Blurry Thoughts, Blurry actions
The house feels warm with the fireplace blazing, and I find myself feeling content as I help Em serve dinner. I thought this was going to be uncomfortable, but Tane has actually been really helpful setting up the fireplace and helping with our luggage.
We all sit in the little lounge around the table, our plates full of chicken, potatoes and salad that me and Em just cooked in the small but cozy kitchen. Everything in the house is actually small and cozy, but in a good way. Like a warm blanket wrapping around you on a cold day, this little house makes me feel secure and comfortable. My absolute favourite thing is the view out of the big glass doors in the lounge, and I can’t wait to appreciate it in the morning.
We arrived after dark, so we didn’t go down to the sea, but after spending the whole day driving around different beaches, no one minded it too much. I almost went on my own, but we were all tired and ready for some dinner and warmth, so I helped Em with dinner instead.
“Thanks for this,” Tane says as he receives his plate. “Actually, thanks for everything," he adds with a cute smile that warms up my insides. "You’ve been sweet as company, and it’s so cool of you to allow me to stay here. I would’ve probably frozen my ass off in the tent, it’s gotten so cold!”
“It’s not a problem at all!” Em says before I can even think up an answer. “It’s been a pleasure to have you as our pilot too, I can certainly do some more of the driving tomorrow!”
“I don’t mind actually,” he says. “I’m really enjoying driving.”
“Okay then, let’s eat!” Em yelps as she digs into a potato.
I pick at my salad and cut little pieces of chicken up. Em’s happily eating to my left, while I can hear Tane’s cutlery clicking away in front of me. I catch Em glancing at Tane, and as I look up with a bite of chicken halfway to my mouth, I lock eyes with him. I look back down as fast as I can, cutting another piece of chicken and playing with my salad some more. I really need to stop looking, I don’t know what it is about him that’s got me feeling so stupid and ashamed. Em’s clearly interested in the guy, and I’m not, so that is that. I need to stop looking, I don’t want to send mixed signals.
I can’t fully blame myself though, he is pretty interesting to look at, I can’t deny that.
Maybe it’s the strong jawline now looking so much sharper after he shaved, or the delightful scent of pine that emanates from him everytime he gets near. Perhaps it’s the deepness of his eyes that seem to shake me to the very core when he looks at me, or the strands of hair that keep falling into his eyes... The fingers that run through his scalp as he brushes them back. Perhaps it is the hair, the messiness of it, how it's colour reminds me of the dark richness of forest loam. Or maybe it’s those plump seductive lips- Enough.
I look down and stab a potato with the fork.
“Time to have some fun,” I say as I pull a bottle of vodka from under the table.
“Where the hell did that come from?!” Sam yelps. She looks at me wide eyed, utterly surprised, but a second later she laughs a little while shaking her head. She knows me better than to be surprised by this.
“Got it at the supermarket this morning when you were too distracted buying food,” I say. “And then I hid it in my bag so it would be a surprise."
I'm actually so proud of myself for pulling this off. As soon as Sam told me about the inheritance yesterday, I knew that things would get a little tense. Not only she had to worry about all the assets now, but she wasn't that happy about me inviting Tane on this trip either. That's two negatives in one day. Two negatives for Sam, can turn into too many negatives.
And there's nothing better to relax and forget about your worries, than our old friend Mr. Vodka. He knows us well. He's the one we cried with when our hearts got broken, the one we laughed with when we made fools out of ourselves (well, mostly me), the one we had fun with till 6am when we partied (well, that was mostly me too). But the thing is, that a little bit of vodka never hurt nobody, and tonight, we should be celebrating Sam's future.
She's had a huge door open up for her, even if she doesn't realize it yet. Those properties will change her life, and I'll make sure I'm there to help her make smart decisions!
“You in?” I ask as I point at Tane with the bottle.
“I guess I can’t say no,” he replies with a grin.
I pour us all a round of drinks, and when the glasses are empty, or half empty, I make sure to refill them. We drink, we chat, we laugh, and as the world starts blurring on the edges, Sam starts talking a little bit more than she normally would around a stranger. Asking questions here and there instead of just listening to the conversation.
