tagRomanceHappy Holidays

Happy Holidays

byJudasC©

The cold in her apartment jostled Natasha out of her slumber. It was still dark out as she craned her head about to see her clock. “Whooah” she exclaimed as a sliver of cold air crept under her comforter and she bundled up again.

Timidly now, with the covers held tightly, she rolls over for a second attempt. Through the bitter darkness she groaned as her eyes were able to make out 6:25 a.m. on her digital clock. Natasha hated being woken up before her alarm at 7:00 and wasn’t willing to leave her futile bundle of warmth just yet. “I swear I’m going to bat that super upside the head”. There had been problems with the heater in her building all week and the super had yet to solve it.

“Just think warm thoughts Neesha, think warm…” she consoled herself. She tried to use her bittersweet memories of Jamaica. She tried to remember Jerk chicken so strong that it made her eyes water. She tried to recall the feel of unbearably hot and sticky nights with out air conditioning or any hint of a breeze, “Mmmmm….” The idea of burning sand beneath her feet as she ran for shelter brought her solace as she moaned. The sensation of the sun on her darkening skin made her smile. Her memories strayed to the thoughts of the tiny pink string bikini she wore that day and of the cold hands that tugged at the strings elicited a different moan.

Natasha was laying back on her beach towel in the shade. Sunlight flickered through the palm tree leaves with the swaying morning breeze and licked at her skin. Sunglasses in place, she drifted off into a light sleep. “WHAAAAT?!” she squealed as the feel of cool water droplets hit her smooth flesh. Smiling down at her towered a dark ebony skinned man shaking his shoulder length dreadlocks like a shaggy dog. “Jason!” she growled but you could hear she was really laughing. “Wah iz yuh prah-blem” she spat in the thickest patwa accent she could muster but you could still hear her amusement shine through. Placing his hands on either side of Natasha he leaned over as more cool salt water dripped from his tight black torso "Yuh juhs going to satta dair de hole day Neesha?" "Maybe," she purred, "do you have something better in mind?"

She could taste the salt water on his lips. Water dripped from his body to hers as her slender fingers slid along the ridges of muscles on his body. His hand sent shivers through her as it slid down her side to the string of her bikini bottom and gently tugged.

"BMEEP! BMEEP! BMEEP! BMEEP! BMEEP! BMEEP! BMEEP! BMEEP!"

She tried but couldn't ignore it, so she reached out of her cocoon with and slapped her alarm until it shut-up. Her left hand remained between her legs on the warmth there. Again a groan reverberated out of her throat though this time full of longing and sorrow. "how long has it been Neesha? And this feels so good.” But instead, she pulled her hand away.

Two thick woolly socks began to shuffle across Natasha Johnson's hard-wood floor. Above them stood two perfectly smooth legs that shined in the growing morning light. They were the darkest richest brown you ever saw. They ended somewhere underneath a long old T-shirt that was several sizes to large for her lanky frame. As Natasha lurched closer to the washroom you could almost make out the impression of her hidden erect pointed nipples that are an even darker black against her small petite yet firm breasts.

***

Although the sun was higher in the sky, it couldn't pierce through the thick veil of dark clouds and as such the city of Toronto looked grey. The grey buildings almost swayed in the harsh December wind. The heavy winter coats of the pedestrians whipped about them as they pushed forward on the dingy sidewalk. The wind pushed back. Their clothes, even the faces of the people looked muted and paler in the bleak morning light. Natasha thought grey thoughts on this grey and grisly Monday on The Fifteenth of December as she walked against the stinging wind. It sneaked past her upturned collar and lashed at her smooth dimpled brown cheeks. Her black full length coat was held tightly closed as all of her five foot eleven and a half inch frame leaned into the wind.

"I've been living in this absolutely vile country now for five years and it just keeps getting colder and colder" she lamented to herself. "think WARM thoughts Neesha, Jerk chicken. Steaming CURRIED GOAT STEW..." But the weather was too persistent. Instead the memories only made her sadder. It had been five years without her mother's cooking or her warm hugs. Five years without her Step-Father's emboldening words. Five years without hearing the boisterous laughter of her younger sisters as they ran bare-foot together over green, green grass. "And now this absolutely nasty, horrid weather... at least auntie Joanne doesn't live in Alberta..."

