A faint whiff of his perfume was still on my bed a few hours after he left. It was not the same as the one he applied the last time he was here nearly two weeks ago.
I woke up today morning at 11 o’clock and there were already some messages in my inbox.
“Can I still send you something to your present address?” asked Toru.
And messages from Patrick. He asked what I was doing during weekend. “Nothing.” I told him. I usually sleep all day during weekends. “I drew yesterday.” “What did you draw?” “You can see and guess what it is when you come.” “Are you home alone? Well, I am thinking about…” And I knew what he meant by that: I am thinking… is always equivalent to I am going to…
“Why do you turn down all window blinds?” asked Patrick when he came. I reached out for the book and gave him while I was explaining. “It was said that Dr Urbino and his wife had followed the Roman strategy against heat, which consists of closing houses during the lethargy of August in order to keep out the burning air from the street, and then opening them up completely to the night breezes.” “Have you read it?” I continued. “No, not yet.” he replied. “Is it better?” “I don’t know.” “Let’s see what I drew yesterday. What do you see?” “It’s my shirt.” “You are the only one who knows what it is. One said it was a bear in a cage, another said it was a piece of underwear.” “Oh, I know what you are thinking.”
I had some beer and thought that I would go to a bookshop, but I would have something for dinner first. I was riding my bicycle, and the destination would be the broken rice restaurant near the first studio I rented when I was a new arrival here in the city, of which the owner was a beautiful young woman, on whom I had a very positive impression. I rode past the streets and the brigde I used to go by everyday years ago, and memories came flooding back. I used to wake up very early in the morning, when the skyline was just in its light purple. I used to walk fast in the morning and slothfully in the evening along the same streets, to work and back home. And I recalled even the mirror I took from my first studio to the second logement which was actually an apartment, the mirror I just discovered days before I left the former, it was hung high above the door. It was where I first saw Chris, and we broke up while I was still there. It was also where I spent long long nights after I broke up with Dylan. And I missed the plants I used to grow, which I brought with me when I moved out, and the last of which died at my 5th accommodation.
But the broken rice restaurant was not there. I kept riding, through the house I rented years ago, to find the landlady sat in the living room staring out to the street. I avoided her stare and kept going. She might have seen me, or she might not. If she did see me, she might wonder what I was doing here, and why I had not come over to say hello. I turned my eyes up towards where I used to live, there were some clothes hung on the drying line…
I went to the bookshop, and in a second, I imagined Thomas might turn up and stand right before me. “Well, it’s good to see you here. Do you find something to buy?” he would say.
It was just eight o’clock in the evening and in the busiest city of the country the streets were deserted, much to my surprise.
He was awakened by sadness. Dr. Juvenal Urbino was, as I was this afternoon from a siesta after Patrick left, to find his perfume was still on my bed, I sniffed, and inhaled and kept it in my lungs as long as I could.
I was knitting and drinking while waiting for Patrick. I already had three cans of beer when he came. Te quiero, I practised several times and I thought I was ready to tell him while we were making love. “What did you just say?” he would ask. “It is in Spanish. I won’t tell you what it is.” I would say. But I did not say it, nor did I when he was about to leave, when I tried, with success, to kiss his neck, maybe for the last time, and even before that when I hugged him from behind. “Can I go home now?” (it was much more an announcement than a question), he asked and I unfastened my arms.
What if I said “No, you cannot.”?
Would his perfume be still there when I come back, I wondered while riding home.
No, it’s not. I told myself and finished my cigarette.