“Do you speak Maori?” She asks Tane out of the blue after drink number three, or maybe four.
“ I do,” he says. “Why do you ask?”
"Just curious," she answers.
“Do you want me to teach you?” He smiles broadly at her as he says it.
“Oh, no, it’s okay…” Sam mumbles, but I know she wants to say yes, she was telling me just yesterday how interested she was in the language.
“You can teach me!” I say.
“Paku.” Says Tane as he points at me.
“What does that mean?”
“Small,” he replies as he laughs, and I crack up laughing too.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right, but good things come in small jars,” I say as I laugh again. “What would you be, big guy?”
“Nui, would be the word for big, but I don’t know if that’s the one I’d use to define myself.”
Sam lifts a finger, ready to ask a question, but then she puts it back down. We both look at her, waiting.
“Yes?” Tane asks as he lifts an eyebrow and a sexy smirk twists his lips.
“What about me?” Sam asks, biting her bottom lip.
“Hmmm…” He rubs his chin, thinking, and I’m not drunk enough to notice that he’s teasing her. He leans on an elbow and props his head on his palm as he looks at her in the eyes.
His voice is deep, and Sam just blinks looking up at him, her head bobbed to one side. Then she giggles, and the sound makes me crack up with laughter again.
When we ask him what it means, Tane just smiles and changes the subject. We keep talking for a while, and at the same time, I keep playing music in the background: I really feel like dancing.
The music in the background is a bit too loud, and I stand up, having to grab onto the back of the chair not to fall over as I do. I look around and wonder how long I’ve been sitting at the table on my own. Em is dancing around in the lounge, singing loudly. I need a second to steady myself, so I blink once, twice, and then grab a glass and fill it up with water. I drink the whole thing in one go, and then head over to the bathroom.
I splash some cold water over my face as I wash my hands and look in the mirror. My eyes feel a bit unfocused, but I don’t think I’m that drunk. Am I? Not as much as Em, that’s for sure, she probably drank twice as much as I did.
I walk back into the lounge, my feet feeling slightly more steady.
“Come over, Sam!” Em yells from a few steps away, “Come dance with me!” She’s standing in the middle of the lounge, her arms in the air as she sways to the rhythm of the music.
I walk towards her, and as soon as I’m close enough she wraps her arms around me and sways us from one side to the other. I laugh out loud as my body keeps moving to the rhythm of the music. I can’t remember how long it’s been since I've danced at all, but this is so much fun. Why don’t I do this more often? One song turns into another, and we keep on dancing away, some of our favourite hits from when we were teens blasting on the speakers, and so many memories coming with them.
A new song starts playing, and a wave of nostalgia hits me out of nowhere.
“Heyyy, mamma rock me,” Em sings happily, and I feel like I’ve heard this song before, but at the same time, I don’t recognize it. Where did I hear this?
“What’s this?!” I yell onto Em’s ear over the music.
“Wagon wheel!” She yells back, and keeps on dancing.
A car. Someone used to sing this in the car.
Em trips over, and holds on to me not to fall as she almost knocks us both to the floor. We end up in a weird hug, Em’s head lolling to one side as she looks at me and smiles.
“Oh my! Your breath smells like pure vodka, my friend!” I say as I try to steady her.
“That’s because,” says Em trying to whisper in my ear but being way too loud, ”I was drinking straight vodka.”
“Okay, okay, let’s go, I’ll help you to bed.” I say as I wrap an arm around her waist.
“But I don’t want to go to bed,” she complains as I guide her through the little hallway and drop her onto the mattress. As soon as her head touches the pillow though, she rolls over into a fetal position and closes her eyes. I take her boots off, throw a blanket over her, and she’s already snoring.
I head back to the lounge, turn the music off and start cleaning up the mess from the table.
“I’ll help you with that,” Tane says, coming over from the window only a few steps away.