Just out side the large office building on Bloor Street West to which she was walking, an unrepentant gust of wind wiped over Natasha taking her hat with it. Long black braids whipped about in the cold. Her thoughts began to blackened as her hat enjoyed teasing her by rolling just out of reach. "Why you... fowl, nyam done, 'im wipe 'im mout a'ground...ooooop!" her curse was cut off as she fell backwards onto her backside from slamming into something.

"I believe this is yours?" smiled the bluest eyes Natasha had ever seen.

"Ah...yes, thank you. Thank you very much" she stammered.

"Here," he said reaching out a hand that was bright pink due to the cold. She smiled brightly as she was pulled to her feet. “My name is Mathew. And yours is...?"

Another mischievous wind brushed past her at that moment, knocking her into Mathew's brown leather coat as his arms wrapped around her. Her face unexpectedly began to feel warm. Their eyes were nearly level as he refused to blink or look anywhere but right into her soul. His jaw was peppered with a slight stubble but his smile was soft as a puppy's Mathew's face was a bright pink but Natasha swore that it was turning red after their close contact.

She began to pull away laughing "...I'm ah... very sorry about that. I'm late for work. I have to get going now.' and at that began to jog away.

"Wait!" Mathew cried, his brown hair waving about madly. You forgot your hat!"

She turned about wide eyed to see that the handsome stranger had started after her, still smiling. "Ah... Thank you again." she gasped and turned to jog away.

"You never told me your name!" he called out longingly to her.

"Neesha!" she called out over her shoulder. As Mathew let her go he could swear that he had seen her smile.

***

Natasha had trouble concentrating on the spread sheets on her monitor. Instead she starred out the eighth floor window of the large ad agency she worked at on Bloor Street that occupied two floors. She could see snow begin to shoot past on the back of the uncaring wind. "Lord I miss my warm civilized home" she grumbled while anticipating having to walk home in the cold. Just six months ago the weather was a sunny and sweltering thirty degrees Celsius but she couldn't recall the feeling of that. She did remember the feel of the wind this morning... and the man who saved her hat.

Turning her attention back to the screen of numbers in front of her, she found it impossible to continue. Her computer had frozen. She pressed ALT, CTRL and DEL and still nothing happened. Accepting that she would loose her progress from the last time she saved, she braced herself, turned off the computer altogether and started it up again. Only now, she found error report after error on the screen. After a few minutes of pounding, Natasha conceded.

She was starring out the window again when someone from I.T. startled her. "Ah, so is your computer, um... wiping 'im 'mout a'ground?" a warm voice from behind her asked. Her face was already hot when she wheeled herself around in her chair.

"YOU! What are you doing here Mathew?!" When ever Neesha said his name, she pronounced it Maht-yew.

"I heard you were having some computer problems" Mathew declared as innocently as he could.

Words were failing Natasha. "I mean... I didn't know you worked here. Did you just start?"

"I guess you could say that; I've only been here for five years." Natasha felt like she swallowed a full bottle of Busha Browne's Spicy Jerk Sauce. Mathew motioned to her seat asking "May I?" Natasha silently stood up and watched him get to work.

His face and hands were a softer shade of pink now having recovered from the cold. He sat upright in Natasha's chair straight and lean. Her wore dress pants and a dress shirt but the shirt un-tucked and un-ironed. His sleeves were rolled up to reveal veined muscular forearms. Computer work, thought Natasha, must keep him in shape.

Mathew brought her back to the present. "So, how long have you worked here?"

"Oh...um, six months. And I'm sorry. I mean, I guess I haven't seen you around. I didn't mean to be rude" she babbled.

"It's okay. You haven't been working here that long and you haven't had any computer problems before. Besides, I haven't been able to gather the courage or an excuse to talk to you before now."

Mathew glanced over his shoulder and saw that she was returning his smile. Natasha couldn't think of a thing to say. He turned away and continued.

"So, your name is Natasha is it?"

"Yes."

"Hmmm," he pondered. "Then why did you tell me your name was Neesha?"

"Oh that. Ah... That's my nick name. My little sister always calls me that. Neesha was her first word and she just kept saying it. I guess it stuck."

"Are these your sisters here?" Mathew inquired holding up a beautiful picture of three girls in front of a lush green landscape, purple-pink clouds and dark orange setting sun. All three were smiling big bright white-toothed grins against smooth dark complexions.

"I'm on the right," Natasha pointed out. "Tanya's next to me and Mary is the youngest on the left. That must have been taken, oh my, FIVE Years ago; just before I left. Tanya must be sixteen now and Mary going on fourteen." She sounded distant as she said all of that smiling all the while.

