They met over a cigarette in the early hours of the morning. Both having had too much to drink, wanting to escape the noise of the pub but not wanting to go alone. After a short chat, and with whoops of encouragement from his friends, they left together. And what happened next was as to be expected.
The next morning, he wakes up and looks at the woman next to him, her hair spread over the pillow in a familiar way. For a moment, just one moment, he is filled with hope. Could it be? Is it her? Then she stirs, turns around and his heart sinks as he remembers the fumbles of the night before. Awkwardly they both get out of bed. What was her name again? Should he offer her a cup of coffee? Breakfast? He just wants her to leave. As often as this has happened, he is never sure of what to do the next morning.
She gathers her clothes, getting ready to leave. The nice thing to do would be to ask for her number, but they both know that whatever made last night happen, it was not their interest in each other. Silently she dresses. Regret. She wanted something, but not this. She stands at the door, perhaps waiting for him to ask her to stay. He doesn’t. And the truth is, she doesn’t want to either. In the morning light, the chemistry of last night is gone.
He sits in silence once she leaves, and another girl comes to mind. A memory from the past. A smile like summer sunlight. A smile that he took away. A girl wish so much passion, who took every emotion into her, or rather, she stepped into the emotions. Without fear. Without doubt. She had made love to him with every breath, even when he was not with her. She didn’t say much, but with one look, she could say everything. She had loved him in a way that he could not understand then, with so much trust and so much faith. What did he do? He tried as hard as he could to not deserve her love. One day he succeeded.
This morning, he wondered where she was. Was she happy? What was she doing? He always thought that she had to learn to live without him, but now, a few years later, he realises that the harder thing for her to learn was to live with him. She made it look so easy, like breathing, like how she just made things happen. Now he sees that it was never easy, not for her.
And he thinks now of last night. What had happened? Had they made love? No. Was it even sex? He had his eyes closed the whole time. She could have been anyone and he wouldn’t have cared. Did she care who he was? As painful as it was for him to admit, he knew she didn’t. All he wanted was to wash this stranger’s smell of his sheets. When he speaks to his friends, he will be “the man.” Hey, she wasn’t awful looking, even this morning, all hungover with her makeup smeared. And that’s what really matters isn’t it? What his friends think. As long as they think he’s over HER, he will be a man. What does it matter if it was making love, or sex, or just two drunk people filling emptiness with mutual masturbation.