“It’s time to wake up.”
“What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?” I heard someone groggily mutter, only to realise that it was me. And I also realised I hadn’t played What’s the time, Mr. Wolf? since third grade. Good game, that was.
The rest of my body was wide awake but my brain was not. Which was different from last night, when my brain was awake with the sugar rush from all the marshmallows but my body was dead tired. Sure, the blood was pumping too much sugar but it was tired from the flight and the lack of sleep for the past week.
Darius continued. “It’s –” The sound of a packet crinkling stopped the voice and I heard something being pulled out from my pillow. “You ate the whole packet?” I heard him ask in an amused voice.
I muttered, waving a hand, trying to pull the blanket back on. “If someone fed me real food, I wouldn’t have eaten all the junk.”
And then it hit me. Maybe I should start clearing my three questions. I lifted my head up and turning it to the other side. I cracked open an eye and immediately closed it. Too bright, damn it. I opened it again till it adjusted to the brightness and peeked through, seeing a pair of eyes staring right back at me.
“Where did you get marshies from in the first place?”
“Marshies? Oh, Adrian told me that I’ll need them. He had eight packets, for some reason.”
“Eight, and he only gave me one. That pig,” I muttered. I don’t know about anyone else but I was still hungry. Maybe I can get a French breakfast! Minus snails, I don’t want any snails. I closed my eyes again. Breakfast can wait.
“Come on, we have heaps to do.”
The bed dipped. Then I heard footsteps before a squeak of a door closing. I pulled the blanket up. I can wake up after he came. Even before I fall asleep again, the room door was kicked open and somebody made a Tarzan-like scream. I opened my eyes to see a figure racing toward the bed. I squealed and moved away, only to fall off the bed, my upper body on the ground and my legs still on the bed.
Adrian cracked up laughing as I glared at him.
“You’re an idiot,” I muttered as I untangled my legs. I got up and dusted my jeans.
“That must have been uncomfortable to sleep in,” he commented, motioning to my jeans.
“No, it wasn’t.” I said, shrugging and placing my hands on my hips, all sleep gone.
“Oh yea, of course it was comfortable,” he said, wriggling his eyebrows.
“What on earth are you on about?” I asked him, looking on as he sat down, kicked his shoes off and lay on the bed. He was staring at the ceiling.
“That reminds me,” I continued, seeing as to how he has no plans of speaking. “How come I only got one packet and you got eight of marshies?”
“Seven. If I had eight, and you take one, I have seven. Wow, can you even math?”
“Can you even English?” I snapped back as the door opened and we both looked to see Darius walk back in, wearing white. In fact, a bit too much of white. Now that I thought of it, Adrian was also wearing too much white. Dressed in shorts and a white top, Adrian looked like some posh French man with his stupid hat.
Darius wore white pants and a white shirt, and I never thought people can pull off all white till I saw these two. I looked from one to another, raising a brow in question.
“I see you joined us,” said Darius, shaking his head at Adrian.
“Duh, I’m hungry and your wife ate everything in the fridge.”
“No, I didn’t,” I defended. “There’s plenty more food in there.”
’You ate all the good ones though.”
Darius sighed heavily. “Alright, both of you stop. I ordered room service. Aluminium, go get ready. Wear something white.”
I opened my mouth to ask but then decided not to. Easy to just follow them. I’m sure I would find out why we are wearing white. I walked over to the door where the suitcase was placed. I never recalled it being there last night.
I dragged it into the bathroom with me and closed the door, sighing. Did I even pack something white?
* * * * *
I looked in the bathroom mirror staring at my floor-length white dress. Yep, this was too much. Surely when they meant white dress they didn’t mean a full gown. I don’t even remember packing this but with the way Adrian was hustling me to pack, I grabbed the random things I could.
I turned around looking at the back and frowning. This was definitely something my mother must have bought me. The back was practically just strings or thread criss-crossing, showing more skin than I liked.
I nearly tripped over all the excess fabric that was the trail as I peeked out of the bathroom door to see Adrian eating a croissant.
“You better leave some for me,” I snapped, my stomach growling at the sight of real food. Adrian looked at me, raising an eyebrow as he took a large bite, chewing on it loudly like he was teasing me.
“If you hurry up, then you can eat some. I make no promises. You ready?”
“I don’t have anything white.”
“You should have packed some,” he muttered, reaching over and grabbing what looked like to be a danish. An apple danish, my favourite.
“You made me hurry!”
“What are you wearing now?” asked Adrian as he stood up and took a bite of my apple Danish at the same time. I glared at him as he finished it off while walking toward me. Can someone push the food trolley toward the bathroom? The smell of toast and other various items was making me drool.
“Want some?” asked, Adrian holding out a baguette. I went to reach for it but he laughed and pulled it back. I narrowed my eyes, scrunching up my face in distaste.
