Gortoz 'A Ran - Ch 39 - Bon a santé...

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39 of Gortoz 'A Ran

Haha, oh man... Wow... Every time I think back of it puts a smile on my face. Even now, I...


Haha, oh man... Wow... Every time I think back of it puts a smile on my face. Even now, I'm still grinning in bed for being reminded of it once more. I couldn't stop thinking about it... I was so happy... For the first time in my life, I had someone who I could truly be myself around. And on top of that, it was a guy! I never saw that coming and it's funny how things can go. But I guess you just grow older... Your perception on this thing called life and the people around you makes it seem as if the world is changing. But in fact, the only thing that is changing is you... Ten years ago, I would never have thought that all the decisions and choices I had to make would have such an impact to where I am now. Regret was something I often felt whenever I faced the consequences of a decision of which I could not undo... But you know, everything, including all the bad things that happened and the bad decisions I made, took me where I am now. I look to my left and I see Nikki's lovely face only to be reminded that I regret nothing... Well, just one thing, really... But I won't go in detail about it now...

Nikki fell asleep a while ago... And I look at the clock only to notice half an hour passed by. Still can't catch any sleep... I've been in this bed for more than six hours now... It's not surprising I can't catch any sleep after the things that happened earlier tonigh

t... It still keeps me busy even though all is well now... I guess there's no point in staying in bed if I can't catch any sleep, it only makes me feel even more dull than I already am... I get out of bed as quietly as possible so that I didn't wake Nikki. Put on my jogging-trousers and a t-shirt and quietly plod my way to the living-room...

'Look how it easily slices through-' 'I'm telling you, Jimmy, his muck got-' 'Feel like having a good time with me, sweetheart? Simply call-' 'You are now watching the-' "For fucks sake, is there really nothing on TV...?" No, not really and it's not surprising seeing as it's a quarter passed three in the morning... Nevertheless, I keep on zapping the remote in the hope of finding something interesting. And I actually did... "Ooh, niiiice..." 'In contrast to the relatively featureless atmosphere of Uranus, Neptune's atmosphere is notable for its active and visible weather patterns. Because of its great distance from the Sun, Neptune's outer atmosphere is one of the coldest places in the Solar System.'

The Discovery Channel has always been my favourite... I used to watch it all the time with Simon when I was little, no matter what was on. Stories of people trying to unravel mysteries and things that we have been questioning, dating back to prehistoric times. But the most fascinating documentaries to me were the ones about space and aliens... Yes, I know, shocking isn't it? I bet you never expected that from me. I think I've mentioned it before but Blain and I used to play "space-station" in his tree-house when we were little even though I can't really remember how it all started. But I must've been quite impressed by it... It made me want to work for NASA and get shot into space one day but the older I got, the less likely I was to so that dream vaporized quickly. Nevertheless, I still enjoy these documentaries...

But for some reason or another, I wasn't able to focus on the TV. My mind is wondering off again, to what happened earlier tonight... I don't know what's causing it and I don't know why I can't catch any sleep. It's slowly driving me insane, really, to try to fall asleep for more than six hours... I figure I might as well give up on that... I feel so tired and yet unable to sleep... It's such an unbearable torment... Anyone who ever had sleepless night knows what it's like... But you know, there's no reason to keep on about it and I figure I have to make the best of it. So I drag my ass to the kitchen to make myself a hot cup of tea. Chamomile flavoured... It's Nikki's favourite... She doesn't drink as much tea as I do seeing as Nikki is absolutely fond of coffee but she does have a nice taste in tea. She says it helps you to relax and to help you fall asleep... But how many of cups do I have to drink to fall asleep anyway, twenty or so? "Shit, forgot my cup in the bedroom..." I made my way to the bedroom again to get my cup but notice the locket of my parents and my diary on the bed-stand as well... "Maybe that's the reason..."

Whenever I'm seeing the locket that my parents gave me a long time ago, the more questions I have... Sadly, I never found the answers... There must be something, right...? Maybe I can trace its origins back in my diary... Maybe I've written about it the day I received it... Looking at it for a while, I realized the locket was only gonna raise more questions instead... So I put it back in my pocket and took my diary along as well...

