Caitlyn opened her eyes to the back of Michael’s right hand, his knuckles inches above her brow. She raised her bare chest off the bed, set her weight on her elbows, and studied him asleep beside her.
Paula was gone, probably to class. The metal lamp beside the fireplace had apparently been on all night. Michael’s room didn’t have a clock or window, and with her phone feet away on the floor, and most likely out of battery, Caitlyn had no sense of the time of day. It felt like eleven in the morning, but could’ve just as easily been four in the afternoon.
She got out of bed and gathered her belongings. Her left nostril was clogged with dried mucus and cocaine residue; the nasal cavity further congested by the warmth of Michael’s heating system. Caitlyn pulled on her shirt and pants. She crushed her panties and dead phone into her back pocket.
White sunlight glowed through the bathroom window, shimmering in the steam while she washed her hair. Hot water sprayed powerfully down her back as Caitlyn opened the obscured glass window to her left. The muted sounds of foot traffic, neighbors’ voices, and cars occasionally gliding down the street convinced her it was probably closer to noon than four.
Caitlyn rinsed her body and shut off the water. She turned her panty inside out, strapped on her bra, and twisted her hair into a tight bun. Then she cleaned her nostrils with hot water and tissue, and she finished dressing.
Michael was in the hall when she emerged from the bathroom. White boxers with thin forest green stripes sat low on his waist. He stood against the wall opposite the door and smiled at Caitlyn.
“I thought you’d never finish,” he said.
He brought his weight off the wall, shoulders first, and moved toward her.
“Your shoes are by the door in the bedroom.”
“Thanks,” Caitlyn moved past him.
“You know how to get home from here?”
“I can take the 5 to Union Square,” she said, “and get the N right?”
“I’ll call you a car,” Michael offered.
“That’s okay,” Caitlyn declined.
“Trust me,” he insisted. “You don’t want to be on a crowded platform, waiting for your train when that hangover kicks in. By the time you get out of the tunnel to Long Island City you’re going to feel like dying.”
Michael stood in the bathroom doorway with his fingers spread against its frame, and watched her.
“I started a pot of coffee. Help yourself.”
“Thanks,” she said again.
He smiled at her once more and shut the door.