“What are you wearing now?”
“This,” I said, opening the rest of the door and stepping out. Adrian took one look at me and burst out laughing. I rolled my eyes and crossed my hands over my chest as he continued till he held his sides.
“Sorry,” he muttered, standing up.
“You know, I would laugh, too. You look like an idiot,” I muttered, and he sort of did with all the white. A good-looking idiot nonetheless. I looked around the room. Where is Darius?
“Sorry. You look great, honestly. That is one hot dress but I don’t think you will be able to run in that.”
“Run?” I asked. Is someone trying to make me do some physical activity? I can’t even remember the last time someone made me run.
“Actually, do you have a singlet and leggings?” he asked.
“I don’t know. I have to check because someone made me rush.”
Adrian waved a hand as he bit into the edge of the baguette. “Whatever. Put them on. I’ll find you a white shirt.”
“Why does it have to be white?” I called out as he turned around to leave.
“I still don’t see.”
“What?” I asked, swallowing, as I stared at Adrian who was sitting in front of me as I ate my bagel. His face screwed up and he leaned over to wipe my mouth with a tissue paper. I raised an eyebrow at him.
“You eat like a starved animal.” He leaned back in his chair.
“If someone fed me, I wouldn’t be eating like this.” I ignored his comment, deciding I wanted to try the apple danish next. There was so much food and so little stomach to have it all. I loosened the knot I did with the white shirt that I wore on top of a black singlet and leggings, still not understanding why we have to wear white.
I nearly died when I tried the danish. It was sweet, crisp and mouthwatering. “This is good,” I said with a mouthful, making Adrian just shake his head at me. If he actually finished the food he started, I wouldn’t be this hungry.
“Are you guys ready?”
I looked up as I took a sip of my juice and choked, seeing him walk through the door. I looked at Adrian, who was staring right at me with a confused expression.
“Where’s Darius?” asked James, looking around. I exchanged a look with Adrian, that’s what I would like to know. Where did he go?
James tugged on his white shirt as he walked over to our tbale. I watched him sit down in the chair like he owned the place, looking around and crossing one leg over another. He was dressed top to bottom in white, only it looked weird on him.
James’s eyes met mine and he smiled. I looked away, realising I had been staring. The quietness stilled over the room when another person joined us, my dad. But unlike the others, he just wore a white shirt over his pants.
“So, is anyone going to tell me why everyone is in white?” I asked, directed more at my father and Adrian than the other homo sapiens in the room.
“It’s for the Le terme de couleur, of course,” said my father as he looked around. “Where’s your husband?” he asked the question everyone was also asking.
“Maybe he’s with his secretary, probably doing paperwork,” said James as he reached for a glass of water, pointedly staring at me. I matched his gaze. The way he said it implied at something else and for some strange reason, I felt something stir in me.
“What’s Le term de couleurret,” I said, failing miserably at pronouncing it.
“Le terme de couleur is the colour run. It’s a 5-kKm run or walk where we run to raise money. As Darius and I are the sponsors, we are required to be there.”
“What’s with the white?”
“Colour run, hence we will be pelted with colour,” said Adrian, snatching the danish out of my hand. I glared at him as he smiled and popped it into his mouth. That was my danish.
“Alright, let’s head down,” said my father. Aren’t we waiting for Darius?
They stood up heading out the door and I hurried after them before they left me in the long confusing corridor.
“Don’t worry, your husband will join us after he’s done with the secretary,” whispered James as I walked by. I scooted away from him, giving him a glare as I caught up with Adrian who was already in the elevator.
Secretary? Is Darius having an affair? Who was I kidding? Of course he was. Has anyone even seen him? The secretary would probably be younger, prettier, skinnier and sexier than me. Of course, I should be expecting this the whole time.
But what if he isn’t? I mean he could have taken a business call or something, somewhere where there was no hot secretary. The elevator binged, knocking my thoughts out. Am I jealous?
I felt an arm around me and looked up to see Adrian pulling me along with him. “Don’t worry. His secretary isn’t as hot as you,” he said, winking. I glared at him. Great. Was this meant to make me feel better?
“Come on, we have a big day. As the sponsor’s wife, you have to run and keep up,” said Adrian as he pushed me into the limo. I groaned. Running isn’t what I do.
The ride there was quicker than I thought and the city was blocked off with wires and security standing.
“Holy crap,” I muttered, realising how many people were lining up all dressed in white, from babies to old folks with canes.
“Yea, it’s a popular event,” Adrian explained from beside me.
“Do we have one of these?” I asked, thinking that the name sounded very familiar.
“You bet we do. Come on, there’s Darius.“Adrian opened the door as soon as the limo stopped. Grabbing my hand, he pulled me out and dragged me to where Darius was standing with a group of people. He was talking rapidly in, wait, French? He speaks French?
He looked over nodding at us before finishing off whatever he was saying and walked over to us.
