He didn’t walk in.
It didn’t matter too much, because while I was in the shower I imagined every little detail of the shower encounter that I hoped for. My body was throbbing with a youthful, unrestrained desire. I welcomed the hot water falling on my head and then cascading down my neck, arms, elbows, back and legs.
‘The ride to this in-the-middle-of nowhere Polish town was undoubtedly too long’ I concluded while soaping the chest and feeling the stiffness of my muscles.
‘It doesn’t matter… Where was I?’ the imagination continued. I smiled. After a few minutes of feeling special in the made-up intimate encounter, I opened my eyes. There was only water, unknown brand of shampoo with a mild peppermint scent and the cold white bathroom walls.
I dressed up and walked back into the room. Luka was sitting on the bed, his back against the pillow.
‘He probably just finished doing his thing, thinking about Doris… Never mind, I’ll show him that I am better than any girl.’ My posture became proudly erected.
“What the heck is it?” he said all of a sudden. I was woken from my thoughts.
Stopping at throwing clothes around my bed, looking for the green Kappa shirt, I looked at him indignantly: “What?”
“You seem angry. You looked normal 10 minutes ago.” he said in a casual way.
“No worries, I’m fine.” I replied, not caring whether he believed it or not.
Outside it was getting darker, even though it wasn’t even 4:30 in the afternoon. I started to think about the coming dinner and in my mind I saw the whole crowd of skiers in the hotel restaurant, drinking, laughing and flirting. Girls laughing, looking at me, expecting something. ‘Who cares?’ I concluded inwardly.
Dropping the thought I put on the blue Levi’s and brand new blue and white Reeboks, bought in Italy just for this trip.
‘I look cool wearing them.’ I thought, looking at my body with satisfaction. ‘But wait, there is more to this. What am I missing? Aha’ I reached toward the jacket pocket and took out the pack of of Blue Kim cigarettes. Also bought in Italy, in the Duty Free Shop.
“Oh, you have those too. Yea, I know, the green ones, Menthol flavored, smell cool but they burn my throat” Luka looked at the pack.
“Yap. The same here. Blue ones are not too strong, the smoke goes easily in. Probably they are not dangerous, since they are light.” I investigated the pack in detail, as if expecting “harmless and healthy” to be written somewhere.
The dinner time came. Our rooms were in a separate housing unit, some 100 feet from the main hotel building. The path was quite slippery and I needed to grab onto some pine branches that were hanging low. The restaurant was in the basement. It was a wide but cozy place. The walls were dominated by hanging pictures of the surrounding mountains and ski resorts. Somewhat rusty tables were neatly covered with white tablecloths.
The staff spoke Polish only.
At the table with me there were few more teenage girls and boys. Couple of their parents who accompanied us to the trip were sitting there too, now looking for a waiter to bring them drinks. After the dinner and few drinks the adults went off.
“Finally!” Sandra said, sighing. She was a 15-year old girl that went to the same elementary school with me before she went off to the high school. She was short with a round, plump face and a jet black hair.
“Yes. Now let’s get something real to drink.” Luka rubbed his hands together in excitement. He looked around, checking if he was too loud. No one was there.
“I’d like to have some Polish Vodka. I heard it’s damn good.” Goga chuckled. She had a pointy nose and was taller than me.
“I don’t know that yet, but I will soon find out.” I said firmly. I took Blue Kim out of my pocket.
“Yes! That’s what I need too.” Goga said with pleasure and held her hand out to me.
“Here. Take it.” I cheerfully replied.
“Sure, all girls love these cigarettes. But I have something for men here.” Luka smirked while pulling red Marlboro out of his jeans pocket.
‘Why did he say it like that? What’s wrong with Kim cigarettes? They looked normal to me, only completely white.’ I looked with concern at the cigarette in my hand, rolling it as if searching for a defect.
Luka looked toward me and arrogantly said:” Yes, pussy, you smoke those like all girls do and we will smoke Marlboro.
“Why on Earth did you call him pussy?” Sandra said angrily looking at him, then at me, as if exploring if there’s something about me that she missed seeing before.
“What do you care? He’s my friend and I’ll call him how I want to. He is like a pussy.” Luka said with a hint of victorious delight.
Suddenly I felt hot in my face, probably went all red. The chair rattled and scraped the floor as I stood up abruptly. I felt my eyes watery.
‘I need to get out of here. Now!’ I started to walk towards the exit all the while hearing Luka’s idiotic laughter behind me. I heard another chair scraping the floor but I kept walking. I ran up the flight of stairs and pushed the door violently open. I was hit by a cold evening air. I looked up. The stars could not be seen; only thick, gray clouds that hovered low, illuminated by the small town’s lights. I folded my arms around my chest to keep warm. As I breathed heavily the steam was coming out of my mouth. I let it go. I cried. Pulling my arms even tighter I felt deep shame in the deepest pit of my stomach.
‘It must be that I am like a girl. What an awful feeling. I just want to disappear. I wanna go home.’ I shut my eyes hoping to find a soothing picture in my mind. Something. Anything. No success. I opened my eyes only to feel the deep terror of realizing how far away from my mom I was. How far away from the loving hug.
Someone gently tapped my shoulder. I turned. It was Sandra. She was wearing a red and white sweater that one dared to wear on ski vacations only. Her black hair fell down her shoulders. She looked good.
“Don’t listen to him. He’s a jerk. Arrogant fool.” She said with a lecturing tone, sounding more like she was talking to him.
“Why is he doing this? What have I done to him?” I looked away as soon as I felt a new surge of tears coming out.
“It’s all right. Calm down. Don’t let the words affect you so much. There is nothing wrong with you” She said assuredly, holding my hand.
I wish I believed her.