I called your name from the opening of the front door.
It was unlocked when I arrived, and that was odd, since you were terrified of strangers breaking in at any time of day or night… You didn’t respond, which seemed even stranger. I called a second time, almost hearing the echo of my voice in the apartment. “Like in the mountains” I was tempted to say out loud.
Entering your home, tip toeing, I noticed how everything was unusually clean and put. Not that you were messy, but you liked your home to be alive. You didn’t hide everything in closets, “just your secrets” you used to say… But today, I could barely recognize the rooms I had spent so much time in.
I had a moment of doubt, hoping you hadn’t moved during my quick trip away…
Just as I was wondering, I heard your clear laughter coming from the back of the apartment, inviting me to join you. I left my bag by the door, and walked, guided by your giggles… You were on the back balcony, sitting by yourself.
“Pinot noir, mon chéri?”
You hadn’t even turned your head, leaving me with with a nice view down your “nuque”…
“You can take a shower, the towels are still warm from the dryer.”
By the tone of your voice, you had expected my come back that very moment. As always, you just knew when to be ready for me, making it look as if you had been standing by the window the whole time I was away.
I walked to the bathroom and cleaned the mountain dirt off my weary body.
When I came back, you had set the balcony table for a meal… You were all smiles, but there was nothing genuine about your good mood. You seemed to be playing your role in a weird melancholic play. Never establishing eye contact, you served me, and took away my plate, your every moves executed like a ballet.
The sun was beginning to set on the city, and you emptied your glass.
“Let’s go to bed… Tomorrow will be a long day, right?”
I wanted to ask what you were expecting from the day to come, but I was afraid of your answer. You walked to your room, undressed, throwing your clothes carelessly on the floor, and slipped under the duvet.
Joining you, I wrapped my arms around your fragile naked body. How luckier could I get? Any other man would have jumped on the chance to take advantage of the situation. With your head resting on my shoulder, I knew I just had to whisper sweet nothings to your ear to turn you into a tigress. I knew just what you wanted to hear, just what you needed to hear… But I kept silent in the dark, just holding you against my chest.
In the morning, you seemed oddly bubbly as you packed your bag.
“Bon matin mon chéri… Le café est prêt!”
You brought me a cup of your steaming hot black coffee, engaging into small talk as you lay among the pillows. I had a doubt. There was still time to change my mind and decide to just stay here all day, just staring at you.
“What are you day dreaming about, you ninny?”
Ninny? Where did that come from? It sounded weirdly familiar, although no one had ever called me that way. You always ended up surprising me, in the smallest of details.
“Hold me, kiss me, thrill me, kill me…”
I looked at you, wondering what you meant, all smiles in the linen bedding… You talked about U2, and other bands, and music in general. You switched to cardinals, the birds, not the points. You were brushing your hair, talking about repainting the living room’s walls purple, and how the neighbour had partied all night a few days before…
I got dressed while you packed up a pic-nick for later.
On the road, you kept chatting about anything and everything, all but our trip to the mountains… It felt as if you were trying to keep the little voice in my head silent. As if you still could change my mind, even if you didn’t quite know what was awaiting you.
“Why is it that you never took me to the zoo?”
You were right, I should have… But it was too late for the zoo now, too late for cheese fondue in a park, too late for dreaming about Paris…
I parked my pick up truck and offered to carry your bag. We walked, and climbed, and hiked for hours, stopping only to eat, sitting on the edge of a particularly edgy cliff. You were sorting the chickpeas and the lentils in your salad when I understood you were trying to delay us…
“We should get going…”
The sun was slowly going down, changing the shadows on your face. You weren’t perfect. We both knew that, but I digged each and every one of your imperfections… Fighting the last fight against the tender side of me who ached to give you another chance, I reminded myself of the dangers of being too close to you.
I set camp for the both of us, and made some fire. Warming your fingers over the flames, you turned to me, covering me with an even warmer look.
“Tell me about the mountains again… I love it when you tell your tales. Tell me about Clouds Rest, it is my favorite!”
I mocked you, for liking mountains just for their dreamy names… My inner voice screamed that you weren’t taking my mountains seriously… How could it be. How could you not respect the majesty of the peaks and the valleys? You walked around the fire, and sat close to me, snuggling against my chest, longing for a goodnight tale.
Running my fingers through your hair, I started my stories of past hikes, keeping the thoughts about my last trip for myself. You occasionnally asked a question, and then went straight back in a dreaming state, listening, while staring at me though with an absent look.
After a long while, you closed your eyes, and fell asleep. I felt your body getting heavier as your muscles relaxed… I knew the time had come.
I bent down on you, kissing your forehead one last time.
Making you as comfortable as possible, I made sure the fire would keep burning until the morning… I left everything behind, and headed for the trail with only my headlamp to show me the way.
I knew your lack of knowledge about the park would mean you getting lost in the beauty of the cliffs and the mounts. It was my only way out.
I peeked back and stared at your sleeping curled up body near the fireplace…
“Goodbye my dear… and good luck!”