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The one to make a coffee Jasper Visser
A short story
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As with every work of fiction, all characters, events and places in this work find their origin in the writer’s imagination and are in no way related to actual characters, events or places. First published on InspiredByCoffee.com.
To Cristina who inspired me with coffee in the morning.
1. She was lying in bed, listening to the rain that knocked on her roof – tok, tok, tok –, against her windows – tak, tak, tak. Another empty weekend loomed; no need to get up yet. Not yet. On the streets, in the distance but not too far away to make it remote, she could hear a garbage truck passing by; late for the night duty, its engine sounding heavy, the gear too low. It awoke some car alarms – tuu, tuu, tuu. She looked to her left, to her right; nobody. No surprise. There was a reason the guys she dated still dated. Like Tony, yesterday. She remembered their goodnights, at the beginning of her street. A hundred metres to her front door but close enough for him. Of course he had hoped for more. The single kiss on his cheek, also enough. He didn’t even try; there was a reason he still dated. Too desperate; too eager; too just absolutely not‐ interesting. “Can I call you… to meet again?” he had asked. “Whenever,” she had said. He would today, she knew. Always the same. And tonight another movie and another dinner and more wine and his hopes higher and his chances lower. Always the same. Unless she – too – would be too desperate and have the ten‐minute‐orgasm‐free sex guys like Tony hoped for, longed for.
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And she didn’t want much more, as long as he wanted more than ten minutes, more than just his pleasure. More than the bad cliché. More than she had known in recent times. But Sex And The City is such a goddamn lie and Bridget Jones is so not true and nothing is more fake than Love Actually. As a single girl in her early thirties all she could hope for was to be the second in line for a married colleague or the one to pick up the IT guys forced into a relation by peer pressure. She still took virginities and not of the day‐job blokes who worked during the summer holidays to add some extra money to their student loans. She thought about making a coffee, smoking a cigarette, but these desires could wait. Uninspired she played with herself, trying hard to remember one decent body to get her on. Nothing. And it’s not that she was not desirable. She took after her mother when it came to growing older and the years had made her mother beautiful. She inherited her father’s wit. But maybe she bloomed too late. Only in her early twenties did she start to draw attention and only then did she realize what she had to offer. And she offered. Like a butterfly which just came out of a cocoon she hopped from boy to boy until the boys became guys and then men and then the few good ones were taken. And then her parents divorced. In another
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time she would have been like her mother; condemned by her average teenage looks to a second rate boy. Not that her father is a bad person, but the years had the opposite effect on him. So by the time she passed her lively twenties, her parents had grown apart too far, too long. And for years she didn’t dare to look for a relation out of fear for the same ending. Without notice – or it must have been for the party her friends threw – she turned thirty. She was the only single girl at her own party. Her friends were already married, had kids, left at twelve. And the boys, guys, friends of the partners of her friends, that were brought in were the ones she has dated ever since. Also second rate. And not because she can’t get better, no! but because the good ones are gone. She gave up, pulled her hand out of her knickers. Nothing happened down there. The ceiling looked familiar so she stared at her alarm clock. Nine thirty four. The rain still fell, her empty weekend still loomed. Her sleep was gone. If Tony called, she would say yes. Yes, she would. Better the same.
