By Aviva, age 22, New Jersey
She was his employer and so he served her. She was the love of his life and so he was loyal. It was the latter that had him sitting out in the car, parked at the curb. The streets were mostly empty. It was late, and the rain came down in droves. Occasionally, some poor soul ran past, clutching at his umbrella handle and doing an odd, uncoordinated dance to avoid the puddles that had gathered rapidly on the sidewalks. He watched these people with little interest, simply because there was nothing else to do, and he was just over the edge of tense that kept his fingers gripping the steering wheel instead of drumming on it.
Because he knew she wouldn't, he kept a close eye on the time. She always forgot about time in her hurry to live, he thought with the ghost of a smile, watching the digital display shift every sixty seconds. With only five minutes to go, he pulled out his phone and rang up to her.
It took some time before she picked up, and he only knew that she'd answered her phone because the tinny ring stopped and he could hear her breathing, just a little too fast, a little too harsh. She said nothing. "You've got to get going," he said, and even though he knew she wouldn't reply, waited until he heard that absolute silence of dead air that meant she'd hung up before he did so himself. And then he waited again.
He knew she was going to take her time cleaning up a bit. Still, he was just slightly anxious, watching the digital numbers and waiting. No one wondered at a car outside of this apartment building. Its inhabitants were frequently whisked off by unmemorable faces in shiny, new cars that had to wait for passengers that felt only their time was valuable. She wasn't like that, he knew. She cared. She trusted him, and that was why he was here, the only one who knew. And then he'd just take her back home, and should her husband, that blustering lawyer who treated his wife like an opposing witness, ever suspect a thing, he would be her alibi. "No, sir," he'd say. "The missus never left the house." And the self-proclaimed king of his own home would never deign to think that the man beneath his heel could be clever enough to lie.
There she was. He breathed a little more easily as she dashed through the rain. Before he could so much as move, she'd yanked open the door herself and, to his surprise, slid into the front seat next to him. Out of the ordinary, he thought, and it would have worried him that she would break routine now, except that her face was radiant with excitement. She was always beautiful, but god, if she wasn't even more beautiful now. Her dark eyes were lit up with the thrill of her evening and her forehead glistened with the sheen of dewy perspiration. The chestnut hair that was normally pulled back tightly flowed freely over her shoulders, full and soft, and his fingers curled again over the steering wheel to keep from wanting to just reach out and touch it. Touch her. That wasn't his place, that wasn't why she trusted him.
And then, to his immense shock, she took his face in her hands and pulled his lips to hers for one quick, harsh kiss. She smelled wonderful, the musky mix of her Dream perfume, and the gloss of sweat, and some other vague scent that he couldn't identify, but it mixed so well with the others. Even as she pulled away and he tried to regain his composure, she giggled. A light laugh that was both like a little girl's and full of womanhood at the same time, a sound that absolutely thrilled him. "Now that, John," she said in a voice that rang in his ears like crystal. Not for the world would he have interrupted it to remind her that his name was Jack. "That is living."
He smiled back at her and nodded and pulled away from the curb. They'd be home soon, before the lawyer, and no one would be the wiser.
Ah, that was the smell, he thought, as it suddenly registered. Dream, sweat, and gunpowder.