I open the gate at a quarter to the hour. She could turn up early. Halfway up the path, I glance backwards over my shoulder. No sign yet.
Inside, by an open window. Occasionally peeking expecting to catch a glimpse as she walks up the zig-zag.
I’m on the sofa thirty minutes later. Too nervous to do anything except sit. I don’t hear her come up the stairs. There’s a light knock, and she enters. I turn. She smiles.
“Hullo!” rings her voice. Across the vast room I’m hit with a wave of perpetual bliss. Thankfully I’m already seated. I return a silent smile.
“So you found me alright?” The answer is so obvious I immediately blush with the stupidity of the question.
“Of course…” she replies with an inquisitive glance. I offer a seat but she instead chooses the floor. I feel ridiculously tall on the couch, her near my feet, and awkwardly lean over to drop a sheet of paper in her lap.
“Here’s the diagrams, I’m not sure of the dimensions, but you’ll get the idea”.
“That’s fine,” she replies, “I bought a tape so I can mea…” she drifts off mid-sentence, eyes scanning the room. “This place is incredible!”.
I blurt out the inner monologue reserved for visitors. “I can show you around later if you like. This used to be a Masonic temple you know. There’s secret passageways, plus an epic room under this one decorated with Egyptian symbols and marble archways, and even a tomb with a skeleton hidden under the floor…”
Her eyes open wide “You’re kidding!”
“No, no. One day you’ll learn that I never lie, although I do exaggerate sometimes!”.
“This has to be the most incredible flat I’ve ever seen, you’re so lucky…”
“It is fantastic, but it all comes at a cost”.
“One-thirty a week”.
“Oh, I’m paying just forty at my place. How can you possibly afford that?”
“Hoping to seduce a sweet damsel like yourself” I’m tempted to reply. Instead I choose the safer option. “I’m working full time, so I can afford it”.
She smiles again. Says nothing. For a few seconds I look at her and reflect on the reality that she is not only talking with me, but sitting on my bedroom floor. For a moment I’m lost for words, but then remember my cunning scheme.
I’d asked her here to help design me a hat. A ‘fez’ in fact, chosen simply for the fact that it was my name spelt backwards. “So what do you think of my drawings? Can it be done?”
“I think so… I bought along some materials. Come down here and take a look”.
I’m now on the floor beside her. My heart beats resoundingly loud, echoing and reverbing off every wall. She doesn’t seem to notice, and lays multiple squares of material before me. Cotton, felt, satin, silk… I brush my fingers across the surface of each, and pick the square than feels like felt but sheens like satin. “I like this one”.
“Yes… I prefer that one too… it’s going at twenty-nine ninety-five a metre.
“How much will we need?”
She holds up the scroll of tape. “Let’s measure your head”.