Room 4, Straven House Bed & Breakfast, Edinburgh, 2001.
One hour ago, Rob had left David, drunk, in the Pleasance bar and leaning slowly yet steadily closer towards a pretty young woman with flyaway sandy-coloured hair and a shy smile. (She’d approached him, of course, and wasn’t a total stranger: before making his excuses, Rob had deduced that she’d graduated alongside David – no on-stage performer, had worked instead, had let him borrow her lecture notes so that he could cram for final exams. Rob hadn’t caught her name.)
Rob had assumed they’d go back to hers.
Lying on his front, head turned towards David’s presently-empty bed, his legs splayed awkwardly so that they stretched uncovered by the duvet and over the sides of the single bed, Rob hadn’t yet managed to fall asleep – the room too hot, too cramped. The door opens, and in David tumbles with the woman.
“Sorry,” he slurs in her ear, in between sloppy kisses. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s alright,” she says, not looking at him. “He’s asleep, right?” she mutters, and then giggles. More than a little drunk herself.
“Yes,” David says, peering at Rob’s bed. “Yes, he’s definitely asleep. ‘s fine.”
(Rob’s eyes are almost closed, but he’s squinting through the dim light, unnoticed, to see everything play out blurrily in front of him.)
They don’t kiss for very long. Proceedings pause to undress: the woman takes off her dress but not her hold-ups; David removes everything he’s wearing in record time. He’s half-hard. Hurriedly, he climbs into his bed, pulling the duvet cover over his naked body. The woman, still standing, hooks her thumb over the waistband of her knickers and drops them, David watching her do so with a kind of generic determined hunger.
Pulling the duvet off the bed (“It’s not like it’s going to stay on anyway. It’s only a single,” she says as David mutters “No, no,” and grabs at the cover), she straddles him. From the movement he can see out of the corner of his eye, Rob can tell she’s using her hand on David. Mostly, Rob’s watching David’s reaction: he’s making these little uh, uh, uh noises and his hair gets messed up against the pillow.
“Have you got-?” he asks with forced patience as soon as she stops. He’s quite hard now, twisting his thumb into the soft mattress, and Rob is suddenly reminded that he shouldn’t be looking.
“Yeah,” she says, and leans over, then tears open the packet she retrieves. As David puts the condom on, she opens another sachet, covers two fingers in lube and curls them inside her. David doesn’t notice.
It’s an old bed. When they move, it creaks.
David looks as the ceiling and doesn’t move much. He makes those uh, uh, uh noises again, like he refuses to feel, or else reveal that he feels, anything better. Clumsily, he reaches out to fondle her pale, bouncing breasts for while, and Rob watches the way his finger stretch.
Soon, David shuts his eyes and gives a little groan. The woman raises herself up so that he withdraws and manages to find room to lie next to him. After removing the condom, he reaches out and hugs her awkwardly, still not looking at her.
“Sorry,” David says. Again.
“Can I stay?”
“If you need to,” David mumbles into the pillow, and promptly falls asleep. After a few seconds of looking at him, her face slightly irritated, she sighs, pulls on her dress, picks up her bag and (thankfully) leaves.
He won’t want her tomorrow. Tomorrow, he’ll remember and vocally guilt-trip himself for days and vow to never drink again, then promptly drown his sorrows post-show. They’re always, always one night stands, and David might well never work out why.
Rob, face warmer than when he was feigning sleep alone, shuts his eyes completely and thinks you could have it so much better.