I wake up from the sound of an incredible snoring. Slowly turning from my stomach to the other side the view that’s granted to me now is somewhat hilarious. Though the room still is in sort of halflight I can see Andy sprawled over the sheets – on his back – mouth half open, breathing deeply and regularly – letting out these nervewrecking, odd noises every time his chest falls back flat. The blanket crept down his hips, leaving not much to the imagination.
Gosh, did I really give him a hand last night?! And even more. Licking my lips a faint, salty taste of his still lingers there.
So this is how it’s going to be every morning now? Like an old couple?
Siv, you’re way unfair and unrealistic! Am I?
Can’t help it – I suddenly miss David like the air to breathe. The ways he used to sweetly wake me up – yes, he’s certainly the one being creative in bed. Even if it was just staring into each others eyes while seeing the lights of day rise – him taking my hand and placing it gently between his thighs, growing under my touch – signalling me I was first priority to start the day with – and vice versa.
Wiping away these thoughts quickly again I silently crawl out off bed and sneak into the bathroom. The hand of my watch that rests on the cabinet moves close to nine. Don’t know why, but I’m feeling dirty. Starting the shower I pour some gel into my palms, applying it hastily all over my body. It’s not enough. Like in a frenzy I spill most of the recently opened bottle over my head and shoulders, rubbing hectically over my skin.
Oh my god! If Andrew would see this now! Letting the empty plastic thing fall down to the ground I lean against the cold tyles, opening the floodgates.
What I do not recognize – Andy’s leaning in the doorframe, watching the scene with a stern, startled face. He decides though to disappear into the adjacent room again.
„Can I leave you alone for an hour or so, Sweetheart?“
Andy pokes his head into the kitchen where I still sit at the table picking up the last remains of my croissant – not having really enjoyed it.
„I’m going to visit Grainne to wish her merry Christmas.“
The way it comes across one might think she’d be still very alive and it tears another piece out off my heart – though I know that would be happening sooner or later.
„Do you really want to go alone?“
His eyes meet the wooden floor for a moment.
„Yes – I better have some time for myself.“
„OK. You’re taking Basil? I think he needs a walk anyway.“
He nods and turns to get his coat and stuff. I hear Basil’s paws in the hallway, his excited yelps. Then the front door falls into the frame and the house is quiet. With a sigh I get up and put my cuttlery away into the sink.
I’m sure he doesn’t want me to see his tears. He will talk with her – he told me a little about it, how he tries to get over it, needing this moments with her – even if it means addressing a cold marble stone. I would do the same, I’m afraid. Still it hurts being left alone here, being left out.
When I walk past the winter garden my eyes linger on the huge tree with all these blue and golden balls. The wax of the real candles clings in odd drops and shapes around their bodies and the smell is still perceptible. The box with the keycard and the deed of ownership lay on the table next to it – like we left them there going to have breakfast. I walk closer and let my fingers run over the items again. It’s my name on them – and although he told me different I feel kinda burden on my shoulders now. What if this all is just not going to work?
„Siiiv!“ Stella lets her muffin fall back onto her plate and the chair meets the ground with a loud thud. The next I sense is her flying towards me with open arms. Intuitively I go down to my haunches and we embrace cordially.
„I missed you so much!“
I smell and taste the cinammon where she kissed me – and that’s nearly all over my face. A bit sticky now. I can’t help to flash her a smile.
„Hey, my twinkling star!“
She grabs my hand and drags me with her.
„Come, you have to sit next to me!“
„Errr, Rosie – I think I should stay with Andy.“
Now Dave intervenes.
„Rosie, you can play with Siv all afternoon. Now finish your cake and let them get their seats.“
His look is stern and she seems to know that she’d better be a good girl. Jennifer kept quiet all the time. Now she directly meets my view and my mouth turns dry. It’s not a hostile or angry look – it’s sad and sombre.
Andy nudges me and we slip behind the table – next to Jack and Phil. I do not really like this combination either though Jack greets me nicely, pecking my cheeks left and right. Dave’s brother reaches over with his hand. He seems to be with his boyfriend. There must be at least twenty people in this room – their voices mingling with each other. It’s kinda buzzing like in a beehive – perhaps it’s just my tensed nerves.
