Peter was nervous and embarrassed. Nervous about showing me his house, embarrassed about not paying for the taxi which had just thrown us up right next to three certain mailboxes of internet fame. He hadn´t even thought about money, that the taxi had to be paid and that he had no money with him, until now. I liked it so much I was worried. What if I like his being helpless so much that I make him helpless? He has managed his life without me this far, remember that!
He apologized that his garden looked bad which I assure you all Swedish gardens do in early December. Unless there´s snow, and there wasn´t. His left arm was in a sling, all the broken bones were on the left side. The swellings in his face had gone down a bit but he had to be in quite a bit of pain. He never complained, though, and I sometimes felt bad about forgetting that he was hurting.
He showed me where he had hid his key that night he went running. Very clever, but I won´t tell you where. Classified information.
"Do you want to see my place or your flat first?" he asked. He still could not talk. He still wrote down everything on my little laptop.
"Your place." Of course I was curious about my flat, but I was even more curious about how Peter lived. My imagination had come up with a lot of different scenarios, from a total mess to clinically stark. The only thing that would surprise me was a very ordinary IKEA-catalogue home.
"I have had this house for five years," he said. "You are my first visitor." Behind the front door was a stairway. Blue, all shades of blue. Some stuffed birds. I thought about that world-famously unknown taxidermist and wondered if it was his work. A door to the right.
"That´s the bad flat," he said. "The floor is terribly ugly. I never go there." Next door was his apartment. The hall was a nondescript beige.
"I just pass through this area," he said. "It must not be too loud. The rooms can make their statements, but not the hall. And the kitchen...I must be able to cook all sorts of food there." The kitchen was to the right. It was homey, somewhat old-fashioned and not loud. Peter was unexpectedly loud, though. He made an AAAH-sound (in spite of his being unable to speak) and stared at something wrapped in plastic in the kitchen sink. He backed off, typing furiously;
"Please, please throw it away. It must have rotted now. Shit, I forgot. Please." Except he didn´t bother about punctuation, being upset. I corrected it afterwards. Can´t help it, teacher thing.
It was a slab of meat, and I suppose it had gone bad after several days of room temperature. I didn´t feel any bad smell, though, but obviously Peter did. I took out the meat and threw it in the garbage bin while Peter opened all windows.
"I could stand the corruption at the hospital because of the white shutters, but this was too much." he had written. White shutters?
"I´m so happy you were with me." he went on, "That would have been hard for me to deal with on my own." We had moved on to the next room, the one straight ahead from his entrance door. This room was full of fish tanks, and there was a waterbed in the middle of the room.
"Sometimes I like to sleep under the water," he said, "I love snorkeling and diving."
"Great," I said, "I always wanted to try that."
All his rooms made statements, as he said. They had a definite mood and he chose where to eat or sleep or listen to music or read or just hang around according to what he (for instance) would eat and his current mood. All this to make his chords harmonize and be bearable. The big room to the left was dominated by plants. Some furniture, but mainly plants. And air. A back door to a porch and his garden.
Upstairs he had a black room with hardly any light, like a soft nest and a hard room, black and metallic, with a drum kit. The last room was on old-fashioned library with old armchairs, dark brown furniture and the smell of old books. I loved it! There were beds in all the rooms except the library, including his glassed-in porch. There were several separate sections in the garden too, all with their own moods.
I felt ridiculously happy showing Magda around. She got it! And she meshed with every room, in different ways. I wanted to hug her, lick her face like a happy puppy. But all I did was to grin like an idiot and my throat made happy idiot-sounds I couldn´t stop.
"Time to look at your flat." I wrote. It was on the top floor too, next to the hard room. She looked like a bird-lady which inspects the nest a lovesick male has built, him hoping it is grand enough for her to move in. I did the male-bird part, hovering worriedly and pointing out the best features. There was some furniture and other things that didn´t fit in any of my rooms but I hadn´t wanted to throw away. First I was worried that she´d think it was messy but she asked if it was possible to loan some of the stuff, she didn´t have much.
"That means you want to live here!"
"Of course I do."
Sometimes it was very frustrating to not be able to talk. Now it was bloody frustrating to not be able to scream. I went to the hard room and played my drums (with one arm) for a while. Happy. Loud. Cinnamon.
