Once we were out on the sidewalk he let go of my arm and looked around as though expecting to be followed. Where did you park?, he asked. What?, I replied. You drove here, right?, he pointed at the keys hanging from a lanyard around my neck, so where did you park? I smiled uncertainly and began walking in the direction of my car, the idol following just behind me. When I stopped to hit the unlock button on my keys, he stepped forward and opened the passenger side door and motioned for me to get in before darting around to the drivers side and situating himself behind the wheel. I sat down in the passengers seat and stared at him. Are you going to give me the keys? He held out his hand, waiting. Shouldnt I be driving my car?, I replied. He made a face at me. No, because you dont know where were going. And anyway, I didnt question you when you handed me this shirt and told me to put it on, did I? Somehow that sounded logical; I silently wondered if I was losing my mind and handed him the keys. You think drivers take me everywhere, right? Dont worry, I know how to drive, he said as he pulled out into traffic. I tried it one time back when I was a trainee. I must have looked like I was about to faint because he immediately added that was a joke. I have a license. Im a good driver, I promise. I looked out the window and hoped he didnt notice the nervousness coloring my cheeks.
After a while he broke the silence. So, do you do this often? Do what?, I asked. Get into cars with men youve just met and let them drive you to undisclosed locations. What?! No, I dont, I mean, Im not…, was all I managed to exclaim before he laughed a warm, genuine laugh that caused fleeting little crinkles around his eyes mirroring his smile. It was another joke, he explained. I made a small noise of understanding and finally felt like I could relax a little. We pulled up to the parking area beneath what appeared to be an upscale condo building. He punched a security code into a little keypad and, after a gate opened, he neatly maneuvered my car into one of the numbered spaces. He turned off the car and got out, opened the passenger side door and stood there waiting for me to get out, too. I stood up slowly and took a step back from the car before he closed the door and hit the lock button on my keys. Slowly and deliberately he lifted the lanyard away from my chest and clipped my keys back onto it. This way, he said and I followed him to an elevator in one corner of the parking area.
We rode to the top floor and he let us into a condo, switching on the lights and opening the curtains to a wide balcony. I took in my surroundings as he disappeared down a hallway. Everything was neat and the décor was modern and minimalist but comfortable. I noted that the pictures on the walls were not of him or any of the other members. He reemerged, now wearing a soft-looking graphic T. Where are we?, I asked, this doesnt look like a dorm and it doesnt seem like there is anyone else here. Its not the dorm, he explained. This place belongs to a friend of mine. When hes away, which is often, he lets me use it. I like to come here for a little peace and quiet on days when I have no schedule. Oh, I murmured. Its nice. Your friend has good taste.
He waited until I looked at him to speak again, making a solemn face. I have to ask you a serious question, he said. Whose shirt was I just wearing? Your husband? Your boyfriend? Or, he smiled, perhaps your brother? Oh!, I half-shouted. My boss! He grinned. Good. Thats fine then. I was supposed to pick that up from the dry-cleaner and deliver it to him at 2:00, I said quietly. Now what am I supposed to do? He looked at the time on his phone. That wont be a problem. Hold on. He stepped into another room, apparently the kitchen, for a moment and returned with two bowls of sliced fruit. No muffins of bagels or croissants for me right now, he explained, motioning at his flat belly as if he wasnt already perfect. Not knowing what to say, I shoved a bite of fruit into my mouth. It was sweet and ripe and delicious. There was a knock at the door. He opened it, handed my bosss shirt over, closed the door, and the returned to me. That will take at least an hour but youll still be on time, he said. We stood by the balcony looking out at fluffy white clouds peppering the beautiful blue sky as we nibbled at our fruit. You obviously know who I am, he said. Why wont you say my name? I hesitated, looking into his soft, dark eyes for a moment before I spoke. Somehow, to speak your name would make this real. He gave me a puzzled look. You mean this isnt real? I shook my head gently. No, if this was real life I couldnt possibly be standing here with you, eating fruit and waiting for a shirt to be dry-cleaned. If I say your name, surely Ill wake up. He smiled, almost sadly, and took a step closer so Id have to tilt my head up to look into his eyes. In that case, dont say my name. Dont say it at all. He took the empty bowl from my hand and sat it along with his on a nearby table. So tell me, he half-whispered, if this is your dream, then what happens next?