And here’s the other one I made earlier
Stop making the eyes at me and I’ll stop making the eyes at you… As predictable as the hangover the next day I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor appears near the end of the night. This is West London after all and everyone in here secretly has Arctic Monkey’s entire discography on their IPod. Stomping my feet down on the sticky dance floor, I wave Issy over from the bar. She throws a loose arm round my shoulders and we shout the words. A camera flashes in my eyes and burns my retinas. I know it’s an awful picture but I don’t care because I’m drunk and I love this song and my friends are here and that boy I think is attractive is actually looking at me. He’s Shoni’s friend or Tom’s friend I can’t remember and I think he goes to University of Arts London but I don’t really care because he’s got a lazy, easy smile and his jeans are tighter than any that I own. I wave him over, and Issy unwinds her grip on me, anxious not to be a cock block. He makes the ‘1 second’ sign with his hand and disappears. As Arctic Monkeys play their final chorus and the whole room vibrates with a hundred shrill voices, ‘LIKE A ROBOT FROM 1984!’ he reappears with two bottles of his Becks in his hand. I accept the one he offers me and take an ambitious swig, turning my head to the side, because I think look better in profile. A little beer dribbles down my chin and I pray he doesn’t notice. I wipe my sweaty forehead with the back of my hand, and try and remember the last time I shaved my legs.
The familiar, do do, dooo, do chords of Wonderwall cut in, always unfathomably the last song of the night. Today is gonna be the day…. I pull a face because I know it’s not cool to like Oasis and he leans in and shouts into my ear,
“I’m Henry, by the way.”
“Alexandra” I reply and extend my hand. We shake. Our hands linger outstretched, cupping the other’s.
We seem so middle class. I want to laugh and show him my empty wallet and the rips in my tights, but I don’t. I smile. He reluctantly lets my hand drop to my side. His finger tips skim the sheer fabric of my dress and I stare at him, not used to men fingering my clothing.
He puts his arms out and I step into the space, he smells like cigarettes, sweat and somewhere hidden under lashings of cologne, dove soap. We awkwardly shuffle to to the music, and eventually resort to just taking the piss out of it and mouthing the words dramatically to each other. I glance up at him and he cocks his head to the side. We kiss. His tongue throbs against mine and his hand skates down my back. I panic because I really don’t want him to touch my arse in front of everyone. Mercifully, he doesn’t.
He takes my hand and he doesn’t really have to ask, he knows I’m going to come home with him. He’s kind though, so he does,
“Would you like to come back to mine?”
I have to act surprised, like I didn’t go out with a condom and a change of underwear in my handbag. I pull the appropriate faces and try and sound spontaneous when I say,
“Yeah, sure. Why not?”
I catch Shoni’s eye across the dancefloor, and she makes the ‘sex’ gesture, forming a circle with her thumb and forefinger and poking the index finger of her left hand in and out. I grin at her. She winks. It’s usually me making this gesture over dancefloors in sweaty clubs.
I take Henry’s hand, a strangely intimate gesture for someone I don’t know.
When we get outside my ears are ringing. It’s cold but I can’t feel it, a thin layer of sweat lines the inside of my fur coat.
“Where do you live?” I ask, hoping it’s not too far away. It isn’t. Putney.
“You have a student house in Putney?” I ask, incredulous.
“Well, Putney/Roehampton borders.” He smiles, and dips his head at me, as if he’s letting me on a big secret.
“My friend lives on Posonby Road.” I blurt out. I’m no good at small talk.
He offers me a cigarette and I graciously accept.
I concentrate very hard on relaxing the muscles around my mouth as I smoke, I’ve been told before I pout like a cat doing a shit when I’m smoking. His cigarette dangles from the left side of his mouth. I notice his lips are a little chapped. He blows smoke into my eye, by accident, and I wince.
On the bus, he loosely drapes an arm over the back of my chair, and later, over the back of me. I pat his knee, and he smiles down at me. I imagine he’s my boyfriend, and look around the bus to see if anyone is watching us. They’re not. Too busy untangling their headphones or having dry sex on the backseats.