He was just too cute when he showed off his rooms. Once he dared to believe that I loved the concept and how he had made it happen he was so heart-warmingly joyous I wanted to kiss him. I could see he worried that I wouldn´t like the flat, but what was there not to like? The overall impression was that of his kitchen - homey, slightly old-fashioned, neutral in a good way. A nice kitchen, a bedroom overlooking what he said was the prettiest part of the garden and a big living-room with a fireplace. In a good part of town. Dirt cheap. With Peter in the same house. Of course of course of course I wanted to live there.
Peter disappeared, and the sound of drums filled the house. He couldn´t play properly with all those broken bones, but he sure could make a lot of noise. He was good! I wished I played an instrument, but I didn´t. He was Keith Moon-furious in there but happy, which Keith never was. I liked it. I liked everything except that I was hungry. I had eaten like crap the last few days. I wanted to eat and I wanted to sleep. In a bed, not a chair, thank you. I had optimistically gotten rid of my own bed when I moved in with Roger, since we were supposed to live happily ever after. There were two beds in the flat, though, one too soft but the other one just fine. I wanted it, but I wanted food first.
"Feed me!" I sounded like Little Shop of Horrors and Peter was all contrite. He apologized for his thoughtlessness in not being able to read my thoughts and he apologized that he didn´t have anything good to feed me with. This while he in no time whipped out a pasta dish with a fantastic salmon sauce. I was allowed to help with tasks that were hard to do with one hand, like chopping onions.
He made a fuss about what sheets I would harmonize the best with. He ended up picking some brown sheets which apparently would go well with my dominant orange and create a chord conductive to a good night´s sleep. They did, I guess. I´m usually an early riser but now I didn´t wake up until eleven.
How is it possible to sleep that long? She slept and slept and slept. I wanted to go in there and look at her, but I knew I must not, that would be creepy. I kept reminding myself that it was her flat, and that I could not just go in there. I had woken very early, excited like a kid on Christmas eve - which is when the gifts are exchanged in Sweden. Every day with her was a gift and I wanted to open my present as soon as possible.
While waiting I took care of my poor plants. Good thing it was this time of year. Six days with no water would have been worse in the summer, when they were much thirstier. But they were gloomy. They are always depressed in winter. I like the dark but they don´t, and this time of year there was about six hours of daylight. If you had a daytime job you only saw the light of day through the windows at work. As did my plants, sighing wistfully while doing their job of sending me smells and color. In summer I let them come out and play now and then but now it´s too cold.
Work. Magda would be back at work on Sunday. Gave me quite a start when I realized she was a teacher. School wasn´t the happiest time of my life. I suppose I can´t blame the teachers for not understanding me. No one did, after all, including me. But I wished that some of my teachers had been less certain about their erroneous explanations - like I was deliberately wrong-headed, stupid or acting the fool to get attention. But I was sure that Magda was not like that.
So. Plants taken care of. She still slept. I went down in the basement to clean the laundry-room. Check, as good as I can get it with one arm. Still no Magda. I went to the neighborhood bakery, it won´t do with stale bread for breakfast. She slept.
"Shit!" I said. Yes - I said it. Maybe I could speak again. I started to try out different sounds. Some vowels were easier than others, but I could speak after a fashion. It was still slow and clumsy, but better than writing. Now, at last, Magda turned up.
"Good morning." I said proudly. She was even more beautiful when rested. There was a feel of a field of oats, golden and rippling in the wind which sounds hyper-corny but that´s not my fault. The black eye was almost not noticeable now. At least not in the two seconds I managed to look at her before looking away. Man, she was bright.
"Hey, he speaks!" she said. "Don´t overdo it, remember?"
"Right." I said. I wonder if she believed me when I said that I remembered. I didn´t remember getting any instructions whatsoever.
Breakfast was great. Then she called her friends and they spoke about her things, which they would bring. Wow, two more people visiting my house. I hoped I would like them. I hoped they would like me. New hopes. Come to think of it I never used to hope for anything. I had always known that being alone was not really what I wanted, just the best I could realistically expect. Better than being confused, overwhelmed and misunderstood.
I could tell he was nervous about Bettan and Erik coming over. I tried to calm him down by telling them they were friendly, non-judgemental, played in a band, she was a teacher he was an engineer, no kids but two dogs. But I knew that other things were the important ones for him, and I could tell him nothing about their chords. We carried stuff I didn´t want from my flat to the attic, which looked like there should live owls there. Every time we walked up the stairs to the attic he hummed "Working in the Coalmine" quietly to himself. The first two times I reminded him of the doctor´s orders, but he promptly forgot. Apparently that song was needed to balance the chords up there.
