A/N: All your great reviews please me so much. I`m very happy that you`ve joined me on this little roller-coaster of emotions.
Some of you asked me for the original Little Mermaid and here it is: hca . gilead . org . il/li_merma . html (remove breaks). I think it`s very beautiful.
I want to thank Rascalthemutant for reading this and correcting my mistakes even if she`s very busy with her school. I appreciate it very much.
These characters are not mine. They belong to Charlaine Harris. I just love playing with them.
I took a deep breath when Eric left my apartment. He`d been so very nice and helpful, and I had enjoyed every moment of it. Well, not the crying into his shirt bit, but I wasn`t going to think about that.
My life consisted of enough soul-searching as it was, pondering over my marriage with Bill and how I could have been oblivious to all the little signs I`d had throughout the years. How I could not see this coming.
I was not going to ponder over Eric. I was going to enjoy his company for however long I had it.
I knew Eric would be leaving soon and that I would probably never see him again, but I didn`t want to think about that. I enjoyed his voice, his help, his smile. I could even enjoy a few hidden peaks at his butt in those well-fitting jeans. It seemed my eyesight improved every time Eric had his back to me.
Eric wasn`t a nurse yet, but he would be a great one when he graduated. And for the time being I could enjoy his training – and his person.
I was very close to falling for Eric when I celebrated Christmas and New Year`s with him. And I had caught myself planning a future with him more than once, when we`d e-mailed and talked on the phone. After all, I could write my books anywhere in the world and a nurse could work pretty much anywhere too. It shouldn`t be a problem for either of us to relocate.
Now I knew how silly those thoughts had been, of course. What 26-year-old would want to spend his life with a 39-year-old even if she`d been of good health? And now I was of anything but good health. I didn`t even have my good looks anymore.
Eric came by the next morning before I had eaten breakfast. I`d barely had time to make myself a cup of coffee when he entered my apartment carrying a bag full of breakfast treats. He set the table and to my surprise I was actually hungry. Very hungry. My stomach growled and I ate his bagels, fruits and buns as if I hadn`t eaten for weeks.
“I`ll bring more tomorrow,” Eric said when I almost licked my plate.
I smiled, not because he would bring me more food, but because he would come back the next day.
“It`s a nice change to eat real food. It`s just not the same when it comes in a tube,” I smiled.
“I could run it through your blender for you, you know,” he deadpanned. “Mix it all and get that lovely special beige color.”
I laughed. “It would lack that very special feeling of having your food fed to you through a huge tube down your nose. Nothing says `Bon Appétit` like a tube in your nose.”
“I could do that too. I am a nurse, you know,” he winked. “Your wish is my command when it comes to tubes through noses.”
“Good to know. But for now I think I`ll prefer to put my teeth to use.” I showed him the teeth in question and tapped my finger on them.
“I have other skills,” he said with a smile.
“Oh, I know, Eric.” I hadn`t meant for it to sound like an innuendo but when I heard it leave my mouth, it definitely had extra meaning.
Eric grinned and the room turned electric. Or maybe what was just me lusting for that handsome blonde in my apartment. I had some absurd reactions to Eric`s grin – the most absurd one being that I wanted to kiss him.
I chided myself. I should enjoy whatever Eric offered and I shouldn`t ruin it by wanting more than he could or would give. The image I met in the mirror, even with my poor eyesight, told me that I could not be the object of anyone`s lust. My scalp looked like a plucked hen, the two scars shining purple. And my face, well, I tried not to look too closely when I brushed my teeth.
Eric looked as if he was going to say something when the doorbell rang. I figured it would be Pam and though I`d come to like her, I couldn`t help feeling a little pang of disappointment. I wanted to be alone with Eric, silly me.
“Let me open the door,” Eric said and got up. He was smiling. No, he was grinning. I figured he was happy to see his sister again. Happy about not being alone with the responsibility of taking care of me. I could understand that. My scars looked scary and who wouldn`t be nervous about me getting another blackout?
I heard voices and then Eric came back into my living room. But it wasn`t Pam who was trailing behind him. A very tall and stunning woman, carrying a tool case and a small suitcase, came into my living room.
She smiled at me and I smiled back. There was something about her that made me like her instantly, though I should have felt intimidated to have such a beautiful woman in my apartment when I was currently self-conscious about my looks.
“I`m Claudine,” she said. “I`m here to fix your hair.”
“Excuse me?” I said. Had I booked a hair dresser and forgotten about it? I looked at Eric for an explanation but he just shrugged.
“Pam found her,” he said. “She said you hated the wig.”
“I do, but…” I started.
