The Long Good Night

She says: Mind if I sit here…?
He replies: God no. Mind if I buy you a drink?
She counters: Well, it’s why you invited me over here, after all.
He grins: It is? I had just asked myself why I might have done that.
A beat. And then: When did I do that?
Her: When I walked past you, on the way to the loo.
Him: Ah… Cool. I wondered what I meant by that look. A pint?
Her, pleased: You remembered!
Him, astounded: It looks like I did.

He recalls: You know, I didn’t really remember, earlier.
She queries: What are you talking about?
Him, shy: I just guessed a pint. You looked like a pint kind of girl.
She, amused: Oh. I guess we weren’t meant to be, then.
He, quickly: But I think it means something, that I guessed right!
She smooths her skirt down over her slender crossed legs: You don’t miss a trick, do you?
Him, open: I don’t like tricks. I never get them. I’m also utterly blind to sleight of hand.
Her, with eyes smouldering up at him, over enticing curves: Clearly.

She admits: You know, I lied, earlier, too…
He jokes: It’s in your nature… I love you for it. What about, this time?
She says: You didn’t invite me over. I invited myself. I wanted to talk to you. And I thought you might buy me a drink.
He says: Oh, so our whole relationship thus far is based on a lie?
He winks.
She says, coyly: Well, a good lie. You don’t regret it so far, do you?
Him, back on the losing side: Of course not. I didn’t offend you, did I?
Her: That depends. If you did, how would you make it up to me?
Him, regaining ground, feigning oblivion: Another drink, for a start?
Now she smiles: For a start. Same again.

His hand on her hip, he whispers: I just realised… that’s four rounds now, and I’ve paid each time…
She makes a seashell of his ear, soothing whispers back: Well, you seemed so willing to pay.
He responds: You don’t miss a trick, do you?
Mock affront from her: Are you saying I’m a whore?
He, shocked, backtracking from somewhere he didn’t expect to be: What? No! I meant…
Her, head cocked, considering, toying: Don’t you think I could cut it as a whore?
Him, sensing a shift in tone. Suddenly confident: Hmm, I couldn’t say, without further experience.
She shifts abruptly, her hand on his thigh for a long moment: I’ll buy the next one. Same again?
He smiles, now almost a predator: If you say so…

Her head on his shoulder, his hand on her waist, her legs curled up on the pub bench.
His heart in his mouth, her small arm wrapped round his thigh, his lips in her hair.

She says, uncertain: Being with you is like that song by the Teenage Fanclub and De La Soul.
He responds enthusiastically: I know the one; I know exactly what you mean!
Her, relieved: You do?
Him: Yeah, like there’s so much contrast, and so many differences in style, but ultimately it all fits together.
Him: Like we’ve been two totally different types of music, wandering along, sounding great, being complete for such a long time that bringing us together shouldn’t work… should clash badly, but it totally doesn’t.
Him: And the sum of these two things that are so different and yet share a central rhythm or purpose (or maybe soul is what I’m talking about)… bringing them together should create a total mess…
Him: … But instead it creates this amazingly smooth, awesome moment that’s better somehow than its’ composite elements…!
She looks askance at him; head off his shoulder, quite surprised for a second. And then: Well, kind of.
Him, pausing.
Her, untidily: But I kind of meant it was like we were travelling at the speed of light.
Her, confused: Although it might be speed of love.
She brightens, and holds him closer again: But it’s still absolutely lovely, though, either way, or your way!
He smiles, kisses her. Says: We connect so well!

Oh, and ten minutes ago, she said: I love you.
He thought it ten minutes before.
But won’t say it till ten minutes from now.
And those timings… they may not seem important. But they’re almost the most important thing about this whole night. They almost always end up the most important thing in the world.

She’s taking a sip, and smiling devilishly… tiny triangular tip of her tongue pushing out teasingly, licking away the slither of foam lipstick she got from the head.

What time is it?
About nine thirty.
How long have we been here?
Uh… about six drinks each… maybe seven…
Mmmm… feels like less time.
Like we just met?
And it feels like longer…
You’re right.
How long?
Three years?
Maybe more.

