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Chapter 5 : Bright as the sun
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“Oh shit.... no no no, stop, stop boiling!” I’m terrible at this. Why does macaroni always cook over. The flames sputter when the water hits is. I take the pan of the fire to make the boiling stop. Stupid macaronis. I’m busy getting the bubbles down when a very unnerving smell hits my nostrils.
Oh god, that smells like something is burning.
It’s my sauce! Around the sides of the pan it’s getting black and scaly. That doesn’t look good. I quickly take the other pan off the fire too.
There is no way to get the black stuff out of my sauce, is there? It’s everywhere, it looks hopeless. The sauce is still sizzling and bubbling. Carefully I bring the spatula to my mouth to taste the sauce. It tastes awful, like burned tomato’s. I’ll tell you, that’s not a nice taste. Why did I think this could work?
I hope that at least my macaroni made it out okay. With a little caution I stick a fork in the macaroni pan. It gets stuck into a clump of macaronis, when I pull it out half the macaronis hang on it, sticking together like a bunch of teenage girls. It’s slightly problematic, since I have nothing else to serve.
My sauce just burned! Shit, crap, bugger!
“Oh help me god,” I groan, looking up at the clock. It’s a quarter to seven, which means I barely have time to come up with a rescue plan. I open the fridge and take a look at my remaining food. There is a bottle of ketchup and some onions. I’ve got some cheese left. That might work.
If I can unstuck my macaronis a little and cover them in ketchup, fried unions and cheese, it will make a decent meal, right?
I set up the table; two plates with sticky macaroni covert in ketchup. I place the cheese and the onions on the middle of the table. I put up some long glasses that will do for the wine. I wish I had a candle or something, that would give it a nice look. Maybe Lily still has that one in her handbag.
Just as I put down the cutlery the doorbell rings. I open it to reveal a dashing, hot redhead. I kid you not, she looks amazing tonight! Lily has put her hair up and is wearing a shot, strapless dress under her half opened coat. In one hand she’s got the wine in the other she carries a present, wrapped in golden paper. The overall look simply makes me want to swipe her off her feet and kiss her senseless.
Calm down subconscious, let’s not get carried away. There is a terrible dinner to be served first.
I let her into my flat, feeling a little shy. I know what’s waiting for her on the dinner table and I’m not too proud of it. She looks around shortly, handing me the wine and the present before taking of her coat. Her dress is even more amazing now I can see all of it. It’s dark blue and really fitting, bringing out her shape very nicely.
“Looks like you’ve been busy,” Lily remarks, still looking around my little flat. “Now that it’s clean I can really appreciate your flat.” She winks at me. “I like the painting on the wall, did you make that?” She’s pointing at the large, Chinese dragon that covers most of my living room wall.
“No, that was here when I got in, I liked it so I left it there.” I admit. It is a nice dragon after all. “Do you want to eat first or...?” I don’t really know where I was going with that question. I just point at the table. Lily smiles and sits down. There is this strange awkwardness in the room, or is that just me? I open the bottle of wine she brought, pouring some in both our glasses. It doesn’t look very fancy, but that suits the dinner we’re about to have.
“What do you serve, good sir?” She asks with a light teasing in her voice. I give her a guilty smile.
“I was making macaroni and tomato sauce, the way my mom does. It’s not quite like she makes it though...” I shake my head a little and Lily giggles.
“Put your own spin on it?” She asks, still teasing. I’s think she actually prepared for the worst.
“Well… no. My sauce burned, instead I’ve got ketchup. You can ad onions and cheese if you like.” I point at the two bowls in the middle of the table. Lily picks up the spoon and scoops some cheese on her ketchup.
“Bon appetite.” She says with a grin. I look nervously as she cuts off a lump of macaroni and brings it to her mouth. She chews and swallows, looking up at me with a gleam in her eyes. “Not bad at all!” She exclaims. I relax and take a bite myself.
“You liar!” It doesn’t taste good, it’s horrible. The macaroni is clumped together like some thick kind of porridge. The ketchup is too sweet to make a good tomato sauce. Really, the only thing that is even remotely tasteful is the cheese. Lily grins at me.
