Low

Back in our hotel room, I finally slid off my heels. You better get the drinks and music sorted out first this time. I said, my eyes running over Seths naked torso. Something about fucking you seems to evaporate all the water from my body

He fired up the laptop, put on the Attitude playlist, then poured some red wine and placed it on the bedside table before reclining back on the bed. I felt his eyes follow me around the room as I stripped off my jewellery and anything else that could be ripped or broken.

I gonna take this dress off before you do something terrible to it. I said fumbling with the knotted leather of my obi as I climbed onto him.

He gave me another deep look as though he were reading my soul. “Eden, you arent pissed are you?”

“No, I’ve barely had anything to drink at all.”

“You sure?” Seth looked at me as if to reassure himself that I was still capable of rational thought.

“I promise you, I’m not drunk. I know what I am doing. I want this.” I looked deep into his eyes. It was like witnessing eternity. A lifetime in his eyes, that was my ultimate truth. I wanted that more than anything else the universe could ever offer. I leaned in close and whispered “Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle.”

“I’m not entirely convinced that you are capable of that.” Seth smiled, his hands gripping my waist and his eyes devouring me.

I shuddered in delight and slipped off my dress.

In the background, Crackers Low began to play.

You know, this song will always remind me of fucking you, I murmured.

Seth smiled as if it pleased him that I would have some locked memory that would never change but it made me a little sad, reminding me that all too soon our time was coming to an end. It made the sex between us more tender. As I allowed myself to fall deep into his eyes, I wanted time to stop right then so I could feel that exquisite magic forever.

2 + 2 = 5

Desire was still searing through me from the feel of Seth pushing against me as we stood outside in the Nevada sunshine watching the huge fountains of the Bellagio firing turrets of water into the sky. 

What if I wrote a symphony and dedicated it to you?” Seth said.

“Oh my God, can you stop?” I laughed, riding the thrill of that delicious thought. “By all means write a symphony, that would be incredible, but dedicate it to me as your friend. I’d believe that.”

Seth‘s eyes stayed fixed on the jets of spray dancing in time to the music. “I’ve always wanted to write a symphony.”

“There’s nothing stopping you.”

“I guess,” he said as we began walking again.

At New York, New York someone had rigged the dummy of a man in an orange jumpsuit onto the bridge. Hanging from his neck, it looked like a suicide. The Halloween antics were already beginning. In the Irish pub, a middle aged peroxide blonde of wrestler proportions directed us to an outside table. She took our order of coffee for two, coupled with a Cafferys for Seth and a Guinness for me and left us with the menus.

While we were browsing the list of food, a bride and groom hopped up onto the wall surrounding the tables and posed for a photo. They looked so happy and carefree and part of me couldnt help thinking that it could have been Seth and I sat up there if I had made different choices with my life.

Hey, you cant sit there. The waitress bellowed at them placing a cafetiere before us.

Weve just got married, lady. We only want a quick photo, the groom shouted back at her.

Be sure it is quick or youll get me fired, she said, turning to us and rolling her eyes. Ready to order?

Seth chose a full Irish breakfast and I went for a bacon soda bread sandwich. She nodded her head, made a note on her pad and went to shoo the newly-weds from their perch.

I took a sip of my Guinness and added some milk to my coffee. Have you read Blind Faith by Ben Elton? I asked Seth.

Nope, whats it about?

It’s kind of a modern day 1984. Its set a hundred years in the future when we are lives are dictated by social networking sites. Everyone is expected to upload every detail of their lives as videos to the social network and if they dont they are considered subversive and dangerous. So instead of Big Brother watching us, we have our friends and peers taking on that role instead. Ben Elton clearly doesnt like Facebook.

I suppose that is a natural reaction to new technology he said. Theres always someone who can see the bad side.

Yes and its not that Im unsympathetic to those views but I think the advantages far outweigh the risks. If a social revolution comes I think those sort of sites will be very instrumental in affecting the change.

