The Scene Reeked of a French Romance, But without the Cameras or Background Music It Wasn’t the Same

We fell into an embrace and caught our breaths. I pushed my face a little further into the pillow and the adrenaline drained away, leaving behind a trace of something that wasn’t quite melancholy. Sweat cooled and dried on our entangled bodies. Her chest rose and fell. Beneath my left arm, her pulse fluttered. I silently counted the beats.

I realised that every bodily twitch signified our feelings towards each other. The desire to retain personal space, or the mutual comfort of contact. I thought about this after my toes stroked hers under the sheets. Did she wonder what I was thinking? Did I care?

The giggles and grins in the club. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The back seat of the taxi. It was supposed to feel empty. The drunken stumble through the front door. It was supposed to feel like nothing. The lamp knocked from the table. It was supposed to be punishing. What had we done? What had happened here? What was happening now? And what did it mean? I shut my eyes tightly, my head buried deeper in the pillow, and grimaced. I wanted to be asleep. I was already kind of pretending.

My arm brushed her pale ribbed skin and fell onto the crumpled bedsheets when she sat up and fumbled around for something, making the bed’s springs squeak. She unzipped her bag and got out of bed. Keys jangled. What was she doing? Was she leaving? I could feel her, still.

I took my head away from the pillow and looked at her. A rolled cigarette hung from her mouth as she pulled on her sweater and climbed into her jeans. Her blue Eastern European eyes glimmered like icy jewels. Why wasn’t she looking at me?

The scene reeked of a French romance, but without the cameras or background music it wasn’t the same. The room was big and quiet.

“Please,” I said.

She tied back her hair and picked up her jacket from the floor.

“Just stay, won’t you? Stay the night. Please.”

I covered myself with the duvet, realising that most of my body had been exposed for a while. She wasn’t looking at me anyway.

“Can’t stay,” she said.

Buckling her bag, she walked across to the bedroom door and opened it.

“Work in morning,” she said, and left.

I stayed up until it got light, watching the curtains quiver in the breeze and recalling the sound of her fading footsteps.


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