Civilised Company

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(Continued from Crowded Room)CC Image courtesy of jjMustang_79 on Flickr

I push the door open with my foot.  Its trajectory is blocked by a sewing box which usually lives downstairs.  ‘Coffee?’

‘Thanks.’

‘Would you like milk?’

‘Err – if you’ve got it.’

‘Sure.’

His costume is back in place, and he looks a little uncomfortable.  I go back downstairs, add milk to both mugs, and linger there a moment in case he follows.

Flatmate’s step on the stair makes me start.  I wait until he’s passed the entrance to the kitchen, before making my way back upstairs.

Ben takes the cup.  ‘Thanks.’

I sit down on the bed.  He follows suit, perching on the edge.  This is foreign territory.  I’ve never been offered coffee at a guy’s place after staying the night.  On the contrary, it’s usually a race to leave before (God forbid) he notices my presence.  It’s why I don’t do it anymore: that feeling, like you’re nothing; and on his side, a palpable desire to erase you from his life as quickly as possible.

I don’t know if it’s Ben, or my desire to civilize the whole thing, or the fact that I want a coffee so naturally make one for my guest; but here we are, nursing mugs which are still too hot to drink, making polite, if not entirely relaxed, conversation.  It’s like a date in reverse.

We discuss our plans for the weekend; he tells me about his parents’ work; we exchange restaurant recommendations.  There’s no suggestion that we might at some point visit one of them together, which saddens me a little, but not too much.

‘Well, I’d better get going,’ he says, rising.

We both have trains to catch.

‘Yep.’

My hand on the latch, we kiss.

‘Goodbye.’

‘Goodbye.’

I close the door on his retreating back.  He didn’t ask for my number; I have no expectation that I’ll hear from him again; and I feel… OK about it.

CC Image courtesy of chichacha on Flickr

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