“Oh, thanks, I forgot you were even there.” As soon as I look at Tane, I realise I was stupidly rude. ”Sorry, I didn’t mean it in a bad way... I mean, you were so quiet... and Emma is so loud... sometimes it's hard to tell there’s anybody else in the room.”
“That’s okay, no need to apologise,” he replies as he grabs a few glasses and takes them over to the kitchen. I follow him with the remainder of the plates, and set them on the bench by the sink.
Tane turns on the tap, and starts filling up the sink. Is he really going to do the dishes right now?
“Oh, you don’t need to-” I start.
“It’s okay,” he cuts me off, “it’s the least I can do.” His voice sounds so sincere and thankful that I can’t complain.
“I’ll help you then,” I say.
Tane finishes filling the sink with soapy water, and dips everything in, splashing some water over the sides. Woops! I laugh quietly, standing by him as he passes over the first clean glass for me to dry. We work together in silence, he’s washing and I’m drying... And my eyelids feel heavy. I dry a plate, and sit it on the bench. I blink. There’s another plate in front of me, I grab it, dry it. I sway. I put it on top. My head bobbles forward. I blink hard and shake my head. I grab a cup, dry the inside of it, blink, then run the cloth through the outside and-
“Fuck!” I curse as the glass slips from my hands. I instantly jump on the spot as it hits the floor with a loud crash.
As my shoe lands back on the floor I step on a large piece of glass and my foot slides forwards, making me lose my balance. My arms fly in the air as I yelp and close my eyes instinctively. Then my waist hits something hard, and it hurts a little, but I’m not sprawled on the floor… Why am I not sprawled on the floor? I open my eyes, and find two dark green eyes looking down at me.
Tane’s arm is wrapped around my waist, holding me in midair while my feet are barely just supporting me. His other arm is still holding a plate he was washing, and as I stare at him wide-eyed, he sets it back down on the sink slowly.
“Are you okay?” He asks, and I see his free hand reaching towards me. What is he-? He stops mid air. His brows are slightly tucked together, his lips in a single straight line.
I’m so aware of the arm wrapped around my back, of the heat radiating through my body and blushing my cheeks. It feels like we’re stuck there forever, like a couple that just finished a dance as the guy dips the lady down… And a part of me is waiting for him to kiss me. But this is not a movie, and I’m not in Hollywood, so suddenly the staring contest is over, and Tane pushes me upright. But he must be too strong, or I’m too light, or too drunk, ‘cause I stumble forwards and have to set my palms on his chest not to crash against him. My forehead is so close to him, that it’s almost touching his chest.
I look up, and he's looking down at me, a tiny smile curving his lips up. I’m fully conscious of his hand still on my waist, his other one now casually sitting on my shoulder as if trying to keep me from crashing into him. As if we were stars attracted by gravity, ready to collide. Blood is rushing through my head, my heart is beating wildly. I feel dizzy from so much movement in such a short period of time, and my stomach turns. I can feel the alcohol like little squishy monsters crawling in my bloodstream and trying to make me do stupid things. His lips part slowly, his eyes still on me. Those lips.
“Sam-” He says.
I feel like I snap out of a trance, and I push hard against his chest, take a step back and get around the broken glass as quickly as I can.
“I’m fine, fine...” I say, the words rushing out of my mouth, “I’ll just go grab... something... to clean this up with.”
I walk away. Almost run away. I need a broom, something to clean this mess up. No, no, the mess is in my head, I’m going to do something stupid, I need to hide, disappear into the night and pretend this never ever happened. I make it to the room and close the door behind me with a loud bang. Emma’s all sprawled occupying most of the double bed, but she doesn’t stir, so I climb up onto the little edge, and curl up into a ball as I hug a pillow.
How could I make such a fool of myself twice in a day? I’m normally clumsy, but this is too much. My head spins as I close my eyes so I open them again, staring at the wall. I can still feel the warmth from Tane’s arm around my waist, I can feel his eyes on mine. I close my eyes again, and press my palms hard against my face as I try to make the world stop spinning.