“All right, what colour are you going today then?”
But when I step into the laundry room, it’s not Craig washing his hair in the sink.
Water drips from you, leaving trails on your naked chest. I’ve pictured you like this thousands of times, but never frozen in place. Never staring at me like a deer in headlights. The sunlight behind you frames your silhouette. Behind me, the door slams and the latch clicks in place.
“What the fuck?” I turn and start banging. “Let me out, Craig!”
You reach for the handle. It turns all the way, but the door doesn’t budge. You smell like the sun and sea. Heat radiates off you, and now you’re banging too.
“What the fuck mate? Let us out!”
“No chance!” Craig calls from the other side. “You guys have been real assholes lately. I don’t know what happened while I was away, but you’re both staying in there til you sort your shit out.”
There’s a jangle of keys outside the door. His keys, retreating.
“Craig! Let us out, you fucking fuck!”
“Sorry! Don’t have time.” His voice is distant. In the living room, I suspect. “I’m going to work. Try not to be cunts to each other til I get back!”
You turn to me. “What time's he get off work?”
“For fuck’s sake!”
The front door slams. There’s a pause before I hear his car start in the driveway. Then, he’s gone.
I’m fuming. You sink to the floor. There’s a wad of gum clinging to a lock of hair above your ear. Further down, water glistens on your skin. You’re tanned and prickly from the chill. Your nipples are taut. I fold my arms and walk to the window.
“That dickhead spat gum in my hair,” you mumble, as if I’d asked. “Said to wash it off with cold water.”
“That’s not how you get gum out.”
“Yeah, well, I know that now.”
I look outside and try to ignore you, but habit gets the better of me.
“I can help if you want.”
A half-empty bottle of mineral oil sits nearby. You’re bent over again and my hands are slick and glossy, massaging the gum until it feels like I’m pinching flesh. The strands down the back of your neck are blonde, like the highlights in your hair.
Flecks of salt dot your skin and I feel grit sliding between my fingers. I want to ask how the surf was this morning, banter like we used to, but jokes don’t feel like they used to.
But I want to. When you accidentally brush my elbow, I want to. But I don’t.
Even from here, through the walls, I can hear the tap drip in the kitchen. It’s been getting worse lately.
“So, you still seeing that guy?” you ask.
“No, that’s over.”
“Oh, damn, hope it didn’t end badly.”
“What are you doing, Trav?”
“What do you mean? I’m just making conversation.”
You turn to me and your eyes catch the light. The burning in my stomach grows. How dare you say it so casually? Like we can just make conversation now. My teeth shake, but I keep my breath steady and my hands still. Still and moving, working at the knot until - fuck it.
“Ow, what the fuck!” You grip your head. “What was that for?”
“Now. You want to make conversation now?” I squeeze the tangle of gum and hair. I won’t lie. The rip it made was horrible and satisfying.
“Well, what am I supposed to do? We’re fucking stuck here, Leah! What’s your problem?”
My skin prickles now. I toss the wad at you and lean across to wash my hands. You still smell like the beach. When I wet my lips, I think I taste you. Still, after all these weeks. My eyes prickle too. When I shut off the water, it’s quiet again. It’s always too fucking quiet.
“You,” I say. “You are my problem, Trav.”
Behind me, something slips off a hook. It’s your shirt. It lays crumpled on the tiles. I kick it away and sit down.
“Why the fuck did you run out that night?”
You sigh and sit down too. In another life, I would have reached for the dip in your collarbone, held your neck, licked the apple at your throat while guiding your thumbs towards my nipples, hoping you’d crush my breasts in your hands. Now I’m just hoping to get through today without saying something I can’t take back.
Again, through the walls, the kitchen tap drips.
Next thing I know, your lips are on mine and your hand presses the back of my head towards you. The shock shoots down my mouth and belly and I’m stirring. Just from one kiss. Between my legs, I flutter. My fingers are propped on the tiles, holding me up, but it’s you supporting my weight.
You hold me tighter and I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe and I don’t want to. I want this to be all I think about, and it is. Then, I’m curled around you, resting on your shoulder, catching my breath. How dare you?
