Sex costs. First, there are the drinks. You don’t know him too well. Actually, you’re still not sure you like him, but you’d like something. You keep hoping to feel happy. Like you’d planned. Another red might help.
Then there’s the taxi. ‘We can split it,’ you say, still not knowing whether it’s sex you’re going for. He is.
You’re kissing in his kitchen, his face in your neck, his hand pushing down into your jeans. The compliments help. ‘Let’s go upstairs,’ he whispers. As you walk up behind him you remind yourself that life, after all, is for living.
He presses you down onto the bed. He pulls your bra up over your head, undresses himself with one hand. He’s shaking. He’s ready. Are you? You don’t know, but you do know you have a rule. It comes out as less of a rule, more of a question… ‘Can you put a condom on?’
‘No,’ he begs, blowing sour wine and cigarettes into your ear. ‘I want to feel you.’ And you want to be felt too. Connected. Just like him.
He’s getting soft. You’re tired. You‘ve had five glasses of wine. Dinner was a packet of crisps. Under the soft light of the bar, he identified you as an ‘over-thinker’. You thought it made you sound interesting, complex…seen.
‘Don’t worry baby,’ he says. ‘I’ll pull out.’ You’re embarrassed he thinks you’re worrying, but you like that he called you ‘baby’. Did he know you would?
‘You can do it for a bit, but—and I know this is a horribly unsexy question, but have you been tested?’
‘Yes,’ he says. He can show you the results. But this is enough for you. You decide then that you trust him. He doesn’t ask you the same question back.
He enters with a long, grateful sigh.
He’s enjoying it. He picks up pace. He pushes harder. He looks up. He looks somewhere else. He looks crippled with pleasure. He looks lost. You wish you were too. You try to relax. You try to let go. But you can’t. Who will watch the shop if you do?
He wants to turn you over now. Do it from behind. You smile, fake a moan, lift your legs up higher, try to put him off. You worry he thinks you’re a prude. You let him pound you harder, head crunched into the headboard. It’s hard to breathe.
His eyes close. His breathing gets shorter. His thrusts get faster. ‘I’m gonna cum,’ he says. ‘Oh my god, I’m gonna cum.’ You wait for him to pull out. He doesn’t. Should you say something? Should you do something? You don’t do anything. You don’t want to ruin it. You give him a few seconds more. It soon becomes a minute.
‘I’m cumming!’ He pants. ‘Oh yes, I’m cumming! Oh my God, I’m cumming! I’m cumming! I’m cumming! I’m cumming!’ he sputters, as he pulls out. Cum drips over your thighs. He falls on top of you. The life wafts out of him. You want to wash. Stand up. Swab a finger around your vagina. But you don’t. You let him stay there. Let him catch back his breath.
After a minute you ask the question. ‘Do I have anything to worry about?’
‘No.’ He says, eyes closed, face in a cat’s smile…
All you do, however, is worry.
He rolls off. You get up slowly. Pick your clothes up off the floor. He’s ready to sleep. You want to ask the question again. Instead you try to make breezy conversation. Pulling up your jeans, you perch on the edge of his bed and he strokes your arm. He wants to see you again. He says.
You get a taxi home. You lie in bed, awake, working out which part of your cycle you’re in. You are your most fertile. It’s probably fine, you tell yourself. Get some sleep.
Twenty minutes later you’re on Google typing in ‘pregnancy and the withdrawal method’. You read the words ‘pre-cum’. You think back to what you felt. Nothing. You think. You were wet. That’s all. Wait a few days and get a pregnancy test. You’re being silly. It’s probably fine.
But what if it’s not fine? Would you tell him? What would he say? Would he see you again? Would he believe you? What would you even do? Should you get the morning after-pill? It’s expensive. But less so then an abortion and you certainly can’t afford a baby. When was the last time you took it? Six months? Or was it more like four? What will the pharmacist think when you ask for it again? He told you it wasn’t to be treated as a contraceptive. Would that have been a Saturday? Yes. Should you wait till Sunday, for a different person? What if he works the weekend? The longer you leave it, the less effective it can be. You want to enjoy the rest of your weekend. You have plans. Is that the reason you are taking it? Is that good enough? What about the side-effects? Do you really need it? How could you tell?
Four hours later, you get a train to another branch. You hand over twenty-five pounds and an apology. Outside the shop, you swallow the pill. You finally relax. You get the train home. You eat breakfast and then the nausea starts. Three hours later you vomit. Does it mean the pill might not work? You go to consult the packaging. You threw it away. You ask Google instead. You get many opinions. It’s probably fine.
You lie down. You call your friend. You tell her what happened. She understands. You tell her you won’t be able to make her birthday. Again, she says, she understands. You feel like a crap person.
You wait for his text. It never comes. You decide you are a crap person.
- Emma Rasmussen
* This piece was originally published by The Quotable