We have words, but where have they ever got us? We have nouns to build up all the things in this world, to give them laws and limits; we have adjetives to shape those things and give them colours; we have verbs and they allow me to say "I take you by your waist, pressing my palm against your stomach, drawing you to me, and kiss you". But words are not your lips, they are not my mouth yielding under your warmth, your touch, your warmth; when I say you are everything what does "everything" stand for? When you say you could learn to need me it doesn´t really betray what´s behind, that you already do, it doesn´t tell of the sand in your lungs, how sometimes you can´t meet my eye, your golden hair full of salt and insomnia, it doesn´t capture me writing H2O in your arm and waiting silently until you realize I need you like I need breathing, like this desert need its hidden water. You are water to me.
I. In the bedroom
Roy is the first boy she spends some time with on a regular basis; he is the first to know which are the most sensitive parts of her skin and how to match the rhythm of her breathing, and he is the first boy she spends so much time with that all her clothes smell of him. It´s nice familiarity, and it´s new to her.
"How long have we know each other?"
He throws an arm under his head, slowly shifting his position.
"I don´t know. A long time."
"Yes, at least two months."
Time has a different measure here, the tick of the clock between the falling of bombs, and which sound covers which?
"I want to stay with you."
And Roy know just what measure of time she is using right now.
"I´m no good for you."
He traces a line from her elbow to her shoulder, with his fingertips, so soft and slow that Riza doesn´t know if it is tickling or arousing.
"I don´t mind."
"I can´t marry you now."
"I don´t care, I just want to be with you."
"My father told me once I should never make a woman cry."
He pouts playfully, even though his words are dead serious.
"I don´t cry that easily."
"I will make you cry. Someday. I don´t know when. But I will, for sure."
You deserve something perfect, he tickles her behind her ear with his tongue, he licks the sand off her skin, he knows there is no room for forever in their vocabulary here. I don´t believe in perfection, and she feels her skin tightening over her bones when he kisses her throat, hard.
Nobody has told her about these little details about love and sex; with other boys she has never had this kind of confidence, but with Roy she knows that he likes it when she runs her fingers over the back of his neck and he likes to be kissed on the eyelids, and she is not afraid to touch him here and there, to explore and discover, for she has never known before this kind of trust.
He holds her against the pillow, pushing with chest and elbows, the ends of his fingertips are hot like a sick man´s skin, feverish; she is not going to pretend all this tightness in her bones (like her body can´t contain the burning, like her cells split at his touch) is not because of him, she won´t deny it´s this boy, this man, his hand between them, clutching, searching, craving, the end of it all, the ruin and destruction, it breaks her, it breaks the universe and the light filters through the cracks, turning the sky to impossible colours so you can no longer tell if your eyes are open or closed.
Roy begins to talk; his mouth is so beautiful Riza doesn´t hear the words at all, words means nothing, just constonants and vowels and the vowels sound so soft and round in his voice and the consonants put back the sharp edges to reality, settled in the harsher part of his tongue. The last couple of words come out muffled into her shoulder.
He gets his watch from the night table, he puts it on.
"What are you doing?"
Roy doesn´t tell her inmediatedly, just smiles.
He holds her down with his forearm, his ribs, his breathing (wonderful breathing, she thinks, so grateful that he is alive alive alive each day, each morning, each night, her little miracle in the middle of this war) and a finger on her lips.
"Shh," he tells her, so close to her lips that she can taste herself in him.
"Until I tell you so."
Riza feigns offense, but not for long, not when he smiles in this way, so easy, so free and careless, fleeting but real, here, now.
Roy looks at his watch the whole time, feeling her grow impatient under his weight. He can hear her breathing like thunder.
A minute passes. Not a second more, just a minute.
"We´ve had it."
"A perfect minute. Sixty seconds of perfect love."
Riza, who, upon meeting him, hadn´t suspected that Roy Mustang was a romantic (or maybe she hadn´t realized that he was still so young) meets him halfway into a kiss, his mouth fierce and wet, trappting her into the matress.
She can feel the watch grinding into her arm as he grabs her by the wrist.
She likes it.
The world, its sounds, its ugliness, have no room inside here.