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2. Out of nothing sudden warmth came over her. The colours in her room changed from bluish grey to yellowish blue. She must have dosed off again; it takes her by surprise. The sun, the first morning sun of the year. So she got up, hurrying by now abrupt. Open the door! Let the world in! She stood in her doorway, looking at her little terrace. The tiles in her rooftop garden were still wet, but there was a little sun. Timid. Low. It warmed her heart, brought her joy, gave her hope. And she forgot she was standing there in only her underwear and her favourite old shirt. “Hello there,” she said to her plants. They didn’t respond. “Don’t you like the sun?” she asked them. One of the plants shook the raindrops from its leaves, as a wet dog does. “I like the sun,” she continued. And then she went inside to make a coffee, smoke a cigarette, in the doorway, with her plants. She dreamed away, didn’t notice the old man from the building on the other side of the street looking at her. And then she did. He must have been twice her age, but she is not shy. The sun unleashed the girl in her. She stretched so her belly showed, turned around slowly to show her bum. Then she went to take a
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shower. Maybe today might not turn out that bad. The water tasted good. Nothing made her feel better than her morning things. Morning coffee, morning shower, morning sex. Her morning ritual. After the shower she dressed, dressed up a little, even. For the sun, for the fun and – who knows – for the one. Her favourite jeans, dark tight ones. A short black dress, almost a shirt. Black brought out her dark eyes, her brown hair. She looked in the mirror and considered herself good‐looking. Back on her terrace, a second coffee in her hand, she looked for the old voyeur. He didn’t pay attention to her now. She smiled. “What do you think about the day?” she asked her plants. “Nothing? Can’t it be today?” It can be today, it feels like today. Stupid plants, they bring life but know nothing about it. Look at them, how they are green and quiet and act all sophisticated. She smiled again. After her second coffee, down to her bar for a breakfast. To be safe she packed an umbrella; to challenge fate she packed her sunglasses. Then she left, all the stairs down, out the front door, some two hundred metres to the left, past the point where she said bye to Tony. What had he said again? “I really had one of the best nights of my life.” That was sweet, but she hoped a lie as well. They had met in front of the cinema, with abundant time left before the
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movie. She had proposed to get a coffee, a wine, whatever, but he had preferred to look at the posters of other movies. Then the movie and it had sucked (like only first date movies can) but he couldn’t get enough of it and told her about it like she hadn’t been there, holding the ridiculously big box of popcorn and waiting for him to look at her for a split second, notice her, talk to her, touch her, whatever but with her. She hadn’t dressed up for nothing. He hadn’t, he hadn’t even dressed up. He wore the same clothes as during the day, at work. She had seen him when she went down to have a smoke. He didn’t smoke; another bad thing. How desperate had she become? She shook her head, again, and then she entered her bar. “Good morning, how are you?” Miguel Angel, the owner, said. “Good morning,” she said. “Same old, same old, how are you?” “A beautiful day. The first. And with you here even better.” She smiled and lit a cigarette. Without a word Miguel Angel placed a coffee in frond of her and asked another waiter to make her toast. Her Saturday breakfast had been the same since forever. “You look good, today,” Miguel Angel said. “What did you do last night?” “It’s not last night; it’s today that makes me feel good.”
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“Are you sure?” he asked. They knew each other for a long time. Sometimes he could read her mind, but today not. “I’m sure,” she confirmed. “I dated this guy from work, but that was one time.” “Take your time, girl, you’re still young.” “I wish I really were.” “You are. Too young to settle down anyway. Look at me. At your age I was married, but could I do it again, I would have done it differently.” Miguel Angel had to focus on another client for a second. His marriage was a mess, she knew. He envied her freedom. Such an easy cliché. He came back with her toast. “Just keep your eyes open,” he said, “and your legs closed.” He meant that. One night they had gone out together. After his work, to a good bar. It had felt so nice. And he hadn’t tried anything. That, and the alcohol, had made him irresistible. So she had tried, at the end of the night, but he hadn’t responded. “You’re like my daughter,” he had said. His wife couldn’t have children, she knew. “And with my daughter I can’t do this. In another life I would have given my right leg for one night with you. But in this life… I can’t.”
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She finished her breakfast and paid her heavily reduced bill. “What are your plans?” he asked. “I want to go to the beach, take advantage of the sun.” “And tonight?” “I don’t know yet,” she said. “If you have nothing tonight, come by. We can have a drink.” “Thanks,” she said. And with that, she started the thirty minute walk to the beach.
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3. The sea was restless. She loved it out here; the sound of the waves, the smell of salt, the people with their red faces. There was quite some wind. In the sea people were surfing and in the sand others played with their kites. Slowly she walked down the boulevard, her hands in her pockets. She counted the kites; ten, eleven, twelve. The wind picked them up and threw them down, counting was difficult. She stopped near some guys holding the lines of their coloured wings. It felt good to look at them. When she tried to light a cigarette the wind swelled up again. She shielded her face with her free hand and tried to keep her lighter on long enough to suck the fire in. And then something bumped into her, pretty hard. Balance was lost and she found herself on the ground. Out of reflex she closed her eyes. In her fall she took something with her. When she opened her eyes again she saw it was one of the boys with the kites. “Sorry, sorry,” he said. His face was serious and he seemed worried. “Are you okay?” he asked. “Sorry, really, the wind blew my kite away and threw me into you…” “I’m okay,” she said, “don’t worry.”
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They lay there for a while, maybe five seconds. The boy looked her in the eyes and she looked back. What a beautiful eyes, she thought, and she had already more than forgiven him. He got up, carefully holding the lines of his kite. He held them in one hand and offered her the other, to get up. He was strong; lifted her easily. She brushed her clothes off and tried to organise the lines of his kite, which had crashed somewhat down to the sea. “I’m really sorry,” he said again, “did I hurt you?” “Not really,” she said. “Can I buy you a drink, or something?” he asked. “I feel a bit clumsy and guilty.” “No, thank you, don’t worry.” So they stood there in silence. He didn’t know what to do, obviously, and neither did she. “Is your kite alright?” she asked to break the silence. “I think so. Are you sure you are?” “Yes, of course.” “Well… sorry. I think I… well… go to check my kite then.” “Okay,” she said.