“Ready?” he asked, smiling. Adrian nodded and pulled out something from under his shirt and squirted Darius with it. A huge splash of orange stained his shirt and I stared open-mouthed as Adrian laughed.
“Got you, old gu.,”
“Where did you get that?” snapped Darius, grabbing the bottle off his cousin. It looked like powder paint that was stuffed in sauce bottles.
“Grabbed it off a volunteer. Come on, it’s starting,” said Adrian and sprinted away. I looked from the orange stripe to Darius and back.
“This is nothing compared to what we’ll look like at the end,” Darius explained while grabbing my hand. “Come on.”
“And, um, what will we be looking like at the end?” I asked as he tucked my arm into his, pulling me behind a bunch of other people.
“A smurf or an oompa loompa, take your pick,” he said, winking down at me. Before it even registered, a loud siren sounded that had many people screaming and started running. I swore under my breath as I got pushed by people in a hurry.
“What on earth is their problem?” I muttered under my breath, but apparently loud enough for Darius to hear.
“It’s either that or look behind you.”
I raised an eyebrow and looked over my shoulder at all the people running. I got a glimpse over them to see what they were running at, or from in this case, people in coloured shirts holding more sauce bottles squirting colour at people.
“Oh lord,” I muttered before turning around to stare at Darius who was watching all this. He was very amused.
“Let’s go. Don’t just stand there!”
* * * * *
“You’re not very good at this, are you?”
“Shut up,” I snapped, blindly swatting his chest as he laughed at me. This was probably our fourth stop after we started and who knew how long it was. And every time we stopped, the colour squirters caught up to us. That was why I was no longer wearing a white shirt but rather a more purple shade mixed with squirts of yellow here and there.
“Come on, time for the zones,” said Darius, grabbing my hand and pulling me. I tried ignoring the fact that he was holding my hand but it was hard, and maybe he was just holding it because judging by the way people were pushing past us, he didn’t want to get separated. But even then it made something flutter in my stomach.
“Zones?” I asked after I found my voice again.
“Colour zone, that,” he said, raising a hand to point at something. I looked up to see something more like a dust storm, but as we got closer, I realised it was more coloured people squirting colours. I groaned and tried slowing down but Darius pulled me harder.
“It’s not that bad. It gets better,” he said, laughing at what was probably my face.
“You know if I get asthma I am going to blame you.”
“More for Ma to yell at me,” he said, wincing.
“Where is Ma?”
“She’s on her holiday. Now come on. A piece of advice: close your mouth.”
“What? Wh-” I realised why. I got a squirt of powder paint in my mouth. I gasped, tugging my hand out of his and lifting up my shirt and wiping my tongue. That was horrible. It was like the colour was flying everywhere and it didn’t help that it was making it hard to see where you were going.
I turned around, realising Darius was gone only to collide face first into a chest, sending me staggering back.
“Oh, sorry, girl. Didn’t see you there,” said a guy with a beard that was more red than grey. And who was he calling little girl? I opened my mouth to say something but the guy was gone and instead a woman said something in fast French to me. Judging by the look in her face and the fact that she pushed me aside, I believe she was annoyed.
“I guess people aren’t friendly. Hey, keep that away from my face!” I snapped at a kid who was holding a sauce bottle. The teen broke out laughing and squirted at me, right on the nose. I shut my mouth and turned away from the spray. I held my breath and I saw an amused person on the sidelines.
He was trying not to laugh as I walked, head down, toward him. “Having fun?”
“Shut up and walk,” I muttered, grabbing his arm and dragging him. I had enough colour to last me a life time.
How long can five kilometres be? It seemed to be going on forever.
“At this rate we’ll never be done,” I told him, realising at some point that even the squirters ran past us, giving up after spraying us.
“That’s because you keep taking a break,” he replied as I sat down on the ground. I waved a hand, wiping my face which was probably coated in three layers of colour. Darius smiled with a shake of his head and sat down beside me.
“You look like an oompa loompa,” I commented, seeing all the orange on him. He laughed at that as he ran a hand through his hair, sending orange dust into the air.
“You look like a smurf,” he retorted. “Actually, more like a rainbow smurf.” He cracked a smile.
“So how far away is the finish line?” I said, as even the old people walked by us.
I groaned. I can’t walk another three kilometres.
“It’s five kilometres.”
“Yea, but for someone who hasn’t run, in over a decade, it’s hard work, Unlike for you. You hit the gym every day.”
“How do you know that?”
“Rose,” I snapped, waving a hand as my stomach grumbled.
“Duh. I haven’t had proper food ever since you showed up,” I snapped then realised what it sounded like. I lifted my gaze to his confused one.
“I, eh, mean, like, all you rich people keep eating seafood and I sort of hate seafood,” I said. Damn. When I am hungry or sleepy, I usually get snappy. Realising what I had just said made me feel bad, really bad.
