A Friendly Game

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A Friendly Game:

I’m warm, safe. She’s next to me, hugging one of my arms around her shoulder like a blanket. I draw in a breath of her scent and…

“Sal?” I ask, allowing the smallest possible amount of light through my eyelids, reality comes back.


Now don’t get excited, Sal is most certainly not someone I expect to ever find in my bed. Me and Sal don’t have compatible sexualities. Well not anymore anyway.

Sofa? I remember where I am.

Sal’s bed. Sal and Kelly’s bed. Where’s Kelly?

“Kel?” I’m slow. I remember a pill. All the cool kids find a joint that would get your ancestors high to be super lame these days. Do people still say super lame? It’s hard to tell what’s post-ironic anymore. But since everyone else was doing it I thought why not, not peer pressure so much as the mild jealousy of watching someone eat a snack when you’re hungry too. My early sensations are still filtered through the drug, I’m maybe halfway back to sober by now.

“Mmm.” Kel replies and I relax, the non-platonic panic fading quickly. I’d assumed it was Sal being the little spoon, but became aware of unfamiliar cutlery pressed against my early morning blood-flow.

I really hope at least two out of three of us aren’t naked right now, which two I’ll leave to fate. I can’t remember us getting to this room, can’t remember what state we were in.

For a moment my fifteen year old self sniggers from the back of my head. On paper this would be the start of a moderately sentimental jerkoff reel, me and two lesbians in the same bed with an estimated nudity ratio of 80%.

Fuck, 90%. As Kel dozes off again she shifts my arm around her and wakes the entropic nerves. As sensation flows along my arm I realise I’m not feeling anything between my hand and her breast. My best mate’s lover, Don of my Don.

I was just about to get all British and self-conscious about the whole thing. But she was warm in my arms, comfortable against my body. I could feel Sal shifting around me on the other side, her arm just under the covers across my ribs, her hand on top of mine, on top of Kel.

Waking up as a third wheel can be sociologically complicated and, considering they were both asleep again, I decided it was the future’s problem. Tried to remember.

Fuck, why do I always do that? Why must I always go through the recent history right when I wake up? If my fucking brain would learn to shut up then I might’ve just been able to go back to sleep.

I should be with Her right now, the internal traitor wheedles at me. I should have gone over last night when she asked me to. It could be her in my arms. Her ass in my lap, her breast in my hand and my heart taped back together for just one more day.

Bad move. I think as it gives a painful squeeze, as the memory of all that comes back.

I want to get up but honestly this is the first time since the breakup that I’ve woken up and felt… okay again. My broken heart keeps beating, the feeling fades from a sharp psychological pain to a dull sensation of loss.

I shift a leg and feel boxers around me. Good. I don’t know what happens when you’re on x, this is my first time and my recall of last night is… weird.

I think I’m still high, things feel… good. Not just two warm bodies shielding me from the world but the fact I’m still accepted. My friendship with Sal and Kel isn’t something that could get screwed up by a pill or an erection.

For a while we lay there together and doze. I come around again to Kel shifting under me, awake. I take my chance to politely move my hand, but she shuffles back closer to me, pulls mine and Sal’s hands back where they were.

Grow up man. Her voice from last night comes back, when I blushed at the mere sight of her boobs when we collectively decided it was too hot for clothes. I stay where I’ve been put, try to think friendly thoughts instead of too friendly thoughts as my cock wakes up and smells pussy. It doesn’t understand what a lesbian is, it just wants to do its job.

These women are something different. Me and Sal dated a little but were never totally serious, back when she was still negotiating with bisexuality as some sort of compromise between what she wanted and what was expected of her.

I think Kel was chasing girls since she could crawl, Sal said she envied that in her and me both. Being certain about oneself doesn’t seem important until you’re not, and I remember watching her take a run-up at coming out to me. She was so scared of telling anyone, made me angry to think she’d had no choice but to carry that alone for so long.

One of the things I’m glad I got right. Hugged her, said I was glad she knew, and cried my fucking eyes out in the privacy of the drive home.

Also she never cheated on me, not even with a girl. That means a lot to a guy in this day and age.

