Are people overly nice? or are they just trying to feel good like a good person? Only you know the answer.
I see her figure from the distance, hidden in her hair and with a book on her lap. She wears a woolen, ragged sweater, even though it’s spring time.
‘Hello there,’ I say. She only turns around half way.
‘Ah, you did come. I’m sort of surprised. Well, not really but actually yes. I thought you would come by tram.’
I sit down next to her as she watches the 56 pull out of its stop. Two drunk guys and a heavily sweating woman are left on the curb.
‘You know, it’s funny, I always looked at trams like they were yellow Santa Clauses, leaving little gifts at every stop. Now I have realised that people are not presents.’
‘Deliciously cynical. With that sweater and attitude you are only a guitar away from being in a grunge band.’
She seems to smile. A lock of hair dangles to the side of her face and I can see a part of her skin. She immediately looks to the ground.
‘So m’lady, where do you want to go?’ I ask as I light a cigarette. She turns her head away from me.
‘I don’t know, somewhere I guess. You should figure this out. You are the man.’
‘Wow, I didn’t know you were this old fashioned.’
‘Well, once I was quite a spoiled princess, back in the day when I was still a trophy.’
I watch the last rays of sunlight reflected on the tram tracks, following the 19 as it pulls further into Bartok Bela ut.
‘Okay, let’s go to Szatyor then. Seems suiting for a princess.’
She shakes her head.
‘No, that’s too posh for me now. Let’s do Aranykorso. I like being surrounded by worn out alcoholics and poor people. They feel more like my crowd nowadays.’
I feel the frays of her sweater’s sleeve stroking my hand as we cross the square. There’s a little carriage full of library books in the middle with two homeless men sharing a beer on the bench next to it.
‘Wouldn’t it be nice to be a library book.’ she says as she stops to look at the titles piled up behind thin glass.
‘Everytime someone takes you, they want to know everything about you, and when they’re bored, they just bring you back to be picked up by someone else. You never have to worry that they keep you just because they’ve invested in you, or that they put you on a shelf to brag to other people.’
She holds a book in her hands as the girl who runs the little library walks up to us. She is short and has a pretty face with delicate features. An open smile appears around her lips as she notices Bori.
‘Oh hiiiii, that’s a very nice book you have there. Would you like to take it home with you?’
Bori shakes her head.
‘No thanks,’ she says as she pulls my sleeve.
‘We need to go.’
As we continue to walk, she’s hiding again in her hair.
‘I hate that,’ she says as she looks back for a second.
‘You know, people being so… overly nice. I’m not a retard you know?’
‘I’m sure she was just trying to be nice.’
‘No, she was just trying to feel like she’s a good person.’
I slide my finished cigarette over the edge of the trash bin and throw the butt inside.
She stops to look at me.
‘Are you sure you have put it out properly?’
‘Yeah, I guess so…’
She looks inside.
‘Mmm,’ she says.
‘Then let’s go.’
As I’m waiting at the bar she stays right behind me. I can feel her breasts pressing against my back, while she frantically looks around.
‘What do you want? Beer, wine?’
She looks up at me.
‘Cola. I don’t drink alcohol anymore. It makes my head cloudy. I can’t think straight with that stuff in my body.’
‘So, where shall we sit my princess?’ I ask with the two drinks in my hands. She points at a place in the corner of the bar.
‘Ah, you like dark corners, don’t you?’
I can hear a puff of breath escaping her nostrils as her curly hair jumps up a bit. It’s the closest thing to laughter I can get from her.
‘Now don’t get any ideas young man. I’m a lady.’
As we sit down she takes the candle that’s burning in the middle of our table and blows it out. A puff of smoke twirls up, like a genie that gave up on his purpose midair and choose to look for better wishes elsewhere.
‘So…’ I say. ‘What’s your story? I mean, besides the things we already talked about.’
She sits back. Another puff of air escapes her nose, but this time it expresses an entirely different emotion.
‘Well, okay then. I guess we need to address The Elephant Man in the room.’
‘That’s not what I mean.’
‘Yes, it is!’
I stroke my hair and look at the beer in my hand.
‘Well, okay. It’s just that… I never met someone like you in this city.’
She leans forward to look straight in my eyes. Her hair slides a bit away from her face as she starts to whisper.
‘That’s because in this country, they lock up people like me and forbid them to mingle with the normals out of fear of what the villagers might say. I was thrown in the basement, forced to feed off rats for most of my childhood.’
She lets herself fall back in her seat, crossing her arms, shaking her head.
‘No, of course not you idiot. I’m from Kishegyes, a small town. It happened in a local bar. Some idiots thought it was a great idea to bring fireworks in there and they burned the whole place down. Many young people had the same scars at the same time so I didn’t really stand out. I was the only one who moved to the city though. We always joked about pranking outsiders, making them feel like they just walked into a Stephen King novel or something, but no outsiders ever came.’
She strokes her hair back a bit and just for the second time I get a good look at her skin.
I met her while I was reading a book under orange street lights, watching runners go by, when a girl sat down next to me. She was wearing a hoodie with hair sticking out from both sides.
‘So, does this ever work?’
I looked up to see this figure sitting next to me, checking me out from top to bottom.
‘Does what work?’
‘Picking up naive little literature students by being the dreamy, romantic man reading in the wild.’
