Shaft of sunlight through curtains. It travels across the room, connects with eyelids, burns like menthol vapour rub.
Suddenly awake. Ceiling strange and unfamiliar. It takes half a minute to work out the lampshade, one of those big paper globes, is now in loose fern-like fronds.
I make an assessment of the other evidence. Bedsheet ripped. Smell of perfume on the pillow. Something pricks my thigh; a single drop earring, punky stainless steel dagger shape. Not one I’ve seen before. Put one foot on the floor, gently, in case the carpet has a sea-swell. Something crinkles under my toes. Condom, used, now wrinkled. At least one of us had some vestige of common sense.
Try to reconstruct last night. Memory failure. However, the tinnitus is evidence: I was somewhere loud. I can imagine, but dread, what my Facebook wall will tell me about the night. Still, it’s a best-case scenario: no female body in the flat that requires an ambulance, police, official explanations.
Two wine glasses, one on the table and the other on its side on the floor. I put them in the sink. Make coffee.
Flashes of memory. Friends, pub, vodka. Then somewhere lit by strobe flashes, figure in silhouette. Closeup of a delicate ear, wearing that earring. That’s all.
Chest feeling constricted, sharp pain like hairs being pulled. Heart attack? No, but how the hell have I missed the fact there’s a big cross of gaffer tape, navel to the top of the sternum and nipple to nipple?
A bath relaxes me, doesn’t soak it off. Quick history lesson: while beloved of light and sound engineers, the stuff was actually developed in World War II as waterproof adhesive sealant strip for ammunition boxes. There’s no way it’s going to release chest hairs. I can’t get a razor to the hair either. I do it the hard way. It brings tears to my eyes.
Another memory, a voice purring in my ear: “I think men’s bodies look much better when they’re shaved.” I check my legs, between my legs, feel relief at finding no unexplained hairless patches.
Lurk on Facebook, picking up context from friends’ comments. She’d worn a green dress, had long dark hair in a razor cut, had been on a girls’ night out with friends. I find out which club we were in. More flashbacks: her stiletto heel catching in the lampshade. A mole on her left shoulderblade. Still can’t remember a name, picture a face, recall detail of what happened during the acrobatics.
I speculate there’s a law of nature that says when really good sex happens, it happens in such a way that you can’t remember a thing about it. It’s frustrating. How come I’ve never heard about this before now? Is there some sexual conspiracy of silence? Something bad happens, I can remember every sodding detail. Is there a biological equation or psychological formula I missed that explains this?
Monday, another damn week. Present my face at work, open plan office, pulling together yet another company restructuring plan. Mid-morning, Kimberly comes in from some meeting. Her desk is opposite mine. She’s someone I’ve always fancied, good body, sharp sense of humour. It’s not something I’ve done anything about, because workplace relationships can get messy in a petty jealousy and backstabbing sort of a way. I look up and see she’s had a haircut, a sharp new razored style in her raven hair.
“Mmm? Don’t remember much of it,” she tells me offhandedly. “A bunch of us went out for drinks. One thing led to another. You?”
“Same thing, pretty much.”
I pick up a box file to reshelve it and the damn thing falls apart in my hands.
“Kim, have you got any Sellotape on your desk?”
“No. But try this.” She rummages in her handbag, produces a reel of gaffer tape. Reaches out to pass it to me.
I look at her quizzically.
“What?” she asks.