The apartment is small, and its plaster walls are erected beneath a stairwell which juts into the kitchen; anyone who enters feels like they’re walking on a ceiling instead of the second floor of an old Hudson’s Bay Company building on Songhees land.
The counter space features a empty glass vase and a stool to seat one guest comfortably; the counter is extended by a wooden service cart, filled with wine, magazines, and a radio. The bathroom consists of a toilet, a large claw-foot tub and a wash basin.
The bedroom, which doubles as an office, is sparsely lit and a one-foot gap is faithfully left between the bedframe and the wall. Too-large shirts hang in a makeshift closet, constructed from a folding brown wicker screen, and assorted clothing lays folded on hurriedly-cobbled shelves from Capital Iron. The adjacent wall is filled by books: biographies, fiction, introductory religious texts, and historical accounts of expeditions. A sewing table has been repurposed as a desk, complete with a laptop, a phone, a lamp that bathes the room in a warm orange glow, and a junk tray containing pens, pencils, tape, scissors, business cards, and guitar pics. A Cuban wall calendar marks time in 2011, even though it is 2012.
She stands at the bookshelf next to the sewing table, pretending to look at photos of his family. The hardwood beneath the worn carpet creaks as he approaches, and she pretends not to notice. He slides his hands softly along her arms and grasps her shoulders. His breath is intermittently hot on her neck, she can feel — almost hear — his heart when he presses himself against her. Vous n’êtes pas adorable,he whispers, and takes the lobe of her ear into his mouth with his tongue, nibbling at it like a seed coat with just enough pressure so as not to damage the flesh. Her core heats and ripens and the small black hairs on her under-exposed nape become erect as he kisses her neck and undoes the buttons along her spine. He lowers the shoulders, his fingers brushing past fine-boned flesh, and the dress falls away into darkness. She turns and kisses him, her tongue rolling into his mouth like a wave, and he is lost. They push against one another like competing tides, rolling over and under, creating an inescapable back eddy in time.
These exotic unconquerable lands have no standing armies, only the welcoming embrace of human communion, so on whims they explore soft white cliffs, gorge themselves on freshly peppered mango, walk barefoot over pink dunes that constantly give way, languidly peel cinnamon in soporific farmer’s fields, venture into deep dark woods, stumble upon hollows with slow summer waterfalls to slake their thirst, sleep on mountain beds of trammelled grasses and explore fingers of land reaching out toward the horizon. And there are smiles and whispers and small kisses along the way. They had forgotten the possibilities of travelling without ever leaving a tiny dwelling. Their bodies are as foreign to one another as opposite sides of a desk globe, and suddenly they are both discoverable and utterly unknowable.
words by Timothy Trebilcock, photo by Ilijc Albanese