Now I’m lying here in her bed, I’m glad she stopped pretending with me a long time ago. Kel makes her happy, complete. There’s ataşehir escort always been a jealousy there, not because I wish Sal were mine. In a way I wish they both were. But like a crush on a co-worker it’s something best kept to yourself, never gonna happen.

In some phantom zone version of reality maybe me and Sal are still together, unhappy with no way to change it. Better this way.

I’m just starting to doze off again when Kel turns over to her other side, shifting under my hand, I zone back in to realise she’s watching me. Not for the first time I wonder if she considers me their pet male, her way to view a gender she otherwise doesn’t like very much.

I open my eyes and watch her watch me. Studying me.

She’s got the body of a model that became a boxer instead, beautiful in a way that I would’ve swooned over as a teenager. Deep dark eyes and a tomboy’s dress sense, when she’s dressed. Anyone who fancied Vasquez in Aliens knows what I mean. I wasn’t the brightest teenager, but some wisdom only comes from experience.

All three of us started out knowing we were different but unable to say it. Sal had been taught not to be different, a dyed-white sheep whose roots kept showing. Kel knew she wasn’t like other girls but pretended to be one to get along. Saw an old school photo of hers once, almost un-recognisable without the muscle and the Furiosa buzzcut.

I knew I wasn’t quite a real boy, a difference of species rather than gender or sexuality; I’m a Tiger among Lions, too solitary to be comfortable among the pride.

Me and Sal have differing taste in women of course, she prefers the gay ones for starters, but I can’t fault her choice in Kel.

I think of this woman, who went through shit most people never get over and came out the other side still fighting, think of how she was when Sal’s dad died. They’d only been dating for a month but Kel didn’t leave her side, showed Sal nothing but kindness, loyalty. Not just the noises we make in social situations so people will think we’re nice, but the real thing that shows up and stays.

It’s nice to see someone who understands that the best sort of courage starts with kindness. Something she seemed to have built in, something I had to cobble together for myself.

I sometimes think I’d like to kiss her. Not as a pretext to fucking her or anything. Just to kiss her once without agenda, tell her in ways words can’t that we’re not all soulless bastards looking to use people. Even though the bad ones seem to be the ones who show up the most often, there are good men keeping the faith too.

I think there would be a fifty-fifty chance of her smashing me over the back of the head with the alarm clock if I tried it now. I wouldn’t want her to take it as an insult or a power play for Sal’s affections, or as me showing my true colours as some horny scumwad who only sees women as a sex doll that can wash itself.

But then here I am in their bed, protected by them both.

It’s something I ponder while she watches me. To me direct eye contact feels like an unfriendly radar lock, alarms ring in my brain as my instinct is to either glare back or turn away.

Maybe it’s the MDMA talking but I let her look this time. I wonder if this is the first time she’s ever slept with a man, gotten a good long look at one up-close.

It’s not a good look or a bad look, I get the feeling she’ll take time to consider the results of her observations. I don’t smile, I leave my familiar mask somewhere on the bedroom floor along with my clothes.

Don’t look for hidden depths kid, I think, this is all I am.

She runs her hand along my arm under the covers, pulls it around her hip and hugs me.

Now she’s facing me I can see the body pressed to mine, give silent thanks for a pair of boxers not that different from my own wrapped around Kel’s hips. Without the preceding stare and the fact the love of her life still has one arm around my chest, it could have gotten weird.

Hugs don’t usually feel that good, I’m not sure if it was the drugs, the nudity, the intimacy, or all three. I didn’t really want to let go, wondered if she would mind me dozing off again with my arms around her.

Sal wakes up again with a mumbling yawn, mine and Kel’s moment seems to conclude as she reaches around me for Sal. I decide it’s time to get up, give them their space while I find food and clothing.

Two hands tug me back to bed, nothing is said but even someone like me can read a sign like that. I lie back and think while Sal and Kel’s hands play together across me.

It’s another of those long quiet moments; while Sal watches me, Kel uses my chest for a pillow and dozes like a cat.

I fade out and then back in again, no-one has moved.

I wriggle up and stand on the bed, walked off the end of it to the cool floorboards. While I’m locating my jeans I smile at them cosying back up together with increasing intent. Sal always did like it in the mornings, same as me.

Not kadıköy escort wanting to cramp their style I grab my stuff to go, head downstairs.

