I was on the train to Brighton and I could smell the yawn breath of the man in a suit opposite me. It made me gag. What were the ingredients of this foul concoction? Restless sleep, egg and the aftermath of too much processed food?
I was absolutely hanging. It was 2 pm. I was meant to be there by 1 but a combination of booze til dawn and ‘ongoing improvement works’ had led to my late departure. Christ the egg breath was revolting.
When I arrived we went for a pint. I still fancied her. We hadn’t seen each other for over a year. But we did this. We had broken up five, six years ago, yet periodically we would meet up for a weekend or a night. This was supposed to be strictly a day trip. I thought I could tell she was trying to curb the casual fuck scenario we had going on. I suspected she might she still want to be with me, that I just needed to say the word.
We’d had a pint and it was dark already.
‘What time you going back?’ she asked.
‘I dunno. I don’t know when the last train is.’
‘You’ve only just got here.’
Our pies arrived and I got us some more pints.
‘You may as well stay,’ she said.
‘Yeah I guess.’
So instead of having a few afternoon pints and going back to London in the early evening, we went drinking round Brighton.
Meanwhile, back at her flat, the father of her child, their child, was looking after said child. They were no longer together but Steve was by all accounts an excellent father – when he was allowed to be. Chrissie found him annoying and couldn’t even bear to speak to him anymore. But, she conceded, he was great with Ava. So yeah, he was there, back at Chrissie’s flat, looking after Ava, thinking he would get to knock off around 7, the time Chrissie had estimated she’d be back. When I’d be on the train.
Except seven came and went, and eight and nine and so on. And then Chrissie looked at her phone to see about five missed calls and a couple of actually really quite reasonable and even-minded texts. Along the lines of ‘erm, it’s fine, but when do you think you might be coming back?’
So Chrissie said he was fine and we stayed out and didn’t roll back til well after eleven, a good few pints to the good.
We burst into the small flat during Match Of The Day, straight into the lounge as per the set-up of the gaff. The lounge with off-to-one-side kitchen were all part of the same area soon as you came in the door. The door to the bedroom was behind the sofa, and in there was a door to the bathroom. Ava was asleep on the cot in the bedroom so Chrissie went straight through to give her daughter a kiss and a cuddle. The bedroom door closed and Steve and I stood in awkward politeness. He’d stood up when we’d come in and remained standing, by the sofa, as I stood by the door. We nodded, smiled. ‘You alright. Good night?’
‘Yeah good. How was your night?’
We both looked at the TV.
‘Oh what a great goal.’
That was that and we both stood there willing Chrissie to come back.
Eventually she did and Steve made to leave. I again apologised for ruining his night. He again said not at all. He even offered to look after Ava the next day if we (Chrissie and I) wanted to spend more time together.
‘Aren’t you at work tomorrow?’ asked Chrissie.
‘It’s alright anyway,’ I said, jumping in. ‘I’m not stopping the whole day tomorrow.’
Steve and Chrissie both nodded.
After a pause, ‘Right, well, I’m off. Nice to meet you Sol.’ To Chrissie he added ‘I’ll call you about…’
‘Yeah OK. Bye.’
He seemed a good guy to me.
Apparently he didn’t believe in long-term relation-ships, having witnessed his own parents’ seemingly difficult and ultimately failed marriage.
‘He’s chosen not to have this relationship, or family life,’ Chrissie had said. ‘He’ll regret it in a few years.’
We watched a bit of telly, Chrissie put Ava down for the night, and we started to snuggle up on the sofa. Soon her bra, my boxers, her knickers, every-thing else, was on the floor, and we returned to the thing we did best. She rode me on the sofa, her shaking tits in my mouth. It was glorious.
We went to bed, Ava asleep in her cot.
At some stage in the night I was woken and sensed another presence. Chrissie had brought Ava into the bed. She crawled on me, looked at me and said ‘Dada.’ I assumed she wasn’t talking about the art movement.
Nobody corrected her, and I lay there, knackered, desperate for sleep, someone else’s baby pawing me.