Blue tells me I should come over. He says we’ll just hold each other as long as we need to, nothing more. He says he once drove across two provinces just for a hug. We found each other on a dating site. I’m not as wary as I should be about people on the internet. I google the directions then tell the ex I’m leaving for awhile so he needs to walk the dog. He’s on the phone with his new girlfriend again, so he makes some generic gesture that could either mean “I heard you” or “go away and fuck off.” I’m stuck living with him until I can afford my own place.
I drive to an unfamiliar suburb where the houses all have wide perfect green lawns. I follow the map to a condo community that sports a fake nautical theme, even though it’s fifty miles to the nearest lake. I find the right condo and knock on the door. Blue is pale and gaunt, all angles and edges, different from his online photo. He says that divorce will do that to you. I know that because I’m all angles and edges now too. We sit on the front steps of the condo and nervously pass a cigarette back and forth, careful to avoid touching hands.
We know a lot about each other, but there is an awkwardness between us here in the physical world. We both try to go through the front door at the same time, bumping shoulders. He makes me a cup of peppermint green tea and we sit at a little cluttered kitchen table. He talks very fast and flips over tarot cards, avoiding eye contact. I look around at the spare furnishings left in the condo. Boxes are stacked in the corner, most of the floor is covered in paint speckled plastic sheets. It’s his grandmother’s condo, he had already explained to me, she fell and had to go to a nursing home, so he’s renovating it to sell.
Abruptly he sets the cards down and grabs my hand. His fingers are long and cold. I follow him into the bedroom. I’m not sure if he expects me to undress, so I just stand by the bed and wait to see what he does first. He takes off his shoes, so I take off mine. He takes my glasses off, carefully folds them and sets them on the nightstand. I think he’s going to kiss me, but he doesn’t.
He sits on the side of the bed, looking up at me like an expectant puppy. He leaves all his clothes on, so I do too. I start to shake a little, but I’m not cold. He lays down then pats the pillow next to him. I lay down, he wraps his long arms around me, I tuck my arm under his neck. I’m shaking hard now. Blue strokes my hair, tells me to relax. My teeth chatter, so he pulls a fluffy blue comforter over the both of us. He tells me it’s ok, that we’re ok, that this is ok. He says we’re going to sleep now. I wiggle around until I’m comfortable. He closes his eyes, so I close mine, and we just hold each other, like he said we would. I stop shivering and we sleep, deep and dreamless.
It’s still dark when we wake up. Rain pummels the bedroom window. Blue lights scented candles in the bathroom and turns on the ceiling vent so we can smoke inside. Folding a towel underneath us for a cushion, we sit with our backs against the bathtub. The cigarette smoke curls upwards and the rain makes little chiming sounds against the vent. I rest my head on his shoulder and he tells me a funny story about taking LSD with a girl he once knew in Ontario. We stub out our cigarettes on a yellow porcelain soap dish that he’s been using for an ashtray.
Blue gets up, goes into the kitchen and returns with a striped box of cold fried chicken and slices of lemon cake with thick white swirls of frosting. The couch is already gone, so we smooth out the covers on the bed and sit propped against pillows. He tells me I need to eat, and I do. Everything tastes so good. Blue balances his laptop between us on a pillow so we can watch old Bugs Bunny cartoons on YouTube. My eyes feel grainy, I begin to doze off. Blue turns off the laptop and the lights. We strip to our underwear this time, wrapping together like long limbed children and sleep again, this time until the sun is high in the afternoon sky.