‘What are these?’
She’d opened my laptop while I was in the kitchen grabbing drinks. I wanted to be furious but I couldn’t because she might, y’know, leave.
‘Just some things,’ I deliberately avoided saying ‘stories’ or ‘writing’ because, well, I did.
‘I didn’t know you wrote stories!’
I handed her a beer, she barely looked up. She sat cross-legged on the floor, her eyes buried in the glow of the screen, two fingers sweeping across the pad.
‘There’s a lot!’
‘Well, yeah,’ I didn’t know what to say. This wasn’t what I’d asked her to come back for. It was way too soon to be exposed like this. ‘Shall I put some music on?’
She nodded just as the bottle entered her mouth. I was impressed, I’d have chipped a tooth trying to pull off that manoeuvre. She put her arm out and bobbed her hand to confirm I should go ahead. She looked like a nazi dribbling a basketball while going down on a beer bottle; it was a confusing image for me. I walked over to the records and started leafing through to find the exact right combination of cool and cheesy. The Right Said Fred album I’d been playing before I went out was not going to cut it. Was it? No. Maybe? No.
I felt the room shift and turned my head. She’d looked up from the screen and now fixed me dead in the eye with an expression that made me feel immediately guilty.
‘Hijinx?’ she asked, eyebrows raised.
Fuck, she was reading that one. My engine of seduction wasn’t only running out of steam, it was being retired to rot in a train graveyard.
‘I was just trying something,’ I tried to dismiss it, looking back to the turntable and chastising myself for that horrific train analogy. Metaphor? Jesus, what did I think I was doing trying to write? In my distraction, I clipped the tonearm and heard the needle scratch-land before the opening beats of Deeply Dippy filled the room. I had no choice but to pretend it was deliberate. I walked over and sat in front of her, grabbed my beer, and wondered if I could push the laptop shut and try to get us to the kissing before it was lost completely. As I opened my jaw my wisdom tooth protested, so now I was uncomfortable in two ways.
‘It’s weird though,’ she was back to the screen now. I was a spectator in my own ruin. Finally, she looked up again, her shoulders fell as she took another swig of the beer. ‘Why are none of them finished?’
‘All of them, they just... run out. Some of them, like this one,’ she pointed, I didn’t look. ‘Mid-sentence. You just ditch them. You give up.’
‘They’re not finished,’ it was obvious to us both that wasn’t a temporary state. I rested my hand on the computer’s lid, not closing it but adding enough weight to make it dip.
‘You’re not the kind of guy who sees things through are you?’
I sighed, swigged the last of my beer, and searched for the Uber app on my phone. She saw what I was doing and closed the laptop.
‘How about you get me another beer?’ she smiled.