Note: 8700 words into this, whatever it is. The words are coming slower but they are still coming. Something interesting is about to happen. I am wondering what that is.
Lana led the way through the crowded apartment, pushing piles of clothes and other detritus with her feet as she clutched her towel around her. “Just ignore the mess,” she said, reaching down for a pile of bras on the floor.
And it was true. Lana’s apartment was a riot of things out of place. Half forgotten projects. Unfinished meals.
Sebastian didn’t mind. The chaos was Lana’s life. It was beautiful just as she was beautiful.
“I wasn’t really expecting to have company,” she explained. And then, “Why are you here?”
Lana reddened. It wasn’t the thing she had meant to say or, at least, it wasn’t the way she had meant to say it.
“I came to be with you. I came from very far away. But I am ready now. I can stay.”
Lana flushed more. “Bad timing,” she said, and then, looking up at the clock, “Oh geez. I’ve got to get to work. I’m going to be late. I can’t be late again. You understand. I can’t stay and catch up right now. I’ve got to get going.”
“I understand,” Sebastian told her.
This next thing she considered for a moment before saying, “You can stay here. Wait for me. If you want. Maybe I can come home during lunch. Or we can order in some dinner and talk.”
“I will like all those things,” Sebastian told her.
Lana paused in the hallway, studying him. A strange smile on her face. And then, an awkward kiss on his cheek. And she was returning to the bedroom to put on her clothes, finish drying off.
Sebastian waited in the living room. Unsure whether to sit or stand. He stood where she had left him. This was not the reunion he had imagined but it was better than anything he could have imagined because it was real and there was sweetness in the knowing that they were, at last, standing together in the same place.
“Help yourself to whatever you want,” she told him, now dressed smartly in a professional slacks and jacket. “Make yourself at home. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
And again she kissed him. This time on the mouth though it was a sideways kind of kiss that nearly missed his mouth.
“Back for lunch. Or, if not, definitely dinner. Sorry.” And she was gone leaving Sebastian to unravel the ten thousand mysteries of a morning and afternoon spent entirely to himself.
The waiting was awful. The cold, interminable stasis of a long afternoon. He had not calculated for this. He had not expected the cool trench of reality that was her morning. There was no time. He had arrived, touched her briefly and how quickly Lana had flown away. Not to worry, he told himself. This was not a matter for concern. It was the mechanics of life. The machinery of disappointment and frustration. He was here. She was there. Soon, they would be together. He told himself not to count the minutes. That would not help anyone. And so he walked around the room, acquainting himself to a space where he did not really belong. Sebastian picked up objects, considered them, put them back into their place. It was a kind of inventory he was doing, a way of taking the measure of how her life had been without him. The objects were unfamiliar, foreign to him. He took stock, careful treating each with the measured respect of a scholar. Or the full hearted reverence of a poet. They were artefacts from another life. He was on a archaeological dig, piecing together the mystery of Lana in absentia. And it was easily done, picking up each object in turn, seeing it from every angle, placing it back into the place where it belonged. Feeling as he placed it back that he understood a little bit better.
And so the day passed, not quickly, but in a productive state of taking accurate measure. And he waited as patiently as he could while the daylight traveled through the room, ray of sunshine cutting the air. It was a long arm of light reaching out to him from home. It would not touch him where he stood. He would not move toward it. He felt the loneliest he had ever felt.
“Oh, hi.” Lana’s greeting when she returned home as if both a bit surprised and confused that Sebastian had actually waited. “Sorry,” she told him and kissed his face.
Sebastian took her brief case and coat. “How was your day?” he asked and then waited with the patience of a loyal dog because he really, truly, desperately wanted to know.
“Ok, I guess. I didn’t get fired or anything. I mean, I made it to work and got my stuff done. My boss liked some of it, I think.”
Sebastian knew he was staring at her too long but seemed unable to stop himself.
“Good,” he said.
“How was your’s? Find anything interesting?”she asked, guesturing around the room. “You cleaned up.”
Sebastian nodded. “I didn’t mean to. I just got curious and thought I could help by putting things into places.”
“Sure. Okay. Yeah. Thanks.”
And a long awkward moment that Sebastian wanted to be filled with kisses but as he leaned in toward Lana, she turned her face. “Let me get changed out of these work clothes. I hate carrying the day into my house. Feel like I’ve got the day’s dust on me. Be right back.”
And Sebastian liked the way she scampered to her bedroom like a small, frisky woodland creature. Such grace and beauty.
She closed the door. Sebastian admired her modesty.
Lana was gone only a few minutes but Sebastian felt each like a stitch through his heart.
The day had passed. Daylight was gone and the city outside was lit by artificial light. In his hundreds of years among humans, Sebastian most loved cities and the clever ways they pushed against the needless limits of nature. Conjuring light and sound where nature would have none. It was a wonder of innovation and creativity. Being in the city, Sebastian felt most like Lana, as if there was very little difference between them. Sebastian felt human.