Easter morning dawned too early, bright light streaming in through the tall windows.
“It’s time to wake up,” she whispered, her fingers tickling his arm.
“You’ll be late to meet your parents; it’s time to wake up,” she repeated, giggling as the palm of her hand slid over his hip, down the flat plane of his belly, then tickling his penis.
He struggled to open his eyes as he heard the mattress creak, the soft scuff of her feet on the concrete floor as she went into the bathroom. Minutes later, the shower started.
She was right; it was time to wake up.
“And here I thought the hot water was mine, all mine,” she said as he opened the glass door and joined her.
“Uh-huh,” he muttered, smiling. She was like a cat; she liked to be near the water, but not necessarily in the water.
And yet, she preferred baths. Baths–full immersion, from her chin to the tips of her toes.
The whimsy of women and cats was one of the great mysteries of the universe.
He sluiced water over his head and rubbed his face as she chattered blithely about her plans for the day. Her strong hands kneaded his shoulders, fragrant with peppermint soap, sliding down his back and then reaching around front.
“If you keep that up, we’re not going to have time for coffee,” he said, and her playful hands immediately retreated.
“Coffee! I want coffee. Scoot over,” she said, wiggling past him and rinsing off. Moments later she was out and wrapped up like a Jawa in a deluxe coffee-colored towel.
Somehow she always seemed to insta-dry; even the floor was dry where she had been standing, whereas there were several splashy, large footprints showing his progress towards the bathroom vanity.
“Next weekend I have a run on Sunday,” she said, lounging on the couch as he dressed. “You may actually get to sleep in, and I’ll just wake you up when I get back.”
Emerging from the closet, he held up a pair of socks she had given him as a gift.
“Are these appropriate for Easter, do you think?” he teased. They were black with white tally marks, denoting Edmond Dantes’ calendar while incarcerated in the novel The Count of Monte Cristo.
“If you mean do they represent wrongful imprisonment and torture, then, yes, you’re on the right track,” she replied wryly. “They reminded me more of Doctor Who, those creatures that make you forget everything? What were they called?”
“I can’t remember either, but they had that face–oh,” he said.
“Oh?” She looked up, quizzically, and then followed his eyes, staring out the window behind her.
A grey pillar of smoke was rising, across the street behind Lucca’s Restaurant and Bar.
“What is that?” he asked. They watched for a few seconds more, mesmerized by the dark column rising higher and higher into the sky.
“That’s really close,” she said uneasily. Orange fire licked up behind the winter-thin trees, and she grabbed her phone even as he said:
“I think you better call it in.”
As she punched in 911, sirens blared from the streets below as a fire engine careened around the corner of 16th and down J Street.
She hung up, and they stood by the window together. The smoke was black now, billowing out like a mushroom cloud. Two more fire engines flashed by as a police car blocked off the nearest cross street. Pedestrians were beginning to stop, to look up at the sky. Waitstaff and a chef were seen exiting the restaurant.
“I don’t remember what’s over there,” he said, buttoning up his shirt. “I’m ready when you are.”
“I don’t want to go down there,” she said shyly. “It’s a little scary.”
“We’re headed in the opposite direction,” he reassured her, but her eyes lingered on the view from the window.
At the now barricaded intersection, five police officers gently laid a thin white man face-down in the scrubby patch of grass near the curb.
“I didn’t really understand, before, why it takes so many men to restrain someone. They’re trying so hard not to hurt him,” she said, leaving the window at last and picking up her purse.
“Well that’s true. A guy flailing around like that can really get hurt if not handled right,” he said, pocketing his keys.
They walked down the deserted block, passing stores shuttered and closed for the holiday. Another police car cordoned off K Street, as they walked to Old Soul in the Liestal Alley. She was unusually quiet, swinging his hand and lost in thought.
“I’m worried; I hope there aren’t any people in that building, whatever it was. There are a lot of old Victorians over there,” she said.
“Wiring is a huge issue in old houses,” he agreed. “Sometimes landlords don’t keep things up to code, because it’s expensive.” Seeing her rising anxiety, he added, “We can look up the news on our phones,” as he held the door open for her.
The coffee shop was warm and humid; she claimed a table and took off her jacket as he ordered for them both.
KCRA news reported that the fire had begun at an auto warehouse, which was believed to be empty when the fire began. She relaxed visibly, sipping at her mocha and looking around the cafe. (News here.)
“Everything seems so trivial, suddenly. Coffee and complaining about not enough time. I suddenly feel very shallow,” she said apologetically, looking up at him with big eyes.
He held her hand, rubbing his thumb over her palm, and began to talk to her about little things–her upcoming run, work projects, plans for the future. Time wound down, and she started.
“Oh! Your parents! You have to go.” She scooted her chair back, and he took their long-empty cups to toss into the trash as they left.
Seated near the entrance was a man and his adorable boxer, with a jutting underbite that looked like a smile.
That cheered her up.
“So, don’t forget when you are choosing my puppy that even though the mini-Aussies are adorable little pom-poms of fluff, boxers are still definitely a breed to consider,” she said confidently.
“Oh, yes, we’ve already talked about how much I like boxers,” he confirmed. She looked up at him, thinking about their happiness together as she looped her arm through his and he walked her to her car.
I hope your Easter was safe and spent with those you love.