Drifting, Softening, Gone

‘I want to take you home and fuck the shit out of you.’

He raises his eyebrows.

She bites her lip, eyes wide. She catches his fingers – they’re sweaty – and yanks him close. She laughs.

‘Lace.’ He kisses her neck. ‘Missed you.’

She glances about. The bar is abuzz with shaggy-haired people cupping wine glasses, talking about books. Nice coats. Most of them are wearing glasses, too. Square, black-framed.

‘Come on.’

Outside, their breath whispers. Wreathing white in the city’s amber-warmed navy.


She holds his hand on her hip. That usual before-sleep-hold. Her arm twined around his.

‘That’s the first time since – you know.’

She turns to look at the shape of his face in the darkness. Her fingers trail his chin. She turns back.



His voice is thin with the miles. ‘Be with you again in a couple of hours. God, so sick of these over-nights. Honey?’

She pins the phone to her ear with her shoulder. Lifts her leg, water crashing. The razor scratches her skin. ‘I’m just shaving my legs.’ A small bubble of blood pops on her shin. She dots it with an index finger. It spills, dilutes.

‘Getting ready for tonight?’

‘Swimming with Karen.’

His sigh clouds the earpiece.


Lace pulls the spoon out of her mouth, pressing the chocolate-rimed metal tight. She licks her lips. The teaspoon clatters onto china.

‘So?’ Karen says.

She shrugs. ‘No.’

Karen checks her iPhone, thumb swishing the screen. ‘You probably were, you know. It just doesn’t always. . . catch.’

Lace looks at the steam from a silver machine behind the counter. It rises up against the back window, revealing the thickening grey of the pre-winter afternoon. The city’s inhabitants with rough faces and white tights, hunched shoulders and pockets full of cold fists. Drifting, softening, gone.

Sarah Dobbs