Will you give me a call now and then? she had said. She was standing beside my bed and pulling her top over her head. Bare-bummed, she slipped into her jeans. I thought: that’s just what she does. Now I think she did it on purpose, that she knew what would happen when I found her underpants. Some people understand when to forget something. She understands everything, I know that.
We had met at the supermarket. Of all the places you can imagine meeting, the supermarket is the least exciting, but: so natural. She spoke to me in the fruit section, said I looked incredibly like someone she used to know. From the sports club, she said. She asked if that was me. I had no idea who she was talking about, she didn’t even mention a name, maybe it actually was me, but I didn’t recognise her from anywhere. With a conviction verging on certainty, I could say that I’d never seen her before. But I would have liked to say yes, because I liked the woman’s gaze. She had an open face, a big smile, and I’d never seen hands like that before. I thought: those hands look capable. And I also thought: this is someone who would make you feel welcome. But I didn’t say any of that. I weighed my apples and I told her a different truth: I said there was no way we could know each other. I had played the piano and trumpet, been in the brass band. I’d never been a member of a sports club. My name’s Victoria, I said.
No, I don’t know any Victorias, she said. That’s a shame, she also said.
Yes, I thought it was a shame too, I said. And I asked her if she wanted an apple, as I was standing there a little awkwardly with the bag of apples in my hands.
An apple? she asked.
I realised I’d asked her something strange. But she said: Why not? Let’s have an apple.
So, we paid for our groceries and headed outside, where it was pouring down.
We can go to my house, I said. It’s around the corner.
Okay, she said.
In silence, we walked side by side through the rain to my house. It wasn’t far, but we were soaked when we got there.
When we were inside, I took the apples out of my bag. I did as promised and handed her one. She looked at the apple and then at me. Very slowly, she started taking bites of the apple, still looking at me. When she’d eaten a strip down the middle, she licked the apple, her saliva slowly turning it brown, and she said: Have a bite too.
I didn’t dare to move.
She stepped towards me and handed me the apple. I took a bite, and she took another bite, and we stood closer and closer together, and she kissed me as she took a bite. She pushed a chunk of apple into my mouth and licked my lips.
I’m greedy, she said. There was no need for her to confirm that in words. She kissed me as if it were the most important thing she had to do. She unzipped my coat, my jeans and felt with two fingers to see if I was wet there too. She slipped inside me, and I pushed her towards the bedroom because I wanted to feel her body beneath me. And I wanted to see her like that too. I didn’t want to forget her. Everything was sticky because of the apple, so I licked her fingers. That really turned her on. She started whispering in my ear. She said she wanted me to make her come. I said she was never allowed to eat another apple without thinking of me. And I licked her the way she’d licked that apple. Then she lay beside me. I stroked her nose and hoped she’d fall asleep, that she’d drool on my chest. I wanted her to lie there all day, but she got up, slipped into those rain-soaked jeans and then said: Will you give me a call now and then? She picked up my phone, keyed in her number and her name and called herself. That was how I knew her name. Johanna.
A few days later, I found her underpants. I picked them up off the floor and smelled them. God, that scent. I took a photo of them and wrote: You left these.
Took you long enough, she wrote back. And then she said I had to come to the competition swimming pool at the Sloterplas. Now.
I did as she asked and drove to the pool. She was swimming in lane four, spotted me and pointed at the high diving board, where she pulled herself up smoothly onto the side. She pushed me towards the steps. I think the thing was at least ten metres above the water. Climbing those steps seemed to take forever. It felt as if we were doing something momentous. When she reached the board, she sat with her back towards the pool, her face towards me and spread her legs. I stopped and, with one hand, slid her swimsuit aside and began licking her very slowly. As she groaned, the pool acted like a soundbox. She beckoned me to come and sit with her on the diving board. I forgot how high up we were, all I could see was her. Still shaking, she pulled me off the diving board with her and, together, we fell metres down. And I hoped we would never touch the water. I wanted to keep falling endlessly into a world where sound was muted – and that we would never have to come back up.