Matt flips on the light switch and a plain kitchen greets her. She stands in the doorway gazing around the room, so different from Linda’s: no cheerful colors, no flowers. It could use a paint job, too.
What’s that word? Drab.
Matt takes the ice-cream cake from her hands and puts it in the freezer.
“I don’t seem to take after my mom in homemaking.”
“Nope. Sure don’t.”
“You never minded that?”
“Not so much.” But the tone of his voice says he really did and still does.
She wanders into the living room. The couch and matching chair are gray. So is the carpet. There are no pictures in frames, no small trinkets lining the shelves. In fact, there are no shelves. This room makes the hospital room look like a party.
It’s almost like these two people don’t want to live here. Or it’s temporary. Or…something.
She walks down the hallway to the bedroom, which has just a bed and a chest of drawers with nothing on top. She then heads farther down the hallway to the bathroom and spies another room, which seems to be just a holding spot for some random items.
“Why don’t we have any children?”
Liquid springs to her eyes. Oh! Wow, that stings. “Why not? Doesn’t every hu—I mean, well, why not?”
“Yer mom took you all over fer all kinds of tests. Never did figure it out. I got work to do with the horses.” He leaves, rather abruptly.
She wanders through the house some more, trying to coax out a few of the secrets that live there. No such luck. They want to remain just what they are.
Hours pass and Matt still hasn’t returned to the house. She’s Googled, walked around the house some more, Googled some more, tried to whisper to the secrets some more, and finally climbed into bed.
Shortly after she turns off the light, Matt comes in. She hears him use the bathroom and brush his teeth.
She’s starting to remember more and more of her training, and she thinks about the special ritual that two humans have together. It’s the talk of the entire universe. Surely that has to happen sometime. But Matt just lies down in the bed with his back to her.
Oh, just feel that love. Not. Google is helping her develop an attitude.
Matt rolls onto his back and starts making those crazy noises. She studies the ceiling, growing brighter from the rising moon.
You can’t just leave me here forever……….can you? You wouldn’t……….would you?
Matt walks into the kitchen the next morning to find her in yet more ecstasy over a bite of ice-cream cake.
“Cake fer breakfast?”
But she’s way too absorbed in the sensations of her taste buds again to answer.
This is quite the gig they have going here!
She cuts off another piece of cake.
“Just means slow down. Maybe pace yourself. Maybe not make up fer three months of missing out on ice-cream cake on yer first day home.”
A movement outside the window catches her eye—it’s another humanoid. “Who’s that?”
Matt looks out the window to where Missy has spied a man about their age heading toward the barn and stable. He’s wearing that strange head garment that she’s seen on other men, including on Frank.
“That’s Tommy, my buddy who helps me with the horses and cattle. We have a bunch of reg’lar guys to help. He just comes over sometimes.” He pauses for a few seconds, looking at her. “Do you remember at all how much you love riding horses?”
She shrugs and then starts to cut another piece of cake.
“Miss! Yer gonna give yerself a bellyache!”
“Fine.” She puts the piece back and puts the cake back in the freezer.
“I’m going to take a shower.” He leaves the room.
A few moments later she peeks down the hall toward the bathroom. Matt’s left the door open but is mostly hidden by the steam on the shower door. His back is to her as he lathers shampoo on his hair.
Woah, Nellie! What in the universe?
The feelings flooding her body are incomparable, beyond anything she’s ever felt before, anywhere.
Oh, you crazy human be-things! How can you possibly complain about anything, ever? Do you have any idea what you have going on here—on this planet, in these bodies of yours?
Relishing the scrumptious sensations in her physicality (still a brand-new dimension for her), she wanders down the hall. She stands outside the bathroom, watching intently, while Matt finishes up. Her eyes widen as he opens the shower door, reaches for a towel, and dries himself. He rubs some steam off the mirror and catches her watching him.
“Missy! You want to take a shower?”
He turns the water back on and holds the door open for her. Trying not to stare at his body, she slips out of her pj’s—she remembers that term from one of her “friends” on the book of faces—and into the shower.
Utter euphoria fills her body as thousands upon thousands of tingles wash all over her. It’s so much better than the tiny, slow shower she’d used a couple of times in the hospital. Matt leaves, shutting the door behind him.
She holds her hands under the spray, then lets the spray hit her face and her head. She pulls the showerhead from its holder and slowly sprays water up and down her arms and legs, down her back, across her front.
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