This is a revisited story one that deserves a second glance … or that is what I think. I hope you feel the same. 😇
I called out, but his name lodged below my voice box; like a bubble, it floated until it popped. Slowly I turned back the bed, cotton sheets held at arms length, the smell of stale lovemaking sweat and perfume. Bare feet kissed the wooden floors leaving a mist; an impression of where I walked. Across the room down to the utility with my arms full. Once the wash was loaded, I glanced down, my nose twitched at the stench, my mouth sticky, I dry retched and memories flooded back. I peeled my dishevelled stained nightshirt from my aching self and it joined the sheets. My mind was busy trying not to think as I scrubbed and soothed my flesh, steam covered the pointless tracks on my cheeks as Rag n Bone man’s lyrics pounded over the sound of the shower. ‘I’m only human after all.’ I dropped a pill, swigged stale coffee left on the drainer and sat wrapped up in a towel. The dusk alerted the back of my mind it Snook in to disturb my … nothing, my emptiness.
This was ridiculous I am a grown woman Out loud I said ‘pull yourself together’. For the next week or so I worked on auto, walking to work, doing my admin, answering when I had no choice, until Friday night. Backpack on ready for home I felt him watching. A damp trickle formed between my breasts as I scanned left to right, I knew he was there somewhere. Head down, my shoes slapped against the damp tarmac, three, four, slap, slap, counting, walking determined not to be startled. ‘Hi toots, I thought it was you, fancy a drink?’ His voice hit my eardrums, but I was ready. A smile touched my lips for a second. ‘No thanks, busy busy’ I strode on. He was almost jogging alongside me, breathlessly he stopped me with a ‘Hey hey what’s the hurry, he stooped in front of me. Come on, we can continue where we left off.’ He twisted a strand of hair by my cheek, he bent further to peer into my face. ‘I said, I am busy, now please just,’ I snatched my shoulder from his grasp and carried on. I didn’t look back, slow down or think about him, I just allowed my feet to pound the pavement slap, slap, slap. Ashamed that’s what I was, ashamed and regretful and I couldn’t accept what it was I had done.
Weeks had passed since he met me from work, I still felt uneasy, he hadn’t called or text or poked me on Facebook, but, I was wary. Maybe he didn’t know my name either, I couldn’t remember him using it.
Ange and Jack had been arranged for months, dinner with friends, that would get some normality back. I tousled my hair and dressed casual but nice, I pouted in the mirror checking my lippy, I was the most relaxed I had been for a month or more. After fajitas, we had tequila and chilli chocolate buns with mallow topping; her food amazing as always. Ange and I laughed and reminisced about school, Jack cleared up and Ange and I began to talk freely. ‘What’s doing girly? You have been somewhere else for a while, I thought we trusted each other. I tell you every grizzly detail; like we always have.’ She nudged me, her head shook in disbelief, her eyes clouded over and she bit her lip. Just then Jack called through, he was walking to the pub, leaving us to our stuff, as he called it, while he indulged in a lary game of pool. Ange followed for a kiss. I saw them in the mirror’s reflection. She grinned and mouthed thanks, she closed the door. ‘Well … I’m listening’. She did that thing, that glaring eye staring, folding arm thing that she does when she’s mad. ‘Nothing to say really, I just, well … I was stupid, a slut and I, I’m ashamed. After Todd and I finished I felt lost, God that is so cliché, but I didn’t feel attractive or wanted.’ I dropped my head in my hands, roughly rubbed my cropped hair and grunted. Ange plopped on the edge of the chair with me, rubbed my shoulders. I released a howl so guttural I startled myself. ‘C’mon you’ll feel better, I won’t judge you-you know me better than that.’
I scrubbed my face with my palms and wiped them down my jeans. ‘I went to that club, the one on the corner, the one with the tattooed bouncer, the cute gay guy. I had some Jeager bombs and I began to dance, winding myself round guys legs, rubbing up behind them. They didn’t know me; nor me them.’ I leapt up and paced the floor. ‘It was sort of freedom, a liberating, sexy … I know, a slutty thing to do. The bouncer Jason, pulled some guy off me for stuffing his hand up my skirt. He tried to call a cab but I wasn’t having any of that. In my head, I was showing Todd, even though he wasn’t there, couldn’t see. My heart was racing as I dropped into the seat again. ‘Next thing I knew is I kissed this guy. He mouthed a wafer under my tongue … don’t get me wrong I wanted, … I was reckless. I’ve been having flashes come back to me of the stuff we did, the table, the kitchen, outside the front door for god’s sake.’ That’s not all. He met me from work one night, a week or so later, it freaked me out. How could I be so stupid?’ Ange’s eyes grew as she listened with her lips clenched tight. ‘Don’t worry,’ I patted her hand. ‘it was fine, he just wanted more. He hasn’t been back.’ After a minute, I looked at her holding both her hands. ‘I’ve been petrified Ange, I took him to my home! The things we did.’ I shook my head, looked at Ange’s horrified face. ‘ Don’t say anything, I can’t cope with your disgust too.’ We sat for a while with a box of tissues between us, Ange crying for and with me. Me crying out of self-pity and shame. ‘I went to the clinic on Duke Street and had tests, well you just don’t know, do you. I find out in a fortnight … so far, several are back and I’m clean, just waiting on Hepatitis and HIV. I wouldn’t hold it against you if you never spoke to me again.’
We cleared the dinner debris and emptied the dishwasher, although together, we completed the chore in silence. When the coffee was made Jack burst through the front door, pink-cheeked, smiling, relaxed. He looked from one to another, pulled a face, pouted his bottom lip and said ‘I’m going up, night then’ and gently closed the door.
Red-eyed and nervous I said ‘I can’t cope without your friendship, please don’t hate me.’ I held both her hands, looked into her face. ‘For the last time I will not ever, hate you, but I am hurt, hurt because I was too busy to see the effect Todd’s affair had on you and because you felt you couldn’t come to me. I let you down and you put yourself at risk.’ We hugged hard I stroked her hair said. ‘Sometimes, we do stupid things, sometimes, it is no one’s fault but our own and sometimes we are lucky enough to walk away unscathed. I Jane Masters, head of finance, single thirtysomething female, should have known better! but I won’t get it wrong twice. As the song says … ‘I’m only human after all.’
Flower photo borrowed /thieved temporarily from Geoff LePard I thank you, Geoff. Press here to visit the master🔜 here🔚
A new venture into a different genre yet again inspired by the magnificent Rag n Bone man song I hope you enjoyed both the song and the story I look forward to your comments *waves*.