“‘Life is complicated. You once said that we’d find ways to deal with it. It is hard, you said… It is really hard…”
”Gomen, ne… Ore wa baka desu…Genki?… Ore wa nay desu…”
**Once, people would throw letters on bottles and set them adrift on the vastness of the ocean and then hope that somehow it would reach the person it is meant for. I live on top of an effing mountain and I probably won’t see the sea any time soon to throw my bottle to. So this is my bottle and the web, my sea. Would it reach you, I wonder. We made the promise, dimo sa, anata ga inaito sabishii desu ???”***
“Are you ok…” I asked as I watched her bare back. Beads of sweat glistened on her exposed pores as she sat down at the foot of the bed quietly smoking. I don’t know if it was deliberate but her face was hidden from me.
I felt unsure. She had scooted out after it was finished, giving me a soft peck that gave more doubts than answers. I lay silent watching her as she smoked, wondering how to go about it. Do I say anything? Do I leave?
My heart was pounding hard. I could feel it hammering away: some from the exhaustion, some from disbelief, some from pleasure and also fear. Never having been in this situation with someone, I was not sure what to do next.
She turned, smiling.
“I’m ok.” She said. Her face seemed contented, her soulful brown eyes sparkling as usual. The tiny wrinkle that dimpled above her left eye when she is happy indicated that my greater fear is unfounded but still… I wonder. My heart is still pounding fast.
“Do you think it worked?” I blurted out. It just came out. It was a stupid question to ask. She seemed amused as she watched my agitation. She took a draught from her cigarette and blew the smoke lazily.
“I’ll know in a month or two.” She answered. I lowered my gaze. Yeah, this was part of the deal too. It will be at her discretion if she wanted to share information from this point onwards. It definitely was a stupid thing to ask.
“Do you doubt yourself?” she asked.
I reddened. I looked at her. She was definitely amused. I shook my head.
“Then it may happen.” She stated taking another long draught.
She seemed at ease. Her long curly hair which was usually ordered around her angelic face lay tangled around her but it did not diminish her beauty.
“You shouldn’t smoke.”
She looked at me then at her cigarette. She seemed pensive for a moment.
“It’s hard to kick a habit…” she stubbed it off and smiled at me weakly. It was her one vice, at least the one that I know of. I smoke once in a blue moon when I’m stressed but she can finish a pack in a day.
Her hand strayed to the cigarette pack. Reflexively I leaned over and grabbed it before she took it.
“You shouldn’t…” taking a bead on the trash bucket near the door, I aimed and threw the pack. We both watched it strike the lid then with a dull thud it settled on the carpeted floor. She sighed.
Gathering her long legs under her she plopped her head at the nook of her bent knees and looked at the direction of the window. Outside, the sounds of the building rush hour traffic as the city disgorged its workforce for the night was in full swing. Dusk was falling.
A long silence permeated the room. I looked at her profile wondering if what happened had really happened. Part of me couldn’t believe it yet despite the fact that I am here in the room and she was there before me. But it was something that simply isn’t supposed to happen. She is a beautiful, rich and successful girl. I am a fat, aimless, barely stable slob. Even now, I am trying hard to suck in my belly, despite what just transpired.
But it happened. What started out as a play of words seven months ago became this event today. I thought it was simply a running joke despite the seriousness of our conversations that led up to this. Even this morning when we came up, I thought it was just a prank. Even now, after the act, I still couldn’t bring myself to actually believe that it happened.
But it happened. It did happen.
I wanted a smoke.
“You think we should order room service?” she asked.
I looked at my watch. I realized that I hadn’t taken it off. It read 17:21. Almost dinner time. Was it that long, I wondered. We were here just after lunch. It was a blur after that. The images that came to my mind seemed surreal. My cheeks burned.