A hand with a coffee pot is coming from behind. Before I can complain my cup is filled and a female voice urges me to take some cake. I try to be brave and choose something that looks a little like Stollen – yet the intense colours of the candied peel and cherries tell me it’s a british traditional dish. It tastes so sweet I immediately need a sip of the strong, bitter coffee.
„How are things, Siv?“ Jack tries to make some conversation as Andrew is busy with his neighbour.
„Well, I’m alive.“ I bite my lower lip. „Feeling a bit lost here to be honest. Can you give me some prompts who’s who?“
He smiles and pats my shoulder.
„I can imagine how odd that is – but all nice members and close friends of the family. Nobody will bite.“
An „I wouldn’t be so sure about it...“ slips my lips. He gives me a little smirk and then starts telling me some names – yet my head is busy and some even do not make it into my memory.
Looking accross the table I try to catch a glimpse of David every now and then – yet he seems too busy or tries to avoid eye contact. Jen pretends to be occupied with Stella or the woman sitting next to her. If only Mart was here! He for sure would let me feel less alienated.
With a little excuse I get up from my seat and head for the restroom. Locking the door behind me I let myself sink onto the closed toilet seat. All in me cries to get out off this travesty. I’m not in for all the happy banter and laughter – surrounded by people I merely do not know – and ones I like way too much but can’t get closer to them. Angrily I wipe away some tears. Must be the hormones – I really turn into a permanent sissy!
Letting some cold water run over my wrists and patting some onto my reddened face I take a few deep breaths.
„Come on, Siv – time out!“
David drags me out off the crowded living room. After reaching the top of the stairway he guides me to the next door to the left. It’s a bedroom.
„No, it’s not Jen’s and mine.“
Stop reading my thoughts!
Sinking onto the quilt he pats next to him. Hesitantly I follow his gesture and he pulls me into his arms.
„I swear, I’m going nuts down there!“
„Shush, I know! That’s why we’re here. Try to relax, angel.“
How shall I calm down being near him, his intoxicating scent tickling my nose and nerves? His dark, low velvety voice is soothing though and finally I slip even closer against his chest. My fingers follow the thin ripples in the fabric of his white dress shirt.
„Better now?“ One of his hands wander lower over my bum.
„How do you and Andy get along?“
I have to think for a moment. There must be something showing in my eyes and behaviour as his expression turns sad.
„Not really well, huh?“
I shake my head and close my eyes to focus on my feelings.
„What happened? Tell me.“
„Sorry, I can’t. It’s just not fair concerning Andrew.“
I nuzzle against his neck and breathe in his smell.
„He’s just a man – like me.“
Tousling my hair sends shivers down my spine.
„Did he try to...?“ „David, please!“ „So he did.“
God, I better tell him!
And then I start – all my feelings of guilt, discomfort and desperation – cumulating in the shower. The way I felt left out when he went for Grainne’s grave.
„Do you feel this way in my arms as well?“
David, don’t break my heart again!
„Do you really need an answer to that question?“
He lifts my chin and fixes my view.
„Yes. I want to hear it from your own lips. How do you feel with me?“
A single tear makes it down my right cheek bone.
„Like I should feel for Andy. It’s just not right, I know.“
„So, if it had been me in your bed...“
I cover his mouth with my hand. Meanwhile every single hair of my body must be standing upright.
„No, David! No ‚if’s’ or ‚whens’!“
Before I even realize it he’s over me, pressing his lips onto mine in a passionate, desperate kiss. First I taste a trace of vanilla from the custard cream cake – and then salt.
„Angel, that’s how we are – confused and still so much in pain.“
The intensity of his eyes take away my breath.
„Our bodies do not seem to care about our troubled state of minds – nor seem to follow any kind of logic. I could pin you straight down onto the sheets but that wouldn’t do no one any good.“
He takes my right hand and places it against his crotch. The hard on is pretty obvious in his tight, black trousers.
„Sivvi, we will try again – when the timing is right.“
He kisses my forehead so softly it nearly hurts – a little wetness still glistening around his lashes. I search his mouth again and our tongues entangle.
