Oscar liked Polly asleep in his arms. She was soft and smelled sweet of perfume: the one she wore and her natural scent. Her soft snoring let him know she was tired, so he lie there staring at her. Sometimes he almost dozed with the sweetness of her, her scent and her breath on his face and arms.
And then he would wake up. This time, his own drool like hers had been on him when she fell asleep that first time in the car, on the mattress.
And then he woke up, as if from a nightmare.
He got out of the bed softly so he did not wake up Polly. He reached for his jacket, and fished for his phone which was turned off.
On, it alerted him to a text from Eliza.
Where are you? I am in Shanghai…
Oscar felt heart palpitations. He had not even put on his shoes, as he walked into the hallway. He did not want to make the call in the room with Polly. He could still feel her breath on him.
Was it his guardian angel that got him out of the bed, and into the hallway where he saw Eliza?
She wrapped her arms about him quickly. He stared at her half from disbelief, half from the bit of happiness that would always be there when he saw her.
“Oscar,” she squeezed him again. “I wanted to surprise you, and I told them I was your wife and left a hefty tip…I was in the room. But you were not there…”
He looked in her eyes, and he knew that she knew even without saying anything. That she knew that there was something that she knew, that she did not want to know.
“I was out with a colleague.”
Eliza answered her own question and looked at him.
“You were with this woman…”
Oscar nodded. He felt guilty at first, but then he realized that her was no need. He was not married or engaged to her. She was engaged to someone, before he ever fell in love with her.
The entire time he was with Polly this time in Shanghai, he realized that was what he was infatuated with as much as Polly. That there was nothing that he had to think about besides her. He liked that.
There were no dead skeletons that he had to think about, that he knew about at least.
“Eliza, I love you, but I walked out of the room and she was sleeping and I want to be there when she wakes up. This is the key to my room, the extra. Wait there.”
Eliza took the key and nodded. He was not sure if she was dazed by the shock, or if she was okay but she walked to his room which was further down the hall.
He looked after her, and went back into Polly’s room, got in the bed and lie there again.
Polly still slept and he stared at her now with less joy, and a bit more fear.
He wanted her, he wanted her so much. Her breath warm on his, her eyes when she woke up focused on him. Lulled by her softness, he fell asleep.
In his dreams, Eliza chased him.
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skeleton with a rose photo by f dot leonora