22 – CHAPTER I: REUNION

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I blame it on Vivaldi.

More specifically, on my CD of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which now sat face down on the bedside cabinet, alongside the body of my softly snoring girlfriend.

We’d had a fight when Eva had arrived to the secret basement at 3 a.m. following an arranged underground meeting between us and found me lying on the wooden floor, nude for an underwear, the concerto playing as loudly as the surround system would allow. Loud.

The presto movement of ‘Summer’, the Concerto No. 2 in G minor, was just about to kick into full swing when Eva flung open the door.

I hadn’t noticed she’d returned until I felt the flat of her shoe resting on my right shoulder and shaking me back and forth. I opened my eyes and saw her leaning over me. I then noticed that she’d turned the lights on and the CD has come to a sudden halt.

‘What the fuck are you doing?’ she said.

‘Listening to music,’ I replied in my smallest voice.

‘I can hear that! I could hear it all the way down the street!’ she yelled.

She’d been away in Dubai for family vacation for the past four months and we’d agreed to find us a covert place for our gatherings, in fear of her stern mother sensing any kind of haziness about this relationship, and my parents too.

Her father was always away, wandering the globe as a head chef of some Saudi wealthy ass, which gave me some type of respite and, indeed, freedom.

She looked remarkably fresh for someone who had just got off a long flight. She was wearing a crisp white shirt, wide leather belt and dark-navy baggy trousers with a very thin pinstripe, the matching jacket slung over one arm. She was gripping the handle of her wheelie case tightly. It was late November and it had been raining outside, though I hadn’t heard a thing over the sound of the music. Her case was slick with rain, rivulets running down the side and pooling onto the floor alongside my thigh. The bottoms of her trousers were wet where her umbrella had not been able to shield her, and were stuck to her calves.

I turned my head toward her shoe and saw an inch of damp calf. She smelled musky, part sweat, part rain, part shoe polish and leather. A few drips of moisture fell from her shoe onto my arm.

‘When did you arrive?’ I inaudibly inquired, still taken by the sheer state of wooziness as Vivaldi repeated itself in my head.

‘Just a couple of hours ago. I had to wait for everyone to fall dead asleep and thought I could pass by your place.’

‘How did you know you’ll find me down here?’ I dazedly asked.

‘Jesus Christ, Ali…’ she shrieked. ‘The entire neighbourhood could tell you’re wasted to unconsciousness in this cellar!’

She wheeled her case up against the wall next to the CD rack, removed The Four Seasons from the player and walked out. I considered getting up and following her, but decided against it. There was no way that I could win an argument with Eva when I didn’t have any clothes on. I hoped that if I just continued to lie still, I could defuse her rage by appearing less visible, hopeful that my unclothed body would blend better into the wooden flooring if I was lying horizontally rather than standing upright.

‘So you’re just going to leave?’ I sarcastically broke the deafening silence occurring as she stood prepared at the backdoor, ‘I know you won’t.’

‘Don’t defy me. I will if I want to.’

‘Oh darn it Ev! You marched all the way down lugging your case, under the rain, and you hadn’t had in mind the slightest thought of spending the rest of the night here?!’

‘Just put some clothes on, you filthy bastard,’ she said strolling back in, with a smile that locked up all the world’s sanctifications between the majestic gate of her lips, ‘or on second thought, just don’t.’ She added.

She chucked herself onto my bare tummy, tying back her legs, and leaned down for a kiss.

It was classical. Our bodies plainly demarcated in a reel of shade, as her curly locks of almost damp hair caressed my face, flying away with every portion of acumen I could ever behold.

‘Did you miss me?’ she whispered.

I grabbed her waist and pinned her down on the bed, the one we’d secretly budged in from her old grandmother’s house back in May, and climbed up on her.

‘Did I?’ I replied. ‘We should sleep. We’ll need to get up in a few hours so I can take you back home before your mother notes your absence.’

She clutched me down next to her, nodding approval.

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