A made-up story about made-up people.
You’re biking north. Date night. You’ve been seeing Yael for a few weeks now; sweet girl, if a bit of a homebody. Every date after the first has been at her apartment, but you don’t really mind. You’re looking forward to the usual glass of wine and a spliff. The plan is to make food and watch a movie — an indie action film that she had recommended to you, back when.
You lock your bike and walk to the door. Two knocks and Yael opens. Mousy and cute with a great butt, she’s dressed in what you admit are extremely charming furry leggings. You give her a few pecks and walk inside, throwing your bag into its usual spot in the corner. You sell her on making chips and guac. It wasn’t hard. You need ingredients.
You walk to a supermarket around the corner from her apartment. Tomatoes, onions, peppers, avocados (be careful with the Israeli ones, they ripen more slowly than the Californians). A few bars of chocolate (You like dark, she likes milk). A few bags of popcorn. Chips. You give her some cash and she pays, making small talk with the clerk. He asks if you’re together. You smile at him. There’s a wine store next door and you pick up a reasonable bottle of red.
You carry the haul home. You remember Yael likes her red wine chilled, so you put the bottle in the fridge and pull another one out. Red wine chilled. Is that something people do now? You’re just getting that memo. You don’t mind. She opens a drawer and pulls out some kitchen equipment — cutting boards, mixing bowls, forks and knives. You get to work — she makes the pico, you make the guac. You make a race of it, because why not. She wins. The pico is spicy and delicious, and she compliments you on your guacamole. “I’m from California,” you remind her. She smiles and gives you a kiss.
We used to cook like this, you think to yourself. Then it was veggie stir fries, hot sauce on eggs. The occasional pack of perogies she bought at the Polish supermarket, with apple sauce and sour cream, like some kind of secular Hanukkah. It’s nice to remember.
You lay out your spread on her living room table. You admit, it looks good. The chips, salsa, and guacamole line up like an edible Mexican flag. She pops some popcorn and sets it just north, with chocolate strewn throughout like a dark archipelago. You pour some more wine and Yael starts to roll. Her brow furrows in concentration. You love a good spliff. Weed and tobacco go together like peanut butter and chocolate.
You cue up the movie. An indie action film with a handsome lead and a supposedly amazing soundtrack. Yael has seen it and wants to watch it again. You poke around — a streaming service will let you rent it for $3.99. It’s nice having a job. You press play as she lights up; the cherry glows red in the semi-darkness. She passes to you and you manage not to cough (she goes heavy on the tobacco). You wash away the aftertaste with some chilled red, and sink back into the couch. She drapes a blanket over the two of you. The music is good.
This feels familiar. You’ve been here before. Cozy in a blanket (once even a pillow fort), a little buzzed, a little full, taking in a story. Those were the good parts. Those were the best parts. Not the fighting, not the resentment, not the realizing you barely see your friends anymore and you’re sad all the time. She consumed you and you consumed her until there wasn’t much left of either of you.
But you miss her still. You miss her next to you, and her humor, and the culture she loved and loved to share. She’s gone, but every now and then you let yourself pretend.
The movie is amazing. You’re not surprised. Heroism and villainy, the cinematography excellent. The kind of movie that inspires you, fills you up, makes you want to do better, be better. You sit silent as the credits start to roll, a spring storm of feeling mixing up inside you. You’re surprisingly pumped up.
After a few moments, Yael runs her hand down your back. Knocked out of your reverie, you turn and pounce. The film, drink, and smoke has whipped you into a frenzy. Lips move aggressively and hands doubly so. After a few moments you pick her up off the couch and carry her to her bed. Clothes fly around. You’re not usually this aggressive but she’s loving it, and you can’t but help let the sound effects stroke your ego.
The darkness has you transported. Sex act turned prayer of redemption. She rings like a bell and you’re floating out of time.
You pause to catch your breath, and a beam of light from the ajar doorway catches her face. The spell is broken. You are here, now. Not there, not then. Those days are gone.
You are disoriented. Another few moments and you’re done; frenzy is a fleeting mode. Dazed, you burrow into the softness of the blankets and pillows, searching for safety, for reassurance, for a few hours, at least, of ease. Yael curls around you and you both drift off to a pleasant sleep.