"What's the matter?"
He shifts slightly away from me in bed and lets out a sigh. After some fidgeting he asks again, "What's wrong?"
I sit up and clutch the duvet across my chest. I scan the floor for some apparels but I can only see a coffee stained t-shirt with 'Poke Her Face' written in black felt across it. I reach down and grab it. Beggars can't be choosers, after all.
On the other side of the room I notice my bra on the floor, having been flung there twenty minutes earlier in the throws of passion. A chicken fillet is hanging out of it - the other, goodness' knows where.
"You're getting dressed. Something's definitely wrong," he says as he edges closer stroking my arm.
I say nothing. The fact that he doesn't even know what he's said is alarming. So I just stare out of the window at the dark night.
The raindrops tap the glass in a continuous rhythm. I wish I'd shut the window before we got into bed as I can now feel the brisk, March wind sweeping across my neck. I shiver slightly so he pulls me tighter towards him; one bear-like arm dropped heavily atop of me.
But I don't react. I focus on the harsh rain which in the last ten seconds has really picked up power.
It's one of those nights that I always imagined I'd storm out of my boyfriend's house in an absolute rage, walking stubbornly in the heavy rain. He'd undoubtedly follow me and we'd have a screaming match right outside as the water droplets soak our clothes. He'd then grab me, stroke my drenched hair away from my face, wipe the crimson lipstick off my lips with his thumb, and then kiss me. Passionately.
But I don't want that.
Not on this night.
Not with this man.
"You're very quiet," he speaks, his stubble scratching the back of my neck.
You're very observant.
I sink down into the bed and pull the covers so they envelop my shoulder. He's turned slightly away from me humming 'Single Ladies' and playing with the bedside lamp. He's turning it on and off so quickly that the strobe lighting effect angers me further.
So I kick him.
"Oww! What do you want?!"
I want you to love me!
I want the perfect romance. No complications. No insecurities. No other girls. I want a movie scene. I want you to turn around and say, "You deserve to be kissed, and often, but by someone who knows how," - Wait! Hang on, that's Gone With The Wind...umm...never mind. Well, the point is, I should feel loved. And I don't! You wanker!
I'm distracted by the cluster of mildew that's formed like a speckled army across his window pane. I get the urge to grab one of my face wipes and start cleaning.
He moves closer again. I can feel his warm lips pecking my shoulder.
"What's wrong?" he asks gently, tracing swirling movements with his thumb on my leg.
"You have mould on your window,"
"Great!" He goes back to his side of the bed and stares at the ceiling. "Anything else you'd like to point out?"
"I don't like your toes,"
He lifts the duvet and motions his feet about. I can feel the wiggling movements ripple through the bed. I let myself smile.
The duvet is dropped again and he sighs loudly, crossing and uncrossing his legs. I can feel he wants to say something but knows too well that I won't answer. So we remain there, shrouded with a veil of silence.
The sound of his phone going off pierces the atmosphere. My eyes avert to the bulb of light it's created at the far corner of the room, and as he immediately rises to see to it, I wonder whether it's her. That girl.
After the speedy reply, he plonks himself down on the bed, looking at me. One hand reaches out to stroke my leg through the top of the covers.
"How are you feeling?"
Like my heart has been ripped out of my chest!
"Would you like a cup of tea?"
"No, thank you,"
"It's ten past midnight,"
"Hot chocolate then!"
"I'm not seven,"
He falls on the bed with force as if he's tried all he can. "I give up," he declares before rising again and going to leave the room. But he doesn't. He merely opens the door to let the hall light illuminate the dingy bedroom.
I sit up and watch as he paces from corner to corner.
"Cheese?" he asks, as if it's the best idea he's had all day.
"Yes, love. Cheese. I know you know it!"
"Why would I want cheese?"
He shrugs his shoulders but I know he's only mentioning it because it's the only food in his fridge that doesn't have last week's expiration date plastered across it.
"Maybe I can m...what's this flesh-coloured, jelly thing poking out of my shoe?!"
Ahhh! At least we've solved the mystery of the missing chicken fillet.
"Is it one of Albert's toys?" he starts poking at it.
No, it's not a toy for your bloody dog!!
"Albert! Albert!!" he starts calling out into the house.
I roll my eyes as the tiny pug scampers into the room. This is all I need - his ugly dog to be mating with my possessions again.
"Good boy," he says, as the dog grabs the chicken fillet and carries it to another room.
I can't be bothered to correct him. He'll only ask questions like, "So, it's not edible?" and "If you jiggle, will it fall out?"
He sits back down on the bed and we stare at each other for a few seconds. His hand reaches out to stroke my cheek. Gently, he swirls my hair behind my left ear and smiles at me.
I don't smile back.
"Who's Rachel?" I finally ask.
"Huh?" he rubs his chest hair uncomfortably and gulps. "Rachel?"
"Yes, Rachel." I repeat, wishing I'd never started this conversation and just walked out. Like I always do.
"Why?" he grows defensive.
"You said her name,"
I'm too embarrassed to say, so I just look down at my red, nail-polished hands and start chipping away at it. Dusty, red flecks fall on the bed.
"Ohhh," he finally realises. "Are you sure?"
Of course I'm sure! It's not something my mind is likely to invent, is it!
"I'm sorry," he tries to laugh it off. But I'm not amused. "Come here," he tells me, opening up his arms, but I get out of bed and start putting on my clothes.
"So, who is she?" I ask, struggling with a pair of jeans.
"She's...umm... no one,"
"Ex-girlfriend?" I ask, removing his dirty top and putting on my one. I look over at him just in time to see him nod briefly.
He gets up from the bed and comes over to me. "It was a long time ago," he tells me, holding me by the shoulders and moving his hands up and down my arms. "The name slipped out. It doesn't mean anything,"
It means everything!
He leans against the wall and rakes a hand through his brown hair. "You can't go out in this weather. At this hour!"
I look at him with puppy dog eyes as if pleading.
Do you love me? - that's all I want to know. Tell me you love me and all will be forgotten.
"You're being ridiculous. Don't you see how stupid this is?"
You don't love me.
"Where are you going?"
"It's at least 2 miles to your place,"
"Stay the night!"