Lola toed the edge of the carpet. Danny sat on the sofa starting at his feet. They were arguing. Again. Lately, it seemed they could never agree on anything. It didn’t matter what it was, whatever Lola said, Danny objected. The reverse was true. Lola sunk down into the large overstuffed armchair and sighed. She picked at a stray thread that lay lose on the edge of the arm rest. Neither one of them wanted to be the first to speak. Lola picked at the thread. She tried not to look at Danny through the fringe of her hair. Lola let her long hair fall forward like a shield. She didn’t want to look at Danny. She thought he would try to stop her. She wanted to leave without a fuss, without any drama but Danny wasn’t going to let that happen. ‘He always had to interfere,’ she thought, ‘always. ‘ She pushed a way a tear that had slowly made its way down her cheek. The sofa creaked. Lola pulled back her hair and tucked it behind her ear. Danny walked across the living room, being careful to avoid Lola’s fat red chair.
“Where are you going?”Lola asked. Her voice was small and pinched. The anger she was feeling was suddenly replaced by fear. Danny ignored her and went into the kitchen. Lola could hear the wooden cupboard doors banging. Open and shut, open and shut. Open. There was the tinkle of shattering glass. Lola jumped to her feet and ran to the kitchen.
“Are you alright??” she asked. Danny stood with his feet wide. He held his hand up. Blood dripped from a large gash along the palm.
“Shit, let me get some bandages. Hold your arm up. Don’t move!” Lola said. She disappeared into the living room again, leaving Danny to stand in the pile of broken glass and orange juice. Seconds later Lola ran back into the kitchen. She tore open the box of bandages. They spilled across the counter. Lola took Danny by the hand and carefully guided him away from the glass. Danny was pale. He could not stand the sight of blood, especially his own.
“C’mon, careful. Sit down here. You look like you are going to pass out. Lean forward and keep your arm up. Jesus, I am sorry. I am so sorry.”Lola babbled as she put pressure on the cut and started wrapping Danny’s hand in four times too much bandage. She secured it with first aid tape and then went to the closet. She took out the broom and started to sweep the glass shards to the side, under the edge of the cupboard door.
“Did you get a dustpan yet?” she asked. Danny mumbled something from between his knees. Lola sighed. She took the mumble to be a no. She leaned the broom against the fridge. She went to the sink next and dampened a cloth. Lola folded it and placed it gently on the back of Danny’s exposed neck. Danny mumbled something else.
“What?” Lola said. The excitement of the moment was passing. She felt the onslaught of fatigue wash over her. Danny lifted his head slightly and repeated himself.
“Thanks.” He said quietly. Lola sighed and pulled out another chair. She sat down beside Danny and leaned on her elbows.
“Are you sure you have to do this?” Danny asked. He sat back slowly in the chair, careful not to look at his bandaged hand. His eyes looked darker blue against his still pale skin. Lola smile ruefully. She took a folded piece of paper out of her pocket. She spread the paper out across her knees. On the creamy paper, were the instructions for her next job, typed neatly in black ink.
“I do, Danny. I won’t be gone long. They need to run the tests. I fit the criteria. A few days, that’s all.” Lola said. She closed her eyes. Lola felt the burn of tears against the back of her eyelids. The attendants would come for her in the morning. She was scared. She didn’t want Danny to know though. He would fight harder to make her stay.
“That institute is right on the edge of the frontier. You know that don’t you?” Danny said. The colour was not returning to his face. Lola frowned. She folded up the paper and tucked it back into her pocket.
“Yeah, I know. Listen, seriously. It is going to be ok. When I am back, we can talk about what is going on. I don’t want to argue all the time with you. We fight every day now. I have no idea why. Please, promise me when I am back we will sit down and have a real talk?” Lola said. Her heart pinched. She wanted to climb inside of Danny’s head to find out what was really going on. She wanted to understand why he was so angry all the time. Why she was for that matter too. His moods were so unpredictable. One minute he was furious and the next, silent and sad. Lola could not take much more of it. The requisition of her DNA was almost a relief. Almost.
“Lola, I will promise. I…” Danny started to open his mouth to continue when there was a loud rap on the door. Danny blushed. He was suddenly flustered. Lola jumped to her feet. She put her hand on Danny’s shoulder.
“No you don’t. Just sit. I don’t want you to pass out. I’ll get the door.” Lola said. She stepped out into the tiny hallway and looked through the peephole. She looked back at Danny and shrugged her shoulders. She didn’t recognize the man on the other side of the door. Lola kept the chain on and opened the door until it strained against the metal.
“Hello?” she said. She looked through the crack. The hallway outside of Danny’s apartment was empty.