„God, baby! If we go on like this I won’t last!“
My fingers cling more intensely around his length. He growls so deeply his ribcage vibrates against my chest.
„No, Siv! There never will be enough shower gel afterwards – for now.“
Another deep, wet kiss – then he hoists himself up on his elbows.
„We should sneak back downstairs.“
„Give me a few moments. I’ll follow you later. It’s less obvious anyway.“
The bed aches when he gets up and walks towards the door. I know he’s bleeding right yet it feels like another loved person leaving me – alone.
When he’s on the steps I hear Jen’s voice hissing at him.
„How dare you fucking her here?! You’re such a selfish rotten bastard!“
„Jenny, I didn’t touch her – I swear! Now stop making a scene – we do not need all this publicity.“
It does not keep me on the bed any longer and I dash outside and down the stairs, just to meet them both face to face.
„Jennifer, I can’t have sex for a while after loosing the baby – still having bleedings. Do you really think shagging is my top priority now?“
I detect Andy now who’s standing at the corner, apparently looking for me. Judging his expression he must have heard the last sentences. I start to feel sick, cover my mouth and make my way through them direction guest WC.
There’s a rap at the door and Andrew’s voice.
„You’re OK in there?“
„No – but you could call a Taxi. I need to get away from here at once!“
Watching my reflection in the mirror again I wonder if I really know the person that is staring back at me. This is not a sequence from a video – where the horror kinda dissolves and one can take a deep breath finding oneself. A mirror never tells the complete truth – how could it – showing everything from it’s ‚wrong’ side?
„Angel, open the door.“
Dave’s concerned voice now. Apparently time passed while I was being mesmerized by my own features.
I stagger towards the sounds from the outside and turn the key. Next I realize is a dizzying feeling and then Andy’s strong arms catching my fall. I do not faint but my body keeps trembling.
„No, don’t call the hospital! I will be OK – just get me out off here. It’s all a bit much.“
I see Dave fetching his mobile. Now I’m aware that half of the hallway is packed with people watching the scene. Christ, let there be a deep hole where I could disappear!
„The taxi just arrived, Andy!“
That is Jack who’s expression is as stern as the others. Andy simply cradles me in his arms before I can protest and carries me outside to the vehicle. David follows with my coat and purse. When I rest against the cushions in the back of the car he softy kisses me good bye. I manage to hold him back by his arm and whisper more than I speak.
„Don’t be mad at Jen. She’s not responsible. And tell Rosie she shouldn’t be scared. I saw her standing there with her big, teary eyes.“
„Oh Lord! Sure, I will! You get well soon, angel!“
„I’m sorry, David.“
Jennifer tries to cuddle closer to her husband but he turns her back towards her, pulling the sheets up to his chin.
„Listen, I’m tired and my head nearly kills me.“ And after rustling with the fabric again he adds „I’m not angry with you, Jen – but it wasn’t a real helpful situation. You are hurt – but it’s nothing compared what she’s going through at the moment.“ He sighs. „Let us not complicate it more – I thought we agreed on that.“
When he feels her fingers at his neck – wanting to give him a massage like she usually does when he’s in pain – he flinges back slightly – yet then relaxes and let her have her way.
„Do me hard – let all your anger and frustration out! I can’t stand it any longer! Use me! I need to feel you!“
He abruptly turns around and faces her with big eyes. She opens the drawer of the nightstand and pulls out a few scarfs.
He’s baffled. It’s been a while since she asked for things like these – having been more for the romantic stuff recently.
„You’re sure?“ He already feels a pleasant tingling creeping down into his groin – knowing she’s already got him hooked.
„Pushing buttons again, Jenny?“
She winks at him.
„Do I hear complaints?“
„No, not at all!“
„But we can’t make any noise! So it’s just half the fun.“
„I’m always up for challenges, you know that.“
„Where are you going, Andy?“
I look a bit puzzled when he grabs his blanket and pillow.
„I think I’m going to sleep in the other bedroom.“ Seeing my expression he continues.
„You’ll need a bit of rest – without me snoring into your precious ears.“
Scanning his blue eyes I immediately know that this is just half of the truth again.