Didn’t bother getting dressed yet, washed my face at the kitchen tap and started some coffee. The debris of last night is vaguely familiar, I see a few joint stubs in an empty mug repurposed as an ashtray. One of the thicker ones has about half left and I decide to indulge, I’ve got another week before I have to go back to work and assume old responsibilities.

I take a puff as I finish my coffee, stick the lit stub between my fingers and grab the full mug in my other hand. I can hear a thump and some very un-Kelly like giggling from upstairs and snigger quietly to myself. Alright for some.

Sunday morning, so I decide to take my sacrament outside to be among nature. Leave my clothes on the floor with a clink of buckle, prod with a toe to make sure my keys, wallet, and phone are still there. It’s been hot weather for weeks, summer coming to a close.

I look for my shades on the spot by the door but they’re missing. The sounds from upstairs are getting more intense so I’m distracted as I step outside.

Take a long deep huff on a hot coal of weed and hold in the tingling smoke.

“Morning.” Someone says and I leap clean out of my skin, coffee spills onto the grass and I cough up the smoke in a hissing wheeze. “Jeez, sorry.” The voice continues as I focus on respiration. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” I croak and look around. “Hey Tina.”

I’m presented with a young goddess, a little bedraggled after a night presumably spent on the sofa I tend to occupy, but radiant nonetheless. Looks like she had the same idea as me but took the time to wear precisely two more items of clothing; my missing shades and one of my t-shirts. Something about a spilled drink scans across my brain but is too slippery to resolve, different neurons arc.

“With whatsisname, right?” I’d seen her in passing a few times since I started crashing here, asked Sal if she were single and been told not really. Honestly forgot she’d stayed over. I suppose being the only ecstasy virgin I’d probably been pretty wasted on the stuff.

She’s taking a hit on a truncated blunt, so shakes her head instead. Emphatically too, my ego notices.

“Fuck no. Sal didn’t tell you?”

This time it’s me with my lungs full, I shake my head.

“Fuckin’ scumbag.” She doesn’t need to say more than that. I give an agreeing shrug of sympathy as I exhale.

“I can relate.” I tell her out of the corner of my eye, don’t want her to see how fresh that hurt still is. Machismo is a defence, people forget that.

“Really? Fuck…” We stand and stare into the distance and smoke, and think.

“You miss her?” She asks me, which I’ll be honest felt a little personal, but then people standing within six feet of me feels personal too.

I give her a look that I meant to convey ‘please don’t ask’, but I suppose that was an answer in itself.

“Me too.” She says. I find my mind admiring her honesty but my eyes lingering on her legs, from her bare feet to the hem of my borrowed threads. XL for me is pretty much a short dress for her. Her gaze follows mine to the t-shirt, I decide to comment on her attire, something I’m told is conventional small talk.

“I can get you a clean one if you like.” I gesture with the smouldering nub between thumb and forefinger, it’s the one I took off in favour of the lucky shirt Sal gave me before the party got started last night. It wasn’t that dirty really, only lived in, but it gave me something to say.

“Shit, is this yours?” She’s endearingly… endearing for a moment.

“It’s cool, me casa su casa.” I decide to be the cool and amiable version of myself today. I’ve had enough of angst for one lifetime, and so far in my new one there’s plenty of good company.

“Sure?” She lifts the front of the hem as what I’m sure was an ill-judged visual aid. I get a glimpse of the front of underwear with a nostalgically familiar cartoon face printed on them. For half a second I realise I’m standing in my boxers smoking a joint in a garden full of sunshine while a beautiful woman shows me her underwear.

Some days seem to be like that, they start weird and get weirder. The last one was a girl who liked being tied up telling me she didn’t want to be tied down. The irony was writ large upon us.

“I won’t take the shirt off your back.” I say, thinking about her front…

She turns crimson as she sees my mixed look of relief and regret, realising, then turns away. We both hiss with laughter for a few seconds. The stuff was good, in all flavours, and we were both just getting that bright glowing early morning hit.

“Been a while since I saw Taz.” I chuckle, she joins in.

“My favourite.” She says, shy again.

“I might’ve said Sylvester a minute ago,” I take a hit mid-sentence for dramatic effect. “But you make a good point.”

You know that moment when the bostancı escort bayan words just fall out of your mouth before you actually listen to them? It’s like waking up at the wheel of a moving car, your reaction is key.

