I woke up next morning to the maddening sound of the alarm puncturing every second of our calm night.

‘Turn the bloody thing off, will you?’ Eva murmured with a hassled drowsy tone.

‘It’s almost 7 a.m. sugar, we need to make it home.’

Although I was wholly realising that I wouldn’t want this to come to an end by any means, not her parents or mine discovering our modest hidden place, I also didn’t want to let go off her. I wished I could lock her in between my arms for the rest of our existing lives. These were the moments I lived for. The quiet before the storm. The ritual of unveiling. Knowing the point of no return had been reached, breached. I wanted to savour every single moment, imprint every memory on my grey cells.

I moved a hand slowly across the sheets and grazed her extended fingers. Long, sharp nails painted scarlet, two heavy rings, one with a small diamond.

She looked down at her hand squinting with one eye opened, answering my unformulated enquiry.

‘It’s to keep the guys away. Everyone thinks I’m engaged.’

‘I see.’ Her palms were unreasonably warm.

We’d kissed. Her breath a cocktail of last night’s cappuccino, desire and heat rising from her stomach. Her breath halting as my hands wandered across her waist.

‘What’s your perfume?’ I asked, intrigued by the uncommon fragrance.

‘Oh, that,’ Eva said with an enticing smile. ‘It’s not a perfume, just the cream I massage into my skin every night. Keeps my body soft. You don’t like it?’

‘It’s unusual, I must admit,’ I replied, then reflected, ‘It’s you.’

Strange how every woman has a distinctive smell, a signature, a delicate sensory equilibrium of natural scent, artificial perfumes and oils, sweet and sour.

The tides of coincidence move in curious ways. Sometimes I felt as if my whole world has flown by like a river, its zigzagging course all too often dictated by random events or people, and I had never been truly in control, had just drifted from childhood, and early struggles onwards to the quiet waters of teenage, like a drunken embarkation on foreign seas. But then again, wasn’t everyone on the same boat? Maybe I had merely proven to be a better navigator, and the storms hadn’t been too fierce along the way.

Eva offered me this sensation of power and perhaps superiority. The way she deliberately submitted rendered me overwhelmed with feelings of dominance which I’d never acquired the proper chances to examine before.

We had our way out without anyone noticing our exit, fleeing into my mother’s car like captive war jailbirds, compelled to abscond a holy land, yielding all our reveries behind.

Half an hour later, we were there.

I had to park a few meters away from the house. Just in case.

I stepped out of the car immediately and rushed towards her door. A rite I figured that no matter how cliché it seemed, it aided eradicate the feeling of inattention I was edgy she might be holding inside.

We strode along this entrancing path facing her house. An inviting lane, crosswise invaded by lofty trees which entirely shaded the place.

‘Text me when you’re in.’ I said.

‘Sure thing,’ she responded with a frail smile.

I moved back as I waved away, still enthralled by the commotion aroused by her final cheek-kiss.

Eva paced into the front door with steady steps. She moved a hand into her purse and cautiously picked her keys up. A sudden shiver went down her spine as the wind flicked at her bare arms, reflexively stealing away the silver-like keychain from her ownership and dropping it on the ground.

The instant she was aware of the reflection that her keys were approaching an abrupt collision with the floor, which was quite sufficient to produce a thud capable of awakening her mother or siblings, Eva intuitively engendered a succession of thoughts of a calamity. A series of prospects that crossed her mind like a ring of pictures in motion. Right there, through the endless seconds before the crash, everything that surmounted the tranquil pause was her thought of what might help her out of the inevitable situation. She was so terrified she couldn’t recall her breaths. Would her mother dash into the doorway holding a pan, and perhaps a knife, in panic of a thief crashing in? What would she tell her? Would she call her father and tell him all about it? What dreadful punishment was awaiting her? What shame was her future concealing?

The sound of the smash with the floor put a sudden end to the daydream and stirred her out of the fantasy. She stood there unconscious of the occasion.

Although the thump was too slight to draw any alertness, and that she was in just safe hands now, Eva had had enough.

She sneakily clambered upstairs to her room, her heart almost bounding outside.

‘I can’t squander another second at your place.

I’m sorry.


She texted.