The doorbell makes me jump. I should lower the volume one day. One of those things I keep postponing. Standing up as slowly as I can helps me tame the excitement this bell forces upon me. It’s something I’m vaguely aware of. In the meantime, my steps show that somebody just made me rise out of my very comfortable chair. Well… as long as I feel in command… I open the door. It’s a girl. A woman. She is standing thirty-three centimetres from the threshold. She has natural red hair. Green eyes. Some freckles accentuate her cheeks. Pointy chin, elegant jaws. Fragile neck, I’m quite sure I could break it. A little hole between her collarbones. Her waist, her legs, her breasts. Oh, her breasts. I recognize her.
My smile reveals my teeth. They could cut her tender skin. I imagine drinking her blood. She smiles back. Her teeth could cut mine. There’s silence. It’s filled with charge. I look into her eyes. She pierces mine. Fearless.
“Hi.” she says.
“Hi.” I say.
“I’ve been travelling.” She says.
“Have you? Where’s your luggage?”
“Lost it in Paris…”
“Oh… How did you find me?”
“Why don’t you come in?” I ask, and step back into the house.
“Thanks.” There’s surprise in her tone. I remember Nurielle from a trip I once made on Hawaii. I had felt alone for years.
I invite her to go and sit outside in the sun. You can see it set over the fields behind my garden. They sowed wheat this year. A yellowish orange glow. She looks around.
“Sit down, if you want to”
Her light green dress looks gorgeous on the Bordeaux leather couch.
“How’ve you been?” I ask.
“Do you really want to know?” she doesn’t wait for my response “It was a terrible idea not to exchange contacts”
I agree, but I strongly disagree, but she’s completely right.
“Cheers! By the way”
The cling of our glasses is a great reason to look deep into her eyes.
“You said you lost your stuff?”
“I was robbed…”
“With a gun”
“Oh…” I feel sorry that I wasn’t there to help.
“He left me my documents. And my clothes”
“Beautiful dress, by the way… How do you feel now?”
“All I knew while it happened was that I needed to find you”
Just below my belly button starts a rushing force. It burns right through my heart, swishes in my ears and shoots upwards. My mind is turbid.
“Did you go to the police?”
“No” another rush “I don’t trust them”
The orange light of the sunset casts a sensual shade over her lips. The reflection in her eyes directs me to something inside her. It pulls my heart out through my throat. My stomach feels like a knot. I’m sure there are drops on my forehead that were not here before. I take a gulp of wine.
“How did you get here?”
“I asked some drivers. They were very kind.”
“I can’t believe you’re here…”
“Me neither” she smiles. “I never expected to see you again.” Another silence. “Not even when I rang this bell. There’s a different name on it. I just needed a place to sleep.”
“Why this door?”
“I know… Isn’t it scary?”
“Yes… But not at all… No…”
Orange turns into blood orange while the sun approaches the horizon. In the distance, we see a dragon roast an eagle in the air. He catches it before it hits the ground.
“Beautiful view.” She says
“Thanks. The wildlife here is great”
I take another good look at her waist. Then, following her curves, I look back up at her face. I see she has been following.
“Are you hungry?” I ask.
“I don’t know. Don’t think so.” That smile again. More softly this time.
“Yes, let’s give that a try”
She moves a leg. My god.
I walk to the kitchen in a trance. I open the cupboard. It smokes at my fingers’ touch. Pot. Open. Bowl. Fork. Olives in bowl. Turn. Don’t faint. Back. When I walk outside, I gaze into the sun. Incredible. I fetch the little mahogany table, put it front of the couch and place the wine and the olives on it. I sit down, my knee near her hips, and lay my arm behind her. For a while, we slowly talk about our lives after we lost sight. My memories now find their way into her gratuitously listening ear. I listen to her stories and feel the purpose of our joint past loneliness in the second meeting of our worlds. I’m not even aware that my fingers are curling around the far side of her neck. They slowly follow her collarbone, gently reaching as far down as they can and back up. She talks about her days in the highlands of Nepal, where she was freezing in the cold dark sky. While a group of guides did everything they could to make her comfortable, she still had felt alone. Not here. Not now. We are not cold.
