rides

“Horsey!” infants shrieked, riding on my back as I crawled on all fours around our relatives’ large back garden.  The previous two hours had been spent playing football with a five year old.  Blissfully little of my time at the extended family had been spent speaking with adults.  When I finally collapsed into an armchair it was with small alarm that I noted the time.  I had little over two and a half hours to make it back to London.  How did it get to be that late?  It was doable, just, if I put my foot down on the A-Roads.  I thanked people for their hospitality, apologised for not going to the park with them, ruffled infants’ hair and hugged and kissed the older generations.

What would this one be like?  I pondered while speeding down a pretty A-road bisecting dense forest.  Does a date at 8.30pm on a Saturday evening basically mean you’re on a promise?

I still knew next to nothing about her, suspected she wasn’t the sharpest tool, just that she was probably willing.  Seemed willing back then, text messages suggested she may still be now.  That was ok, just go with it, get drunk, see what happens, don’t think too much.

I was back, showered, out and on a bus in perfect time.  She called asking where I was, fifteen minutes before we were due to meet.  She’d misremembered the time she’d given and sounded confused.  I’ll be there in five.

Painfully thin, a strained, pinched face which suggested nerves, troubles and fragility – please don’t be a bit mental; a whispy, flighty manner, washed-out elsewhere eyes and a strangled, almost puppet-like voice.  Ridiculously high heels.  She made you want to protect her in a not particularly attractive way.  Yet for all that, she wasn’t unattractive.

Her ‘issues’ were confirmed during our early chatter, but never in detail and I never probed.  My suspicions that she wasn’t all too bright were also given substantial evidence.  Did I care?  Should I care?  Her grammar appalled me and I couldn’t help but mention it, although I dumbed down my own language.  She smoked a lot, had struggled with it for a long time, a clearly necessary crutch which made it more acceptable somehow.  Just go with it, get drunk, don’t think too much about it.  Live in the moment for once: not before it or after it.  Take a stupid decision.

Given a lack of common ground and interests – aside from mutual loneliness and unspoken needs – I expected conversation to flag but, propelled by alcohol, it didn’t.  We passed through several bars, eventually ending at a loud, dark, busy venue with a late licence.  We had gone there via the station to check her last train times, but I didn’t know if this was merely for show.  If she would ‘forget,’ leaving the only option to return to mine.  We stayed in the late bar, discussing the music and the venue’s youthful clientele.  The time of her last train came and went, unmentioned.

It had been a long day; I’d driven a fair distance across the country and back.  I didn’t like this sort of place anyway and wanted to go, she wanted to stay.

We stayed and drank more, too much, but didn’t dance.  There was barely any obvious warmth or explicit flirtation between us, no signals being sent or received; simply an implicitly shared assumption.  I admired younger, prettier females in the bar: those with height and flesh, confidence and grace.

When she was eventually persuaded that we should leave, we tumbled out and onto the street and she became aware that the short distance to my flat was the only option outside of an extortionate taxi ride.  It was likely what we both had in mind all along.  A date at 8.30 on a Saturday night?

Just do it, you’re drunk, everything is as it was vaguely forecast.  So, she might be a bit mental but you always take that risk.

*

In the morning, following a more concerted Round Two being ridden in an entirely different way from the previous afternoon, she laboured with her hangover.  She claimed she wasn’t usually this bad and said “Oh God my head” a lot.  I made tea, returned to bed and watched the golf on mute, waiting for her to move, silently impatient although I had no plans for the day at all.

After several aborted attempts she did move, spurning all offers of paracetomol, tea, or anything at all.  I pulled on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt while dressed in her only clothes from the night before, complete with precariously high-heeled shoes which took her an age to walk any distance in.  She might as well have been wearing stilts.

I drove her back to the station and here conversation struggled as we shared the hungover silence.  Token attempts at the weather, this part of town.   Despite a relaxed affection and playfulness which had developed in the slumbering bedroom, neither of us spoke about repeating this thing we’d done, doing it again sometime or meeting up somewhere.  Was the mismatch starkly obvious?  That it was a meeting to satisfy mutual needs and nothing more?

A final snatched lips kiss while the car engine idled outside the station: “thanks, bye then.”  She made sure she had everything and left, and stepped out, teetering on her ridiculous heels.  The passenger door clunked shut.  My eyes didn’t linger on her gallingly skeletal frame.  I checked my blind spot, pulled out, looked forward and drove on.

I would prefer never to see or hear from her again.

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2 Responses to rides

  1. Blonde says:

    Ouch. That’s not a blisteringly good review, is it…?

  2. swashbuckled says:

    Not blisteringly good, I suppose – though it’s not intended as an accusation. Bit sad on all sides (sad unhappy, rather than sad uncool). Two quite different people with one or two things in common. Sure it happens all the time.

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