The coffee maker has finished brewing, so I remove the fogged up jug from the heating plate and I pour coffee in the two mugs, one for me and the other for Jacqueline. As she asked before she went to the shower, I fill the remainder of her mug with milk, then I add a spoonful of sugar. I sip some of my steaming, bitter drip coffee as I lean against the counter.
I’m groggy although I’ve slept well for my standards. I don’t recall ever having rested enough; I’m on a twenty-four-seven alert state, ready to pounce at any moment, in consonance with the unstoppable monster that I am.
Out the balcony door, beyond my ghostly reflection, the light from the kitchen only illuminates the row of pots arranged on top of the parapet as well as the plants they contain, that are green and shrub-like instead of the vibrant flowers that I would have expected from Jacqueline. Otherwise it’s pitch dark outside. I hear faintly the engine of a car as some neighbor heads to work.
While I hold the mug with my right hand, with my spare one I smooth down the front of my denim shirt, that Jacqueline lent me. Although it’s oversized enough to feel comfortable, I can’t imagine why my beloved bought it; there’s no way she could fit her breasts in this garment. Besides, she’s close to a head taller than me, so how could she have possibly worn it?
I crack my neck, then I close my eyes and take a deep breath. Tonight I struggled through a vivid dream that many would consider a nightmare: I spent hours running around a huge building complex made up of a palace, a hospital and a supermarket, which were situated in a desolate landscape of broken concrete, littered with garbage and animal carcasses. I was tasked, along with people I knew but whose faces I’ve forgotten, to hunt down nearby robbers and killers to defend the three structures. However, I kept getting left behind.
In the last stretch of the dream, I hurried up to one of the top floors, burst into the guardroom and rummaged through the disarray of papers on a table in search of my gun, or of a gun anyway, while a bored security guard insisted on using the same table to paint Warhammer figurines. My skin burned from the anxiety coursing through me. I found a disassembled Beretta. I recall how it felt to hold that cold gun once I put it together, but I had only located an empty magazine, so I kept busy looking all over for bullets then pushing them into the magazine while my hands trembled. However, as I was about to push the final bullet in, I realized that I had filled the magazine with bullet-shaped Warhammer paints. I screamed at the bored guard, left the room in a huff and threw the gun against a wall. My subconscious must have gotten tired of the last few hours of nonsense, because I climbed onto a windowsill and I rage quit by plummeting to death. I woke up instantly to the sight of Jacqueline’s peaceful face centimeters away from mine as she breathed on my lips with her mouth open.
I must be worried, likely about work, for my brain to hallucinate such an exhausting dream. To be fair, it also featured a scene in which I lied faceup in a ditch while someone gave me a blowjob. I don’t want to think about why was it necessary for my dream self to possess a dick.
A gulp of coffee was warming my innards when Jacqueline walks into the kitchen. Her hair is damp from the shower, and spilling over her shoulders. For this generally unimportant Tuesday, my beloved chose to wear a satin, midnight blue blouse with V-neck, along with a smoke grey tube skirt that barely reaches the knees of her stockinged legs. Her skin gleams in the kitchen light, and the contrast with her lipstick makes her mouth appear pinker and more kissable.
I perk up.
“You are going to be the death of me with this beautiful sight of a woman.”
Her cobalt blues narrow at me as she parts her lips in a smile. She lifts my hair away from my neck and runs her fingers through my strands. The scent of soap reaches my nostrils.
“My, my, so full of words,” she purrs.
I hand Jacqueline her mug, and she warms her hands with it.
“Ah, it smells good. Just right for the morning.” Jacqueline takes a sip, then she looks me over. “Those clothes fit you very well.”
“They do, but how come you own newish clothes that wouldn’t fit your majestic frame, and why did I end up wearing a dress yesterday when you had these clothes lying around?”
Jacqueline’s smile wanes. She lowers her gaze in hesitation.
My heart flutters painfully. I’ve made Jacqueline uncomfortable. I lift my hand and start stuttering an apology, but she offers me a reassuring, although weak, smile.
“I don’t know how to explain the hoard of clothes I’ve accumulated in my spare bedroom, and it pains me that I’ve thought of coming up with a lie. Please, allow me to keep this little secret for now, particularly this early on a workday.”
“It’s okay! This is your house and you are free to own whatever you want without having to justify yourself.”
“I appreciate that.”
“I was just curious. So… that’s why I ended up going to work with the dress I bought for our date?”