Once I got back in the kitchen, the water was already done boiling. I carefully poured some hot water in my cup and placed a Chamomile tea-bag to infuse for several minutes. Added some sugar to it to make it a little sweeter and kept on stirring as I sat down on the couch and tried to watch some TV again. But no matter what, I just can't keep still for a minute... I feel so restless and nervous and I just don't know why as I just started to walk aimlessly across the room... "Fuck, I need a smoke..." So with the cup of tea in my hand, I walk towards the balcony door as I grabbed my cigarettes on the way and tried to open the door as quietly as possible. It's not that easy seeing as Nikki's balcony door sometimes gets stuck when you slide it open and even though I told her a million times to get it fixed, she didn't. There's a loud thud when I tried to open it and I cursed quietly when the door got stuck once more but after a few good pulls, the door finally slides open. A cool night breeze is the first thing I feel on my face the moment I set foot on the balcony... The concrete floor felt a little cold and wet from the rain earlier that night but luckily, it stopped raining now. Ravello's skyline was visible in the distance, glowing with a variety of coloured neon signs... The only thing I hear is the wind waving gently in the night-sky and no one was to be seen on the streets... Not even a car drove by now on the street below... It's so peaceful... And so surreal... I finally feel that I can clear my mind and focus to get some answers... Looking at my diary makes me realize there are so many things left unanswered... And perhaps I already know them but just forgot as time went by... I light up a cigarette as I keep staring at a page, as if the answer was gonna find me instead even though I know all too well that's not gonna happen... I flip through the first few pages until something caught my attention... Look... This is written Salahadihnes... Or actually Urdu, as it's officially called...

Hehehe, I know what you're thinking. The fuck is that supposed to mean? You'll have to read it from right to left, by the way. Not that you can most likely understand it anyway...Hmm... I can read it perfectly... It's about a new friend I made in class back in Salahadihn when I was seven years old, several months before the war started. She was new in class and approached me during recess. We started talking and several moments later, we were best friends and played with each other... It wasn't the writing that caught my attention but the large amount of drawings I made. I tried to draw her face but of course, it didn't look anything like it... I drew out the things we did, like playing tag and hide and seek... It's funny that I never knew her name... And it's strange to realize she's probably dead now...

'You still have trouble falling asleep...?'

I turned around and notice Nikki standing there in her bathrobe, smiling weakly at me. She put on her flip-flops and got on the balcony as well... 'You heard that, haven't you?' 'Hm-mm...' 'I'm sorry I'm keeping you up...' 'It's alright... I plan to get that door fixed, I swear.' she says with a smile... 'Hehehe...' 'You feel like having some company...?' 'Always...'

I placed my cup of tea on the concrete floor to let it cool down as Nikki sits down in a chair and stared at the scenery in the distance. Another breeze was coming in and I saw how her beautiful curly hair was graciously flowing in the wind while she kept on staring... "God, she's so beautiful..." 'You want some tea, Nic...? I can make you some if you want...' 'No, I'm fine, thank you...' 'Heh... I thought I'd just catch some fresh air out here so uh...' 'That's alright... What's that you're holding...?' 'It's my diary I've been telling you about...' 'Heh... I see...' 'Sometimes I like to think that this little book contains all the answers I need...' 'Do they...?' 'No...'

Nikki looked at me and I saw that she had a question she was dying to ask but she didn't. I guess she didn't want to push things after what happened tonight... So she stays silent... But still, I feel awfully bad about that it ever happened... 'Hey, uhm... Listen, about tonight... I-I just...' 'It's okay, Ceylan... No need to bring it up anymore...' 'No, listen, I'm so terribly sorry, Nikki... I really didn't mean to...' 'Try not to think of it anymore, okay...? It's alright, it's all over now...' 'Heh...' 'We left it all behind... It's all in the past...'

"Not everything..." I stood in front of Nikki as she smiles back weakly and feel she's caressing my bum as a reassuring gesture... I close my eyes for a moment when I feel she held my hand instead... 'Dushi...?' 'Yes...?' 'Was there ever a time you felt on giving up on me...?' 'What do you expect me to say, Ceylan...? I would be lying if I said there wasn't...' 'Heh...' 'I know what you're thinking... But I've known you longer then today, you see...' 'Heh, is it that obvious?' 'After all these years, you're like an open book to me. Hihi...' 'Heh... I mean, after tonight, I just...' 'C'mere... Sit down...'