Seth lifted his cup and blew the steam from the coffee before taking a mouthful. Really? How so?

In the new Dan Brown it says how easy dissemination of ideas is in this day and age. If you had a message to spread it would be so easy to reach out to the four corners of the earth now if you wanted, probably within twenty four hours. Imagine how far the Celestine thing could have gone if that technology was a common back then. Its like what Marx was saying about Communism. I think we are getting very close to the conditions being right for that step now, in our lifetimes. And I definitely think that we should consider using Facebook when promoting the book, give away the first chapter free or something to generate interest. The publishers of the Mortal Instruments series did, only I couldnt read it because it was for US residents only.

Its definitely worth considering, Seth said as the waitress appeared holding two plates of food. She placed them before us, fetched a wire basket containing bottles of various sauces and then left us to eat.

I watched Seth pour streaks of ketchup over his baked beans with a look of mild horror on my face.

What? he smiled, catching the look.

I shook my head. Ketchup and beans, its plain wrong.

You dont know what youre missing, he laughed.

Weirdo. I muttered taking a bite of my sandwich.

I’m Yours – Part 1

Perhaps he was doing the merciful thing, I told myself. He knew that I hated the arrivals catwalk, where you have precisely half a second to locate your friends before everyone else regards you as a sad loser. Besides, how would I have greeted him if he was there? Run to him like reunited lovers? No. Stand there and wait for him to come running to me? Never going to happen. Walk over casually to him and hug him? Maybe. His absence made all these questions irrelevant. It should have triggered panic, a dawning realisation that I might be spending the next ten days alone but the overwhelming feeling of freedom dismissed any fear of that.

Perhaps he was just running late. I was supposed to arrive two hours later than I actually did. Somehow, I had misread the flight times on my ticket confirmation, even though I had read that email a million times. Im one of those people that checks they have their ticket and passport compulsively on the drive to the airport and because I had booked it online, normally preferring face-to-face, I was particularly nervous about it. I had read and re-read the automated message from Virgin a thousand times, until it was ingrained in my brain. Yet like an idiot, I had still managed to confuse the times.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps

I found a bench nearby and had only been sat there for a couple of minutes when I felt him enter the airport. I could feel his energy drawing closer to mine. I tried not to fidget as he approached, resisting the urge to check my appearance one last time as that burning beacon drew closer and closer. Then, a woman dressed entirely in white steeped to the side and there he was, as beautiful and alluring as ever.

My heart skipped a beat as I watched Seth look around for me, those unmistakable eyes blazing blue behind his trendy specs. His silver hair was shorter than I had ever seen it before, normally he wore it longer and spiked with wax, hed probably just had it cut. He was fitter too, his muscles defined under his jeans and t-shirt, and even the unzipped hoodie he was wearing didnt disguise the bulge of his biceps, but he had lost more weight than Id expected. Seth had obviously been training hard.

Noticing something else, I frowned.

When had he begun slouching? This was completely new. Id always thought that he had a confident swagger, shoulders back, at ease with the world. The man before me looked exhausted, as though all his energy had been drained out of him. I knew that Seth worked too hard but I wasnt sure whether his body language was down to his career or coming to meet me.

What if he hadnt really wanted me to fly over and visit him? What if we werent as good friends as I thought we were? Maybe Thor was right and this affinity that I felt was all a figment of my imagination?

The usual paranoid garbage.

I took a deep breath and called out his name.

He turned to me, his face lighting up. “Eden!”

“Hey Seth, how’s it going?” I stood and was enveloped in a massive hug, his scent swept over me, scattering my fears. It felt incredible to be that close to him.

Still holding onto me, his voice muffled by my hair and my tight grip on him, he replied “Really good. Its amazing to have you here. How was your flight? Did you get your gin and tonic?”

“Of course!” I laughed as we finally released each other. “Thanks for picking me up. I wouldn’t have minded waiting, seeing as I was such a fool getting the times mixed up.”

