Seven is magic. Thirty-three is ethereal. These numbers have been speaking to her for years. Then he comes along, shining with promises and fateful coincidences. He pounds on her door, growling like a wolf. He makes her dizzy and weak. Her backbone breaks. She opens the door because she has no choice.
There is only one chair in the middle of the room and this is where he sits. She doesn’t know what to do with him now that he’s here. She has thousands of chairs, all different sizes, but they are stashed in corners and boxes and drawers. She wants to let him sit on all of them, but for every chair there are three keys and she knows it would take forever to unlock them all tonight. All she knows is that she wants him to stay so that she can unlock them all slowly.
He is not slow. His eyes are catching her as she circles him like a frightened cat. She doesn’t know what to do with her body. He watches her, amused. She knows she should pounce. She wants to straddle him, align her limbs in a way that’s fresh and familiar. She wants to challenge him. This is her forte: she challenges them. But not this one. She always wear her keys on her sleeves, but not this time. She stares at photographs of other men: souvenirs of successful seductions. She doesn’t understand why she can’t find those keys now.
Suddenly she realises that she’s been going round in circles for a very long time. Suddenly she cannot deviate. His eyes begin to dull; he is getting bored. She knows exactly what she should do. She needs to stare at him. She needs to dare him. She needs to stop acting like a little coward and slap him him stupid before he makes a mistake. But she doesn’t. They both make mistakes.
It is too late. Her circles are weakening; she stops going all the way around. There is a gap widening between him and the door. Soon it is big enough for him to slip through. The moment she realises, her eyes flash and she finds a key on your tongue: she remembers who she is. She turns around to show him but he’s gone.
She walks across the emptiness and stands in the mouth of the doorway counting the stars. She can hear a thousand keys unlock behind her: do not let yourself twist into knots for someone; you should have flowed. She can hear the photographs of past lovers mocking her: karmic justice. She can hear his mutterings in the wind: your circles were perfect but perfection is boring.
Next time someone knocks on her door, she is going to slam it in their face. This is what they want. They think that she is worth it only if she’s difficult. But she is not difficult; just complicated. She vows not to pretend to be simple and good and easy again.
She hates the way he graffitied his name on thirty-three. This is her number; the Universe gave it to her. It pops up on on street corners and number plates every time she thinks of him.
But she trusts the Universe. She pulls out her camera. It’s not even dusty. It’s never dusty. She smiles at strangers. She drinks. She dances through it. Her heart is magic and her mind is ethereal.
He watched her look for the key, all the while unaware that he had it in his pocket, or unwilling to tell her. It is still there. She must sneak around him and steal it back one day. Now she knows that he didn’t want to unlock her. That’s why she’s so relieved that, when he asked her to open the door in nothing but her lingerie, she didn’t.