It was a familiar room. Cream sheets. Walls with a hint of purple. The colours of his dreams. Sheets smelled of jasmine blossoms– she placed them around the flat for their fragrance. His senses came to him. He hadn’t been in that room in years.
Light footsteps in the hall.
‘What the hell are you doing here?’
This was the obvious question. There was no obvious answer. All there was to do was act irritated and leave.
‘I’m just leaving!’
He expected to reach for his clothes.
‘Mark,’ she said.
‘I’m going!’ he snapped, looking back across the bed in the hope of seeing his underpants.
‘Your clothes aren’t here.’
Well, there was no answer to that.
She offered him a spare dressing gown.
She offered him tea.
He didn’t drink tea.
‘You used to.’
Well now he didn’t. Black tea reminded him of the girl in Ceylon; peppermint of the American who tasted of Wrigley’s; green of the Greenpeace girl; and jasmine.
‘I’ll have… anything else.’
‘There’s just tea, Mark. There’s nothing else to drink, and nothing to eat.’
She never had anything to eat. When they ran the Tea Room he did the cooking. She did the numbers. If left to herself she’d forget to feed herself at all.
He could work with anything he could get his hands on. She always had something, a random bag of fruit and an egg, he’d make pancakes, a couple of old carrots and piece of ginger, a soup.
He did grow up in the Tea Room when it was run by his parents– who forever played like children- throwing spaghetti at the ceiling and handfuls of flour at each other.
He’d cook something for them both and get out of there. He looked in cupboards. There was literally nothing.
But stay a little longer, he thought. You’re here now. Enjoy her a little longer. How he desired her, desired those lips, desired there to be love upon those lips.
It was too dark outside the window to see anything. He looked from the blackness of the glass to the window frame. There was no way to open it.
He looked at her questioningly.
She asked, ‘What’s the last thing you remember before you came here?’
She looked as if she was reading him. But she always did. Her deep stare saw so much more than what he ever wanted to present to her. He didn’t want her following his train of thought. He thought to look at the door and she nodded, sure, take a look.
But there was no door.
Just a wall.
His legs turned to water.
And he sank down as reality stopped making sense.
She was there, putting her arms round him. She was sweet to comfort him. But he couldn’t have her so close. But he didn’t want to push her away.
She held him tightly until he was calm.
She said, ‘It’s been lonely here.’
continued with The Tea Room (Part 2)
published 5 March 2012