Samuel Pepys begins his diary
They all smelled freshly laundered and redolent of the sun. She took out a plain gray T-shirt, unfolded it, and pressed it to her face. Might not a whiff of his sweat remain under the arms? But there was nothing. Nevertheless, she held it there for some time, inhaling through her nose. She wanted to keep the shirt for herself.
But that would be too risky. His clothes were so meticulously arranged and maintained. He or his mother probably knew the exact number of T-shirts in the drawer. If one went missing, all hell might break loose.
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Scheherazade carefully refolded the T-shirt and returned it to its proper place. In its stead, she took a small badge, shaped like a soccer ball, that she found in one of the desk drawers. It seemed to date back to a team from his grade-school years. She doubted that he would miss it. At the very least, it would be some time before he noticed that it was gone. While she was at it, she checked the bottom drawer of the desk for the tampon. It was still there. Scheherazade tried to imagine what would happen if his mother discovered the tampon. What would she think? Would she demand that he explain what on earth a tampon was doing in his desk?
Or would she keep her discovery a secret, turning her dark suspicions over and over in her mind? Scheherazade had no idea.
But she decided to leave the tampon where it was. After all, it was her very first token.
To commemorate her second visit, Scheherazade left behind three strands of her hair. The night before, she had plucked them out, wrapped them in plastic, and sealed them in a tiny envelope. Now she took this envelope from her knapsack and slipped it into one of the old math notebooks in his drawer. The three hairs were straight and black, neither too long nor too short.
She left his house and went straight to school, arriving in time for her first afternoon class. Once again, she was content for about ten days. She felt that he had become that much more hers. But, as you might expect, this chain of events would not end without incident. At this point in the story Scheherazade glanced at the bedside clock and saw that it was P.
She hopped out of bed and put on her plain white panties, hooked her bra, slipped into her jeans, and pulled her dark-blue Nike sweatshirt over her head. Then she scrubbed her hands in the bathroom, ran a brush through her hair, and drove away in her blue Mazda. Left alone with nothing in particular to do, Habara lay in bed and ruminated on the story she had just told him, savoring it bit by bit, like a cow chewing its cud.
Where was it headed? He found it difficult to picture Scheherazade as a high-school student. Was she slender then, free of the flab she carried today? School uniform, white socks, her hair in braids? He was impatient to hear what had happened next. As always, she came bearing large paper bags stuffed with provisions. She went through the food in the fridge, replacing everything that was past its expiration date, examined the canned and bottled goods in the cupboard, checked the supply of condiments and spices to see what was running low, and wrote up a shopping list.
She put some bottles of Perrier in the fridge to chill. Finally, she stacked the new books and DVDs she had brought with her on the table.
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Then, as always, the two went to bed and had sex. After an appropriate amount of foreplay, he slipped on his condom, entered her, and, after an appropriate amount of time, ejaculated. After casting a professional eye on the contents of his condom, Scheherazade began the latest installment of her story. As before, she felt happy and fulfilled for ten days after her second break-in.
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She tucked the soccer badge away in her pencil case and from time to time fingered it during class. She nibbled on the pencil she had taken and licked the lead. All the time she was thinking of his room. She thought of his desk, the bed where he slept, the chest of drawers packed with his clothes, his pristine white boxer shorts, and the tampon and three strands of hair she had hidden in his drawer.
She had lost all interest in schoolwork. In class, she either fiddled with the badge and the pencil or gave in to daydreams. When she went home, she was in no state of mind to tackle her homework. So when her teacher called on her in class and she was unable to give a proper answer, he was more puzzled than angry.
Eventually, he summoned her to the staff room during the lunch break. Her secret was too weighty and dark to reveal to anyone—she had to bear it alone.
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As you can imagine, it was a very risky business. Even I could see that. Sooner or later, someone would find me there, and the police would be called. The idea scared me to death. But, once the ball was rolling, there was no way I could stop it. I had no choice. Looking back, I think I really was a little crazy. So they figured a hands-off approach was best.
Forging notes for school was a piece of cake. I explained to my homeroom teacher that I had a medical problem that required me to spend half a day at the hospital from time to time. It was as quiet as before—no, even quieter for some reason.
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It rattled me when the refrigerator turned on—it sounded like a huge beast sighing. The phone rang while I was there.
The ringing was so loud and harsh that I thought my heart would stop. I was covered with sweat. No one picked up, of course, and it stopped after about ten rings. The house felt even quieter then. Scheherazade spent a long time stretched out on his bed that day. This time her heart did not pound so wildly, and she was able to breathe normally. She could imagine him sleeping peacefully beside her, even feel as if she were watching over him as he slept.
She felt that, if she reached out, she could touch his muscular arm. She was just lost in a haze of daydreams. She felt an overpowering urge to smell him. Rising from the bed, she walked over to his chest of drawers, opened one, and examined the shirts inside. All had been washed and neatly folded. They were pristine, and free of odor, just like before.
Then an idea struck her. She raced down the stairs to the first floor. There, in the room beside the bath, she found the laundry hamper and removed the lid. Mixed together were the soiled clothes of the three family members—mother, daughter, and son. Scheherazade extracted a piece of male clothing. A white crew-neck T-shirt. She took a whiff.