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“Bye,” he said. “Bye.” And he walked away and she looked at him. He looked good, she saw. Tall, dark messy hair, good clothes. And his eyes! She hesitated. “Wait!” she shouted. The boy turned around. She walked to where he was. “Do you mind if I try to fly your kite?” she asked. “It is so long ago.” “Of course not,” he said. He smiled. Her heart almost melted. Together they organised the lines and he gave them to her. Then he ran away with the kite in the direction of the wind. “Hold tight!” he shouted and threw the kite up. The thing shot in the air. Surprisingly easy she held it there. The boy walked back to where she was standing. “Do you want me to teach you some tricks?” he asked. “Please,” she said. “Great.” “Come here.” And he positioned himself behind her, took her wrists and showed her how to move her hands to make figures with the kite. But she didn’t pay attention; all she could do was feel his strong hands, his arms around her, his soft words in her ear. She lost track of time and felt butterflies. He taught her tricks, friendly, but he was the boss. He controlled her and the kite. All she could do was follow him, submit. Maybe fifteen minutes they
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stood like that and then he said, “Let’s see if you can do it alone.” And he let go of her and that made her feel so empty all of the sudden that the first thing she did was crash the kite in the sand. “Sorry.” “No problems. Did you like it?” “It was great.” “Good,” he said. Again she hesitated. “Now I think I like a drink,” she then said. “So do I,” he said. And together they reeled in the lines, packed the kite and then they walked down the boulevard to a bar and she felt like taking his hand and feeling his ass and maybe later taking him home and be naked with him. His eyes! And the way he had held her! Today – yes – was the day.
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4. “What’s your name, by the way?” she asked. “Alexis, and yours?” “Helena,” she said. “Nice name,” he said, “like the princess.” “Thank you.” They sat down on a bench in one of the seaside bars. He asked her what she wanted to drink and ordered for her. Two coffee. “What a beautiful day, don’t you think,” she said. “Yes. The first of the year. I just had to go to the beach.” “So did I. Do you often go kiting?” “When the weather is good,” he said. “And do you often bump into people?” She smiled at him. He looked her in the eyes again. “Sometimes,” he said. “When there is someone worth bumping into.” “Are you flirting with me?” she asked. “Are you?”
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Yes, she thought. Or, well, I will be flirting with you when I get the chance. Just wait. Their coffees were brought. He waited with drinking until she had taken her first sip. Was this on purpose or was she seeing ghosts? There was a little silence, interrupted by her cell phone which started beeping. She picked him out of her bag and looked at the screen to see who it was. Tony. Of course. She had forgotten all about him. She didn’t pick up yet. “Boyfriend?” asked Alexis. “No,” she said, “just a guy who wants to date me.” “And you don’t want to date him?” The phone kept ringing. Stopped. Then started again. “No,” she said. “Hell, no!” “Let me,” he said and with his hand he asked for the cell phone. She gave it to him and he picked up. “Yes,” said Alexis. She couldn’t hear Tony’s response, only see Alexis’s expression. “She is here,” Alexis said, probably to the question where she was. “That’s going to be difficult,” Alexis continued, “she’s taking a shower. But I can walk in and ask her.”
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“I…,” Alexis then said, after Tony’s unheard reaction. “A friend. I am a friend.” He smiled at her, pointing at the cell phone, making an expression that represented Tony’s reaction to his words. Confused. “Ask her to call you if she wants to go out with you tonight? I can do that, but I think she can’t. We’re going out, you see.” Helena put her hand on Alexis’s shoulder and squeezed it softly. “I don’t know what she told you yesterday,” Alexis replied, “but I’ll give her your message. Just don’t expect anything.” … “Yes, see you later.” And he gave the cell phone back to her. His eyes! Filled with joy they were and as such even more beautiful than the surprised, scared ones she had seen when he was lying on top of her on the beach. She hoped to see his eyes filled with more emotions, soon. “Poor bloke,” Alexis said, “he really wants to go out with you.” “Don’t worry about him.” “He got the message, though, I think. Sorry for ruining your evening plans.”
