man’s morning after with the girl from the night before. A piece (I hope) focusing subtley on the idea of self, acceptance, humility and growth.
Constructive criticism is very much appreciated and welcomed.
much love. x