Mike decided he should have the night free from everything. No writing, no writing about wine. No podcast, social media gymnastics concerning wine. But he would enjoy some wine. He hadn’t seen Kelly in almost 23 hours. He tried not to let the reality infect his moment.
The nap made each motion heavy. He tried to focus on the screen, with the assistance of Diet Coke caffeine. He thought about the semester, how it couldn’t end quick enough. The students, the paper piles, the toxicity of it all. He needed his character. Her smile, that clinging giggle. Where was she?
“What are you doing?” Kelly asked, starling him.
“I didn’t know you were here. Did you just get here?” Mike said, closing his laptop, alongside dialogue meant to distract her. But she wasn’t following his stray lines.
“Why are you closing it? What were you writing?” she asked, sitting in the chair next to him.
Mike felt lopsided, incongruent with his own chemistry. They had never been in this nearness. He shifted the chair left, away, with what focus he could conjure from his shaky stems. “Nothing. Just a short that’s going nowhere. I’m not liking it that much. How have you been?” He could smell her perfume, or lotion. Peach, vanilla, maybe a covert cord of dark cherry. He didn’t know what it was. He didn’t care. This wasn’t an aroma workshop. It was her. He incrementally adjusted his pose closer to her, to intake more, more.
“I’m tired. And hungry. You want to have dinner with me tonight?” she asked.
“Sure. What...do you...in the mood for?”
“Let’s stay here. I’ll make something,” she said, standing, appearing ready to dash to the kitchen.
Mike didn’t want her to cook. She deserved to have something made for her, he just thought. “I’ll make something.”
“Of course.” Of course he didn’t, is what he then shouted within himself. What was he going to make? He hadn’t cooked for himself in over a year. And now he was going to cook for her? He needed wine. He knew that she would, too.
They sipped an ’05 Petite Verdot, that had just a pinch of Malbec and Cab in its web. Mike stirred the sauce he hoped in the end would make sense. He looked at the bottle, before more a pour. Nothing. “Did you want me to open something else?” she asked, noticing his glance at the glass.
“Sure, open whatever you’d like,” he said. He watched her pass him, those notes crawling again into his senses and core. He then appreciated the way she knelt down with such projection, how her bare knee lightly kissed the shag beneath. He couldn’t wait to see what she removed from the little fridge. He was almost certain it would be Chardonnay, or a Pinot Gris. The sauce beneath his forearms bubbled, but couldn’t be less concerned with his bastardization of what was to top noodles. Her arm, a desert for vision. Its shade, shape, spectacular scene. Desert, already.
She reached in, each inch of her arm’s extension devoured by Mike’s addicted lenses. Bottle next.