Recycled Souls #47
by Lynette Ferreira
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When we get to the hotel, I notice immediately how creative the decorations are. Okay yes, everything, and I mean everything, is red and white but it is made up to look like a giant snowball. White polystyrene balls are hanging from the roof at different heights, the furniture and dance floor is cleverly made to look like cheap white painted plastic, and it feels like we are walking into a glass dome.
We sit down at our allocated table. There are five couples per table. I find myself having the greatest time because we end up at a table with people we know and everybody looks starry-eyed, laughing and joking sociably.
Near the end of the evening Joshua leans closer to me and asks me if I would like to dance. I notice a slow song playing, a song I like, and smiling up at him I stand up.
On the dance floor he takes me firmly in his arms. Only holding his one arm around my waist and enfolding my other hand in his, which he holds against his chest. I look up at him, into his eyes, and he smiles down at me. “You look especially gorgeous tonight. You always look beautiful but tonight when I saw you, I actually, honestly, stopped breathing there for a few seconds.”
I glance up at him. “Thanks. You also look very handsome tonight.”
He pulls me closer to him and rests his cheek on my head. I cradle my head against his chest, and we dance closely and slowly. We are more just swaying to the music than actual dancing. I listen to the lyrics of the song and for the first time I really hear the words.
When the song is finished, he lets me go slowly, and I move away from him reluctantly. He folds his hand around mine and leads me back to the table. He is silent for the rest of the evening and I catch him a few times staring at me discreetly.
We do not wait for Jane and Kevin because they are going to Kevin’s apartment afterwards, so when everybody starts leaving Joshua gets up and holds his hand out to me, palm up. I take it, smiling up at him, and we go outside to get a taxi.
We sit closely next to each other in the back seat of the taxi, but he is still very quiet. When we get to my apartment, he gets out with me, as usual. He turns to me and is about to say, I am sure, ‘Goodbye’ but for some reason I do not want him to leave.
It is weird how I still feel Jared with me, yet I have this mysterious need for Joshua to be a part of my life as well. I lean into him and surprised he steps away from me, an odd look on his face. I smile up at him as I step even closer to him. I wrap my arms around his waist and hug him tightly to me, feeling as if I can hug him forever. I say against his chest, “Thank you so much for a wonderful night out. You are such a nice person.”
He steps away from me, out of my grasp. I let my hands rest on his waist and he wraps his hands around my elbows. Smiling down at me forlornly, he says, “I try my best.”
We stand there for a while. His eyes search mine, as if he is looking for something unattainable. Then slowly he lets me go. “I have to go before I miss the last train. I'll see you on Monday, yeah?”
I sigh as I say, “Fine.”
He waits for me, as always, until I am safely within the apartment block and then he waves good-bye.
A month later we get the train to his hometown, Balbriggan. He takes me to meet his parents and then later we go to his local pub. It is St. Patrick’s Day weekend, so the celebrations and partying start early.
When it is time for the pub to close and after a lot of singing—most of the songs I do not know so I just sit there with a silly grin on my face—he insists on bringing me home safely.
We stand at the train station, leaning against the stonewall, while looking out over the beach and the full moon reflecting off the calm sea. Silhouetted against the night sky is the defunct lighthouse. Everything looks dreamlike.
He puts his arm around me, hugging me close to him and I feel comfortable with him.
I lean my head on his shoulder and sigh deeply.
“And now, that sigh?” He asks softly.
“Just taking a deep breath.”
Briefly he pulls me closer to him just as the train arrives to take us to Dublin.
We are the only two people on the train and it feels eerily hushed. We sit together, putting our feet up on the seat in front of us, and I lean into him while he drapes his arm across my shoulders. We do not talk.
When we get to my apartment it is very late and he would have to call a taxi to take him home, also, too much ‘celebration’ has caused him to be slightly unstable on his feet. He has a smile permanently glued to his face, although his eyes look pensive when he looks at me. When he is sad, he has these tiny little wrinkles around his eyes, which do not suit the rest of his angelic face.