“Why didn’t you just say something then?” He stood up. I scrambled to my feet, dusting the powder off my leggings.
“I- You- Okay, you were pretty scary when you came home,” I admitted. He barely even knew my name then. I looked up, expecting to see him angry or something. But there was an amused grin on his face.
“What’s so funny?”
“Come on. Let’s get you some food,” he said, grabbing my arm and tucking it under his.
I noticed the big blockades around. “The only way out is through the finish line.”
“Or you sponsor the event. Come on.”
He tugged me behind for a few more metres before I saw the security guard he waved over. Muttering something in French, I saw the guard look over at me, cracking a grin. What was he saying?
The guard stepped back and opened the door, ushering us through.
“What did you say?” I asked as Darius pulled me away from the event.
“That’s for me to know. Now, how about some French cuisine?”
“As long as you don’t feed me snails, I don’t care what I eat,” I said, patting my stomach. A good hard meal awaits me.
* * * * *
I cared. Staring at the item on my fork, I narrowed my eyes.
“What is this?” I asked, hesitantly taking a bite. Darius had sneaked us in the back of this restaurant that was famous apparently. Darius knew the chef and since no one would let us in dressed in practically powder paint, we snuck in through the back. Him and his connections.
“It tastes like chicken,” I muttered, and added, “but a but chewy.” I wrinkled my nose and looked up at the chef. He was a big man who looked like some wrestler with the muscles and all and a bit intimidating with his tattoos across his hands.
“It’s frog’s legs,” said Alphonse, whose smile showed his missing teeth. The half–chewed frog flew out of my mouth and across to the other end of the kitchen, hitting someone’s back.
“Oh, gross,” I spat, ignoring the laughter around me. I picked up a glass and took a huge gulp, only to spit it back into the glass. “WHAT IS THIS?”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“I’m out,” I declared, turning around and heading for the back door. I felt an arm around my waist, pulling me back.
“We were kidding. Alphonse hit her.”
“Wait, who’s hitting who?” I asked as Darius and Alphonse had a silent eye conversation. They both ignored me as Alphonse clicked his fingers to follow and led us through a door to the outside.
“I’d let you stay in the kitchen but if you keep leaving powder trails, then the chefs will get angry. I’ll bring you the first course,” he said, going back in.
Darius walked over to a small table in the edge and I raised an eyebrow, looking at it. It was a makeshift table that was set in the middle of the alley way, looking as shady as ever.
“Are you serious?” I asked, walking over.
“Well, this is what we get when we look like this.”
I grunted, sitting down in the wooden chair and looking around. We were literally seated in the alley way behind the restaurant and our beautiful view was a car, not just any car, a massive white van with heavy tinted windows.
“Excellent,” I muttered as the door opened and Alphonse walked back out with plates.
“Please tell me that’s not snails,” I said, as he placed a plate down.
“No, it’s Rid de Veau,” said Alphonse, winking as he headed back in. I looked at Darius as he tried to contain his laughter and raised an eyebrow.
“What is Ride di Vey?”
“Rid de Veau,” he said in perfect French, making me roll my eyes, “is a calf’s pancreas.”
“I’m out,” I said, standing up. But he grabbed my hand while laughing and pulled me back down. “Alphonse was kidding. It’s just pasta. Sit down.”
I stared at the plate and then back at him. He better be not lying.
I sat back down, taking the fork and poking a piece. It did look like ravioli in a weird sauce.
“Just try it,” said Darius, leaning back in his chair. I bit my lip as I stared at it before taking a bite. I just had frog legs, how bad can this be? I carefully lifted it to my mouth and took a bite and froze.
“This is so good,” I muttered, shoving another forkful in.
It wasn’t till a few courses that I had to stop. After my third dessert, I had to stop. Another bite of this chocolate fondue and I was going to burst.
“I had too much,” I groaned, suddenly feeling sick. Darius had stopped eating ages ago and instead was drinking wine while staring in amusement at me.
“I would think so. So does this make up for all the food you were deprived of?”
“Nearly,” I said with a half smile as Alphonse came back with another plate.
“Now, madame, why don’t you try –”
I put a hand up, cutting him off. I was his new taste tester, it seemed.
“I can’t. Not another bite.” For emphasis, I placed one hand on my stomach. I just couldn’t eat anymore.
Alphonse turned to Darius, speaking in French, and raised an eyebrow as they both talked laughing.
“What did he say?” I asked as Darius got up, shaking hands with the man.
“Come on,” he said and grabbed my hand.
“What did he say?”
“Something. Let’s go. Adrian’s wondering where we are.”
“Where are we going now?” I asked as I looked at the sky. It was still light, meaning it was probably just noon or something.
“It’s a surprise,” winked Darius before dragging me to a car waiting at the end of the alleyway.