A few months later, queuing for cinema tickets with her new boyfriend, she sees him. He’s walking down the street – headphones on, eyes down, click-clacking a Zippo. The sight makes bile rise hot in her throat. She pretends to examine the cinema posters and blinks until her eyes stop watering.

By then, she’d already decided not to tell. Silence is easier, that’s all. She has no proof and wants no fuss. It’s not even a crime, not really. Nothing would happen except that she would never be herself again. She’d be That Girl. Did you hear? She was asking for it.

Besides, she tells herself, she’ll forget. Like she forgot how long to cook a soft-boiled egg, the nickname her daddy used to call her, where she’d hidden her journal. Any day now, she’ll forget.


She wakes with his fingers inside her.

She stays perfectly still, her breath sleep-slow. She’s not scared. More curious. The room is still spinning and half-dreamed thoughts argue behind her eyes. Her body feels heavy, numb. His breath is hot on the back of her neck.

She tries to breathe. Slower. After a minute he presses himself closer, pushes his fingers further.

Maybe he doesn’t know she was asleep. Maybe he thinks that’s why she invited him over.

But it isn’t.

This isn’t.

She’s going to say something. She’s going to sit up and punch him in the jaw and tell him to get his dirty fucking hands the fuck away from her. She’s going to shout that she now sees what he really is. She’s going to scream right in his face that she’s not a piece of goddamn fucking meat. She’s going to. She’s going to do it right now, and before she even stops doing her fake sleep-breathing he rolls away from her and he slides off the bed and he goes into the kitchen. She hears the tap running, a glass filling, and he comes back into the room and he lies down on the floor and pulls his coat up over him like a blanket. She stays awake until she hears his breathing slow.


‘What’s your favourite fairytale?’ he says, passing her the joint. Another night, another stupid question. His random statements, his tired attempts at quirkiness; everything about his personality bores her.

Who’s your favourite Beastie Boy?

Would you rather eat shit or vomit?

What’s the best kids’ TV show?

Sometimes she invites him over to watch DVDs or listen to music, but this time it was just because he has hash. If she can just get a bit high, then it’ll be worth having to talk to him. The last time she invited him over, he stayed for a whole weekend, asking her stupid questions and drinking all the milk. She can’t be bothered with that tonight. She’ll try to get rid of him quickly, just as soon as this joint is finished. And maybe one more, just for luck.

‘Well?’ he says, flicking the Zippo in that cute way he has. It makes her notice his hands, the shape of his thumbs; she’s always found guitar-player’s hands sexy. Maybe she’ll kiss him later, if he stops being so annoying. She holds the hot smoke in her lungs then blows it into his eyes.

‘I don’t know,’ she says.

Read more about Kirsty here.

Read more about Karen here.


  1. David Elliott says:

    Nicely done.

  2. Allison says:

    I loved this piece, and the photograph fits so perfectly into the story.

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