by Simon Graham
She came over after a lecture.
This is how it normally went; she would come over on the nights between a late finish and an early start. It saved her trekking back to her home in the ‘burbs and it meant I didn’t have to go anywhere.
I hadn’t seen her for a month. The last time was at a music festival, the day before her birthday. I forgot to say happy birthday at the festival, and then I forgot to text her the day after, and then I forgot to buy her a belated present. I felt like a real piece of shit.
She walked into my house. We didn’t hug; we just simultaneously asked each other, “Do you want to go to a gig tonight?” We were both referring to the same show and we smiled at the fact our minds seemed to match even after the time apart.
She went into my room and put her bag on her side of the bed. She plugged her iPhone into my charger and went to the kitchen and poured herself a glass of water. She said hello to all my housemates. She knew where everything was.
She helped me make the bed and then we lay down and decided to download the movie, Don Jon. While it torrented, she told me about how her and her boyfriend ended things a week ago.
“Three months. I can’t get past that hurdle,” she said.
“At least you’re seeing people,” I said. “How come I never met him?”
“I could never bring myself to put the two of you in the same room.”
When Scarlett Johansson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were ready to be watched, we turned off the lights and lay on our sides of the bed, MacBook between us.
“Of course you and I would be watching a movie about porn,” she said.
“I haven’t watched it in weeks.”
I didn’t know where to put myself, where my hands and legs were meant to go. It had been a month or so since we last had sex. As gaps in time increase, it becomes harder to convince yourself that the person in front of you is the same person it once was.
I started drinking while we watched. Every time I wanted to flip her over and bury her face in my pillows, I took a sip.
“Do guys really like money shots?” she asked, pressing pause after a scene in which Gordon-Levitt explains his love of porn.
“Depends on the sex I guess. For the most part though, I think guys would say yes. Definitely yes.”
That started the conversation. We told stories. Apart from our tastes in music, sex is our common ground.
“The first time I watched porn with my ex, a pop-up with an image of a gaping asshole covered the screen,” I said.
“A guy I was dating used my laptop once and put the letter ‘p’ into the search bar. A long list of PornHub suggestions came up,” she said. “I had to explain to him why I love bondage so much.”
We kept watching the movie. I kept drinking. She started.
The movie ended. She showered. I showered. We got changed. We put on the same outfits: black shirt, black jeans, Nike’s. She wore the new Free Run’s, and I wore a scuffed up shitty pair of Air Max’s that hadn’t been cool for six months.
We took some prescription antihistamines, finished our drinks and walked down to the venue.
It was a quiet night and no one else was on the streets. We walked like two train tracks, never converging.
By the time we had paid for our tickets and ordered drinks and found some of our friends, I was catatonic from the antihistamines and vodka. A page on the Internet describes the feeling as profound drowsiness.
We watched the show in silence. A guy asked for her number and she gave it to him. I texted a girl I had been trying to get into bed for weeks.
Afterwards, our friends went back to their place to smoke and play video games. We went back to my room.
There was a routine we followed at the end of most nights. I would socialize with my housemates for a little while, and she would lie in my bed and check her Tumblr notifications. Later, I would join her, put on a playlist of songs I knew we both liked and take off my clothes.
I leaned over and kissed her.
“I wasn’t sure if you’d do that,” she said. “You barely looked at me tonight.”
I said nothing. I wasn’t sure how to explain to her that I felt foreign and nervous.
“It’s okay. It’s not your job to give me attention.”
We kept kissing.
“We can’t have sex,” she said. Thoughts flooded my head. She must have been able to tell I was thinking too much. “No, no,” she said. “It’s just the time of the month.”
We kept kissing. I put my crutch in her face and she started giving me head.
When I started to get close, she stopped.
“Money shot?” She asked.
“Okay,” I said. I rolled on top of her and did what I was asked.
Afterwards, I sat on top of her. She looked me dead in the eyes. Cum hung to her face. “There’s no such thing as a free bed with you is there.”
I was mute, like I had forgotten how to speak. She burst into laughter. I rolled off her and into the foetal position.
“Oh come on, I was just playing with you,” she said, wiping her face with my towel.
She kissed me on the cheek, and I laughed and played along.
We talked for a few minutes and then both declared how tired we still were.
She rolled over to sleep. I might have spooned her, but when we were watching Don Jon she laughed at how clingy Scar Jo was, and so I rolled over the other way.
In the morning, I woke up early. She lay naked, hugging a pillow.
I had a shower and then went across the road to get food. A Vietnamese bakery had just opened. I bought two pork rolls.
By the time I was back, she had woken up and was looking at things on my laptop. I gave her one of the rolls.
“Thank you,” she said, surprised.
“Happy birthday,” I said, but not out loud.
We ate breakfast. She showered and put on clothes. I walked her out.
“Thanks for last night, it was fun,” I said.
“It always is with us,” she said.
She walked down the front steps and down the street and didn’t look back.