„Don’t avoid me, Andrew, please! I know I’m not easy to handle at the moment, but don’t make me feel more guilty. Don’t sacrifice yourself for me. I’m not worth it!“
He lets the comforter drop to the ground and quickly makes it back to the bed.
„Don’t you ever say anything like this again!“
I nearly choke in his tight embrace now.
„I saw you in the shower – and I did hurt you this morning not letting you accompain me to the cemetary. Whatever I do – it’s always leading into a wrong direction – though I mean it well.“
His eyes turn into glassy saphires.
„You even are not really happy with the loft – thinking I wanted to buy you kinda in – tying you morally to me. No, let me finish – it’s just like that, right? Christ, Sweetheart – talk to me! Tell me, if you’re not comfortable with something! Don’t be afraid to hurt me! This being in limbo is worse!“
He moves a little away from me to be able to see my eyes.
„I know that you still crave for David – and that it will never really end. He will be another ghost in our house – like Grainne. Yes, I have to admit this – she’s still here and she always will be. But, as I said: OUR house...if you want.“
Martin watches his kids running up and down the beach – as usual chasing and teasing each other and later on resting on the sand, being one happy party of siblings again. He can’t hide a big grin recognizing how Calo is twisting his sisters around his little finger.
„Guys – if you want anything from my infamous Christmas picnic you better hurry up!“
Viva moves her head, getting slowly up – sticking out her tongue.
„Daddy, you better behave – or you’ll be fat in no time and won’t fit into your kinky stage outfits anymore!“
Ava starts nudging her sister while both make their way up to the huge blanket where Mart already spread all the goodies he had hidden in two hampers.
„Dad will never be like that! You are just jealous he can tug in like no good not gaining a pound – while you nibble on your lousy carrots or celery sticks moaning on every single ounce you might have put on!“
Geez, she really knows how to get at Viv! He scratches his voluminous curls and sighs, checking on his eldest daughters skinny features.
„Girls! It’s Christmas! Be nice!“
Viva is throwing daggers at Ava and lets herself sink onto the smooth fabric – reaching for the peach flavoured water.
„I don’t give a shit if it’s bleeding Christmas or not! She’s doing it again! Talking about weight!“
„Shush, Viva darling – please! We only have these few days on our own. Let’s not waste precious time quarreling.“ Then he turns towards the waterside again.
„Calo Lee Gore – come now!“
„Argh, I wanna finish the castle. I’m not hungry!“
„You can do that for the rest of the day. I recall you only had a little Muesli this morning.“
With some silent swearing the blonde little boy finally gets onto his feet and stumbles through the sand. Martin grabs a towel and welcomes him – cleaning his face from all the muddy and sandy traces.
„Show me your hands, angel. Eek! Here, take the wet tissues.“ He opens a light blue plastic box.
„I’m no baby! Going to school already!“
„Geez – even I clean my hands before eating! So stop complaining now, son!“
After a few more little hazzles all can finally enjoy the picnic. The little boy suddenly seems to develop a healthy appetite and haggles with Ava for the best bits. Viva watches them with signs of disgust – just sucking on a piece of water melon. Not wanting to disturb the peace more than necessary Martin holds back with further comments – yet it’s working in his mind. He had to talk to Suzy soon. If she wanted to hear it or not – he was pretty much convinced that their daughter was straight on the track to anurexia. Being in the limelight definitely sucks big time every now and then! If he only would know what exactly was nagging at her. He feels a little sting in his heart again. One reason he should know very well – the divorce.
„Daddy, are you sad?“
Ava brushes over his forearm and yanks him back into the midst of them.
„Uh, sorry – not really! I was just letting my thoughts wander astray.“
He smiles at her and then pulls her into his arms, squeezing her. She starts to giggle under his touch.
„I can’t breathe, let me go! I love you, too!“
When he releases her she pinches his cheeks and then plants a wet kiss onto his nose tip – her dark eyes sparkling in the sun.
„Do you come for a swim?“
„Let’s wait a few more minutes – to digest.“
„Duh, you are really a spoil sport – always sticking to the rules!“
Oh, sweety – if you’d know! Me and always sticking to the rules...!