“I thought about offering you some of those clothes, but I feared having to explain myself,” Jacqueline says. “However, to be honest, wearing a revealing dress to work did you some good. You looked more feminine than ever. You had gotten used to wearing hoodies and sweaters because you dislike your body, as part of your general self-disdain. But it didn’t kill you to show a bit more of that pretty skin of yours, did it?”
“I’m technically still alive, yes. Also, I suppose I need to work on my self-esteem and self-respect…”
Jacqueline strokes my cheek.
“Anyway, one of these days you’ll have to go home, pack some of your own clothes and bring them over. Maybe this Friday?”
“Am I… spending the whole weekend with you then?” I ask, unable to contain the excitement in my voice.
“If you want. We can go out as well, have another date.”
Jacqueline saunters over to the balcony door, opens it and breathes in the wintry air. A dozen birds keep chirping and warbling in the dark of the morning sky.
Although I enjoy the feeling of the air cooling my lungs, I end up shivering. I gulp down the rest of my coffee. After I leave the mug on the counter, I cross my arms in front of my chest and I stare at Jacqueline’s hair as the snow-kissed breeze caresses my skin.
“Are you nervous about returning to the office?” she asks over her shoulder.
“I mean, the subject of work always gives me anxiety. But why would I be particularly nervous today?”
“What do you mean?” Jacqueline asks as she chuckles in confusion. She closes the balcony door, then turns around and tilts her head at me.
“Being back in that office, or any, with people looking at me and thinking I’m useless, or a stupid piece of trash. Making some horrible mistake. Having to face people who don’t want me there or even treat me as a joke. It all sounds like a recipe for stress. I often came home feeling like I had to take a shower to wash off the shame.”
“Baby, none of that! You didn’t bring up your meeting with Ramsés, and I didn’t want to bother you about it. Things got heated, didn’t they? Not only you spent about fifteen minutes in his office, but you also shouted quite a bit.”
I avert my gaze as my cheeks get flushed. During my rant about Python’s malignity, I failed to consider that my shrill voice would travel through the closed door, and possibly the walls, to reach my coworkers’ ears.
“Sorry you had to hear that,” I say shyly. “He made me mad.”
“Why don’t you tell me more about how things went? I couldn’t make out what you were arguing about. I’ve been dying to ask you since.”
“Well, it felt like I was fighting for my life, but we mostly talked about technical matters. He is forcing me to fulfill a contract that will require me to program in a language that makes me nauseous, and besides, he enjoys piling up work expecting me to work overtime. He asked me to stay late again today! I wanted to kick his pig teeth in.” I shake my head. “Now that I say it out loud, our boss is kind of a massive prick, isn’t he? I’m sure he’s just doing it to fuck with me.”
Jacqueline finishes her coffee. She licks her lips and places her mug close enough to mine that they clink together.
“He hasn’t… made you uncomfortable in other ways, has he?” she asks gravely.
The way Jacqueline holds my gaze, she must have dealt with the sight of that bastard’s swollen crotch often. If Ramsés gets hard leering at a decaying nut like me, during his meetings with Jacqueline he may be jerking off under his mahogany desk. It wouldn’t surprise me if some of his seed got on her clothes.
“No, not yet. But who knows what he might do next time? He certainly finds pleasure in seeing people suffer. I’m sure he’d love to bend me over his desk and pound into my tight asshole until it’s red and raw.”
“To be fair, I would also love to bend you over some desk.”
I sigh deeply.
“Anyway, I don’t know if I should be glad that the prick makes someone else’s skin crawl besides mine.”
Jacqueline reaches for my hand and squeezes my fingers gently.
“Yeah… I mean, he’s a horny guy. This one time I entered his office to discuss a report, he had his hand down his pants, and I could hear porn noises spilling from his headphones. And he’s the kind of person that lashes out if something he does embarrasses him. Always eager to blame others for his own mistakes.”
“A true shithead, for sure. He’s got the morals of a sewer rat and the sexual drive of an ocelot. If I were him, I would be too busy having my balls stroked by some prostitute to care. I’d like to get back at him somehow, but mainly I hope to repel him with my attitude.”
“I can’t blame him for watching porn even during work hours. I’ve wanted to plenty of times. When it hits, it hits. But I don’t approve of that man doing it, because he’s a creep.”
A sudden weight of exhaustion comes over me. I rub my eyelids with both palms. What crimes did we commit that we deserved to end up subservient to that sexual maniac?
“I feel sorry for our intern. He’s in his twenties, he has his whole life ahead of him. He shouldn’t have to settle for our mess.”
