An hour later, Hazim climbs upstairs. He talks to the sailor, then comes back with two bottles of water. He hands me one. “Drink. The trip will last some time,” he says and takes a swig. He’s still standing, clutching his bottle in one hand, holding on to the hull with the other to steady himself.
I glare at him.
His face remains in the dark, but I think I see him glare back.
I gobble down some water. Then, I pat the mattress and say, “If there’s a long trip ahead, better be confortable.”
He just sends me a wary look before sitting down across from me again. “If I appear cranky, I’m sorry. I suppose the situation must be tough for you, too,” he mumbles.
I didn’t expect kindness, I wasn’t prepared for pity. There’s a sudden lump in my throat. “Thanks,” I manage to say. “I’m cranky too. And tired.”
A soft smile creeps up on Hazim’s face. “Try to rest, okay?”
“I can’t. Whenever I close my eyes, I… I see the face of that guy again, you know, the guy from the bar… He seemed so hostile, so determined to hurt me…”
“Once we’ve reached Cyprus, you’ll be okay.”
“Will I?” I think for a moment. “It’s strange. Here I am, sitting in this cabin, unable to do anything. And yet. I still get the impression that I’m running. Running away from I don’t know what, running I don’t know where. But running… running for my life.”
“You don’t know what it really means to run for your life.” Hazim’s voice gets a shade darker. “I’ve been running my whole life,” he murmurs.
“Why do you say that?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Well, maybe you should? Some things are easier to bear when you share them with someone.”
“You really think that?” He shakes his head. “Not me.”
“Drop it. Please?” Hazim changes position, his flashy boardshort tickles my bare calf.
“Uh, okay, sorry.” I say. “Sooo. Tell me: how old are Murat’s sons?”
“One’s twelve, the other fourteen. Why?”
“Just like that. Wanted to know why we’re dressed up in kiddie clothes.”
“What?” He seems to be caught on the hop.
“Well… you look ridiculous—you know that?” I can’t help but snicker. “Those garish colours! And that T-shirt! It’s several sizes too small for you!”
“You think you look better?” Despite himself, Hazim giggles, too.
“I know! I’m horrible, thanks to you and Murat. Can’t he buy his kids decent clothes?”
“Frankly—you’re such a snob!”
“You call me a snob?” I box him on the shoulder.
“Don’t you punch me!” he growls. I’m not sure whether he’s serious or just playing.
“Why not?” I box him again, a bit harder this time.
All the sudden, he pounces on me and tosses me on my back. He seizes my hands, blocks my legs, pins me to the floor. I try to get free, wiggling and rolling from side to side, but his hard body lies on mine. I can’t move, I’m barely able to breathe. “I said, ‘Don’t!’” he hisses in my ear.
From this close, his melancholy eyes look like huge, black wounds. I smell his perfume, his personal scent, feel his pulse, his skin, his body all over mine. I stand no chance against him; that’s why I pretend to give up and go limp. “Okay,” I whisper. “You win.”
Hazim lets go of my hands but doesn’t move off me.
I expected this to happen, somehow. I never expected this to happen, too. Everything seems very clear now. Things fall into place with an astounding coherence, every piece and detail makes sense.
Despite myself, I touch his hair, the corners of his eyes, his chin. My lips brush against his, then insist ever so softly.
“Don’t!” he whispers. But he opens his mouth and allows my tongue to slip in. My hands glide down, inside his T-shirt, move upwards. His chest hair makes my fingertips prickle. A wave of desire rushes over me, which I try to fight as hard as I can. I must stay in control, that’s what I always do. Control my body, control other bodies. It’s my job to act that way.
“Don’t!” Hazim whispers again. He doesn’t mean my fingers, however, he doesn’t mean my lips, he doesn’t mean my body. No, he reads me like an open book, and he wants me to let go.
These two words open a hidden door I didn’t even know existed inside me. I don’t pretend anymore. Kiss him harder. Moan. Truly give up.