Cat and Mouse

She didn’t really fall in love with him at first sight. In fact, she never really fell in love with him at all. It was different, something eternally foreign to her, something she would not ever understand.

She was tentative, afraid. Moving in with four guys and three girls she didn’t know, some from countries she’d never even heard of, leaving her homeland she had grown up in, attending university, living on her own, cooking, shopping, taking care of herself, making important decisions about housing, academic courses, banking, money… the insanity of it all. Not that she had ever been spoilt. But she grew up in the heart of a family that told her nothing, that took care of things and left her out of it. She had no idea what she was doing here. Independence was opening its doors to her now, and she was afraid.

Walking into her kitchen that first afternoon to find this big, brash, Brit boy unpacking his things. Dominating the kitchen before anyone else got there. Speaking too fast – in her first language, yes – but wrapping his tongue around words that made no sense whatsoever to her. Saying “You all right?” and walking out of the room before she got a chance to answer. It took her a while to figure out it was his way, their way, of saying hi.

It truly was an alien world.

And he personified it.

And she was wary, at first. Cautious. Terrified. What to say… alone with this new male creature she had just discovered?

She was not usually shy around boys. Most of her close friends were male. At home, her home, her only home, she was smart, beautiful, confident… Or so she seemed to be, so people believed. Yet she was always doubting herself; that inherent paranoid nature would not change regardless of which country she descended upon. She had not enjoyed the early onset of puberty; she had spent most of her adolescence in tears… and even now with the lost weight and large breasts she was finally comfortable in showing off, she still saw glimpses of the fat frizzy fragmented freak in the mirror sometimes.  But at home, she looked good, and she knew it. On a good day, in her business suit, even in a particularly low-cut top and fitted jeans… she stopped traffic, she turned heads.

Here…beauty was a different concept altogether. Skinny, blond. She fit neither of these categories, and never would.

She didn’t suppose he would ever think her beautiful.

It didn’t matter.

He was something new, something novel in her thus-far-boring little secure hole in the universe. He was something interesting, someone to pour her unrequited emotions into.

That first day in the kitchen she did not really fall in love with him. But she liked what she saw… the casual grin, the bright mischievous eyes, the sturdy build of him, the short close-cropped skinhead blond hair, nice sizable ass. Pleasing to the fetish of her inexperienced eye. He was beautiful in his own way – a new kind of beauty. She could get used to this.

And so she did.

And quickly.

Somehow she became his best friend in the flat. She timed him so that they would always end up in the kitchen together. Planned things to mention. Not that anything needed to be planned. He was a boy with the gift of gab. Talking nonsensical shit was his specialty. He was nice to everyone, but the other three guys never spoke much in general. And the other three girls didn’t seem interested in striking up any lasting bond with him. Fine by her. Absolutely fine.

He told her everything, or almost. He was open about his life, about his experiences, and he had had many of them. Travelling to several countries, doing things she would never have dreamed of… and still being a big softie at heart.

He fascinated her.

She admired him.

He was her hero.

She was obsessed.

With her vantage point by the main entrance to the flat, she kept track of his comings and goings, leaping out of bed at 4a.m. when she heard the key turning in the lock, just in time to catch a glimpse of his latest conquest. Waited up all night when he went out, just to manage to accidentally see him when he came home. Possibly drunk. Possibly half-naked. Wandering around in his underwear.

Learned his schedule, so she could manage to figure out where he was at any given time of day.

Learned to distinguish his footsteps from others. His voice from others.

Invented random reasons to knock on his door. Needing to borrow something she had no use for. A question that only he, in the whole universe, might know the answer to. Needing advice. Needing a hug.

Any excuse.

He talked about anything, everything. Random things. Sex, mostly. His favourite topic. Every Brit boy’s favourite topic. He was nasty, filthy, graphic, horrible. And she loved it.

And then he brought the girlfriend home.

Girlfriend. No more random, replaceable girls. The girlfriend. He had given her the whole story, how he’d met her, really liked her, possibly loved her, was seriously considering settling down, how she was such a nice girl…

And she was.

The random girls had been varied… brunette, blond, big breasts, small breasts, tall, short, sizable, big ass, thick legs. Short skirt, usually. Or tight jeans. Boots, usually pointed heels. Raucous laughter. They were all generally welcoming to her. Saying hi when she met them, possibly making small talk. And jokes. Dirty jokes, sly looks, all slutty. She could deal with slutty.

But this girl sat there, at the kitchen table, at her kitchen table. Tiny, petite, less than 5 feet tall. Silent. Plain.

He introduced them, and the girl said nothing.

Innocent, dainty, feminine.

Skinny. Blond.

Straight dull lifeless hair, little or no makeup.

Not even remotely pretty, slutty, or outgoing.

A little mouse, staring at the kitchen table, with her big huge beautiful boyfriend who was in love with her, beaming.

Nice.

Plain, nondescript.

Skinny.

Blond.

And he left the kitchen to get something from his room.

And something inside her snapped.

She sat down, smiling. Cheshire-cat-style smile. “Heyyaaa.” The British greeting. “You all right?”

The silent plain blond stick nodded.

“Danielle, was it, he said your name was?” she pushed on, leaning forward on her paws. Ready to pounce. Invading the mouse’s space. “Sorry, I get names mixed up. There’s more than one Danielle, as well. Or is it Danielle and Daniella? So many, you know. Are you the one that likes it up the ass?”

She stood, walking toward the fridge, eyes carefully trained away from the terror that flashed in the mouse’s eyes and shook her frail body.

And she persisted.

“I think Daniella was the bondage one. Or was it the moving-vehicle fellatio? No, that was Denise. I always get the D’s mixed up… one of the more common letters, you know. E’s I’m fine with, there’s only like two or three… but D’s, S’s, C’s, H’s… my worse letters… especially since British names are so common…”

And she drops silent as he walks back in – jolly, unaware, laughing, jostling his beloved flatmate out of the way.

“What’s that about British names?” he repeats the tail end of the conversation.

“Nothing, just that they’re so plain,” she responds, poking him in the stomach on her way out of the kitchen.

She never saw Danielle again.

A few days later, the big brash Brit boy closed his door, didn’t talk to anyone for days, including her. He blared music loudly, viciously. He was never in the kitchen because he didn’t cook. He passed her without saying hello in the corridor.

And for a moment, she thought, Fuck. He knows.

But a long, slow week passed, and eventually he emerged. Colder, somehow. More confident. The big hard shell reconstructed and ready for battle again.

She heard his footsteps go by. And froze. Waited ten minutes, hearing the noises in the kitchen. Timing was everything.

She walked in, acted surprised. “Heyyyyy, stranger.”

He responded without looking up, “You all right?” Fingers busy, tearlessly chopping onions.

She cocked her head to one side. “Haven’t seen you in a bit.”

“Some shit to take care of,” came the curt response. “I’m better now.”

“Better?”

“Yup.”

And days went by. She kept watch.

Eventually, she heard his key in the lock. She checked her clock. 3:49 a.m. She leapt out of bed to catch sight of his newest lucky victim.

Brunette, tall, brazen red lipstick smeared, big daring eyes. Drunk, giggling hysterically, him trying in vain to smother her laughter so as not to wake the entire flat. Tall boots. Short skirt.

And she smiled.

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