“Claudine here is an expert on hair extensions and weaving smaller wigs into people`s hair to cover bald spots. Pam figured it would do you a world of good.” Eric smiled but his eyes carried insecurity. Was he afraid I would feel insulted?
“Well, that was very sweet of Pam,” I said. “And you. I`m sure you had something to do with it too.”
“Oh, no,” he shook his head. “Pam did all the work. I merely told her I thought you have beautiful hair.”
“I had beautiful hair,” I corrected. I`m not a vain person, but I`d always been proud of my hair. And now I wasn`t.
“Sookie. Your hair is beautiful,” Eric said, his voice very intense. “And now it will be even better.”
I nodded, grateful for his little lies to make me feel better.
Claudine sat me down on a chair and went to work. At a hair salon I would have had a mirror so I could see what she was doing but now I could only feel her careful fingers work their way through my hair, and picking up tiny locks of blond hair from the table. I would have thought it would be painful since she worked so close to my scars, but her touch was light and felt nothing but pleased.
Eric had his eyes on my face and my hair the whole time Claudine was working. It was only when she asked for a glass of water he left us, bringing back a glass for me as well.
I kept my eyes closed most of the time, enjoying the pampering and relaxing in Claudine`s capable hands, but every time I opened them I met Eric`s encouraging smile or nod. It made me relax even more.
After what seemed like half an hour, but probably was more like two, Claudine looked at me from all angles and then she gave me a satisfied smile.
“I think you can go look at yourself in a mirror,” she said.
“Okay,” I answered and got up. I had to take a little side-step because I`d been sitting for so long and lost balance when I got up.
I had to smile at Eric who did a perfect impression of a tiger, jumping from the couch to me in one gliding movement. He had my arm and walked me to the bathroom. As much as I loved having him touch me, it also made me feel like an old lady. I`d held my Gran`s elbow in the exact same way Eric held mine.
I was a bit nervous when we reached the bathroom but the look that met me in the mirror made me smile wider than I had smiled in a long time. My hair looked fantastic. It was just like I`d never had chunks of it pulled out by Bill or parts shaved off at the hospital.
“You`re a miracle worker,” I said to Claudine who`d followed Eric and me to the bathroom. When I looked at her, my eyesight got blurry, but it wasn`t because my eyes decided to fail me. No, I had tears in my eyes. Happy tears. Grateful tears. “Thank you,” I said to both Eric and Claudine and was rewarded with a hug from both.
Claudine packed her things and left my apartment – and Eric and I were alone again.
“Do you feel like getting some fresh air?” he asked.
I laughed. “I don`t think you`ll find fresh air anywhere in New York.”
“We could go to Central Park. Take a cab there and go for a walk there. What do you say?”
Suddenly a walk in Central Park seemed very tempting.
“I`d love to,” I answered. “I just want to cover my bruises.”
“Do you want me you do it?” Eric asked.
I couldn`t help smiling. “Do you have a lot of experience with make-up, Eric?”
“You mean I`ve never told you about my secret identity as a drag queen? I`m the infamous, the sexy, the one and only…” he paused. “Tess Tosterone!” Eric shouted it in a high pitched voice. He winked at me – 20 times in a row and I could almost imagine long fake eyelashes glued onto his eyelids. Yeah, he would make a great drag queen. All six feet, four inches of him.
“I think I would have remembered,” I laughed. “Well, Tess, I`m all yours,” I said and handed him my few items of makeup. I figured it couldn`t get any worse than what Debbie Pelt had done to my face.
I closed my eyes and for the second time that day, I enjoyed someone`s careful fingers touching me and making me prettier. Only, this time the fingers belonged to Eric and that made the experience all the more enjoyable.
“Ta-daaaa,” Eric said when he`d finished. I opened my eyes and looked in the mirror. It wasn`t half bad. The lipstick was a bit on the slutty red side – it was one I`d gotten as a present from my old friend Arlene who thought I needed some colors but I had never worn it. Trust Eric to find it. But apart from that, I looked like a human being again.
The scars were covered up. At least the ones on the outside.
An hour later we were in Central Park, just strolling about. From time to time I would stumble a little because of my poor balance or my eyesight going on and off, but Eric was there every time, holding on to my arm when I needed it.
I knew whatever time I had with Eric now would come to an end – if not sooner, then when he went back to Scandinavia. But I`d decided I wouldn`t think about that. I would also not think about how much I inconvenienced him or if he helped me out of guilt or pity.
I had more than enough negative thoughts roaming my brain. I wasn`t looking for new things to feel bad about.
I would enjoy it for as long as I could and then I would daydream about it afterwards.
I`m sure many of us would like those daydreams 🙂
Have a nice weekend!