I sit down next to her as she gets on my lap instead... Nikki places her hand on my head as I rest it on her shoulder, feeling how her fingers are gently caressing my hair... It's a wonderful feeling... I love it whenever she does that... And even though she washed her hair, I could still smell a hint of that coconut wax she always uses... 'You're not the only one who got confronted with the past, Ceylan... And I found answers but wished I didn't... But at some point, you'll have to let go... You know I'll always be with you and that I'll always support you, no matter what your choices are... Because I can finally walk the streets and be myself because of you... I can walk through the mall with you and hold your hand without feeling ashamed... And even though everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I'm not ashamed anymore... Because I love you with all my heart and I'll always be with you, no matter what happens... We've both been through enough for one life, I guess... Now it's time to think of our future... And how we want to live our lives and grow old together...'

"Aww, she shouldn't have said that, damn it..." I feel a chunk stuck in my throat and how my eyes got watery... Fucking hell, I'm such a sucker for sentimental stuff... I already feel a tear going down my cheek... I feel so ashamed to look at her, especially after tonight... 'Everyone has fights, Ceylan... We are no exception...' 'But not the way we did tonight... It wasn't fair towards you...' 'You think this would stand in the way...? After everything that happened...?' 'No... But I shouldn't have done that to you... I mean, especially not after you told me about-' 'Do you remember what I've said...?' 'What...?' 'You can have a grudge against someone for your entire life... But in the end, you'll just have to let go in order to find peace for yourself... I'm not mad at you... I can relate to the way you reacted...' 'Heh...' 'You cling too much on the past, sweet cheeks... Cling on to things that you can't change anymore...' 'I know...'

I couldn't help but to cry a little after that... I guess it's all part of to let go of things... I'm begging Nikki for forgiveness and even though she easily forgave me for what I did, it still feels as if I wasn't forgiven... I still don't understand how she does it... How easy it is for her to forgive someone for their mistakes because I'm certainly not that easy... She has angelic patience I've never seen on anyone before... When I finally start to calm down again, I had the guts to face her... And the only thing that Nikki did was placing her hands on my cheeks, gently wiping the tears away while she has a weak smile on her face... She picks up the cup of tea that was on the concrete floor of the balcony and hands it over to me... 'Here, you should drink...' 'Why are you so good to me, Nic...?' 'Because it wouldn't be right if I wasn't... Especially not after all the shit I've put you through...' 'I can't blame you that you did...' 'I know we both did things we're not proud of, Ceylan... But you have to understand that I'm just as much to blame...' 'Heh... I guess I just don't like the idea of you doing something wrong or that you're hurting someone... It's just not the way I see you...' 'Believe it or not but I'm just a person... I do make mistakes except it's too difficult for me to admit it. But you have no problem admitting it and take all the blame, even when it's not your fault... And you shouldn't be doing that... Especially not after tonight...' 'Heh...'

She caresses my head and gives me tender kisses on my cheek... And how can I not do the same to her...? I hold her close as I can hear her sigh quietly in relief... Just like that, the things that were bothering me didn't seem to be a burden anymore and I get reminded why I was still with her after all these years... Because no matter how much Nikki changed over the years, her heart stayed the same... After all the shit that she's been through, she knows the value of strength and love... She does not take it for granted while so many people do... And maybe that's the reason why our relationship is so special... Nikki doesn't take me for granted... It takes a whole lot more to break her spirit... And I respect her for that, more than you could ever possibly know... I never understood why people took her so for granted once she was in on someone's life... And I admit, I did too until something happened that changed everything. It reminded me that Nikki is special in every way imaginable and that no one is ever able to replace her... It reminded me that love is something small and fragile and that it's the only thing in the world worth having... But despite everything, she's still the same girl I fell in love with so many years ago... I can tell that from her eyes every time she's looking at me...

It stayed silent for a long time as the two of us were just cuddling each other on the balcony... And sometimes, words are redundant... Getting cuddled so affectionately by her tells me everything I need to know... I feel how she starts to shiver after a while... At half passed four in the morning, it wasn't surprising that she was starting to feel cold... But that's why she's clinging on to me so much... 'Are you cold, dushi...?' 'It's getting a little chilly, yes... I don't understand how you're not feeling cold...' 'Let's go back inside then...' 'You got everything...?' 'Yeah, I'll lock the door behind you...'

