Shona’s shaved head is stiff featheredge on his lips. Meeting, their bodies tessellate, his dark, hers light, a pattern recurring.
Nicky is with his ex-wife again.
Wide mouthed, his kisses take and give. In Shona’s face he sees all of the expressions she will ever make, stored ready to open like a slow flower. He wants to tell her they are no longer girl and boy. Touching her breast, he feels fingertips on his own.
‘I can do anything’, he thinks as he comes. ‘One life isn’t enough.’
For a second, Nicky knows everything.
Heavy lidded, breathing slowing, the moment of eloquence passes. Under the duvet, Shona is slick against him. His body is weight, solid and closed. Around them, the room reappears, stale nut smell of cigarettes, noise of traffic.
He closes his eyes. Shona waits.
“One day I won’t need this,” he says.
“You’re drunk,” says Shona, moving his arm. “You always were.”
He sees himself, grey, stooped, looking up from a newspaper in a sunlit room, his body round and soft, all demands passed away.
One day I will escape from expectation, he thinks.
Shona, sighing, walks naked toward the door.
Nicky watches, unhappy, needing her already.