Anna didn't look forward to watching John eat his soggy cereal for breakfast. His chomping grossed her out. And then, in the evening, he would sit her down again in front of another dull film about a bunch of young friends throwing a ball at the beach and arguing about their technique. What she hated most about John was that he adored stories that were about nothing in particular and had no point. His own were like that.
He once pointed out how intently she looked at the mirror as she brushed her hair, almost as if there was an alter ego on the other side, a twin sister that she couldn't wait to meet. Apparently, she loved her twin sister so much that she loved to gaze at her with loving eyes even at other people's houses. Anna couldn't exactly tell what he meant, it was all so silly, but it offended her deeply. And he was full of stories like that. Stories that inspired her to go out and meet other men in the hope that he would leave her.
Flowers were set down on the table, and she danced around them in a ceremony that she recently inaugurated. Hands raised from her hips and glued together like a row of toy soldiers leaning on each other before preparing to run off into different directions. Then hands unglued and tapping at the hip again, all the while the legs hopped with a burst of energy like thick jets of water gushing out of a river.
Yes, that's it, there we go. She stopped, and sat down, looking at the flowers, whose bright green stems needed to be stroked before they were watered, just to make sure they would capture the energy from her hands and let it travel upwards to those quivering yellow petals that would too dance and hop.
John was in the kitchen watching her through a thick glass door that diluted her tanned skin with a vaporous white, giving it a creamy allure. It was their anniversary, and he felt that it was his turn to water the flowers. She heard the door squeaking; his steps made a series of thuds, each one of them quieter than the next. The last one stopped right behind her. Anna wanted to turn around and look at him. She felt that her eyes would emit invisible rays that would burn through his skin and leave behind red welts. He would scream out in pain, and retreat, leaving her alone.
He had a rough touch; whenever he had placed his stone-heavy hands on her shoulders, she crumbled under the weight. Her breath disappeared inwards, trapped in her chest. She made it clear to him that he had to leave her; that they couldn't be together anymore. If he stayed, those magnificent yellow petals, resplendent in the way they fluttered on a windy day like feathers contorting their fluff into curved shapes, those yellow feathers would droop and then lethargically gravitate to the floor defiled by his paws.
But then she felt something tickling her hair. It was a stream of water that crawled into her hair like slimy double-headed worms. Should she slap him? Wrest the watering can away from him? But she just sat there. Her eyes were closed. She allowed the silky liquid to nourish her scalp. And all the while, she pondered, "How can he still tolerate me? I cheated on him, and not only once."
Her new love, Tom, was a dancer; he discovered that special place between her earlobe and cheek that made her hands tingle with that sensation of having touched something slightly hot, not so hot that you would recoil in shock, but hot enough that you still felt a little piquant burn that would reverberate all over your body, even making the toes jump up.
And it was he who bought her those new flowers and introduced her to that ritual dance. How did he know all that? What was his secret? And why, oh why, couldn't John move her like that? This burly, taciturn man showered her with presents, but his white roses were never right, and he stepped on her toes while they danced, murmuring an apology under his breath.
But when she dove into the depths of a glimmering blue sea at night, she bumped into his body as she floated. Yes her hands dug into his chest, and she held onto it while blowing bubbles that scared away a school of fish.They scurried away, their spinning purple tails inducing a slight nausea that drove her to reach out for his hands until he pulled her up to the surface without saying a word. That's when she would usually wake up. And then, she would look forward to watching John eat his soggy cereal for breakfast.