It was one of those nights. Toss the covers off one leg. Turn to the left, unable to get comfortable. Turn to the right. No difference. I lay on my back closely listening to the fan above the bed, its blades making their whooshing sound, which I normally find mind-numbing and soothing, the perfect remedy for a noisy brain. But tonight it’s distracting and inefficient.
Ordinarily I’d be K.O’d after a long day at the office followed by one too many ciders in the evening summer sun. But sleep was determined to evade me so I reached for my phone. When all else fails, turn to the internet for light-hearted entertainment in the slow-ticking hours of the morning.
I was in the middle of typing ‘grumpy cat memes’ into Google when the phone vibrated. It startled me and dropped it on the bridge of my nose.
Scrambling to sit up and see who the hell had the audacity to call me at 3 am on a Tuesday, I saw his name flashing on the screen. I fumbled and nearly dropped it again but managed to answer in one quick swipe, just as I was about to miss it.
I half-exhaled, half-spoke a ‘hello’ into the receiver.
“I thought you’d be in a comatose state at this hour,” he said. His voice poured into my ears, husky and warm, immediately rescuing me from the shackles of insomnia.
“Eames,” I said, trying to sound as composed and nonchalant as I possibly could. “You’ve been M.I.A for too long.”
He chuckled. “I’ve been,” long pause, “busy.”
“Busy?” Don’t pry, I had to remind myself. It was relatively easy not to ask too many questions because his elusive, mysterious persona was part of the appeal. Our restraint from wanting to completely unravel this bizarre being is probably the only reason we’ve been able to keep in touch with him. I use that term loosely because keeping contact was completely on his terms and came as sporadically as a panda bear’s desire to procreate. We didn’t mind - some of the most enlightening experiences we’ve ever had have been thanks to him in one way or another, so we just let it be.
“Story for another day, though. Listen, I’d like some company for my next trip. I have two round trip tickets for you both.”
My cheeks flushed, my face was hot, I pounced out of bed and fist pumped the air. When I managed to compose myself, I realised how lucky I was that Eames isn’t partial to communicating via Skype. “Um, well I’ll have to see if I can get the time off work. And I have no idea if H is free. And more importantly, where the hell are you thinking of shipping us to? And how did you get the money?”
Don’t pry. Oops. I was getting too worked up.
He laughed whole-heartedly. “I called in some favours. As to where we’re going, well, you’ll find out when you get my email tomorrow. Are you in or are you out?”
Fuck it. “I’m in. I’ll call H in the morning.”
I switched on my fairy lights, put in my head phones in and played Buena Vista Social Club on repeat. Eames introduced me to Cuban music with the promise that once day we'd be sipping rum listening to the real deal.
God knows what I just got us into. Then I thought, why do I still have fairy lights?