I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming.
He made no sense being in my dream.
But he sounded so beautiful and ethereal.
I opened my eyes and snapped them shut again, gathering myself.
I tried again and found that there was indeed a bright light somewhere in my face.
The bathroom light was on.
But he was nowhere in sight.
And my bladder was full.
I rolled onto my side and then onto my knees, staggering toward the bathroom.
As I was entering the bathroom, he was exiting.
He grabbed me and I squirmed against him.
“The fun things that can happen with you and a full bladder…” he whispered.
My mouth popped open and he smiled, giving me a gentle tap on my bottom before releasing me.
I used the bathroom and splashed water on my face before returning to him.
Where I could have sat down, he kept me on my feet.
He pointed to the right, out of the window.
The sun was rising.
He pulled me against him and I revelled in his warmth and strength, feeling him breathe with me, thanking God for the small miracles that he performed while the world remained none the wiser.
Everything looked blue from the dim light and for a moment, I could believe that the whole world slept on and that we were the only two awake in that moment.
It was just passing six-thirty in the morning as the first rays began to emerge and slowly, everything began to light up. I could already see the twinkle of a light reflecting off one of the light panels of a building in the distance.
We stood in silence as colour returned to the city and the Earth seemed to sigh in relief at having survived another night.
The hum of the city slowly began to rise until eventually, I could see life returning to the streets fifteen stories below. He held me closer then, letting his head drop onto my shoulder. I felt so little and small and I found myself wanting to stay that way, if it meant that he would hold me like this forever.
“Good morning, love…” he said, his voice still gruff from sleep.
I couldn’t even speak because this moment was just too fragile to do anything but feel.
We settled down onto the duvet and did nothing else but cuddle.
I didn’t know what he was thinking as he traced idle circles on my arm and I wasn’t about to ask. We were perfect in our silence and I truly had nothing to say. I felt like we were saying it already.
If it hadn’t been for the unceremonious grumbling of both our stomachs, I would have stayed there forever, but alas!
I helped him make the bed and we both hit the showers.
He finished before me, of course and when I came down, it was to granola and yoghurt with water. Funny enough, it tasted really good.
“Do you have a meal plan for everyday?”
“Pretty much, yeah,” he said. “I have to, if I’m going to keep fit.”
“I don’t have the discipline for that,” I said. “Food is life!”
He laughed at this but didn’t give an actual response.
“You wanna go jogging with me sometime?” he asked.
“I’m not much of a jogger, but yeah, that would be cool.”
“There’s a huge track on the Education Campus,” he said. “I go there sometimes. Otherwise, I hit the streets.”
“Cool beans,” I said.
I liked these moments that we spent together in almost perfect domestication.
I liked standing next to him and helping him with the dishes as we discussed insane topics like the possibility of a dystopian society if the world’s crisis got too big for us to handle.
I even wondered if maybe God would even come and get us and why He hadn’t done it already.
“Like,” I said. “I know that there’s so much that I haven’t done, but sometimes, I wake up and I feel so fucking heavy, Dom.”
He nodded his head, listening intently.
“I mean – that’s the shitiest thing to feel on any given day. And I can’t simply point at any one thing to blame for those days. They just come out of nowhere.”
“We all have our off days, I guess.”
“But it’s not as simple as that though,” I said, failing to articulate it. “There are no nightmares and no sad, unsolvable situations. I just get sad.”
We were strolling within the compound of his residence, heading toward what was the backyard, which had a giant lawn surrounded by a huge fortress of a wall.
“Do you think you’re depressed?”
“No,” I said immediately. “People use that term like it’s interchangeable with sadness but it’s not. I encountered someone who was actually depressed and I almost wanted to sit there and cry, right there. It’s like they’ve absorbed all the world’s hopelessness and anguish and sadness through some kind of wormhole in their hearts and minds that is endlessly open and their hearts seem to beat on and on and all that – that sadness is in them all the time…”
I was already feeling the tears come. “All the time, Dom…”
He held me close. “We won’t ever speak about the end of the world again…”
I almost wanted to laugh because he sounded like he was actually pouting in that moment.