"And which one started calling you Neesha?"

"Tanya did." Natasha was standing close over Mathew's shoulder holding the frame with him.

"Does everyone call you Neesha?"

"Oh no... That's just what my family and close friends call me. My aunt and uncle don't even call me...they don't even call me that." The last part trailed off as she tried to understand why she told Mathew her name was Neesha right away. Her face became hot again.

Mathew pulled the frame from her loose grip and returned it to her desk. "Well I guess that explains why no one knew who I was talking about when I asked if they knew NEESHA."

"He was asking about me," she thought to herself.

"Well here you go. Is this what you were working on?" Some how he managed to retrieve all of her work right up to the computer problems.

"Yes! Thank you!" She exclaimed as she sat down at her chair while Mathew towered over her.

"Well I hope your computer crashes so I can see you again. Maybe next time I can muster up the courage to ask you out to dinner."

It wasn't a statement; it was a question. He was subtly trying to ask her out and Neesha had just realized it. Her heart began to race. He looked so handsome standing there. "Why me," she thought. She wasn't even sure that the request was just a friendly invitation or that he was feeling the same butterflies in his stomach that she was. More than that she felt her nipples begin to rise against her bra. She couldn't begin to think of what to say.

"Th-that might be nice... to see you again, if my computer breaks down"

And then there was an awkward silence between the two of them. Mathew heard the unease in her voice, Neesha heard it too and there was no mistaking the look of dejection in his face. "Well until then" he managed to smile and turned to walk away. Neesha watched him all the way to the elevator. He turned to look back and saw that Neesha was waving frantically but with an odd expression on her face. He smiled and waved back. As the elevator door closed, Neesha couldn't help but feel a sadness replace her butterflies deep within her. She couldn't explain why her stomach felt like a chasm and her eyes were on the verge of tears.

She didn't feel hungry at lunch. The rest of the day was a blur. The wind and snow pushed against her back ushering her to the subway but it still felt like it was miles away. She crammed her way inside the crowded car until she was leaning against the opposite doors. Later Neesha would wonder why she looked up at that exact moment but as she did, she saw Mathew running to her train and get half of his body caught inside the closing door. She began to laugh in spite of herself and how uncomfortable Mathew looked. Her eyes felt like tearing up again. Finally the doors opened and he squeezed through.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to laugh at you," Neesha said still laughing. He was smiling and chuckling too.

"It's okay. I'm a sucker for punishment," he laughed but then his face went white as he saw Neesha's eyes well up with tears. "Neesha, is there something wrong?" He asked with pain in his voice.

"Oh, it's nothing," she sniffed, "it's just that you're standing on my foot." Sure enough, Mathew lowered his eye and saw his foot atop hers in the crowded subway. The train rang with the sound of their laughter. More than a few people nearby smiled in spite of themselves. They continued to smile as they unashamedly listened to the warm conversation between Neesha and Mathew as the train sped along.

The two began to run down the usual get-to-know-you-list of questions. She was twenty three, he was twenty five. He went to school at Concordia, she went to Sheridan. Before long, they both knew where the other was from, what their families were like, how many siblings they had and so on and so forth. It was a conversation that each of the passengers must have had a thousand times in their lives but none of them could mistake the genuine affection and interest these two shared. Their jokes and laughter was infectious. "Toronto still takes some getting used to compared to Oakville, where my auntie Joanne lives. And then this is still a completely different world altogether compared to Jamaica, I did tell you that was where I was from?."

"Oh really?" he drawled incredulously "I could never tell from your accent," and with that they laughed some more. Whenever Neesha spoke, her Jamaican accent was obvious but she always took care to annunciate each word steadily and clearly. Although now more relaxed, her accent became thicker and spoke quicker but her words remained eloquent and musical.

"My mother always made sure that I didn't speak Patwa in the house. She even made me read the dictionary each day!" Neesha exclaimed. "She didn't want her children to grow up to be little raggamuffins but when she stubbed her toe it was a different story! That's where I got that saying from; ... fowl, nyam done, 'im wipe 'im mout a'ground; when the chickens are done eating, the wipe thier mouth on the ground. It’s like saying they’re ungrateful. My mother always says that."

"I've dying to ask you, what's a bloodclot?" he attempted the last part with the most authentic accent he could muster. Some people on the train had heard the same word amongst youths and wondered the same question.

"Shhhhhhh!" She hissed wide eyed but still smiling. "Where did you learn such a bad word?"

