Saturday, 17 January 2015


When they talk, he is in a box. He is made of geometry and pixels. He can’t stop checking himself out in the bottom right corner of the screen. She knows this, because every so often his eyes dart that way and a grin twitches at the edges of his face. An affirmation of cute. She knows this, because she’s doing the same thing.

In the city, all the drinks are very cheap, and it seems churlish to go home before all of them are done. An after-work pint rolls and twists its shoulders into 5 a.m., and they are all still giggling, and the cigarette pouch is empty, and she still hasn’t mastered the pinball machine. Her heart rattles against the taut red rubber bands, and three silver balls plummet through her chest.

She misses him, but it would be wrong to suggest that there isn’t a part of her that enjoys this. The distance between them throbs like a muscle left too long and then exercised violently. Or like a bruise, the big kind that takes three days to show up beneath the colours of the skin. The ache is like that feeling, and she pokes at repeatedly, luxuriating in the twinge.

The girl has always been a masochist. But it is not, you understand, that she wants to feel bad. It is, instead, that the ache feels good. It feels good like a bruise feels good, like a hand print can be endlessly enjoyed. And, like the smack, the missing feels good because she knows at any time she could call the whole game off.

They are pretending not to be with each other, but in truth they have been stuck in each other’s pockets for years. They are pretending to be far apart, but she can still smell him in her towel. There are teeth marks on her ribcage. Surely, there are flecks of her skin beneath his gums.

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