The Morning After

The man awoke at dawn from the profound slumber which could be born only of complete satisfaction. He stared up at the stucco ceiling for a moment to get his bearings, then turned his head slightly to the right. She was facing away from him, but he could see the tangle of long, blonde hair. He smiled.

He silently slipped from the bed, barely disturbing the light cotton sheet as it lay across the pale curve of her shoulder. It was a large sleigh bed, conspicuously out of place in what was otherwise a modestly furnished apartment. He suspected it had been the gift of a family member, perhaps an aunt or grandmother. Otherwise, the apartment perfectly met the dichotomy of whimsical and serious which was effortlessly achieved by a young grad student. He walked over to a shelf on the bedroom wall: a teddy bear; a picture with friends, possibly rock climbing; a picture of Freud smoking a cigar. From there he walked to the window. The curtains were soft, a light cream with a pastel flower print. He gently pulled them tighter to shut out the morning sun which was already beginning to fall across her face, except where his dark form cast a shadow.

He reveled in the early morning and preferred the solitude of his own mind. Coffee would be good, but it could wait a while. Aimlessly, he wandered over to her desk – a small, pale IKEA item in keeping with the general tone of the place, far more so than the elegant bed. There was a laptop open on the surface, together with scattered papers and an open textbook, its pages decorated with yellow and pink highlighter. He lifted the edge of the book to see its title. Abnormal Psychology. His gaze lingered on some of the highlighted passages. He smiled again. The innocent striving to understand the monsters of the world.

He peered into the main room of the apartment; again, it was sparsely furnished, yet cheerful and pleasant. The modest kitchen included a full-sized refrigerator, covered with photos, mementos, and other evidence of a life enjoyed. Rather than a couch there were a futon and a couple of mismatched chairs, all in subtle, spring-like tones and all working well together, in spite of their basic differences. There was a small television in the corner, but it was clearly not the focus of the room. Magazines on the coffee table pointed once again to the complex nature of the apartment’s resident. Scholarly reading was mixed with sports and fashion. She was clearly intelligent; he could attest that she was athletic, and yet, at heart, she was a young woman in search of her identity.

He made his way to the small washroom, neat and tidy except for the cornucopia of chemicals and products on the counter by the sink. He thought of her sparkling blue eyes, the slightly crooked yet radiant smile, the soft skin. She didn’t need all of these beauty products, he decided. She would be stunning even without them. He felt truly enriched to have met her, a fortuitous chance encounter he would treasure.

He looked into the mirror and stretched, then smiled widely once more. It had been too long since he had allowed himself such complete release. A night of passion and magic, after which the dawn had come all too soon.

“I wonder what her name was,” he pondered, absently, as he began to wash the blood from his hands.