She looked up at the ceiling as the record spun. We’d made it to the second side, but only just. Now as the last few tracks played out, the smoke from her cigarillo climbed languidly towards the ceiling. The lights from the city beyond the glass panes made shapes up where the smoke stopped rising. We both watched them in silence. She laid with her head propped up on two pillows. She’s quite strict about this. Always two, and an ashtray on her bare stomach. I always thought it was a bit brave to ash a smoke with such little margin for error, but her long fingers always seem to guide the cigarette to the center of the circle and with a gentle, delft flick, deposit the ash in a neat pile.
She listened to the tune, one of her favorites for sexual getdowns. She had picked this album at some point in her past, a soundtrack she found resulted in the best sex. I can’t blame her, it seemed to work well. She was an avid music enthusiast and her record shelves took up the long wall of our living room. When she said that this was the best record for sex, I’m sure she’d done a detailed study and this was the best. I never doubted it- she never gave me reason too. She said what really separates this one from the other good choices, of which she said there are many, and several better than good, was the ‘b’ side. People, she claimed, were always forgetting the b side of sex. They hop in the shower or go to sleep, not her. She likes to lay and relax, a soft smile on her lips and a cigarette in her hand. I’d taken to the habit as well, sometimes we’d cuddle, others just enjoy the presence of the other. We rarely talked, just listened to the b side of the 45, maybe another if the comfort was truly in fine fashion.
Today, though, she was uncharacteristically chatty- in that she talked a bit. She arched her back and stretched. “What was that fruit we had in Malaysia?” she asked when her body returned to its neutral pose. I arched my brows and moved my bottom lip up, something she said I often do when given a question I don’t know how to answer. Seeing my expression she laughed.
“You’re gonna have to be a bit more specific than that.” We’d gone to Malaysia last year and visited my buddy on Borneo, he’s a botanist doing his PhD research there. He’s an expert in tropical fruit cultivars, so he’d had us try more than I could count, all unique, weird, and delicious.
“The banana one.”
“No. The ice cream one.”
“Oh yeah the purple one. I’m not sure its name, I think it might be called an ice cream banana.”
“We should get some of those.”
I looked at her, then past her to the windows where the late fall of the Korean peninsula was quickly fading into a bitter winter.
“Yeah, that’s not gonna happen.” I laughed.
She shrugged, “Yeah. I guess we’ll have to go back. Or, she laughed, I’ll just have to mix banana milk and ice cream and imagine.”
I laughed. Usually she wasn’t talkative. Maybe she was in a good mood, maybe I was just lucky. I looked over. She sat naked, hair in a messy ponytail, eyes closed, lost in the music. I’d never seen a more beautiful woman in my life.