After I invited my girlfriend to move into my fancy house in the outskirts of Hondarribia, and next to a graveyard, she didn’t want to delay it. She never enjoyed living in her dreary working-class apartment in Irún. Even though Alazne was already sleeping in my house every night, in the mornings we travelled back to her apartment and organized the move. Fortunately only her fridge belonged to her, as the old one that came with the house had broken down, so the moving company wouldn’t have to bother hauling bothersome dressers, cupboards, shelving units and the like. However, even if she had bought that furniture, the mahogany is worn and smells like old people, while the stuff in my expensive house only brings joy to all who enter it.
We gathered all the cardboard boxes we could find, and I even brought some from my attic, but I had to buy bubble wrap, duct tape and other material which I had previously associated with making collages. We went room by room taking stuff out of her dressers and cupboards and counters, and spent time deciding what could be thrown out. We didn’t need to move her guitar into my place, because she brought it the second day she came to my house, and it now rests against the full-body mirror of my bedroom.
As Alazne and I took turns walking down to the street to throw out bulky garbage bags, the neighborhood busybodies, groups of old women who had few qualms about gossiping, whether cruelly or not, about people within earshot, must have put two and two together in their rapidly mouldering brains and realized that Alazne must be preparing to abandon them. I’m surprised that some of these old biddies haven’t confronted me in some manner due to my presence in the neighborhood. I guess I look tough enough. Besides, that old man in his sweaty tracksuit, who was always attached to his tiny dog, must be doing the rounds, and every time I turn around I expect I’ll have to face that wrinkly mug. I hate old people. I hate them because they are close to death and I don’t want to die because the afterlife is shit.
I was especially careful when throwing away the sheet-noose with which Alazne had intended to hang herself. When she saw me putting it in a garbage bag and I told her that I would throw it in the container, she narrowed her eyes and nodded silently, as if making peace with it.
In three days Alazne and I ended up with a cluster of boxes near the doorway of her living room. We had written on all of the boxes, in every side, to what room the contents originally belonged, and we also kept a written list of all the boxes we were going to move, in case the movers were idiots and would lose some along the short ride to the neighboring city.
We stood in my girlfriend’s kitchen, now mostly empty except for the furniture and her fridge, and we wiped the sweat from our faces with a towel.
“I’m going to miss this shitty apartment,” I say to Alazne. “I know that for you this place has become associated with many terrible memories, but I only have good ones. I can never go back and spend my first full night with you anywhere else. And all those hours we held each other in the dark… I feel as if I should steal your bed out of principle.”
Alazne chuckles despite herself.
“You’re silly, you know that?” she says with a smile. “But you are right, besides the shows I’ve watched, the manga I’ve read and the… private time I have enjoyed in here, my brain associates this apartment with a dark well from which I couldn’t escape. So the sooner I put it behind me, the better.”
We take a moment of silence to look around the room.
“So… this is it, then?” I ask her as she stares at the fridge.
“This is it. I’ll tell the landlord he can keep the fridge.”
I don’t know where Alazne went that afternoon, but she met the landlord and gave him the keys of her now old apartment. Meanwhile, as I sat at the table on the balcony of my home in Hondarribia, I browsed the internet for some moving company. From time to time, as I drank grape juice I gazed at how the shadows were elongating on the green, wavy ground of the neighboring countryside.
I used the power of a dead man’s money to hire some movers, so we wouldn’t break our backs loading all those boxes from her apartment, not to mention that we wouldn’t be able to carry her stuff to my house otherwise. I have money, so I hire other people to do stuff that would be too annoying for me. Besides paying to shove enough food into your mouth every day, paying to push your inconveniences on other people is why money exists, and I’ll beat up anyone who argues otherwise. I have been ramping up my workout routine now that Alazne can peek as I’m lifting weights, and the testosterone flowing through my veins is pleading for me to batter someone up. I fear that one of these days it won’t even care whose face I destroy. Male bodies are like ticking bombs, it seems.
It’s nine and a half in the morning and the two big guys of the moving company are walking up to the third floor to haul boxes down. I don’t want to stand around while Alazne is watching, and I need to show off my muscles, so I contribute.
The tall, dark-skinned Colombian guy, a detail we know because he readily shared it during the first two minutes he chatted with us, is bending over to lift what ended up being the heaviest box, one filled with stuff from Alazne’s bedroom. I approach him and crouch on the other side of the box.
“You take that side and me this one,” I say.
