She smelled of sex. Under her fingernails, in her hair, between her legs – there were pieces of him stuck on her, in her, within her. It pleased her. Pleased her to know that he would somehow, in someway, always be attached to her.
She watched him in the doorway. Bare-bodied, except for the trouser leg he had slid his left leg in. That leg which precisely seven minutes before was straddling her. There went the other leg now. The one around which her leg had curved. He was beautiful. Even in the dim light that seeped from under the door of the apartment next door, he was beautiful. So beautiful it made her heart ache. And race, knowing that the beautiful boy had been hers moments ago.
She watched him pick his shirt off the floor. Watched as he threw it across his shoulders and threw a glance at her. She smiled at him, willing those amber eyes to look at her and smile. Smile the way they had when his lips had spelt out the you’re beautifuls, as his hands explored her everywhere else.
His eyes didn’t reach her face. They reached her legs, the bare skin that slid from under the rumpled purple sheets, goose-pimpled from the rush of the sex. He savoured the sight of the slim, wrinkle-less leg and remembered himself in university. Him and Maya. Squeezing knees under the desk in anthropology class, sneaking kisses behind her parents’ back during Diwali – married within 10 months of graduation, they couldn’t live without each other.
He watched her on the bed and remembered Maya on the first night they’d made love – the night of her birthday eve, two weeks since they’d started dating. Maya astonished him, everyday, every moment that she was with him. He remembered making promises that night, promises of getting out of their small hick town, backpacking around the world, writing movie scripts. Now, three years of marriage later, with an 18 month old baby on the back, they’d run out of words to say, run out of love to make. The very vivacious Maya that had fascinated him, now filled him with dread, of endless tirades about there being not enough, of him not doing enough. He watched the girl on the bed and wondered what it would be like to take her home with him.
She wondered how long he would take. He’d told her he would be back in an hour. He had some things to take care of, but he would be back. She wanted to believe him, wanted to hope that he could be hers for more than an evening, but she remembered how he’d taken his things as he’d said that, cleared her apartment of all his leftovers. She lit a Marlboro and watched the smoke drift towards the window, out of it and sail to the moon.
There was a party two blocks down. A party she was invited to. Wahab Nishat’s party. Wahab, who she’d known since school. Wahab who sent her a rose, accompanied with a poem, every Valentine’s Day, no matter where she was. Wahab, who said he loved her. Wahab who said he’d bring her the world.
She glanced over at the door. It was slightly ajar from where he’d walked out. She did not get up to shut it. Maybe he would come back. Maybe he wouldn’t. Still, she didn’t put her shirt back on. She lit another cigarette and waited.
He sat with a steaming mug of coffee, at a bistro, two blocks from her apartment. It had been ten minutes that he’d stepped out, ten minutes that he’d been thinking about her. He could hear the Black Eyed Peas streaming out of the house next to where he was sitting. Four college kids were standing in the balcony, beer cans strewn around their feet. He’d told the girl that he would go back. He wanted to, but sometimes want wasn’t enough. Like it wasn’t enough just to be married. Maya always told him that. The same Maya who’d told him three years back that he was enough. Told him that he was all she needed.
He thought of the girl he’d left at the apartment, imagined her waiting for him and felt his legs lift him from the chair. She was so young it made his heart ache. He wouldn’t be that young again. Maya wouldn’t be that young again. But being with the girl made him feel young, even if it was fleeting, even it was just his brain playing tricks. He could still see her apartment. He could go back in. He could.
His phone rang.
“The movers just called. They’ll be taking the furniture away tomorrow morning.”
In three days he’d be 2020kms across the country. Him, Maya and the kid. Maya said it was a chance at starting over. He sometimes wanted to ask start over what? Could they rewind back their lives and be 20 again, conquer the world together like they’d planned to? Could they make love again like nobody’s business without worrying about waking up the kid?
He put down his mug and spilled coffee over his wrist. He took out his handkerchief and a slip of paper fell out. Fuchsia coloured and scribbled across in black ink. Her phone number. He didn’t notice it fall. He didn’t notice it flutter upon the pavement near his feet, before a gust of wind from a passing car blew it into the wind and lodged it into the cart of an ice-cream vendor.
He held the phone between his ear and his shoulder as he wiped the coffee off his wrist.
“Hey Maya,” he said. “Lets go out for dinner tonight.”