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We lay on the bed which was too small. In June, and in Calgary, the air is too stiflingly hot to do anything much more than lie down. I closed my eyes and prayed that the heat, a silent beast moving through the night, wouldn’t linger outside our window too long. The boy lying across from me hugged me tightly and kisses my forehead. His skin was sticky with sweat. “I like the poster on your door” I whispered. It’s a black and white picture of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in a jazz café. It was plastered onto a piece of cardboard, and screwed onto his door. “Actually that’s a funny story” he whispered “It’s there, because one time, my dad got really mad, and punched a hole through my door” He’d told that story before, but I’d forgotten that until he told it again. I’d never thought it was a funny story.

The smell of tobacco smoke creeped into the room, though it never really left. His parents had smoked so frequently, that his clothes smelled like cigarettes, even fresh out of the wash. Particularly his leather jacket; which he wore frequently. He had bought because I liked it. I hadn’t seen him in it for a while, with the stifling heat. Being a Vancouverite, I’m used to the cool ocean breeze making a surprise appearance even on the hottest of days. Here, 500 miles away from the shore, there was no savior from the hot, dry, still heat, and thick air. I’d exclaimed that I was going to die several times earlier in the day.

I shifted my leg; the heat of another human body was becoming uncomfortable, and overwhelming. I kicked off the blanket. It was thin and blue, with images of sailboats all across it. There were fuzz balls on the mattress cover. After another minute, I sat up and stuck my head out the window. I had to jump off the bed, which is nearly four feet off the ground. I was careful not to land on my suitcase.

There’s a mosque down the street. I couldn’t see it, because of how dark it was, but I could see a light, high in the sky, over where the Mosque should be. It’s red. I’m never sure what it’s supposed to be, but it’s always there, and I think it looks like an angel. I heard music down the street in a language I don’t understand, but I could hear the bass and I knew that people were dancing to it.

“Are you ok?” he asked from the bed. “I’m no good in the heat. There’s too much sweat on my neck.” He laughed. I could see hardly anything of him; it was so dark in the room. Any light we had was from the street light in the back alley outside his window. His silhouette against the white wall sat up and started fanning me with a book. A gust of cool air rushed towards me and I inhaled deeply. A shiver ran down my spine. I laughed. “More” I begged. “Come back to bed” he whispered. I could hear the smile on his lips.

In that kind of heat, I didn’t want to touch. I was sweating all over: Everything from my face, to my palms, to my shins. It made sleep seem about as possible as a train appearing through the back alley. “It’s three in the morning” I half whispered, half groaned. “Have you slept?” I had been tossing and turning, in a half sleep for several hours. “No” he replied. I reached over and put my hand in front of the fan. “This is blasting warm air. It’s not cooling anything down” He sighed “Turn it off then.” The fan is old.

I considered going down to the kitchen, and drinking some water. It would be no trouble. Unlike my own home, the floor is carpeted, and doesn’t squeak. I could make it out of the small room in two steps when I get off the bed. But I knew that no matter how hot this room is, the rest of the house would be worse, and I would be suffocated with the smell of cigarettes. I had always been trained to hold my breath when passing by smokers. My mother always thought I’d get cancer. I decide the water isn’t worth it.

I lay back down. I stayed as far away from him as possible, to keep my body temperature down, but I took his hand, beside me. His hands were sweaty too. You can only be considered so gross when everyone around you is going through the same thing. “Are you going to try to sleep?” he asked. “Yes.” I reached across his chest to find my teddy bear, which was burrowed between the mattress and the wall. The bed was built into that wall, and the mattress is slightly too small leaving a cavity where things are often hidden, such as a 2-40 of whiskey, or misplaced, such as my teddy bear. “Sweet dreams” I sighed, closing my eyes.

“I love you” he whispered. My eyes opened again. The corners of my mouth spread, involuntarily, into a smile. “I love you” I replied. I didn’t curl up to him, or kiss him. I fell back to sleep.




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