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From all to nothing

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You look at me, demonstratively, from head to toes before you answer. "Okay."

You pick up your clothes, put on your t-shirt, knickers and trousers. The bra and the socks remain where you first put them. Quickly, I untangle my briefs from my trousers and put them on, then the trousers and t-shirt.

You take the bottle and I follow you out on the balcony again. I light a cigarette and hand you the pack.

"So," you say and exhale a stream of smoke, "was it worth it?"

"Um..." I find I have to think about that. "Yes, even if you surprised me with the payment." I smile. "But that's just to be expected, you didn't think I would mind seeing you?"

I shrug. "I think I was more exposed in there than you were, but even if I was surprised and nervous it was worth it. You look like I've dreamt you do, so to speak, but now you're real."

We sit and smoke in silence. Hadn't you realised it was harder for me? Heh. No pun intended. You chose to do it, while I was fooled into it, and felt obliged when that was the price you asked for. Not that I'm grudging it, but I'm still shaken.

"I guess the question is," I say after a while, "whether you think it was worth it."

You don't reply, and after more silence we find something else to talk about.

Later, much later, I lie awake on the couch waiting for the room to stop spinning around. My thoughts are spinning too, around you, your body, and your soul. They spin around two very different things - what is, and what could have been.

If I listen closely, I can hear your slow breaths from the bedroom, and in the end that's what lulls me into sleep



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