I turn to look at him. “Seeing as we are going to the St. Patrick’s Festival tomorrow; why don’t you sleep here?” He looks at me astounded and I feel self-conscious. “I'll sleep in Jane’s bed and you can sleep in my bed. That way you would not have to go all the way home. It’s late and you’ll just about get home when you have to come back again.”
When he eventually breaks the silence between us there is a slight frown between his eyes. “Sounds like a good idea.”
“Good,” I say thrilled. “I’ll even make hot chocolate.” I enter the access code and we walk up to my landing. After I unlock the front door to my apartment, I let him walk through first. While I lock the door behind us, he walks to the couch in the lounge area and sits down. “So, hot chocolate?” I ask as I walk past him toward the kitchen area.
While I make the hot chocolate, he kneels in front of the CD-player, searching through my and Jane’s discs. He finds what he is looking for and puts the disc into the player. Before long Westlife fills the room softly.
After I hand him his hot chocolate, we sit and drink it quietly, listening to the music. I feel a little unsure of myself.
After we finish our hot chocolate, I take his mug from him and put them in the dishwasher. “Come, I'll show you where you’re sleeping. Just excuse the mess though.”
He follows me down the hall and I realize this would be the first time he will be going into my room. What if he thinks it is juvenile with all the posters all over the wall?
He walks into my room and looking around he says, “Nice room. It reflects your personality well.”
“What do you mean?” I ask defensively.
“Well.” He gives me a teasingly look. “It’s warm, cosy, homey, a bit childlike, innocent, girlish and totally appealing.” I look away shyly and he pulls me closer to him until his hands are resting on my hips. He is silent for a moment, looking at me intently, before he asks, “Do you need anything in here, before I lock myself in?”
I gasp mortified and he grins when he sees the look on my face. “Go on. Get your pyjamas then,” he says as he lets me go.
He remains standing in the doorway, while I hurriedly grab a tracksuit pants and a t-shirt from my cupboard.
As I walk past him again, he pulls me securely against his chest and, turning me to face him, he kisses me softly on my forehead. “You follow me around like a shadow, Elizabeth, and you know we would be amazing together,” he whispers.
I close my eyes longingly and softly I say, “Good night, Joshua.”
He lets me go, saying, “Go on then, before I change my mind.”
I chuckle as I walk to Jane’s room.
Jane’s room is in a serious mess, probably because she knew she was not going to be sleeping here this weekend. If I did not know where the bed is supposed to be, I might not have found it.
I move all the stuff on the bed onto the floor and then get in between the covers. I lay awake for the longest time, thinking of Joshua just there in the room next door.
The next morning, I am awake early and realize I did not get any clothes out of my cupboard to wear to the festival. I wonder if Joshua would mind if I sneaked in and got something.
My bedroom door is pushed open and I look around the doorway.
He is lying in my bed; his one arm is pushed in under his head and he is reading one of my magazines. “Morning good-looking,” he says as he glances up at me. “I wondered when you would wake up.” He puts the magazine back onto the pile next to my bed.
Without looking at him directly I walk across the room to the cupboard. I apologize, “I just wanted to get something out of my cupboard quickly and then it will take me fifteen minutes to get ready.” My back is turned to him, but I can feel him staring at me. Quickly I get a pair of jeans and a shirt, wrapping my underwear into my shirt. Turning I smile at him, but I am unable to meet his eyes. I walk out of the room self-consciously.
When I come out of my bathroom, ready to go, I hear him in the kitchen.
As soon as I walk into the room he says, “You realize I don’t have anything clean to wear.” He laughs unperturbed. “Would you mind if I quickly washed my face?”
“Of course not.” I answer him, laughing shamefully at his embarrassment. “Would you like some coffee?”
“Please. I have already boiled the kettle.”