Chan drew the covers to her shoulders even before her eyelids cared to open. They were heavy, and so were her limbs on him, and his on hers.
Spring chill sets in the early hours of the morning in Hobart. She should have worn her PJs but as the night before dictated she had shed her skin and crept close to the man who made her tingle all over.
For a full minute, Chan wondered where she was. Home in Malaysia, that pokey flat in the heat and humidity with a man she thought she’d spend the end of her days with, but how wrong was she? Or at a hotel room in Barcelona with a fellow tourist she happened to share a seat with on the bus touring around the grand cathedrals? He was heavily moustached and she wished he’d trim it but she was drenched with red wine and soon that the rough tickle didn’t matter.
I’m in Tasmania, her mind whispered. And who’s this next to me?
He turned around, slight yawn, shifted his warm shoulders and arms, then his body, to face her.
Hello my love, he said as his eyes opened.
Hello, she said.
His eyes… the way they were shaped, the way they gazed into hers… it all reminded her of a vision she’d had, or was it just a dream? In the water, getting so wet and heavy as she drifted from the boat—why did she have the backpack on?
Chan was sure she was in the sea, sensing the swirl, but now, she wasn’t too sure. The whale in her dream. That fine beast, oh. One that frightened her yet thrilled.
She rode that humpback regretting the thick jeans that came between the soft skin of her thighs and the coarse skin of the beast. Now, her hips shifted closer to his as she snuggled up to get warm.
Damn Tasmanian climate. Too cold, too soon. Winter’s fingers lingered.
Now he gasped.
Her breasts slapped soft against his flat chest. He never knew pleasure like he felt with her, and at that moment too. Thirty days into knowing her had been like finning through unfamiliar seas and with swift currents, past kelps, coral, rock, magma, volcanoes (yes, under the sea)… past the deepest blue that made his mind go numb. What’s the point of living, he often asked himself.
She made him see who he was before he had lost it, and had to spend time away in foreign lands, foreign religion, strange but soothing chants to keep himself afloat. All fifty years combined have come to nothing; another dreary day at work, by night hitting the same old worn tune—someone else’s love song.
Dry, brittle, sick. Pointless. But there were the sticks, the rhythm, the songs that still had to be played.
What drudgery, how mundane. How soulless.
What happened next? Read the rest of this short story when She Never Looks Quite Back by Mallika Naguran is out.