All About Me
“Are you sure you don’t want to come out?” I ask Sally one last time.
“No, my head’s really bad. You go. Have fun, Tim,” she replies. She comes over and gives me a hug, which is about the most she’s done lately, and I kiss her on the cheek and wish for a fleeting second that it was how it used to be.
There was a time, when we first lived together, she’d glance at me at any time of day or night, and give me one of those looks. It would lead to a frantic scramble up the stairs, plenty of giggling and all that other stuff. Or sometimes we didn’t make it up the stairs, just to the stairs, or not even beyond the sofa. The cab driver switches off his ‘for hire’ light and I think of the light in Sally’s eyes. The spark that isn’t there any more.
The taxi ride is mercifully quick and I meet my friends at the bar as planned. By the end of the evening and a few too many shots, they peel away and leave me with the sense that the night is too young to be over just yet. I leave the bar, walk up the pedestrian street and pulses beckon me from several doors; the thud, thud, thud of music takes over my body and I want to dance again. It’s been far too long.
I look down at the sharp creases in my shirt. There’s no doubt about Sally’s ironing skills, so at least I’m dressed appropriately. As I walk towards the welcoming doors of a club boasting a seventies night, the bouncers don’t even speak to me, they step apart and let me through as the sound of Dancing Queen fills the air. I go straight to the dance floor and immerse myself in the atmosphere and the music.
After a few songs, I'm too warm and my mouth is dry, so I head to the bar. I order a beer and look around at the other clubbers. The air is heavy with humidity, the scent of perfume, and a sense of possibility.
I see a woman waving at me. I do a double-take as she looks like Sally did when we first met, only this doppelganger still has the spark in her eyes, not like the burnt out husk at home.
Before I know it I’m standing in front of her, smiling. She looks up at me and nudges her friend.
“Can I get you a drink, girls?” I ask, thinking it best to not alienate her from the offset by ignoring her friend.
“Oh yes please, vodka and coke they say in unison.”
“Make mine a double,” Sally’s lookalike says to me, winking.
They follow me to the bar, giggling, and I wonder where this is going to lead.
As I hand them the drinks they thank me and turn to walk away.
“Hang on while I get mine,” I say.
The pretty one turns around. “What do you think this is, Grab A Grandad Night?” she hisses at me. They look at each other, laugh, and make their way back to their vantage point near the dance floor.
Suddenly sober, I leave the building and walk up to the taxi rank. I’m never going to be a grandad. I can’t even be a father. And besides, I’m only thirty four, surely I don’t look that old?
I let myself into the house as quietly as I can. The room’s spinning but there’s an eerie silence so I can tell Sally’s taken herself off to bed already. I go into the kitchen and make myself a pot of tea. Sally always insists on a pot, and I’m in the habit of it now.
I take my drink through to the living room and settle into my favourite chair. The house looks immaculate. Sally must have been busy when I was out. I picture her upstairs, breathing deeply and smiling in her sleep.
It’s only when I lift the china to my lips, that I spot the envelope on the table.