by Sinéad Gordon
He still has no curtains. It’s been a few months since the last time, and maybe some things have changed, but the curtain situation is still the same. She imagines it always will be. He is never woken up when the sunlight begins to creep through the fur-lined blinds, insinuating itself into her murky consciousness and making her eyes itch through her eyelids, yesterday’s mascara, liner, contact lenses.
She wonders what that says about him, the curtain thing. Maybe nothing, but probably something.
Reaching over to check her phone (ninety-seven per cent charged – it’s only been a couple of hours since they went to bed), her gaze drifts to a small smear of dried blood staining the sheet. She has bled in this bed before but this has not come from her. She briefly closes her eyes, and the brown mark takes human shape, silhouetted against the light show projecting on the back of her eyelids. She rubs at them, yawns, stretches again for her phone.
The early morning passes slowly, and she considers – as she often does at such times, but without real conviction – quietly gathering her things and leaving. She can go home, become clean, meet her friend for brunch as promised. Attain some sense of smugness at the thought of him waking up to find, with confusion, that he has no part in her plan.
She rolls over to look at him properly. This is not normally part of her routine of a morning-after, but on such rare curious occasions she is always surprised to find that the image of him she held in her head from the night before never quite matches the reality. This always brings about an odd feeling of vertigo, a sense of shifting ground that quickly subsides, lies dormant until the inevitable Next Time.
Propping herself up slightly on her elbow, she considers both his parted lips and the strangeness of the situation in which she has once again found herself. None of this is as simple as it was originally advertised to be. She has only ever wished to fuck him, and have him want to fuck her, and for both of them to be generally excited about the next time they’ll be able to sweat into each other’s sharp/sweet skin, and in the act feel no shame at all about how loud they’re being, even though they both know but don’t care at all that his housemate is right next door.
The housemate never complains, and of course she knows why. Everyone knows; it’s something that’s accepted in the culture of the household, like impromptu parties at 2 AM on a Tuesday, or old coke and dried-up tobacco strands mingling with the pizza crumbs on the kitchen table. She knows that the housemate doesn’t complain because she’s just one member of a larger and ever-fluctuating contingent of these night-time tenants who (even though they are a diverse bunch) uncannily make the same enthusiastic bedtime noises that he always seems so very very pleased about and his housemate is trying to sleep but this is nothing new, nothing at all to complain about at all at all, and the housemate will put in his headphones and watch Season 2 of Bojack Horseman and think tangentially about his current state of being and what he will do to better himself and his music, and how this will be conducive to future enterprises in fucking, and then will no longer even register the carnal undertaking that is happening at this very second on the other side of this very wall.
She thinks of this now and always and is steeped in the awareness of every aspect of her being there, her doing what she does with him, of everyone knowing everything and questioning nothing.
He exhales in his sleep, a soft stream that raises the baby hair along her hairline, making her shiver. Her earlier line of thinking dissipates; this is what it always comes back to. She moves closer, burrows into him and digs her nails into her arm. She tries to match her breathing to his and flexes her spine at the thought of his damp hands pressed between her legs again, a bit later, once he has finally woken up.