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“Hah, hah,” laughed Helena, “everything is better than another night with him, even nothing.” And she knew not that long ago she had thought quite different things and given a lot for a night without nothing, even if that meant Tony. But that was before Alexis ran her over. And look at him, playing with his teaspoon and smiling. She so could have had sex with him right there, right then. “And anyway, I thought you told him we were going out,” she joked. “That was a lie,” he said. “I know, and mine was a joke.” “But if you want to…” “Are you asking me out?” “I think you just did more or less the same.” And they laughed. “Okay,” she said. “Okay,” he said. And they finished their coffees.
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5. “I hope I don’t ruin your evening plans, either,” said Helena. They were still in the bar, thinking about a second coffee. “Not at all. I mean, you’ll be my plus one.” “Your plus one?” “A friend DJs in a nice place and I’m on the guest list. Plus one. Plus you. I hope you like dance music.” He really likes to be in control, she thought, he has it all figured out. “Well… okay,” she said. “Nice,” he said, “so we have a date?” “Yes, we have a date.” He ordered two more coffee and paid for all four of them. A suspicious thing. What was the reason he still dated? She could only think of two things, maybe three. One, gay. That wouldn’t surprise her; he looked good enough. Two, married or at least in a relation. Three, just out of one, looking for a rebound. Option four, just a nice single guy looking for some fun, did not cross
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her mind. Her experience told her there weren’t that much of those left at her age. “So, what’s the deal with you?” she asked him, to figure it out. He hesitated. You see, she thought, there is something up. “I don’t understand your question,” he then said. “There’s no deal with me.” “What I mean to say is, single, married, monk, prostitute, virgin… what’s your status?” He laughed. “Nothing. I mean, single.” He laughed again. “What a question. How about you?” “Same here,” she said. “Wow,” he said, “that surprises me. So it’s a real real date tonight. Nice!” “What do you do?” she asked him to hide her excitement about his. “Enjoying a coffee with you.” “And besides that?” “Working, studying. And you?” “Just working.” “What do you do?” he asked. He feigned genuine interest. Another rare thing. Most men she met wanted to talk. Impress her with stories about a
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summer holiday to India or their car. Once, in a magazine, she had read that she – women – were supposed to like a man who talked about these kinds of things. Men probably thought this was a truth. “Human resources. Hiring and firing. And you, where do you work?” “In a small record shop.” And they continued chatting about the little things of life all through their coffee and then he had to go home to drop off his kite and she had to go and do some shopping and they decided to catch up earlier to have a quick bite and maybe a drink and then go clubbing. It really started to look like a real date. He got up and said, “See you later, nice to meet you.” And she got up and said, “I look forward to it.” They just stood there, in the bar. “So do I,” he said. “Well, bye.” “Bye,” she said and she took a little step closer. “Bye,” he said. “Yeah, bye,” she said Then she kissed him, on his cheek. And he did the same at the same moment and it almost went wrong. He turned a little red and said one more quick “bye” and then she was alone. She sat down again and started thinking where this would go wrong.
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6. And it’s stupid and it’s cliché but she did it nevertheless: She went shopping. And she knew it. But she loved it. In and out of shops; what about this shirt, and this skirt? What about his shirt? And in the end she knew whatever she bought, she was not going to wear it. It would not feel comfortable, too new, nothing like her favourite jeans. What a pity she already wore them this morning, now she couldn’t wear them again that night. She was no Tony. And as if by magic of thought her cell phone started ringing and buzzing again. It took her a while to find the thing, on the ground in her bag in a dressing room and for a second she hoped it was him – Alexis she meant. But when she answered, too exited to look at the screen, light blue tight trousers unbuttoned around her thighs and nothing but her bra on top, she knew it couldn’t be him; she hadn’t given him her number. “Yes,” she said. “Oh hello Tony.” He said, “I tried to call you earlier‐‐‐” “I know,” she interrupted.
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“…but some guy picked up, so I thought I’d try it again…” He left a silence hanging there. She could feel the trousers slowly picking up gravity. With her free hand she pulled them up, feeling clumsy. “Yes?” she said then. “Well, um… I wondered if you want to go out tonight. Maybe see a movie, have dinner…” And she wanted to tell him about the three day rule of calling back after a date. And she wanted to tell him about picking up hints, about how to know that it’s not going to work. And most of all she wanted to scream No! get lost you will never sleep with me and I’m half naked looking for clothes anyone but you can take off one day and don’t you ever think about me again especially not when you’re masturbating because I don’t like you and I only dated you because I – too – am desperate sometimes but compared to you… it can’t be compared because you’re desperate as a man after a life‐time of lonely imprisonment and I only want someone to make coffee for me in the morning but you will never make coffee for me because all you know about women comes from the porn movies you watch and in porn movies they don’t make coffee in the morning so you can never give me what I need so get lost. But she said, “Okay.” They still worked in the same office.
