Thursday, January 28

Perfect Proportions Of The Red I Own

‘WHAT ARE YOU up to?’
‘Eating dinner and watching Mad Men.’
‘With whom?’
‘On my lonesome.’
‘Does misery love company?’
It was ten-to-nine, although it felt later. It would be a nice surprise to see her, which I disclosed, and I became nervous; I do not like people in my own space, my flat, where I go to be alone, but I thought that it would be interesting and one should engage in interesting activities, I hear. After I had tidied up a little, I lied down to read and awaited her arrival. It had been a few months since I had seen her last; it was warmer back then, with the sun just starting to cool around the edges and London Wall losing its last few leaves. ‘I like the beard,’ she had said—‘Keep it.’ An hour and three-quarters later she rang the bell to my flat, and, neither of us wanting a hug, she removed her trainers at my front door. Her backpack was full, having been dragged from south to east, northeast, out and away from the green puddles. She had the last glass of red I owned. From the sofa I watched her study my bookshelves, moving from one to another, picking out the odd title, complimenting another, commenting on Woolf, praising McCullers, judging my collection as I had judged hers; fair is fair. Finally she sat down next to me. I was just sober enough to be nervous at her presence.
If I was guilty of anything then it was trying to coax information out of her regarding her failing relationship, a subject she had occasionally raised but one which intrigued me somewhat because I knew how it broke her bones and, although she cared not to go easily, craved to be discussed. ‘He’s in fucking Mexico, watching baby turtles being born.’
(I remembered a bottle of prosecco I had in the fridge, that my mother had forgotten when she came over for dinner in October. It had been at the back of the shelf and resisted since then, but now was as good a time as any to open it.) ‘As long as it’s better than the piss I had earlier.’ (My mother would have to forgive me helping myself but I had run out of red – for the first time in cold January weeks – and I had no mixers to go with the pipes of vodka, whiskey and bourbon I had in the cupboard.) ‘This is much better.’
We smoked at the window; rotating headlights bubbling over the tufts of grass. It was unusual, though not altogether bad having this impromptu company on a Tuesday night. We drank and talked because she is so easy to talk to and I find it so easy to listen, checking the muscles of her face. She hugged a cushion as she spoke, rarely looking up. It is a fine cushion, good quality, perfect for hugging. The wind whistled in the cracks of the window. The wind tapped on my living room door. Bubbles in the flute. We talked and talked so that I lost track of time, so that the evening was not a stretch of hours but an everlasting excursion and only the wine was finite. I regularly refilled our glasses. More and more did I become comfortable, more open. I filed all sort of romance, longing, memories, fondness into her open ears; I exhibited artefacts from my relationship; I was quite merry by now – Dave Brubeck playing quietly – that I could not be stopped. She felt like the first person I had spoken to in years.
I was slow to take her body. She followed, pulling my left hand with its longer fingers into her breast. So perfect were her proportions; all of the angles and lengths, the curves and softnesses accepted me, flushed. She was not too warm, even in the cavity between her shoulders. Finally she said—‘Go to sleep’ but I could not. ‘I’ll sleep tomorrow. I’m enjoying this.’ She smelled good new different. I inhaled deeply. ‘You smell good.’ The clock told me it was three o’clock. No longer resisting, I took her in my arms and went to sleep instantly.


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