The next morning, Maite quietly opened the door to their room, just in case Kepa was still asleep. She had gotten up early and gone out, not able to sleep next to Kepa any longer.
As she entered the room, the bathroom door opened at the same time. Kepa stepped out as he dried his hair with his towel, his body otherwise naked. Maite’s eyes wandered down for a moment before she caught herself and looked at Kepa in the eyes.
“I got you some coffee,” she said, holding out a cup as Kepa wrapped the towel around his waist.
“Mil esker,” he said as he took it from her.
“I also got some pastries,” she said as she walked into the room, grabbed a tray, and placed the tray and the pastries on the bed. She sat down on one corner.
Buber’s Basque Story is a weekly serial. While it is a work of fiction, it has elements from both my own experiences and stories I’ve heard from various people. The characters, while in some cases inspired by real people, aren’t directly modeled on anyone in particular. I expect there will be inconsistencies and factual errors. I don’t know where it is going, and I’ll probably forget where it’s been. Why am I doing this? To give me an excuse and a deadline for some creative writing and because I thought people might enjoy it. Gozatu!
Kepa came over and sat on the other corner, taking a sip of his coffee. “Looks good,” he said as she opened the small box of pastries.
“Kepa,” Maite began. “I’m… I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking last night. I got caught up in all of the talk about the science going on here, was excited to continue it into the evening, and just thought it would bore you. But, really, I was thinking more about myself and less about you.”
Kepa took another drink of his coffee. “Look, Maite, I know I’m not always going to fit in all aspects of your life. I can’t claim to understand all of this stuff you study. And, to be honest, sometimes I feel a bit insecure about it, that you can’t really talk to me about your research. I’m always afraid that you are going to meet someone else who really understands what you are doing and that has a connection with you that I know I’ll never have.” He paused for a moment, looking down at the cup in his hands. “I am afraid that you’ll find someone better.”
“Ez!” cried Maite. “There is no one better for me than you! I have enough people to talk science with, I don’t need that from you. You and I share so much more. No one could ever replace all of those memories of playing together at your baserri or in the plaza when you came to ama and aita’s taberna. And now, with all of this stuff with the zatiak, you and I have a connection that literally no one else can have. I can’t imagine going on this adventure with anyone else but you.”
“Thank you Maite,” said Kepa as he put his cup aside and took her hand. “And I’m sorry for lashing out last night.”
“No, I know I hurt you. And, really, that’s the last thing I want to do. I’m really sorry.”
“Now how about one of those pastries?” asked Maite.
“I think they’ll keep for a little while longer,” said Kepa with a smile as he pulled Maite over.