We needed to shop for food. I had nothing and Peter very little. None of us had a car and Peter didn´t drive. He said it would be dangerous since he was so easily distracted. I could see he was practicing looking at me. I pretended I didn´t notice but it was difficult not to smile. Peter usually ordered on the net and had it delivered. It felt a bit like cheating, but there were more important matters to consider. Like Peter.
I had become bold enough to touch him now, small touches on his arm. We were sitting on a big soft couch in the soft nestroom, sipping tea. I maneuvered closer, took his hand, lay my head on his shoulder.
I have never in my entire life felt so close to someone. Possibly with my mother early early before my memories began. Certainly not after. The chords were larger and more majestic than what was really fitting for the nest. But at the same time there was a soft intimacy that no other room could have harmonized with. The discordance wasn´t unpleasant, though. It had the feel of the eagerness of spring and I knew I was growing.
Her body touched mine, her hip soft firm saffron warmth. I could tell that she really wanted to touch me. She liked it. I didn´t understand why but she did and this new hope grew with a larger pain and maybe I would dare to put my arm around her shoulder. I could feel the smell of the wonderfulness of holding her. There was fear holding me back, though, a mangrove swamp of insecurities gathered through a lifetime of being the freak and then the doorbell rang. Rats.
Bettan and Erik were nice people the way labs are nice dogs. They were large, loud and enthusiastic. I liked them but I knew right away they must never enter my apartment. I didn´t mind them in the building, though. Bettan gave me a hug right away, which was another first for me. In her labby enthusiasm she may have hugged me a little bit harder than my ribs liked, but never mind. Skating and licorice came to mind.
Erik was huge. If he had been the one to confront Magda´s attackers they would have ran and I would be here by myself with ribs intact but a broken life. I had a moment of intense self-pity and had to laugh. I was so used to feel sorry for myself that when I was happy I was feeling sorry for how sad I would have been if I wasn´t happy. Sometimes you have to be creative to be miserable. Erik did not hug me, for which I was grateful. They both thanked me over and over for saving Magda. After a while I felt like crying because I was so overwhelmed by knowing someone as wonderful as myself. New feelings, all the time.
We had coffee. They talked more than I thought possible, sometimes all three spoke at once. I was distracted a lot of the time, but they loved the flat, that much I understood. There was nothing stressful about their talktalk, I didn´t feel like I suddenly would get an exam on what someone had said. I was thinking about how Magda touched my arm before, small intimate touches like a friendly squirrel sometimes not there and you could watch the squirrel-touch-feeling move around explore the room and then it would be back. Soft and furry.
Their talk was like an intricate jazz-improvisation where you know that you miss most of what is going on but it doesn´t matter. You pick up a theme or a phrase and follow that like you follow a path in the forest when you know it is going nowhere and that´s exactly where you want to go. Suddenly they stopped their talktalk jam and they all looked at me. Oh-oh. Ominous oboe melody.
"I knew you were not listening," Magda said with a great big smile. Oboe out. "I was just wondering if you wanted to come along and meet my parents."
"What!" Sheer terror shot through me. "Sure." Growing, growing, growing. Was that a song? No, not growing, rolling. Or bowling, I once heard a bowling-song using that melody with the message that peace on Earth could be found if we all bowled together like a big happy family. "Why?"
"To get my stuff from their garage." Magda said. She didn´t sound irritated , though I´m sure she had told me before. She didn´t smell irritated either, which was harder to fake. She was so perfect. I wish I could write music, not just hear it. A Magda concert the way I hear her would be magnificent.
"Sure." I said again. "But I won´t do much good when it comes to carrying things. Or driving. Or talking to your parents."
"I just want them to meet you." She said. "They want to thank you. And don´t worry about talking, they know you´re not supposed to talk very much" This hero thing could become addictive. I loved being praised for something I was proud of. The only thing I´ve been praised for before was playing chess and that´s like praising a tall guy because he can reach the top-shelf. Just an accident of birth.
They sure wanted to thank me. For saving her, for giving her a place to live, for making her smile, for getting her away from Roger.
"You´re welcome" I said. "No problem. My pleasure. By all means." Like most people they were overwhelming but I felt (and smelt) they were to be trusted and just relaxed. It was like being carried down a river and there´s rapids but you trust the river not to bash you into a rock. They didn´t. The car was loaded rapidly, what with Erik being able to carry a couch under each arm. Then we had coffee again. This time it was even more complicated, a five-voice jam.
Belongings in place, friends gone home. We needed food. I ordered pizza and beer and Peter was fine with that. He wanted me to decide what room and what music would go well with pizza and beer. I chose Christmas carols in the library and he giggled for ten minutes. Again, he was so cute I wanted to kiss him.
