N is for Nuance

I sat in bed cloaked in my fluffy white dressing gown and propped up with pillows. I was scrolling through the e mails on my phone and though I was tired my mind was on fire.  I also felt wildly uncomfortable about Karl sleeping in my bed. Our bed.  Weird.

He came out of the en -suite dressed only in his Calvin Klein boxer shorts.  I burst out laughing and looked away.

“What?”  He laughed. “Have you forgotten what a fine looking specimen I am?” 

“You’re an arrogant wanker.” I smiled. “This whole situation is insane.  This whole night is insane.”  I said, mulling it over in my busy head.

He pulled back the sheets and got in. 

  “Ah, I love this bed.” 

I looked down at him as he grabbed his pillow and snuggled into it like a child.  He looked up at me, with a soft, dreamy expression, “Come and give me a cuddle Soph..”

I felt the familiar lurch in my stomach.  A mixture of pain, longing and fear.  It would be easy to fall into his arms and yield to the  warmth and protection but it would be a short lived joy that would only serve to open old wounds in the cold light of day.

“In a bit..” I stalled. “I still have to change the world.” I smiled and rubbed his hand under the sheets.

“You change everybody’s world Sophie.” He held onto my hand under the covers as he shut his eyes. 

“Don’t be long.” He whispered.

Please just go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep. I said the mantra over in my mind so I wouldn’t succumb to him or to my own needs that were beginning to break through my protective wall.   I sat still, holding onto his hand and watched him for several minutes as he drifted into dreamland.  

I looked around the room and at the pretty Cath Kidston wallpaper that adorned the walls.  It looked particularly shabby-chic in the soft glow of the bedside lamp. Shabby chic could pretty much sum me up of late, I thought wryly.  I slipped my hand slowly out of Karl’s.  He was oblivious to the change and remained deeply unconscious.  I still felt weird and wasn’t sure if that was still the effect of the brownie or the surreal situation I was currently experiencing.  I took my attention back to my phone and clicked on my word game.  The Voice had played and my mood lifted a little.

The Voice:  No I’m not a singing monkey.  Sorry to disappoint.
I played my turn as I wondered why he had called himself ‘The Voice.’  User names tended to have some sort of relevance or aspiration attached to them.

Sophistication: OK.  So are you a narrator?  A politician?  A pundit?  A voice over person? Or maybe you just like the sound of your own voice...is that it?

I waited for a reply. It was clearly wakey, wakey time in his part of the world.  I must find out where that is, I thought.

The little green bubble appeared along with his played word.  It wasn’t a great play and our scores were only a few points apart.

The Voice: No.  I’m none of those things. Though I’m marveling at your sudden interest in me and the fact you are partaking in the art of conversation. 
Sophistication: Don’t marvel too much. I’m just interested in people on the whole.

But ‘The Voice’ was piquing my interest.  I didn’t know why and tried to analyse it. He was quite rude, well, maybe short and quippy rather than really rude.  Besides, that didn’t bother me. I lived in England where sarcasm and smart arses were usually the order of the day.   He had certainly got under my skin in the first place which was always a sure fire way to get a reaction from me but it wasn’t just that.  Competitive, yes, he played the game well; Intelligent and droll from what I could surmise at this early stage from his text and delivery. Challenging; almost certainly.  These were attributes that I tended to like in a person.

The Voice: Oh and I thought it was just me. I’m almost hurt.

Hmm.  I thought as I read his text.  You are very droll indeed.

Sophistication: Almost? I must try a little harder in future.

The game was getting near to ending and I wondered if he’d just disappear back into the ether or we’d move on to round two.

The Voice: I work in the entertainment sector but I am nothing as glamorous as you imagine.  What do you do? Something sophisticated?

I hated it when conversations took an about turn to focus on me.  I didn’t like talking about myself and my life.  It seemed like an invasion of my privacy yet I was more than happy to do that to others.   I almost felt like I was expected to live up to something fabulous as my true reality would spark very little interest.
I played my word and took the lead. 

Sophistication:  I write banal slot fillers for magazines.

That’ll do, I thought.

The Voice: WOW.  You sound like you really love your job.

Sophistication: I do like it, but on the whole that’s what I do. Where do you come from Mr. Voice, another planet?

Maybe he’ll leave ‘the all about me’ part alone now and I could direct the conversation back to him.

The Voice:  I’d like to see some of your writing, if I may.

Oh for the love of God. Really?  Why? I wondered.

Sophistication:  I really don’t think you’d be interested it.

There.  That should end that.

The Voice: How do you know whether I’d be interested in it or not?  If I wasn’t interested I wouldn’t have asked.

Sophistication: Well, you really don’t strike me as the sort of guy who’d rush home, kick off his shoes, lay on the sofa with a nice cappuccino as you hasten to read an article about the upcoming interior trends. 

Only seven letters were left on my tile rack.

The Voice:  I want to see your writing ‘style'.

Style. Hmmm. Usually oppressed and lacking any spice or eloquence when you had to cram as much info about furniture and trend into a 300 word article.  Still, he wasn’t letting up so I sent a couple of links to the online magazines.

The Voice: Thank you.  And I live in another planet called California.

Oh, it was like that was it? A quid pro quo.

 So the voice was in Californ-I-A.  That would explain the time difference. I tried to remember from my previous trips to San Fran and L.A – about 8 hours behind.  Gorgeous, sunny days, palm trees and wide boulevards.   He lived in the land of the beautiful where ‘teeth, tits and toes’ took priority. Well, not all of California, but that had been my initial reaction to LA LA land.  I often wondered if one day ALL the women over there would carve, starve and Botox themselves into Stepford perfection; becoming similarly beautiful and yet so vacuous.  And when that day came the everyday, flawed and natural women from the other lands would dominate as the new beauties of the world as they stood uniquely next to the moulded.

Sophistication:  Very nice. I’m jealous.  Mostly of your sunshine and American bacon.

I finished my play and won by 11 points.  I couldn’t be certain but I was almost sure he’d allowed that to happen. The chat line remained open.

The Voice: Rematch, or does amusing and rare = one game stand?

Sophistication: Of course. You may start one but I will resume ‘rare and amusing’ play tomorrow as I’m going to sleep, if that suits you?

The Voice:  Tomorrow is fine.  Going to bed means you live in Europe? England? France? Poland? Some island somewhere?

Sophistication: A remote island full of amusing monkeys.  England.

The Voice: You have an isle of dogs, why not isle of monkeys. Sleep well English person.

Well he’s either visited the East end of London or he’s well read, I thought to myself.  I scrolled back through our chat looking for meanings, and subtle shades;trying to build the character from across the pond in my mind and understand why I felt a connection with him.
I turned off my phone and let out a deep sigh.  What a crazy world I lived in.  I looked down at Karl who hadn’t even moved and was sleeping soundly in another place.  Just where I longed to be. I turned off the light and snuggled down into the bed so I too could appreciate the nuance of an alternate reality like the deep sleeper beside me.