“I can only see you at night,” she said, “does it matter?”
“Not to me, no.”
“I’m glad. I don’t think I can stand not seeing you at all.”
“It doesn’t give us much time, though.”
She pulled back and looked up at me.
“Its enough for me.”
I stood up and brushed off the dust from my pants. Outside the wind was picking up and I could smell the coming rain. We were safe here. The building was secured even though it was abandoned. No one ever checks old buildings, they just wait for it to crumble and fall.
“I don’t mind this,” she said, looking around her, “if this is all we have, then this is all we have. I’m okay.”
I walked over to the window and peered out. From the 12th floor at 2 in the morning, the sleeping world outside was nothing more than miniature toys left behind by tired children. Cars sweep by occasionally, lighting the streets below making brief tunnels into the night. In those tunnels I know is the way home.
“Lets run away,” she said.
“Lets get in your car, and just drive.”
“For how long?”
“I don’t know. I don’t even care. We can have the days to ourselves, and not just the nights.”
I turned from the window and stared down at her. She looked so small sitting on the floor with her back against the wall, looking up at me from behind her willowy hair. It broke my heart to see her so thin.
“I can see you’re sad,” she said.
“I’m not,” I said.
I sat down beside her and she grabbed my arm with both hands and leaned her head on my shoulder.
“It doesn’t have to be sad. This.”
“It’s the 3 in the morning universal questions which makes us so lonely and afraid; and guilty. As long as we have time together, we don’t have to think about the questions.”
The wind picked up and it started to rattle the window frames, seeping through the aluminum cracks.
“It’s going to rain tonight, can you feel it?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said, smiling, “it’s going to be lovely. I love the rain at night. Its like we’re in a different place, a private place.”
I leaned back against the wall and closed my eyes.
The next morning I woke up and found myself alone on the floor, curled up and sweating. The morning rays pinned me down, making it difficult for me to open my eyes against its glare. I sat up painfully then stood up. The traffic below was noisy and in the din I heard the chatter of helicopter blades. I walked all the down through the emergency exit to my car parked in the basement. No one saw me exit the building, except maybe for the odd rat or two.
Work was a series of meetings and the drone of office chatter. I was anxious to get back home, shower, change then meet her again.
“You smell nice,” she said. I was standing in the dark when she walked into the room. She was smoking.
“You picked it up again,” I said.
“Yes I did. To pass the time. Waiting for the time to meet you. You know I do nothing all day except wait to see you.” She skipped a little right up to me and smiled broadly.
“I got us a little present,” she said. I pointed to the corner of the room. It was a comforter.
“It’s going to rain tonight, and I think we should snuggle up, don’t you?”
I couldn’t agree more. I took the cigarette from her fingers and took a long drag, blowing out a long cylinder of smoke.
“I want to talk to you first, before anything, okay?” I said. “This is just so that I can keep track of where I am, and that I can still tell the difference between things. Okay?”
She nodded; eyes wide open.
“You’re dead,” I said, “but I know I’m not crazy.”
She smiled, her ash white face lit up as she looked up at me.
“Am I scary?” she asked, “Do you find me creepy because of that?”
I shook my head.
She smiled, relieved.
“I can do this, look,” she said, as she twirled around the room on one foot, her red skirt spanning out around her. When she twirls her outstretched arms lengthen and she sings a ancient melancholic melody, her back arcing almost touching the floor. She twirls and twirls and twirls; the spectacle both exhilarates and overwhelms me, because beauty in terror is an amazing thing to behold.
I caught her as she fell into my arms.
“You promised me,” she said, out of breath.
“Yes I did.” I gently laid her down on the comforter. Streaks of sweat ran down her face, breaking its perfect whiteness. She was beautiful.
That night the torrential storm almost cracked the window, and I swear I felt the building sway. As the wind howled, and the rain pounded the earth, we snuggled up and told each other stories. Hers was a vivid account of her death; mine was a day to day account of my life. Both of us knew she preferred my story to hers because it was connected to a life that thrummed with blood; full and strong. Hers was a weaker shade of existence overlapping with shadows.
We keep looking for buildings that are abandoned so that we can continue to tell each other stories. But abandoned buildings don’t remain abandoned, or standing for long. But there are many to choose from, acres of concrete stronghold, unexplored, left alone and empty. We are always spoilt for choice, always. And the stories continue.