As Jacqueline fiddles with the ring of her mug on the counter, her smile fades.
“Leire, do you think we should tell our boss that you need to take a break and work on your mental health?”
I shift my weight from foot to foot. I can’t escape my insanity, but it still unsettles me when people bring it up so bluntly.
“That bastard complained because I refused to work overtime. If I tell him that I need a medical leave because I’m going nuts, he’ll flip!”
“Well, at least you can tell him that you need to get a diagnosis from a specialist. You’re not in the best state of mind right now, are you? I think it might be time to do some self-care. I can’t let him push you into a corner and kill you with stress and anxiety.”
I cross my arms and avert my gaze.
“I already engage in plenty of self-care.”
“I meant the non-masturbatory kind. I just want you to feel better, Leire.”
I can’t handle Jacqueline’s concern. I step closer and put my hands on her shoulders, although I suspect that I’ll mar the shiny blouse with my fingertip grease.
“Jacqueline, unfortunately I know myself very well,” I say calmly as I look deep into her dreamy blues. “There are only a handful of ways for me to cope. You’re the main one. Sexual activity is good therapy, especially when we’re feeling depressed or anxious. It releases endorphins and other hormones that help us feel better. It’s likely far better than any pharmaceutical antidepressant.”
Jacqueline stares at me with an expression of disbelief.
“Listen, I shouldn’t allow our boss to use me as a human hamster,” I say carefully, “but if I stopped to work on my mental health, I’d have to retire. It’s never going to improve enough. I am broken from birth. However, that doesn’t matter as long as I can hang out with you.”
She has furrowed her brow in worry, and her gaze darts between my facial features.
Jacqueline’s silence disturbs me. I shouldn’t have opened up last night, going as far as crying in her arms.
“Am I a walking source of embarrassment to you?” I ask while a hollow feeling grows in my chest. “Do you regret having to admit that you know I exist? I didn’t want to burden you with my problems.”
“What makes you think that something like that would cross my mind?”
“Because there’s hardly a moment in which I’d rather not know myself.”
“You little idiot,” Jacqueline says warmly. “I brought you home willingly, didn’t I?”
As I consider whining some more, Jacqueline cups the back of my head and leans in to shove her tongue in my mouth. Her saliva tastes like coffee and sugar. She’s making me feel like we’re making out on a pile of pillows. After she pulls away, she runs her fingers over the buttons of the denim shirt she has lent me.
I’m light-headed and weak in the knees, so I miss what Jacqueline just told me.
“We better get going, baby,” she repeats. “Time flies whenever I talk to you, but we can’t make a habit of arriving late to work.”
I follow my beloved into the hallway, where she grabs her designer coat from the rack. I put on my thick corduroy jacket as Jacqueline wraps her long red scarf around her neck.
Partly because her taste still lingers in my mouth, my heart has swollen with gratitude. Jacqueline expects me to return to her apartment this weekend; sooner, it wouldn’t surprise me if I end up catching a ride back here today after work. Her home is a sanctuary in which I feel safe and secure, so why would I want to return to my own cold and lonely place back in Irún, that Wild West of a cesspool, where I would lie down on my sofa, in front of the tower of unplayed board games, and count the minutes until I rejoined my woman?
As her keys jangled on her hand, she was reaching for the door handle when I ask her to wait for a second.
“Jacqueline… I had the time of my life,” I say in a vulnerable voice. “Whenever you want us to spend the afternoon, or a whole day, making sweet love, just tell me or call me, okay? I’ll probably stumble over myself to run to your side.”
Jacqueline’s eyes sparkle with affection. She bites her lower lip, then she raises my chin with her thumb and forefinger.
“Is that what you want, a sort of friends with benefits thing, booty calls from time to time?”
I can’t open up about what I desire: for someone to invent a reductor beam and shoot me with it until I shrink to the size of an insect, so I can crawl inside Jacqueline’s pussy and live out the rest of my existence in her humid, cavernous insides.
“No, but I can’t hope for anything else, right? I’ve put myself on the back of a queue, behind dozens of tall, fit tennis players and Olympic gold medalists.”
Jacqueline steps towards me so the tip of our shoes nearly touch, and she holds my gaze with a determined expression that threatens to make me wet.
“Leire, do you want something serious with me?”
If she abandoned me after I got to experience her love, I’d feel flayed and deboned, reduced to a pile of flesh with the blood drying out on the ground.
“F-fuck yes I do!”
