She sprang off the bed and kissed him hard on the lips. It felt a bit like spring, rare winter sunlight spilling in through the bedroom’s twin skylights, and she was happy. Don’t kiss me back, she said, not because they had not brushed their teeth yet – though they hadn’t – but because she liked it better that way, her exploration, not his reciprocation. They stopped, and he smiled at her. She had forgotten what it looked like, that flashing, dagger-like thing, in the month they had been apart. He wondered if she had been with anyone else. She didn’t particularly mind either way. Let’s do something, he said.




They rode their bikes to a bric-a-brac shop he liked. There was a sideboard there she wanted, though she laughed at the thought of getting into his ‘clown car’ as she insisted on calling it, laughed at the thought of him in it, those long legs of his bundled up around his ears like something out of a Quentin Blake illustration. What about this? He’d picked up a print, weird-looking in that detectable but indefinable way she liked, kitsch but somehow a little violent. It was green-hued, full of sheep and a sort of denaturalised nature, all of it in some way ambiently religious. Do you hate it? She asked, surprised at her deference. They didn’t live together. She wondered if they ever would. He shrugged, and handed it to her. She turned it over, felt over the badly applied sealing tape. There was an inscription across the thin wood, in pencil and smeared by time. He hadn’t seen it of course, he didn’t see anything. She could make out one word: love.




They ate yum cha, barely talking. He had missed this, this boredom, this sliding of ego into something like mindlessness. They were sitting in the window of the restaurant where it was warm. They used to joke-talk about the weather, but he wasn’t sure if they did that anymore.




She had to go to work. She slid the weird print out of her bag and onto the bed. Other things spilled out too – a bottle of antibiotics, some lip balm, a packet of tampons. A strange urge came over her to smear them all around the bed. He was standing awkwardly by the door. Aren’t you going to kiss me before I go? She said. A little bit of him wanted to, a little bit of him wanted to fuck her, a little bit of him wanted her to just go away. She was splayed across the bed now, propped up on one elbow, her eyes narrowed in the glary light. Her lips moved a little.


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