Monday and Tuesday passed without any word from my tiger. Surprisingly I was mainly unaffected. I was marinating in the bliss created by Marcas. Yet, like a thorn in my paw it would have to be addressed sooner or later. The sailor’s aftermath had me feeling secure, safe, moored. I didn’t need the tiger after all. Perhaps I’ve had my fill?
The kid managed to stay put for the next couple of days. We spent our evenings entertaining each other after work, laughing and happily chatting over our events of the day. Wednesday while chilling on the couch, swaddling aluminum bowls chock full of kettle corn flavored popcorn, my phone buzzed.
I lazily looked over and arched a smug brow noting a text from the tiger. The elusive creature had come out of hiding. I chuckled at the kid’s satirical remark “I don’t want the London look,” before picking up the phone and swiping.
I miss you babe. Can I see you tomorrow?
The artificial shroud of haughtiness disintegrated with those mere words. A longing from a place I could not rectify with any amount of logic materialized in my heart. And everything I believed about the way I felt regarding my tiger proved to be an invention of my astonishing imagination. He had me at hello.
I put the phone down carelessly in an effort to appear unaffected, but I thought it too cold. Fear set in as to how Imtiaz might decipher my one word. I reacquired the phone shiftlessly. The importance, absent from my behavior was weighted in my words.
I miss you too tiger.
My phone buzzed one more.
The word made me smile. I warmed myself with the thought that he needed reassurance from me, that I still wanted him after being with my husband. As it turned out, we both needed to know. I knew I could never again be so dismissive about my feelings for him despite any defensive pretense. Now that I had him in my sights, I could hardly think on anything else. The movie came and went in much of a blur. Awhile later, I felt my child’s small fingers digging into my shoulder.
“Mom, the movie’s over. Wake up.”
“Wha -” I rubbed my eyes, trying to focus. The credits were already rolling.
“Oh I’m sorry lil mama. I didn’t even realize I nodded off.”
“Don’t worry about it mom. It was boring. I think I fell asleep during some of it too.” She laughed easily.
“Go to sleep mom, I’ll put this stuff in the sink and straighten out the living room.” She said charitably.
Wow the kid was definitely in a good mood. I decided to take full advantage of it while I could. I threw one last, weak protest over my shoulder as I headed toward the kitchen.
“Yeah mom. Go. I got this.”
I checked my phone and was slightly disappointed that there was only a text from Marcas wishing me a good night and sweet dreams.
I responded with my usual “I love you,” set my alarms for the morning and changed into my tank and shorts. Our weekend fantasy was at an end. He was there. I was here.
My last thought was of Imtiaz’s long, lithe, naked body above me, inside of me, his face closer than farther, a rhythm of ecstasy, whispers carried on breath in his native tongue, “apani amara jaan haya. You are my life.”