The sky was getting darker. I sat on my bed next to a sleeping Jake, hugged my knees to my chest, and watched the clouds turn pink and gold.
He opened his eyes and looked at me, then sat up a little, resting his head on the absurdly-large collection of pillows on the bed. “I don’t want to waste my brief time with you sleeping,” he said and rubbed his shoulder like it was sore.
“How are you feeling?”
“OK” he said… “good”. He smiled and took my hand.
I looked at our fingers knotted together and kind of felt like a teenager. “What happened out there in the ocean?” I said.
“I’m kind of thinking I must have died and gone to heaven”. He grinned at me and kissed the back of my hand while looking up at me.
I shook my head and smiled, feeling oddly shy.
“I don’t know. I just couldn’t find the surface” He rubbed his forehead. “I told myself if I made it out of there alive I would call my mom”.
I grabbed my phone from my bedside table and handed it to him. He shook his head. “Just call her” I said.
“I don’t know if I remember her number and my phone is in my truck”
He touched my phone to his head, as if he could transfer the number from his brain to the phone. Then he dialed and held it to his ear.
“Hi Mom. It’s a friend’s phone. Hey, I just wanted to tell you I love you. No, nothing’s wrong. Yes, I am OK. What? You don’t need to come and see me. I said I’m fine! Mom, I’m not even in town right now. Well, maybe next weekend. Ok, ok, ok, bye.” He looked at me. “I totally freaked her out.”
“That was really nice that you called her.” I said.
He gave my phone back to me and kissed the back of my hand again. Then he looked at his arm and laughed. “What did you do to my arm?”
“I bandaged it up while you slept.”
“I look like a mummy! Maybe I am dead.”
“You should have seen your arm before.”
“I did! I used to get torn up like that all the time when I was a kid and skateboarded on concrete ramps at the park near my house.” Jake suddenly leaned forward and tugged me up closer to him. “What do you want to do now? We could got and pitch my tent over at Anastasia Beach.”
“Um…I don’t know about that.”
“Can we stay here?”
“You are so beautiful” he said. “Have I told you that before?”
“I don’t think so.” I was a little stunned at his sudden, niceness. It was unsettling.
He looked at he mosquito net hanging over my bed and picked it up then let it float down. “What the hell is this?” he said.
I laughed. “Luna’s decorations”
“And these?” he picked up the pink pillows and whacked me with one of them. “It’s like a bed for Sleeping Beauty in here. Does she know you’re not eight?”
“I’m not sure. But I thought this bed was more like Princess and the Pea” I said, grabbing the pillow out of his hand as he tried to whack me in the head with it. “Do you know that one?”
He shook his head.
I hugged the pink pillow. “Well this prince wants to find a REAL princess, so he searches far and wide but they are all too tall or too skinny or too happy or too sad…it’s awful really. So, one night this girl shows up at his castle in the middle of a storm and she is soaking wet and all she can say is, “I am a REAL princess.” So after they get her all dried up and warm the Queen plays a trick on her. She sticks a dried pea under 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds and puts the girl to bed there. Then in the morning the girl wakes up all bruised up from feeling the hard little pea through all the mattresses and featherbeds, and so the queen knows the girl must be princess-enough to marry her son. You see, only a REAL princess could be sensitive enough to feel a pea through all of that fluff.”
“That’s a weird story” he said. “Why would anyone want to be with a girl who could get bruised by a pea? Sounds like she needs a blood transfusion or something.”
“I really don’t know” I laughed.
“Hm, do you think you are a REAL princess?”
“Most definitely not” I said. “It seems I don’t feel anything these days, except when you are around. Then I feel too much.”
“Why do you feel too much?” His eyes shined as he looked at me, grinning that irresistible grin.
“Well,” I said, he kissed me and I almost forgot what I was going to say. “Each day, with all the responsibilities, everything just glides by effortlessly slipping away to be stored in, well, no memory, anywhere. But when you’re are here, every second is like a swollen pocket of time, filled with energy and excitement. But the bad part is that each one is so full, they could, well, explode.”
“Damn English major,” he said. “Your kind always says such weird shit. Sorry though, I would hate to make your time-pocket’s explode.” He broke out into a big grin.
I leaned against his chest and he hugged me from behind with both arms. “This is better than I imagined,” he said squeezing me gently. “Know anymore fairytales?”
“My mom used to read me all these different versions of Swan Lake since she called me Odette and our last name is Swann. I would never do that to my kid. I’ve had to deal with that my whole life. So yes, that and many other fairytales.”
“I’ve never read Swan Lake”
“Well, there’s a white swan and a black swan in it, and I never knew which one I was supposed to be. When I was little I was sure it was the white one. Then as a teenager, I wasn’t so sure. When I met Chris and his last name was Silver, I realized if I married him it would make me the silver-swan.”
“OK,” he said. “So the reason you married Chris is because you liked his last name?”
“I just thought it was too much of a coincidence. It had to be meant-to-be.”
“I’m kind of messing up the fairytale” I said.
“Well what about me in all of this? Am I the villain or the prince?”
“Neither.” I said. “I think you are the dragon.”
“Well then, Odette, Silver-Swan, you most defintitly are the sword.” He tickled me so that I screamed-laughing and then he folded himself on top of me and wrapped his arms tightly around me again, kissing me like he was never going to let me go.