The alarm on the bedside table rang and Ezra switched it off, having already been awake for the past few minutes or so. He yawned and stretched, feeling completely well-rested, even though it was 5:30 in the morning, and half the town were still probably asleep in their beds.
He turned on his side and wrapped his arm around May, taking in the smell of her hair, and then kissing her on the back of her head. She stirred, and murmured ‘Good morning sunshine.’ Ezra smiled. He would never ever get tired of hearing the sound of her sleepy, husky voice the very first thing in the morning.
They got dressed, he in his usual t-shirt, Bermuda shorts and sneakers, and she in a comfortable salmon-coloured hoodie and short shorts, and they set out on their bicycles at 6am.
As they cycled together on the promenade, it seemed as though they were the only two people on the planet. They would talk to each other at times, and sometimes they would just enjoy riding together in silence. They came to the pier, which was deserted at this time of the morning, parked their cycles, and walked hand in hand all the way to the edge, where they sat down with their legs dangling.
May opened the mini-basket she had packed before leaving the house, and took out a sandwich which she handed to Ezra.
“Tuna for you, and a PB & J for me” she said, smiling. She poured coffee from a flask into two polka-dotted paper cups. “Here you go, sweetie.”
They ate their breakfast, watching the sun rise on the horizon, and a few gulls flying freely across the water. They chatted and laughed as though they were a couple on their first date. It seemed as though they would never run out of stories to tell each other.
Since it was a Saturday, they had the rest of the day to spend together. She helped him wash his car, and he helped her do some gardening. They drove to the market to buy the things they needed, and when they came back home, cooked lunch together.
In the afternoon, they took a walk through the woods and came to a stop at the waterfall. They took off their clothes and dove from the highest rock into the glistening blue lake. The water was always the perfect temperature, and one could swim for ages and ages in this serene, isolated setting.
By the time they got back to their house, it was already evening and the sun was setting. They ordered Chinese food for dinner, and had a hot shower while they waited for the food to arrive.
They set their dinner out on the table on their front porch, and after they were done eating, they played Sinatra on Ezra’s late grandfather’s gramophone, which still worked like it was brand new. ‘Come fly with me, let’s take off in the blue’ the song played, and they slow-danced on the porch by the light of the full moon.
As they danced, with May’s head resting on his shoulder, Ezra thought that this had been a perfect day, spent with the perfect woman. He thought of the past, which had always been riddled with so much chaos and anger and muddled thoughts. And now, he was here, in the most beautiful place in the world with May, the one person he never thought he could ever deserve. This was the peace he had dreamed about all his life, the peace that had been so elusive once upon a time..
“Ezra. Wake up, Ezra.”
He recognized the voice at once. It only took him two seconds to register that he was in Room 31 again, and that the voice belonged to Nurse Celine.
He opened his eyes, and the first thing he saw was the bleak, beige ceiling of his room. Nurse Celine had entered, chewing gum noisily and making notes on her clipboard.
“I wasn’t asleep” he said to the nurse.
“These are your morning pills. Make sure you have the red one before you eat anything else, the rest you can have after breakfast. You’re both scheduled for an appointment with Dr. Chan so make sure you’re at his clinic on the fourth floor after breakfast. Understood?”
She did not look at him as she spoke to him.
“Yes” Ezra replied, getting up and taking the pills from Nurse Celine. His back hurt, but he did not say so to the nurse. He put the big red pill in his mouth and swallowed it without washing it down with water.
“Nurse. Will there be any visitors coming later?” he asked.
Nurse Celine shook her head without looking up from her clipboard. Ezra saw that she rolled her eyes when he asked this question.
She left, and Ezra looked to the other side of the room, where Mitch lay on his bed, his mouth agape, as it usually was.
“Do you know if they got rid of those roaches?” Mitch asked him. “Those roaches were all over the place. I ain’t getting out of bed until they kill every last one of those things.”
“Yes. They’ve killed them. They’re all gone now, it’s safe” replied Ezra.
Mitch looked at Ezra incredulously. He broke into a huge grin.
“That’s great news!” he said, getting out of bed. “Let’s go for breakfast then, shall we? We won’t get any if we’re late.”
“Go ahead, Mitch. I’ll be right with you” said Ezra.
After Mitch left the room, Ezra made his bed and looked out the window through the iron bars, not at the immediate view beneath, but at the great expanse of the sky above. He looked at the birds flying in the distance and closed his eyes. A vision was already forming in his head, and as the picture became more and more vivid, Ezra began to smile.
“I’ve got the best date planned for us tonight, May” he said to himself. He then put on his jacket and slippers and left his room, whistling a happy tune.