I saw her looking at me. I nodded. Her eyes traveled to my side and I realized that I was the one nearest the telephone. Embarrassed I fumbled at it, nearly dropping the receiver. It took me another minute to locate the operator service and another confused minute looking for the room number when the operator did pick up. Only when I placed the phone back did I realize my rather flustered actions. But she didn’t give me any inclination that she found it funny or embarrassing. She just gave me a smile and stared once more at the windows.
She wasn’t evasive. She didn’t give off any sign that she was uncomfortable in any way. Which made me very uncomfortable. In fact she seemed at ease, like a little girl.
“What do you like?” she asked out of the blue.
I felt confused. Was she talking about the food? I tried to remember what I asked from the operator. I couldn’t remember any specific food order. Was she talking about that? I could barely recall that I simply said yes to a set course which the operator recommended.
“I’d like a boy.” She stated.
I blushed again, my cheeks smarting. Oh that, I thought. My mind was a jumbled mess as it wrapped itself at the thought. She glanced at me, her face all serious.
“A girl will be fine.” I stammered.
“That too…” she sighed again, turning away.
Calming down, my previous thoughts on the matter surfaced. One part of me wouldn’t want to dwell on it. If it bears fruit, she had the sole discretion of whether or not she’d inform me. And part of me would rather not want to think that a life was there if I were to become no part of it. But I do imagine scenarios where I am part of it. And it is rather painful.
This is a onetime thing: the culmination of a deal. A friend merely helping another friend. No more, no less. One of the reasons this happened is because she trusts me to keep my end of the bargain. And I am man enough to own my end. Even if it is painful.
“Well, whoever it will be, I hope he’ll have your brains.” She chuckled. That was one of the reasons she chose me too, though I wonder if it really would work. After all, the study of genetics is not yet an exact science. And I am not exactly brainy. Just probably luckier in the mental department.
I chuckled. She says that this was her main reason for asking me on the contract. I don’t know.
“He’ll have your brains.” She said with finality.
And I hope none of my physique, I silently hoped. If she tells me someday, then I’ll know.
Tomorrow she’ll be gone. Out of the city, out of my life. She told me this much. It was better that way. We both knew it.
She is two years older than me. Like me, she realized that life with a better half was never a formula of success. She wants an independent life but she also felt the need to have an offspring. The solitary road is far better endured with someone and a child makes for a better partner than a husband. Lovers can come and go and life will continue to go on. This is a much better alternative as compared to being tied down and risk a bad marriage.
We met through an extraordinary set of coincidences. Seven months ago, I was particularly depressed and with a wanton desire that came out of the blue, I went into one of the high priced bars in town, determined to at least drown my despair in a classy surrounding. A jam-packed bar and table sharing, ten San Mig Lights, and a fallen lighter made us meet. Usually a stunner like her wouldn’t have given a man like me a second look but the man with her was a pervert and a bad drunk. For lack of a better partner, she ended up talking with me, and I ended up taking her to her home when it came to go home. What followed was an unusual friendship. She was looking for a friend. I was lucky to even be talking to her.
We became friends though I knew even then that it will never be more than that. I knew my boundaries and my limitations and that was what helped her open up to me. Then one day, we ended up talking about the state of marriage. About how marriage is a sham, that happiness rarely happens because of it. That marriage’s only use is to provide children. That if only it was possible, one could just go under contract and get one. It led to a theoretical discussion. We looked at her man friends and judged which would be the best donor. It was a fun mental exercise never meant to be taken seriously. She took it seriously.
It led up to a month ago. A fun conversation that turned serious when she asked me to be the one.
That I acceded and that it really happened doesn’t still dawn on me. But now, I know its real.
Our friendship is effectively over. We would still be friends, I know but this changes things. She is right in leaving tomorrow.
To be continued………
*This is a work of fiction. jdomawa © 2010* All Rights Reserved.
Disclaimer: All persons/events here are products of a writer’s imagination. Any resemblance to a person, living or dead is purely coincidental.
author: jani domawa
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