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A Pocket Archive (24)

I listened as his fingers danced over the strings, teasing out 'Neon' on the fresh nylon, surprised by the melody. I knew very little about guitars, but enough to know it probably wasn't an easy song to play. Maybe it was partially a cultural thing, but he seemed to be able to play anything he got his hands on reasonably well.

I watched his silvery reflection in the dressing table mirror, my mouth full of copper as I pulled the curling iron down and backwards. The way he chewed his bottom lip when he was concentrating added a strange, almost childlike softness to his sharp, sculpted features. It was cute- if 'cute' could fit someone like him. It seemed too diminutive for someone that size, almost like calling the statue of David adorable. Maybe 'endearing' was better.

But he was cute.

I pulled the hair out of my mouth and tossed it over my shoulder before switching the curling iron off, then tilted my head to admire myself in the mirror. For the most part, I liked what I saw. I glanced back at the musician, who was still perched behind me, totally engrossed in the guitar.

" do you think I'd look with black hair?"

Suddenly alert, his fingers stopped moving for a moment as he stared at me. "Not good." He looked like he was trying to choose his words carefully, the way most men seem to when they suspect they're stepping into dangerous territory.

I grinned. "Blonde?"

"Fuck no! If anything, maybe more red. Not like the color red, but like your eyes are. I don't know what they call that color for hairs."

I smiled, enjoying how traces of his language creeped into mine. " Ryizhi maybe? Like more orangey or copper?"

He shrugged and began plucking out a tune I recognized from Skyrim. "Yeah, I guess. They're not brown, they're redder. Something like that color." He was quiet for a moment as he adjusted the tuning keys before giving the strings a few experimental strokes. A moment later, his gaze flicked back to the mirror to meet mine, almost shyly. "They're pretty."

A warm, bubbly feeling welled up in my stomach and I tried not to fidget. I looked down, as though the perfume bottles in front of me had suddenly become very interesting. Pretty. I liked that, especially spoken in his rich accent, which made vowels feel somehow chewier and curled around consonants like taffy. I could feel a flush creeping to my cheeks, but trusted I wouldn't be betrayed by my concealer. Hopefully my ears weren't turning pink. I picked up a kohl pencil and began to line the skin along my lashes.

Red eyes. Like a vampire. I tried not to giggle.

"Thanks! My mom still tells me how pretty it used to be every time I see her, which is great...Once I went to college it got darker. I tried highlights, and I did dye it back once, maybe a little brighter when I was abroad. It really was pretty but no one here has been able to match that color again..."

I reached for a tube of mascara, wondering suddenly if I was babbling. Of course I was. Worse, I was sure I'd be sounding like my mother in a few decades. Redheads with eyebrows never stay red for long, after all. He didn't seem to mind the chatter though.

My poor Angel...

Daughters were interesting creatures, and I think I was starting to understand why a little bit better. In a way, I think all mothers try to live vicariously through their daughters, consciously or not. Maybe it's because we always look for pieces of ourselves in them, and yet we are unique and separate. Mine never tried to control me, nor I would ever want to do that to my own little girl, but it's fun to dress them up and look at how beautiful our minies are. My own mother seemed to find the perfect balance, and I remember splashing through irrigation ditches in muddy ruffles and lace.

I set the mascara down and applied a russet shade of lipstick, then stood up and walked over to the giant, who set the guitar aside as I gave him a playful peck on the cheek, just softly enough it wouldn't leave a mark.

"Nu, ti gotov?"

His lips found mine and he gave my hand a gentle squeeze. I'd fallen in love with those hands; strong, skillful, and huge, but still oddly nimble and elegant. They were also always respectful, never slipping to places they didn't belong. I loved him for that. It was so wonderfully different.


I grinned as we walked towards the door.

I was excited for her to meet him.


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