all great changes
are preceded by chaos
Stuffy air, heat spreading and attacking my body, a buzzing sound waking me up from a shallow sleep, my tongue permanently glued to the inside of my mouth. I lay on my stomach, feeling the rough covers under my skin, and a heavy moan escapes my throat. I hear someone breathing next to me and then a raspy laugh. My eyelids flutter and someone’s hand smacks me lightly against my bottom. I turn to my side and stare shocked at the man lying next to me. He’s relaxed and still smiling, apparently having the time of his life.
Who are you?
My voice is weak, and my mouth feels like a desert area.
Someone very close to you. Well, as much as two people can be after 18 hours, joined in the holy matrimony.
What? No, no, no... I don’t even know you.
Oh, but you do. See?
He moves his hand up and shows off a wedding band. Then he takes my hand and turns it around, so I can see a similar ring on my left hand.
What is going on around here?
I’m trying to process what I just heard from him, but my mind doesn’t seem to work right, unable to focus on any information.
Without getting into details, it’s quite simple love. Since last night things had changed dramatically and now you got a husband, and I’ve got myself a green card... or will have it soon. Just a matter of time and some paperwork. Everyone is happy, life is good, so just enjoy it.
He stares at me and his smile turns darker.
And don’t worry, we all behaved. The covers didn’t’ fly and the earth didn’t shake. You are just not a very big fan of clothes, then again, neither am I.
My eyes follow him as he casually gets up and disappears into the bathroom, the sound of water filling the remaining silence. His words ring loudly in my head, yet I don’t flinch, don’t run away. I just stare in surprise at the now closed door. Who the hell was this man? I know I should be panicking after waking up to a complete stranger that claims to be my husband, but all I can do is lay on this bed and feel confused. I sit up and cover my naked chest, feeling that I still have underwear on - well, at least that, I think as my eyes scan the surroundings. It’s definitely a motel, a cheap room fit for lost and deprived souls. The window is closed, and the humidity is unbearable, I yearn for a cold shower and a glass of ice water, almost seeing little drops slipping down the glass; the image so powerful that it makes my throat tighten. I start to cough, and the feeling of nausea hits me with force.
How much did we drink?
My voice seems barely audible, but he manages to hear me anyway since it’s the only sound in the room. I hear light footsteps in the thick carpet that covers the floor. I stare at his bare chest and a towel that doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination, yet it doesn’t seem to have much effect on me. The feeling of curiosity and confusion still the most dominant part, he notices my neutral reaction and gives me a funny look.
Well, y o u were definitely drinking. I just tagged along and had some fun as well.
My gaze lingers on him. He could have been right, lately, it has become a habit of mine, and I was wondering if I should start looking for help because the problem was there without any doubt. I sit up, cross my legs like a three-year-old in a nursery, and stare at him. Right now, I had bigger issues to look into; a husband for starters. I ask another question while still waiting for the fear of the unknown and the consequences of last night decisions, but nothing comes.
I put more pressure on my words.
Enough to wake up in Mexico with a wedding band on your pretty little finger.
He takes something from the nightstand and throws it on the bed. I pick it up and look at all the red lines marking names and numbers. It’s a map. I unfold it and see that someone drew a circle repeatedly over one place. Mexico.
Sweat runs down my back and between my breasts, as I still wait for the normal reactions I should have in this situation. Nothing. I imagine myself grabbing clothes from the floor and running away without ever looking back. Then I see myself screaming at him, punching him, and calling the police. In my head, I see him hit me, or throw me on the bed and silence me in so many ways; yet I do nothing.
As said, you weren’t the only one drinking, and it seems that we both got a taste for tequila and a strange sentiment for the desert scenery. It was meant to be, my darling, so take it how you want it. Call it a wild adventure or practicality, but here we are.
I need a shower.
I stand up on shaky legs and head for the bathroom, wrapped around in bad quality sheets.
Afraid I have the only remaining towel in these royal chambers.
The doors of the bathroom shut behind me and I grumble.
I’ll make do.
The only available option in this hell-hole was cold water but I take it with gratitude. Letting it flow over me until my brain starts to work properly. My eyes close as I try to remember the last night. The one thing that I was sure about, was that I had too much alcohol, and probably didn’t need that much reason to drink in the first place. Walking past a bar was a good enough reason as any other. I move my face to the shower head and against my better judgment, open my mouth and drink. Relief overtakes me as the water goes past my dried throat and lends in my stomach. I can almost imagine it filling my bones and all my nerves, hydrating every single cell in my body. I turn off the water and despite any logic; smile.
