The Act of Intimacy

We finished the last sip of soup and looked at each other. There were leftovers of it on the corners of his lips. It looked funny, although we were on the edge of starting an important conversation. That's why we came here. It was winter, so soup was a way we could make this less discomforting. I didn't say anything about the soup on his face, nor did I laugh. It was my secret - the key to not being dragged into the deep and depressing conversation we were about to start.

I didn’t know how long it would last, so I realized I needed a backup plan if it stopped working. I went to the toilet to think about it. It was a big, dark brown door; I expected it to be heavy. I pushed as hard as I could, and it immediately slammed against the left wall, then swung back towards me. I promptly stopped it with both hands, holding steady in front of my chest. After a few minutes, I realized I was still holding the door and my heart was beating fast.

I stepped in; all the toilets were empty except for the one in the corner. I occupied the one next to it, hoping to talk to the person minding her business there. Maybe she had been there for a long time for the same reason - waiting for someone to come and talk, anonymously, of course. That’s the whole point. I tried to make some noise with heavy steps. It wasn't simple; I was wearing sneakers and had to drag my feet against the floor, then close the door roughly to announce my presence.

After a few seconds, it was still quiet, so I wasn’t sure if my efforts had worked. I decided to scratch the thin, cardboard-like wall between us with my nails. It was a slow movement, as if following a twisted road leading towards her. I wasn’t in a rush, and neither was she. I waited for some sign from her before saying anything. Words have more power, certainly in this case.

She flushed the toilet, and I felt immediate excitement and alertness. I didn’t take it as a gesture directed towards me, but at least I knew she was there. I tried to speak. Nothing came out, just a low, fluttering mumble. She laughed quietly and quickly. This was certainly our first interaction. My heart started beating fast again, and I lost all my thoughts on what to say or do. I was sitting there, on the lid of the toilet, fully dressed, with no intention of using it. My legs were restlessly shaking, I felt heat in my body and face, and my palms were sweaty.

I knew she was waiting for me to say whatever she’d been waiting for all this time. Maybe it was too soon? Maybe I shouldn’t have fought back against the door trying to stop me from entering this space.

I leaned down to look at her feet. She was wearing black leather boots, her feet touching each other. When was the last time they moved together? I tried to speak again, but this time, not even a mumble came out. My voice was completely gone, as if I’d never had it. I wanted to touch her without scaring her. I stood up and faced the thin wall between us, putting the tips of my feet on her side, signaling that I was watching her. I touched the wall, hoping the heat of my palm would pass through so she could feel it. I felt nothing but my palms getting cold.

I heard the flick of a lighter, and then the smell of cigarettes filled the air. I heard her stand up; she put her feet against mine. It scared me, and I withdrew my hands from the wall but tried to keep my feet steady. My whole body started shaking. I hoped she couldn’t see that in my feet. The smell of smoke intensified as if I was the one smoking. I looked up and saw her hand holding a lit cigarette, pointing towards me. My hands were extremely shaky, and I wasn’t sure if I could hold the cigarette without dropping it. I knew if I did, it would be the end of everything between us. This thought made me even more nervous. I could feel a lump in my throat, and my eyes started tearing up. The longer I waited, the bigger and harder the lump grew. It filled my throat, and I burst into tears.

She was still holding the cigarette. I knew this was everything I had been looking for, but taking it meant never going back. Maybe I should have never entered this place. Maybe this is my life, and everything else was a distraction to avoid this. I was crying quietly. I knew I could never leave this place, and she was not going to either.