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“Okay as in you want to?” he asked. “Okay as in I heard you,” she said. “But do you want to?” “I can’t, I already have plans.” “Yesterday you told me you were free tonight.” “And now I’m not.” “Are you going out with this guy?” he asked. “Yes,” she said. “Who is he anyway?” “A friend. And I don’t have to explain myself to you,” she said, rather fiercely. “You have, I think,” he said. “You promised me, I counted on it. You can’t just say no after yesterday‐‐‐“ “Now is not the time to talk about this. I’m standing half naked in a dressing room and furthermore we have nothing to talk about. We’ll see each other Monday at work and‐‐‐“ Now Tony interrupted her. “But I like you and I liked yesterday and I want to see you again because I think we can work out…”
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And in a way she found it cute he said these things and if he had been an attractive man she would have felt flattered but now it was just cute. And cute excludes sex. And if he were experienced he should know that; and if he wanted to date her he should be experienced, so she said, “You’re cute. I see you Monday.” And then, before he could respond, “Bye.” And she hung up. Shopping, then, all of the sudden tired her. But she kind of liked the trousers and they were easy to combine, so she bought them. Then she went straight home. The day, so far, had brought enough. She needed a break.
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7. She was hungry, so she looked at her watch to check the time. Close to five, already, very close to five. She still had to buy food, for the weekend, at least breakfast for two. She didn’t like to bring possible one‐night‐stands (after the stand, when it was still unsure if there would be a second night) over to Miguel Angel. Not that he would say anything, directly, but the look in his eyes would tell enough. He usually didn’t approve, like a real father. And usually after some time she had to admit he was a wise father. So she bought the necessary in the small supermarket around the corner – some juice, bread, fruits, a microwave meal to still her stomach for the moment. Then she went up to her apartment to prepare for the night. As a young girl she had loved this, the preparations. Choosing her clothes, doing her nails, fixing her hair. Some music on the background and wasting time. But it was better with a friend – or some – around. And now her friends had kids and partners and didn’t go out, anymore. And alone it was no fun. So she sat down or her terrace, in the almost setting sun, with her microwave lasagne and a little salad and talked with her plants; talked to her plants that
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kept quiet as always. “What do you think I should do with Alexis?” she asked them after she had explained the situation. They said nothing. “Nothing?” she then asked. “No, not nothing. I like him.” And still the plants said nothing. “Don’t you like him? Should I be careful?” And a little breeze picked up the leaves and in the sound she heard, “Take care but have fun,” and that was enough for her. She finished her meal, ate dessert and started to get ready for the night. She undressed in front of the mirror and looked at herself. She was happy she had the looks a woman is supposed to have; the right figure. Good hips, hardly any fat on her belly but enough to not make her look like on the verge of starvation. She considered her underwear, chosen that morning without the thought someone might see it. It needed to be changed into something more appropriate, something sexier. It took her fifteen minutes to settle for the second best set, because the best – of course – was already dirty. With that decided upon she took a break for a coffee with a simple shirt to keep the late afternoon’s cold from her body. The sun was down now; the beauty of the day behind her. With the coffee and a cigarette she sat down to consider her options for the rest of her clothes. The logical answer to this question was at
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least her new trousers, but it took her over twenty‐five minutes to realize this was actually a good choice. Her top after that was easy: A white mini‐dress like the black one she wore earlier. No! That looked too summer; too much like going to the beach. So she took it off. The hands of the clock approached the time that was the time they had decided to meet minus the time to get there by metro (including the chances of a huge delay) minus the time to drink one more coffee and the time to get her nerves down again that were sure to drive her crazy in the metro. A trick she had learnt years ago – in a time she did the dressing up with friends – was to turn the piles of clothes in her wardrobe upside down and settle for one of the oldest items. The first she saw was a wrinkled shirt she had once cut the sleeves off to make it look punk and she tried it on but it smelt like years of waiting to be worn again but – then again – it looked okay, with her light trousers. A scarf and some accessories finished it off and some perfume hid the smell of the shirt. Happy, at last, but her stress level in red and starving for a fag and another coffee she went down to Miguel Angel’s bar again. The night was cool; she felt hot.