My bad poker face saves me, she smiles and lets me get away with that one. We stand and smoke for a while, neither of us quite sure what to say. Our comfort zones not quite overlapping for a minute as we mentally smooth down our missing clothing.

Our eyes meet again as we both reach for the ashtray. I hold it out for her first.

“And they say chivalry is dead.” She treats me to a smile I already want to see again.

Tina steps up through the back door and I’m hypnotised by the swing of her hips as she walks inside.

Eyes front. My conscience stops a glance becoming a stare. I remember that my boxers will keep precisely no secrets if I get too lost in fantasy. Don’t want my first impression to become an amusing anecdote.

“So you want…” She trails off as a moan drifts down the stairs to where we stand in the kitchen. We share a look, and a blush. “some breakfast?” She finishes, as apparently someone else does the same upstairs. I’m perilously close to giving Tina a much better peek than she gave me and I look around for my snug and non-stretchy jeans.

I remember that moan… Y-chromosome gives a wistful sigh.

“Let’s go out.” I glance up at the ceiling as there’s the heavy creak of Sal’s bed and some muffled pillow talk. “Sounds like they’re starting round two.” I grin.

We try to make small talk as we each locate our previous night’s wardrobe, but we’re not making much of a show of not listening to the enthusiastic bout going on upstairs.

I have a slightly guilty vision of those two bodies in passionate motion, so recently curled around me. A little old pang of sadness that I wasn’t what Sal wanted. Another pang that I’m only half a pervert so I can’t really fantasise about an ex even if I know damn well what’s going on up there.

The last foray into her bi side had been me, maybe four years before. She was lonely after her second ever girlfriend had so casually broken the heart I once strived for.

She trusted me and, in our way, just for a week there, we forgot about the past and future. It’s a sacred thing to be there for someone who really needs you, and I think that last night was her saying thanks. But after that we didn’t try again, around the same time we realised it couldn’t work that way. ‘We were meant to be best friends, not an unhappy couple.’ She said that to me, gave me one last kiss for the road, and we went back to hugs and holding hands like the overgrown kids we were.

I shrug into my jeans and realise Tina’s watching, sly devil got a decent look too. She turns away a little theatrically to pull off my old t-shirt and I look at the snaking ink along her spine, the curve of her hips. For a second there our roles reverse as I’m the one who’s half-dressed and she’s the one half-naked.

Normally I would consider myself something of a letch to be watching a near stranger dress, but once her bra is on she turns back and catches me.

I’m expecting an uncomfortable look, thinking maybe I pushed a friendly flirtation too far too soon. But she’s half smiling and half blushing, and I can see it spread out along her skin.

I don’t quite… commit to the look yet. She finds her top from the night before, still damp with incautious beer. Puts mine back on.

We share little glances as we tie laces and button shirts. Upstairs there’s a loud thump and then a clarion of Sal’s laughter, me and Tina share a smirk as she bounces on her heels to pull her jeans on.

She hands me my shades but I find myself reluctant to wear them. My protection against intrusive stares is as usual a part of my face as the eyes beneath, but I’m still enjoying being underdressed around her.

She’s pleasingly… normal with clothes on. She doesn’t seem like something I’m going to wake up from in a minute and be alone on my familiar sofa. I find myself at ease as we leave the happy couple upstairs. I hold open the door and she gives me another of those smiles, without my mask on I can see her eyes.

Kind, sly, and blue.

The street was pretty quiet, Sal’s place was up-market enough not to have people still hanging around from the night before and we had beaten the churchgoers to the pavement.

Occasional joggers passed us, while we walked there she told me about herself. The mundane things like her job, the important things like her family, how she knew Sal. A younger brother she hoped would try studying before his exams, a grandmother she looked after, a life of cares and thoughtful deeds.

When your social skills don’t have an automatic function you have to remind yourself to push the buttons and look at the dials occasionally. I didn’t let my predominantly baked mind wander from her words, but I fired up the old relate-o-tron and punched some cards for analysis.

While steam hissed and pistons clanked in the back of my brain, we found the café that opened early and got coffee.

Nice place, though everywhere looks nice with that much sunlight pouring in.

Tina likes her coffee black and sweet, me too.

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