"Peter," I said. "Right now you are so incredibly cute I want to kiss you. In fact, I am going to kiss you."
So I did. That first kiss was tentative, slow, light. Our lips barely touched. His eyes were closed - he still had problems looking at my face. He was trembling. I was trembling. We barely touched, and yet this was the most emotionally intense kiss of my entire life. It lingered, grew, waned, ended.
We sat staring at our half-eaten pizzas - the world´s most unromantic food. Peter had tears in his eyes. "Wow." he said. "You know, I could die now."
"Don´t you dare. I do intend to kiss you again. Do you have a problem with that?"
"None whatsoever." He rose. "But now I must sleep. In the nest. I have grown enough today, now it´s regression time."
I was not tired. I unpacked stuff and did what I could to turn my home into my home. I was humming carols and smiling about the kiss. I was sure he wanted me and I was sure I wanted him. He would not get away now. When I eventually fell asleep I think I dreamed about Peter again, but a rather meatier dream this time. Heat but no toaster.
Sunday morning. I think we woke up reasonably at the same time. I gave Peter a present for our first anniversary, since that night we had been aware of each other´s existence for a week. He sniffed the present. "Orange!" he said happily, and opened up to find a stuffed white rabbit. He agreed it was white, but it smelled orange. Orange like me, he knew right away it was one of my old toys.
"To help you with your regression when needed," I said. "There´s a whole lot of growing ahead of you. And me, come to think of it."
That kiss, that rabbit, that extraordinary woman. That breakfast. Everything was charged with John-Philip Sousa exuberance. The breakfast milk was more like my idea of champagne (never had it, but I still have a definite idea of what it´s like) than its usual steady plod. The coffee was like coffee in commercials, where people always look like they come in their pants (another thing I´ve never done but have ideas about) when they drink it. We were in the plant room and even they looked happy.
"We will kiss a lot more today." she said. More trombones to the Sousa march. There was a new delightful smell to her, animal but sweet, with a hint of mustard. She wanted to kiss me, then show me how her flat looked now. This kiss was deeper, firmer, a strong yellow rather than pink.
I think it went on for a long time: my dick had the time to wake up and make its presence known. I think I get horny in a reasonably normal way. I´ve got a computer, I watch porn, I jerk off. But not until now have I had the hope that sex actually is something that might happen to me. Before Magda I thought that my only options were the internet or a prostitute, and that is straight out. As I said, new hopes these days.
A lot had happened in her flat. Had she slept at all?
"I´m in love with a crazy cat lady," I said.
"An allergic crazy cat lady." There were cats everywhere, china cats, glass cats, cat pictures and a great big concrete cat on the floor. "And I love you too, of course."
Back to the drums, shouting was out.
She wanted to go for a walk. Fine with me. If she had wanted to go and swim in the lake it would have been fine with me too, December or not. I had always avoided walks in the daytime but holding her hand I dared anything. Still needed my shades, though, they put a friendly didgeridoo blanket between me and the world and made it manageable.
We walked, hand in hand. No snow and we spoke idly of global warming when we met Dr Walrus. He was jogging, no polar bear in pursuit. I don´t know why, but that sight was to me the conclusive proof of global warming. Of course I intellectually knew it was the sad truth, I can follow scientific reasoning, but this was proof on an emotional level. He gave us a cheery wave with his flipper.
I suppose we were easy to recognize, my face was still looking really banged up and Magda´s black eye wasn´t as faded as I had thought, now that I could look at her for all of five seconds. Daylight was more revealing, too. It was more like a yellow and green eye now. She still intended to go to work next day and I wondered how to survive all those hours without her. I wondered even more how I had survived all those years without her. I did not want to think of how to survive when she left me. People were looking at us a little oddly, probably wondering what had happened to us. I was glad that I was the most wounded one. That way hopefully no one thought that I was the one who had hit her.
We had coffee and waffles, still holding hands. I was thinking of bee-keeping (don´t ask me why) when she wanted to know more about me and chess.
"I discovered it by accident." I said. "I was eight and I had an assistant teacher then because I was so confused that nothing worked out for me in school. It was manageable if I could sit by myself in a small room and sometimes this guy was with me. One day he wanted to play chess and I beat him. I just made the moves that seemed right. We played again and I won. He said that he did his best and that he was a fair player. He thought I should join a chess club. I did. Not that I really cared about chess, but it was nice to be good at something."
