”Youll have to check with your friend, though, ” the man adds, gesturing at Eleanor, who had been silent the entire time.
Herbert turns his head to look at Eleanor.
”Are you OK? ”
”Yea, yea, ” Eleanor shrugs off.
As the man leads them down a narrow staircase and turns to the left, there lies a small hallway filled with rooms and doors with numbers written on them. Each room looks the same; dark, messy, or dirty, with barely any decorations on the walls. After passing numerous doors, they arrive at an empty room with two beds.
”Here we are. Do you have enough money? ” the man asks.
Enough, Eleanor thinks to herself.
”Yes, we do. Thanks. We will pay you later. ”
”All right. Have a good night. ”
Herbert hands over one thousand pound bill to the man before he leaves them alone. As usual, Eleanor goes to the bathroom first. After a while, she walks out. As they stare at each other, Eleanor suddenly feels nervous and flustered looking away from him; she starts taking her slippers off and setting them against the wall beside the bed.
”Whats wrong? ” he asks.
She shakes her head, ”Nothing. ”
”Are you sure? ”
”Yea… ” She stops speaking abruptly when Herbert places both hands on her shoulders.
”Look, ” he continues quietly, ”If everything has become too overwhelming for you, we can- ”
”I am not tired. ” She interrupts.
”But you seem nervous… ” he adds in a gentle tone.
She closes her eyes. ”…I am just nervous. Its just that I haven slept since I got here. ”
”Thats normal after working so long, ” he tells her. ”Why don you sleep for tonight? Tomorrow, you should rest and try to relax. ”
”Really? ” she asks, surprised.
”Absolutely. Just get a couple of hours, and we will leave tomorrow morning. ”
”OK, thanks. Ill see you in the morning. ”
”Goodnight. Sleep tight. ”
”Goodnight… ” she smiles and takes the towel off her head.
He grabs her by the elbow. ”What about you? ”
”Oh, ” she blushes, ”Its cold. I guess Ill stay here tonight. ”
”What are you talking about? I only got 1 room for us. ”
”Oh. ” Eleanor sits on the bed; then she lays on the bed. The beds not exceptionally soft or hard, but it feels comfortable. She lies down and faces the ceiling, feeling tiredness creeping up to her body like water rising in a river.
Herbert takes his wallet out of his jacket pocket and takes out a note. Its the note of leave he got from the hospital. He reads it carefully.
He suddenly realizes there is one clause that hes neglected to read… A transfer notice to London.
He looks down at Eleanor. Shes peacefully asleep, and her chest slowly rises and falls. He gently pulls her closer to him and wraps her in an embrace. His arms hold her close.
Herberts heart starts to beat faster and faster. She smells sweet, like lavender soap and chocolate milk.
Oh well, time to rest. Herbert tucks himself into bed.
His arms are warm around her, and he can feel her breathing against him. He rests his head on the pillow. Closing his eyes, he begins to fall asleep.
As per the schedule, the city starts rhythmically humming, reminding him of the ocean waves rhythm—the waves sounds lulling him to sleep. The temperature outside is almost freezing.
The air is thick with humidity, yet he knows it will rain soon; the clouds are already forming above him.
He feels peaceful as he lets himself drift into unconsciousness.
The sound of his alarm wakes him up from his slumber. He groans loudly and tries to ignore the annoying noise. The room is dark. The curtains are drawn, and the sun isn shining through the window. He hears Eleanor muffled snoring. She sleeps soundly beside him, not having disturbed him during the night.
With one last glance at her, he gets up. He doesn bother to change clothes; instead, he picks up some trousers. As soon as he puts them on, he notices Eleanors hair lying all over the pillow. She has turned onto her side.
He steps toward the door but hesitates. Shouldn he wake her up first?
Before he decides, it was made for him as she hauls herself off the bed like clockwork.
She reaches for a shirt and starts pulling it over her head.
He bites his lip nervously, unable to avert his gaze. Should I say something? Or is she not ready to talk to me?
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