She moves so softly I don’t know she’s there until she slips her hand into mine. ‘Come on,’ she says, and leads me towards the cab rank. I let myself go with her. I don’t want to be alone and I don’t want to be around people. There’s something empty about her that makes this feel like getting both. It’s wrong, but it’s easy.
In the back of the cab she takes my hand again. She’s telling me about her night and all her friend’s problems. I listen dutifully, detached. The way she talks about them I can tell she thinks we’re perfect. It feels like her hand is getting tighter the longer she talks, like cranking a vice. There’s no air in the cab. I wind down the window and press my face into the breeze.
Of course we sleep together, but I can’t switch off. I don’t feel anything, my thoughts override my senses. Afterwards she slides across the gap between us and lays her head against my chest. ‘How long have we been doing this?’ She asks.
Fucking? I say.
She slaps my thigh playfully. ‘I mean all of this.’
I’ve been doing this my whole life, but I know that’s not what she means, so I grunt. She goes quiet. I can hear her breathing in and out in a sharp little staccato that punctures the silence around us.
I tell her I know, trying to stop her saying what she wants to.
She lifts her head up, startled, and raises an inquisitive eyebrow at me. ‘How do you know what I want to say, huh?’
I tell her that she’s most transparent person I know, that I can read it on her.
She throws her head back down on my chest with a little huff. ‘Well, I want to say it,’ she says. ‘I need-’
I tell her she doesn’t.
I push her away and slide to the edge of the bed. She looks so small, when I look back at her, lying crumpled in the sheets, wearing only a look of sad resilience. She catches my eye snorts defiantly. ‘I don’t care. I love you and I want to say it.’
I tell her she shouldn’t be in love with me, that it was never what I wanted. I don’t realize I’m shouting until I see the look on her face. She’s fragile, but somehow I’m the one who starts crying.
I shouldn’t, but I stay the night. I have strange dreams.
When the morning light pries my eyes open I try to sneak out, but she stirs as I’m halfway through the door.
‘I want to talk about this,’ she whispers.
I know you do, I say, closing the door.