"I don't know, I just heard some kids use it. I've heard it a lot."

"Well it's a BAD word" she laughed.

"It's not such a bad word," Mathew mockingly protested. "It's a North American term too; it's a medical term. It's nothing to be ashamed of. My motha had such a BLOODCLOT," he said the last part in the same terrible Jamaican accent.

"Shhhhhhh!" she hissed again. "It's like saying the F-word!"

"Oh, alright," he sighed, "but just for you. But then what about the word Bombaclot?"

"Nooooo!" she laughed again. "Don't say that word either. Lord have mercy, I can't take you home to my mother."

"So you want to take me home to your mother already?" he joked. "My aren't we being forward."

"Sigh... I didn't mean it like that, at least not yet...oh, well this is my stop. I'll see you at work tomorrow?" Neesha asked genuinely hopeful.

"Here's hoping your computer crashes again. I guess I should start heading home too..."

"What do you mean," she looked puzzled as the doors opened in front of her. "Where exactly do you live?"

"Oh, not that far from Osgoode Station."

"OSGOODE?" she almost squeeled in amusement. "That's in the completely opposite direction!?"

Mathew just smiled and waved as the doors closed between them and the subway sped away. Two women seated across from Mathew couldn't stop grinning from ear to ear at him. Outside, the snow glistened in the streetlights as it gently floated to the ground. It scrunched beneath Neesha's feet as she practically skipped her way home to her apartment.

***

Tuesday and Wednesday passed by in a blur due to an influx in the workload in Neesha's department. She was disappointed by the performance of her computer but realised that Mathew must be busy as well up in I.T. It was Christmas time after all and they did work in an ad agency. The snow continued to fall periodically outside. By Thursday Neesha Found a moment to breath, stretch back in her chair and spin it around. Her light cashmere sweater rose up to reveal her belly button.

"Am I interrupting?"

After almost falling over backwards in her chair, Neesha straightened to see a soft pink hand holding a teddy bear... with dreadlocks. "Mathew!? Where in the world did you get that?" She giggled while he slowly popped his head over her monitor.

"Oh, just at some toy shop. I thought that if you ever got home sick you'd appreciate a friend."

"I'll name 'im MAHT-YEW, " she beamed.

"Neesha, I know it's been hectic around here these past few days but could I take you and Maht-yew out to diner tonight? I know a great place..."

Neesha's heart stopped. When it began again it was going a mile a minute. Mathew's face went from pink to white and became as expressionless as Maht-yew's.

"No, no, no! No, I mean yes! I mean of course, I'd love to go out with you, I mean to dinner" she began to babble, "it's just that my friends want to take me out to tonight."

"It's alright I understand," Mathew feigned a smile.

"No, WAIT!" she exclaimed and clamped her hand down on top of his, surprising the both of them.

"Neesha felt like her heart was going to explode. Mathew stood silent with a bewildered look on his face, her warm and still on top of his. "would you like to go out to diner tomorrow night? Please? I really did promise me friends I'd go out tonight. I mean, if you're not doing anything tomorrow, or we can do something when you have the time, it's just that,"

"Neesha," He interrupted.

"Yes."

"I'd love to go out with you tomorrow."

"Alright," she smiled back at him.

"Just dress casual tomorrow, in something warm. I'll take you out after work. I'll meet you here at your desk around five o'clock."

"Really? I mean maybe I should go home first and..."

"Trust me, you'll be fine. Right here at five, i-rie?

"Alright"

***

"He sounds like a dead beat looser" Said Janice as she took a sip from here Long Island Ice Tea that night. She was born and raised in Toronto but from the way she spoke you'd think she was from Queen's. "Taking you out straight after work; He's not going to shower first, he's taking you to some place where you don't have to dress up... he probably doesn't even have a car." Her straighten black hair swayed side to side as she shook her head.

"He's keeping it casual, relaxed," interjected Denise. Janice rolled her whole head along with her eyes you could hear the dangle of her bracelets and large hoop earrings. Denise sighed while straightening her thick black rimmed classes of her light brown complexion. The two could not be more different; where one was shorter and dressed to show off her body, the other had a natural physique and always dressed up regardless of the occasion. Where Janice’s voice was high and quite, Denise spoke softly with a sultry scratchy voice of a blues singer. Janice began to apply more red lipstick that stood out against her dark brown face. Denise smiled and Neesha. Neehsa remained quiet sitting tall and skinny between the two while starring down at her drink.

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