“Trust me, I’ve had much worst!” She assures me. Wow thanks. “At least you had the presence of mind to throw out the burned sauce. My brother served his Brussels spouts burned and still half cooked. The fact that they were sprouts was irrelevant by that point. This is a dream dinner compared to that.”
“Thank you, that makes me feel so much better.” I says sarcastically. She just giggles and takes another bite. I take a sip of wine to wash away my dinner. The wine is delicious. Now I feel bad for spoiling it with dinner.
“So, you got me a present? What is it?” I ask impatiently, falling down on the couch after dinner. The golden present is looking at me with a very alluring glint in its eyes (well it would’ve if it had eyes) Lily picks it up and gives it to me. It’s rectangular and feels suspiciously like a book. I eagerly tear off the wrapping paper and come to the conclusion that it is indeed a book. But it’s not just a book, it’s called Guide for basic cooking, volume 1. It shows a boyish guy on the cover, juggling with two pans, a fish and a bottle of wine. It’s a funny image, I wonder if it will teach me how to do that. That is skill right there.
I turn the book over to find something made of fabric stuck to the back. It unfold it and see it’s a purple apron. In green letters it reads across the front: I might not be a top chef, but I look good in an apron. It makes me smile.
“That’s a clever line. Thanks! I like them.” I tell Lily. She’s grinning broadly.
“I think you need a little help with it though. I offer to be your cooking assistant, if you want. So what do you want to do with the rest of our evening?” Lily asks, she puts her feet up on my couch and leans in against me.
“I can think of something,” I say, wiggling my eyebrows at her. I’m extremely conscious of the fact that Lily’s breast is pressing against my upper arm. Somehow that makes my smirk falter and I’m stuttering “Maybe... we could go... to the movies or something?”
But outside a light drizzle is coming from the skies. Neither me nor Lily really wants to leave the comfortable dryness of my living room. We just talk for a bit and at some point we both agree on watching a film on my TV, it might seem boring, but I don’t really care, I have managed to put my arm around Lily’s shoulder, so I’m comfortable. In fact, I’ve never been more comfortable. She thinks it’s a great idea, anyway, and watches with great interest whilst I tell my TV to search for a film suitable for this occasion.
My TV does not react. Of course it doesn’t, I’m not at my parents right now. I have to use ancient technology on this thing, impatiently I pick up the old remote control and start zapping through the available films. I find one that I think suitable, a very cheesy but funny romcom, and sit back on the couch.
“I got us some Firewhiskey, I think you’ll like it.” Lily says. I don’t know what fire whiskey is, but the golden liquid in the bottle she’s holding looks good. Lily pours us both half a glass. The stuff burns my throat a little, living up to its name. It makes me feel a little wobbly, but in a good way.
“And... I got you a cake!” Lily bends down and pulls a small box from her handbag.
Honestly, that bag has to be some kind of magically enlarged place or something. The things she can store in it!
Lily opens the box and I find a tiny birthday cake. The green icing on top spells ‘Happy Birthday for Neil!’. Lily pops a candle straight in the ‘o’ and lights it.
“Happy birthday to you, now you eyebrows are blue, made you wish and you blew, happy birthday to you!” She sings, waving her hands as if directing an orchestra.
I double over laughing at her song. It the craziest thing I’ve ever heard! Really, what!? Holy shippers, I have to learn that song!
“Eyebrows… blue… haha, blew!” I managed to sputter in between peels laughter.
It takes a few minutes calm down and pick myself up from the ground. Every time I look up and see Lily’s solemn face, arms folded over her chest and one eyebrow raised, I crack up again.
“Are you going to blow that candle out or are you waiting for it to set your cake on fire?” Lily says sternly. There’s a hint of laughter in her voice, though, and a smirk is forming on her lips.
I manage to pull myself together and take a deep breath, as I blow out the candle the only wish that come to my mind is to that my time with Lily may last as long as possible. Cheesy huh!
