I light a cigarette. I'm standing on my balcony in my rainbow-striped strappy top, light, turquoise cotton shorts and huge fluffy purple Grosby slippers. It's almost seven on a Friday morning in the middle of October. The cool, lemony air sits on my shoulders and a smooth breeze carrying a fresh minty scent runs its long, pale fingers through my chestnut hair which hangs freely.
I look across the series of bushes which seperates my property from next door's. Mr Turner is watering that same damn weedy tree that he is always watering. Talk about wasting water. Sure, he uses a hand-held hose, but does a spindly little tree such as that really deserve water twenty-four seven? I could be having a minute longer shower in the morning with that h2o. And at least I grow with my water. That so-called tree seems to be stunted. At least I do my bit for the community: cutting down my shower time, frowning at water-wasters. But now that I think about it...that extra minute of hot running water all over my skin has made me crazy. Maybe later on I'll go down and see Mr Turner and ask him politely to...no, that wouldn't work. Perhaps the shock approach would be more effective.
"Oh Mr Turner, I've read that you shouldn't water plants so much. Here, look, you're absolutely drowning it. Poor thing. I'd stop right away. Give it a bit of time to dehydrate."
I look like a nice, sensible, believeable girl. Why wouldn't he think I'd been studying gardening in my spare time or something? It's possible.
I sigh and focus my eyes back on Mr Turner again. Oh God...he's glaring at me. Maybe he heard my thoughts, my evil plots against him. I scoff. More likely he's just worried about his poor baby's pores from the awful, contaminating smoke I'm breathing out onto the air. But it's kind of freaky. His porridge-grey eyes bore into me. Old people scare me occassionally. People of my generation think they don't know anything, but really, they probably know everything.
I shudder and turn away. Taking a long drag on my cigarette, I close my eyes, feeling the sifting breeze vibrating past my skin.
I open my eyes, startled.
"Yeah?" I yell back, looking around me to see who I am answering.
"Down here, purple slippers!"
It's a guy's voice, alive with hidden laughter and early morning freshness.
I laugh and look directly downwards, to the unkempt layer of grass beneath my balcony.
It's a guy alright. A guy with a knife.
I gasp and feel a silky sweat breaking out all over my body. My heart jerks rapidly in my chest, threatening to explode. I feel as though all of my body's reactions are working in fast-motion. Everything whirls in the mockingly calm morning light.
"What are you waiting for? Come down here!"
"Are you kidding?" I manage to choke out.
I look around me wildly. I could run back into my bedroom and hide under the covers, but I would feel unbearably vulnerable. I could never just lie down and wait for a storm to pass over.
"Juliet! Let me in!"
I frown in confusion. He looks like a nice guy. His voice sounds like the voice of a nice guy. Hell, even that knife looks kind of nice.
I turn from the balcony and saunter down the stairs, my hand on the rail. Calm waves of cold, soothing strokes slide down me, inside and out. My heart is coaxed back into a relaxed rhythm and my skin regains its contented, sun-kissed look. I glide across the creamy carpet and open the door to the level of reality.
He stands there, clashing beautifully with the serene pastel tones of the morning. His skin is a fleshy ochre which reveals pink mechanisms working beneath it. Under his eyes are soft feather strokes of charcoal and his eyes themselves are intense, meaty balls of sea-spray and coffee dregs. His hair is a deep, deep burnt chestnut and he has intriguing sprouts of hair on his chin, on top of his lip and along the sides of his face. His lips are thin and somehow a natural shade of mauve. I can see the fine lines stroked along them. He is wearing a black t-shirt and loose jeans. And he is absolutely drenched.
I nodd slowly, still adjusting to this confidently carved figure on my doorstep. His outline stands out boldly in the weak light. He is still dripping. So his his knife. Droplets of water slide off the glinting, silvery blade of it.
He sees me staring at it and whips it up to our eye level. It slashes through the air in an arc as his bulging arms lift it in a flash.
Instinctively I draw in a sharp breath and take a step backwards. He laughs.
"You don't have to be afraid," he says softly.
Although I first heard his voice as a shout, the hidden laughter and early morning freshness that thrived are still present, even when he speaks to me in barely more than a whisper.
"Give that to me," he says, a smile playing on his lips.
He reaches for my fingers while never breaking our ardent eye contact. Then I feel him sliding the cigarette out from between my index and middle fingers. I'd forgotten I hadn't finished it.
He stabs it on his t-shirt and it sizzles out from the wetness.
His eyes flicker all over my body in one swift movement. I concentrate my eyes on the knife which is still being held steadily in front of our faces. I see him look at it lovingly.
All of a sudden it's against my neck, the cold, wet flat surface pressed hard against my throat. He smiles kindly at me, and his eyes are suddenly pricked, overflowing with salty-sweet emotion that I can taste. I smile back at him.
Our mouths melt together and he holds the knife between us. I feel its unforgiving metal rammed against my voicebox. I wouldn't be surprised if I can no longer talk when we break apart. I entwine my fingers in his, my hot, dry skin thirsty for his cold, dripping skin. It sucks it up with eager gratefulness.
I can feel his soaked clothes merging with mine and leaving them damp. I can feel the freezing knife against my throat, a constant, steady feeling which protects my vulnerability from unknown horrors. He never removes it, it's always pressed intensely against me so I can never forget. I love the feeling of taking a risk, for I know that any moment he could flick his wrist with smooth ease and the cutting blade will be at my throat.
written: Friday 5th November 2004, 10:43pm.