I smiled as I put the book away.
‘Well, one guy came up to me to ask me where he could buy English books, but that’s not really my demographic.’
She nodded and moved a bit closer to me.
After that we spend several hours talking about literature, life and everything else.
‘Do you want to meet again?’ she asked as she stood up and restarted the stopwatch on her phone.
She took off her hoodie and tied her hair back in the full glow of the streetlight. Her face looked like an onion that somebody stopped peeling halfway through. Patches of raw skin, any trace of delicacy melted into a wrinkled shapelessness.
‘So, this is what you just agreed to meet. Still up for that date?’
I swallowed and then smiled.
‘Yes…Yes I am.’
‘Do you want to see some pictures of the old me?’ she asks as she moves out of her side of the booth and slides into mine. She takes out her phone while her shoulder touches mine.
‘Look, this is her.’
On the picture I see a girl in a shiny purple dress. She makes a duck face with her brightly shining lips while her fingers rest casually on her chest.
‘I bet you would like this girl,’ she says as she scrolls through some other photos.
‘I think that girl wouldn’t even look at me twice.’
Bori puts away her phone.
‘Mmm. I think she would let you buy her a drink.’
All of a sudden the sound of shattering glass rings through the bar. Bottles are rolling over the floor.
‘Bassza meg!’ the bartender yells.
I look at Bori. Her hands are tightly wrapped around her glass, her knuckles white. She seems frozen.
‘Do you want to get out of here?’
‘Then let’s get out of here.’
There’s a cool breeze as we cross Moricz. Different scents are wandering through the air to find a victim to seduce.
‘Ah… ‘ she says.
‘I smell good old KFC. I haven’t had that for a long time.’
‘I never eat that junk,’ I say as I take a puff from my new cigarette.
‘What, you don’t like fried things?’ I can feel her smile.
‘Wow, that’s dark.’
Her hand strokes mine as we are crossing the street. Her fingers feel warm but her face is still hidden between her hair.
‘So, is it hard for you to live with your…condition?’
All of a sudden stands still in the middle of the road. A Taxi honks as it maneuvers around her.
‘We could talk about something else you know. We were doing just fine the first time we met.’
I nod as I wait for her on the other side of the street.
‘Okay, okay. Just get off the street. I promise you I won’t bring it up again.’
We are sitting on a bench at Feneketlen-to. A willow is hanging its tired head in the water and the mating call of frogs rises from the lake. From behind us the music of a wedding party in progress floats our way. The streetlights mark the running track, putting stars on the path of those whose journey goes in an endless circle.
We each sit at a different end of the bench and we haven’t spoken a word since we got here. From the corner of my eye, I can see her stare at me while she’s rubbing herself warm.
‘You are an asshole, you know that, right?’ she says out of the blue.
‘You know, when I still looked like me, there were always these primitive guys hanging around, pretending to be nice, but at least with them I knew it was all about getting pussy. Now I just meet these so called nice guys who stick around so they can tell themselves that they’re good people. At least the other guys are transparent enough not to give you any false hope. You are an asshole because you are trying too hard to be nice.’
I scratch my nose and look at my sneakers that are full of holes.
She moves towards me, looking into my eyes.
‘Okay then, why is it then that you want to spend time with me mmm?’
I look up and try a shy smile.
‘I don’t know. I just like your personality.’
‘Jesus man, that sounds so gay. Do you suck dick with that mouth?’
‘Hey, no need to be homophobic’
‘I’m not being homophobic. I’m just calling you a faghead.’
‘Wow, now you really sound like my father.’
She starts to laugh. Her smile would be beautiful if she would have had any lips.
‘Okay then …’
She slides a bit closer to me and moves her shoulder to loosen her sweater.
‘Close your eyes.’
As I sit there with eyes closed, she takes my hand and lets it slide over her face. I feel the scars on her skin, the loose patches, how my fingers travel over different landscapes. A series of wrinkles that feel like waves caught in a desert, followed by a moist oasis. I pull my hand back, but she presses it firmly against herself. She moves it down. I can feel the curve of her breast, the softer skin of her nipple. It gets hard under my touch and I wrap my hand around it. I can hear her breath getting deeper, more raspy. Then she drops my hand.
‘Aaaahhh,’ she says as she stretches herself and yawns.
‘It’s getting quite late. I think it’s time to go home..’
I silently nod, still feeling the touch of her nipples tingle on my fingertips.
‘It’s good that I live around the corner. I wouldn’t want to be in your situation, having to travel all that distance to get home.’
‘Nah, it’s okay. It’s not that far.’
She pokes me.
‘You really are bad at this, aren’t you? You’re so innocent, not even able to take an obvious hint.’
Her room is cluttered with clothes. Fancy cocktail dresses, shoes and skirts. There are little toy animals everywhere looking down on what’s happening. We are laying together on the mattress in the corner of her room. She wears a t-shirt with a picture of a cat on it. Her nipples shine through it.
‘That’s good, keep on going like that,’ she sighs as she moves my hand towards the wetness between her legs. I open my eyes and see her face, a cratered moon in the white street light that falls through the curtains. My hand twitches.
‘Shit,’ she says out loud as she turns around, pulling the blankets away from me.
‘So that’s how it really is.’
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