Some moments later, we lay in the grass gazing at the clouds above.
“Maybe I should call in sick tomorrow,” I was saying.
“Don’t even,” he said. “You worked too hard to get to where you are, Dilia. Don’t wreck that by slacking off now.”
“But you’re excellent! I don’t want to leave excellence for that place!” I whined.
He laughed at this, shaking his head.
“Have you told your parents about your results?”
“Yup,” I said. “But they haven’t said anything.”
I shrugged. “I suppose it won’t matter much until I have the actual degree in my hand.”
“But it’s still an achievement,” he said incredulously.
“Bleh… It’s whatever.”
He looked like he could have said more but decided against it.
The sky was the most perfect azure blue and I wished that I could paint it so that I could look at it forever.
“Would you ever return to Ireland?”
“To live? Yeah,” he said. “Maybe after retirement.”
“This place must have been a culture shock for you,” I said quietly.
“A little bit, yeah. But we were built to adapt, so we were all good.”
I smiled, thinking about Benjy then.
“Your brothers really kept their accents.”
He chuckled. “That’s what everyone says. Few people can place it.”
“I know I would have been able to trace it if I never knew!”
That spiralled out into a fun argument about accents and he bet that I would have missed it simply because of the influence of their change in circumstance when they’d moved to South Africa.
“Oh my gosh!” I exclaimed, sitting up. “I’m not keeping you from work, am I?!”
He rolled his eyes, his expression switching from alarm to exasperation. “No.”
He pulled me back down and I grunted as I landed with a thud on my back beside him on the grass. “But I do have to talk to you about something,” he said. “I have to leave for Greece tomorrow.”
I sat up again. “How long will you be gone?”
“I’ll be done with business on Wednesday, so I’ll be back this side by Thursday night, latest.”
I frowned deeply and he chuckled. “It can’t be avoided.”
“I know,” I groaned. “But that’s far!”
He laughed, pulling me down on top of him. “I’ll call you every night, your time,” he said. “And I know you said that you were going to go home, but can you wait until I get back?”
“Yeah, whatever,” I said. “I don’t wanna talk about it.”
“Oh, come on!” he chuckled. “Don’t think of it like that. We don’t see each other on work days as it is.”
He conceded defeat after some failed coaxing at trying to ease my disappointment, but I knew that he couldn’t just cancel his trip. I had hoped to spend more time with him before I had to go home and now that time was cut short. I wasn’t about to tell my parents that I wanted to stay in Joburg another week so that I could spend time with my boyfriend.
How could I even begin to tell them about him without thinking about his lips on my –
Since he had to catch the first flight out, that meant that I had to return to the residence on Sunday night, which made me even more upset.
But I could see that he too was not happy about it.
The drive back to Parktown was slow and miserable for us both and it pissed me off that we couldn’t just park in front of the compound and hang out a little more. But the streets were not safe at this hour and so all I had with him was two minutes of goodbyes and promises to keep in touch.
“This blows…” I said quietly as I held onto him a beat longer.
“Time will fly quickly, you’ll see.”
“No, I won’t see.”
Twenty minutes later, I was in my bed, still shaking from the climb.
I had locked my door and blocked the ambient light out and stripped down to my underwear and climbed straight into bed.
He called me two minutes later and I answered on the second ring.
“I think maybe you may have taken my Kelvins with you.”
“How the hell can you possibly know that?” I asked grumpily.
He chuckled. “I can only find the black and grey ones.”
I had in fact stolen his red Kelvins because he had taken my pink panties.
“Oooh,” he said. “So it’s like that, now?”
“It’s like that.”
“I hope you wear them,” he said quietly.
“Pity you can’t wear mine – too small for you.”
He burst out laughing at this and I remembered how it had felt to have my hand on his crotch and I squirmed in my bed.
“I’ll text you when I land and call you before you sleep, around this time.”
“Excellent,” I said.
“Goodnight…” I said.
Sleep did not come easy this night.