Gaia Veenis

Be Someone Special

A man and woman lay in bed like two planks, each staring up at the ceiling through hazy darkness. The young man musters up just enough strength in his diaphragm.

“It feels different. Ever since the… conversation,” he utters into the obscurity. “Don’t you think it feels different?”

After a minute he looks over at the mature woman next to him but she is still staring up at a crack in the ceiling she’s never noticed before.

“I guess so,” she says.

“I mean, I still feel a connection to you when we’re talking,” he continues. “I felt it when we were at that Thai restaurant tonight. I felt it when we were playing darts. I didn’t want it to end. But right now, in bed… it just feels different.”

“It” had started one seemingly uneventful evening several months before. He remembers staring at her from a cherry-red leather barstool. She looked kind of odd, sitting alone reading a book, within sight of that same dart board, in that same place they would spend countless nights drinking and talking.

“I told my friend here it’s a simple fact that all women love John Cusack,” he’d yelled over Janis Joplin’s voice oozing from the jukebox. “Am I right?”

“Well I don’t know about all women, but Say Anything is one of my favorite movies,” she’d responded without a moment’s hesitation, looking up with a wink and a smile, which surprised her a bit.
She took stock of the tall, presumptuous stranger sitting two seats away at the bar as she leaned past his friend to get a closer look. Not bad. Too young, but not bad. Worth giving a business card to, at the very least. The following weekend he’d ditched his friends to meet her at that same place, upon her textual request, and pretended to walk her home at last call after a long night of conversation. He’d never had any intention of leaving her behind at the front door.

“I mean, I can tell you’re not getting off like you used to,” he says, now staring at the opposite corner of the room.

She recalls those nights, the ones when she had forgotten where she was in the moment of eruption. It must have been a blow to his self esteem, she thinks, when that gushing reservoir stopped flowing.

“It is different now,” she says, rolling over. “I can’t let it go.”

Moisture almost starts collecting in her eyes but she stops and draws them closed like curtains. This is her duty as the older and wiser one, she thinks. Besides, she knew better. She has no right to cry.

“But how can you trust someone you don’t even know?”

“You just have to learn to appreciate things in the moment,” he says. “Just because I’m not as available as you thought doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate these moments we share.”

A heavy sigh creeps from his lungs and lingers in the air. He can’t think of anything else to say. With no response from the woman next to him he turns over, leaving his back straight and firm. An impenetrable wall. Tired from the early morning drills, he quickly falls asleep.

The woman lies still, staring at that newly discovered crack, taking in the smell of body parts and fluids and sweated-out alcohol permeating the room. It’s the same scent that has surrounded them so many other nights over these last months, but it’s never smelled this putrid to her before.

There is one woozy attempt at finding ecstasy somewhere between dreams, just before dawn breaks over the Pacific Ocean a few miles west of the small rented bedroom. Hands fumble without exchange of words. She thinks of those previous primal nights; how it seemed like he could read her mind and every movement was part of a secret language. She knows that this is impossible and he had only been reading her body, but still wants desperately to find something deeper in each tight clutch of skin. She gets off this time.

After the alarm clock’s rude screaming she watches from under stained bedcovers as he dresses in his uniform adorned with a few shiny metals. The USS Thatch is having a special early morning symposium today and dress uniform is required. The buttoned shirt, slacks and pins on his chest are striking, but too far away to touch. He pushes the new bra and panties that she’d hoped he would like towards her with his foot.

One night not long after they’d met, over a plate of French fries and curry sauce, the young man had told her that he knew they were close because they could have comfortable silences. They each acknowledge their new type of silence this morning. There are some jokes about inconsequential and forgettable subjects, quick sideways glances, a brief hug at the doorway.

“I think you’ll make a great mom someday,” he blurts out just as she walks out the door. “I always thought that.”

“And you’ll make a great husband,” she responds quietly, turning around one more time to memorize his face.