It was a pact. They would never celebrate this bulshit, materialistic, commercialised – give me my roses, another red balloon, oh and some chocolate – holiday. Simply ridiculous. They have been two years together, a long-distance – one weekend every month – Christmas with own families, kind of relationship.
It worked. But this time she felt differently. She was in the train on her way. Smiling to her reflection on the window, with this subtle smile kids have at the corner of their mouths when they take cookies out of the jar, feeling adventurous and self-content. No, she had not bought red underwear. They were new though, black and lacy. On her underpants it was written “You are my Valentine” in red slutty letters. It was so tacky she could not resist the temptation to buy it, she knew he would laugh. “Ah Kate, you are still a kid” he would say naughtily. Three hours later, she was on his doorstep.
She took the keys out of her pocket. The keychain he had given her as a gift, along with the keys to his apartment, jingled against the 3 keys: a small silver Cupid with a bow, all chubby and smiley, the silver colour already a bit blackened after a couple of months. The key turned smoothly and silently. She opened the door and walked in, closed it, took her shoes off, tided them up on the mat next to the entrance, hanged her jacket. Only then she realised. The smell of roses. Red and white, beautifully arranged in a huge bouquet, thriving outside a vase on the living room table. The smell of red aromatic candles burning, the ones she had bought last time she was here (“All these candles you always buy, all the cupboards are full! And it smells like a church or an Indian restaurant in here!). Burning in their crystal réchauds, their flames glossy, golden and tender, caressing the walls with mystic shadows, moving slightly at the directions of the flame. Music. It was the jazz collection his firm gave him as a Christmas gift, he knew how much she loved it. Two glasses on the table, the red wine already opened, a cheese variety arranged along the salty crackers. How did he know she was coming?
Wait. The glasses are already used.
A sudden bed creak. Or was it her idea? No, here it is again. No, it can’t be. But it gets stronger and stronger. Silence for a moment. Then a whisper, then the creaking again. She looks at the bedroom door, it’s half open. She walks slowly now towards it, a mesmerised and mechanical move, like in a dream. Her hand on the door handle, metal and slightly cool. It feels reassuring. Slowly, she pushes the door open.
It’s dark. It smells like sweat and perfume and cheese and roses and candles and wine, all mixed up. The creaking stops. She turns the lights on. The time freezes, a cold breeze runs down her spine, her knees are weak.
Jack ! There is a woman on you, Jack ! she screams and faints.