Did I get the last drinks? He asks.
She replies, slumped down against him, arm round his waist, holding on for anchorage: I’m not sure. Thought I did.
He stumbles over his intent with: No, I’m pretty sure I did.
She turns, head in his lap, looking up at him, reading his face in a pause.
Then: It’s okay, I’ll get them. Hang on.
Him: No, it’s okay, I’ll get them, I don’t mind.
Her, sinking back into repose: Okay.
Him: I was just pretty sure that I bought the last ones.
Then, with their landscape suddenly shifted, to her back: What? Where are you going?
Her, brisk: To get the drinks.

Him, regretful: I think it was my turn to get the drinks.
Her returning: It’s okay.
Him, downcast eyes, sullen: No, I’m sorry. I was being stupid.
Her, drinks on the table, leg supple over his, suddenly astride him where he sits on the bench, nose in his face, eyes fixing him, mock beady: No, I’m sorry.
Kisses his nose, then kisses him deeply, hungrily: I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have snapped.
He kisses her back, hands on her hips, her skirt played out under his fingers, a blanket where their bodies meet. Says: Let’s not argue over anything silly ever again…
She smiles, warm and sensual, moves her lips to his neck, whispers, kisses: How will we know what’s too silly to argue about?
He says: That’s easy. Everything is.
She says: That was just the right thing to say.
And engulfs him.

It’s ten-thirty. Soon be time to work out what we do next.
Ten-thirty? Feels like we’ve been at this for much longer… nearer to seven, maybe eight years. And change.
I don’t want to. I don’t want you to either.
Change… Heh.
Huh. Maybe a club?
Hmm… that sounds like you’re in it for the long haul… I’m going to pass out if I drink much more right now. We could eat… then, if we still feel like it, a club after?
But what if we don’t want to dance afterwards? I’m loving this night… I don’t want it to ever end.
Honey, there’s always tomorrow. And the next night, and the next…
But… but you might leave me by then.
I don’t think it’s me we need to worry about.

He says: Being in love with you is like Adam being inside Eve, time after time, her gasping and pulling on his hair, smiling through the sweat and tears, him saying her name, over and over, before the snake came and showed them it was sin.
She slumps a tiny bit, on the bench, now that he’s on the other side of the table; says, a bit impatient: What are you talking about?
Him, distracted: Although maybe the “forbidden fruit” was just a symbol for that act… maybe it was having sex for the first time that made them realise they were naked in the first place?
Her: What are you on about?
Him: Uh… You and I, we’re like… two halves. We’re like a thing from a time before shame… when we’re together, it’s like we’re one person, or two people that press together perfectly… and everything makes sense. Like a time before everything went wrong with the world.
Her, coming back to the conversation from whatever it was over his shoulder that had her so distracted: Hmm.
Then, looking in his eyes with something like a challenge: I always thought the sin was where the orgasms came from?

Him, knocking: Are you okay?
Her, wetly: I’m fine… please… wait at the table…
Him, worried: Are you ill?
Her: I’m… I’m not ill. Just please go.
Him, looking through the graffiti on the dirty green door…
Him: Go?
Him: You mean back to the table, right?
Him: “Just please go back to the table, right?”
Her, completely silent for a little less time then it feels like.
Him: I mean…
Her, back again: I think… I think that’s what I mean.
Him, a little stammered and staggered: What else could you mean? You don’t mean just… go?
Her, completely silent again, but this time as long as it feels. Then: Maybe. If you want to.
Him, so shocked it upsets him. So upset it frustrates him. So frustrated it almost makes him angry: I don’t want to. This isn’t about what I want. It’s about you wanting me to go without you.
Her, cold: Why not? Where else were you going to go…?
Him: Come on… are you coming out? Come on, hon. Can’t we talk about this?
Her, and now he’s certain he can hear her crying again: Please, go. It’s been a nice night. Please go.
Him, fingers now touching the door lightly, as if it were her skin, and not so cold.
Her, before he can say anything: Don’t spoil it. It’s been a nice night, but it’s just one night.
And again, interrupting him, if he was even going to say anything: You’re a nice guy. We’ll talk some time soon.
He says, face twisted: Don’t you mean “maybe”? Don’t you mean “Maybe we’ll talk some time soon”?
And she, sounding almost a little relieved, says: Maybe.
And: I’ve got your number, and you’ve got mine.

And they both say more, but the long night is already over.