“Like I would have left you waiting here by yourself! Don’t be silly, its my pleasure. I am only sorry that I have to go back to work for a bit, but you’ll be ok in my flat for a couple of hours, right?” He took my suitcase as he said it and looked at me apologetically.

“Seth, I promise I will be fine. We have got so much time together in the next few days that it is probably best if I have a while alone to get my head around it,” I gave him an impish smile “You know, keep pinching myself to try and believe that this is really happening.”

He squeezed my hand as we approached his sleek, black jeep. “Trust me,” he said looking deep into my eyes “This is really happening.”

I felt the colour rise in my cheeks as I climbed into the passenger seat. My heart was beating so hard that I was sure he could hear it.

Strangelove

Within a mile the town had given way to scattered houses and then nothing but desert. The reservoir that we had seen on the drive down the night before was on the very outskirts of civilisation. It seemed a complete contradiction to find this sprawling expanse of water marking the boundary to the driest place on earth. The terrain was beautiful, we could have easily been driving along the highlands of Scotland beside a loch if it wasn’t for the delicious warmth that was beginning to creep through the morning. And of course all the American power cables. It seemed that no matter how desolate the landscape, how far away civilization seemed, there was always electricity close to hand. The American infrastructure was quite amazing.

We passed a motel on the shore of Lake Isabella and I was pleased that we hadn’t stayed there, even though it and the setting was far more picturesque. Our night in the Isabella motel had been one of the highlights of the trip so far and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Something about it seemed far more Seth and I- waking up and seeing people and mountains and cars and an amazing sunrise- it was though by seeing the world as it really was, it became even more beautiful.

Seth and I didn’t talk much, driving along listening to the greatest hits. Occasionally we would point out something we thought the other hadn’t noticed but mostly we just sat there and enjoyed the moment, one of us singing along to the tunes as the mood took.

“It’s a straight road for ages, mind if I write my diary for a bit?” I asked. “I’m falling behind. Getting too distracted.”

“Go right ahead,” he smiled.

I pulled the black notebook out of my bag with its skull and crossbones pattern and read back over the last thing I had written- Tuesday night’s events. I let out a little sigh, this meant that I was going to have to write about Wednesday and it felt awkward to do so with him beside me.

Its your own fault, Eden, if you had chosen to do something constructive that day instead of lying under the covers, crying and listening to music then you wouldn’t be in this situation now.

There was nothing for it but to start writing and I found that once I did, the words flowed easily. But the energy between us was weird. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was sending it out- something I was making a conscious effort to avoid- or whether Seth could sense what I was writing about; either way there was tension that ebbed and flowed in the air. I tried to ignore it but eventually it became so distracting that I decided to take a break.

“Watcha writing about?” Seth voice was full of curiosity.

“Oh…um…Wednesday.” I said. I hadn’t wanted him to ask in case he thought that I was still upset by the whole thing. “I’ve been trying to keep a day behind but I wrote nothing yesterday so I’m a bit off-schedule. Really need to catch up.”

Out of nerves, I was fiddling with the pages of the diary as I was talking and idly, I glanced down at the page I had stopped on. A word stood out on the page.

“Oh, odd” I said shutting the book and putting it on my bag.

“What’s up?” Seth looked over.

“Nothing, I just happened to open on a page that I had written the title of a song that has just played. Was random that’s all.”

“Which one?” He asked, leaning forward in his seat.

“Strangelove.” I said avoiding his gaze and looking out the side window instead.

“What else is written with it?”

“Good question”.

I didn’t actually know, I had closed the book too quickly to see. Reaching for the diary I knew that there was no way I was going to get away with reading it without telling him what it said. I prayed I wasn’t gushing about him too much and took a deep breath. Its ok, he’s read your diary entries before, he knows what to expect. I thumbed through to the right place and read the whole page first myself, just to check how bad it was. I blushed.

