Waking up in a house, a whole, entire house—and not a row house, either—with a large backyard and lots of different rooms never got old. Each morning, Keisha stretched before she got out of bed and her arm collided with the side of Jay’s head; that was if he didn’t have one of his large arms draped across her, effectively pinning her to the mattress. Most of the time she didn’t want to lift it. The smoothness of his caramel-colored skin, the veins, the bulges—she liked everything about sleeping next to Jay but Keisha particularly liked opening her eyes, feeling the weight of her man’s large arm across her middle and realizing that she wasn’t alone.
This morning she lifted the arm because she needed to pee, and scooted to the edge of the bed, sitting up. Raking both hands through her hair, she padded to the adjoining bathroom, dropping the seat and falling onto it, listening to herself tinkle.
Through the bathroom window, Keisha spotted a branch, laden with freshly-fallen snow. The flakes had been so light when they’d fallen that the snow stacked vertically, the height probably a precise representation of the number of inches that fell. And with the pale morning sunlight, the white was that much brighter, the rays of sun creating prisms of color about the branches, like a halo.
Quickly wiping herself and then washing her hands, Keisha rushed back into the bedroom and jumped on the bed, careful to avoid Jayson’s injured hand. He turned and moaned in his sleep, but undeterred, Keisha grabbed his shoulder and shook as hard as she could.
“Go away,” he muttered. “I’ll break you off later.”
Keisha laughed. “Whatever, man. You’re the one who keeps jumpin’ me this time . . .”
“C’mere, then. Lemme ‘jump’ you some more.” With his good hand, Jay reached around and pulled her down on top of him, trying to plant a kiss on her lips.
“Stop,” Keisha said, turning her head. “I have mornin’ breath.”
“Me too, so it cancels out,” Jayson said chewing wetly on her neck.
“Ugh. No, it doesn’t either.” Keisha let him do his work on her neck nevertheless and squirmed, because it was making her feel a little tingly, in spite of what she said. Then she recalled what her mission had been originally. Jayson lifted her tank and was kissing her stomach, making it ripple and tremor involuntarily. His morning erection was pressed against her calf so she moved her leg, back and forth, stroking it that way.
“Why do I have to get up?” he asked against her stomach.
“I saw a picture you should take.”
Jay’s head shot up and he looked at Keisha with sleepy yet curious eyes.
“A picture I should take?”
“Yeah, c’mon, lemme show you.”
Without his lips pressed against her abdomen, lucidity returned and Keisha arose from the bed and headed back to the bathroom. Jay followed, a considerable protrusion from his groin preceding him. First, he took care of business, just lifting the toilet seat and peeing right there in front of her.
Keisha watched, fascinated, and Jay looked over at her as she watched, rolling his eyes.
“Never seen a man take a piss before?” he asked.
“No.” Keisha shrugged, feeling her face grow warm. “I never had, like, this kind of relationship before.”
All her prior boyfriends had been of the hit-it-and-run variety. Always having someplace to be almost immediately after sex. Jayson was the first one ever to want to just . . . hang out in bed with her before and afterward, and to even after that, drag her with him into the shower, or to the kitchen to get food to re-fuel. After four consecutive days together, she didn’t detect any signs that he was tiring of having her around, and even when she went out to the sun porch or some other part of the house to give him breathing room, he’d come looking for her within twenty minutes.
Jayson looked at her for a while and then smiled. “Okay, what’s the picture I should take?” He reached for her but Keisha danced out of his reach.
“Ew! Wash your hands, Jay!”
Complying with her request he turned to her once again. “The picture?”
“Look out the window,” Keisha said.
Jay looked. He looked for so long, Keisha thought maybe he didn’t see what she had seen, and wouldn’t get it. But after a minute or so, he turned and smiled.
“You have a good eye.”
“Want me to get your camera?” Keisha beamed back at him.
“Yeah, but I’ll need your help. My hand . . .”
“Sure, I’ll help.” She ran out of the bathroom and took the steps two at a time and grabbed Jay’s Nikon from the front entryway table where he’d left it, running back upstairs. Jay was still staring at the image he had yet to capture.
“I might’ve looked at this a million mornings,” he said. “And never seen it. You’re going to be a bad-ass stylist, y’know that?”
Keisha laughed. “I don’t see how this . . .”
Jay turned. “You have an eye for detail. That’s key, no matter what the visual art. And that’s kind of what styling is, right? A visual art, using fashion.”
Nodding, Keisha tried not to grin like an idiot again. She could have sworn Jay didn’t take her ambition to be a stylist seriously. That he thought of it as silly and frivolous. But to hear him call it a ‘visual art’? That just about made her entire day.
She helped him get the position he wanted, which would have him capturing the image of the branch, but framed by the window, so that the picture would be an exact representation of what they saw. Then he opened the window and took one without the obstruction of the windowpanes. The cold air blew into the room and Keisha squealed, jumping up and down before settling into the position Jay needed her to be in to hold the camera for him. Four more shots later, and they were done.
“Let’s look at them and see which the best ones are,” Keisha urged.
“Nah,” Jay said. He reached into the bedroom and rested the camera on the dresser. “Let’s take a shower.”
Then he reached for her, and even with one good hand, had her undressed within seconds.
After they were scrubbed clean with a minimum of shower hanky-panky, teeth brushed and breath fresh, Keisha felt her stomach beginning to rumble.
Today, no matter what, they were going into town for breakfast because she was sick of eggs, which was all she knew how to cook for breakfast food. She said as much, as she walked naked out of the bathroom. Jay had gotten out of the shower moments before her and she almost collided with him where he was crouched next to the dresser, fidgeting with the camera once again.
“How do they look?” she asked.
“How does what look?”
“The pictures of the branch.”
“I wasn’t looking at the pictures of the branch. I was setting something up.”
Keisha turned and saw that he’d positioned the camera on the edge of the dresser, pointing it at the bed, with its tousled sheets and askew pillows.
“I want to take a couple shots of you. And of us,” Jay said.
Keisha’s face fell.
Guys always wanted to do this. Get photographic mementoes. She’d done it for a couple guys and it always made her feel cheap afterwards. Now Jay wanted that as well. Inside her chest, the sadness that always lived there—though dormant lately—waited to rear its head.