“What are you doing, you stupid fuck?” I whisper. I’m still angry. But I kiss your neck. I don’t want to stop. Your earlobe is soft on my tongue. I want to eat you again.
“I’m sorry, Leah. I’ve been an idiot.”
“Yeah, you’ve been a fucking idiot.”
“I thought you were just messing with me. I couldn’t hack it.”
“You hacked it just fine when your dick was in my mouth.”
Your body stiffens under me. I’m being vulgar. I know it. I meant to let you know I’m angry, but hearing the words makes me think of that night. How it felt with you in my throat. How much I loved burying my face in your lap and letting everything disappear.
“That was bad, wasn’t it?” you say. “That was really bad. I’m so sorry.”
“Why the fuck didn’t you just say something? The last few weeks have been the worst.”
“I thought we could go back to how it was before. Like nothing happened.”
“But something did happen.”
“I know. I’m sorry. I’m a dickhead.”
“You are such a piece of shit.” They’re just words. I don’t mean them. It’s just my heart beating its way out of my chest.
You hold me in both hands. Your fingertips and thumbs squeeze my sides, so tightly it hurts. It hurts, but I want it to.
“I’ve been nuts about you for years, Le,” you say. “But you were always with someone else. Or I was with someone else. Or it was something else.” And it was always easier to talk about something else. Something small or silly. Something safe.
“I wasn’t messing around. You know how long it took me to be able to start something like that?”
I pinch your nipples. Hard. Just to let you know. You cry out and hug me closer so I can’t hold on. You breathe in my ear, on my face, on my nose, then you kiss me again. You smile, and suddenly, it’s not so bad in here. Your hands reach under my top. Then it’s off and on the floor. I’m sitting on you. You’re a rock under me.
“How bout we finish what we started then?” you ask, as your fingers find me wet and waiting.
Soon, our clothes are gone and we’re lying on a sheet draped over a pile of dirty laundry. I love the heat of your body on me. You run your fingernails along the inside of my thighs, but stop short of where I want you.
I want you. I tell you.
Your hair’s still damp. It falls over your face and tickles my cheek. But your lips are fixed to mine and I don’t want to turn my head. You catch my arm, catch both arms, and then you have my wrists. You pin them down and move on top of me.
I part my knees and watch you. You’re athletic. It shows. Your biceps and shoulders are crisp. Light from the window brings out the detail in your abs. That scar sprayed down your side; I remember what it looked like fresh. I wanted your body then too. Now, with you kneeling over me, I’m wet for you. There’s a tickle running down me, and I’m pulsing around your tip poised between my legs.
Your chest and belly rise and fall. I realise I’ve been staring at you for ages.
You slide in. I shudder. The sound of the tap is gone, replaced by the rhythm of you inside me. You grip my skin, my hair, my shoulders. Your mouth moves to my neck and the shiver sets me off. I’m shaking beneath you, but this isn’t the one I’m waiting for. No, as soon as you ease off, I’m ready for another.
I roll us over and clamp my thighs around you. I clutch your hands at my breasts and lower myself on you, over and over, faster and harder. After all this time, I want you and I have you. Your fingers grip tighter before letting go and holding me by my hips while I ride you.
You watch me. Watch my naked body as I’m grinding on you. Your thumb slips under my clit and I rock on it, wetter still and feeling the press of your cock where I need you. You lift your hips and stab me deeper. All I hear now is our breathing as it echoes off the walls and tiles. It fills the whole fucking room. The ache in my cunt is incredible and I’m drowning in it, drowning in you.
It whips me and I lose control. My body bucks like it wants to get away, but you hold on. You roll me back over while my thighs lock in. For a moment, I can’t move. I can’t see. But you keep thrusting; the shaft, the stretch, the impact, blossoming inside me, pushing me as far as I can go. It fucking takes me over and then I wilt around you.
At last, you collapse and we lay side by side. The afternoon light softens into evening. Your skin is hot. Your sweat tastes like the beach. I close my eyes and smile.
When I open them again, it’s to the sound of a latch unlocking. We’re wrapped in a sheet. I peer at the door as it creaks open. Under my hand and cheek, you stir. You mumble for Craig to close the door. I close my eyes and it’s quiet again.
Through the walls, I hear the tap. I really should get that fixed.