It is halfway down. The sky is purple. My fingers work their way into her hair. Twelve candles in the garden around us light up.
“Must be the heat”, she giggles. That sound in my heart makes me smile.
“Must be…” I answer. “It never happened before…”
“Good” she says, and she closes her eyes. “Reassuring…”
I follow the top ridge of her arm until my hand meets hers. I hold it from behind. They fit deliciously. Hers turns. A flickering light sparks off our touch. An electric current draws our other hands together. With a whoosh, we shoot apart.
For a few seconds we sit puzzled, looking at each other, each from one edge of the couch. The table is lying somewhere further away in the grass. One glass broke. Then, as if driven by a single force, we jump up and crash into each other.
“Ouch!” she laughs, holding her cheekbone with her fingertips “what was that?” We are both sitting on an edge again. While the sun sets, the candlelight intensifies. Their warmth radiates onto our skins. Her pupils light up dimly. She brings her left strap over her shoulder, and lets it slide down her arm. Must have felt nice. She bends forward and slowly crawls towards me. The couch sizzles everywhere she touches it. When she reaches me, a flaming ball flies right over her back. I try to catch it but it whirls around my hand and sinks into her lower back. I see her face relax. Her lips reach for mine. I put my hands upon her back and pull her closer till they touch. The couch catches fire.
“Don’t worry about it” I say, while I let the other strap down, and push her dress over her back in a massaging move.
“I didn’t”, she says, “not with you around”. It’s this melting cheesiness that I like about her. The flames reach out further while we kiss, and sparks shoot away from us. They take hold of the rack I built for grapes, last spring. I don’t care. All I want is to take off her bra and work my way there, perhaps with a little detour by her waist.
Another fireball shoots by. I manage to catch this one, and in one motion, deviate it straight into her heart. She answers with an emotional “ah”, followed by a deep breath. She looks at me with watery eyes, now just reflecting red light. She grabs my shoulders and pulls me up with force. We hear an explosion in the kitchen. The whole place must be burning now.
“I’m sorry about your oven, boy”. She whispers in my ear, and then breathes out from the depths of her soul.
“How do you know it was the oven?” I ask, while I rip something of hers in return.
“I don’t know”
“Well, just don’t expect me to make lasagna any day soon”.
“Okay, I won’t”
“And sorry about your undies”
“That’s all right. They would’ve burned anyway.”
She’s probably right, because my clothes have turned in little black flakes that are falling of my body. I move my hands up and down her thighs. Her kiss gets more intense, her hold more firm. As we get closer, it becomes harder and harder to tell whose limbs are whose.
“Is it really you?” I ask, while I look.
In the short silence that follows, I feel her heart leap.
“Yes. It’s me…”
The couch collapses and she slips right over me. “Uh”, is her soft exclaim. We sit for a while, amazed, until I give a pulse. She responds with a squeeze. We hear a wall break. Our alternated contractions ignite a flow of motion over our spines. Our spirits merge in a burning tide of sensations, alternating ecstasy with a sense of the common. The ashes around us whirl up, taking our minds along on a journey we don’t comprehend. All we hear is each others’ breath. All we see is our shared inner space. All we taste are samples of each others’ dreams. As we tremble, so does the smouldering lawn. I consider a break, she whispers “let’s go”. So we rise, along with the earth, fusing in the flame that haunted us so long. Out of depths we did not know flows a perpetuating burning force, consuming two in one.
The news of the volcanic eruption at the idyllic border of the coastal town was initially hard to digest. Speculations to the cause of it all invoked unprecedented creative thinking among surrounding survivors, but the issue was never satisfactorily solved. The final suggestion ever heard about this case was made by a little boy named Benny, just after his grandma had told him the story. He thought it might have been done by big ants.