By the time the end credits of the film start rolling over the screen we’ve finished half of Lily’s bottle of fire whiskey. I lean forward to take the remote when a sudden dizziness hits me. This is something new, I normally take alcohol pretty well. The spinning in my head is getting worst and worst. I shake my head to get rid of it but it does not stop. I didn’t drink that much did I?
Maybe I just need a bit of water.
I get up from the couch as slowly as I can but my feet get tangled up, I instantly fall over.
“OW!” With a loud bang my head hits the box under my telly. Shit that hurts. My hand flies up to my head. It’s sticky, why is it sticky?
“Oh my... are you all right?” Lily hurries over to pick me up. I feel my cheeks burn with humiliation. What just happened? God I’m dizzy.
“I’m all right, just a bit dizzy.” I tell her. I try to get up again, but I need her full support to keep me standing. My vision is swimming, a little blurred around the edges. At first the room is swaying, but after a few seconds it stops. That’s much better
“Erm, Neil? Could you hold still?” Lily asks nervously. What is she talking about?
“What? I’m standing very still as it is, thank you very much.” I tell her.
“No, you are swaying like a Jack-in-the-box, really. Oh and your head is bleeding. Shit!” She pushes me down on the couch and starts to walk around really fast. Dazed I feel the spot on my head where I hit the TV-set. It’s pretty sore and sticky. Why is it sticky? Is that blood. I look at my fingers, there is some red smeared on them. I guess I must be bleeding then. My stomach makes a flip, I feel something coming up that should not be coming up like that. Where is the bathroom?
Careful now, don’t fall over again. Hurry, hurry, bathroom!
With a nasty splutter my ruined dinner hits the inside of my toilet. It tastes much worst on the way out. Yuck!
Where am I again. There’s a toilet in front of me, this must be the bathroom. My bathroom? I guess so, that looks like my shower curtain.
I lean against my shower curtain, extremely embarrassed that I just threw up, I mean I only had a few glasses of wine and some of this fire vodka stuff, or what have you. I am better with liquor than that. I am!
Wasn’t Lily around here somewhere, where is she. What happened?
Ow, my head hurts. I put my hand up to my head. It’s sticky. Why is it sticky? Is that blood. Oh geez I’m bleeding.
I’m really confused! Can someone explain why I’m bleeding?
I’m still clinging to the toilet for dear life, she’s a good gall, always that to support me, takes all my shit and never complains. I love my toilet.
Lily has found a tissue, yes she’s still here, she cleans up my bleeding head. Her hand is lingering on my cheek while she wipes it off. I wince, that hurts!
“I’m sorry Neil, I totally forgot...” she lets her hand slide to my neck. “I did not think... it was not really smart of me to bring... It really strong stuff... and for a first time drinker...” she looks into my eyes. I do not get what she is going on about. I still cannot quite get her into focus. Her face is swimming.
“Are you a fish?” she must be with a swimming face, right? “No I know, a mermaid!”
“Right, yes yes, a mermaid,” Lily says patiently, her hand presses painfully against my throbbing head. “I think it’s best to get some water in your system and put you to bed. You might have a concussion from hitting your head.” I think she might be right. I don’t know, I thought she was a fish. My head is still spinning, I’m on a merry-go-round, but it feels like bursting too. Ow, unpleasant, did I hit something?
“No, wait!” Lily suddenly gasps. “Are you supposed to go to sleep with a concussion. I can never remember. Shit, it might be dangerous.”
Don’t ask me, I’m on a merry-go-round, miss mermaid.
Lily helps me up and steers me into my bedroom. I think her theory is to sit me down in my bed or something or other or whatever or… I don’t know.
I’m confused, what happened? Why is y room spinning like that? I just want to unbutton my shirt but my hands don’t know how to, looking down to help them I almost fall over.
Lily looks at me apprehensively, she takes my hands to steady me and sets me down on the bed. Her hands are now slowly unbuttoning my shirt and my trousers too. Oh my, where is this going? I don’t really know, we haven’t even kissed.
“I’m confused,” I say. Might as well tell her how I feel.
Lily shakes her head, her eyes full of worry (I think). “I know, you told me five times now.”