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8. “You look like you have plans,” said Miguel Angel when she sat down at the bar. It was close to eight and there were quite some people drinking a wine or a beer. The atmosphere in his bar, at night, was very relaxed; like coming home when there is a party with friends. She saw familiar faces, heard familiar voices and knew all the songs from the CDs that were played by heart. When her Saturday night was empty, she usually went around nine and spent the night talking with Miguel Angel or the other regulars. Sometimes a group went to another bar, later, and she joined them. It was a pity there were almost only regulars; the bar was no place to pick somebody up. “I have plans,” she responded with excitement in her voice. “So at least for one man tonight will be unforgettable,” he said. “The guy from yesterday?” “No! No…” She smiled. “Another. Someone I met on the beach today.” “It is amazing how you do it every time.” “This was coincidence, really.”
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“And from the look of you a nice coincidence,” he said. And then, “So what will it be – a whisky to give you positive energy?” “Make it a coffee; I need my head with this one.” “An Irish coffee then.” And there was no discussion about it. He wouldn’t charge her for this drink anyway and you can’t turn down a gift. And even if she tried to pay he would only change the money into coins for her to buy cigarettes. “Here you go, my beautiful daughter,” he said when he put the drink down. “Don’t forget about me when this is the one.” “I will never forget about you,” she said. “They all say that, even my wife,” he replied, “but even she forgets about me now we’re married.” He shook his head, then smiled and asked, “What kind of guy is it?” “Normal, I mean, I think he’s attractive and well… young and sporty and… I’ll see.” “What is young?” Miguel Angel was in a really good mood. “I don’t know. He still studies, he says, but that can mean anything. My age, I think.”
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And then Miguel Angel got too busy fixing the things and she drank her drink, tried to pay and was left with coins for cigarettes or street artists or condoms if the guy really insisted on wearing one. She entered the metro and felt her heart go nuts.
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9. Some fifteen minutes too early she arrived at the meeting point. That looked too eager so she walked around the block, smoking a cigarette. When she turned the last corner, still too early, she could see Alexis had already arrived. “Hi there,” she said, “you’re early.” “So are you,” he said. “Nice.” He looked great in dark jeans and a tight black shirt under a leather jacket. “Are you up for it?” he asked. “Of course I am. Let’s have some fun.” “Why don’t we start the night with a kiss…” he started and she felt her heart jump in her throat; that was unexpected! “… on the cheek, I mean. You know, like we’re more than strangers.” And of course, she had only said Hi and that was not friendly, not friendly at all. They exchanged kisses and she offered him a cigarette which he accepted and she thought “plus”. “Shall we have a drink first?” he asked. “It’s still early to have dinner.” “Of course,” she said, “do you know a place? I know one nearby.” “Whatever you prefer, there is a good bar just around the corner.”
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“Let’s go then. I trust your opinion.” And she did trust his opinion but most of all she was curious what kind of bar he considered good and whether they matched on that point. They walked to the bar and before going in Alexis wanted to finish the cigarettes. “I don’t like to walk in somewhere smoking,” he said. So they smoked. “You look good; nice trousers,” said Alexis then. “Thank you, they’re new.” “Did you buy them for me?” he asked, with the same smile, the same twinkle in his eyes she was already getting addicted to. “I bought them for tonight,” she said, honestly. “Cool.” He threw his butt away; he smoked faster than she did. When she – too – threw her cigarette away he opened the door for her and led the way to a bench in the back, greeting the barman as he walked past him. “What do you think,” he asked, “beer, wine or a cocktail?” “I take what you take,” she said. And, on second thought, “Wine.” “Red?” “Red.”
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“Just a second.” Alexis walked to the bar and she could see him pay so when he brought the glasses back she said, “I can pay as well, you already paid this afternoon…” He laughed. “One, this is a date, so I take care of you. Two, I brought you to this bar. Three, I think you will get your chance tonight. We have time.” And she thought, “plus, plus, plus and a plus for the bar which is a nice place and a plus for the way he looks” and then they toasted to the night and the wine was good as well so she gave him another plus and then concluded she was too easy on the plusses this night. “Okay,” she said, “but I don’t let you get away with paying everything.” And Alexis said that she shouldn’t worry about it and then she thought what to talk about next, because the little easy things they had already talked about over coffee. “So do you do this often?” she asked, “I mean bumping into a girl and taking her out?” “I already told you, only when the girl is worth it.” “And how often is that?”
