COOL, CALM, AND COLLECTED
Toast; sausages; freshly-brewed coffee. Those are the scents which greet me as I walk into the restaurant. I have already shaved, my bathroom mirror reflecting a can of hairspray, a bottle of perfume. Female toiletries in my suite … a culture shock, really. But I’m becoming familiar with them.
She is already here, sipping from her cup in that elegant way she has, although I wonder if she is as aloof as she tries to make out. There is a coolness about her, always, as though she considers herself too precious to be touched.
She catches my eye and a slight smile is sent my way. I mirror her expression, wondering what she is thinking. I imagine her thoughts to be already in motion: the day’s appointments, the contracts to be signed.
And yet … I know how her skin glows in moonlight; how her fiercely red lipstick tastes. I know what perfume she wears, what size shoes are cupping those graceful feet.
I know her.
I turn to the breakfast bar but I am aware of her still. She drains her cup. She replaces it onto the saucer. She wipes her hands on a pure white napkin and discards it on the table. As usual, she departs without a backward glance.
Her table vacated, I sidle to it with my grapefruit and my Earl Grey. A waiter swoops toward me to clear her debris. There is confusion as my breakfast things mingle with hers. An apology; an acceptance.
I eat my grapefruit slowly. There is no rush now. She will check out today, move to yet another hotel. Once I have dyed my hair, removed my moustache and my spectacles, I will follow. She will not recognise me.
The clatter and hum of breakfast chatter starts to fade as patrons return to their rooms. My meal finished, I am among them, the napkin tucked into my pocket.
Upstairs, I add the napkin to my tally: the lipstick, the hairspray, the perfume.
I wonder … has she missed them yet? Does she blame the maids?
I laugh softly, and begin to pack.
I know her.