They had woken up fully dressed after drinking too much and falling asleep beside one another. They were still new to each other, and seeing the other grey with sleep still surprised them. He reached over and felt the bones in her elbow, sharp at the front, and then cushioned where her pillowy arms flushed pink, and yellow, and white. He kissed her, and then pulled her towards him delicately, as if she would bruise.
They undressed where they lay, unceremoniously and with difficulty. Once naked, Rachel found his eyes unforgiving of her flaws, uneasy under his gaze, and suddenly she felt stale, inedible. They had met in various disguises, at first she was with someone else, someone she was used to, and to Richard she was a prize that he finally won. She had won him too, because it was all about winning then, as it always is, eventually. A game of impatience, drink, and long looks followed, stumbling half-blind at each other in the half-light of street, touching each other occasionally and deliberately. She had hidden her nakedness from him well, given him an exterior she could defend and he couldn’t argue with. Now she was defenceless, and he had looked away.
Rachel could feel her limbs collapsing in on her body as she attempted to hide the parts of her that she had been told were special. She begged for darkness, and found herself creating shadows, eventually hiding her eyes, like children do. He rubbed his eyes and sat up, and after a while she sat up, taking his hand in her lap.
They sat in silence as they realised that this wasn’t what they wanted at all, and that it never had been. It had been some wonderful dream that they had salivated over, they had kissed each other to bring it to life and now it sat between them uncomfortably like a divorce. He pulled his T-shirt back over his head and reached for his rolling tobacco. As he made a cigarette Rachel could see his socks peel back onto his ankles, his trousers run back up his legs. She felt her clothes return to her, prodigal in their homecoming. He handed her the tobacco and watched her as she placed it by her side and ran her hands over her shoulders and the curve of her neck. It was a ghostly motion, a retracing of old footsteps once made on her skin and never taken again.
He stood up and looked out at the window; his car, unlocked, looked lifeless in the mid afternoon sun. He didn’t know what he was looking at beyond that, but he felt like it was the right thing to be doing, or so he’d been told. Behind him he heard occasional, smooth movements, and then a thump as her head hit the mattress. He didn’t turn around for a long time.
Rachel stroked her sides, and remembered how those lines had been followed once by hands that she’d understood to know everything about her. Those hands that made her familiar with her body, pulling at her thick thighs and full hips with insatiable energy, the flash of teeth and nail. She turned away from the window and fell asleep.