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“Sometimes. Not too often. For me this is a strange thing as well.” He looked serious. “And how do these nights usually end?” Alexis looked her in the eyes but with an uncomfortable smile this time. If there had been a clock and if there had been no music in the bar now they would have been able to hear the seconds tick away – tock, tock, tock. Then he regained his smile; he had been thinking. “With amazing sex,” he said. “That sounds reasonable,” she replied. Where had he learnt to be like this? she thought. How come he was so relaxed? And what to do with it, because this amazing sex appealed to her but she didn’t want to become a number on the list of some professional player. And where was the time she didn’t mind about this and could enjoy dirty flirting with a stranger and knowing that all between now and her bed was nothing more than skilled foreplay and waking up on Sunday morning and doing it again and then deleting the phone number from her cell phone the second he closed the door behind him or her. And new beds and unknown showers and flatmates she gave a hand to never see them again and the no breakfast and toothpaste in her handbag to brush her teeth with her finger on a corner of an unknown block. And looking for a
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metro station in streets she had never walked down before. And unknown hands which hungrily discovered her body. And her reflection in a shop’s window. And the fun about the little dicks some guys had or the jokes with her friends about how they came after two minutes. And sometimes the honest respect for a real nice guy who did everything perfect, from date to breakfast and the aftermath all neat and pleasant with some phone calls and nothing desperate and the burning desire to discover that Alexis was just such a guy and maybe better and a relationship and someone to love, to really love, also on Tuesday morning just before work when he made her coffee and kissed her on her forehead and on Thursday a little fight about his dirty socks and then weekend and his friends and finally an entrance in the world of her friends and ‐‐‐ “Where are you with your head?” Alexis asked. He put his hand on her knee and smiled and unleashed millions of butterflies.
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10. And after the first wine they had a second wine which she was able to pay and then a dinner in an Asian fusion restaurant with prawns and cashew nuts and a bottle of wine and cheesecake as dessert and they talked about their favourite music and movies and their passions in life and how in some shops they got a discount and Alexis listened as much as he spoke and it was marvellous and time flew. After the dinner they went to have a cocktail in yet another bar and he wanted a gin Tonic and which she had always considered a sexy drink and she took vodka Coke which was her drink for as long as she could remember. By then they were accidentally touching each other as much as possible; a hand here, a hug there. Always with some kind of excuse but already way past ordinary accidental contact and Helena knew where this was heading and so should Alexis. They drank their cocktail well inside each other’s personal comfort zone and she loved to have to look up a little bit to look in his eyes and talk to him and she wondered about the party they were to go to and if they would ever get there.
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The alcohol started to work; have its enlightening effect on their behaviour and conversation. It started direct enough but by now they had dealt with all the get‐to‐know topics one can possible think of. They ordered a second drink and somewhere else the party started they were supposed to visit. Halfway the drink she said, “If I take another one you will have to carry me home.” And he said, “If you tell me where it is, I will. But with another one for me I will not be able to find my own house after that.” “You can always sleep with me.” “Sleep with you… you mean‐‐‐“ “I have a couch,” she interrupted him. “Of course, on the couch.” “So what about this party, are we still going?” she then asked, as this little thing had to be said by one of them. “What about it, there are always new parties.” “Won’t your friend be disappointed?” “When he sees you, he will understand.”
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She thought about that comment for a while. Somewhere it said something new; it crossed a line they hadn’t crossed before. Out loud, at least. Then she said, “So for you this date may have consequences?” “Consequences… what a serious word.” “I mean, it became a real date and then a successful date and then we are grown‐ups so we do what we do after such a date. For you. I mean, is that what you meant to say?” She didn’t understand herself. Damned alcohol. “What do grown‐ups do, now?” he asked. He was teasing her. “I don’t know,” she said. “Yes you do,” he said. “Okay I do,” she said. “And do you want that?” he asked. And she said, “Can we please cut the bullshit, finish our drinks, stop talking about it and just do it?” And then they kissed. “Plus,” she thought.
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11. In the cab she put her hand on his jeans, right there where his legs started. The promise in there felt good. He kissed her in her neck and continued talking with the driver as if nothing happened. Some minutes later they stood before her house, in close embrace. One of his hands was on her lower back, the other on her upper and he pressed her so close she could do nothing but kiss him. She felt him against her and died to undress him. They ran up the stairs, she first, he touched her bum, she turned around, they kissed, he put his finger on her nose, she slipped away and continued up the stairs, her apartment in. It was cold, up there, but both were sweating. She kicked the door close and asked, “Do you want something to drink.” And at the same time she unbuttoned his jeans. “What do you think?” he said. “Could be,” she said. “Maybe later,” he said and he took his jacket off. She took some distance and looked at him. He was beautiful. “Come,” she said and she led the way to her bedroom. Shoes off, romantic lights on. “Do you want music?” And he pushed her on the bed, gently but determined. “I want you.” He kicked his shoes off. He looked down; his jeans were half open. These went off next. “I
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really like your trousers,” he said, “but I think it is time they go out as well.” And he unbuttoned them and with her help he pulled them off. Then they lay down together and they kissed and hungry hands discovered unknown bodies. “You’re so sexy.” And she was topless and her fingers followed the lines of his body and his head went down and she was naked. “You taste so good.” And she thought, “Fuck, plus plus plus,” and, “plus plus plus, plus plus plus,” and, “plus plus plus, pluuuuuuuuus!” Wow. And his eyes and his fingers and his tongue and now she went down and he was naked and there was nothing to make jokes about and they kissed again and again and she felt him, really felt him, again and again and again and then they smoked a cigarette together and he softly stroked her hair. And then they fell asleep.