I stop for a moment as he grabs his side of the box. Buddy, he called me? Was he being condescending? He’s looking for a fight, isn’t he? I shake my head, then sigh and grab the top of the box. We lift it off the floor. Even with two people handling it, it’s heavier than I would have thought. Alazne and I should have distributed the contents into at least three or four boxes, but we had no clue what we were doing. In any case, my biceps flex with satisfaction, and they will likely look good for Alazne. I hope she gets to see my efforts.
The mover and I walk downstairs, both struggling under the weight. As we were crossing the pavement towards the open back of the truck, I spot that Alazne is standing close by with her back to us, because one of the neighborhood busybodies has approached my beloved. That might be one of the evil witches who talked trash about Alazne, suggesting that having to listen to her passionate guitar playing was a curse. I’m not sure, though. To me these old broads look interchangeable. She must be half senile as well, because her hair is styled with one of those wiry perms with which old women around these parts ruin their crumbling looks.
I stop, causing the Colombian mover to stagger and question why he’s left holding a very heavy box. But I’m paying attention to the old woman who’s accosting Alazne, in case I need to step in and headbutt an old skull.
“So you are moving out with your boyfriend?” the old woman asks with a smile.
Alazne, who likely never held this woman’s gaze before, nods nervously.
“You don’t need to sound so proud of it. You make it seem like you are doing something bad, with all the shame and guilt that normal people have.”
“I’m not ashamed! I love him!” my beloved raises her voice indignantly.
A smirk forms on the old woman’s lips as she cocks her head to one side. For a brief second our eyes meet, but she quickly returns her gaze to my beloved. That’s right, I think. You have no clue who you are dealing with.
“Love, huh?” the old woman says. “You will keep playing the guitar there, right?”
“Y-yes, of course…”
“Hey, dude…” the mover says to me, but I ignore him.
The old woman puts her hand on Alazne’s shoulder.
“Keep it up, dear. Good luck to you.”
As my girlfriend stands there still, the old woman hobbles away. I wonder if she’s genuinely happy because Alazne won’t rot alone in her misery, or because the old woman won’t have to listen anymore how Alazne plays the guitar, or moans, or pleads for daddy to put it in.
I shake my head and turn to the mover.
Once all of our boxes sit on the back of the truck, the two movers close the rear doors. The Colombian guy approaches Alazne and I as he wipes the dust off his hands. The morning light shines on a bead of sweat that rolls down his forehead.
“Alright, we’re done here. This address you gave me, though… It looks as if there’s only a graveyard there?”
“Yeah, it’s a… private place. A community adjoined to the graveyard. Don’t worry, drive to the exact address. It will be there.”
We exchange a firm handshake as I give him a nod.
“Why are we shaking now, though? Aren’t we getting in your truck?”
The mover raises his eyebrows.
“Uhh… No, there’s only space for my cousin and I. The clients are supposed to drive to their new home in their personal vehicle.”
“We don’t have a car, though. Those things are death machines.”
The mover seems to give it some thought.
“Yeah, they pretty much are. But anyway, maybe I can ask my cousin to go get his car and drive you both to your new home.”
He points at the skinny mover waiting by the truck’s passenger door. He briefly looks in our direction before lowering his gaze back to his cell phone.
“Nah, it’s okay,” I say. “He looks shady. Whatever, I’ll call a taxi. I have lots of money.”
“Alright then… We’ll drive to your creepy graveyard house. Call me if you will take too long to get there.”
“Sure. Don’t disappear with our boxes, please.”
The mover chuckles as we shake hands once again.
After the moving truck that carries Alazne’s stuff drives away, my beloved hugs me tightly and rests her head on my chest. I run my fingers along her scalp. A few seconds later I pull out my phone to call the taxi company. Once the dispatcher assures me that one of their taxis will reach us sooner or later, I hang up and I look down the street anxiously. From here to the end of the street there are four other nearly identical five-story, working-class apartment buildings, painted slightly different so the inhabitants don’t suffocate under the weight of their insignificance. To our left is the taller, larger apartment building whose inhabitants have put their money together to fence their place up and set up some security cameras, which isn’t very likely to deter the criminals, as people need to do some really nasty shit, or bother a politician, to get sent to jail.
The absence of that man is making me nervous.
“Alazne, do you recall having seen around, and been bothered by, an old man who always wears a blue tracksuit and who walks a brown, tiny Maltese dog?”
