Shame

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3 Knowing Each Other

The next day, they woke up and started their search again, both very carefully this time. After a while, John spoke.

‘Julia, I’m sorry.’ She didn’t respond. After a moment, John spoke again. ‘Before this, I was alone. You asked if I’ve got a family. I don’t, I live alone. I had a girlfriend who I loved, but, after four years, she broke up with me. Now, she’s married, the wife of a wealthy man. After that, I felt like love doesn’t exist. Everyone is fake and money-driven, and those who get it, get everything. I’m a simple guy living downtown. I live alone because I don’t trust anyone.’

Julia finally responded. ‘What about me? Do you think I’m fake?’

‘I don’t know. I haven’t even seen your face. I don’t even know who you are. Maybe you’re a good person, maybe you’re not, but the point is, I know nothing about you.’

‘One year ago, I lost my husband and daughter in a car accident. They were my life.’

‘I’m so sorry.’ John replied.

‘Since then, my life has been lonely too.’ She paused before speaking again. ‘John, did you not notice we both have something in common? We’re both alone.’

‘Yes, but what does that mean? I mean, what’s the point of kidnapping two lonely people and keeping them in a room like this? What are we supposed to do?’

‘What do you mean, “What are we supposed to do”?’ Julia responded nervously.

‘No. I’m just trying to figure this out. Just think about it Julia; a naked man and woman locked in a room with a double-sized bed and romantic music, both single. What does it mean? Maybe it’s an experiment, putting people in a room together to have sex!?’

‘Hey, stop. I’m not interested in that.’

‘Nor I. I’m just trying to figure out why we’re here. That’s it, nothing else. I just want to go home. I just want to be free again.’ After saying this, John sat down again on his previously chosen side of the bed. Julia guarded one side, and John the other. In-between them, the beautiful, white mattress was no man’s land, so comfortable looking that both had to resist claiming it, too shameful to.

After a long time of silence, Julia spoke. ‘John, I’m so frustrated. I think we’re not searching properly, or we’re missing something. Maybe we can see what each other can’t.’

‘You’re right. Maybe we’re not looking properly or missing something.’

‘I have a plan. I’ll look inside the bathroom, while you search around here and then we’ll swap, okay?’ John agreed and, according to their plan, Julia entered the bathroom, shutting the glass door behind her. John stood up and walked to the pantry, taking a bun to eat while he searched the room. After a short while, Julia shouted from the bathroom, ‘John, are you done? Have you finished checking?’

‘Yes. I found nothing. You can come out and check now.’

‘Okay. Come near the bathroom door and close your eyes while I come out. Then you can go inside.’ Following Julia’s instructions, John stood near the bathroom door, eyes closed, called Julia, and waited for her to come out. Julia peeped out to see whether John’s eyes were still closed. As she did, she noticed John’s face for the first time. He was Spanish-looking, in his early forties with thick, black hair, cut short, and a graying black, bristly beard against a white complexion. Her eyes, fixed on his face, slowly moved down his body. She couldn’t stop herself from staring at his naked, handsome, and well-maintained body, for the first time. Quickly, she said, ‘I’m coming out John, go inside.’ During their switch, she hurried out, while John’s eyes remained shut. Awkwardly, John tried holding the glass door open, but, by mistake, he grabbed Julia’s breast instead. Although short-lived, it left a lasting impression. After this unusual and awkward incident, John immediately entered the bathroom and shut the door, but, this time, Julia felt something. An electric shock passed through her body. Moving in front of the bed down, she sat, silent, feeling the sensation as John’s naked body played through her mind, like a scene of a movie on repeat. Uncontrollable feelings and emotions moved through her, streams of consciousness flowing through her and awakening pleasure. Suddenly, interrupted by John loudly asking, ‘Julia, are you finished?’ startled, Julia replied, ‘No, please wait, I need more time.’ Julia stood, searching the walls, and moving to the radio to turn it on. A song started playing,

You’re light, you’re the night,

You’re the color of my blood.

You’re cure, you’re the pain,

You’re the only thing I wanna touch.

Never knew that it could mean so much, so much.

You’re the fear, I don’t care,
’Cause I’ve never been so high.
Follow me to the dark,
Let me take you past our satellites.
You can see the world you brought to life, to life.

So, love me like you do, lo-lo-love me like you do…

It was one of Julia’s favorite songs, and right at that moment, she felt it lightening her fears and releasing her emotions. She approached the glass door and spoke up. ‘John, I’ve finished searching and found nothing. You can come out now, but first, you have to close your eyes. Then I’ll help you back to the bed, okay?’ ‘Okay.’, John replied. John closed his eyes and opened the glass door. ‘Don’t open your eyes I tell you to.’, Julia commanded. She placed her palms against his back, guiding him forwards back to the bed. Assured John was out of sight, Julia dropped back to her side. Unexpectedly, Julia began feeling comfortable in his presence, not asking John to stop the music, which carried on playing love songs for the rest of the day. As the lights dimmed, she didn’t feel the need to fall asleep like before, panic-stricken and exhausted. John’s soft and charming face came to mind, again and again, the face of a good and honest man; a man she could have feelings for.

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