A narrow path led to a small, simple, wooden house. The house appeared to be well maintained but definitely neglected for a longer while. Leaves, twigs, and brunches lay down on a spacious patio. Windows were dirty, dead flies and wasps on the windowsills. A thin layer of dust covered the floor and the pieces of furniture.
The front door creaked open, dust rose into the air, dancing in a beam of light as they stepped inside.

The house stunk abandonment. The unpleasant smell of musty air hit Maya’s nostrils the moment she crossed the threshold of the house. She looked around, subconsciously judging the surroundings. A massive insect reminding Maya of a mutant bee was lying on the floor. It must have died a long time ago because its body crunched like a piece of very dry brushwood under Tom’s shoe. Maya looked down where the sound came from. The man’s feet turned toward her as he cleared his throat.
– And? – Tom asked cheerfully. – A bit messy, but we can tidy up quickly… After dinner, though! I’m starving! I am very, very hungry – the last sentence was said in a low, deep, intimate voice.
– Sure! Shall we cook? – Maya responded enthusiastically, moving quickly away from Tom’s hand that was about to land on her lower back. – Shall we bring the rest of the stuff from the car?
– You stay here – Tom in an open hand gesture showed her kitchen – and I’ll take care of the rest.
– Thanks – Maya nodded, went to the kitchen, and started unpacking groceries.
“That’s it? So that is it?!” The voice shouted, and then, after a short pause, it laughed. “You’re going to cook for him?!”

Maya ignored it. Was it her thinking, was it someone else taking in her head? She couldn’t tell, but she decided to ignore the voice. It heard it, obviously, disagreed, declared that it – the voice, must protect her. It said the purpose of its existence was to keep her safe. It said it was a voice of reason.
A few dozen minutes ago, in the car, she looked deeply into Tom’s eyes, and she decided to trust him. She needed to trust him. She desperately needed to find peace. Even if her heart and mind didn’t see one in this situation, Maya decided to force herself.
“It’s temporary. It’s for the best,” she told herself as she unpacked shopping bags. The voice laughed.

Although she concluded to trust the man, her trust could be restricted. So she said, “yes, all my friends know. I even told my parents,” while in reality, nobody knew.
– No reception – Tom stated. He stood at the entrance with his phone in his left hand.
– I’m in airplane mode anyway – Maya shrugged.
“Stuuuuudpiiiid” the voice hissed.
– Won’t your friends be worried about you? – The man came to her and took her in his arms.
– They know I’m with you – she looked up, smiling at him. He was handsome, indeed. A little bit too much of self-tan, too perfect hairstyle, too whitened teeth, but still, he was a handsome man. Maya’s arms hugged his torso.
– One day only with you, separated from the world, no distractions… Sounds like a fantastic idea! – Tom whispered in her ear. An unexpected thrill went through her. – Leave it! Let’s swim in the lake!

The man pulled her outside, full of enthusiasm, suddenly excited like a child who was promised a favorite threat.
They ran barefoot in the shade of trees, trying to avoid stepping on cones, tree branches, and little stones. The sun made them blind for a moment when they ran out of the shadow.
Maya blinked a couple times to see clearer. A massive lake surrounded by greenery appeared to her eyes.

They walked on a tiny wild beach and then on the large wooden jetty.
– Wow… That’s… wow – Maya breathed.
– You wanna swim? – The girl heard Tom’s voice from behind.
– I don’t have…
An unexpected push interrupted the sentence. For a few nanoseconds, her limp body flew in the air before it touched the water surface, splashing it, immersing deeper in water.
“Murrrrderrrrerrrr!” The voice shouted in terror.

Maya laughed in her head with joy and at the voice. She swiftly swam up to get some air and dived again. She loved to swim, she used to swim whenever she got an opportunity. Why did she stop? It was such a joyful activity!
She emerged from the water and swam slowly back to the jetty. Loose trousers and strap top she was wearing wasn’t the best outfit for swimming.
Tom was observing her with wide-open eyes. He smirked at her when she came closer.
– I’m sorry… I… I just… wasn’t thinking – the man stammered.
– What? – Maya removed her sport watch from her wrist and put it on the jetty, then looked at him surprised. – Can you help me, please?
Tom grabbed her outstretched arm with his left, stronger hand, and was about to pull the girl up when she caught his arm with both her hands and tried to pull him down into the water. He easily resisted. He helped her out, and they killed themselves laughing.
They swam naked in the cold water of the Baltic Sea, warmed their bodies in the sun rays of the spring sun. When dusk came, they went back to the house.

Tom peeled carrots and cucumbers, Maya sliced them and cut into sticks. Rice simmered on the stove. Tom layered smoked salmon, Maya washed chives and spread them out to dry. Tom passed rice vinegar and soy sauce to Maya, who mixed them in her ideal proportions. She skipped sugar that supposed to be added to the mixture as she found it unnecessary. When the rice was ready, she took the pot from the torch, stirred the seeds, and covered to let it absorb the rest of the water.
Perfect sushi rice should cool down before landing on a seaweed sheet, but they were hungry. They started feeling hungry hours ago.
She poured cold water into a plugged sink and placed the pot inside. Then she removed the cover and stirred patiently, gradually adding the mixture of vinegar and soy sauce. Tom started tidying the dining table. It felt so good to cook together, to be able to cook for someone.

The woman gathered all the ingredients placing them in proper order, within reach. From left to right, a pot with rice, a plate with the vegetables, a plate with fish. She wished she had some sesame seeds that add nice crunchiness.
She smeared some rice on a seaweed sheet, leaving a strap, then put a couple of carrot and cucumber sticks, and salmon on the opposite edge. She rolled it up tightly. One after another, she made nine sushi rolls.
It was too many – the girl knew it, but the whole process was relaxing to this point that she didn’t want to stop, so she carried on until all the ingredients were gone. When she was done, she placed the plate with the rolls in the fridge to solidify them.
– Would you like some red wine? – Tom courtly presented a bottle of red wine.
– Sure. The supper will be ready in ten minutes.
He passed her a wine glass full of red liquid. She took it gratefully and gulped for almost half of it. The wine was dry, fruity, full-bodied, intense with fruitiness finish. Maya liked it even though it shouldn’t be paired with sushi. It did the job. Although she felt a slight buzz in the head, she took another sip as soon as she was sat on the sofa.
– You’re not drinking – Maya frowned when Tom, holding a glass of water in his left hand, came to sit with her.
– No, I prefer not – he admitted. His right hand rested on her left knee.

To be continued


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