We skipped through our words like flipping through pages of sad and worn notebooks, through the YES and NO scribbled on our palms, trying to find some meaning, one tiny word that was of use.
I am scared, I wrote on the inner line of your thighs, and you took me in your hands.
The pen fell to the floor. I am scared. Explosions on the outside.
II. In the bathroom
"Let´s boil some water."
Soap is a luxury these days. Even the military manufactured soap, wrapped in green paper, of the cheapest kind, given to the inferior ranks is sometimes scarce. Hand-made soap is almost a miracle but Roy knows a house, in the Ishvarite part of the city, there in the heart of the bombings. There is always an old woman, face red and wrinkled, at the door, as if she had no fear for herself, exposed like that to the enemy. The man who sells the soap bites his lips whenever Roy hands him the money; he feels ashamed of having bussiness with the enemy but survival leaves no room for pride, specially if it´s your side the one losing. Roy tries to look him in the eye during those exchanges, in a way he never does with his superiors and sometimes he feels closer to this broken man than to his friends. Roy hides the soap under his bed and carries it with him whenever he can. Soap is a luxury these days and something about the hand-made soap, the thought of that old woman´s hands steering it, something about its smell makes Roy forget where he is, as if it could wash the smoke, the blood, off his skin.
The water smells of earth, and soon it all smells of Roy, the scent of his hair, like outdoors running and grass mixed together. He presses her back against his chest, so he can feel each vertebae pushing into his lungs, so his arm chains Riza across her breasts and she is aware of everywhere they are touching.
The bathtub is too small for two but they are too young and in love to notice, to care about the way their necks and arms are going to hurt the next day.
Explosions ring outside.
"That has been close."
"Are you sure this is a safe place?"
"I´m positive. I saw the command´s transmision, it was in the paper. We are safe here."
But he puts his arm around her a bit tighter, as if afraid. Riza closes her eyes, it´s so easy to make the world dissapear when he is with her. It only takes a moment, one breath.
He puts his finger to her shoulder, then runs it down her arm. He knows her so well by now: Roy knows exactly where to touch her, here to make her smile, there to make her feel weak in the knees, jelly-boned, right here under her belly to make her hot and wet, shivery, and here to make her giggle like a child. He loves catching her laugh in his mouth, he loves the taste of spit and soap on her lips, and he loves coming off the bathroom smelling clean, and of her, like all his clothes smell of her, and his hair smells of her, and his skin smells of her, too, she is printed in his genes, mixing with the calcium of his bones.
And there we were; we had lost all ability to speak. We could draw the words on the sand but we ignored their meaning, and they were erased by the tide anyway.
But we are in the middle of the desert, you said with your eyes, there´s no tide.
I smiled at you (I saw you trying to say you loved that smile but there were no words for it) and I wrote WATER on the sand.
We didn´t know what it meant. My hands were cold.
I wrote OCEAN.
We didn´t know what it meant. There were waves lapping against our ankles. You clutched my shirt, holding tight, as if afraid. I won´t let you drown, but that was not what you were afraid of.
You were scared of me drowning.
III. In the kitchen
"Someday the officers are going to find out it´s you and Hughes stealing the food."
"They won´t. And they wouldn´t have any proof, anyway."
"My colonel is mad about chicken. When you enter his tent you can smell it. If you go to the kitchen you will find birds in every state of undress; the cupboards are full of species. I don´t know who he thinks he is, Napoleon maybe. Or he believes himself still at home, all his luxuries intact. He knows nothing about war."
Riza touches the back of his neck, lingering, like a mother would check a sick son´s forehead.
"And you do?"
"I know war should not be comfortable."
There were ants in the rice and the potatoes were hard and wrinkled, and neither of them can cook to save their lives but somehow this is one of their happiest meals. They indulge in this fiction, their invented world where there´s no war and they are alone, the last life in the universe.
Her gun rests by the doorway, as a reminder, and a warning. An omen.
Roy holds her by the waist when they are making love in the kitchen, against the sink, and it makes her think of him as her anchor, an island to strand. Marooned in his body, lost in his touch, she can´t go back to firm ground again. There will be no rescue mission, no boat to take you home, no lifejacket at all.
But that´s okay: Roy will hold her, just as she will him.
The war fades for minute, it waits until their last kiss.