Hot water! I happily, mutely told my Friend. I soaped my body in the narrow tub/shower. I love Cade, I silently continued. But…
The opening bathroom door pushed a draught of fresh air into the tight space. “I decided to join you,” Cade announced as he stepped into the shower. A shade lowered within me. “Pass me the soap,” he waited hand out-stretched. I gave him the small cake.
“I’ll wash your hair if you like,” I offered brightly.
Palm out, he quipped, “I don’t want foolish, female fripperies.” Then added, “I don’t know why you buy such expensive shampoo. It smells great but it’s a waste of money.”
“It works!” I retorted. “If you really want to tame your cow-licks, a better shampoo and conditioner would help. Not all of them smell like perfume. And a bit of gel would work wonders.”
“Shampoo is shampoo! And I don’t use products!” He spat the last word at me. “I’d rather spend money on more important things…” Cade became silent, seemed to be searching for something in the misty bathroom air. He continued, “Like a car.” He searched for another instant then spoke decisively, “I want you to help me buy a car.”
My forehead rumpled, my eyes widened, “Why would I help you buy a car? I don’t even drive.”
“You’d benefit from it. We could take rides in the country, get out of the city,” he told me as he scrubbed cheap shampoo through his hair.
My forehead remained rumpled, my voice gained a slightly shrill edge, “If I want to go to the country, I take a train. I don’t need a car.”
Cade reached out and pinched my breast. I screamed, “Ouch! Stop that! It hurts!”
“It doesn’t hurt you,” he sneered.
Alain’s voice sounded inside me, “Hit his hand when he pinches you.” The moment had passed.
I stepped out of the tub and began drying myself on one of his skimpy, scratchy towels. “I want a boat too,” Cade announced to the air above my head.
I looked up, “Fine. Get whatever you want.”
“What do you want?” Cade suddenly asked, then added, “In the future, I mean.”
“To get married and have children and do some sort of work I enjoy. One luxury I do want is live-in help when I have children,” I responded without realizing that honesty had slipped past my usual guardedness.
“You want live-in maids to take the place of friends just like my mother!” At his harsh tone, my head snapped up; Cade pointed his finger at me. I covered myself with the inadequate towel. “I’m not paying for extra space,” he fiercely spat out. “I’d rather have a boat.”
Wide-eyed, lips compressed, I looked up at him, “Who said you would pay for anything? I don’t need you to pay for me.”
“If we get married,” Cade began. The words echoed through the narrow room, bounced off the walls, stopped squarely in front of my face. “You’ll want to stay at home with children. And,” he gave the word two syllables, “you’ll expect me to pay all the bills.”
Most of his words tucked themselves in some corner of my memory. “If we get married,” still rang in my ears, hovered a few inches from my forehead. I’m not marrying him. The thought came almost from outside of me.
Suddenly I laughed, “This is the silliest argument ever!”
“What?!” he stood glaring at me, fists curled at his side.
“We’re not married. We haven’t even planned to get married. None of this is real. We’re just quibbling over fantasies,” I told him decisively.
“What?” Cade seemed stuck in the shower. The water, which must have become cold, ran over his back. He did not move.
“We’re quibbling over fantasies,” I reiterated. “It’s a waste of my time. I’m getting dressed.” I left him in the bathroom under the stream of cold water.