He sketched and she just sat by the window. She sipped on lukewarm coffee, her head turned to the rainy world outside but not really seeing any of it.
He never wore the perfume she’d given him, she mused. Not after their first night together. She had actually never seen it anywhere in his tiny studio in all the times she had come over, she had to wonder if he somehow knew the reason behind the gift. What a waste, it had cost more than she could normally afford.
He didn’t smoke often, either. In fact, she only saw him smoking after he received calls from a person she didn’t know. He’d listen to the call and give monosyllabic answers to the mysterious person and then go to the balcony and smoke while staring up at the midnight sky.
She didn’t ask. He didn’t tell. He always smiled at her when he came back inside and she always told him to close the glass door because cold wind was blowing in. He always did as she asked.
He didn’t smell like cigarettes. He didn’t smell like cologne or sex or anything that could be easily identified. It was a scent that reminded her of stale air and mothballs, and she hated it.
He smelled like returning from a long trip; like clothes that had been forgotten in the back of a closet for a while. He smelled like “whoa, I’ve been away all this time and now I’m finally in my dusty, cozy, semi-abandoned home” and “I can’t believe I still have this shirt, I remember I loved it so much and I wonder if it’ll fit after I wash it”.
She hated it because it was familiar and distant; because it was pleasant to think of a home. She hated it because he didn’t smell like smoke and she couldn’t see anything but achromatic shades.
Gray clouds looming above the sad, dark city. Silver droplets on the glass. Wet concrete. A memory of a laugh in another cold, monochrome, and much happier day; of a touch in the colorless hours of dawn; and yet another of that whispered name that hadn’t been hers.
She tried to get up – her coffee was cold now and she couldn’t breathe – but his voice stopped her.
“Don’t move,” he said “You’re my muse”.
She didn’t say anything, but she hoped his graphite-covered hands could make her grayness look better on untainted white paper than it did in real life.
Reality 34 – Shades of Grey