This story is about how people meet, and discover and bounce off each other, each on their own way to somewhere in life. Happens a lot when people travel, this kind of thing don’t you think ?
His speed and risk taking had been no bother to other drivers, he really enjoyed life, and loved pushing the limits, almost testing life to see how it might end, even at the end of a working day. There would always be tomorrow to try it again. So gunning the car into the drive, found a park, turned off the radio, got out, slammed the door, opened the back, got laptop, slammed other door, pip-pip’ed the car lock, walked into the hotel portico, through the auto doors, out of the sun, and into the cool of the lobby run.
Tired of thinking. Past desk. Press button. Up elevator. Into room, change clothes, get down to the spa… sit on the edge. How brilliant, how frustrating the second last day, at the office by the bay. Tomorrow at least he would check out and be on his way elsewhere.
The spa was quiet the water was ripply with the sun, in sunset over the fence and the parking lot beyond. The fence now enclosing them in a pool bbq area. She smoked and had a cup by her side. Not dressed for the pool, but like she should have been, with her smile and look and now a question parted her lips in his direction. She had on a nice shirt, shorts, but maybe looking for peace and quiet to chill for the evening. They were doing the same now, sitting on the other side,. her with her bare feet and red toenails waving under the surface of the still warm spa, in shorts and T-shirt, with book, and drink beside. Him, his legs, poking out of silly shorts with business shirt and strange fast social habits, and mobile phone besides.
Clock ticking, heart beating, what do they say ? what do they say ? see-saw marjorie daw.. tick tick tick…boom boom boom … tick tick …
He took a breath, then another one, staring down into the spa pool. After the day had begun and ending, he thought it might be nice to just be quiet and relax a bit, however the presence of another there messed him around and made him tense. His mind constantly on the next task, the next job in life. He ran a race, constantly in motion, against himself. Whenever faced with an opportunity to connect to another, he tried to fit it into his task oriented life… perhaps he might spend half an hour playing with the person on the other end of the see saw in the spa.
Yet there she was, having hoped to say goodbye to the cruel world quietly, goodbye to the silly job she had for thirty years, and goodbye to other things as well. She had come down to the spa pool, in the nearing darkness, having checked into a hotel, far out of the way of others, with a cup of wine, and a smoke, and a determination to just chill.
“What are you reading” He asked
“Oh, just filling in time”. She told him,
“I’m an engineer” He said,
“Me too”, She said,
“Long day” He said,
“Right, and not over yet” She said,
“Wrong, it’s over for me at least” He said,
“Short day really”, She said,
“You look like you are taking it pretty easy ?”, he asked,
“they don’t like me drinking here in the pool area”, she brandished the blue paper coffee cup as if she had fooled them for at least one more evening.
“My name is Fernando”, he said.
“Christine”, she said, “would you like a beverage ?” she asked. She got up, and dried her legs a bit, setting off to the hotel lobby.
It was getting dark and the light was far less when Christine returned, and this time with two paper cups of wine.
The evening wore on, the more Ferdinand talked with Christine, and the darker it got, the light and the conversation both. The darkening and the wine brought with it an edge to the conversation, gradually developing to one of individual fears and tragedy, bad break ups, sadness, stories, and still with the sparring of bare feet together under the water. Christine, about having to stop, and take measure of life, about having a vacation, what is a vacation, why keep working, why not go to the continent, and meet someone handsome to lie around with for a while, and sit in sleepy cafes on the boulevardes of Paris or the vias of Roma. Ferdinand about stuff he had no idea about, feeling more and more out of depth. The conversation was not the usual see-saw, but had become a slippery slide, down into the depths of a soul, down into the tragedy of the other. He did not know how to pull out, how to just lightly say good bye, nice to meet you etc etc, how to say, why not just come up to his room, and have some adult fun perhaps.
It was Christine who decided that enough was enough, there was in her meeting with Ferdinand a kind of tilting in two dimensions at once. On the one hand, she had gone to the pool, to wait for the moment, when she would return to her room, her departure from the world intended, but now she was no longer sure about that.
It was Ferdinand, who woke the next morning, dressed for the day, down the elevator, into the lobby, laptop in hand, and blackberry buzzing, who grabbed a paper, and looked around, to see Christine again, at breakfast….and expecting to see Christine at breakfast, found no trace, although he had dreamt that she had promised to be around.