It was strange that the shower was already running. He’d entered the bathroom only a few minutes ago and the water was already running. He’d gone in wearing a full three piece suit. He didn’t turn the tap on in advance. Not when he was wearing a three piece suit. There were too many layers to be discarded first.
She gingerly stepped up to the door and pressed her ear against the smooth wood. She could only hear water falling onto the tile, violently making contact with the floor. Too violent; too weighty. She softly rapped on the door with her knuckles and said in a curious voice “Adi?”
No response came, so she turned the metal knob and gently pushed open the door. She was greeted with a familiar cloud of steam and heat, and she made her way forward before rounding the corner to access the shower.
He stood before her fully clothed, beneath the steady spray of water. He had one hand up against the wall of the shower, leaning against it with his head down. Drops of water were rolling off the tips of his hair and plunging down to the floor. Small streams were traveling down the back of his neck and snaking their way into his clothing. His suit clung heavily to his bent over figure.
As she neared him, she could see his eyes were closed and his lips were moving fast, whispering something she could not hear.
She continued to move toward him, taking delicate steps. The nylons covering her feet instantly drank up the water as she stepped into the shower beside him. She reached out and put a comforting hand on his fabric laden arm, saying again “Adi?”
His eyes opened and he jerked his head to look over at her, drops flinging themselves off the locks of his hair and colliding with her face. His eyes were wide, the tiny pupils rapidly darting back and forth as he desperately attempted to make sense of what was buzzing crazily within his mind. She stepped into him and assuredly moved her hands to his face. She saw his body go rigid and out of the corner of her eye noticed his fingers on the wall curl in tension.
“Adi, what’s wrong?” she said, steady. She held onto his gaze.
“Something’s about to go wrong,” he murmured hoarsely, his words flying. “Something is about to go very wrong, very wrong.”
“What will go wrong?”
“Something will go wrong.”
“It cannot go wrong,“ he continued, unaware of her words. “I cannot be wrong, I will not be wrong, I am not wrong.”
“You’re not making sense.”
“I’m not wrong,” he whispered.
“You’re not wrong, sweetheart. I know,” she assured him, stroking his face.
“I will win.”
She realized what was happening. “You will win,” she nodded. “Don’t let some silly superstition tell you otherwise.”
The outcome of the ritual had been festering within his mind all night. This is what became of her love when he was left to explore his own worries for too long. He had been silently nurturing them. She shouldn’t have allowed him to sit alone in front of the fireplace for the rest of the party.
“I will win.”
“I have to win.”
“You will win.”
Then he grabbed her face and pulled her to him, kissing her so fiercely their teeth met. His lips were rough and panicked, and his fingers too stiff to put her at ease. His fear, his doubt, was spilling into her and it was stirring up her own confidence. She didn’t like this. He was scaring her. He was standing before her, touching her, kissing her; and she was terrified because it felt like he was slipping away. It felt like he was saying goodbye.
She wasn’t sure if she was crying. He had tilted her head up towards the water and she wasn’t sure if it was tears or only the shower stream that was descending down her cheeks. Her knees began to go numb and she stumbled. He responded by securely wrapping one arm around her body, holding her up against him. His other hand moved into her tangled hair and hers did the same. She gripped onto his fixed locks and she knew she was probably pulling painfully at his scalp but he gave it no regard.
“Adi, what’s happening?” she gasped when he buried his face into her neck. Her heart was beating hard, jumping around in her rib cage like a wild bull.
“I have to win,” he repeated deep into her skin. She could feel the subtle vibration within his chest as he spoke. “I have to win.”
She opened her mouth to respond but he quickly continued on after a beat.
“I cannot lose—I cannot lose.”
“Adi!” she cried.
“I cannot lose.”
And the statement was caught in the air. They were breathing heavily, their chests inflating then deflating in synchronization. Their grips had not faltered, remaining solid in their hold on one another. They stood unmoving together, the water passively running down their clothed bodies and pooling at their feet before disappearing into the drain like the rest of the world.
The word had gone unsaid but neither of their ears required a voice to detect, recognize, and acknowledge it. It was there and they both knew it.
This was how he communicated his love to her.
She hugged him as tight to her as her strong arms, toned from years of rigorous athletics, would allow. She heard him make a low sound that suggested she was holding him too tight and she knew not to let up. She maintained her hold.
This was how she communicated she understood.
Into his ear she whispered “I can’t lose you either.”
© 2015 Elizabeth Klarke
I had this idea. So I wrote it.