You & Her

Laura McNulty

Deakin University

There are all these little reasons why it failed.

And she cannot even remember them. Even after she lifted her lifeless body from the tiny bed and covered her vulnerability, it was your roaming eyes, as you lay and rolled, that startled her. Even after she lifted her lifeless body from the tiny bed, and covered her vulnerability and watched your eyes roam over her and let her hands squeeze past her breasts, you were the one sleeping, and snoring. She guessed that you don’t remember them either. She guessed that they never existed, then. Just like the two of you.

She had never learned to do it, more or less danced with you awkwardly under the covers and given up on the idea of remaining pure till she found the one.

‘Do you have a condom?’ Those were her most pathetic words.

And yet, you had replied, ‘No.’ You looked devastated.

At least you’d given her the honesty, somewhere in between her holding you and holding your face in her hands, and you kissing her neck. At least you’d given her the chance to bat you away, and keep the both of you from making the one mistake you wanted so badly to make. And so, she padded her way across your floor to find her jeans. She put them on, and let you not care that she was undoing all of your hard work from last night and this morning. Your fingers did tremble like all hell, and your breath on her neck was like spasms, waking infants and angry mothers. She didn’t even know what you would have been thinking. Would you have been thinking of the next day, or the next month, or were you just trying so hard to get yourself further inside of her?

‘I’m so sleepy,’ you sighed. She looked over at you, and laughed in the place of words.

She walked over and kissed you on the forehead. ‘Try to get some rest, then.’

And she watched you close your eyes, and find dreams where no one else finds them. She wondered when the next time would be, and when a movie at yours would actually mean what she wanted it to. She wondered if you cared.

She already knew she wouldn’t see you again.

Those times that you would drag her down to your level, and force the kissing, were scary to her, because she knew the capabilities and the results of her actions. She knew what smiling between kissing would mean; she knew what tugging at your shirt would lead to.

‘Come on, let’s get downstairs,’ you muttered, finally awake. Your voice came muffled from under the blanket. She grabbed at it, and revealed you. It felt revealing to her. You caught her hand before she could get it away, and you led her downstairs. She watched you slip into a pair of pants on the way, and smiled to herself. Boys do that. Girls don’t.

You didn’t ask if she was hungry or thirsty, or needed anything. You didn’t sit down with her, or pull out a chair for her. You didn’t take her in your arms. You fell onto the couch, and talked to your friend, to your iPhone, to your cat. She sat uncomfortably and waited for her mother to come and collect her. She waited, and wanted with the waiting.

Of all the reasons why it didn’t work, you were both the main ones. She wasn’t ready for the words you had dripping from your mouth like syrup, and you were just waiting to hear those words back from her. You said you were proud to call her yours and that everybody knew how you felt, but it wasn’t like she wanted it to be. And she wasn’t really with you. The pretty guy that courts the pretty girl when they’re both drunk off their faces doesn’t sip drinks to make her happy, doesn’t drive drunk to get her back to his and out of that dress, doesn’t dance and speak gibberish as if it is seductive and loving. The vodka left her with a colour scheme that was pale and pink and creamy, and nothing like you. How did it leave you? Why did you call her number?

‘I really like you, and I really want you to be my girlfriend,’ you told her, a text that made her heart leap. And you wanted to, but it was all too much.

She’d meandered around the house that night, unsure of what to do. Skinny legs slipping in and out of strips of moonlight bathing the floor, skinny arms beating at ideas and notions that she wasn’t yet ready for, that she wasn’t prepared to meet and get to know.

‘I’m so glad you came tonight. I really thought you weren’t going to come.’ She got drunk off the alcohol on your breath that night, and the shots that you forced on her. It’s all right, you were drunk. Guys do that. Your friends were crazy, and great. She remembered that, and she remembered the way that you held her and kissed her, and the way that she liked it and felt loved by it. So, why did it change? When did it become less about the idea of the two of you, and more about the presentation? When did you start wanting to change it, and make her scared of it all? When did you tell her what was under the bed, and show her the open closet door? Because you were like children, and you laughed like children and explored adventures like children and she died inside like a child does when the world gets too big. Did the world ever get too big for you?

She told you. She texted you back saying, ‘How about I don’t even know where the hell this relationship is going! I’m sorry I’m not the girl you thought I was.’ They were sorry apologies for a sorry time. She didn’t like the idea of fighting with you, even more than she didn’t like the idea of being with you. Did that change things, that night? Did it end there?

There wasn’t much in those moments. She watched your quiet frustration, pinched dent in the cheek, as you contemplated the error of your ends; why life sometimes ran invisible, head first into the crazed darkness. ‘Hey,’ you mumbled. She turned, ready.

‘Just go with it?’ you asked, and you were scared.

‘Just go with it,’ she replied calmly.

You broke the silence, only by a cough, and a sideways glance towards the river, with the surface overlapping and breaking and folding. It was a beautiful scene, until you clambered over her, your hot breath suddenly heady and pungent on her neck and the ridges of her collarbones. It felt strange in parts. She kissed you first, leaning up to taste your anticipation. She didn’t like it, but she didn’t say a word. She grunted your name, as her elbows buckled and befriended the twigs and leaves beneath. Her elbows dug into the damp dirt.

It was awkward when there was a brunt of impatient desire mixed with fervor. She didn’t feel you within her, even though she should have. It was only a few moments, as your groans spilled over onto her body. It was only a few minutes, and then, it was over.

You were in love. School kids at heart, running with skinny ankles through time and life, and the things that would tell all to you, patiently. She felt for you once more and you were there. Impatient. Warm. You.

She doesn’t feel for you anymore, and she doesn’t want to. There was honey in your voice the last time you spoke to her. There was the faintest hint of pride. She didn’t feel quite the same. She was numb in the place of revived, absent in the place of returning. She was lost in the place of found. She mumbled your name.