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12. Dreams are curious things. They tend to tell us things we haven’t said out loud, haven’t accepted during the day. Helena dreamt of herself as the twentysomething she once was. She dreamt of the boy that was hers, back then. Her first. She was still in university and he had been her secret crush for months. He paid her no attention until that one party. And he took her home. She had started blooming; she had started to become interesting. And he took her home. While he was taking her virginity she thought about days together at the beach; about having lunch with him. In the morning he made her breakfast. And then he was gone. He didn’t even say Hi to her when they met at university. And in her dream she walked into him with Alexis on her side and he was jealous and it was at university and at her work and the guys she fucked to take revenge and her parents who were together and Alexis became friends with her first and he told Alexis how she was unshaven and told him she loved him when he had come and Alexis laughed and her mother said, “All guys are the same, give them your body, but never your heart,” and the boys she had hopped and never called again said, “This is the price you have
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to pay,” and then Alexis had said, “let them, I like you for who you are and who you were.” And then she woke up and looked at Alexis who slept very deeply. She got up to drink some water and put her panties and night shirt on. Back in bed she stroked Alexis and he was so beautiful and so nice and he so wasn’t allowed to leave her, not yet. She wouldn’t cheat on him and she wouldn’t leave him for another guy and she would believe in love for him and she would wait for him if there was somewhere he had to go and she wouldn’t say a bad thing about him and most of all not that he was just another fling and she kissed his cheek and fell asleep again. And Alexis woke up from the shudder Helena had when she fell asleep again and he looked at her and wondered when she had put a shirt on and he felt sorry for that because he would have loved to see her naked shoulder half hidden under the blankets. Of course he had seen that before but with her it was different. For the first time in his life he felt truly happy after sex so he thought about telling that first thing in the morning. He got up and looked between the clothes next to the bed for his boxer and his cell phone. He put the cell phone on and checked the time and then wrote a message to his friend the DJ to tell him something special had happened. Then he went to the toilet and
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upon entering the room again he smelt sex, real sex. Helena snored a little bit and he loved that. He kissed her in her neck and then fell asleep again. Outside it started raining again. It was very early on the Sunday morning and it was dead quiet. The day promised to be one to stay in bed. Alexis’s cell phone received some messages but nobody heard them coming in; the buzzes of his cell phone blended in with the sound of the rain. The weekend is only one day, the Saturday. And if Saturday doesn’t work out, Sunday is lost as well. But if Saturday works out, Sunday can be beautiful and a weekend can seem to last a week. Somewhere else in the city Tony woke up and he hated this Sunday. He masturbated thinking about his favourite porn actress on which he imagined the head of Helena. He tried hard to make it feel like he humiliated her and that worked. He would not talk to her again, never. The rain grew heavier and made everything else fade away. It isolated the houses and made everything inside a world on its own, without contact to other worlds. Helena turned in her sleep, facing away from Alexis. There were no more dreams.
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13. When Helena woke up again she saw nothing. A surprise. Then she looked right and looked straight in the open eyes of Alexi. A pleasant surprise. “Good morning,” he said. “Hello lovely, “she said and he said, “It rains like crazy. I think we have to stay in bed,” and she said, “hmhm.” “Shall I make you a coffee?” he asked. He got up. “And then make you remember this Sunday morning?” She smiled. “You can find everything in the kitchen.” “Milk?” he asked. “And you,” she said. “And a cigarette.” “Consider it done.” She could hear him looking for the coffee and then making it and his “Sugar?” and he came back with the coffee and cigarettes and lay down next to her and then they sat up together. “Thanks,” she said. “I should give you cake,” he said. “Why?” she asked. “You are delicious enough.”
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“It’s my birthday,” he said. She looked at him. “I will give you a nice present,” she said and her hand went under the blankets. “Congratulations, how old have you become?” He smiled at her and kissed her and she wanted this moment to last forever. The rain continued; the coffee tasted good. He took a drag of his cigarette and then said, “Seventeen.”
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