Her mouth breaks into a roguish smile.
“You do, huh? How much?”
Am I allowed to dream of something so magical to happen?
“Let’s say that I want to fall asleep by your side every night and wake up next to you every morning.”
Jacqueline’s eyes twinkle. She lowers her gaze to my denim shirt, then she tidies up its neckline.
“Since you are a single woman unattached to anyone else,” Jacqueline says coyly, “how about we enjoy each other sexually whenever possible and wherever we can? That way there won’t be any room for doubt or misunderstandings. Think about the benefits. For example, when my back hurts after a few hours of fucking, you could help massage it for me, take care of some of the stress points. You could also keep me warm during the long nights of autumn, or the freezing winters. In turn, I’ll hold you in my arms and make you forget about the pain. So if you’ll have someone as used up as me…”
I wrap my arms around her waist, then I stand on my tiptoes to kiss her lips. Her scarf tickles my chin with its soft wool.
“I’ve never thought of you that way, Jacqueline,” I murmur. “I would have fucked around plenty if I had developed that sexy body of yours.”
“If you accept me, I’m done with all that.”
I gasp. My chest tightens at her words, like a child hearing a fairytale for the first time. Although I attempt to draw my head back to look Jacqueline in the eye, she squeezes me tighter.
“No way you can quit cold turkey!” I tell her. “It’s going to wreck you! I don’t want to be accused again of causing someone’s aneurysm. Just taper down at your pace, for as long as you need.”
Jacqueline holds my head between her hands and leans in to press her mouth against mine. The kiss lingers on for longer than I expected. My body is thrumming, my heart is hammering.
I don’t know how I got here, I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I will not let this opportunity slip away. I’ll give myself over to it with every fiber of my being. I won’t allow myself to fail at loving her. She deserves that much after all the love she has poured into me.
When I break the kiss to breathe, I taste a surprising saltiness. A different liquid has slid into my mouth and rests on tongue. I lick more salty drops off my lips.
Jacqueline takes a deep breath. She produces a tissue from her coat and wipes her eyes.
“Alright then, sweetie-babe-girlfriend-of-mine.”
Author’s note: more Japanese shoegaze, like this song or this other song. I’ve also freaked out listening to a particular YouTuber’s videos about US National Parks, like this video and this other video.
I’ve had a hard time making this scene flow right for whatever reason, maybe in part because I’ve gone through a weird few days. I feel lethargic, with the energy levels of an eighty years old.
I haven’t been able to land a stable job in my nearly thirty seven years of living, so I don’t have a job until likely next week. Whenever I don’t have to work, I turn into a recluse. I barely go out for the essentials. It’s been more than ten years since I’ve talked in person, to any significant length, with anyone else than my immediate family and my coworkers (well, there was a period during which I attended a few writing courses, with disastrous results). I feel terrible around people, and that’s only gotten worse with age.
A couple of days ago I decided to walk around my stupid city for some fresh air. I ended up going to a coffee shop to read a manga series. As I was choosing a table to leave my tablet, a woman entered the coffee shop and went to the counter to order her stuff. That’s fine. The bartender was busy, so even after she listened to the woman’s order, she had to clean a few tables. It took what felt like four minutes until she started preparing this woman’s very specific tea, and at that moment, another woman entered the coffee shop and joined the first one. They started yapping. When the bartender finally served the first woman, she looked over her shoulder at me, but the second woman started making her order.
I simply won’t let myself be stepped on, so I tell her, calmly, “Excuse me, I was next.” The first woman turns around and with a shrill voice, clearly knowing that she was in the wrong, says, “but she’s with me!” I tell her that I was already waiting when the woman came in. They both stepped aside, but the first woman, who had one of those haircuts and the tone, started berating me in a passive-aggressive manner. I remained silent as the bartender prepared my order. I’m a big guy, 6′ 1” and quite wide as I used to be into weightlifting. This woman could push it as far as she wanted, but if I reacted in any way that they could paint as threatening, I would be fucked. So I just took my coffee and walked to my table as she kept saying shit.
That ruined the rest of the day for me. I already thought that the world wouldn’t be this terrible if there was close to no people in it, but it always makes me feel bad when I think about that again. The encounter (as well as simply my effort to go out) sapped all my energies, and I wasted that afternoon in such a drowsy state that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I had to take two naps, and I also slept through most of the night. I intended to eat pizza for dinner, but I couldn’t gather the strength to call some pizza place.
Who cares anyway. Does anybody read this shit?