“No. I honestly don’t pay much attention to the people around here. Why?”
I don’t answer. So this is it, huh? I would have sworn that no matter at what hour we had organized moving our boxes to the movers’ truck, so Alazne could flee from this working-class hole forever, the old man would be standing nearby while his pocket dog took a shit. He would be wearing the same never washed tracksuit that probably stinks like some old folks home in which the employees are particularly neglectful. And yet, in our final hour there’s no sign of the man anywhere. What was your purpose then, you shoddy old turd, if you don’t force me into a confrontation when the timing is right? I swear some people merely exist to make others feel shittier for no fucking reason, as if the universe had to fill a quota.
And what kind of life is that, huh? Relentlessly trying to keep the peace in his crumbling territory, a self-appointed watchman against every weirdo who wanders in and could remotely inconvenience the locals. Disliked and dismissed by everyone, even the neighbors, only for one day to pass away without anybody giving it a second thought.
My throat tightens, and I find myself needing to blink a few times. I pull away from Alazne’s embrace to stand straight, bringing my feet closer together.
“Alazne, salute,” I tell her.
“What?” she asks me, puzzled.
“Shinzou wo sasageyo!“
My beloved doesn’t need any other explanation. We both cross our left arm behind our lower back, then our right forearm across our chest, so we can clench our right fist over our heart.
I wake up with the morning light that shines through the window near my side of the bed. My body feels relaxed as if it has appreciated the nine or ten hours of sleep, even though some of my muscles, particularly those in my arms, are stiff from lifting heavy boxes. Next to me sleeps the love of my life, who has spent her first night as my live-in girlfriend. Alazne is lying face up, with one arm over her head and touching the headboard slat, which has raised that breast. Its rosy nipple peeks out from under the sheet. My girl is breathing through her mouth, and I watch for a while how her chest raises and falls. She smells like stale sweat, sex, and her own particular smell that I can’t describe. She’s really here, in my house, in my bed, and she will remain with me forever.
I stand up carefully from the bed, then walk up to the curtains to draw them so my angel can sleep for a bit longer, but either she was already awake or me shifting my weight around on the mattress must have done it, because I hear her yawning. When I turn back, Alazne stretches adorably as she shuts her eyelids tight. She opens them again, and I give her a smile.
“Good morning, beautiful.”
“Hey,” she replies, a little groggily.
I walk up to the bed and climb on, then straddle her waist. I tickle her sides while she grins and squirms, until she begs me to stop. I lean forward with my arms pressed against hers, so my chest touches hers. As I look into those hazel eyes, I feel complete.
“I love you, you know,” Alazne says.
I lean in closer to kiss her, but she turns away. I stare at her with a raised eyebrow. She bites her lip as her cheeks redden.
“I have morning breath.”
I sigh dramatically, then stand up from the bed even though my boxers already feel too tight.
“I’ll allow you your dignity, I suppose.”
I walk to the bathroom, which is thankfully far enough from the master bedroom, and while pissing I check this body out in the mirror. The beard is starting to grow out a bit now that I have stopped shaving it every other day. Quite a few greys in there. My hair has a month or so to grow before it looks as if I just don’t care. I brush my teeth, then I spit the froth down the drain.
Now comes the dangerous part: to take a shit silently enough that I won’t feel like my girlfriend is sitting on the bed while hearing my farts and wondering why she’s dating me. When I finish up, I hold my breath in case I hear Alazne crying. Then I wipe my ass as carefully as someone wearing a man’s body must now that his girlfriend is always around. You never know when Alazne is going to stick her nose close to my ass, not to mention that this body I stole has plenty of hair down there, which seems designed to catch nasty residues. I spit on every piece of toilet paper to clean myself thoroughly, and after the latest piece of paper doesn’t show me a stain, I still crouch in front of the bidet to shoot a stream of water at my anal area. Then I perform the finger test. If I rub the skin near my closed hole, which I assure you remains shut during this procedure, and my finger doesn’t smell like shit, that’s probably good enough. I wipe my ass a final time with some more paper, then I stand up and return to my bedroom.
Alazne is kneeling on the bed as she holds her hands in front of her plain salmon-colored panties, which are the only clothes she’s wearing. Her messy bed hair makes her sexier, and in her tear drop breasts, the nipples are hard and pointing at me.
I stand there like an idiot for a moment, delighted by the delicious view, but Alazne pats the mattress next to her.
“Hey, lie down on your back,” she says in a low, alluring voice. “I need to tell you something.”