And so, she gets off me as she takes my empty cup with her when she went inside as I stack the plastic chairs on top of each other and took the ashtray with me when I went inside. Once I did, I closed the door, locked it with the key and closed the curtains... When I placed the ashtray on the table, I noticed Nikki coming from the kitchen holding two empty wine glasses... And then she walked to her wine-rack in the corner of the room, next to her stereo and looked at a few bottles... 'What are you doing...?' 'Did I ever teach you proper wine etiquette?' 'Uh... No...? Why?' 'Because we've got something to celebrate...' 'Oh? What's the special occasion...?' 'That there isn't any when you can enjoy some fine wine...' 'At this time of night...?' 'I'm sure that somewhere in the world is the right time for it...' 'Heh... Okay, so... What are we celebrating?' 'I don't know... Celebrating that it's Saturday is a good enough reason for me...' she says with a smile...

If there's one thing Nikki enjoys, it has to be a good glass of red wine. She's not much of a drinker but when it comes to wine, she definitely drinks everyone under the table. And I guess it's the way she drinks it. She really seems to enjoy every little sip that she takes and back when the two of us were on vacation in Vaunaveys. We stayed in a hotel in a little town called Montoulier La Rochette. I know I suck at pronouncing these names but hell... There was so much to do for the both of us and those two weeks were a lot of fun... We went to the beach or went sightseeing in towns and forests and everything but I'm getting sidetracked again... Anyway, there was a rather well known vineyard several kilometres outside of town and the winery hosted a wine tasting thing. And Nikki, all excited that she was, wanted to go there. So we went there and there were several wines you could taste but no one seemed to drink it! Not even Nikki! They all just gurgled wine in their throats and spat it back out in buckets! Everyone was complimenting the wine but they weren't even drinking it! And I just got so confused because I didn't understand why they spat it out like that! I never saw Nikki do that before and I thought that they all just lost their minds! If it's so good, why would they spit it out like that?! I could totally imagine that Nikki would do that in a restaurant as well... But hey, that's a whole different story... I'm getting to that... Hehehe...

I sit down on the couch as Nikki is still near her wine-rack. She only has a few bottles but she always seemed to be so careful with them, always telling me that she's "saving it for a special occasion." And as for me, well, I do enjoy a good glass of wine occasionally but not as much as she does and well, I don't value "proper etiquette" when it comes to drinking wine... But Nikki does and there was a spark of enthusiasm in her eyes when Nikki asked me if she ever taught me... But I drink it like lemonade... Nikki drinks it as if she's drinking water from the Fountain of Youth... And some of her bottles are really expensive... I don't wanna drink a two hundred dinar wine like I'm drinking a glass of lemonade... 'You really wanna have a glass of wine, right now...?' 'Oh yes, definitely.' 'How about the one on top then?' 'The Sauvignon Macabeo? Good heavens, no, no, this calls for a special kind of wine.' '... Special wine?' 'Most definitely... Hmm... Brunello di Montalcino... Nineteen ninety-nine... Excellent year...' 'Uhm...' 'Or perhaps the Batard-Montrachet Leflaive, two thousand and three?' 'I have no idea what it all means...' 'The Château Venissieux Latiff Grand Cru Merieu, Nineteen eighty-seven...? How does that sound, hm?' 'I can't even pronounce that.' 'Hihi...'

She took the Château Venissiblabla however the hell you pronounce it to the kitchen to get a wine opener and quickly made her way back to the living-room and sat down on the couch. I was a little flabbergasted that she just took it... Nikki removes the cork from the bottle and carefully poured a small amount of wine in the glasses... She hands a glass over to me and smiles when she got her own... All I did was looking at it... 'So, uh... Bottoms up, I suppose.' 'No, no, no...! Don't drink it just yet...! It's not some kind of lemonade you're holding...!' 'Uhm...' 'It's just like you're going to some fancy posh restaurant. You don't go there just to satisfy your appetite but to experience the exotic tastes of the dishes they're serving.' 'Uhm... Okay...?' 'First, hold you're glass by the stem, under the bowl, like this.' 'Isn't the bowl supposed to rest on your hand?' 'No, it's a common mistake that's made. If you hold the bowl like that, your hand will warm it and the wine will loose it's taste.' 'Right...' 'The wine must breathe at least an hour before you consume it to improve its taste. Swirl it around a little in your glass to allow the oxygen aerate the wine. It makes it smell better.' 'Like this?' 'Yes, hihi...' 'It does smell good, though.' 'It does, doesn't it? What do you smell...?' 'I don't know, something... sweet, I guess...' 'Good... Alright, take a small sip and-' 'Hm...' 'No, don't just swallow it...! Gaaah... Let it rest on your tongue and let your taste-buds do the tasting for you.'

