Eight & One

by Russ

‘What do you want?’ she asked. I knew what she meant.

‘I think there’s still cheese in the fridge.’

‘Great,’ she returned without enthusiasm. ‘You go fetch that. We can eat it while we wait for the takeaway.’

Neither of us moved.

We’d lived together almost a year before our respective employers declared us temporarily unnecessary and listed us for several months of nothing, in return for eighty percent pay. In that time we’d barely interacted. Just people who shared a bathroom and a kitchen, glancing across each other’s lives a couple of times a day. With house arrest, things changed. By the fourth day we were watching TV in the same room and from the sixth we were eating together. It was about halfway down the second bottle of wine on day nine that we started fucking. I don’t know if she actually fancied me or she just couldn’t face another game of Scrabble, but I didn’t particularly care. As the rest of that week passed we found fewer and fewer reasons to get out of bed, and so this is where we were.

The sex actually petered out fairly quickly. It still happens, but I think it’s more in aid of preventing sores than anything else, like turning a bedbound patient a couple of times a day.

We lay like clock hands at eight and one, our shins overlaying in the middle. She was swiping listlessly across her phone, which lay balanced against the top of her tits, her chin tucked into her neck by the pillow wedged behind it. I assumed Deliveroo, but it could as easily been Twitter, or Tinder, or just endless pictures of cats. If you asked me I would claim to be watching the TV, but really I was staring at the ceiling in a sulk because one of the background flappers in Gatsby had been wearing a cheap Swatch and ruined the whole film.

‘Maybe we should learn a language?’ her voice floated. It wasn’t completely clear she was talking to me, but I was the only one there so I answered anyway.

‘Do you already know any?’

‘Oui,’ she quipped.

‘Just the one?’

‘Nein,’ she followed.

I lifted my head an inch and narrowed my eyes at her, she smiled without looking away from her phone. I let my head flop back and dragged a hand up to flip my scrotum from one thigh to the other, let the patch of skin underneath breathe a bit.

‘Chinese?’ she asked.

The debris from the breakfast burritos we ordered before was still on the bedside table, as was the stain on my t-shirt from that angelic pate of guacamole and sour cream. I wasn’t even sure I was hungry.

‘Yeah,’ I submitted.

She hit her phone a few times then dropped her hands away and watched it slide from her chest onto the bed between us, and I started to wonder if I could hold my pee until it arrived, so I’d only have to get out of bed once.