Did I, I thought I only thought those thoughts. I sound like that book that my mom used to read to me.
Lily pulls off my shirt and trousers with caution, she starts to look around for my pyjama’s. I like pyjama’s, but I don’t have them so I tell her. Lily nods and kisses my softly on my cheek.
“Don’t go to sleep yet, I think I have to keep you awake for an hour. Do you mind if I stay over, I want to see if everything is okay. Also I think I’m a bit too drunk to get home on my own. If you’d have had a fireplace I might have managed but... Well anyway, I’m asking my mom about concussions first. Don’t’ go to sleep!”
I don’t really know what she is talking about. It’s quite clear she’s drunk too. That Fiery vodka stuff must be really strong. I just nod, but stop because it hurts, and lie down on my bed, my pillow seems to steady me a little. I feel like I’m on the see, but the waves are carrying me, so I don’t fall. I watch Lily standing beside me, looking around for something.
“Could I, maybe, borrow one of your t-shirts?” She asks, walking to my closet.
“Sure. T-shirt is a strange word.” That’s right I told you t-shirts. “Have I been swimming, I feel like I’ve been swimming, little mermaid.”
“Thanks. And no, you fell over remember” Lily answers. I did, didn’t I? My head hurts, did I hit my head.
Lily picks out a clean shirt and turns back to me. “Could you help me with the zipper of my dress? It’s on my back.” My hands are trembling a little when I take the metal label between my fingers and pull it down. As soon as it is undone I pull away my hands. I really want to touch the pail skin on her back, but this doesn’t seem a good idea at this very moment, I don’t know, mermaids don’t really mingle with humans. Am I drunk. Maybe I am, I had this fire drinky thingy.
Lily turns around again and takes off her dress. She’s now standing there in only her knickers, tights and bra. She’s definitely not a mermaid though, what a relieve! She bends over to take off her tights and dumps them unceremoniously un top of her blue dress. I want to look away, because that’s polite, but I can’t. I feel an embarrassed blush crawl back on my face. I don’t want to get myself too excided right now, I am drunk and I thought I was a fish, not the right moment!
When she realizes I didn’t look away Lily folds her arms across her chest, a very mischievous smile on her face. For a moment I think she’s going to take off more clothes, but she doesn’t. She just looks at me for just a second, then picks up my t-shirt and pulls it over her head, putting her arms through the sleeves, grinning. Now she looks like a child, all small and cute.
She untangles her hair, making it fall around her face. She looks very beautiful, like a tiny little princess, her bare legs sticking out from under my old t-shirt. It’s so big for her she could wear it as a dress. A t-shirt princess.
“May I sleep in your bed or do you want me to take the couch?” she asks, biting her lower lip.
“I don’t let princesses sleep on the couch, that’s bad manners.” I reply, nodding slightly. Not too much though, because my head hurts. I touch my head again, it’s not sticky anymore, but it still hurts.
I fold back my duvet back, making it clear she can stay here. Lily stepped in under the cover and curled up beside me. She pulls my hand away from my face, placing it on my chest, hers on top. That feels nice.
“Stop touching your head or it’ll start bleeding again” she says softly. I’m bleeding?
“I’m really sorry that you fell over. I didn’t think the effect would be so- so fierce. You drank a lot though. But I think it will be better tomorrow.” Her soft murmur in my ear makes me want to reach over and kiss her. But my body is feeling too heavy to move. But I want to, but I can’t. Still want to.
“That’s okay. I had a nice evening, princess. For what I recall. I’m confused.” I murmur back. Lily chuckles softly and puts her head on my shoulder. A sweet scent fills my nostrils, something flowery, or is it vanilla? I feel how my eyelid are getting heavy, the pounding of my head fades, something is poking me, stop that.
“Don’t go to sleep yet!” I hear from very far away, I want to respond. I’ve got a witty answer ready. But I’m so tired, everything fades away so quickly. The world goes black.
Neil is mine, the rest is JK's.
This chapter has had the most changes in the editing process. I love it more now and I hope you enjoyed it!
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