And so I did... I take another sip and let the wine roll over my tongue. It's taste was something I never tasted before in my life, to be honest... I really have no idea how to describe it. Something... Bitter and sweet at the same time... It tastes so full yet contains such smooth aromas and almost an intense fruity flavour... It feels kind of heavy when its in your mouth but... I don't know... Nikki smiles the moment she just saw I properly tasted it and gave me a nod... And then I swallowed it... The taste of it is just so good... It better damn well should be, considering it's a two hundred and seventy dinar bottle of wine I'm drinking... 'Savour the moment... What do you feel...?' 'It's the best thing that's ever been in my mouth.' 'Hihihi...' 'Normally, you spit it out right? I mean, why would anyone do that if it tastes so good?' 'They do that at a winery because they taste like forty different bottles of wine. You'd be pretty wasted if you actually drink all of it.' 'Ah... Makes sense.' 'And it's because I don't want any of that stuff on my furniture.' 'Hehehe... I still think that you should've saved that bottle for a better occasion... I don't want to let a two hundred and seventy dinar wine go to waste like that...' 'It's not being wasted, on the contrary... What's a better occasion than this...?' 'Hm... Where did this all came from? I mean, how come you know so much about it?' 'My grandfather. He used to own a vineyard and I often visited him, ever since I was little.' 'Heh...' 'He believed that proper manners and etiquettes are the foundations of society. And well... I got intrigued by his passion for wine, ever since I was little. When I reached the age of sixteen, he introduced me to my first glass of wine...' 'I see...' 'All of a sudden, I felt I was part of something, you know... And I think my grandfather was absolutely delighted to have shared his passion with me because no one else seemed to... But he passed away when I was seventeen and... No one in the family wanted to have the vineyard or to take over his business... So they just sold the vineyard instead... Something my grandfather worked his entire life for and put his heart and soul in got sold, just like that... All of a sudden, I had no one to go to anymore... And I like to think that keeping his passion alive still makes him a part of me...' 'Oh...' 'But my grandfather always asked me to promise one thing and live by it. And it stayed with me ever since... It's not until tonight that I finally understand what he meant with that.' 'What's that?' 'You can stare at a thousand dinar bottle of wine forever, trying to preserve it. But what's the point of owning one without ever to have enjoyed it? You can't expect that it brings you any joy without consuming it... So you'll have to open it in order to enjoy it to its fullest... Any moment is a suitable one when you know you can... All you have to do is to uncork it...' 'Wow...' 'Heh... Which... Is why I opened it tonight with you...' 'I understand what you're trying to tell me, dushi...' 'Well... In that case... Bon a santé, mon chéri...' Nikki says with a smile as we clinked our glasses together...

We only had one glass... But it was the best wine I've ever had... We cuddle each other on the couch as time was ticking by slowly... I feel how she's caressing my hair as it stayed silent between the two of us... I feel peaceful now... My mind is finally at rest... I watch how the minutes were ticking by on the clock as Nikki falls asleep once more... I caress her hair and hold her close as I just close my eyes, hoping I would finally be able to fall asleep in peace in Nikki's arms... But as the minutes were ticking by, I did not... Despite everything, I know that there was still something lingering in my mind even though I'm afraid to admit it... But Nikki is right... I know all too well what I have to do but it's difficult... It's something I have to do on my own... Carefully, I move Nikki aside and got up from the couch... Picking her up gently, I carried her like a baby to her bedroom and placed her carefully on her bed... And with that, I closed the door of her bedroom and sigh quietly... I know what to do yet I don't want to... Perhaps I've been clinging on to her for so many years that it became more than just a part of me... But I have to, no matter how difficult it is... I sit down on the couch again and stared at the bottle of wine that's still on the table with the cork next to it... Feeling the locket of my parents in the pocket of my joggings-trousers, I place the cork on the bottle again so that it can be enjoyed another day... Turning the TV off made the room fill with a dead eerie silence... But nevertheless, I got hold of my locket and just stare at it, as if the answers were just gonna find me... I don't want to, I really don't... But I have to... It's difficult for me to let go of things... It always has been... But that's why I feel I need to continue my story... And so, I close my eyes while I firmly clench on the locket as a tear was rolling down my cheek once more... Looking at my diary makes me realize my story has only just begun...