“Well this is one of my typically, incoherent diary entries. Mostly I use this thing like a notebook, ramblings or songs that mean something. I hardly ever write down why though, so often I have a bunch of disjointed information. This page is mostly that type of thing.”

Seth was looking at me like he was expecting me to continue. I sighed, rolled my eyes and began to read.

“Ok, the seventeenth September, The Stars- This Charming Man, Zero 7- Destiny, Al Green- Look What You Have Done For Me, Beyonce- De-ja Vu, Depeche Mode- Strangelove. Can I just say I have no idea why that particular mix? They’re not even songs that I associate with…well… anyway… the next bit says that I dreamt of riding a camel from Dad’s house to Weir cottage three nights earlier- which actually was quite a random dream- and the last bit is me musing about Orpheus and Eurydice and noting that Clair de Lune by Debussy came on shuffle as I was doing that.”

Seth seemed puzzled as though he had missed some connection that he should be aware of and gave me a curious look.

“Its a Twilight thing” I shrugged “The first time Bella gets in Edward’s car it is playing and she names it. He is surprised that they like the same music.”

“Hmm, interesting” he said with a smile. “So you dreamt about Weir cottage?”

“Yeah, can’t get that little place out of my head at the moment. That was one of those strange dreams when you know you are dreaming but it feels real, I could feel the camel rocking and everything.” I said watching the world pass by outside. The whole incident had got me thinking, maybe it wasn’t coincidence that I stopped on that page. I debated internally whether to say anything and then blurted “Do you know the story of Orpheus and Eurydice?”

“I don’t think so. Tell me.”

“Orpheus was a musician, he was either part god or exceptionally talented, Im not sure which. Apollo taught him to play the lyre and his wife was Eurydice. She got taken to the underworld for some reason, either Hades, God of the underworld kidnapped her or she was bitten by a snake. It depends on which version you believe. Basically Orpheus loved her so much that he decided to descend into the afterlife to find her, so he crossed the Styx and walked through hell and his music charmed Hades and Persephone so much that they agreed to her release. The only condition that they made was that Orpheus would not look at her until they were back in the land of the living. So together they walk to freedom, her following him and they get all the way to the exit and he crosses over the threshold and looks back. With that she disappears back into the shadowy depths.”

“And what did you write about it in your diary entry?”

“I was thinking that if he had trusted more in her love for him and not had to reassure himself that she was really following then they would have got away with it.”

“You think that he was uncertain about his love for her?”

“No about her love for him. I don’t think he believed she loved him as much as he did her and that is why he turned around.”

“Interesting perspective.”

“Its so weird, that poem under the subway back home all about Eurydice. It really did feel like a universal message last time I walked past it.”

Seth was silent and I wondered what he was thinking. As the sun crept higher the sky turned the same clear blue as his eyes; the land outside of the jeep had become barren and sandy, only a scattering of scrubby bushes clung to life. Mountains spanned the horizon cradling us like protective guardians, and in their custody, time danced a different tempo. You could feel it slow down, relaxing and savouring the moment along with us.

Supermassive Black Hole

I grinned, “This is turning into a perfect day.”

He turned back to me and took another sip of his wine. His eyes met mine and made me far giddier than all the alcohol I had already consumed that evening. There was a long moment of silence.

I still feel bad I haven’t read the book,” he said finally. “Perhaps we should print it off while you’re here? Maybe you could read it to me on the roadtrip?”.

A rush of adrenaline filled my veins. I didn’t know if i could, some of the things I had said had made me cringe when I was reading them alone, I dreaded to think how embarrassing it would be with him beside me.

“We could but it will cost you a fortune in paper and ink,” I said. “I used a whole ream on my copy”.

“I don’t have a printer, I was thinking that we could break into my office and do it there.”

“Break in? You’re insane.”

“You love it,” he grinned, taking another sip of wine. “So are you game?”

“You know me, you lead and I’ll follow.”