The bus journey takes little time, we flash past familiar landscapes and we walk back to his.
We swap details of mutual friends and home addresses. He’s studying Graphic Design. I tell him blandly about my A-levels, trying to sound as if I’m clever but not passionate.
Back at his, we creep upstairs quietly. A giggle bursts up in my chest, but I suppress it. We succeed in not waking his housemates.
His bedroom is tidy. It’s a nice enough room, he has a Libertines poster on the wall and his bed has been made. That’s good. He leans over his computer, selecting an appropriate playlist. I watch his back, his shoulder bone sticks out awkwardly. He picks the xx. Watch things on VCRs with me, and talk about big love. I hang my coat up very slowly on the back of his bedroom door, stalling for time, I can feel my heart in my mouth. The heavy, wet thud thud thud of anticipation sings in my ears, and despite the bravado, I’m bricking it. This is the awkward social dance to the bed and I don’t know the steps. How do you go from 1 to sexy with someone you met? He reaches his arms around my back and ties them at the front just underneath my breasts. We tentatively hug in this position for a few seconds, then he turns me round and we flounder and my nose is squashed against his and his tongue is too far down my throat. It’s a race to the bed, and my bra ends up somewhere under the covers. Henry touches my nipple piercing with a mixture of terror and fascination.
“You have your nipple pierced?”
“Well, yeah…” I’m grinning in the dark. The pain was worth it for this reaction.
“It’s nice.” He cups my breast with one hand, and his tongue circles the metal balls. I don’t have the heart to tell him how fucking unsanitary that is. I make the appropriate noises.
The rest is predictable and quick. Neither of us come and he apologises,
“Sorry, it’s the alcohol. I don’t think I can.”
“It’s OK.” I reply, stroking his cheek. I feel a bit sick and I need to sleep.
We fold into awkward shapes, not knowing the contours of each other’s bodies. I think I fall asleep first, terrified I will snore.
I wake up early, not used to such thin curtains letting so much light through. I glue my eyes tight shut, yesterday’s mascara sticking my lashes together. But my head is thumping too hard for more sleep. My mouth’s dryer than a wood chip and I scan the room for a glass of water. I long to stretch my tired legs, to massage the balls of my sore feet but Henry is sleeping beside me. He’s stretched out confidently and I admire his profile. He has a strong nose, and a smattering of greasy spots just underneath his fringe. His mouth is parted and I can see he’s never needed braces. If I was to be critical I’d say he has a slightly weak chin, but he’s not jowly. He’s lovely. I fucked him, I think to myself and I want to howl with laughter. And text all my friends. Then I remember with a sickening lurch that my Mum has no idea where I am. Shit.
I ease myself out of bed. Goosebumps climb my bare thighs and I scrabble around on the floor looking for my handbag. I grab my phone. Two texts:
Issy- Uuuuu r a slyyy doggie, have fun i loveee uuuuu xxxx Sent 3.15am
Mum- Got Shoni’s text. Says you’re stayed at hers and your phone ran out of battery. Will see you after work. Sent 7.30am.
I could kiss Shoni. I tap out a message to her:
I love you. Thank you so much man. Call you later xx p.s hows the head?
I think about staying around, maybe getting a morning shag, but then I look in the mirror and think better of it. I know I should leave. I take one more look at Henry, admiring the curl of his bicep. I don’t leave my number. I contemplate writing a note, but in the end all I leave is the unfilled condom. I don’t feel like peeling that off the floor.
I carry my shoes downstairs so as not to wake anyone with the clack, clack, clack of Topshop’s finest. I put them on at the door, pull my coat further around me, and shut the door slowly and finally, waiting for the click. It clicks.
I step out into bright sunlight. It’s cold and a little icy under foot. I step tentatively in my heels, and make my way to the bus stop. Despite my pounding head and the slight ache between my legs, which stings a little when I clench my muscles, I smile. I beam. People on their way to work give me disapproving looks. I grin back.
“Sometimes sex is just sex!” I want to yell. I say good morning to the bus driver. It is a good morning.