"I see like lines of power, and danger zones smell bad. I played a lot, first I played the other kids, then the adults. I usually won, but the game itself was getting dull. Winning was not so exciting anymore and I had...problems with the rest of my life. I started to pretend the chess-games were battles to make them more exciting. I really got into that for a while, my escapist trip to get away from everything, I guess. I discovered that the more I could pretend that the game was a real battle that really meant something, the better I play."
"These days my games are all grand adventures. I save the world from the forces of evil or free the slaves or whatever. Every game (almost) is exciting while it lasts. When they are over I usually feel let down and low, because it´s all pretend and means nothing. My fantasy-battles are no more meaningless than chess itself, though. I have never been able to understand why anyone would pay people to play that meaningless game."
Poor dear. He was so sad. I tried to cheer him up:
"I can´t say that the chess-playing means anything to me either. I don´t understand chess that well. But clearly there must be people who see the beauty of chess played well and are prepared to pay for it. To them you are creating something worthwhile. You´re like a musician."
"Well I can see that. But musicians should make music they like themselves. If they make music just to make money they are whores. Like me."
I kissed him. I felt we had had enough of existential angst for today. "So. Do you think we will have sex today?" He had a great big coughing fit then, seems I had startled a piece of waffle so it lost its way to his stomach. If so - where had it been when I kissed him? Life is full of these unanswered questions. My question about sex was not to remain unanswered, though:
"Today is fine with me."
"Good. I´m on the pill, so pregnancy is not an issue. Am I correct in assuming that I don´t have to worry about nasty surprises with you?"
"Good. I cannot guarantee that Roger was not cheating on me, but far as I know I´m clean"
"Good enough for me."
"Good. Take me home and fuck me."
"Good. Fine. Yeah."
"Good." So much for my plans of a slow and careful seduction. But I felt that he was ready. I sure was. We walked home, holding hands, he a little pale.
This was the scariest, most wonderful walk of my life. I tried to plan ahead, drawing on instructions I had read and films I had seen. But I kept getting distracted by the here and now fantasticness of holding her hand, watching her hair dance and feeling that animal smell which was growing stronger all the time. Planning ahead has never been my strong point.
"I want to be under water." she said when I unlocked the house with trembling fingers. She walked into my waterbed room, spread arms and legs and said: "Undress me!"
I was nervous but not unbearably so. I had pushed my limits many times already in my short time with Magda, this was not scarier than meeting her parents, really. I decided to take it slow, I had read that the typical beginner´s mistake is to be in too much of a hurry.
I rubbed myself against her like a cat, all over. This while enjoying her symphony of smells, growing richer all the time. I moved from high to low and back - sniffing her hair, kissing her toes. I stroked her with my good hands and wished I could use both since my right hand reveled in the feel of the fabric electrified by her flesh beneath. I undid a button, proud to manage that with one hand without a fumble. Another button.
I dared to explore her buttocks, the firm muscle hardness but softness. The colors were too many and diverse to name, the music slow but majestic, like Mozart´s Requiem but without the sadness. I kissed her neck, throat, shoulder, belly. I nibbled a little. My hand ventured beneath her shirt and I felt her smooth warm very living skin of her beautiful back. She was breathing more rapidly, which encouraged me to tog at the shirt, off you go and it was off, I guess Magda helped.
Oh, the beautiful skin of her beautiful stomach. I kissed her, sniffed her navel, stroked her back. Magda took my hand and put it on her breast and it, too, was gloriously alive through the thin cotton black bra. I realized my dick was painfully stiff and tried to rip right through my trousers. Well, he just would have to wait.
I was busy burying my face in her tits, gradually removing her bra with my nose, when Magda apparently was done with taking it slow. She quickly got rid of her trousers and pants, then my trousers and pants. She turned round and bent over. "Fuck me right fucking now!" she said.
I had a fleeting thought that maybe we should move to the hard room, but then my freed dick took over and buried itself in her. I could manage this position with one hand and I let go of all caution and let rip. I even slapped her a few times, like in the films. She seemed to like it and then she smelled even better and screamed. I realized she had an orgasm and now it would be ok for me to come too without being premature.
I felt proud and happy and wild and pumped away. It felt better than anything ever, raw and primitive and tender at the same time. Finally I came with a roar (which I suppose was too much for my sore throat, but fuck that) and she came with me and we collapsed on the water bed. I lay there, stroking her, realizing that I just died. Peter the weird freak is dead. Peter who fantastic girls want to make love to is born. And he could hope for just about anything.
May 10, 2018 in romance