It’s a warm July evening. I am heading down the stairs of my apartment building in Belgrade, on my way to throw out the two black bags in my hands. They are too small to carry any bodies, I think of saying to the neighbor who’s holding the entrance door for me, but I restrain this attempt at humor. He’s old and wearing a coat with WWII partisan insignia on it. He’s seen shit; he doesn’t have to hear it. I drop the bags on the street right next to the overfilled trashcan and quickly go back up the stairs to my apartment.
My girlfriend’s voice greets me as I enter the living room, telling me to hurry up and check the Bolognese sauce because she doesn’t know what to do with it. In her defense, she sings much better than she cooks. It makes sense, because that’s what she is, a singer. She used to have a more typical kind of a job at the same company I used to work at, but six months ago she followed me through the exit door in search of something more truthful. Since then, Sonya started singing in one of the city’s most sought after bands and I changed companies. We have been together for fourteen months, living together for the past seven, and as I approach the stove with freshly washed hands to stir the sauce and turn down the heat, I cannot shake the feeling that I am bored. I’m bored from talking to her, I’m bored from looking at her, and I’m bored from fucking her. It’s not her fault, any of it. She is just being who she is, a tall, smart, talented 27-year-old woman, with pretty dark eyes and a beautiful voice.
I finish stirring the sauce and drain the penne over the sink before I transfer them to the skillet where I mix the two and serve it thus. Pop. The wine is uncorked and poured into two glasses. We sit and eat, mostly in silence. There are some questions concerned with the developments of the dying day, and they are aimed at me. Most of the answers contain fewer than five words and are directed at her. I propose for us to watch a film and Sonya agrees, adding that she will let me decide what to watch because I’m the expert. There is a strong feeling of déjà vu and a question lurks in my mind on how would you call a déjà vu that happens again and again, and again. I finish off my glass and start pouring another, when a peripheral glance at her face reveals a subtly raised eyebrow. This reminds me that I am 25 years old and that I have a diagnosed fatty liver and that I should probably take better care of myself. I hold off on the wine after the first splash of liquid found its way into the glass and dedicate my attention to cleaning the rest of the food from my plate.
I then decide for us to watch Crimson Peak because I know she has become a fan of Guillermo Del Toro when I told her a lot of the films she likes have been made by the same author – and that it is him. This particular one seems to be of gothic character and there is bound to be a lot of blood in it, and so there is a lesser chance her libido will be active afterwards. I fetch my laptop and search for the respective torrent file to download, indulging in one of the rare benefits of contemporary life in Serbia. The ETA column is showing 32 minutes and 17 seconds as I get up from the couch in search of my smartphone.
The search goes on for quite some time before I realize that the device is in the same place it’s always in when I’m searching for it; the pocket of the jeans I had worn and thrown over the bed when I got back from work. I check for a message or missed call but find neither. As I put the phone in the pocket of my sweatpants, I feel it vibrate. I have already taken a step into the room where Sonya is and so I carefully pull the phone out and look at the screen. It’s a text from Nataliya, my co-worker. She’s asking when would I like her to pick me up the next morning for our teambuilding trip to Slovenia. I text her back “From 8 onward I’m yours, miss.” She responds with a smiley face that mirrors my own facial expression. Sonya asks me what’s the matter and I say that Red Star – my favorite sports team – just acquired a new player from abroad. Sonya claps her hands and says “Your dad must be ecstatic!” and I say “Who do you think sent me the message?” and she smiles. I know that family is always a good reason for her.
I then move for the fridge to grab a bottle of sparkling water and ask Sonya if there is anything she might need. She points to her wine glass and gestures that she’s fine. I head for the couch just as the laptop sounds off with the signal of a completed download. The Internet speed is on top of its game tonight and I don’t mind.
An hour and fifty-nine minutes later, the film is over, and I have spent the last twenty getting my hand clenched in her fist throughout the finely executed culmination on Del Toro’s behalf. We spend another couple of minutes going through personal impressions – predominantly and pretentiously purveyed by my littleness, before I propose a slow retreat to bed. It’s getting late and I will have to get up a little earlier tomorrow to pack for the trip. I’m too tired to do that now. Two birds with one stone I believe is the expression. She conforms and we brush our teeth in front of the mirror as I churn out a humorous bit that makes her involuntarily spit a little foam out of her mouth, making myself laugh too as a consequence. We lie down and she snuggles up to me, expressly falling asleep as I continue to stare into the ceiling. I can never sleep on my back and it’s no different this time around.