I’m busy at the piano when he arrives, deep into a piano arrangement of “Forever Love” that I’ve been learning recently. I always play when I’m expecting guests, my way of saying I’m here, you’re at the right house, I’m waiting for you. My phone is on the music stand, so I see when he texts me that he’s here. He says that someone is playing the piano and he doesn’t want to interrupt by ringing the doorbell. I smile, stop in the middle of the chorus, and get up to greet him at the door.
He smiles at me a little shyly; we haven’t seen each other since graduation. I explain that nobody else is home, so it’s just the two of us. I ask if he wants a house tour, since this is his first time here, and he says yes. I show him around.
When we’re done I ask him what he wants to do. I say that I have video games; he shakes his head, laughing, and tells me, “I’m not a gamer.” He says, “How about we just sit and talk?”
We sit on the couch together. I’m grateful for his suggestion – most people these days seem to not understand the value of just having a conversation, and I’m so glad that he does. We talk about everything – what we’ve been up to, what we plan to do this summer, places we want to travel to. We spend ages reminiscing about the books we read in our childhood – books like Septimus Heap and Eragon, books I haven’t thought about in years, books I can’t name or even vaguely summarize anymore. When we tire of the couch we go outside and sit in the backyard. We talk for over an hour, and I treasure every second of it.
When the conversation starts to taper off I check the time and then ask him, “Can you eat now?” He’s told me that he eats at odd hours, so I want to make sure I’m not forcing him at a time when he’s full. But he nods and says sure, he can eat, so we go inside and I boil water to make pasta. He takes my phone while I’m cooking and takes pictures of both of us.
The pasta is ready before long. I offer him my two usual sauces, yuzukosho and mentaiko, and he says, “I think I’ll just have butter.” I put yuzukosho on mine and we sit at the table to eat a decent lunch. We talk sparingly, just enjoying the meal and the company, and we both have seconds.
By the time we’re finished with lunch, the clouds have cleared and I think the pool is warm enough for swimming. After we’ve changed into our swimwear I ask him if he wants to go in the jacuzzi too, and he says yes. Then I ask if he wants bubbles, and he laughs at me. “Do you have to ask?” he says. I turn on the spa mode and we head outside.
He goes into the jacuzzi first, and I follow him. The water heats up slowly around us. He brings up how if you put a frog in a pot and turn up the heat slowly, it supposedly won’t jump out – it’ll just boil to death because it can’t sense gradual changes in temperature. I laugh. He says a friend gave him his swim trunks for his birthday, but they’re a little too small. I say that my swimsuit is way too small for me now. We talk about bleaching hair and getting tattoos.
After a while he gets up to go in the pool, and I follow. I yelp as I step into the shallow end, because it feels ice cold compared to the jacuzzi. I say we probably should’ve gotten in the pool first and he nods in agreement. He throws himself into the cold water and adjusts well ahead of me. He wipes his face with one hand, looks at me, and says, “This is refreshing!” He goes back to the jacuzzi while I’m still crouched in the shallows, trying to acclimate to the colder temperature.
After a few minutes I’m finally able to dunk myself in the pool. I tread water and swim around a little; he watches me and smiles. I rejoin him in the jacuzzi and we talk for a little while longer. Then the heat starts putting us both to sleep, so we go back to the pool again. This time it doesn’t take me as long to adjust. We swim towards the center of the pool and he dunks himself beneath the surface, eyes closed; I go down with my goggles on and look at him underwater. His shirt drifts up in the current, revealing the snake tattoo on his hip. I think to myself that this is one gorgeous image, something I’d like to remember forever.
We surface together and swim to the side of the pool, looking out over the city below us and the mountains in the distance. I say, “Sometimes you need to just stop and appreciate life.” He passionately agrees. We go back to the jacuzzi, joke about boiling like frogs, and when it gets too hot we get up and go back inside.
I put the dishes away while he’s changing in the bathroom. I don’t change out of my swimsuit, planning to take a shower later, but I put a shirt on over it and try not to drip all over the kitchen. He comes back in his normal clothes, sits on the island, and I sit on the counter and we talk for another forty minutes. I give him the letter I had planned to write him before graduation. He reads it and hugs me.
Before long he says he has to go. I walk him to the door, and we hug again. He says maybe next time he’ll play Dynasty Warriors with me.
I hope there’s a next time. Even in the summer, such beautiful days are hard to plan.