The funny thing was I didn’t even have a hangover, the thirst was more due to the excruciating heat than the liquor still moving in my veins. I step out and gaze into a small dirty mirror, looking closely at myself. Everything seemed fine from the first glance, nothing to prove that something really bad had happened to me. I put my underwear back on and cover myself loosely with the sheets; as I walk out my eyes move to him automatically. He is laying on the bed and watching the news. He’s wearing green shorts and a white t-shirt. I watch as he turns his head and looks up at me. Those eyes, they grab my attention instantly. The white t-shirt bringing out the deep blue in them, his face slightly crinkling up when he smiles at me. His thick, dark hair still wet from the shower. I finally feel the accelerated heartbeat that I was waiting for all this time.
Come on, sit down. I won’t bite; didn’t last night might not do it now as well.
I sit next to him and try to read something from his face. His smile widens.
I don’t think we have been properly introduced, not this time around anyway. I’m Kostas Callas.
He outstretches his hand and I take it; his skin is warm and the grip firm. I feel the sheets slipping, so I grab them with my other hand.
I’m Emily... wait, Callas now?
I ask just realizing the fact.
Yes, you were gracious enough to accept my last name, and I thank you for that. It’s good to know that some things stay the same in this crazy modern world.
This is insane.
I state simply and lean a bit closer to him without even noticing. He smells of something sweet and rich; I can’t place the smell, but it doesn’t matter.
Life is insane, so we are just following its rules here.
My eyes take in the room again and I frown.
Do you know where my clothes are?
I think for this weather your underwear will suffice.
As am I... they are probably under the bed, but some should still be in the hallway.
Yes, I think you aren’t a fan of heat waves and decided to start to get undressed still on your way. Don’t worry, the only things that you took off were your pants and your dignity.
Just the pants?
That’s the only thing that I ask as my life hasn’t been too perfect lately; a drinking problem causing the moral levels to drop. Then again, it was likely just me making a fool out of myself, nothing more. This was the first time that I brought a man with me and not just a big bill from the bar.
Is that all you want to know about your new husband?
Probably not, just let me find some clothes first, as I seem to still experience some leftovers of my dignity.
Thought so, that’s why I bought you this.
He reaches into some bag and hands me a simple, blue summer dress. I look at it and suddenly feel embarrassed, though I can’t exactly explain why.
You bought this for me?
I decided that my wife deserves something new.
My fingers trace against the delicate fabric and eyes tear up. This was ridiculous. You wake up next to a man that you never laid eyes on and that you are now married to... and this is what breaks you? A stupid dress? I ponder this while still touching the material when I feel his hand on mine.
Is something wrong? Because this is only temporary, and you will regain your freedom in just six months. I also assure you that the money will be transferred to your account, just not all at once. But you have my word for it, I always keep my promises.
I stare at him and feel that he means all of those words and that somehow, he is worth the trust. I put my other hand on his and ignore the slipping sheets. It’s not like he didn’t see it all last night.
I know, but my reaction, it’s... it’s just been a while since someone cared enough to do anything nice for me. I have been going through a rough patch and eventually managed to isolate everyone with the way I was acting. My family, my friends. And now here you are, making this simple gesture, something that I desperately needed and didn’t’ even realize it. You must think I’m crazy, but then again you already knew that when you chose me for your temporary wife.
I chose you because I knew you would be the right person for me. I felt like I could trust you. Don’t ask me how or why. Let’s just make best of this while it lasts.
My hand slips out of his. I get up and I slowly put on the dress, not saying anything or feeling ashamed. Just turning around and letting him zip it up.
You do realize that there is still so much to discuss before anything even starts to resemble normality?
Yes, but we have the time, six months should do just fine.
We step out of the room, passing the dark hallway and stepping out into the scorching sun. So much still had to be said, yet all this craziness didn’t stop me in my tracks, it made me wake up and start to run. Catching up with my life. Kostas being there by my side, carefully bringing us both back from the place that neither wanted to be, hopefully leaving the past behind.
And as the months passed, I learned more about him and decided to stay with him. Even if we met in the strangest circumstances and this marriage had absolutely no reason to work, it somehow did. I don’t know how to explain it, but my messy existence fell into place with him by my side. He was what I wanted.
A steady fire burning in my veins...*
*Kostas / Steady; stable.