I nod as I walk over to the bed, lowering myself onto it, then I lie down on my back with my legs spread apart.
“What’s up?” I ask as I stroke her thigh with my closest hand.
Alazne leans towards my ear, but she stops midway and looks at me with a playful expression.
“Close your eyes.”
I obey her. When I let the back of my head sink into the pillow, I feel Alazne’s weight shifting in the mattress. She doesn’t tell me anything, though: the next thing I know, my boxers are bunched around my calves, and my soft cock is inside Alazne’s wet, warm mouth.
While her tongue curls around, my cock grows harder filling the available space, and my girlfriend lets out some appreciative moans. Alazne keeps sucking me off eagerly as she holds my thighs. My ass clenches while I experience one of the best feelings in the world.
I let out a long sigh, then I reach with my hand to run my fingers along her scalp, slowly and lovingly. Back when I inhabited a woman’s body, I wouldn’t have thought that pure bliss was my live-in girlfriend gorging herself on my dick first thing in the morning, but one lives to learn.
It soon became clear that we may both want to check stuff online, or just watch videos, as we lounged in different rooms of the house, so having to rely on the desktop computer was going to become annoying. I had forgotten where I left the laptop I found in the attic, and I suddenly walk into the living room only to find Alazne sitting next to the ouija board as Kateryna’s laptop is powering up.
I am shocked, although I don’t let it show. She’s going to see an account made for Kateryna.
“What are you doing?” I ask, hopefully sounding calm.
“Research,” Alazne says as she waits for the login screen to load. “There’s so much information out there if you look hard enough. A few groups about ghosts seem legit. I mean, it’s alright if I contribute our experience. Or is that an issue…?” she asks like she just considered that it should remain a secret.
“As long as you don’t post our address, I guess…”
I walk behind Alazne towards the opposite side of the ouija board. A sudden chill all over my body and a cobweb sensation on my face makes me realize I went through Kateryna. I wipe my face as if the contact had left some residue, although I know it hasn’t.
“Excuse me, Kateryna, for causing you an unpleasant sensation.” I want to bite my tongue, but I take a deep breath. “I mean, because you told me it was unpleasant.”
I need to get rid of the laptop before I ruin everything.
“Huh. Why is there an account for Kateryna?” Alazne asks, puzzled. “I-is this her laptop? Did they forget it here after she died?”
Shit. Alazne has turned towards me. I shrug, but as I open my mouth, we both notice the planchette hovering slightly above the center of the ouija board. Kat wants us to know she intends to speak.
ASIER BOUGHT IT WANTED TO FIGURE OUT IF COULD COMMUNICATE THROUGH COMPUTER, the planchette spells out.
I’m having a hard time hiding my relief. Kateryna is a true friend, the best I’ve ever had. She always has my back, she’s usually up for shooting the shit, and she finds this world as chaotic and meaningless as I do.
“Communicate how?” Alazne asks while she alternates between looking up at me and at the board. “Are you able to push the keys?”
I shake my head.
“My dumb idea. I had witnessed how great of a poltergeistmith our friend is, so I figured that she could learn to type in a keyboard as if she were alive. Stupid on my part, really. I don’t even remember the password to her account now.”
“Alright, that’s a shame,” Alazne says as she begins the process of creating her own user. “But we can speak to each other well enough through the ouija boards, right?”
I smile at her.
“Sure. That’s the main point, after all.”
“I’m glad we can stay in contact as much as we want.”
As my girlfriend is focused on typing in her chosen password for her new account, I turn my back on her and I facepalm silently. I dig with my fingers in my flesh for good measure. I hate it. Alazne does nothing but love me, and yet I keep lying and lying and lying. I’m no better than Asier. I’m no better than my biological mother. I’m no better than my father. I’m no better than any of the ghosts I’ve judged and condemned over the years. I’m terrible.
“I-I’ll buy a new laptop,” I say in a raspy voice, then I clear my throat. “One of us may want to bring it out to a coffee shop. I was planning on starting to write about my experiences, after all.”
Alazne realizes that I’m towering right behind her seated self, so she leans back and reaches with her hands to stroke my face.
“I suppose that laptops aren’t that expensive these days. And also… I’m so proud of you. I think you’d make a great writer.”
As I exhale deeply and close my eyes, I give into the pressure and embrace her warmly. I’ll just have to keep lying. It’s the devil’s game, but this is what happiness must feel like.