Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Story: Purple

The party was getting over, guests were leaving. I didn't want to go. I wanted to stay and look at the beautiful man who had just turned thirty-two, which is what we had all come to celebrate.

But I had just met him today. Wasn't it too soon to make a move? I inched towards the door. 

He looked at me and raised one exquisite eyebrow. "How many drinks have you had?" he said in that deep voice that seemed to never quite lose its mocking tone. "I don't think you should drive anywhere tonight."

"Okay, I'll call a cab," I said, reaching for my phone.

"Why don't you stay over?" he said casually. "The guest room's free." 

He turned to say goodbye to another couple of guests. He hugged the woman, lingering — it seemed to me  with his head on hers. I looked away, looked at the big bunch of pink roses she had got for him, and that was now standing next to the wall, amid empty glasses.

The door shut. The two of us were alone in the flat.

For a moment I wondered if I should reiterate my offer to leave. Did I seem too eager? But I had resolved lately to stop second-guessing myself, to let myself go more than I was used to. I sank back down on the cushions on the floor.

"More champagne?" he asked.

I held my glass out.

He filled our glasses and sat down by me. Not quite touching but close enough to touch.

We talked. A party isn't the best place to get to know someone, but here, in the silence that followed, in that time of night when it was still hours before sunrise, secrets are told.

Not that we told any. It was more mundane stuff  where we worked, who we knew in common, what movies we liked.

I inhaled the sweet smell of the roses, now almost overpowering the room.

"This room smells like a perfumer's," he remarked. "Maybe I should throw those flowers out."

"What? They are so beautiful! Such an expression of love..."

"Yeah, Rita can be a bit sentimental," he said matter-of-factly. "She's a good kid... I've known her since college."

That was reassuring. There didn't seem to be much romance there, on his side at least. Not that I had really suspected... But you never know.

"Such a lovely color," I said aloud, waving a hand at the flowers.

"Pink?" The mocking tone was pronounced. "A bit stereotypical, don't you think?"

"So's purple," I grinned.

He ran his eyes slowly over me, from my purple silk shirt down my black trousers to my purple socks. He even stole a glance at my black loafers discarded near the door. Yet... I felt it wasn't just the color of my clothes he noticed, and my skin tingled all over with pleasure. I wished I hadn't been too lazy to shave.

"I like purple," he said, grinning back. He looked savage when he grinned, reminded me of a wolf or some such wild creature. Though the only  wild creatures I've encountered have been inside homes — usually inside bedrooms.

My grin grew wider.

"Do you wanna go to bed?" he said.

My phone rang. 

It was my mother. 

I muttered an expletive and raised my hand in apology as I answered. "Hello? Yes. No, I'm not home, I'm at a friend's. No, you don't know him. I'll tell you later, okay? I'll call tomorrow, Ma. Bye."

"Sorry," I muttered, too embarrassed to meet his eye. "If I hadn't answered, she might have kept calling. She acts a bit weird sometimes."

"Don't worry about it," he said. "We all have weird parents."

I smiled in relief. "You were saying...?"

"Yeah, if you want to go to bed, the guest bedroom's that way."

Relief gave way to disappointment. Before I could think, I said, "What about you, are you going to sleep?" 

I could have kicked myself for saying that. Maybe I shouldn't have drunk so much.

But he answered naturally. "No, I'm not in the least sleepy. I'll stay up and smoke and ponder over my old age."

"Mind if I give you company? I can ponder over your old age."

He grinned and held out a pack of cigarettes. "We could also talk about the innocence of youth. Speaking of which, how old are you? You know mine."

"Twenty-eight," I told him. "Twenty-nine next month."

"Ah. Young enough for your mom to worry about her son getting back home on time."

I shook my head. "She doesn't worry, exactly. We're just used to talking quite often. She knows all my friends... she was curious, I think."

"A good relationship with your mother?" His eyebrow rose up again. "I envy you."

He leaned over to light my cigarette. "Enjoy your youth," he said, and touched my cheek gently with the hand not holding the lighter.

The look in his eyes made my heart skip a beat. I leaned forward and stubbed out the cigarette that I hadn't taken a second puff of on the saucer we were using as an ash-tray.

I reached out and grabbed his hand. It was hard but surprisingly smooth, his dark skin contrasting against my almost-white fingers. As we moved closer, my phone cluttered out of my lap.

He picked it up and threw it with unerring aim on a cushion on the other side of the room.

"I don't want your phone to interrupt us again, even if it is your mother," he said. His face was so close all I could see were his dark eyes flashing with mocking laughter.

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